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MAY 2021





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May 2021 •

1000 WORDS JScreen: Success Through Screening.................................................................................................


COVER STORY Home of Guiding Hands...........................................................................................................................................

FOOD Mother’s Day French Toast Soufflé........................................................................................................



SHAVUOT Shavuot and The Rule of Law....................................................................................................................

FEATURES Saving the Red Sea's coral reefs by building fake ones........................................................



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Lipinsky Family San Diego Jewish Arts Fest...................................................................................

On a High with the San Diego Opera.................................................................................................. Delicious diplomacy: From Dubai to Akko, food as the great equalizer..................... Can a magnificent art museum help save the dying Dead Sea?..................................

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Prayers & Passages..................................

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

PUBLISHERS Diane Benaroya & Laurie Miller

L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO, LLC (858) 776-0550 P.O. Box 27876, San Diego, CA 92198



Diane Benaroya ( 4



ON THE COVER: Laurie Dotts, Dottie Carne, Bob Carne






Barbara Birenbaum, Michael Gardiner, Donald H. Harrison, Stephanie Lewis, Salomon Maya, Jana Mazurkiewicz Meisarosh, Mimi Pollack, Rachel Stern, Eva Trieger, Deborah Vietor, Chana Jenny Weisberg, Cheri Weiss


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& passages The Unknown Road


n the upcoming holiday of Shavuot, we will celebrate the receiving of our Torah. On this holiday, it is customary to read from The Book of Ruth, one of the five Megillot read during various holidays during the year. In The Book of Ruth we read how Naomi, her husband and two sons relocated to the land of Moab as a result of the famine that plagued them in Bethlehem. A decade later, with all three men dead, Naomi prepares to return home. She begins her journey accompanied by her two widowed daughtersin-law: Ruth and Orpah. Upon reaching a certain juncture, she tells them that rather than follow her to the land of Judah, they should instead return to their mothers’ homes and find new husbands. Although both young women at first refuse, eventually Orpah acquiesces and returns to her home. Ruth, however, remains steadfast, responding with some of the most famous words in our Biblical Canon: “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from you, for wherever you go, I will go; wherever you stay, I will stay, your people shall be my people and your God my God. Where you die, I



will die, and there I will be buried. Thus and more may the Lord do to me if anything but death parts me from you.” (Ruth 1:16-17) The story has a happy ending. The devoted Ruth meets and marries the wealthy Boaz and gives birth to a son who will eventually become the grandfather of the great King David. Yet when she commits herself to following Naomi to a new and unfamiliar home, that happiness was far from a foregone conclusion. As she stood at that crossroad, Ruth faced a life-defining decision: return to the comfort of the familiar or take a chance and follow a new and completely unknown road. Just as the Israelites had chosen to accept and live by the Torah at Mount Sinai, Ruth followed her heart, choosing loyalty to not only her mother-in-law, but to the Jewish people and their God. While we do not need to wait for a holiday to renew our commitment to Torah, Shavuot offers us an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the values espoused within its sacred texts. Like Ruth, we may at times find ourselves at a crossroads in terms of our own commitment to living a Jewish life. Do we remain solely on a secular path, or do we choose to incorporate Judaism and its

core values — Torah, Worship and Acts of Lovingkindness — as an integral part of our daily lives? Will we open our eyes to the riches the Torah offers us, which may help guide us through the myriad of challenges that life hurls at us? Will we offer our voices and hearts in prayer? Will we commit ourselves to acts of lovingkindness, serving others who may be desperately in need of our help? May the gift of Torah find its way into your hearts and provide you with sustenance, hope and blessings. Amen. RABBI-CANTOR CHERI WEISS IS THE FOUNDER AND SPIRITUAL LEADER OF THE SAN DIEGO OUTREACH SYNAGOGUE, A POST-DENOMINATIONAL CONGREGATION THAT WELCOMES PEOPLE OF ALL AGES AND BACKGROUNDS INTERESTED IN EXPLORING A UNIQUE MIXTURE OF TRADITIONAL AND CONTEMPORARY JEWISH MUSIC, PRAYER AND LEARNING. SHE IS ALSO THE FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF THE SAN DIEGO JEWISH COMMUNITY CHOIR, WHICH EXPLORES A WIDE VARIETY OF JEWISH MUSIC INCLUDING LITURGICAL PRAYERS, ISRAELI FAVORITES, MUSICAL THEATER AND OTHER POPULAR SONGS BY JEWISH COMPOSERS AND MUCH MORE.



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THE CHILDREN OF BURMA ACHE In Thailand, a makeshift camp sits along the riverbank, water separating it from its scorched-by-battle Burmese neighbor. Guarded by Thai soldiers, scorpions afoot and occasionally fired upon by the Burmese military across the river, barefoot toddlers with protruding bellies chew on leaves. Some of these children are ravaged by kwashiorkor protein malnutrition. Their rounded tummies disguise advanced starvation. In 2021, kwashiorkor and other forms of undernourishment remain the disgrace of human failings. We can do better. Little Mercies nonprofit provides food and essentials to three schools in Thailand for Burmese refugees. Many of our students are orphans, rescued from a hideous array of trafficking realities. Others, more fortunate, crossed borders with their families. Our schools enable the elusive and often unattainable: an education. Parents of non-orphaned students make little money, just enough for provisions. Johny, our Thai partner, emigrated from Burma as an unaccompanied minor in the ’90s and runs a business in Chiang Mai. Johny founded and funds these three remarkable schools. With dirt floors and dedicated teachers, our schools have educated and housed hundreds of children over the past decade. The work of Johny and others is an effort helping lift those who, given a chance, are eagerly lifting themselves. PHOTO CREDIT: KAREN UNITY HOPE NETWORK

Our students and families remain nourished, yet hundreds of newly displaced Burmese refugees are at exceptional risk.

“Babies and pregnant women are especially threatened. Mosquitos biting — dangerous snakes amongst the people. We need hammocks to keep babies safer in the trees,” Johny said, referring to the refugees now living along the river. No one can tackle this alone, and yet Johny, with little but determined assistance, delivers the minimal aid Little Mercies and the few other donors can provide. Civil war haunts Burma. British Colonial dominance ended in 1948, shortly to be replaced by military rule. Renamed Myanmar by the Tatmadaw military in 1989, many continue to use “Burma” and “Myanmar” interchangeably. Notably, our refugees overwhelmingly call themselves Burmese. With ongoing ethnic strife and reported human rights violations throughout its history, democracy ignited in the 2010s with the eventual election of Aung San Suu Kyi. She won again in November 2020 to be ousted by a military coup earlier this year. Many Burmese citizens, minority and Bamar alike, have protested the loss of freedoms and democracy, and many have lost their lives. And here we are now: an ancient, recurring story of refugees fleeing violence into neighboring nations. Of the multitude of displaced lives from the seven main ethnic states of Burma, the Karen Hill tribe has been largely driven into Thailand, many concentrated in the riverbank camp, scratching dirt for shelter and leaves for bedding. Thriving mosquitos bring the certitude of malaria and other infections. There is nothing to cook until someone, somewhere, thinks of them and donates money, so warm rice fills the void. Whatever challenges we face in our lives, we are not monitoring the ground for poisonous centipedes while watching our babies sleep on dirt. Orphaned and suffering children create an obligation for the global soul. The Covid-19 pandemic taught us the entwined nature of our lives, amplifying the consequences of inaction. When we can no longer belong to our homeland, we belong to one another. The war-fleeing children of Burma need us, and we must respond. Join in answering the call. To contribute to the emergency fund please visit WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM









Screen’s national public health initiative is based out of Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Human Genetics in Atlanta. This non-profit is dedicated to preventing Jewish genetic diseases through easily accessible genetic testing and counseling. People register for JScreen testing from home at and testing is done on a saliva sample that is mailed to the lab. Genetic counselors provide results via phone or secure video conferencing. JScreen’s original focus was on reproductive carrier screening for diseases such as TaySachs that are more common in the Jewish population, and diseases like cystic fibrosis that are found in the general population. JScreen’s reproductive screening panel includes over 200 disease genes. JScreen has provided this type of screening for thousands of participants over the past seven years and has offered high-risk couples essential information and options to help them have healthy children. JScreen’s newly launched national cancer initiative offers a separate testing panel that analyzes the BRCA genes and over 60 other cancer susceptibility genes and helps predict risk for over 40 types of cancer, including ovarian, breast, prostate, colorectal, melanoma and many others. Ashkenazi Jewish men and women face a 1 in 40 risk of carrying mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes: more than 10 times the risk in the general population. These individuals are at increased risk for carrying these mutations even if they don’t have a personal or close family history of BRCA-related cancers.

Jews are also at increased risk for mutations in the APC gene, which increase their risk for colorectal cancer. Before JScreen launched its national cancer genetic testing initiative, JScreen and Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute conducted the Atlanta PEACH BRCA pilot study in July 2019 to assess the Jewish community’s interest in testing for the BRCA genes via JScreen’s at-home process. The study enrolled over 500 eligible participants in 6 months. Results confirmed an interest in at-home cancer genetic testing for BRCA and other cancer susceptibility genes and helped to inform the national launch.

Unlike direct-to-consumer companies, JScreen offers highly accurate testing, utilizing state-of-the-art genetic sequencing technology. Genetic changes that are identified are actionable, meaning if a person tests positive, prevention is possible. Licensed genetic counselors provide information via phone or secure video conferencing, ensuring people fully understand their results. JScreen believes the combination of education, access to premier screening technologies and personalized, confidential support are the keys to preventing devastating diseases. “Launching our new cancer program and providing convenient and affordable access to WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM



“Launching our new cancer program and providing convenient and affordable access to cancer genetic testing will help save lives. We are thrilled to bring this important resource to the Jewish community.” cancer genetic testing will help save lives. We are thrilled to bring this important resource to the Jewish community,” said Karen Arnovitz Grinzaid, MS, CGC, Assistant Professor of Human Genetics at Emory University School of Medicine and J’Screen’s Executive Director. “Over the years, we have helped thousands of people plan for the health of their future children. Now we are also helping people avoid cancer by giving them the life-saving information they need to be proactive about their own health.” KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

Sarah Abelsohn, who carries a mutation in the BRCA2 gene, shared her experience about how genetic screening saved her life and helped create the life of her beautiful baby daughter. “The word BRCA always played a big part in my life. Since my mother battled breast cancer from when I was 2, passing away when I was 20, I always knew what BRCA was. When my mother got tested, it was still a very new concept and we did not really know what to expect, as she was one of the first people to get tested for it.” “After my mother passed away, my dad and I had a discussion, agreeing we’d rather know if our story with BRCA and cancer ends now, or if it carries on with me. I have always felt knowledge is power and would rather know early whether I had it or not. A few months after my mother passed away, I took the test and sure enough I was BRCA2 positive. Honestly, when the doctor called me with the results, I wasn’t even shocked, as I had a gut feeling, I was positive. Once I knew, I knew it would just be a matter of time before I would do the preventive surgery, as for me it was a no brainer. I’d rather get it behind me than have it always be in the back of my mind!” 12


L’CHAIM Magazine: Please share your family history and experience so that you may help others learn about preventing breast cancer or survive through early treatment. Is your family of Ashkenazi descent, and what role does this play in identifying the BRCA gene? Sarah Abelsohn: My family is Ashkenazi. My dad is South African, born and raised in Cape Town and moved to San Diego over 30 years ago. My mom was born and raised in New York, discovering she and her only sister were BRCA2 positive. We have never seen anything BRCA-related on my dad’s side. Knowing I was BRCA2 positive, following my preventive surgery I decided to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) with preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) to prevent my offspring from having the BRCA2 mutation. Although IVF is no fun feat, I knew raising children who were not BRCA carriers was one last thing to worry about. If I could give that to my children, somehow participating in getting rid of BRCA, why not? My husband and I decided to ensure any embryos we used for the pregnancy were BRCA free. Over 80% of my eggs had the BRCA mutation, which is crazy to think about. Had I not done IVF, my children would most likely have had the mutation. Now I have the most delicious BRCA free baby girl!” Although it is amazing to learn how early this disease can be identified. With current screening methods, so many lives can be saved, including those of future generations. L’CHAIM: How do you believe we can do a better job of educating people about this disease and in what ways has this not been a focus in the past? Abelsohn: I honestly just think it’s getting out there with conferences and lectures,

speaking about it whenever you can because to so many it’s such a private matter. Sometimes they don’t know where to go to get the information they need. Many times, personal stories and experiences help others get through their experiences and having the support of someone who went through it can be the most helpful through difficult times. L’CHAIM: What is your life like now? Mazel Tov on the birth of your daughter! What will you share with her about your family history to keep her safe in the future? Abelsohn: I am so blessed! I honestly feel overwhelmed with gratitude every time I look at my beautiful daughter, Ellie Capri. I will always share with her about our family history as it is important to know where you come from and who your family is. I will also share the steps I took to ensure she has a fruitful and healthy life. I always talk to her about her late grandmother, (my mom), and how I know she is smiling down on her, kvelling over her beautiful granddaughter! L’CHAIM: What role has JScreen played in your life and how can it dramatically improve the lives of others? I understand you participated in a JScreen panel. Abelsohn: I think JScreen has the opportunity to really change lives! As I’ve said before, I’m a big believer that knowledge is power. Having the knowledge can really change the trajectory of your life, allowing you to plan and giving you the tools to do so. Being able to test at home and know your results quickly is something changing people’s lives for the better, hopefully allowing us to beat this awful disease. For more information, visit

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GUIDING HANDS Supporting the Community

Laurie Dotts, Dottie Carne, Bob Carne PHOTO BY RICH@RICHSHOOTS.COM





ome of Guiding Hands is a local organization that provides direct services and supports to more than 4,000 individuals diagnosed with an intellectual disability such as Down syndrome, epilepsy or autism. The inception of Home of Guiding Hands traces back to the early 1960s when family members banded together to strategize on how to fill an unmet need for their loved ones with developmental disabilities. This group of dedicated parents lobbied the legislature to ensure that core services would be provided for their family members, and they succeeded. The Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act, known as the “Lanterman Act,” passed in 1969. The California law states that people with developmental disabilities and their families have a right to get the services and supports they need to live like people without disabilities. This right is known as an entitlement. In preparing for the passage of the Lanterman Act, families across the state began designing community-based programs for their loved ones. On August 4, 1967, an impressive 14-acre, state-ofthe-art campus in Lakeside opened its doors. From that single campus, Home of Guiding Hands has evolved to a provider of a full spectrum of services; now serving all of San Diego and Imperial Counties. HGH is one of the largest employers in East County with over 1,000 employees and an annual payroll exceeding $18 million dollars. An impressive record for a home grown non-profit.


On November 12, 1967, Dottie and Bob Carne united their families and their lives as they promised to love and honor each other in marriage. Dottie and Bob could not have known at the time, how their lives and the life of this locally-based nonprofit would end up sharing. Dottie was a widow and the mother of four children when she and Bob met at the municipal gymnasium in San Diego during a social game of volley-tennis. Bob had two children from a previous marriage when he and Dottie married, giving them six children together. Two years after their union, they celebrated the birth of their seventh child, Terri. Born with cerebral palsy, Terri, now 53, was the primary reason the Carnes and their family became involved with HGH. When Terri was 11 years old, she became a resident of the HGH Lakeside campus. From then on, Bob and Dottie put their efforts into helping support what would become Terri’s home for the next 30 years. At that time, there were few services to support families of children with disabilities. But Bob and Dottie saw a brighter future for their daughter, and other children with similar disabilities. They were willing to work hard to give their daughter the same opportunities other pre-teens in the community enjoyed. The Carne’s sponsored a weeklong Mexican Rivera cruise for three residents and three caregivers; providing an opportunity of a lifetime for Terri and her friends. Mark Klaus, CEO of Home of Guiding Hands, praises Dottie and Bob for their ongoing support of the residential clients even though Terri had to move to another care-provider specializing in 24-hour clinical care.

Terri Carne

“The most rewarding thing has been the associations and friendships that we’ve made throughout the years through our participation with HGH.” WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM



“Dottie and Bob have such generous and humble hearts. They have been instrumental in improving the quality of life for all of our 150 residents.” Dottie and Bob have given over $750,000 since they were introduced to HGH so long ago. And their generosity goes beyond monetary contributions. Bob, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) for over 40 years, and past President of the San Diego Chapter of the California Society of CPAs, has volunteered hundreds of hours to HGH, lending his financial expertise as a member of the Board of Directors and the Board of Governors. In fact, Bob chaired the audit committee for 12 years and is credited for the organizations exceptional fiduciary policies. He knows firsthand how well HGH manages its money. Dottie’s volunteer involvement with HGH included being the chair and a



member of the Family & Friends support group and member of the Women’s Guild where she chaired the Annual Fashion Show. The Carnes said some of their favorite memories of HGH have been hosting the Annual Holiday Parties and attending the organization’s many events. “For me, the most rewarding thing has been the associations and friendships that we’ve made throughout the years through our participation with HGH,” said Bob. Terri, who has moved to a sub-acute facility where she receives a higher level of nursing care, still stays in touch with her housemates and direct care staff at HGH. According to the Carnes, HGH has been an extended family for them. “It’s a wonderful agency,” said Dottie. “I’m so thankful they were there for us.” Recognizing that the past year has been difficult for all non-profits, the Carnes made a recent donation to Home of

Guiding Hands in the amount of $50,000 with a challenge to the non-profit to raise another $50,000 by September 1. If HGH succeeds, the Carnes will contribute an additional $50,000. They asked that the funds be used for the enrichment of the lives of the clients now, and in the future. They hope that this gift inspires other philanthropists and community members to take action and contribute as well. “We continue to support HGH because of the quality of care our daughter Terri received while a resident there for more than 30 years,” the Carne family said. “We strongly believe in their leadership and the quality of care they provide.” IF YOU HAVE A LOVED ONE WHO IS IN NEED OF CARE, CALL HOME OF GUIDING HANDS AT (619) 938-2856 OR VISIT WWW.GUIDINGHANDS.ORG.



and the Rule of Law BY KEN ABRAMOWITZ | JNS.ORG

A Torah ark, containing the Torah scrolls, in a synagogue in Efrat. June 10, 2016. Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90.


eginning at sunset on May 28 and until sunset on May 30, Jews the world over will be celebrating the holiday of Shavuot (Pentecost), in commemoration of receiving the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), that God gave the to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai more than 3,300 years ago. Shavuot, however, should be noted also by non-Jews, because it “highlights the liberty to embrace the Torah” which impacts 100 percent of the world’s population of 7.8 billion. How can that be? As Israeli Ambassador Yoram Ettinger explains, about 3,300 years ago, Shavuot was originally an agricultural holiday celebrating the first harvest in ancient Israel. However, it was also the time when God gave the Ten Commandments to the Jews at Mount Sinai. Since the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 C.E. and the exile of the Jews from Israel began, observing Shavuot strengthened the spiritual awareness of Jews as to the importance of the Torah, wherever they might be living. The Ten Commandments are the basic laws of the Torah (the Old Testament), which approximately 1,300 years later became the foundation of the New Testament. Approximately 1,776 years later, the Old and New Testaments became the basis for the U.S. Declaration of Independence (Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness), as well as its Constitution and Bill of Rights. Together, these religious laws and resulting secular laws created

Western civilization, with its concepts of democracy, rule of law and minority rights. Today, approximately 50 percent of the world’s population lives in a democracy. The other 50 percent live under authoritarian rule in China, Russia, North Korea, Cuba and most Muslim countries. So why is Shavuot crucial to 100 percent of the world’s population? It is crucial because the 50 percent who live under the rule of law in democracies are direct beneficiaries of the Ten Commandments and the Torah. It is also critical for the other 50 percent of people who live under authoritarian rule, who yearn to live under the rule of law inherent in democracies, as the citizens of Hong Kong are passionately seeking, for example. Let us hope that the democracies overcome their collective nearterm challenges (fighting pandemics while preserving their citizens’ liberty), so they remain the guiding light for those suffering under authoritarian rule. Two traditions to celebrate Shavuot are all-night Torah study and feasting on dairy foods, as a symbol of their promised “land flowing with milk and honey” — namely, the land of Israel. Happy Shavuot! KEN ABRAMOWITZ IS THE PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF SAVETHEWEST. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM







his cinnamon french toast souffle, made with challah is a perfect weekend breakfast dish. Have it at home with your family, or take it with you to impress any potluck.

Ingredients 1 loaf challah, torn into medium size pieces, 6 eggs 1 cup milk (can substitute with almond milk) 1 cup heavy cream (can substitute with hazelnut milk) 1 cup maple syrup, (pick Grade A and high quality one) 1/4 cup for base of Pyrex dish 1/2 cup for egg mixture 1/4 cup to drizzle on top after baked 1 tsp. vanilla extract 3 tsp. ground cinnamon 1 tsp. for egg mixture 2 tsp. for powdered sugar mixture 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg A pinch ground cloves 1/2 tsp. sea salt 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted 3 Tbsp. powdered sugar Cooking spray Instructions 1. Using baking dish, coat with baking spray. Then add 1/4 cup maple syrup on bottom of dish. 2. Tear apart challah into pieces and place into baking dish. 3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, heavy cream, 1/2 cup maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Blend well. 4. Pour over challah and let sit for at least two hours or overnight in refrigerator. 5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Should be crispy brown on top. 6. Remove from oven and baste soufflé with melted butter. Then drizzle remaining 1/4 cup syrup on top. 7. In a small bowl, combine remaining cinnamon with powdered sugar. Sprinkle on top of French toast soufflé.

Challah, left over from Friday night, becomes the start of any Saturday morning breakfast.





the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea Revival Project's photo contest aims to spark action BY ABIGAIL KLEIN LEICHMAN | ISRAEL21C VIA JNS.ORG

Salt formations on the Dead Sea shore, July 7, 2020. PHOTO BY MILA AVIV/FLASH90


hen 1,200 Israelis posed nude at the Dead Sea for American art photographer Spencer Tunick in 2011, project initiator Ari Leon Fruchter hoped the eye-popping images would start a wave of activism to save the unique saltwater lake from environmental extinction. But although “Naked Sea” was viewed by half a billion people, a few years later the situation had only worsened. In fact, the spot where the photographs were taken had 20


collapsed into a giant sinkhole. The Dead Sea, the lowest place on Earth, is shrinking fast and dramatically due to evaporation and industrial extraction of its minerals. Fruchter learned that if it isn’t stabilized with a steady infusion of freshwater, this ancient wonder of the world will be nothing more than a series of dry sinkholes within 50 years. “I cannot save it by myself, but I can help

preserve it through art,” said Fruchter. Fruchter partnered with Noam Bedein, who began taking time-lapse photos in 2016 to illustrate the changes happening in the Dead Sea, in launching the Dead Sea Revival Project. To mark Earth Day 2021, the Dead Sea Revival Project and the GuruShots online photography platform inaugurated the international Dead Sea Life photo competition.


The top 40 of the 13,123 submitted photos from 40 countries, including Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, went on display on Earth Day, April 22, at the Arad Cultural Center and online at the virtual Dead Sea Museum. Tunick was one of the judges. He and award-winning wildlife photographer Roie Galitz, art consultant/curator Keren BarGil and New York-based photographer Casey Kelbaugh selected an image from Israeli entrant Alexander Bronfer as Best Photograph. They also helped choose the other images for the exhibition, to be open for a year under the sponsorship of the Arad Regional Council, GuruShots, Epson, Picture Perfect and Prima Hotels. These images include one by Mario Troiani (Israel), whom GuruShots users voted Top Photographer; and one by Ronnie Turner (United States) chosen by GuruShots users as Top Photo. Some 9,083,102 votes were cast in the contest. “We were ecstatic and completely unprepared for the mass public support we received for the photo competition,” said Fruchter, “and are now doing everything possible for the world to enjoy these works through a virtual museum and an exhibition by the Dead Sea.” MUSEUMS IN HIS BLOOD

Fruchter came to Israel in 1997 for a program at the World Union of Jewish Studies, then located in Arad. Thus began a lifelong devotion to this desert city of 25,000 residents some 25 kilometers (16 miles) west of the Dead Sea. He even named his firstborn son Arad. After a detour in Seattle, where he worked for Microsoft, Fruchter and his family moved to Israel in 2007. He took a job at SanDisk and joined the board of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art out of a sense of mission to contribute

Time-lapse photos in taken since 2016 illustrate the changes happening in the Dead Sea, in the Dead Sea Revival Project. to society through the arts. “My great-grandmother’s sister, Charlotte Bergman, was one of the original founders of the Israel Museum,” he said. Bergman bequeathed her rare art collection to the museum on the condition that she would continue to live with it in a private residence on the museum grounds. There she stayed for nearly 30 years until her passing at age 99 in 2002, when most of her collection was moved to the museum galleries. Bergman sparked Fruchter’s interest in art, and he started to collect contemporary Israeli art. The threads of his varied passions came together two years ago in a singular vision: To establish a Dead Sea Museum of Art in Arad. Dead Sea visitors used to lodge in Arad years before towering luxury hotels were built on the Ein Bokek beach of the Dead Sea — which really is a reservoir for Dead Sea factories, Fruchter relates. “I feel that an architecturally magnificent art museum will attract Israelis and foreigners. The natural place for this new museum is in Arad because a project of this magnitude could have a huge economic impact on the city.”


Meanwhile, the cultural center is housing the photo exhibition. “Arad is the natural gateway to the Dead Sea and we are honored to host this international exhibition,” said Arad Mayor Nisan Ben Hamo. The exhibition also can be accessed for free in the virtual Dead Sea Museum, which Fruchter intends as a forerunner to a building to be designed by the Israeli firm Neuman Hayner Architects. “I’ll get statistics on how many visitors come to the virtual museum and that will help us see if the level of interest justifies the big investment of establishing the actual museum,” says Fruchter, who still works in high-tech while pursuing social philanthropy through the arts. He hopes the Dead Sea Museum will inspire the action necessary to save his beloved sea. “We are facing reality and making something beautiful of the situation,” he concludes. This article was first published by Israel21c.





San Diego Repertory Theatre's 28th annual Lipinsky Family SD Jewish Arts Festival PHOTO COURTESY SAN DIEGO REPERTORY THEATER.


an Diego Repertory Theatre has announced a star-studded lineup for the 28th Annual Lipinsky Family San Diego Jewish Arts Festival (JFEST), which brings another fantastic year of Jewish music, theatre and art to the community. This year’s festival will last from May 13–June 23 and features a slate of 15 virtual and live performances celebrating San Diego’s diverse performing arts community. “This is our most accomplished and most accessible Festival,” Festival Artistic Director Todd Salovey said. “I’m so proud and excited by the nationally acclaimed artists in our diverse line-up. With most shows ‘suggested donation only’ we invite everyone to enjoy our shows.” This year’s festival includes plenty of virtuosic music from Tony Award-winner Ben Platt and his brothers Jonah and Henry



in Ahavat Olam, four-time Tony Nominee Tovah Feldshuh singing favorites in Virtually With You, Soulfarm celebrating the music of The Grateful Dead live and in person at The Hive at Leichtag Commons, Perla Batalla returning with Songs of Love & Protest, and of course the return of the festival favorite, the Klezmer Summit: Sweet Home Anatevka. This year also celebrates the 12th Annual Women of Valor with music, stories and images of four women who have made a significant impact in San Diego. This year’s lineup will also feature a brand new festival of new Jewish plays, called The Whole Megillah. This two-day new play festival highlights unproduced and unapologetically Jewish work for the American Theatre. Each powerhouse playwright explores Judaism and contemporary issues with a unique point of

view. The Whole Megillah features Zoom readings of 4 diverse plays, and three expert panels of artists and scholars. Join to discover Jewish stories brimming with humor, drama and original voices expressing Jewish ideas from many perspectives: The Whole Megillah. “This year, we are so proud to inaugurate The Whole Megillah, a new Jewish play festival that celebrates diverse and vibrant new Jewish voices in the American Theater,” said Festival Associate Artistic Director Ali Viterbi. “As a Jewish playwright whose work has been cultivated at JFEST, I’m so thrilled to be a part of developing the next generation of great Jewish plays.” This year’s JFEST will also see the return engagement of two festival favorite plays from recent years, both of which have been developed and perfected even further, with the hope that they’ll appear in The REP’s season in the future. First, on June 9, San Diego REP Playwright-in-Residence and JFEST Honorary Jew Herbert Siguenza’s intergalactic comedy Isaac Asimov Grand Master Funk is back, directed by Thomas W. Jones II. Then on June 13th, Festival Associate Artistic Director Ali Viterbi’s inter-generational comic drama In Every Generation returns for an online reading. RESERVATIONS FOR THE 28TH ANNUAL LIPINSKY FAMILY SAN DIEGO JEWISH ARTS FESTIVAL ARE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE AND CAN BE MADE AT SDREP.ORG/JFEST OR BY CALLING (619) 544-1000. CERTAIN EVENTS REQUIRE TICKET PURCHASE.


ON A HIGH NOTE San Diego Opera


he San Diego Opera’s Musical Mosaics, the Company’s 2021 midsummer gala, will enchant guests in a beautiful garden setting and celebrate the charitable contributions to the community by Stacy Kellner Rosenberg while featuring a private performance by opera star Michelle Bradley who dazzled audiences in her Company debut as Aida in 2019.

Musical Mosaics will be held on Saturday, June 26, 2021, in the gardens of the Estancia Hotel in La Jolla. Chaired by longtime SDO Board Member and current Chair of the Board, Sarah B. Marsh-Rebelo, the evening will use the beautiful outdoor gardens of the Estancia Hotel to safely gather guests. “For many of us it will be our first outing in over a year,” Marsh-Rebelo said. “And what a night it will be as we celebrate our beloved San Diego Opera and honor our longtime Board Member and Finance Chairwoman, Stacy Kellner Rosenberg. Stacy always brings to the table a smorgasbord of ideas and solutions, and has remained a loyal and generous friend to San Diego Opera for many years. It will be a Musical, Magical and Memorable evening filled with joy. Please join us as we celebrate Stacy and our wonderful San Diego Opera.” Kellner Rosenberg grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Her love of music and opera came from her father who filled the house with classical piano music and taught her how to listen for the stories and the moods in the music she heard. Stacy holds an MBA with distinction from SUNY Binghamton and is an honors graduate of Harvard Law School. Her legal career focused on complex civil litigation, serving as a member of the legal team that represented the Estate of Lea Bondi in United States v. Portrait of Wally, the first Holocaust art restitution case litigated in the U.S. courts. Stacy shifted from the courtroom to the not-for-profit arena,

becoming Executive Director of Friends of Karen, a New York based not-for-profit providing support to families with critically ill children. In 2008, Kellner-Rosenberg moved to San Diego and joined the Board of Directors of San Diego Opera, the first notfor-profit she aligned with in her new city. In 2014, after the Board of Directors voted to dissolve the San Diego Opera, a small group of directors found a way to undo the action and the San Diego community rose to the challenge of saving the Company. This extraordinary effort, led by Carol Lazier and others, united donors, opera-lovers from around the world, employees, union workers, and civic-minded San Diegans as they worked to keep the doors open. There was an enormous sacrifice of time, money and wages but seven years later, the story of the rescue is legend. “I am so proud to have been a part of the effort to save San Diego Opera, and why I continue to be associated with the Company,” she said. TO PURCHASE TICKETS, OR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT WWW.SDOPERA.ORG/MIDSUMMER-GALA.





Chef Elli Kriel at work in her kosher kitchen in the United Arab Emirates.



ewish identity is invariably related to food, as witnessed through Jewish dietary laws, holiday traditions and consciousness. Retaining this identity is a matter of pride for many, and in our globalized, modern world, the Jewish people have also begun to use food as a diplomatic tool. Chef Elli Kriel has lived in the United Arab Emirates just shy of a decade and opened Dubai’s first restaurant and kosher catering business out of necessity, being the only observant Jewish family in the area. Kriel and her husband have served as the anchor of the Jewish community, starting a minyan and hosting what has become the Jewish Council of the Emirates, the umbrella body for the Jewish communities in the area. Hailing from a family of entrepreneurs in the food business in South Africa (her father owned a bakery on the east coast of South Africa, near Durban), Kriel started offering kosher meals to Jews in the area and to visitors who required kosher fare. While she serves Jewish classics like babka, rugelach and matzah ball soup, she has deemed her food style “Kosherati” — kosher with an Emirati twist, a diplomatic nod to the country in which she resides. Kriel hires Arab 24


chefs to help her develop Emirati recipes in a kosher way; for example, her challah uses the flavors from one of the local types of bread, with date syrup and saffron in the mixture, and black and white sesame seeds on top. Her date and cinnamon rugelach uses date paste for the filling, as well as orange blossom water made into a syrup glazed on top. She has also created her version of chebab (an Emirati pancake) blintzes, a saffron and cardamom pancake with an Emirati flare, adding cream cheese, date syrup and rose water, and folding them like blintzes. Kriel has also become close friends with an Emirati woman, and they often compare their native foods, finding that her friend’s balalit is, other than the spices, nearly identical to Kriel’s Yerushalmi kugel. “I love experiencing different cultures, and you can do that through food,” Kriel explained. In Dubai, she said, she loves playing with the mix of cultures — the international and globalized environment with the Emirati and Jewish cultures. “I am always thumbing through Arabic recipe books as a way to become more familiar with the environment and to understand its influences.” In 2019, when Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al

Nahyan, president of the UAE, proclaimed the year to be the “Year of Tolerance” in the Gulf state, Kriel catered for Jewish delegates who came for the Interfaith Global Conference for Human Fraternity, which was attended by none other than Pope Francis. It was that year when “the UAE began to speak about diversity and inclusion, and minority religions” that she officially launched her business. Of course, it has proven to be even more vital in the context of the Abraham Accords, which has seen thousands of Jewish visitors flocking to the Arab country. “It has opened the doors to everything, not just for business and travel but also for culture. Food in this realm is very important,” she said, adding that access to kosher food is a necessity and a way of allowing observant Jews “to travel here and spend a longer time getting to know the UAE and region.” As a sociologist who studied religious exclusion and inclusion in multicultural contexts, Kriel related that “food is an expression of one’s identity and culture, and when you present your food to another person, everything is presented on that plate — your history, background, social status. You are actually offering yourself. Presenting



Black sesames are often used in Middle Eastern fare. Credit: Sarit Goffen.

your food is a way to make yourself available to the other person and an opportunity to get to know each other.” “Breaking bread builds relationships,” she continued, “as eating is a very essential and primal thing; we all need it to survive, so partaking together in something so life giving builds bridges. It is different than just shaking someone’s hand or sitting in a room and talking together. Eating is a physical way of getting a glimpse into cultures, and sometimes, similarities.” Across the ocean, Chef Uri “Buri” Jeremias, has operated his Uri Buri seafood

restaurant in the Old City of Akko for nearly three decades, and has a mandatory staffing structure in his restaurant and his nearby Efendi Hotel, where he employs a mix of Jews and Muslims (and often Christians as well) at all times. In his restaurant, he explained, there is no hierarchy between his employees; they have all worked in the kitchen. Jeremias works almost exclusively with Arab vendors in the local Akko shuk in an effort to continuing the Mediterranean coastal city’s legacy of peaceful coexistence. His longtime sous chef, Ali, is an Arab Muslim born in Akko who, until Jeremias

brought him to accompany during the 2016 Food Network & Cooking Channel’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami, had never left Israel. “I open my kitchen to many influences, just like my life. “ “I am dedicated to finding the best way to live together,” the chef said, which he believes can be achieved through mutual respect. Jeremias learned to cook as a youngster, roasting, boiling and braising his way through various countries, including India, as he traveled in a van and learned “the power of cooking.” Like Kriel, Jeremias maintained, “people smell [good food] and want to join. It’s like a magnet; it’s unbelievable, [breeding] openness. ... I open my kitchen to many influences, just like my life. I like to be open.” His culinary style is local and simple, creating balanced meals often with less than 10 ingredients. His restaurant and hotel offer solely Israeli wines, sourced from local winemakers. “You do not need to look far to find exotic things,” he emphasized. The chef’s diplomatic tendencies between Jews and Muslims began as a result of his family, who adopted an Arab girl when Jeremias was 3 years old in 1947, which was considered very unusual by most. She became the first Arab nurse in Nahariya, north of Akko on the Mediterranean Coast, where they grew up. Jeremias himself has also adopted two Arab Israelis from underprivileged backgrounds and raised them along with his Jewish, biological children. Walking through the culinary and spice market, he is greeted by residents from all walks of life and backgrounds. Indeed, Akko is an ancient city that has been inhabited by each of the major empires of civilization and yet has retained its essence as a city where religion and civil society go hand in hand. Unlike the preconceived notions about Israel and its treatment of Arabs, Akko, like Dubai, serves as a beacon of gastronomic diplomacy for coexistence in the Mideast.







srael’s bustling city of Eilat, at the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba and Red Sea, is renowned for beaches, hotels and one of the world’s northernmost coral reefs. Magnificent, colorful, diverse corals, sponges, giant clams, fish and other marine life make these reefs a national and world treasure. Barely 40 feet offshore and only five miles long, the reefs link with Egypt’s reefs along the Sinai Desert to the south and lie just miles from reefs off Aqaba, Jordan, to the east. But Eilat’s corals are being loved to death. Over 60,000 city residents join hundreds of thousands of tourists every year from Israel, Europe, the United States, newly friendly Middle Eastern countries and beyond. The new Eilat airport could bring even more, once COVID-19 travel restrictions ease. Pre-COVID, the reefs were already hosting over 350,000 scuba dives and many more snorkeling visits annually. Even careful visitors take a toll, and some aren’t careful or are just clumsy novices. Israel’s current population of nine million 26


people could grow to 15 million within 30 years. Eilat’s population could surge from 55,000 to at least 100,000 in even less time. Pressure on the fragile reefs will inevitably intensify. How can Israel accommodate all these people and still protect precious reef habitats? Wildlife authorities could close off more sections of the system, limit visitors or reduce the number of dives per location per year. But these measures would deny access to this incredible area for people who journey many miles to experience what some describe as visiting another planet. It would also reduce the economic value that many see in nature preservation. In the long run, such tactics could actually decrease popular and financial support for the reefs. One recent study found that diving tourism alone brings over $23 million a year to Eilat, providing an enormous impetus for reef preservation. Researchers from Ben-Gurion and Tel Aviv Universities, the Technion and the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute are studying ways to actively restore

reefs and create artificial reefs (ARs). They believe the solution lies not in restricting access to the natural reefs, but in protecting them, while building man-made structures that entice people to visit and teach them how to take better care of reefs throughout the world. A PLACE TO CALL HOME

Oceans teem with larvae, hatchlings and adults looking for homes, hiding places and food. Like natural reefs, ARs rise above the seafloor, offer multiple nooks and crannies and provide hard surfaces for corals, sponges and shellfish to attach and grow. They create new habitats, ecological niches, living quarters and food supplies for diverse species, enabling more to survive, thrive and reproduce. Prof.Nadav Shashar of Ben-Gurion University’s Eilat campus deployed his first medium-size AR, Tamar, in 2007. Six years later, Tamar had already become a flourishing habitat for thousands of fish and other marine organisms.


Today, Tamar’s unique design and many corals, gorgonians, sponges, fish and shellfish attract both novice and veteran divers who want to observe the reef colonization process in action. Shashar and his team also partnered with Jordanian colleagues to plan and install an AR off the Aqaba coast, while teaching coral preservation and restoration in Honduras and other parts of the world, and building relationships with marine biologists in other Red Sea nations. His team and local divers are also trying to repair sections of natural reefs that were badly damaged by storms. PLANTING ‘OCEANIC TREES’

The Jewish National Fund has planted trees in Israel since 1901. Perhaps planting “oceanic trees” (corals) and installing artificial reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba could be Israel’s next nature-enhancing project. The BGU-Technion team recently received small grants from the Israeli Diving Federation and the Eilat municipality toward an innovative larger AR pilot project. This signals a growing change in attitudes by the diving community and local governments toward artificial reefs as an important part of the solution to too-muchlove challenges. Perhaps the grants will help demonstrate to airlines, hotels, restaurants and other components of Israel’s tourism industry — and to visitors, divers and readers — that building ARs is ecologically vital, socially responsible, and a rewarding way to “give something back” to communities and nature. SOME FISH PREFER ARTIFICIAL REEFS

A study by graduate student Asa Oren was the first anywhere to employ accurately reproduced manmade corals that simulate the structure and some functions of natural, living corals. Beginning in the laboratory, researchers evaluate various designs and materials, as well as surface composition, structural integrity, water flow, color and sand movement around coral structures.

The team next builds scale models and tests them in a specialized flow tank that mimics currents and sedimentation processes. It then investigates the preferences of fish, crabs, corals and other animals that might inhabit the new reef. Each species has its own desires, and all must be catered to. Once full-scale corals are deployed, scubadiving biologists track how the artificial corals are colonized. They’ve found that fish not only accept the 3D-printed corals; some actually prefer certain designs and colors over natural live corals. This knowledge is then used to design larger-scale artificial reefs. Since ARs are also intended to attract tourists, they must be interesting and attractive. That brought professor Ezri Tarazi to the Ben-Gurion University team as codirector. An established designer and head of the Technion’s design lab, Tarazi has presented in galleries around the world. He is working on new reef designs that will add novel visual elements to dive experiences. A website and interpretative materials will enable divers, snorkelers and landlubbers alike to understand nature in action. VIBRANT AND ENTERTAINING

Over the coming years, each new artificial reef will grow and prosper, providing food and habitats for hundreds of species, and becoming as vibrant and entertaining as their natural cousins. Some visitors might visualize how nature colonizes sunken ships. Others might compare the reef-building process to Israel’s modern cities rising out of desert sands, as seen in historical photos and films. The newest artificial reef involves converting the pilings beneath Eilat’s old oil jetty into a living coral reef. The team again employed 3D printing to create unique shapes and hiding places for fish, then turned the models into full-size circular platforms and other forms that they attach to the pilings or set on the seafloor. Finally, they affix live corals from fragments

grown in the BGU coral nursery to jumpstart the reef-building process. As Shashar puts it, the Bible commanded us l’avda ve l’shomra — to work the land and safeguard it. People should move from the first towards the second, under guidelines for a new form of tikkun olam (repair of the world), to protect a small but important part of creation in Israel’s vibrant Gulf of Aqaba. The projects also offer marvelous opportunities for Red Sea countries, biologists and people to work together — to protect and restore natural reefs, build ARs and support more tourists without endangering wondrous underwater habitats. These experts will also export their knowledge and successes to other nations that are experiencing the mixed blessing of tourists bringing money, jobs, better living standards … and growing pressure on ecological values. In fact, Israel recently joined several neighboring Arab states in a program to protect Red Sea coral reef ecosystems. The Red Sea Transnational Research Center will be located in Bern, Switzerland and will host researchers from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Eritrea, Sudan, Yemen and Djibouti. Initiated by Bar-Ilan University professor Maoz Fine, the program will also include the University of Jordan marine science station in Aqaba and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. All of this is an exciting and promising venture in human, ecological and international relations. PAUL DRIESSEN IS A SCUBA DIVER AND ENVIRONMENTALIST WHO HAS MADE MULTIPLE TRIPS TO ISRAEL AND SPECIFICALLY TO EILAT, WRITTEN MANY ARTICLES FOR DIVE MAGAZINES AND ONLINE MEDIA, STUDIED NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL REEFS, AND EDITED CREATURES CORALS AND COLORS IN NORTH AMERICAN SEAS BY DR. ANN SCARBOROUGH-BULL.

This article was first published by Israel21c.



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& mishagoss Shavuot: Why Be Wary of the Dairy?


heesecake, souffle, blintzes, quiche, and sour cream! “I can’t wait!” says my fiancé, as his eyes shine with gleam. I, on the other hand, have lots of trouble this time of year. Frightened by even a bagel with the tiniest bit of schmear. Not so much as a squirt of Reddi-Whip shall grace my berries, Why even a dollop of yogurt would be the scariest of scaries! “Of course I’m going to honor Shavuot,” I promise my sister Laura. But why must I ingest Swiss cheese to fully appreciate the Torah? Even the handsome Jewish cashier who rattles off all 31 flavors, Confesses to me that it’s the butterscotch fudge ripple he savors.

Their wide array of LACTOSE-free products satisfies any sweet tooth, I can totally sip their chocolate milkshakes while I read the Book of Ruth!

He doesn’t care that I’ve just found a unique way to substitute dairy, He just wants to point at each ingredient and discuss all things coronary.

Enough! I can’t take it anymore -- there must be a better answer! An alternative for butter that’s used as a baked potato enhancer?

Yay! Now I can safely add cheddar to my broccoli cheese soup, And proudly storm into Baskin-Robbins and order a double scoop!

Taking pen to paper, a list of cholesterol-free foods he painstakingly composes. Now I ask you in all seriousness….Do you think this ever happened to Moses?

And that’s when it hits me -- so I log into my Amazon Prime. (Which is very fitting as I try to continue this little rhyme.)

But just when I’m ready to embrace Shavuot and our celebratory meal, My doctor calls me up to chastise, “Sorry Stephanie, but No Deal!



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