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contents May 2020 • www.lchaimmagazine.com
COVER STORY Saving Lives Through Early Detection: Susan G. Komen San Diego........................................
1000 WORDS A conversation with Aron Bielski, last of the Bielski brothers...............................................
16 18 19 20 22 23
12 ARON BIELSKI
San Diego for Every Child: The Coalition to End Child Poverty............................................
Esra Israel: To Give is To Receive ........................................................................................................... Hadassah Hospitals: A personal touch behind the mask....................................................... Virtual YomHaShoah.....................................................................................................................................
StandWithUs work continues despite global pandemic......................................................... Bring your Prayer into Your Heart Space - Yoga with Dina Aires.......................................
BEHIND THE MASK
Homebound seniors in Israel battle isolation, loneliness during pandemic .............. Spotting the Social Isolation and Opening Minds of Your Senior Loved Ones.......
Mazel and Mishagoss............................
Torah: Of the Book........................................
PUBLISHERS Diane Benaroya & Laurie Miller
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MY COMIC RELIEF l BY SALOMON MAYA
random rants Behind the Mask
e’ve all seen them; the endless Covid-19 TV commercials. The same voiceover actor reminding us that “we will be okay,” with comforting piano music playing in the background. I’ve been working in advertising since 2013 and have won awards for producing and writing those very same types of commercials, but even I have to say that I don’t want to see that right now. Over the past weeks of quarantine, I have witnessed several polarizing events. Communities coming together, while others were tearing the very fabric of what makes us humans apart. It’s the latter that I want to address. There are men and women yelling at authorities for doing their jobs; creating an invisible government “boogie man,” hellbent on removing freedoms. And for what? Some people just question things they can’t see, feel, or touch. The very intangibility of coronavirus makes it, for many groups, hard to understand and navigate. So, if this is you, here is my story. Recently, I interviewed a woman by the name of Viviana. I’m a morning show producer, but since we’ve had furloughs 6
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • MAY 2020
on our team, I stepped up and put on my journalist’s hat. Viviana is an ICU nurse for a local hospital and has been on the job an entire six months. Yup. That’s right. Just six months. She had just graduated nursing school and got thrown into this pandemic. She told me how she had three dedicated patients all the time. Never more. Never less. Three. When one recovers, there is another patient with coronavirus to take their place. If one of her patients expires, there is always another one. Viviana’s bright brown eyes filled with glee when I asked her what she felt by the community outreach. I could barely make out her words behind her surgical mask, but she said it’s been amazing to see such help from random strangers. And then I asked her what she would say to the people who don’t believe in this virus. Or what she would tell someone who believes it’s all a hoax or simply, the flu blown out of proportion. She paused. And then looked me straight in the eyes and said, “it’s not fake.” She didn’t say anything else except for thank you and walked away. I didn’t want to ask a follow up question or try to get details.
Her eyes told me the entire story. Every patient lost. Every grieving family member. Every intubation. Every stolen breath. I feel like she saw all of them in one instant. You might not believe in this 100 percent. And it’s your choice. You might miss your manicurist, or your favorite sit-down restaurant. You might want to visit your theatre seats. But you can’t have that right now. And you have to be okay with that. Not for your sake, sorry. But for Viviana’s and the countless medical professionals putting their lives on the line for us. Put on a mask. Stay home if you can. Create new bonds with the people around you. Cook better food. Cook it together. Play board games. Listen to the radio. Create radio playlists. Drive and watch the ocean from your car window. We will get through this. SALOMON MAYA IS A LOCAL EMMYWINNER, ACTOR AND PLAYWRIGHT. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @SALOMAYA OR EMAIL HIM AT SALOMONM@ LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM.
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TORAH l BY RABBI DANIEL BORTZ
the book Counting the Omer
t took 50 days from Passover and the exodus from Egypt — until the holiday of Shavuot for the Jewish nation to reach Mt. Sinai and hear the commandments directly from G-d. They used this time to spiritually prepare for this momentous occasion by working on refining themselves. Since the energy of these original cosmic events are awakened each year at this time, we too prepare for Shavuot by “counting the omer” — seven weeks of focusing on each one of the seven divine soul traits we possess: loving kindness, strength/discipline, harmony/compassion, endurance, humility, connection, and expression. This paradigm of seven is found throughout reality: seven days of the week, seven musical notes on the western scale, seven colors, seven shepherds and fruits of Israel, seven circles under the wedding canopy, and many more. An interesting question arises: The Torah clearly says to count 50 days, so why do we only count 49? The answer to this touches on a beautiful idea that applies to all areas of life. We live in a finite, scientifically measured world. How then can we reach transcendence and connect with a greater reality that isn’t physically measurable? The only path is through this physical world, following the necessary steps
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • MAY 2020
of effort, but then realize that in putting finite parts together you’ve constructed something that goes beyond the sum of the parts. Music is made up of specific notes, strings, keys. A series of sounds that on their own are meaningless. Yet once the musician plays them all together, it becomes music. It’s greater than the sum of the parts — it’s the totality of the effect that those series of notes have. Yet only through a series of specific detailed notes being played in the right flow can this transcendent outcome occur. This is true of great writing and poetry, in painting, in incredible stories and movies. Every detail is vitally important! But the whole point is that it takes you to a higher place beyond the details. When a teacher educates a student, the goal shouldn’t only be to instill certain skills and knowledge. He or she should awaken the student to a deeper way of thinking. To see problem solving in a new light; to approach reading with a new lens. A marriage should be like that. It involves plenty of detailed giving to one another. But it goes deeper. It’s growing together and creating a relationship of love through giving that’s far greater than two people experiencing life together. Your life is like this. As you learn and study new ideas of Torah, grow as a person,
do another selflessness act, practice patience, perform kindness — all of this over time is constructing you into a human being that’s greater than the individual things you’ve done. You become like a song whose sum is far greater than its parts. Jewish history is like this too. Endless successes and tragedies and growth as a nation. The prophets teach that there will come a time very soon of redemption when we will see why every detail of history was necessary. And the outcome of this history will be breathtaking and transcendent. This explains why we count 49 days and not the last day — the 50th. The work we do on ourselves is vital to reach the miraculous Sinai experience. But this is the outcome of the work which isn’t countable. It isn’t a “step in the journey” or a final note of music. It’s the transcendent music that takes you to another place. May we always add notes to the symphony through the mitzvot we do and the way we grow, leading us to the resulting transcendent experience that awaits us. DANIEL BORTZ, THE MILLENNIAL RABBI, IS THE FOUNDER OF JTEEN AND SOUL X. CONNECT AT RABBIBORTZ.COM.
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Jules F. Knapp, 91, of Stuart Florida died surrounded by his family on April 8, 2020. Jules was a successful entrepreneur and nationally renowned philanthropist. Jules met and married the love of his life Gwen in 1956. Together they had 4 daughters. Chari z”l, Elyse Sollender (Jeffrey z”l) (Mark Lohkemper), Joy z”l, and Susan Schulman (Bradley). In 2004, He founded The Jules F. Knapp Entrepreneurship Center which offers a wide variety of supportive services for start-ups and existing small businesses located in and around Illinois Institute of Technology. In 2006, Jules and Gwen established a scholarship for Enactus, formerly known as Students in Free Enterprise. To date they have provided over 50 scholarships to college juniors and seniors. In 2018, Jules and Gwen committed to help Cleveland Clinic Martin North Hospital renovate its emergency department. When completed the new emergency center will be doubled in size and contain the latest technology. Jules F. Knapp will be remembered for his endearing smile, zest for life, positive attitude, infinite amount of energy, generosity of spirit and living every day with the utmost passion. If that meant a round of golf, socializing with friends, working tirelessly on a business deal, collaborating with a charitable organization or spending time with his family, he enjoyed it to the fullest. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, daughters and grandchildren. Celebration of Life will be planned for the future. Donations can be made to: University of Chicago,Gwen Knapp Center for Lupus and Immunology Research, 130 E. Randolph #2500, Chicago, 60601 or Cleveland Clinic Martin Health Foundation, PO Box 9010, Stuart, Florida, 34996 WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
COVER STORY l BY EVA TRIEGER
THROUGH EARLY DETECTION SUSAN G. KOMEN SAN DIEGO
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • MAY 2020
think it’s pretty safe to say that most women don’t look forward to their annual mammogram. But if we truly understood how early detection saves lives, we may rethink the experience and be grateful for the technology and opportunity. In a recent phone call with Meredith Hall-Chand, the Interim President & CEO of Susan G. Komen San Diego, I learned of the amazing things Susan G. Komen San Diego offers to thousands of San Diegans of all genders, ages and ethnicities every year. Prior to becoming Interim President and CEO, Hall-Chand had been the Director of Development for the organization. Her own connection to the organization echoes that of many others who’ve had a family member suffer from, or succumb to, breast cancer. I learned that Susan G. Komen was a real person who died from breast cancer while in her 30s. The organization, which is headquartered in Texas, was born out of a promise between sisters, to find a cure for breast cancer. Our San Diego Susan G. Komen Chapter is a grassroots organization with only nine employees and a relatively small operating budget. The goals of this group are anything but modest! Hall-Chand helped me understand the broadly inclusive scope that San Diego’s Susan G. Komen offers our community. Firstly, I was unaware that six area women are diagnosed with breast cancer each day, and each day, one woman dies of the disease. Reducing these numbers is paramount, and the first step is to make screenings available to all women and dissolve the barriers that exist. While men can also be victims of breast cancer, statistics put them at less than 1 percent of all cases. Of special concern to those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, mutations in the BRCA genes significantly increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Those with either parent positive for the mutation face a 50 percent chance of inheriting that mutation. In this case, genetic counseling may be recommended. “Whether or not you have a genetic disposition, please get yourself checked regularly. Early detection can mean the difference between a full life versus a compromised one. Please help support Susan G. Komen to continue their constant work and research into eliminating this killer. Without your help, we can’t win this battle,” exhorts Sherry Berman Ahern, a committed donor and volunteer to Susan G. Komen San Diego. Hall-Chand shared that women often don’t have annual exams because they lack transportation, can’t leave young children, don’t get leave time from jobs or lack insurance. To this end, Komen partners with corporations, and nonprofit organizations such as Jewish Family Services and enjoys fabulous voluntary support. Additionally, HallChand described the newly created Financial Assistance Fund that provides groceries, gasoline, car payments, rent or mortgages so that those dealing with the disease don’t become bankrupt or experience despair in addition to coping with cancer. I was told that when individuals need to make choices about these items, they tend to stop taking their medication, cut it in half or take it every other day, so as to save money. This fund enables individuals to care for themselves and their families with support and compassion. People need to speak candidly with their doctors, sharing their own “normal” and any family history or current physical symptoms that are new or distressing. Self-breast exams are good, but do not stand
in for annual (or more frequent) exams with a professional. Doctors know which tests are indicated only if a patient reports her issues. Education is essential and the organization is all about teaching the public what services are available through handing out literature at community events, doing outreach at colleges, churches, universities, health fairs etc. The education offered isn’t only theoretical. One amazing event is a partnership with Hologic, a company that makes mammography machines and provides mobile coaches to bring screenings to the public at a local spot. The results can then be sent directly to health care providers or clinics. Petco Park was the site of one such event, and women are encouraged to call Komen ahead and make an appointment for their mobile mammogram. Obviously, this has been hampered by COVID-19, but fortunately, another organization, Los Angeles-based, Sharsheret, offers webinars and virtual presentations to keep patients informed and supported. Sharsheret has a Peer Support Network of over 16,000 women who can empathize with the challenges and fears which accompany breast cancer. One thing I found exciting and surprising is that all of the money raised in San Diego stays in San Diego. This means that not only can Komen San Diego provide screenings, financial aid to patients, but can also do research and advocacy work. Currently, effective medications are being researched at Salk and UCSD. Volunteer support is critical, and this year’s Race for the Cure is slated for November 1, 2020. The route will take participants through Balboa Park. This event is the largest annual fundraiser for Susan G. Komen San Diego, and participants will celebrate the 24th consecutive year of dedication and optimism, by raising funds to further research and services. This year’s theme is ‘90s Throwback End to Breast Cancer Walk, and walkers are urged to don workout gear from yesteryear. Online registration can be found at email@example.com for walkers and virtual participants. There is also an annual dinner, More Than Pink, that will be virtual this year. On May 29, you can join supporters for the one hour event from the comfort of your own home. Though this event is free to attend, a VIP package may be purchased online. Proceeds will benefit immunocompromised and low-income breast cancer patients with food assistance, transportation, childcare, rent, utilities and treatment assistance. Another way to demonstrate your support is to become an ambassador. To volunteer please visit iamkomen.org. The website offers volunteers of every age the opportunity to play a part in educating the public about lifestyle choices for healthier living and best practices for dealing with breast cancer. Celebrating its 25th year, Susan G. Komen San Diego is not loosening its grip on the goal. Mortality rates have decreased by 40 percent since the organization was founded. Radical mastectomy has been replaced by medication or hormone therapy. These are major strides not to be minimized however, the battle continues. When asked about her dream for Susan G. Komen San Diego, Meredith Hall-Chand wants to eradicate all barriers to screenings and provide these critical services to all of those in need. TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SUSAN G. KOMEN SAN DIEGO OR TO MAKE A DONATION, VISIT WWW.KOMENSANDIEGO.ORG. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
L’CHAIM | BY ACKSON RICHMAN | jns.org
Aron Bielski visiting the location in modern day Belarus where he and his brothers fought the Nazis and other pro-German forces during World War II. Source: Screenshot. 12
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • MAY 2020
WORDS A CONVERSATION WITH ARON BIELSKI, LAST OF THE BIELSKI BROTHERS
ron Bielski is the youngest and last living member of the Bielski brigade, which he founded along with three of his brothers. Their activities have become widely known as one of the largest partisan groups that rescued Jews during the Holocaust. He was born on July 21, 1927, into the family of David and Beila Bielski, who had 10 sons and two daughters, in what is today Belarus. According to Aron Bielski, they were the only known Jewish family in the Belarusian village of Stankiewicze. His parents and two of his brothers, Yankel and Avraham, were killed by the Nazis and buried in a mass grave on Dec. 5, 1941. The story of the Bielski brigade — led by the brothers — that fought Nazis and other pro-German forces while rescuing escapees from their grips has been written about over the years in a number of books, as well as portrayed in the 2008 feature film Defiance, starring Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber (George MacKay played Aron). After World War II and the Holocaust, during which his brothers saved more than 1,200 Jews, Aron Bielski moved to British Mandate Palestine and served in Israel’s army during the 1948 War of Independence. He then moved to the United States, where his brothers and the rest of the family lived, changing his name to “Bell.” He and his first wife, Judith, had three children. Today, Bielski, 92 and the grandfather of 12, lives in Florida with his wife Henryka, 80, who was born in Poland in 1939 and is also a survivor.
Aron and Henryka Bielski spoke by phone on April 12. The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Q: What was your role in the Bielski brigade? Aron Bielski: To pick up children in the ghetto. For some reason or another, I never wore a yellow Star of David. I don’t know why, maybe I was stupid. By the help of G-d, I don’t know why every Jew was wearing the star. Therefore, it gave me the opportunity to walk into places where no Jew could. I lost two brothers because they had the Star of David. It is very hard to be a good Jew, but at the end, it is indescribable how much rewarding it is. Don’t think for a moment that I was a hero in any way or matter. This was pure luck because there were stronger people than me, and they were butchered. But I was lucky enough to prevail. Q: What was your relationship with your brothers before and after you went into the forest, becoming partisans and rescuers? AB: I was always lucky and privileged to have brothers. Asael was probably the most powerful individual that I ever met in my life. Smart and a very powerful, strong individual. With the help of G-d, because how smart could you be? You are nothing against the regular army that is working to destroy you. How smart can you be? Henryka Bielski: The oldest brother, Walter, and [the second oldest] of the
"Don’t think for a moment that I was a hero in any way or matter. This was pure luck because there were stronger people than me, and they were butchered. But I was lucky enough to prevail." brothers, Nathan, went to America before the war. Yehoshua, a rabbi, went to Siberia during the war. A sister, Tove, lived with her husband, Avraham, in another village but they joined her brothers in the forest. Q: What was life like in the forest? AB: Life in the forest was great. [There was] freedom. You saw the sunshine. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
All we needed was food, and we [felt that we] won. If you wanted to sleep, you slept. If there was no bed, you slept on the snow. Whatever it was, it was. It’s hard to believe, but that’s what it is. I had a rifle, but I didn’t think I should be on the first line [of defense]. They wouldn’t let me. They protected me. Q: How did you get food while in the forest? AB: You went by people; some gave you, some didn’t want to give you, some we got by force. We got whatever food we could get. Believe it or not, there was some religious people who didn’t touch a piece of meat because it was not kosher. This I’ll never forget. HB: They had potatoes, eggs and even killed a cow. In the summertime, the forest had fruit. Q: Can you elaborate on those who wouldn’t eat the meat despite the dire circumstances? AB: They would rather die than eat the nonkosher meat. They would take leaves from a tree and cook them. They did not eat nonkosher food. It’s something for the books. Q: How was survival different as a partisan than other stories of survival during World War II and the Holocaust? Was there a different mindset? AB: You’re a different person than if you were born in the city and never been to the woods. You’re afraid of animals, wild animals. We were only afraid of G-d himself. HB: My mother survived with me, and we were not in the ghetto. The Polish army helped us. My father was in Auschwitz. AB: And she also survived because she knew, G-d told her, that I needed a very good wife, a very good friend. She’s still here, believe it or not. Q: How did you two meet? HB: We met in the Catskills in Upstate New York in 1992 and got married in 1995. My husband had two daughters and one son. 14
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The daughter had four children, and one son had four and the other had five. I have two biological and two adopted children. Q: There has been a great deal written and featured about the experiences of you and your brothers, including the 2008 film Defiance. How accurate are the stories and portrayals, and can you address the accuracy of memory in general, particularly when it comes to the Holocaust? AB: What happened was much worse than what the movie portrays. HB: The movie did not show how they fought for their freedom. How Aron was running to the ghetto and bringing people there to the forest. How they were going to fight for the food and bring the food to the forest. How there was a cow in the forest, and the milk was only for children. Aron was 13 years old and was helping younger children. The movie didn’t show how they trekked through the snow, how they were freezing to death. Q: What happened after the war? HB: Aron’s brother, Asael, served in the Russian army fighting Hitler and was killed in battle. His wife, Chaja, gave birth to their daughter. Aron was sitting on the sidewalk, thinking about what to do with his life. No parents, no family, nobody. It was the hardest time in his life because he didn’t know what to do. His brothers, Zus and Tuvia, went to check on their wives. AB: I sat down on the sidewalk and came to the conclusion: There’s no sense thinking. You get hungry. You got to go to work. I went and worked for whoever needed help. Q: What kind of work did you do? AB: Cleaning the village oven that cooked food. Whatever I was told to do, I was happy to do it.
Q: What are your thoughts on Holocaust revisionism, such as Poland’s recent laws about terminology? On Holocaust denial? On those who say that nothing so extreme as the Shoah could have happened? AB: Some of the Poles had to [keep quiet]. If they didn’t collaborate, they would die. Some of them had to save their own lives. Of course, not all gentiles are Jew-haters; not all gentiles are bad people. There were some Jews [who acted] worse. HB: I used to live in Canada and knew a Jew who came to North America at the same time as Aron. He was a Nazi collaborator in Auschwitz. He was taking gold from Jews. He said he was doing it because he wanted to save his life. But with that gold he brought to Canada with his cousin, he bought a twostory mansion. Polish families saved me and my mom. There were a lot of Poles who behaved badly. But there were a lot of Poles who did what they did because they were forced to. However, Poles did attack Jewish property and got richer from Jewish houses. They were jealous. Q: As one of the remaining survivors of the Holocaust, what is your message to the Jewish community, the United States and the world? HB: We should love each other. Doesn’t matter what is your skin color, what is your religion. You should always be nice to each other. We’re all human. We’re sharing the same Earth, same sun and moon. We’re sharing everything. Love everybody, be nice to everybody. AB: People should be nice to each other, to help each other, whoever needs help. Be good to your family and to people. If you see a person needs help, help him or her. Because the good Lord will know about it.
F E AT U R E S T O R Y PHOTO BY SENJUTI KUNDU ON UNSPLASH
THE COALITION TO END CHILD POVERTY SAN DIEGO FOR EVERY CHILD BY DEBORAH VIETOR
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • MAY 2020
F E AT U R E S T O R Y
n the fall of 2018, Sara Jacobs became the Founder and Chair of San Diego for Every Child: The Coalition to End Child Poverty. Currently, she concentrates on developing the organization, determining overall strategy and funding the infrastructure for the initiative for the first two years. Jacobs also helped launch the initiative’s San Diego COVID-19 Children’s Fund, donating $500,000 to the organization, with every donation matched 3:1 when the fund was first launched. Overall, she has contributed over a million dollars to support children in San Diego County. As a believer in harnessing the power of technology to solve big problems, Jacobs is dedicated to fighting for children’s causes. A collaborative effort, the initiative covers a wide range of local, state, national and international organizations, with partners including the YMCA and Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFS). Community partners, including the Center on Policy Initiatives, LISC San Diego, Parent Institute for Quality Education, San Diego Grantmakers, San Diego Unified School District, San Diego Workforce Partnership and others have defined children as the number one priority, according to Jacobs. Jacobs has served in policy positions at the U.S. State Department during the Obama Administration, UNICEF, and the United Nations. She also served as a policy advisor to Secretary Hillary Clinton during 2016. A candidate for the 53rd Congressional District in San Diego, she will be on the General Election ballot in November 2020. The focus of the San Diego COVID-19 Children’s Fund is threefold: providing food for children who are food insecure, much needed childcare services for equitable distance learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. San Diego for Every Child participated in the San Diego Emergency Child Care Task Force, which put forth a plan for supporting existing childcare services. Many families in the San Diego area struggle with limited access to school lunches, reliable childcare and technology services necessary to support schoolwork since schools and libraries have closed. San Diego for Every Child provides
a connection to resources for families continuing to work in essential service positions, critical to our health and safety. These include first responders, grocery store workers, health care and medical workers in need of childcare for extended hours. Families can apply for micro-grants in amounts of $575 for childcare or $100 for groceries and diapers provided by the San Diego COVID-19 Children’s Fund. Jacobs shared that families in need are receiving funds as quickly as possible. Funds are also directed to childcare workers in need. The San Diego Foundation has donated $100,000 to Child Development Associates (CDA) and the YMCA Childcare Resource Service (a sub-set of the YMCA) in support of the fund. The U.S. Census Bureau reveals 40 percent of San Diego County’s children under 12 lived below 200 percent of the poverty level in 2017. Before the COVID-19 crisis, there were approximately 200,000 children experiencing unequal access to healthy food, stable housing, reliable healthcare and quality childcare in early education in San Diego County. In the San Diego military community alone, statistics support that out of 100 children, 63 are underserved. “In a county as wealthy as San Diego, it is simply unacceptable that so many of our kids are experiencing poverty,” said Jacobs. Rick Richardson is President and CEO, of Child Development Associates, (CDA). He joined CDA as a retired U.S. Army Colonel following 24 years of service. Richardson has a deep connection to children’s causes due to his personal experience with childhood poverty and his mother’s struggles as a single parent. He currently serves as the Board President of the California Alternative Payment Program Association, (CAPPA) and is connected to other childcare organizations as well. Recognized for his commitment and outstanding work to social services in the 79th district for “Men Making A Difference,” by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, Richardson continues to champion and advocate for families and caregivers, creating an awareness and working towards the prevention of child poverty. Through San Diego for Every Child,
Richardson has called on the community at large to become involved, offering an opportunity for learning, volunteering and brainstorming with the goal to cut child poverty in half by 2030. Richardson shared that every day he thinks about how to care for vulnerable families during crisis. He supports “Parents earning and children learning,” stating that currently 9,000 children and 5,000 families are being served through CDA’s subsidized childcare programs. This is why he is currently continuing to work 7 days a week. San Diego for Every Child has received over 1,600 applications for emergency funds, with CDA and the YMCA Childcare Resource Service working together to quickly get the funds in the hands of those in need, according to Richardson. CDA and the YMCA each donated $10,000 for in-kind-services, offsetting administrative costs for the program. Ongoing donations fund the program directly. The San Diego COVID-19 Children’s Fund supports first responders, essential workers in hospitals and grocery stores holding together the fabric of our society. Although the list of support organizations within the coalition is extensive, Richardson stated that San Diego for Every Child is dependent on donations, with the need growing daily. “Our goal is to end child poverty 50 percent by 2030. It will not be easy, but it’s not impossible,” said Richardson. Richardson explained that there are multiple opportunities for the public to help those in need through the San Diego for Every Child website. San Diego for Every Child envisions a community in which every child has access to healthy food, stable housing, reliable healthcare and quality childcare in early education. Both staff and volunteers with San Diego for Every Child are doing the work of the angels during this most challenging time of COVID-19. SAN DIEGO FOR EVERY CHILD INVITES US ALL TO PARTICIPATE IN BECOMING COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS, ADVOCATING FOR AN END TO CHILD POVERTY. FOR A LIST OF RESOURCES AND TO DONATE, VISIT WWW.SANDIEGOFOREVERYCHILD. ORG/COVID19.
F E AT U R E S T O R Y
TO GIVE IS TO RECEIVE ESRA IS THE LARGEST ENGLISH-SPEAKING VOLUNTEER-BASED ORGANIZATION IN ISRAEL BY BRENDA KATTEN
SRA (English Speaking Residents Association) whose Hebrew equivalent means “Help” is geared towards Anglos in Israel. The organization was founded in 1979 by Zimbabwe Oleh Merle Guttman, who recognized the necessity of providing a forum for English speakers especially for newcomers. For the past past 40 years, ESRA has become the largest English-speaking volunteer-based organization in Israel. ESRA’s branches cover the country from Nahariya in the North to Eilat in the South. It provides dynamic inter-active programs embracing lecture courses, musical entertainment as well as the opportunity to volunteer. ESRA volunteers find a wealth of activities with which to become involved. Some 600 volunteers throughout the country assist Israeli schoolchildren with their spoken English — a dynamic activity receiving the full support of the Ministry of Education. Volunteers enjoy their conversations with the youngsters gaining an insight into their lives in exchange for providing them with the opportunity to speak English. 18
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Aside from providing a stimulating life for its members, ESRA supports a number of projects geared specifically to creating a better tomorrow for those coming from depressed backgrounds. The “Students build a community” project — in existence for 14 years — enables carefully chosen students to live rent free in areas of severe deprivation in exchange for mentoring other children in the neighborhood. Aside from set hours — helping their pupils with their schoolwork, the students are available virtually 24/7 because they live on the job. Often youngsters who knock on their door outside of mentoring time receive a warm welcome plus the opportunity to have a chat. The first SBC project started in 2006 in Hephzibah — an area that, up until today, houses predominately families from an Ethiopian background. A sign of the win/win situation of the SBC program is that a high proportion of the student mentors come from an Ethiopian background; they are graduates of ESRA’s “Right Track Project” (after school classes geared specifically to help teenagers with their Bagrut — final school exam). The
majority progress into the army and then return to ESRA as SBC students proving to be the most wonderful role models for those they mentor. Funding for the various projects comes both from events organized by ESRA branches — a number have their own specific project — plus individual donors who provide scholarships for the students. Many students not only have to find the funds to cover their college fees but also provide financial assistance to their parents and families. One of ESRA’s newest projects started three years ago. The “Journey to identity” program encourages Ethiopian teenagers to return to Ethiopia and discover their family’s origin stories. The youngsters return home imbued with an understanding of the sacrifices their families had made in order to come to Israel, plus an intensification of their love for Israel. ESRA provides a better tomorrow especially for thousands of youngsters which, simultaneously, contributes to a better tomorrow for Israel. TO LEARN MORE, VISIT ESRA.ORG.IL.
F E AT U R E S T O R Y
HADASSAH HOSPITALS STORIES FROM HADASSAH HOSPITAL'S COVID-19 WARD
rofessor Alon Hershko, the director of Hadassah Ein Kerem Internal Medicine Department C has a personal mantra during this time: “putting the patient front and center – from the smallest touches to make coronavirus patients feel more at ease to leading a national campaign urging patients to get the care they need right now.” “Even in these complicated times, the connection with the patients is important — perhaps more now than ever,” Hershko, whose daily work is in treating COVID-19 patients. Dr. Hershko, born at Hadassah Hospital in 1965, has deep Hadassah roots. His father, Chaim Hershko, was a professor of hematology at Hadassah. His sister, Prof. Dorith Shaham, heads Hadassah’s Thoracic Imaging Center. His wife, Dermatologist Klilah Hershko, studied at Hadassah and their daughter Anat is an intern in the hospital. “I don’t think we’re necessarily working harder,” he said. “I think medical staff always
work incredibly hard. It’s just a different kind of hard.” Hershko insists that his staff manage to make time for the human side of their relationship with patients. He instructed all his team to pin smiling photos of themselves to their protective clothing so patients can identify the faces behind the masks. “This definitely helps connect, bring close and make the experience more personal when a doctor or nurse enters the room to check, treat, care for or update patients. They are here alone, far from everything they love and need. Their connection is with us and we must all wear our best smile.” LEARNING LESSONS IN LONELINESS AND LOVE: A PHOTO ESSAY
Ayala Van Dijk is a nurse in the “Internal Medicine Outbreak A Ward” at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem. That’s the formal name for what has been dubbed “the COVID-19 Ward,” one of four wards that were hastily set up in an old, abandoned wing. The heavy, uncomfortable, protective
gear she is wearing allows Van Dijk and her colleagues to experience all the symptoms which their COVID-19 patients experience, accelerated heartbeat, perspiration, shortness of breath and sores. But the greatest difficulty she and other members of the COVID-19 ward medical staff experience is loneliness: their own and mainly that of their patients. “Loneliness — it’s the greatest lesson in life,” Van Dijk remarks, “the loneliness of patient, the family, the staff. The hardest thing is to see people suffer alone, people who have raised families all of their lives, and in the end, they find themselves alone. And the only thing we can give them is a caress and to call them by their name. So, they are not nameless, they are not anonymous. It is something, but only a drop in the ocean.” TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HADASSAH, THE WOMEN’S ZIONIST ORGANIZATION OF AMERICA, VISIT HADASSAH.ORG.
F E AT U R E S T O R Y Educator Barbara Birenbaum’s setup for the Light from the Darkness online ritual in April. The ritual contains many symbols: mismatched candlesticks to remind us of the resilience of the Jews in the Holocaust, a yahrzeit candle for remembrance, salt water for tears. The pineapple’s sweet fruit and inedible rind remind us that sweetness can hide beneath bitterness. The avocado’s unbreakable core symbolizes inner strength. On the screen, Deborah Fripp, joined by her daughters Rebecca (left) and Esther, reaches toward the participants, taking inspiration from those who helped the Jews during the Holocaust.
A RITUAL OF RESISTANCE INAUGURAL VIRTUAL YOM HASHOAH BY DEBORAH FRIPP
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F E AT U R E S T O R Y
“I’m seriously disturbed, and I have been for a very long time,” Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of Britain, stated in an interview on Yom HaShoah this year. “We have not yet achieved a generally accepted and normative form of service for Yom HaShoah. I think this is a terrible mistake.” In other words, we need an enduring ritual for Yom HaShoah. We need a ritualized observance to commemorate the Holocaust in the way the Passover seder or the Chanukah candle lighting commemorate the trials of an earlier age. To develop a sustainable Yom HaShoah commemoration, Rabbi Sacks said, we must see beyond the trauma of the Holocaust. We must remember that “Auschwitz… [is] chapter one, not the last chapter.” The survivors taught us a very important lesson, he continued, “Choose life. Doesn’t matter that you have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, choose life.” I agree with Rabbi Sacks. We must look at the story of the Holocaust from a perspective of Jewish resilience, not merely Jewish trauma. We need a ritual for Yom HaShoah that reflects Jewish life as well as Jewish loss.
This year, Violet Neff-Helms and I published Light from the Darkness, a new ritual of remembrance for Yom HaShoah. This ritual commemorates both the trauma of the Holocaust and the strength that allowed us to choose life. It uses a structure similar to the Passover seder to help us remember the abiding lessons of the Holocaust: be vigilant against the rise of hatred in our communities; stand up for ourselves and for others; never give up on life and faith. Light from the Darkness is not the first attempt to create a ritual for Yom HaShoah. Several other seder-like rituals for Yom HaShoah exist, as does one Megillah of the Holocaust. Earlier Yom HaShoah seders, however, lacked resonance because they failed the second part of Rabbi Sack’s call: they focused on the trauma and missed the life-affirming lessons of the Holocaust. Given the generally irreverent nature of Purim, it is not surprising that the Holocaust Megillah did not catch on. In Light from the Darkness, Auschwitz is, in fact, not even chapter one. We begin our story in the light, remembering the life we had before the war. We step slowly into the darkness, working our way from the
early troubles to the mass murder of whole communities. Even in the deepest darkness, though, we recognize the strength with which we held onto life and love, and the few good people who helped us. We then walk back into the light, to liberation and renewed life. We emerge from the darkness strengthened in our resolve to remain Jews and to fight injustice wherever it be found. Light from the Darkness is not just another memorial service to remember the more than six million who died in the Holocaust. It is a ritual of resilience, an answer to Rabbi Sacks’ call, to be not only a memorial to how we died but also a celebration of how we lived. DR. DEBORAH FRIPP IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE TEACH THE SHOAH FOUNDATION. HER WEBSITE, WWW.TEACHTHESHOAH. ORG, PROVIDES RESOURCES ON COMMEMORATING, TEACHING, AND UNDERSTANDING THE HOLOCAUST FOR COMMUNITIES, EDUCATORS, AND FAMILIES.
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F E AT U R E S T O R Y
THE WORK CONTINUES STANDWITHUS MOVES FORWARD WITH PROGRAMMING DESPITE GLOBAL PANDEMIC
n the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO StandWithUs (SWU), an international Israel education organization recently stated, “We are very fortunate to have an educational mission that we can adapt to almost any platform, audience, or circumstance. As such, we have thankfully been able to use all our restricted funds for the same purpose as we have promised our donors. We continue to educate people of all ages and backgrounds about Israel, while vigorously fighting anti-Semitism.” SWU has pivoted most of its work to social media and other online platforms for the timebeing. SWU was one of the first organizations to launch a new and free initiative called StandWithUsConnect shortly after this crisis began, to offer people education and community from the comfort of home. This includes live English and Hebrew webinars; live, pre-recorded tours of Israel; videos; resources for kids; and added sessions open to high school and college students led by the organization’s high school and campus professionals. SWU live webinars cover a multitude of topics from anti-Semitism to Israel’s history and strategic position; Israeli-Palestinian cooperation during COVID-19; Palestinian terrorism through the law; to virtual yoga classes and Krav Maga demonstrations with 22
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an Israeli touch. One special session with Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks for Yom HaShoah featured a rare discussion with a Holocaust survivor and his grandson who works for SWU Israel. “I am so proud of the San Diego Jewish community for staying strong during this time and thrilled that so many are listening to SWU webinars,” stated Condiotti. “I know people are depending on us as their go to resource, and we will not let them down as we meet our mission to support Israel and fight anti-Semitism. We will emerge stronger with many more activities in SD thanks to the community’s help!” Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, StandWithUs various social media platforms have reached over 28 Million people. SWU’s zoom webinars fill up, with thousands more joining in live on its Facebook page. More than 100,000 people have already tuned in. All the organization’s campus and high school work continues. The 2020-21 college Emerson Fellows and high school Interns have already been selected in cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Yosef Condiotti, director of StandWithUs San Diego reports this is the largest number of students ever for the region. In April, SWU Israel office launched their annual Israeli fellowship program through zoom. As cases of anti-Semitism related to Coronavirus increase, SWU’s legal team is
providing assistance and keeping a watchful eye for actionable incidents. In partnership with the Mizel Family Foundation, SWU is offering cash rewards to people who provide information to law enforcement that leads to the arrest and conviction of perpetrators of hate crimes against Jews or their property. Yosef Condiotti, and associate director Yael Steinberg are already in touch with San Diego’s police department. LINK, SWU’s middle school curriculum continues in San Diego schools and synagogues and has created additional free online material for school at-home Israel engagement. The research and strategy team are still creating resources for students and other audiences, and the graphic designers are producing new materials. “We are proud of how quickly our dedicated international team has adapted to this crisis,” Rothstein stated. “While we have no idea how long this will last, our talented staff will continue to fulfill our mission with the creativity and quality that all of our supporters and recipients have come to expect. The feedback we have received from our donors and target audiences continues to be completely appreciative as we weather this stressful storm.” TO LEARN MORE, VISIT WWW. STANDWITHUS.COM/CONNECT OR WWW. ISRAELLINK.ORG/ISRAELLINK.ORG/FREE.
F E AT U R E S T O R Y
YOGA WITH DINA AIRES BRING YOUR PRAYER INTO YOUR HEART SPACE BY BARBARA BIRENBAUM
ne week into the shutdown, I learned about a yoga teacher who was offering yoga on zoom to help people de-stress, find calmness and express gratitude. Dina Aires guides us masterfully through the poses or asanas. With 20 years of teaching experience, she shares a commanding knowledge of the mind-body-spirit pathways and she encourages all the ways yoga fosters serenity and inner strength. Breathing deeply relaxes our minds and bodies. The poses help us find our stable place. In this challenging time, she says, “Bring your prayer into your heart space.” We need to relearn how to find solid ground and it provides an overall sense of well-being, security and safety in our upside-down world. “Now that we have lost our regular routines, we feel a little lost in our day’s agenda. Yoga can offer a focus for the day,” Aires said. “Take an hour to rethink your life, your purpose, your relationships. It is the simplicity of just focusing on breathing and being present.” We are all treading on new ground now and as we “root down to rise up” with Aires, we get connected with the earth, ourselves, our community and the rest of the world.
Aires has created an international yoga community, with followers from New Zealand to Israel to San Diego. With her husband and son on the production team, her computer at the other end of her room and soothing music flowing from her iPhone, and her dog wandering through occasionally, Dina Aires’ yoga sessions are a silver lining amid this storm. Even in large classes, Dina is able to give personalized instruction. Dina’s classes are fun and creative while always maintaining proper alignment and form. Student’s have been known to say that after taking Dina’s classes, you will feel centered, balanced, strong and more present in body, mind and spirit. When the lockdown for COVID 19 started, Dina immediately offered free daily yoga classes on Zoom. She has now completed her 6th week of free classes and intends to continue this journey!
“I am constantly fascinated by the discoveries I make as I continue to explore and grow as both a student and teacher. Yoga has brought incredible healing to my body, mind and spirit and I am honored to be able to share what I have learned“. TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOGA WITH DINA AIRES, INSTAGRAM: DINA.AIRES, YOUTUBE.COM/CHANNEL/ UCMRT7SLARNQQLFI2CZCLSYQ OR VISIT YOGATHERAPEUTICSDINA.COM.
BATTLING COVID-19 AT
Homebound seniors in Israel battle isolation, loneliness during pandemic BY SHIRYN GHERMEZIAN | jns.org
Israeli senior citizens inside the Akademaim Senior Housing Facility in Ashkelon, March 2020. Credit: Courtesy of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
hile a number of Jewish organizations are focused on helping the elderly in Israel, who are at a higher risk of getting extremely sick from the coronavirus (COVID-19), not get infected with coronavirus, the older population is struggling with the country’s ordered self-quarantine and social distancing. Israel has been radically intensifying its coronavirus regulations with new directives issued by the Health Ministry that prohibit Israelis from leaving their homes except to obtain “vital needs and services,” such as purchasing food, home supplies and medication they cannot have delivered, or seeking urgent medical attention. The elderly, along with people with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems, were urged not to leave their homes for any reason at all and to rely on delivery services. “This new situation puts [the elderly] in a difficult reality as their daily routines have evaporated; they no longer go out to meet friends, to community centers, to supermarkets or other activities,” Yossi Heyman, executive director of the American Joint Distribution Committee’s association Eshel (JDC-Eshel), said. JDC-Eshel partners with the Israeli government in the planning and development of 24
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services for older adults and their families in Israel. Heyman added that “social distancing is also taking a toll because the elderly face more loneliness than the rest of the population. In fact, we are hearing from many homebound seniors that they’re more afraid of loneliness than the virus.” “In this situation, family and caregivers have a very important role in creating human communication. Using technology to communicate — whether through phone call, video chats and apps — can make a great change. We even heard of families encouraging the grandparents to read bedtime stories to the grandkids via video. While we fight the virus, we’ve got to remember our battle with isolation and loneliness.” The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews announced last week the creation of a $5 million emergency fund primarily to help elderly and Holocaust survivors in Israel cope with the coronavirus pandemic by providing them with packages of food, hand sanitizer, hygiene products and other essential items in order to reduce their need to go to shopping centers and risk contracting the virus. Through the organization’s With Dignity and Fellowship ministry,
the emergency fund will aid 15,000 of Israel’s elderly population with food and basic needs. Supplies will start being sent out in the coming days with the help of hundreds of volunteers, including youth organizations, who will assist with the provision of food and contact with isolated senior citizens. The Fellowship additionally contacted thousands of seniors to determine their most urgent needs and plans to work with other aid organizations in order to operate at national and local levels. “This is an emergency situation, and we mustn’t forget the most vulnerable,” said Fellowship president and CEO Yael Eckstein. “Under normal circumstances, the elderly are more prone to loneliness as well as financial and physical difficulties. Now, they cannot even leave their homes for fear of catching the virus.” The Fellowship’s emergency fund will also supply equipment to hospitals and emergency teams struggling to meet the needs of their needs, including the purchase of needed test kits, respirators, disinfectant equipment and other lifesaving emergency supplies. The equipment will be provided in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Health. There are 1,080,000 million Israelis over the age of 65, with 200,000 of them living close to the poverty line and unable to afford to rent or purchase a sustainable home, according to the Jewish Agency for Israel’s subsidiary Amigour, a nonprofit that provides housing to senior citizens, new immigrants, Holocaust survivors and single-parent families in Israel. More than 7,000 senior citizens currently reside in Amigour’s 57 senior housing facilities throughout Israel. None of the senior citizens in the housing units has been tested positive for coronavirus, but 11 are in quarantined as a precaution, Erez Shani, Amigour’s vice president of resource development for senior homes in Israel, said. Shani explained that Amigour is recognized as a company that is required to operate during a times of crisis, therefore “the work hours for all the staff has been extended, and especially, for the social workers, building supervisors and caregivers. We’ve even recruited additional personnel for the coming period. All employees are arriving every day at work. This is a job that requires them to be present.” Amigour has already purchased enough medical equipment and food provisions for its senior residents to cover the next six months. Comprehensive hygiene and disinfectant supplies have been purchased through special donations from Keren HaYesod–United Israel Appeal and from other foundations in North America. Aside from imposing restrictions on visits in compliance with Ministry of Health instructions, Amigour is also holding “support conversations” with residents and their families. Shani said “we’ve had conversations with all family members of our residents where we explain to them how important it is for them not to come visit during this time. We explained that [the elderly are] extremely sensitive in these ages, and the dangers of being exposed is very, very high. We also explained that we will take care of any needs of the seniors at this time, and any supplies they are missing. The families understand and accept our instructions, and are keeping in touch with their parents by telephone, and we are supporting our
seniors in every way possible.” He added, “Senior citizens understand that this is a really critical time, and they are for the most part adhering to all of the instructions on really strict hygiene and thorough hand washing. We check in on a daily basis with each and every of the residents to check their wellbeing.” Other organizations focused on helping the elderly population during this time of crisis is the Israeli nonprofit Latet, an NGO dedicated to fighting poverty that has launched an emergency fund for isolated elderly people who lack access to food and are confined to their homes. The organization is providing packages including food, personal hygiene products and entertainment items that will be delivered directly to homes with the help of volunteers. The current first stage of the emergency fund will serve 10,000 to 15,000 high-risk and vulnerable elderly people in Israel. The operation is intended to be spread out over at least two months before Latet reassesses the situation, said the organization. An emergency call center is also being set up to respond to any inquiries. “The purpose of this critical operation is to minimize the spread of the virus by ensuring that elderly people will be able to stay home. Elderly people are the most at risk population and should be protected during the whole time of the crisis in order to avoid further escalation,” Latet said in a statement. “Restrictions on gatherings and quarantine, as well as possible increase of price and shortage of basic products, will directly impact the elderly, which are always in the front line in times of crisis. Latet is aiming to help the most impoverished and isolated elderly.” Latet forecasts that about 250,000 elderly people will require vital assistance for at least two months. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eight out of 10 deaths associated with COVID-19 in the United States to date have been in adults 65 years old and older. (As of Monday, there were 530 deaths and more than 43,000 cases of coronavirus, with 295 recovered from the disease.) In Israel, the first fatality due to complications from the coronavirus was an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor, Aryeh Even of Jerusalem. (As of Monday, 1,442 Israelis have tested positive for the coronavirus, with the one death on March 20.) Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted a clear message in April about separating the younger and older generations in the fight against coronavirus. He wrote, “I want to share with you the most important thing we’ve learned from the information that flows to us from the field and from all over the world: The deadliest connection is probably between old and young people. By no means get physically close to your grandfather or grandmother!” Last Tuesday, he referred to his recommendation as “Operation Grandmother” and called contact with elderly people “the most dangerous thing.” He added that “all of us have the responsibility to hug and cover our grandparents in love, on the phone and with food, but not by getting close to them. If we get close, we risk their lives in a significant way.” WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
seniors SPOTTING THE SIGNS AND OPENING
Fighting Social isocation in Your Senior Loved Ones • By Simona Valanciute
f you’re the caretaker of a parent or other elderly relative, it can be challenging to convince your loved one to try something new. However, what you may perceive as stubbornness could be a sign they are experiencing social isolation, which poses serious risks to their health and wellbeing. Social distancing, while important to containing the coronavirus, may exacerbate their loneliness by taking away normal routines and activities, as well as physical contact and hugs from family and friends. It’s now more important than ever for caretakers to identify the signs of social isolation and help loved ones find ways to stay curious and engaged with the world virtually. Multiple studies have shown social isolation is as bad for a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and is even more harmful than obesity; it has also been linked to higher blood pressure, a lowered 26
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immune response and earlier onset of dementia. A few ways an older parent or relative may show negative effects of social isolation are: lack of interest in staying connected to the outside world, their hobbies or social activities they once enjoyed; poor personal hygiene; signs of poor nutrition, such as rapid weight gain or loss, or lack of appetite; significant disrepair, clutter or hoarding behavior in their home; having trouble sleeping, or sleeping more than usual; and/or declines in memory or information processing. It can be difficult to convince an older loved one to get outside their comfort zone, whether that’s embracing different ways of communicating through technology or trying new activities. Change is hard for people of any age, and seniors especially may rely on rigid ways of thinking to navigate a constantly changing world and feel
Setting the standard for senior care. good about themselves. One healthy way to give seniors that self-esteem is to help them learn a new skill, or at least experience a familiar activity in a new, virtual way. Doing so may allow them to socialize with new people and develop confidence as they improve. Here are some ideas. Go back to school. Multiple community colleges in the San Diego area offer online classes for seniors, and many are free. Organizations like San Diego Oasis, a national nonprofit that offers lifelong learning courses for seniors, offer dozens of free or low-cost courses in topics from art history, meditation, foreign language to telehealth and more. If your loved one speaks fondly of their college days, or has previously expressed curiosity about a certain subject, sign them up for an online class. Get moving in the living room. Virtual fitness classes are everywhere now. Yoga studios and gyms are offering live streamed online classes or video workouts, but your loved one may feel that these are too “young” for them. If that’s the case, check out Silver Sneakers’ selection of home workout videos designed especially for people aged 65 and older. If you’re their primary caretaker and can still visit them at home, try a workout with them—it might get you two laughing, which is also good for your health! Participate in religious services online. Seniors who regularly attend some kind of religious service or spiritual group can often live longer than their non-religious peers, particularly because it provides them with a strong social network. Encourage your loved one to attend services or meetings online, if possible, and help them get comfortable with the technology to do so. If your loved one misses a support group their faith community previously provided, encourage them to check out the free support groups available through San Diego Oasis. Demystify technology. Many of the same colleges and nonprofit organizations offering academic or lifelong learning courses for seniors also teach practical skills workshops that help them use new technology. San Diego Oasis offers multiple virtual lessons, taught by our engaging, smart, and funny instructors, to help seniors master video chats with Zoom, figure out their smartphone and more. You’ve probably heard many people say, “we’re all in this together.” For caretakers of seniors, this means not just looking out for your loved ones’ physical wellbeing, but also watching out for the signs of social isolation. Opening our minds to new experiences is the best way to stay mentally healthy and connected to community.
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WOMEN FROM ISRAEL: WE ARE THE DOERS
omen are a powerful force in philanthropy and that power shapes our world. Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) marks the month of May as its annual Women’s Month. All year long, and especially during May, JNF-USA celebrates and highlights the remarkable women who have taken on leadership roles within the organization, the role women play in making a philanthropic difference, and the direct impact women have had in building a prosperous and secure Israel. Thanks to the generosity of a donor from Phoenix, AZ, every gift made to JNF-USA’s Women’s Campaign will be matched up to $1 million through May 31, 2020. “JNF-USA’s San Diego Women for Israel is a rapidly growing cohort of passionate and involved supporters of Israel,” said San Diego Board President Shari Schenk. “Even during this unsettling time, we had 50 women participate in our Yom Ha’atzmaut Zoom event, raising significant money for JNF-USA’s tremendous work. Our community of women is dedicated to supporting Israel through Jewish National Fund and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this magnificent group.” During normal circumstances, JNF-USA would be gearing up to host events across the country to bring thousands of women together to share their personal stories and highlight the important work JNF-USA accomplishes thanks to the women who give their time and financial support. However, this year is a bit different. Many are confined to their homes during this time of uncertainty, and as we wait for the current state of events to turn, JNF-USA is making the most of the situation by moving many of its Women for Israel events online. Information on virtual programming can be found at jnf.org/ ondemand. “Even though we are living in unprecedented times, women are still the doers of Jewish National Fund,” said JNF-USA’s Women for Israel President and San Diego Board Member Myra Chack Fleischer. “We are determinedly pushing forward with a goal to raise millions for Israel during May, JNF-USA’s Women’s Month.” The impact of women in philanthropy continues to surge as more wealth becomes concentrated among women. It is estimated that by 2030, three-quarters of all wealth in the U.S. will be controlled by women. Today, 60% of wealth is already managed by women. Almost half of the leadership positions at JNF-USA across the U.S. are held by women—including 21 National Board Members, 20 local Board Presidents, and 227 Task Force Members. JNF-USA’s Women for Israel is a dynamic group of female philanthropists who share a passion for building a prosperous future for the land and people of Israel. The group was founded with the 28
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creation of the Sapphire Society under the leadership of Terry L. Katz of Philadelphia, PA. In just two decades, JNF-USA’s Women for Israel has become a powerhouse within the organization, with over 50,000 donors across the country contributing more than 25% of the dollars raised each year to improve the quality of life in Israel for all who call it home. Through this society, women connect with each other on many levels—professionally, emotionally, and ideologically— with the common goal of changing lives in Israel and supporting the ongoing development of the Jewish homeland. Throughout May, JNF-USA’s website, blog, and social media channels will call attention to the incredible women involved with the organization. On May 20, join San Diego Women for Israel Chair and owner of Spice + Leaf Debbie Kornberg for a virtual cooking class where women across the country will join together to bond and learn how to make delicious dishes. More information about this and other virtual events is available at jnf.org/ondemand. Follow along on social media using the hashtag #JNFWomen. To learn more about JNF-USA’s Women for Israel, visit jnf.org/women or contact JNFUSA’s San Diego Director Monic Edelman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 858.824.9178 x988.
HUMOR | BY STEPHANIE LEWIS
& mishagoss Can Cinderella become Jewish if her fairy Godmother uses a Kosher wand?
ith extra time on my hands during Coronavirus, I took it upon myself to embark on a project of converting traditional fairytales into Jewish ones. However I didn’t realize the challenges I would face. You can’t just dunk a fair maiden into a mikvah and call it a day (well maybe the Little Mermaid?) or circumcise Prince Charming. So I listed specific problems I would need to brainstorm solutions for. It went like this: The Seven Dwarfs will always be three males short of forming a minyan. Handsel and Gretel can’t have any breadcrumbs to strew in the forest because Challah is too delicious to have leftovers for use as a navigational system. We’re too busy making French toast out of it. An orthodox Repunzel would never let her real hair down for anyone but her husband. Her wicked mother would have to climb up an expensive wig. The Elves and the Shoemaker would go out of business during Yom Kippur if they used leather soles. (Also Elves? Like on shelves? Jews will need a Mensche on a bench.) In the story of Aladdin, Princess Jasmine wouldn’t show off her midriff. Ever. No way. And in The Emperor and the New Clothes, he’s not going to parade around naked until one
astute child (destined for Harvard law school, no doubt) points out his nudity. Jewish laws of modesty will need to prevail! Belle would never adamantly refuse to have dinner with the Beast, instead opting for seclusion in her bedroom. At least not after getting a whiff of Bubbe’s brisket! I didn’t want to make it all seem so hopeless so I added to my list that Little Red Riding Hood was definitely doing a mitzvah by visiting her sick grandmother. But maybe there was more potential with nursery rhymes? I could author them by a “Mother Gooseowitz.” Again the following issues presented themselves: Jack Spratt can eat all the fat he wants, if it’s not treif. His wife, well she’s constantly dieting for their daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, so she BETTER eat lean. Jack Be Nimble won’t be jumping over any Shabbat candlesticks because he’ll get swatted away by wives waving their hands over the candles three times. Little Jack Horner will never be left alone to sit in a corner (at least in peace!) while he pulls out a plum. Every Yente in the social hall will be excitedly interviewing him (an eligible Jewish bachelor!) to make him a match
Jack won’t fall down and break his crown because his father (a brain surgeon at Ceders Sinai) will have advised him from infancy of the danger of going up hill with a pail of water Enough with the name Jack already! Humpty Dumpty’s great fall won’t require all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to assist him. Only one sharp Jewish attorney will do the trick Peas Porridge cold/9 days old?? Sorry! No Jewish deli is serving soup anything less than piping hot and fresh or it will be unceremoniously sent back to the chef. ‘A Tisket a Tasket, a Green and Yellow Basket’ cannot be used to carry a letter you wrote to your Love. When it comes to baskets, we’ve got Purim to think of… Mishloach Manot, people! Again just to end on a positive note – “Twinkle, Twinkle” can potentially be one of the three stars that appear in the sky, designating the start of Havdalah. Stay tuned because if our pandemic continues, I’ll have time to work on Gone With the Wind and Scarlett O’Hara will become Shoshana O’Shapiro. STEPHANIE D. LEWIS APPEARS IN THE HUFFINGTON POST COMEDY SECTION AND AT ONCEUPONYOURPRIME.COM WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
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