L'CHAIM Magazine February 2020 Issue

Page 1


EDUCATE Jewish Education in San Diego


American Football comes to Israel

birthright at 20








February 2020 • www.lchaimmagazine.com

COVER STORY San Diego Examining Jewish identity and Israel engagement on Birthright's 20th anniversary..........................................................................................

1000 WORDS New head of ORT America aims to rebuild its base, expand its visibility.........................

FOOD Lamb with Preserved Napa Cabbage Noodle Soup...................................................................

EDUCATION Tikkun Olam at San Diego Jewish Academy ................................................................................






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Meet StandWithUs San Diego's New Director - Yosef Condiotti........................................

Good Deeds Day...............................................................................................................................................

FEATURES 'Young Champions' brings American football to Israel, teaching discipline and teamwork................................................................. The Impact Forum: Los Angeles-based 'silver bullet' network for the Jewish world...................................................................................... 'Rendering Witness' displays risks artists took while the Holocaust raged in Europe...................................................................................... SOCIAL SAN DIEGO.................................................................................................................................. COLUMNS

06 08

My Comic Relief................................................

26 28 30 34 37

Mazel and Mishagoss............................

Torah: Of the Book..........................................

PUBLISHERS Diane Benaroya & Laurie Miller



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Copyright ©2019 L’Chaim San Diego LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator” to: publisher@lchaimmagazine.com Published in San Diego, CA • www.lchaimmagazine.com


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random rants

The Battle of Minivan Hill


recently attended an orientation to my sons’ possible elementary school. The campus was massive. The day, eerily hot for a January morning. What seemed like an enormous gaggle of birds squeaked loudly in a nearby tree. I arrived a little earlier as I had heard parents could get a tad aggressive when it came to school parking. Luckily, I beat out what seemed like an endless stream of minivans and scored a pretty swell spot near the entrance. As I triumphantly strolled across the sea of white colored crossover SUV’s I was suddenly overcome with the urge to win. What feeling is this and should I be feeling it? I asked myself. These people aren’t against me and my kid to attend this school. Or are they? I never played sports in school. To be honest I don’t have much of a competitive bone in my body. I’m an artist. So, to walk into an auditorium at an elementary filled with other parents should’ve felt normal, albeit even comfortable. I’m a schmoozer, a networker, I should’ve been able to work the room. But I didn’t. I looked around and all I saw were competitors. Like Spartacus walking into the colosseum, I puffed out my chest and surveyed the landscape.



Alas, the enemies of my child are my enemies. Woman with a brown and gold Louis Vuitton handbag chewing her gum too aggressively. Man chatting on an green iPhone 11 Pro Max, probably the 256gb version. Other man who put on way too much cologne. Woman with her kids, even though the email specifically stated not to bring them. Because screw the rules ... we’re at war ... to attend the same elementary school! A woman approached me, a glare in her eyes which seemed to burrow deep into my soul. What did she want? I had to act fast. The woman strolled cautiously up to me. She sensed the danger no doubt. “Hi sir, how are you this morning?” Ha! A trap if I had ever seen one. How am I? Who even asks that anymore. Surely a spy. Her husband, the one with the cologne, sent her. “I’m fine,” I replied. Take that rebel scum! We stand there motionless. In complete silence, sizing each other up. Looking for breaks in the armor. Waiting for a weakness to = allow me to take control and render her and everyone watching completely powerless! [insert evil laugh here] Finally, she said “okay well my name is

Angelica and I’m the school’s admissions director, if you have any questions please feel free to ask.” And like that, she was gone. I could’ve said something. Done something. To stick out. To show the admissions director that I ... errr my son ... deserved to go to this school. I sat in my preselected seat dejected. I had failed. Five minutes into the presentation as the sounds were muted and muffled by my own self-loathing, Angelica stood at the podium and explained the school’s 100 percent random and arbitrary admissions lottery system. Wait. What? My mind raced. I questioned everything. All was new. I looked around and the fire of competition sparked to life. How many lottery tickets can I get? I pondered. And so, my dearest Watson, the game was afoot! To be continued... SALOMON MAYA IS A LOCAL EMMYWINNER, ACTOR AND PLAYWRIGHT. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @SALOMAYA OR EMAIL HIM AT SALOMONM@ LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM.

WISHING EVERYONE HAPPY A VERY HAPPY AND TU B’SHVAT HEALTHY NEW YEAR! May we all work together for a healthy planet and clean environment for our children, grandchildren, and theirs.

Scott Peters U.S. Representative

As families gather to celebrate new beginnings, we remember past successes working together. While on the City Council, I was honored to support construction of eruvs in the College Area, La Jolla and University City. In Congress, I am a strong supporter of Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East, and have condemned the recent upsurge in random acts of violence against innocent Israeli citizens. Our partnership with Israel is the foundation of United States security in the Middle East. I have and will continue to stand up for Israel’s right to defend itself and for a continuing and strong relationship between our two democracies. Shana Tova!

Scott Peters www.ScottPeters.com U.S. Representative

Paid for by Scott Peters for Congress 9620 Chesapeake Drive, Ste 108 Paid for by Scott Peters for Congress San Diego, CA 92123





the book Getting Out of Our Comfort Zone

“Discomfort” and “change” might not be our favorite words of choice. But what if your life begins where your comfort zone ends? This month we read the Torah portions focused on the great leader Moshe [Moses] and the audacious exodus from Egypt under his command. What made Moshe uniquely worthy to lead such an incredible mission? Let’s look at the moment G-d asks him to take on the mission at the burning bush: "So Moshe said, 'let me turn now and see this great spectacle, why does the thorn bush not burn up?' The L-rd saw that he had turned to see, and G-d called to him from within the thorn bush … And He said, 'Take your shoes off your feet.'" What did Moshe do here that impressed G-d so much? Wouldn’t any of us stop and take a look if we saw such a spectacle? Moshe was wise. He realized what turning to explore this miracle would entail. A person of his level understood he now had to make a decision whether to leave life as he knew it behind and enter a new, scary and uncertain phase. His decision was yes, he would heed the call. Just like when he saw an Egyptian 8


taskmaster beating a Hebrew slave and risked his life to intervene, leading him to flee his palace into the desert so many years before. Why did G-d respond to this decision with a request to remove shoes from his feet? The Hebrew word for “foot” is “regel” and the word for “normal” has the same letters — “ragil” (maybe the word “regular” in English stems from this). So G-d was telling Moshe: “Remove what you considered until now as normal.” To make a real change in the world, we have to embrace meaningful risks that may be uncomfortable. At first glance, it seems Moshe just happened upon this situation. But we know that “success is when preparation meets opportunity.” Our opportunities are gifts from above, but it’s our work and determination over time that makes us fitting to receive and then seize that opportunity. We don’t always get what we want, we get what we are. “And Moshe was 80 years old, and Aaron was 83 years old when they spoke with Pharaoh.” Abraham was 75 when G-d spoke to him. Like most successful people we see

in today’s culture, we read very little in the written Torah about the life journeys of our leaders until they are chosen for their awe inspiring roles of saving the world. But we best believe they earned those opportunities. Becoming an exceptional, virtuous person is a life long journey. The gains are not immediately noticed, and there are numerous failures along the way. But if we look to continually work on improving our character traits, personal skills and talents — always willing to leave our comfort zones in search for truth — may we be worthy to merit to have opportunities to step into our purpose and make our unique impact on this world. Let’s stay driven and patient, using every day and moment as opportunities to develop. You haven’t failed, you’re just early. And when the time finally comes to step up, let’s be ready to heed the call. DANIEL BORTZ, THE MILLENNIAL RABBI, IS THE FOUNDER OF JTEEN AND SOUL X. CONNECT AT RABBIBORTZ.COM.

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Birthright participants hike up Masada, Israeli flag in hand. Credit: Birthright Israel.





n January, Taglit Birthright celebrated a major anniversary, representing two decades of the 10-day trips that have impacted the lives of more than 750,000 emerging Jewish adults worldwide. The program was founded by Jewish philanthropists Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, with support from private donors and the Israeli government, to spur involvement by North American youth who were becoming increasingly disassociated with their Jewish roots. It initially was geared for ages 18 to 26, though the target age has been extended. While young Jews around the world can participate, the large majority have been those from the United States and Canada. Len Saxe, who in his role as professor of contemporary Jewish studies at Brandeis University has written extensively on the impact of Birthright, and “the enormous impact that the program has on the lives of people who participate.” By comparing those who have applied for and participated in Birthright, versus those who applied but did not participate, Saxe has traced the lives of various groups of participants six, 12, 18, 24 and 36 months post-program to find that “Birthright is a pivotal movement that changed the trajectory of engagement with Jewish life.” According to his “conservative estimates through complex modeling,” those who go on a Birthright trip are 50 percent more likely to marry another Jew and raise Jewish children. Additionally, Jewish identity, connection to a Jewish community and connection to Israel each increase significantly more for those who participated. Upon returning to Portland State University from his Birthright trip in winter 2015, Cole Keister found that “BDS [had come] to campus” through a motion by the “very anti-Israel” student government that passed the movement to boycott Israel by 23-3. “The language they were using was off the normal BDS script,” he said. “They were calling out Jewish people and weren’t even being anti-Israel, just straight up anti-Semitic.” Birthright, he said, catapulted his journey to becoming president of the Israel group on his campus following the onslaught of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment there. “I have created dozens of events and collaborations with other student groups, [such as] the Filipino student union, African student association and more,” he said. “I have learned to be a leader. I went on Birthright, and now here I am.” According to Saxe, Keister’s story is not an outlier. Most participants, he said, come with positive views on Israel, and even those who are critical of the policies of the Israeli government typically express a strong connection to the Jewish state. “Participants start out with a

Jewish identity, connection to a Jewish community and connection to Israel each increase significantly more for those who participated in the program. fairly high connection and association. And this is what is remarkable about Birthright — it is deeply enhanced by the experience. Those who were connected to Israel become very connected,” he noted. “There are a relatively few number of people who come feeling completely disconnected from Israel, and that number after they come back is very, very small.” Jewish identity and involvement are also “enormously impacted,” affirmed Saxe. “Birthright alumni are overrepresented in terms of incidence in the population as professional staff in Jewish Federations and careers in the Jewish world, including those who did not go to Jewish day school or had much involvement in the Jewish community early on.” WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM



Natalie (right) and Katherine (center) Dubin pose along the waterfront in Israel. Credit: Natalie Dubin.

The participants who witness the biggest transformations, according to the researcher, are those who had poorly formed Jewish backgrounds in early life, with little to no exposure to formal and informal Jewish education. In winter 2018, Tennessee native Natalie Dubin concluded her Mayanot Birthright Israel trip with a better understanding of what it means to be a Jew, as well as a stronger desire to become more involved with the Jewish community back home. With barely any Jewish education growing up, in 2019, Dubin reported still feeling “connected” and “changed,” with her trip inspiring her to explore her background further and even wear a Jewish star to express her pride in her identity. After returning to Asheville, N.C., where she works as a speech therapist, Dubin recalled talking to everyone at work about 12


the experience and how “it was much more than I could have ever expected.” “I raved to my friends about how I fell in love with the people in Israel and how amazing I found the Jewish religion to be,” she said. “Friends would ask if I claim to be Jewish or not, and I tell them I’m not a religious person, but I am Jewish,” she declared. That represented a marked difference, she added, compared to a year-and-a-half prior to the trip when she wouldn’t “advertise” her religion. The Israeli soldiers who participate, too, are “in many ways as profoundly affected as the Diaspora participants,” reported Saxe. “It is interesting how similar they describe the experience. They say, “I came into the program as an Israeli in the army, protecting my country, and I came out feeling not just as an Israeli but a Jew, part of something greater

than myself and my community.” “It is clear that Birthright is transformative,” he summarized. Working with psychologists and experts in education to create programming that is emotionally, physically and intellectually engaging, Birthright is continuously navigating how to achieve its objectives with a diverse and ever-changing population of emerging Jewish adults who represent a range of geographies, backgrounds and education. Two decades after its founding, the program’s central challenge “in a world of pathological individualism,” summed up Saxe, is to continue to hone in on how to make the best use of the 10 days to “provide a Jewish identity experience that reinforces the notion that we are connected to one another and part of something greater than ourselves.”

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From its beginning in 1880 in Russia teaching Jewish farmers new technology following the Industrial Revolution, ORT has remained tuned in to changing economies. 14







arbara Birch, 45, of New York was tapped last month as the new president and chief executive officer of ORT America. She most recently served as vice president of development at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, managing strategic planning, fundraising and business development. Her work focused on managing relationships with lay leadership and connecting constituents to the organization’s mission to create a culture of giving. Previously, she held leadership roles in development at Yeshiva University, including as assistant vice president for alumni affairs and annual giving, and director of alumni affairs at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City. Birch will be going to Israel in February to see firsthand the work and progress of ORT schools and programs. Q: What did you know about ORT before you became president and CEO? A: Before I started my recent exploration of ORT, I was aware of the fact that the organization was focused on education, and I associated it with Israel. Primarily, though, I knew my grandmother had been a member and a proud supporter. As a teacher, ORT’s educational mission spoke to her, and as we know, American Jews of her generation were eager to support Israel; they lived through one of the most dramatic moments in Jewish history—seeing the Jewish state become a reality. As I became more familiar with ORT, I was amazed to learn that it works in

more than 30 countries, and is a significant global organization impacting hundreds of communities and hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Q: What was ORT known for in the early years, and how did it work to change Jewish lives? A: From its beginning in 1880 in Russia teaching Jewish farmers new technology following the Industrial Revolution, ORT has remained tuned in to changing economies. It has stayed a step ahead of what the world’s Jewish communities need to support social mobility and not let those in lower socioeconomic environments get left behind. Early on, ORT succeeded in building a strong reputation for providing vocational training to the huge numbers of new immigrants to Israel, who came in large numbers to the new state after World War II. It was a direct line to getting jobs for those individuals, and it helped build the State of Israel by training a much-needed skilled workforce. Q: How has ORT evolved over the decades? What is it known for now, and how does it impact lives around the world? A: For 140 years, ORT has adapted to meet the needs of the communities it supports. Its evolution is reflective of a changing job market, and our priority is to teach the most relevant skills to support learning, professional development and preparation for meaningful careers that respond to a rapidly changing economy. For our students, science, technology, engineering, arts and

[ORT] has stayed a step ahead of what the world’s Jewish communities need to support social mobility. mathematics (STEAM) comes to life through course offerings that include robotics, computer science and coding, ecology and emerging agricultural technologies, digital skills, media arts and medicine. When students from under-resourced communities have access to high-quality education, they are better positioned to enter the job market with marketable skills, become leaders in their own right and invest back into their communities. In Israel, World ORT Kadima Mada strengthens Israeli society by bridging the economic gap between the center and the periphery. ORT offers innovative educational programs and state-of-the-art schools and facilities for students with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), creating a path to success and economic WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM



Children make challah as part of an ORT program. Credit: Courtesy.

independence, and supporting Israel’s strong economy by training a workforce for the future. In the former Soviet Union and other Diaspora Jewish communities, ORT invests in Jewish schools, making them appealing to Jewish families by offering STEM education and a curriculum that instills in students a strong sense of Jewish values and culture, leading to the renewal of Jewish communal life and deepened connections to Jewish identity for generations to come. Q: Can you describe an anecdote where ORT has played a significant role in helping people? A: There are so many ORT success stories (or stories of transformation), but Polina is reflective of many of the students at World ORT Kadima Mada’s Kfar Silver Youth Village, a boarding and day school for at-risk youth in southern Israel. Now 17, she left her home in Ukraine at the age of 14 without her parents and made aliyah to Israel. Her life in Ukraine was filled with immense economic challenges and an uncertain future. Polina and her family made the choice for her to move to Israel and live at Kfar Silver, which would provide her with the best opportunities for her future. A young teen, she was scared to come to Israel without her family. When she arrived at Kfar Silver, she was not able to read, write or speak a word of Hebrew. She was enrolled 16


in an intensive introductory Hebrew course; now in her third year there, she is fluent in Hebrew with an average score in her work at 90 percent. Polina shares, “I’m really proud of myself for advancing so far in Hebrew. I have made a very close group of friends here who have become my family. They support me in everything I do. I love the teachers here — they work hard to give me everything I need. I know that if I need help with anything, I can easily go to them, and they will always be there to help me in my academic subjects and with any other issue I’m experiencing. I can honestly say that my life here in Israel is much better than it was in Ukraine; that Kfar Silver has changed my life completely.” Polina enjoys English and diplomacy, which includes a focus on negotiation and communication. She says she would like to work in the field of international relations. Q: What are your immediate and future goals for the organization? A: My goal for ORT is to rebuild the strong American base of support that existed years ago. I see three key ways to begin that process. First is to retell ORT’s incredible story of 140 years of meaningful, impactful work. Not enough people know its long history, and we want to show them how ORT’s work impacts the Jewish world and addresses the issues they care about, such as strengthening and sustaining Jewish life, and

ensuring that Israelis in the periphery have the best opportunity possible to be active and successful Israeli citizens. Second, we need to respond to a Jewish philanthropic landscape that has changed significantly in the last 15 to 20 years. Funders today are thinking differently about how they give; they want to know a lot more about what they are investing in and why. We need to meet them where they are in the conversation about Israel, Jewish life and the various social-justice issues that matter to them today. And finally, we need to expand our presence and visibility in Jewish communal spaces more broadly. By joining in the national conversation with other Jewish organizations, both old and new, we can support each other in our work, and compare and contrast our respective roles to play in world. I hope to make progress toward all three of these goals in May, when we will explore our work in Israel together as part of ORT America’s Mission to Israel and the World ORT General Assembly in Jerusalem. These travel opportunities enable our supporters to experience our impact up close through the eyes of our students and teachers, and it all coincides with our milestone 140th anniversary celebration. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate such an important time in this organization’s history.


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or many of us, the first time we really face the notion of aging is when we notice it happening to our parents. That’s when it begins to come home to us what being a “Senior” means. Once the initial surprise of the experience passed, however, it became an opportunity to give back and, for me, to do so in much the same basic way may parents had given to me: giving the gift of nourishment both literally and figuratively. In our family food was always more than just fuel. It was also a way to get a glimpse of far-off lands and experience distant cultures making them seem more wondrous than strange. Once this little bit of role reversal began (me giving back to them as they had given to me), one of the first dishes I made for my parents was this lamb and pickled cabbage noodle soup. While this recipe is not a purely “authentic” recitation of a Western Chinese dish, the use of lamb (a protein that is not common in other parts of China) and the preserved vegetables is typical of China where it bumps into the Middle East. From a culinary point of view, the preserved Napa cabbage gives the dish an intriguing sourness that plays well with the gaminess of the lamb. It is, however, difficult (to say the least) to find Kosher preserved cabbage in even the best Asian markets. It is not, however, difficult to make it yourself. But making this dish for my parents in our current seasons of our lives was more than just a trip to Western China. It was a bit of time travel even if, in some ways, our roles were somewhat reversed. LAMB WITH PRESERVED NAPA CABBAGE NOODLE SOUP

Serves 4 Ingredients For the lamb and marinade: 1 cup shredded leg of lamb 1/4 cup light soy sauce 2 tablespoons Kosher Chinese black vinegar such as Happymum or Balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry) 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil For the soup: 3 cloves garlic 3 slices peeled ginger 4 scallions 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil 3-5 dried chilies (de-seeded and roughly chopped) 1/2 cup Pickled Napa Cabbage (recipe below) 8 cups chicken stock 8 ounces dried Chinese noodles Directions 1. In a small bowl, combine the lamb with the rest of the marinade ingredients and marinate in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to half an hour. 2. Bring a pot of water to boil for the noodles. Meanwhile, smash and mince both the garlic and ginger and set aside. Slice the scallions (both white and green parts), discarding the root ends. 3. Strain the lamb, discarding the marinade liquid. Heat the oil in a wok until just short of smoking. Brown the lamb in the oil, stirring frequently. Add the chilies, garlic, ginger and preserved Napa cabbage to the wok and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until the cabbage just begins to lose its texture. Add the chicken broth to the wok and bring to a boil. Add in three tablespoons of the pickling liquid. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer the soup for five minutes. 4. Meanwhile add the noodles to the boiling water and cook according to the package instruction. 5. Strain the noodles, discarding the boiling water. Lay the noodles in the serving bowls, top with the lamb and vegetable mixture, and ladle the broth on top. Garnish with the sliced scallions.


Ingredients 1 1/2 cups rice vinegar 1/2 cup water 3/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon Kosher salt 3 cloves garlic, smashed 4 red chili peppers more if desired 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns 1 head Napa Cabbage (about 1 pound) 2 tablespoons Kosher salt Directions 1. Combine the rice vinegar, water, sugar, salt, garlic and chili pepper and Sichuan peppercorns in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until it reaches a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Taste to test the spice level and simmer it for a bit longer if you want more heat. Once done, set aside and allow to cool. 2. Meanwhile, cut off and discard about ½ an inch of the base of the Nappa cabbage. Cut the leaves into bite-size pieces and add to a large metal bowl. Toss the cabbage with the salt and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, up to 1 hour (no more than an hour). 3. Drain and discard the salted water released by the Napa cabbage and rinse the cabbage with tap water twice. Drain thoroughly and squeeze out the excess water from the Napa cabbage. Transfer them into a large container (or a multiple jars). Add the cooled pickling liquid. Press the cabbage so it is submerged in the liquid. Place the submerged cabbage in the refrigerator overnight. The pickle will continue to improve for two to three days and, refrigerated, will remain good for up to 2 to 3 weeks.




GIVE BACK By Rachel Stern


ccording to the objective of repairing the world, or Tikkun Olam, we should try and make the world a better and happier place by giving back in any way that we can. This is just what students at the San Diego Jewish Academy did this past Chanukah. Through their fundraising efforts, $7,168 was raised by San Diego 20


Jewish Academy families, faculty members, and donations from the Weisman and Chortek families for the Tamchui project. The goal of this remarkable project, part of the Michan and Krongold family Tikkun Olam program was to “teach students in depth about tzedakah.” Karin Zell and Jacky Shapiro, who are co-


"When you have the opportunity, there is no greater joy. If you can teach your kids this message [of giving back], then it is a valuable lesson for life," Karin Zell said.

chairs and have children at the school said. Both women felt that students needed to learn more about the concept of charity. As Zell put it: “There are many different ways to give besides for money.” SDJA’s 8th grade students learned about five charitable organizations and how they worked, including: Feeding San Diego, San Diego G’Mach, Ride Above Disability, Bridge for Kids, and Jewish National Fund. At the start of the school year, individual tzedakah boxes were sent home to each family, and the full boxes were brought back to school around Thanksgiving time. Around Chaunkah time, the school became Tamchui Central. There were posters describing each organization. Everyday each student decided which organization they wanted to work with by placing tokens in five see-through bowls. This took place for a week. Zell explained: “This was a fun and educational way to teach and enhance Tikkun Olam for kids.” The organizations went to SDJA twice; once to explain to the 8th graders how the project would work and another time to give the same information to the lower, middle and high school students. Throughout the school, kids were heard talking excitedly as to how they could each help out. There truly is always an opportunity to teach children to be selfless and learn how to somehow give back to their community. Zell says: “When you have the opportunity, there is no greater joy. If you can teach your kids this message, then it is a valuable lesson for life.” The culmination of the program was Friday, January 17, when the charities were presented with checks in support of the organizations.

“Feeding San Diego is honored to have been selected for the Tamchui Project by San Diego Jewish Academy,” said Vince Hall, CEO of Feeding San Diego. “This charitable project is a unique opportunity for students to gain a deeper understanding about community issues and the power they have to create change. We look forward to exposing students to the fact that one in eight people face hunger in San Diego County and that there are various ways they can help us end hunger through food rescue.” Director of the school Chaim Heller said that this project was a way of showing and teaching the students that Chanukah is not all about material gifts, it is also about giving to others. As Heller put it: “This is an especially powerful project because the students are learning about charities and experiencing the effect, they can have all at the same time.” This is what he wanted his students to come away with and it seemed to have a wonderful and great impact on the students at the school. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE SAN DIEGO JEWISH ACADEMY, VISIT: SDJA.COM.



education YOSEF

CONDIOTTI StandWithUs SD's New Director

Yosef Condiotti, director StandWithUs San Diego and Dana Elazar, SWU Southwest Campus Liaison at the organization’s annual “Israel in Focus” International Conference held in January in Los Angeles.


ecently we sat down with the new Director of StandWithUs San Diego, Yosef Condiotti. Here are seven questions with SWU SD’s Director.

1. Where are you from in Israel, what is your position with SWU and when did you start? My parents made Aliyah from San Diego to Jerusalem in 1985 where I was born and raised. My maternal aunts, Ellen Fox and Beth Palmer live in San Diego County. Ellen is the school director at Temple Solel, while Beth is a nurse practitioner at the Veterans Administration Hospital. I moved here to assume the position of 22


director, StandWithUs San Diego in August 2019. 2. What did you do in IDF and where were stationed? I served in the IDF as a tank commander from 2008 through 2010 and was called back as a reservist during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014. 3. Where and what did you study in university? After service, I studied sociology, anthropology and political science at Hebrew university. From 2013-15, I was an assistant to MK Yisrael Katz, Israel’s Minister of Transportation and Development and later


"My goal, ... is to build on the exceptional work SWU San Diego has accomplished and ensure that it continues to be the 'go to' organization that campus, high school and community activists turn to for the tools and information they need to educate about Israel," Condiotti said. created cultural programs for young professionals for the city of Jerusalem. 4. How did you get involved with SWU? What experiences have you had that prepared you for the job? Many of my friends are employed by SWU, so I was well aware of its extraordinary work and always admired its mission. I applied immediately when I learned the organization was searching for a director for the region my family is from. 5. What are your goals this year as the Director of SWU and what have you accomplished so far? So much of my life prepared me for this position including my involvement in the NGOs when I worked at the Knesset. This led me to understand the enormity of misinformation about Israel in the Diaspora and that rampant antisemitism must be addressed through proactive education. My goal, together with associate director Yael Steinberg and our energetic local Advisory Board is to build on the exceptional work SWU San Diego has accomplished and ensure that it continues to be the “go to” organization that campus, high school and community activists turn to for the tools and information they need to educate about Israel. 6. What are some local SWU programs? I am extremely proud of hosting our “Leaders of Tomorrow” gala last October. Aptly themed, attendees and staff were “Standing Together Against Antisemitism,” as SWU SD honored the memory of Lori Kaye-Gilbert and paid tribute to survivors Noya Dayan and Almog Peretz and heard from keynote speaker Larry Elder. I represented SD at SWU’s January, “Israel in Focus International Conference” held in LA. The annual 3-day event aggregated SWU student leaders and community members from all over the world.

They learned from world-renowned experts and participated in breakout strategy sessions about the many facets of the work we do to combat the antisemitism facing Jewish people today and inspire communities on campuses and beyond with all things Israel. Elisa Alloul, SWU’s Campus Strategy Coordinator presented about how to combat the campus war on Israel and again, at a “Lunch & Learn” at the Jewish Federation of San Diego. This year, we are expanding our activities. In February, we have a movie night for teens on the 22nd. On the 23rd, we are bringing Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid to Temple Solel to speak about human rights violations in the Palestinian Authority, why BDS is harmful to peace, and the prospects for co-existence. On March 1, we’re repeating the highly successful Campus Crash Course for high school students, their parents and community members to learn about effective, proven techniques to combat antisemitism and BDS at universities. Stay tuned for more information! 7. How can SWU help me if I experience antisemitism? SWU campus and high school coordinators have dealt with many antisemitic issues through our Emerson Fellows and High School Interns. When needed, SWU’s Saidoff Legal Department is enlisted, together with SWU’s massive social media. People experiencing antisemitism are encouraged to contact me at: yosefc@standwithus. com and the office, (213) 254- 3189. Through our offices in Israel, Toronto, the UK and Brazil SWU has taken on global antisemitism. For example, we have a letter writing campaign to FIFA to ensure that the Qatari government issues entry visas to Israeli fans wishing to attend the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This is not a “right-versus-left” issue; this is a “right-versus-wrong” issue and I encourage anyone who wants to be on the right side of history to join us in our efforts to educate and inspire people, and to fight against antisemitism until we rid the world of it.



education TIKKUN


Good Deeds Day 2020 | By Deborah Vietor


re your teens interested in providing global Tikkun Olam? Perhaps you are connected to some teens in your neighborhood who could benefit from involvement through service in the community. The San Diego Jewish Teen Initiative (the Initiative), launched in 2016 and funded by the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative, including the Jewish Federation of San Diego holds Motiv under their umbrella. Housed within the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, (JCC), the initiative is led by Rebecka Handler and her team. “One of the Initiative’s largest successes is the creation of the Motiv platform. The Motiv platform is a central hub for all things service. The platform is open to teens from all backgrounds and religions. Teens interacting with the Motiv platform can come together to find and participate in service projects around the county. Motiv was created to remove the barriers that are associated with teen volunteering. We are very proud that Motiv, a branch of the San Diego Jewish Teen Initiative, is the facilitator of Good Deeds Day for high schoolers here in our community,” Handler said. Teens volunteer at nearly twice the rate of adults, acting as agents of change. Motiv offers service awards, internships and competitions, hosting free community-wide service events for teens, highlighted by Good Deeds Day. Motiv connects with numerous community partners, providing funding and swag. Allie Donahoo, Associate Director of the San Diego Jewish Teen Initiative said: “Since 2007 Good




Deeds Day has united millions of people from around the world in the act of service. Inviting San Diego Jewish and non-Jewish teens to be a part of that, is beautiful. Tikkun Olam is a signature theme of Jewish tradition. Good Deeds Day is the perfect example of that tradition being carried on.” The initiative aims to increase Jewish teen engagement, supporting teen educators and connecting them with Jewish life, whether through service learning, leadership opportunities, or existing programming in the Jewish community. Founded by Israeli businesswoman Shari Arison, Good Deeds Day is based on the concept that “every single person can do something good, be it too large or small, to improve the of others and positively change the world.” What is Good Deeds Day? It’s a global day uniting people in providing good deeds for the benefit of others and the planet. Held Sunday, March 29, 2-hour projects take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. throughout San Diego County from Downtown to Carlsbad. Since its inception in 2007, this event has grown from 7,000 volunteers in Israel to 3.9 million volunteers in over 100 countries during 2019, reflecting the dedication of teens continuing through. In 2019, 3,900,000 people from 108 countries participated in Good Deeds Day, totaling over 7.8 million hours of service. Through a “one-stop-shop” platform, high school students are able to register for over 75 community service projects curated for teen volunteers each month, electronically verifying their service hours. Motiv project values have increased greatly within the past 4 years. For 2017, there were 17 projects with 168 volunteers and 168 sign ups. To date the estimated numbers for 2020 include 32 projects with approximately 400 high school teen sign ups. Last year on Good Deeds Day, teens sorted clothing donations at Sharia’s closet, repaired cat enclosures at the Humane Society, distributed care kits to the homeless downtown with Wahupa Upward Bound, and were involved in countless other projects. “By offering a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, teens have the ability to choose projects that match their passions. It’s about showing teens what meaningful service looks like and what opportunities are available, to inspire service throughout the year,” Motiv manager Michael Nimer said. High school teens, including those from 9th -12th grade can volunteer as an individual with a group, including high school

groups, service clubs or religious organizations, with funding reserved for high school students. Participating organizations may host their own service project, or recruit teens to the numerous service projects currently participating, receiving up to $250 in reimbursement for supplies. In addition to San Diego, the Jewish teen sites include 10 communities across the United States. This connects a broader national effort of funders existing in new models for community based Jewish education and engagement. Interested in participating, hosting, organizing a group of volunteers or learning more information? TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT MICHAEL NIMER AT MICHAELN@MOTIVSANDIEGO.ORG OR (858) 362-1138. VOLUNTEERS MAY SIGN UP FOR PROJECTS ONCE REGISTRATION OPENS IN MARCH ON MOTIVSANDIEGO.ORG/GDD/.

F E AT U R E S T O R Y Erez Lustig, founder of “Young Champions” helps a kid with his shoulder pads. Credit: Courtesy.





Born and raised in a country that adores soccer over most other sports, Israeli educator and sports coach Erez Lustig fell in love with American football from a young age. His improbable love for the game can be traced to his family in the United States, watching the sport on television, as well as the way football “collaborates fun with values.” Attending a yearly clinic in Alabama with 1,200 football coaches and lectures by NFL and college-level head coaches, Lustig was the only foreign coach, “the meshuganah that came from Israel,” he said Other coaches would quip, “Are you lost?” But Lustig was not lost. Quite the opposite; he was on a mission, he said, “to promote the acquisition of life skills and values for children through the culture and game of American football.” Nine years ago, Lustig, now 46, founded “Young Champions,” an Israeli nonprofit that today brings together 200 girls and boys, ages 6 to 16, on four teams that practice after school. More recently, he has brought American football to elementary schools in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Education, with programming for nearly 650 students. In his classes, teachers learn to “teach like coaches” and students learn teamwork, problem solving, respect, creativity and ‘American-style’ character and leadership, applied both on the field and in the classroom.” “Football is the vehicle for the education,” he stated, adding that it is the educator’s responsibility to establish the foundation of values for students, such as how to work towards their goals. Employing sports analogies to promote doing well in school, said the father of a 17-year-old son, “I tell students that the school is giving them their playbooks of how to ‘win,’ with tests in history, language and math. I tell them that they must be a student first, then an athlete.” For Israeli students, maintained Lustig, who grew up in a very small village playing soccer, and interested in volleyball, martial arts and climbing trees, these are important values for those who have problems with

“I tell students that school is giving them their playbooks of how to ‘win,’ with tests in history, language and math. I tell them that they must be a student first, then an athlete,” according to program founder Erez Lustig, who says football can be a vehicle for education. attention span, discipline and respect for elders. “It creates a ‘reset’ for students in between classes,” he said. “It’s a high-discipline sport. When you have the same purpose, everyone works as a team, and at the end of the day, people just want to play with friends.” Last year, 21 of his students ages 13 to 16 participated in the Gridiron Imports twoday intensive training academy in Germany, which searches for exceptional players from Europe, seeking “the next generation of the best of the best who will have the opportunity to earn a scholarship to go to the States.” Out of 164 competitors, only 60 finished, including all 21 from Israel. At the training academy, coaches would ask Lustig, “Why do all your kids have sparks in their eyes?” His answer to them is the kids’ Israeli upbringing. “They have a purpose,” he would say. “Growing up in Israel, it’s a different story than other nations. Everything is boiling here, so you need to be tough,” he said. “We are a startup nation, and Israelis are very creative. We don’t take anything for granted — this is how you live in Israel.” Two of his students recently became the first Israelis to be accepted and awarded a

two-year combined scholarship of $227,000 to go to Kiski boarding school Pennsylvania, a private boarding school to learn and play football. Young Champions has also garnered the attention of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a group of evangelical Christians who come to Israel for a summer clinic with former NFL and NCAA players and coaches like Northern Irish professional footballer Jonny Evans and former Pittsburgh Steelers’ Jon Kolb. One of Lustig’s key future goals is to create an English-immersion football summer camp for 40 kids in Israel where “sports is a common language,” joining forces with American schools who would visit Israel, allowing for opportunities to make Israeli friends, “learn to become a champion” and “share their ideas of how they want to change the world.” As football falls out of favor for some in the United States because of potential injuries and problem with concussions, Lustig said “I’m telling my American friends, ‘Just you wait —the revival of American football will come from Israel,’ and though they laugh at first, they then immediately ask where to sign up to join us.” WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM





he Impact Forum has been called a “silver bullet” network with its pro-Israel network of Los-Angelesbased donors. Together, they leverage their combined philanthropic strength to support each other’s initiatives, collaborating and empowering a network of small- and mid-size nonprofit organizations — each punching substantially above their weight — to fight anti-Semitism, strengthen the State of Israel and advance the U.S.-Israel alliance. Its innovative method lies in its multi-network collaboration between philanthropists and organizations to produce maximum impact for a shared cause of proIsrael activism. Utilizing the “network effect,” it effectively leverages local donors’ money by bringing together pro-Israel philanthropists who learn, support and empower ideologically aligned nonprofits that do exceptional work for the Jewish people. Every six weeks, the philanthropists attend a luncheon or a dinner to introduce themselves to the other donors and hear from two members of the startup-like network of organizations that advance the forum’s mission. The presenting organizations are selected by a steering committee comprised of experienced and influential philanthropists in the community. Since its establishment in 2017 by a group of Los Angeles philanthropists, the Impact Forum has raised more than $3 million for the nearly 50 organizations that have presented at their events. Adam Milstein, a member of the philanthropists’ group that established this platform, said that though it is currently solely based in Los Angeles, the philanthropic multi-network collaboration model “should be adopted nationwide for those seeking to



truly drive change.” Doing so could have the potential to effectively stand up against the wave of antiSemitism sweeping the United States and around the world, he said. Supported organizations are some of the most effective ones seeking to influence policy-makers, opinion leaders and the public to make a difference. These organizations fall into three categories: research and analysis organization, bootson-the-ground organizations and media outlets. The organizations that fall under these three categories build synergy and force multiplication between themselves that drive maximum impact. With the financial support of philanthropic network, the knowledge provided by the research organizations and the public awareness created by the media organizations, the boots-on-the-ground groups can focus on maximizing the impact of their unique capabilities. The organizations are primarily based in the United States (with some in the United Kingdom and Canada), where antiSemitism is rising at alarming rates and mobilization against it is urgently needed. Some of the Impact Forum presenters include: StopAntisemitsm.org, Zachor Legal Institute, Campaign against anti-Semitism UK, NGO Monitor and UN Watch. Among its newest organizations is B’nai Brith Canada, which presented its work to ensure Jewish unity and continuity in Canada, and support the State of Israel and global Jewry on Jan. 9 at the Impact Forum’s 24th luncheon in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. “It’s an incredible concept expressing a results-oriented approach that I find really innovative, where we can interact with

individual philanthropists and engage with charitable groups that combat hate and anti-Semitism,” B’nai Brith Canada’s CEO Michael Mostyn said. “We can support other groups accomplishing great things for our community, and talk about collaboration and ways to work together to combat hateful speech and action to make ourselves stronger.” As fundraising is a time consuming and difficult undertaking for smaller nonprofit organizations, the forum philanthropists enable them to focus on their goals. In addition to offering financial support to the organizations, the Impact Forum shares with them cutting-edge research and encourages collaboration, synergy and force multiplication. In a recent example of such collaborative efforts, “The New Anti-Semites” report was authored by two Impact Forum nonprofits— StopAntisemitism.org and Zachor Legal Institute—and was based on the research and analysis provided by other network organizations. The report was then endorsed by many more Impact Forum organizations that are helping spread the critical findings of the report and promoting the call to action. “The Impact Forum addresses the critical need for a strategic network that changes the mindset of the Jewish community from defense to offense,” said Milstein. “It employs out-of-the-box strategies that effectively bring together the resources, talents and connections of philanthropists.” “Together,” continued Milstein, “our philanthropic network is eliminating redundancies, encouraging synergies between like-minded organizations and optimizing tools to maximize impact.”




“Returned Deportee” by Alfred Lakos. Credit: Gift of Charles Barber in honor of Dr. Paul Barber, Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, New York.





rtwork made by eyewitnesses who documented their experiences during and shortly after the Holocaust, often in secret and while risking their lives, are showcased in a new exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City. The 21 works of art in the exhibit “Rendering Witness: Holocaust-Era Art as Testimony,” which opened on Jan. 16, were created in Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary and Poland during the Holocaust, primarily in ghettos and slave labor camps, or immediately after World War II. The items on display include a child’s drawings and a U.S. Army soldier’s paintings; some of the more introspective pieces are portraits of fellow prisoners and views from cramped bunks. Visitors will view images by a deported cartoonist looking out a barrack window at an SS flag and what the children’s barrack in the Terezin Ghetto looked like from a child’s perspective. These artists documented the Holocaust as it happened around them, providing a personal perspective to World War II not often seen, and while some of the artists survived, others perished in the Holocaust. Many of the drawings were created in secret — hidden under mattresses or in one’s prisoner uniform. The artists drew not only Jewish prisoners, but members of the SS, and risked facing harsh punishments, including death, if caught. “Resistance during the Holocaust took many forms, each courageous in its own way: mental, physical, spiritual,” the museum’s president and CEO Jack Kliger said. “The choice by many victims of the Nazis to document their experiences through art was a form of resistance, too, and it was one that left a critically important set of records for future generations.” Fourteen of the pieces in the exhibition have never been on display before, and all items except one are curated from the museum’s collection of more than 380 drawings made during or right after the Holocaust. “Our goal is to tell the story of the Holocaust through the words and objects of

the Jews who lived through the Holocaust,” the exhibition’s curator, Michael Morris, said. “I hope that this exhibition reinforces that goal, but this time, focused on the art, biographies of those who produced it, and the contextual history of what they were living through.” Kliger added that “since we opened our doors in 1997, the museum has been committed to telling the history of the Holocaust through the lens of the victims and survivors, rather than the perpetrators. ‘Rendering Witness’ is a wonderful reflection of that principle. As we look to the decade ahead, that commitment to our forebears will remain a constant, even as much else changes about the way we present the Holocaust to younger generations.” Eleven of the artworks were made by Jewish prisoners interned in Terezin, some of whom were professional artists assigned to the ghetto’s Technical Department, which made plans and drawings of Terezin for official use, or the Workshop for Arts and Crafts and Utility Painting. Their positions gave them access to art supplies. The exhibition also includes works by two well-known artists: Helga Weissova and Alfred Kantor. Kantor, a trained artist, was a survivor of the Terezin Ghetto and Auschwitz, in addition to Schwarzheide—a sub-camp of Sachsenhausen, north of Dresden, Germany. He memorized scenes that he witnessed during the day and then drew them in the barracks at night. He was also shown kindness by a Jewish physician assigned to the Auschwitz camp infirmary who allowed him to draw there and gave him a small watercolor set, though putting them both at risk of severe punishment. Kantor continued to draw at night while at Schwarzheide, but destroyed most of his drawings immediately after creating them, fearing punishment by the Nazis. Three of his works are displayed in “Rendering Witness” alongside an enlarged page from the sketchbook he filled during his time in the Deggendorf Displaced Persons Camp in 1945.

Weissova, now in her 90s and a practicing artist living in Prague, was 12 when she was sent to the Terezin Ghetto with her parents. She brought art supplies with her, and after she smuggled her first drawing, a snowman, to her father Otto, housed in a different barrack, he told her, “Draw what you see.” Weissova listened and produced approximately 100 drawings, two of which are on display in the current exhibit. “In this particular moment, it is important we revisit the testimony of those like Helga, who experienced anti-Semitism’s darkest chapter,” said Elyse Buxbaum, the museum’s executive vice president for strategy and development, at the exhibit’s press preview. “In a world of rising hatred and anti-Semitism, the museum is called upon to be bolder in our mission of education, preservation and outreach than ever before.” Also featured are drawings by U.S. Army soldier Marvin Hayle, a member of the 104th Infantry Division that arrived at Nordhausen concentration camp, a subcamp of the concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora, in 1945 to find very few prisoners and thousands of death bodies. Shocked by the sight, Hayle drew what he saw. Before deportations, some artists entrusted their artwork to loved ones. Ahead of her deportation to Auschwitz, Weissova turned over drawings to her uncle, who hid them behind a wall in the Terezin Ghetto. They were given back to her after the war. Peter Loewenstein gave a portfolio of 70 drawings to his mother, but he, on the other hand, was never able to retrieve them. Loewenstein was deported from the Terezin Ghetto to Auschwitz in 1944, where he was murdered at the age of 25. His sister, the only surviving member of his family, recovered the artwork after the war. One of Loewenstein’s pieces, titled “Eight men in coats with stars,” is the enlarged image that opens the exhibit and was produced the same year as his deportation to Auschwitz. For both Kliger and Morris, the image stands out among the artwork in the exhibition. It “conveys the weight of the WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM



Holocaust without showing anything overly graphic,” said Morris. Kliger added that “Loewenstein created 70 drawings in ink and watercolor while he was imprisoned in Terezin. … This drawing is one of his most striking. Without being graphic, it captures so much of the fear and sadness that characterized the Holocaust.” “Rendering Witness” follows last year’s chilling exhibit, “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away.” That display, which runs through August, outlines the transformation of Auschwitz from a Polish town (Oswiecim) into the largest documented mass-murder site in human history. Kliger said, “We must continually tell the history of the Holocaust in new and different ways, and these two exhibitions on display provide meaningful contrasts and connections.” Morris said at the press preview, “While curating this exhibition, my mind was on the



artists and the historical contexts through which they lived, but ... this exhibition — like all exhibitions, educational initiatives and public programs at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust — stands against and educates about the dangers of anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry, of any kind and from any source. This is an important facet of our work.” The opening of the exhibit follows the recent announcement by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo about the museum’s expansion so that it will become a “learning destination for school children across the state” and help address the “disturbing number of antiSemitic and other discriminatory attacks in New York.” Additionally, just this week, it was revealed that the Department of Education has teamed up with the museum to provide eighth- and 10th-grade students from Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg,

Crown Heights and Borough Park free field trips to the cultural institution in an ongoing effort to combat anti-Semitism. Kliger said “[Holocaust Remembrance Day] certainly provides a meaningful backdrop against which to consider the themes presented in ‘Rendering Witness,’ and an important moment to revisit the history of the Holocaust and all that has happened in the 75 years since. The resurgence of antiSemitism here in New York and around the world gives these pieces of art a new type of resonance.” “RENDERING WITNESS: HOLOCAUST-ERA ART AS TESTIMONY” IS OPEN THROUGH JULY 5 AT THE MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE – A LIVING MEMORIAL TO THE HOLOCAUST, 36 BATTERY PLACE, NEW YORK CITY.

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Peter Yarrow:

Live in San Diego Folk legend Peter Yarrow of 1960s folk music trio Peter, Paul and Mary will visit San Diego to perform live this month. Yarrow, a lifelong friend of Linda Carroll, Psychotherapist and board certified life coach, will be in La Jolla on February 28 to entertain. All proceeds will benefit Carol and her daughter’s charity foundations, Little Mercies and Just One at a Time. Tickets are $175 each, and attendees are encouraged to bring a donation of new underwear, school and art supplies, or hygiene products to be delivered to shelters in the Tijuana area. Tickets may be purchased at www.justoneatatime. org/concert.html. For questions, email lindacarroll44@gmail.com. The exact location of the concert will be sent to attendees upon registration.



It has been a busy six months for 68-year-old San Diego playwright Jonathan Rosenberg. In August, he and his writing partner, Brad Ross, wrote and co-produced the World Premiere musical, 33 1/3 – House of Dreams, which ended up being the highest grossing and best-attended musical in the San Diego Repertory Theater’s 44 year history, bringing with it seven San Diego Critics Circle nominations. He is currently in Phoenix, Ariz., preparing for his second world premiere musical, Americano, at the Phoenix Theatre, the centerpiece of their 100th season. The musical is based on the life of Tony Valdovinos, a DREAMer who arrived in Phoenix at age two, only to find out that he was not a citizen when he went to enlist in the Marines. Americano, which runs from January 29 through February 23, has a book co-written by Jonathan and Phoenix Theatre Artistic Director Michael Barnard. International recording artist Carrie Rodriguez has composed the music with musical arrangements from Sergio Mendoza (Orkesta Mendoza, Calexico). Jonathan actually first heard Carrie perform at The Belly Up in Solana Beach, and knew Carrie had to be involved with this project. Michael and Jonathan also collaborated on the lyrics, which are incredibly meaningful and memorable. Rosenberg’s Havurah and other members from Temple Adat Shalom have supported him throughout, with some members planning a road trip to Phoenix in February to see Americano.

High School Student Plays Lead Role West Hills High School freshman, Levi Laddon, is no stranger to the stage. He has performed in dozens of professional productions at the Old Globe Theatre, Coronado Playhouse, and Young Actors Theatre. Now, he’s about to take on his toughest role yet, a lead in gUnTOPIA, a dark comedy that satirizes the normalization of gun violence. Playwright Will Cooper’s world premiere, gUnTOPIA introduces audiences to a Leave It to Beaver-style America where gun ownership is universal and shooting deaths are no more bothersome than a parking ticket. A child is shot and no one seems to care. It’s totally normal. The notion is absurd – or is it? Laddon plays Bobby Nelson, a young boy who accidentally shoots his sister and feels no remorse whatsoever because he is living in a world where gun violence is just a normal part of life. More shocking, Bobby’s parent accept the news with barely a shrug. Laddon is up for the challenge of this complex role and issue. “I’m so excited to have this incredible opportunity to be able to work with such a talented cast and creative team on a play that is so important, especially in light of current events,” says the 14-year-old actor. “As a young person in America, gun violence issues are very prevalent in my life due to recent school shootings. I hope that this play will leave audiences more educated and aware of the crisis our country is going through.” Raising awareness and sparking conversation about gun violence played a great role in The Roustabout Theatre Co. choosing to produce gUnTOPIA. “It was important for us to tackle this issue because gun violence impacts the majority of Americans at some point in their lives,” says Roustabouts founding member, Phil Johnson. gUnTOPIA performances will take place at MOXIE Theatre at 6663 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego 92115. Previews begin Sunday, March 8. Opening Night is on Friday, March 13, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased online at www.theroustabouts.org.


Avodah San Diego to Launch This Summer

Avodah, a national antipoverty organization dedicated to strengthening the

Jewish community’s impact on the most pressing justice issues of our time, will launch its fifth Jewish Service Corps location this summer in San Diego. Avodah San Diego is a collaboration between Avodah and Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFS), one of San Diego’s oldest and most impactful nonprofit human service agencies. The only year-long program of its kind, the Avodah Jewish Service Corps provides young Jewish leaders with the opportunity to make tangible change on issues including criminal justice reform, affordable housing, education, healthcare access, climate justice, immigration, and more by providing them with hands-on, full-time direct service positions at local organizations addressing poverty and inequality. Avodah Corps Members live communally within a pluralistic Jewish framework, and engage in a robust curriculum that provides Jewish education and context for their antipoverty work. Since its founding in 1998, nearly 1,100 Avodah Corps Members have served at nearly 300 social service agencies, adding nearly $20 million in capacity and assisting more than 700,000 individuals facing the challenges of poverty. The program currently operates in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and New Orleans. “In launching Avodah San Diego, we are building a pipeline of leaders in the region that will impact the local Jewish community and its work toward social justice for many years to come,” Avodah CEO Cheryl Cook, said. “We are especially looking forward to having a significant local impact on the current immigration-related issues facing San Diego, one of the main points of entry for refugees, asylum seekers, and other immigrants, as more people are fleeing their home countries for safety and freedom than ever before. By bringing our time-tested program to this region of the country, we will build and strengthen a network of Jewish leaders eager to support immigrants and refugees and fight for justice on their behalf.” “Jewish Family Service served nearly 40,000 individuals in the San Diego region last year, providing much-needed assistance in the areas of nutrition, transportation, and immigration services,” said JFS CEO Michael Hopkins. “We are excited for Avodah to bring and develop future leaders in San Diego where they will amplify and enhance the critical work JFS and our partners are undertaking every day.” Visit avodah.net to learn more.





ewish National Fund-USA (JNF) is bringing the first Ethiopian Miss Israel, Titi Aynaw, to headline its 9th Annual Love of Israel Brunch on March 22 at 10:30 am. The annual event is being held in conjunction with Jewish National Fund’s Major Donor Weekend and will take place at the Omni San Diego Hotel. Tickets can be purchased for $36 by visiting jnf.org/SDBrunch2020. Titi will take the stage with San Diego’s CBS 8 morning news anchor, Stella Inger Escobedo. A top Israeli model, television personality, and advocate for Israel, Aynaw became the first Israeli-Ethiopian to win the Miss Israel title, opening the door for other models of Ethiopian heritage and causing advertisers to reassess their attitudes towards black models. “I am a proud Ethiopian-Israeli woman and I am very excited to return to America and meet Israel supporters at the San Diego Love of Israel Brunch,” remarks Aynaw. “My previous trips to the U. S. began a dialogue that needs to continue, so I am very happy to continue to share my personal story and I invite people of all backgrounds to come hear about my journey.” “Our annual Love of Israel Brunch has become a San Diego Jewish National Fund reunion of passionate individuals who all share a love of our homeland,” said Jewish National Fund’s National Campaign Director Sharon Freedman. “We are so honored that this year’s event is co-chaired by Elaine Chortek and Susan Chortek Weismann. And 36


the fact that San Diego was chosen as the location for JNF’s Major Donor Weekend is a real testament to the incredible lay leadership led by our National President and First Lady Dr. Sol and Lauren Lizerbram and San Diego President Shari Schenk.” Born in the Gondar province of Ethiopia, Aynaw always dreamed of immigrating to Israel. Her father passed away when she was a toddler, and she was 12 when she lost her mother to a longtime illness. Aynaw and her brother moved to Israel soon after and lived with their grandparents in Netanya. She served in the Israel Defense Forces as Company Commander with the rank of Lieutenant. After completing her officer’s training, Aynaw joined the Military Police and had up to 300 men and women under her command. She recently founded the “Titi Project,” which provides extracurricular activities and enrichment to Ethiopian children from disadvantaged backgrounds in Netanya. She hopes to expand the project in order to give more children educational opportunities that she lacked growing-up. She is currently on a leave of absence from the IDC University in Hertzliya where she studies international relations. Stella and Titi will have an engaging conversation, connecting about their immigration stories. Stella was born in Uzbekistan, former Soviet Union. When she was just seven years old, her family came to the U.S. as refugees. Stella grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from USC. Her journalism career has taken her to many places across the nation. Jewish National Fund invites all San Diegans to consider becoming a major donor with a minimum gift of $5,000 and enhance the lives of our Israeli brothers and sisters. Join us, join your community, and meet fellow major donors from around the country during the Major Donor Weekend. Be a part of the festivities, meet like-minded individuals who all share the magic of Israel engagement and who are making a substantive difference in developing Israel. For more information about Jewish National Fund’s Major Donor Weekend and Love of Israel Brunch, please contact Monica Edelman, San Diego Director, at 858.824.9178 x988 or medelman@jnf.org.



& mishagoss That Time I Started a Jewish Women's Support Group


ow hard could it be? Set some folding chairs in a circle in my living room, put out some grapes, and throw out a topic. Voilà …instant friendships! I put a post online in San Diego Meet-Up Groups that said, “Starting a Jewish Women’s group. I worry a lot so I was thinking of calling it WWW (Women Who Worry!) but we can tweak when you get here.” The first two comments came from women who worried they didn’t know how to “twerk.” I reread my post and realized autocorrect took some liberties with the word “tweak.” The next remark was also interesting. “Will this be for Jewish women who worry incessantly and want to stop? Or for Jewish women who worry they don’t worry as much as they should?” And the comment after that: “Jewish women don’t have the Monopoly on negative emotions, ya know! I own Boardwalk where the rent is high with Guilt. And Park Place, which also charges a lot of Shame.” What the heck? Followed by this: “How about a women’s group that plays fun board games? I’m tired of Mahjong and it’ll take our minds off worrying.” And then this: “Can we call it, ‘Women Who Worry Too Much AND the Men Who Put Up With Them’ so we also meet interesting guys?” And naturally this followed: “I won’t show up if males attend because then I can’t wear yoga

pants.” Frustrated, I posted my address with a date/ time and figured I’d deal with these Jewish women in person. The day arrived and things were fine in the beginning as everyone filed in, but I wondered if I should’ve asked them to wear their Star of David necklaces, otherwise how would I know we were all Jewish? I guess it didn’t really matter. Suddenly a stressed-out mother dashed in bluntly asking, “So where is your childcare?” Stunned, I said – “Uh well if we pitch in say $2, I suppose my eldest daughter could babysit for an hour upstairs.” Another woman immediately asked, “If we pitch in $10, do you suppose you could hire a housekeeper to clean this pigpen up and serve deli trays instead of grapes because I have IBS?” Yep, these women were all Jewish! After more bickering and debating, one woman claiming to be a licensed therapist suggested we turn our chairs toward the wall and sit facing away from one another to meditate instead. After they left, I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep that night. I toyed with starting another support group for women with insomnia. But how could that work? We’d be too tired during the day from being awake all night. And in the evenings, we’d be trying to meditate to help ourselves fall asleep. I began to worry we’d never find a mutually convenient time. To distract myself,

I read slips of paper women had left in my suggestion box. Mostly they were filled with ideas for new ideas for groups. “Women Who Are Authentic and Mindful” and “Women Who Dislike Using Words Like Authentic & Mindful” and “Women Who Are Mean To Other Women at Support Groups” and “Women With Teenagers” and “Women Who Want to Trade Teenagers” and “Older Jewish Woman Who are Still Hip” and “Middle-Aged Jewish Woman Who Dislike Their Hips.” At the next group, I announced our new name to encompass everything anyone had in mind. “Dysfunctional Households.” Immediately someone asked, “Women Who Grew Up in a Dysfunctional Household?” or “Women Who Create their Own Dysfunctional Household?” Then a man showed up and asked if this was the Jewish support group where women are twerking?” and five women (wearing yoga pants) immediately ran out. Any future support groups I decide to start will simply be named, “Oy Vey.” STEPHANIE D. LEWIS CAN BE FOUND ON THE HUFFINGTON POST AND AT ONCEUPONYOURPRIME.COM.







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