Dance for a cure DIABETES RESEARCH FOUNDATION'S 2ND ANNUAL FUNDRAISER
PLUS Education that's Top Notch Backyard Barbeque, Kosher-Style
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2019
August 2019 • www.lchaimmagazine.com
COVER STORY Diabetes Research Foundation's Dance for a Cure.............................................................................. 1000 WORDS Mariano Rivera: From pitching baseball to pitching Israel....................................................... FOOD Backyard barbecue, kosher-style.............................................................................................................. EDUCATION A top-notch Jewish education at SDJA............................................................................................
DANCE FOR A CURE
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YouTube channel ‘Unpacked’ aims to teach younger generations about Israel and Judaism............................................................................................................................ Stand With Us San Diego........................................................................................................................... FEATURES First responders without borders......................................................................................................... Polish organization aims to restore country's Jewish heritage, building both bridges and awareness...............................................................................................
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SD Rep hosts 33 1/3 House of Dreams................................................................................................. Israeli Research and Innovation.............................................................................................................. COMMUNITY 5 Minute Play Festival's 3rd place winner: The Investment Club...................................... COLUMNS
Mazel and Mishagoss....................................
Torah: Of the Book..........................................
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Laurie Miller CONTRIBUTORS Daniel Bortz, Donald H. Harrison, Steve Horn, Stephanie Lewis, Salomon Maya, Terra Paley, Mimi Pollack, Rachel Stern, Eva Trieger, Deborah Vietor, Chana Jenny Weisberg
ADVERTISING & SALES Diane Benaroya (email@example.com), Sharon Buchsbaum (firstname.lastname@example.org) 4
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2019
ART DEPARTMENT email@example.com LISTINGS & CALENDAR: firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Alanna Maya
TOP NOTCH EDUCATION
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO, LLC (858) 776-0550 San Diego, CA 92127
PUBLISHERS Diane Benaroya & Laurie Miller
CIRCULATION & SUBSCRIPTIONS email@example.com
SUBSCRIBE ONLINE: www.lchaimmagazine.com/shop ON THE COVER: (L-R) Casey Davis, Director of Development for the Diabetes Research Connection and Sherry Ahern, Dance for Diabetes event chair. Photo courtesy Diabetes Research Connection. Copyright ©2019 L’Chaim San Diego LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator” to: firstname.lastname@example.org Published in San Diego, CA • www.lchaimmagazine.com
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HUMOR | BY STEPHANIE LEWIS
& mishagoss Alexa, Meet Aviva! “Alexa, What Time Is It?” It’s Time for a Jewish Smart House! One day I decided that as cool as Alexa was, she’d be much more cool-ish if she were Jewish! Now introducing Aviva! The KnowIt-All Maven more intelligent than all other digital personal assistants put together. ME: Aviva, what’s the temperature in the family room? I’m feeling a slight draft in here. AVIVA: It’s 83 degrees. I’ll go put on my sweater. ME: Good girl. Could you close that back sliding screen door too? AVIVA: You’ve been stuck inside writing your narishkeit all day, would a little fresh air kill you? ME: You’re right. Aviva, how many calories are in spinach cheese omelet? AVIVA: Calories? You shouldn’t concern yourself. You’re much too thin. But oy, eating so many eggs with your cholesterol total? ME: OMG, that’s right! Aviva, what are my current HDL, LDL and triglycerides levels? AVIVA: Numbers Shnumbers! Why worry your shayna punim about such mishagoss, Bubula? That’s what the medical profession is for. Now if you had a son-in-law who was a doctor, he’d be such a useful mensch. Not 6
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2019
like that lazy what’s-his-name your daughter is dating . . . that skinny, poor tailor. ME: You mean Michael? Even a poor tailor is entitled to some happiness. Besides, they’re just children. AVIVA: From such children come other children. (Okay, alright, so what if I programmed a bit too much Fiddler on the Roof into her?) ME: Aviva, what time does Shabbat end tonight? AVIVA: If your windows weren’t so filthy dirty, I might be able to see if the three stars have come out yet. Why? ME: I’d like to warm up some chicken soup for dinner. AVIVA: Ohhh, so the stove you can’t touch, but me, an electrical gadget — you can hock mier en chinik and noodge me forever on a Saturday afternoon? ME: My goodness, you’re right. I should be more observant and ask a gentile instead. Please fetch Alexa out from my nightstand drawer. AVIVA: Forget about that shiksa. Such a clever contraption without contraception -got herself knocked-up and ran off with that no-good butcher, Lazar Wolf. She’s dead to us now. You have other children at home. Go home, Golde.
ME: Aviva, you’re mixing everything up. And also you’re mistaking a fictional Jewish musical for my real life. Shabbat has officially ended, so please clean the lint off the carpets. AVIVA: And you’re mistaking a Jewish American Virtual Princess for a vacuum. Shavua Tov. Now whip me up a noodle kugel! STEPHANIE D. LEWIS WRITES COMEDY FOR THE HUFFINGTON POST AND PENS HER HUMOR AT ONCEUPONYOURPRIME.COM.
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TORAH l BY RABBI DANIEL BORTZ
the book Beneath the Surface of Education
woman once approached Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik of Brisk with a question. Since she simply couldn’t afford wine for the 4 cups of the Seder, was she permitted to use milk?” The Rabbi responded by opening his drawer and giving her a large amount of money. After she had left, one of his students asked him: “I understand why you gave her money for wine, but why did you give extra?” The Rabbi explained: “The fact that she asked if she could drink milk at the Seder shows me that she also has no money for meat (Kosher laws prohibit mixing milk and meat). So, I gave her enough to buy both wine and meat for the holiday.” A key to effective education is looking past the question to the questioner. To peer past the surface to the root of any issue. This may manifest in a classroom, where instead of a history teacher focusing only on the facts of a world war, delves into the anthropological reasons of what led to them happening. Or an English Literature teacher who teaches students to read between the lines — “What was the author really trying to get at?" As a Rabbi and teacher, I love to peel away the outer layers of the do’s and don’ts of Jewish law, and discuss the why behind 8
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2019
them. That’s what stimulates the mind and heart. Why do we make Kiddush on wine on Shabbat and holidays? Yes, historically it’s been a substance of importance and honors the day. But “wine” and “secret” have the same Hebrew numerical equivalent, as the liquid is hidden in the grape and when revealed and ingested reveals your secrets as well. Wine also ages better over time, as do the things that really matter, like wisdom and good deeds. When listening to the painful problems of another, we have to look beneath the surface as well, to connect and empathize with someone on that deeper level, for behind their issue is often more. In I Am Not Your Guru, a Tony Robbins Netflix special, a teenage girl gets up to speak. Her issue, she says, is with her eating habits. Within a few minutes of questioning, it’s uncovered that her real life issue is her relationship with her father, his drug abuse, and more. In Tony’s words: “People present low level stuff, because we engage ourselves with little problems that we make into big things so we don’t deal with the big ones that scare us.” Seeing your child looking depressed after school may just be the fluctuation of hormones or a bad test score. But it’s likely
more existential. Parents are usually aware of the reasons behind the outer 10 percent surface of teen angst. Even if we don’t know everything in another person’s life, we can empathize with them on a deeper level than the outer causes they’re willing to show At my Soul X events here in San Diego I lead a meditation session, often using sound healing and other physical techniques like breathing exercises. I feel that wisdom and guidance through words is great, but can only go so far. Many of us have pain and confusion inside of us from moments in our lives that we couldn’t internalize intellectually at the time, so we store it inside of ourselves. This can even manifest itself physically. Taking the time to delve deeper than intellect to our core essence, can help alleviate the pain we are carrying. May we be blessed with the perception and compassion to see others and ourselves beyond the outer layer we show. DANIEL BORTZ, THE MILLENNIAL RABBI, IS THE FOUNDER OF JTEEN AND SOUL X. CONNECT AT RABBIBORTZ.COM.
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New York Yankees legend Mariano Rivera at the 2019 CUFI Washington Summit.
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2019
PHOTO CREDIT CUFI
L’CHAIM | BY JACKSON RICHMAN | JNS.org
MARIANO RIVERA: FROM PITCHING BASEBALL TO PITCHING ISRAEL
egendary closer. Thirteen-time All-Star. Five-time World Series champion (earning the WS MVP in 1999). Devout Christian. Israel advocate. On July 21, New York Yankees icon Mariano Rivera, 49 was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as the first player to be unanimously picked. While he was in Washington, D.C., for the annual summit by Christians United for Israel, where he was a speaker, he spoke about his career in baseball, for which he holds the Major League Baseball record for most career saves; and his passion for Israel, where has traveled to twice: in 2015 and 2018. TELL US ABOUT ISRAEL AND WHY YOU ARE SUCH AN ADVOCATE, ESPECIALLY HAVING TRAVELED TO ISRAEL LAST YEAR. MARIANO RIVERA: The experience that
I had in Israel just speaks volumes in it of itself. The experience that I had there, it was amazing. There are no words to describe what I experienced, what I felt. Jesus was a Christian. He was Jewish. He fulfilled the Old Testament. When it comes to that he did everything as a Jew, I love that. I understand that, as my Savior, the Bible speaks about Israel and the Jews. And that’s his people. DID YOU EVER WITNESS ANTI-SEMITISM GROWING UP IN PANAMA? MR: I never saw anti-Semitism growing up in
Panama. I was in a small village called Puerto Caimito, a fishing village, so I never saw it.
The experience that I had there [in Israel], it was amazing. There are no words to describe what I experienced, what I felt. The Jewish population in Panama is huge — big and great people. I have great friends and, no, I never saw anti-Semitism in Panama at all. WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO GUATEMALA, HONDURAS AND BRAZIL FORGING TIES WITH ISRAEL? MR: To me, that’s a great decision. Hopefully,
Honduras and Brazil will move their embassy to Jerusalem, where they belong. Being friends with Israel is a smart decision.
ISRAEL’S BASEBALL TEAM MADE A REMARKABLE RUN IN THE 2017 WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC. WERE YOU ABLE TO MEET WITH THE TEAM DURING YOUR VISIT? MR: I didn’t have the chance to meet with
them, but they made a remarkable run, great games. I was cheering for them. All the principles and fundamentals that they have is based on the Bible; that’s what they believe. That’s why I’m always in tune with that. DOES MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HAVE A ROLE IN RECRUITING PLAYERS FROM ISRAEL? DOES THE LEAGUE HAVE A ROLE IN THE U.S.-ISRAEL RELATIONSHIP, CONSIDERING BASEBALL’S INTERNATIONAL APPEAL? MR: I can’t answer that question because I’m
not in MLB anymore. But at the same time, I hope that if they don’t, they will because they’re recruiting players also, so having that great relationship with Israel would be smart so they can bring the game to Israel and recruit more players from Israel. YOU WERE THE CLOSER OF A TEAM IN ONE OF THE HEAVILY JEWISH POPULATED PLACES IN THE WORLD. WHAT WERE YOUR INTERACTIONS WITH THE JEWISH AND PRO-ISRAEL COMMUNITY THERE? MR: My interaction with the Jewish
community in New York? I have great friends, rabbis, friends who are Jewish that are amazing, beautiful people. I went to Israel with a few friends of mine WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
Mariano "Mo" Rivera, at the Panama Canal Ceremony.
that are rabbis; to me, that was fascinating. We had a great time, and we’re working to do it again. That’s how powerful it was. Most of them were from New York. The trip was to go to Israel and understand what Israel is all about — what is our G-d and just the people in general. How wonderful it was. I believe that part of me is Jewish. I have to take a DNA test to see where my family came from, where I come from — all that stuff because I truly believe there’s something in me that just moves me to have something special for the Jewish community and Israel. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CURRENT BASEBALL SEASON? THE YANKEES ARE ON A ROLL. MR: The Yankees are on quite a roll. Hopefully, 12
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The trip was to go to Israel and understand what Israel is all about — what is our G-d and just the people in general. How wonderful it was. they continue winning. My prayers are that they go all the way. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE OUR READERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOU? MR: You want to know more about Israel,
come to Israel. Visit Israel. It’s a place like no
other. It doesn’t matter what kind of religion you are, if you are religious or not. Just come and see with your own eyes to understand what it is all about. That is the best thing that I can say. Before you make a comment, you need to go there and find out.
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L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2019
BACKYARD BBQ, KOSHER-STYLE
Jewish-run meat-based festivals are held during the warm-weather months from Memphis to Kansas to Texas and beyond. BY ETHEL G. HOFMAN | JNS.org
arbecuing is primal, even dangerous. It’s looked on as a guy thing — all that fire, smoke, sharp implements and mountains of meat. But hold on, folks! Women are drawn to that fire and smoke, too. Besides creating zesty marinades and scrumptious sides, complete with a dose of patience (think long, tenderizing brisket), women of all ages are influencing barbecue at home, opening popular restaurants and winning big on the professional circuit. To tap into this growing trend, Jewishrun, kosher barbecue festivals are held during the warm-weather months from Memphis to Kansas to Texas and beyond. In Philadelphia, Dr. Stu Gordon spearheaded an annual charity event called Hava NaGrilla. Sanctioned by the gold-standard, Kansas City BBQ Society, the event draws thousands of cooks and hungry eaters who come to sample the fare. Stacey Kurtz’s Onion Cabernet jelly from Israel’s Tishbi vineyards and Blair Johnson’s Best Barbecue Rub steered Len Lodish, professor emeritus of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, over the top. He and his family team won Hava NaGrilla’s 2017 Best Brisket Award. The thrill of smoking briskey, long and slow, and the resulting melt in the mouth meat is making smoked brisket the star of home barbecuing. It’s not for the faint hearted. Smoking brisket takes time, dedication and a whole lotta love. Most anything can be cooked on the grill — from the wealth of seasonal veggies to chicken and fish. Barbecue corn with just a smattering of margarine or a touch of olive oil and seasonings, or jazz it up with your own fresh herb dressing. The same goes for zucchini, asparagus, onions, peppers or any other fresh vegetable (just make sure they’re
all cut to a similar size so none burns). Simply toss in olive oil and garlic, and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and kosher salt. Place in a grilling basket, char slightly to caramelize, and you have a colorful, healthy, delicious vegetable platter. If there are leftovers, which are unlikely, serve next day at room temperature. SMOKED BRISKET (MEAT) Serves 10-12 There are as many smoked brisket recipes as there are cooks. This one, adapted from Epicurious, is very straightforward. Cook’s Tips: *Order a whole brisket ahead of time. *Fat should be trimmed to about ¼-inch thick to prevent meat from drying out. *Soak wood chips in water overnight. *To get more smoke, without increasing heat, add dry wood chips to soaked chips. *Check wood chips often adding more soaked chips to keep smoke levels constant. *May substitute a favorite store-bought rub. Ingredients 1/4 cup Blair Johnson’s Best BBQ Rub 1/4 cup brown sugar 7-8 pounds beef brisket Tishbi Onion Cabernet Directions • In a small bowl, mix the rub and brown sugar together. • Place the brisket on a baking sheet. Season the brisket rubbing the sugar mixture all over. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. • Heat the grill to 220 degrees. Adjust the heat as needed throughout cooking to maintain 220. After eight hours, insert an instant read thermometer into thickest part of meat. It should register
195-205 degrees. It may need to smoke a few hours longer. • Transfer to a carving board. Spoon Tishbi Onion Cabernet jelly over top. • Let rest before slicing against the grain, about one-quarter-inch thick. DOC HOFMAN’S SWEET-AND-HOT CHICKEN THIGHS (MEAT) Serves 6-8 Cook’s Tips: *Save time and use bottled chopped garlic. *Chopped ginger root is available in jars. *May use this marinade for chicken wings. Ingredients 1/2 cup ketchup 1/2 cup chili sauce 1/3 cup honey, warmed 1/4 cup molasses 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 2 tablespoons orange marmalade, melted 1 tablespoon grated ginger root 1 teaspoon chopped garlic 3 pounds chicken thighs Directions • Prepare sauce: In a bowl, combine all ingredients except chicken. Set aside. • Place chicken in shallow glass bowl. Pour sauce over turning to coat all sides completely. Cover and refrigerate 4-6 hours or overnight. • Heat grill to about 300 degrees. • Remove chicken thighs from marinade and discard marinade. Place chicken on grill. • Cook for about 30 minutes with lid down, turning occasionally. When juices run clear when pricked with a fork, chicken is done. • Serve hot off the grill. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
COVER STORY l BY DEBORAH VIETOR
PHOTO COURTESY DIABETES RESEARCH CONNECTION.
(L-R) Casey Davis, Director of Development for the Diabetes Research Connection and Sherry Ahern, Dance for Diabetes event chair.
CONNECTING FOR A CURE 2nd Annual Event Dance for Diabetes benefits Diabetes Research Connection 16
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2019
he Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) will hold its second annual Dance for Diabetes on Saturday, Sept. 7, which promises to be even more spectacular than last year’s event. “This is not your typical non-profit fundraiser,” says Sherry Ahern, Event Chair and mother of a son with type 1 diabetes, (T1D). “Virtually everyone who attended last year’s DRC gala said it was the best one they had ever attended. This will be a fantastic, fun party with great music, fine food and drink, and a silent auction with exciting experiences that everyone will enjoy.” Ahern said. Gourmet food will be provided by prominent Del Mar restaurants, including Pacifica Del Mar, Il Fornaio, Sbicca, Le Rendezvous and other area eateries. Exceptional live music will be provided by Encore Event Entertainment. Among the highlights are a silent auction, with prizes including an oceanfront condo in Maui with airfare for 2; a signed jersey and helmet by Chargers Quarterback Philip Rivers; 2 VIP member passes to the San Diego International Film Festival; a year of Del Mar Spa 360 treatments; a bay sail on a beautiful 41’ boat with a gourmet lunch; as well as many other choice items. Funds raised benefit the mission of DRC, a Del Mar-based charity with a national reach that funds new, peer-reviewed T1D research at universities and institutions across the country. Donors choose which research project(s) to support. All donations designated for a project go directly to the scientist’s lab. DRC was established in 2012 as a nonprofit by committed proponents of diabetes research, including 3 UCSD faculty members: Dr. Alberto Hayek, C.C. King, and Nigel Calcutt; along with David Winkler, who has had T1D since age 6. Pediatric Endocrinologist, Alberto Hayek is President of DRC. He is a world-renowned T1D researcher and expert in the disease. During his 40 plus years of medical practice, Dr. Hayek was dedicated to caring for children with diabetes and their families. Dr. Hayek asked each child for whom he provided care, “If you could have only one thing in the world, what would it be?” Their answer was always the same, “I want a cure!” After years of receiving the same answer, he switched to research, to find a cure for this more severe form of diabetes which requires vigilant blood glucose monitoring and the injection of insulin. Dr. Hayek’s lab was the first to enable replication of specialized beta cells in the pancreas. These critical beta cells measure blood glucose and produce insulin to keep blood sugars in the normal range. Loss of these insulin producing beta cells causes T1D. Dr. Hayek was the first to cause pancreatic beta cells to multiply. “These replicating beta cells, grown
in the lab, began to lose the ability to make insulin. When we reassembled them, insulin production resumed. The methods we developed have been used to make insulin producing beta cells from stem cells,” according to Dr. Hayek. We spoke with Dr. Hayek recently about his work. L’CHAIM MAGAZINE: WHAT HAS RECENTLY TRANSPIRED IN THE FIELD OF T1D RESEARCH? DR. ALBERTO HAYEK: Peter Thompson, Ph.D. one of
DRC’s grantees at UCSF, published a groundbreaking article in Cell Metabolism in February 2019. He showed what causes the premature death of the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas of mice with T1D. These malfunctioning beta cells then destroy other insulin producing beta cells, thus causing the disease. The results of his research could determine a new pathway to a cure. The goal would be to prevent the full onset of the disease by identifying drugs that could eliminate the dying beta cells, that is those which cause a cascade of more beta cells dying, resulting in the onset of T1D. Based on these findings, Dr. Thompson received follow-up funding from the Hillblom Foundation to continue his research for 3 years. L’CHAIM: WHAT IS IT ABOUT DRC THAT IS UNIQUE? AH: All of the grants submitted by early-career
scientists are reviewed by our 80+ scientific review committee to ensure the ideas are viable, innovative, and have a high probability of success. The best evidence of good science is through publication of experimental results. Half of DRC fully-funded projects have resulted in publications in reputable journals. DRC enables young investigators to then apply to the NIH, JDRF and other foundations for considerably larger grants to continue their research. We kickstart the novel research by feeding the front end of the T1D pipeline. L’CHAIM: DO YOU BELIEVE THAT ONE DAY THERE WILL BE A CURE FOR T1D? AH: After 30 years of research, I believe there will
be a cure. Tremendous advances have been made in medical discoveries within the past 10 years in the areas of molecular biology, cellular biology and genomic research. Technology has increased the scope and breadth of possible research to increase the probability of finding a cure sooner rather than later. For example, genes can be manipulated in ways previously unimagined. L’CHAIM: WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN OFFER PEOPLE WITH T1D? AH: We offer hope for a cure and prevention of T1D. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
Pediatric Endocrinologist Alberto Hayek founded the Diabetes Research Connection along with David Winkler, who has had Type 1 Diabetes since he was six years old.
At least three DRC researchers have procured subsequent funding in excess of $1 million. We support some of the best new research ideas from nationally accredited universities and research institutes across the U.S. In addition to Dr. Thompson’s fine work, there is the exciting research by Joseph Lancman, Ph.D. being conducted in Dr. Duc Dong’s lab at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute. They are developing a novel approach for replacing destroyed pancreatic beta cells. Their research involves using patient’s own modified skin, muscle, or fat cells and transforming them into functioning beta cells. Importantly, they have overcome the hurdle of making beta-cell precursors from these cells. Dr. Lancman is confident his lab will further advance their technology to create a vast, new and practical source of replacement of beta-cells to ultimately cure T1D. This line of experiments has received $1.4 million in additional funding from the NIH and others, following DRC’s early support. 18
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2019
Yo Suzuki, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in La Jolla. He has studied bacteria and other small life forms for 25 years, wanting to contribute to making the world a better place. Along with John Glass, I encouraged Suzuki to work on T1D a few years ago and he has contributed to the most current research. JCVI is focused on developing a bacteria to function like a beta cell in the form of a microbiological pump. This research is a significant step in the introduction of synthetic biology to potentially deliver insulin in response to blood glucose, without needles or systems to continuously monitor blood glucose levels. Initial DRC funding caused JCVI’s investigators to secure over $1 million in collaboration with researchers from UCSD, Stanford University and the University of Michigan. Type 1 diabetes is a leading cause of blindness; heart, kidney and neurological diseases, amputations and death. Still 1 in
17 type 1 diabetics dies of low blood sugar. It is unlike type 2 diabetes which can often be treated with exercise, dietary changes and weight loss. Type 1 diabetes is one of the most underfunded diseases today. As 1.25 million Americans live with it, including 200,000 children. Approximately 40,000 new patients are diagnosed yearly. Through contributions to organizations like DRC, much can be done to help prevent, and find a cure for type 1 diabetes. THE DIABETES RESEARCH CONNECTION’S DANCE FOR DIABETES WILL BE HELD SATURDAY, SEPT. 7, 6-11 P.M. AT THE DEL MAR PLAZA SUNSET DECK. TICKETS ARE $200, AND INCLUDE VALET PARKING, LIVE ENTERTAINMENT, FOOD AND AN OPEN BAR PROVIDED BY YOUNG’S MARKET. TO LEARN MORE, OR TO PURCHASE TICKETS, VISIT DIABETESRESEARCHCONNECTION. ORG/DANCEFORDIABETES OR CALL (844) 484-3372.
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TOP NOTCH JEWISH EDUCATION SAN DIEGO JEWISH ACADEMY BY RACHEL STERN
ounded 40 years ago by two rabbis and other community leaders, the San Diego Jewish Academy was the first non-Orthodox Jewish day school in San Diego. The school gradually grew and moved north from Del Cerro to its current campus in Carmel Valley. A high school was later created and the school as we know it today officially has been around since 2000. The smiling teachers and students speak for themselves. The education is top notch and children may attend the facility as young as a year old and can stay in the same school until they graduate from high school. SDJA’s high school students get accepted to top universities around the country and in Israel. There are amazing things happening at the school all the time. For the second year in a row, SDJA will have a family camp, where over 100 parents and students come together for a weekend of meaningful storytelling, discussions and
communit y-build ing activities. Shabbat dinners are held throughout the year for 12th graders, and programs for families concentrating on Passover and Shavuot happen annually. The Learners’ Circle, where leaders gather monthly for Torah learning and dinner, while discussing relevant issues at SDJA is a highlight for the school community. Weekly Torah study classes are held for current parents as well as alumni; and Judaica Professional Development Day, where faculty members learn rigorous Judaica sessions all in one day are ongoing opportunities for learning hosted by the school. SDJA is currently redesigning their campus library and they are developing a new auditorium which will dramatically enhance the school’s theater program offerings. In addition, through SDJA’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Thinking,
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2019
students are introduced to robotics. Upper school students learn coding and computing from a leader in the field, gaining critical thinking skills in the process. Recently, SDJA introduced students to augmented reality, where participants are able to create digital representations of math/ art installations on campus. The school even received the National Blue Ribbon Award for academics by the U.S.
Department of Education Superiority, showing that their students received top 15 percent of scores nationally when it comes to standardized testing. Head of School Chaim Heller said the school is a “pluralistic beacon to the larger San Diego Jewish community.” “The school has worldclass education and students make world-class friends,” he continued. In an effort to make the private
PHOTO BY TALIA GARBER.
school education accessible to more students, the Open Door Program aims to cut tuition in half for incoming students. Starting in October 2018, a campaign called Our Family is One raised $15 million dollars, a portion of which supported Open Door. It is essentially a pilot program for students entering kindergarten and 9th grade for the fall 2019 school year, where tuition is cut in half and is locked in at that rate for
four years. According to some research, more than 1,100 Jewish families would consider SDJA with this program. The school’s vision is to have tuition cut in half for all grades and so far, the pilot program has been a success. The result? More classes and more kids. This year there will be a third kindergarten class and over 100 new students have enrolled for the upcoming academic year; and there is a 9597 percent retention rate. Heller
said that because of the Open Door Program, “parents of kids in all grades feel better about asking for tuition assistance.” Heller, who recently came back from Israel says thanks to the Our Family is One Campaign, there will be “new innovative programming and contact with students around the world, using virtual reality.” He is excited about what’s to come for the school in the coming years.
For more information about SDJA, visit www. sdja.com. RACHEL STERN IS A CONTRIBUTING WRITER FOR L’CHAIM MAGAZINE. SHE IS A PUBLISHED AUTHOR AS WELL AS A FREELANCE JOURNALIST. SHE RESIDES IN SAN DIEGO AND CAN BE REACHED AT GANEITIKVA@ICLOUD.COM.
PHOTO CREDIT: SCREENSHOT
YOUTUBE CHANNEL 'UNPACKED'
TEACHING YOUNGER GENERATIONS ABOUT ISRAEL AND JUDAISM The goal is to bring compelling content to a landscape that the organized Jewish community has largely left unexplored BY ELIANA RUDEE | JNS.org
ids and teens spend an average of six hours daily online, and the nonprofit Jerusalem U says that the Jewish educational community is years behind in reaching them there and urgently needs to catch up. According to Jerusalem U’s newly named CEO, Dina Rabhan, “for decades, the Jewish community has struggled to reach and teach the growing number of Jews that do not have access or choose not to access traditional Jewish learning opportunities. YouTube, the world’s largest global classroom and the No. 2 search engine, can change that.” This is why, she said, Jerusalem U has launched a new YouTube channel called “Unpacked,” featuring bite-sized videos that also tell complex, nuanced stories about Israel and Judaism in what Rabhan calls “non-prescriptive education.” It aims to bring compelling content to social media and digital channels that reach younger Jews (primarily those ages 13 to 34) where they live, starting on YouTube — a
A screenshot of Jerusalem U’s “Unpacked” YouTube channel.
landscape that Jerusalem U believes the organized Jewish community has largely left unexplored. “People are curious about Judaism and Israel, but are not ready to commit to walking into a Hillel house or synagogue, or going to a Jewish event. But ‘Googling’ or learning about something from their dorm room is something they will do,” explained Rabhan, who posed that YouTube is more often than not their preferred platform. “YouTube has billions of hours of educational videos being uploaded and viewed every month, and it’s where kids are choosing to do most of their learning outside of traditional institutions. It’s where they socialize, connect and understand the world around them,” said Rabhan, who has worked as an educational consultant supporting more than 200 Jewish day schools worldwide. Some 50 percent of YouTube viewers say they use it to learn or discover new things, using it as a search engine when they are
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2019
curious about something, noted Rabhan. People are already searching for content related to Judaism and Israel on YouTube, curious after returning from a Birthright trip or hoping to learn about their Jewish roots. “Whatever the reason, when someone searches for content, there is something there to find, and we want to be there,” said Rabhan, who maintained that as YouTube is the primary learning environment, the Jewish community has a “responsibility to leverage this incredible opportunity and make sure there is quality Jewish learning accessible and available to anyone searching or interested.” Rabhan expressed her belief that media has the power to change the face of the Jewish world, stressing that “we need to be in this space.” She continued, “It’s time for the Jewish community to recognize that this is the future. If we care about a diverse, committed and Jewish future, we have an obligation and the opportunity to let people know and care. For the first time in Jewish history,
we have the ability to reach and teach every Jew.” To propel the “Unpacked” launch, Jerusalem U is encouraging everyone to “take 10” in a campaign that offers to send those who sign up a free weekly video. The campaign says that by spending 10 minutes a week watching the videos, users will get up to speed on modern Israeli history. The first video series includes “The History of Israel Explained,” with 55 episodes, each eight to 10 minutes long. More series are in the production pipeline for 2019 and 2020. According to Rahban, Jerusalem U’s strategic shift, which integrates “Unpacked” with documentary films and a website for educators with curricular material, will help the organization “respond to the changing needs of our world and target markets,” and achieve its vision of providing content for curious teens and young adults looking to engage with their heritage and history.
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STAND WITH US
CELEBRATES LEADERS OF TOMORROW StandWithUs San Diego will host its 8th annual “Leaders of Tomorrow” gala on Sunday, October 27. This year’s theme is “Standing Together Against Antisemitism,” and will begin at 5:30pm. Keynote speaker radio talk show host Larry Elder will discuss rising anti-Semitism and “Why the World Cannot Exist Without Israel". BY YAEL STEINBERG
WU San Diego is entering its 9th year fulfilling its mission to educate about Israel on campuses, high schools, middle schools and the community, and to fight against antisemitism. Associate director Yael Steinberg together with Board president Mitch Danzig from Mintz Levin, along with an 18-member board, are expanding the non-profit organization’s reach in the region through continuous innovative programming. Board members Natalie Josephson and Jaime Feder will co-chair the gala once again. New board member Yamia Benhaim joins the team this year to produce an extraordinary event for the community. Outraged by the anti-Israel Apartheid Wall they witnessed at UCSD and SDSU and the antisemitic rhetoric in the community, Ja ime and Natalie were motivated to take action 24
and joined the StandWithUs San Diego chapter several years ago. Yamia was born in Israel. She returns most summers with her family. Yamia shares that she, “supports StandWithUs for many reasons, but most importantly, because I want my kids to love Israel and be proud--not fearful of their Jewish identity.” Natalie Josephson “feels a deep obligation to educate my children and others about Israel and to stand up for the Jewish People. This is my duty. StandWithUs is the only organization exclusively focused on combating the growing voice of anti-Israel bigotry and hatred. This is why I believe in it.” “StandWithUs is an incredible organization that fights antisemitism on many crucial levels,” states Ja i me Feder. “SWU is building a strong foundation among today’s youth by giving them the tools to stand up for themselves and the
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2019
Jewish people when faced with adversity. It’s important that our children not simply sit quietly but speak up and share Israel’s history, its right to exist, and to confidently stand up for their Jewish identity.” Recognizing the need to take bold steps against the escalation of antisemitism worldwide, StandWithUs launched its newest initiative on July 15, 2019: The “StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism.” Gala attendees will learn more about the new Center’s mission to “Identify,” “Define,” “Expose,” and importantly, to “ACT” against antisemitism. This includes taking legal action whenever necessary through its network of pro bono attorneys that includes Mitch Danzig and other San Diego-based attorneys. Th e StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department has grown to more than 170 pro bono attorneys across the United States, and has already dealt with
over 800 different incidents since its inception a few years ago.. “Unfortunately, San Diego doesn’t need to look far to recognize the need for such a Center. The shooting at Chabad of Poway terrorized the community, but also galvanized us into action. We are saddened that such a Center had to be created, but gratified that the city and indeed, the world, recognize that antisemitism is seeping into the mainstream and must never be ignored,” states Roz Rothstein, CEO StandWithUs and daughter of Holocaust survivors. At the gala, youth from Chabad of Poway will sing the Hatikvah. Eight-year old Noya Dahan, and her uncle Almog Peretz who were wounded, will speak about the profound and dangerous impact of antisemitism. Yitzhak Santis, SWU’s senior writer and analyst was scheduled to speak to SWU SD “Hertzl” and “Guardian” level donors the
day before Lori’s funeral. Held at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club, the program began with a moment of silence. Santis reviewed the history of antisemitism and offered action items about how to confront such hatred, based on SWU’s best practices. Guests will once again meet the “Leaders of Tomorrow” including the 2019-20 Emerson Fellow and High School Intern. One of these leaders is SDSU 2019-20 Emerson Fellow Dana Elazar who is becoming the Southwest Campus Liaison. She will assist the campus department in mentoring student leaders in the region and recruiting new young leaders. Created in 2006, the Fellowship selects and trains student leaders on campuses throughout North America and the UK to educate their peers about Israel and to combat antiIsrael rhetoric and antisemitism. Emerson Fellow Alexandra
Boyles is VP of Programming for SDSU-Students Supporting Israel. She wants to “incentivize people to learn more by increasing campus outreach through social media platforms and interesting programming. I would like to see more students formulate their own educated opinions about Israel and the conflict.” Kate Chavez continues as the SWU Southwest High School Professional. Created in 2012, one objective of the SWU High School Internship is to prepare students for the anti-Israel related challenges they may face as college students. In addition, while they are in the high school program, they bring Israel to their high schools and educate their peers. Harrison Wechsler, Southern California Yeshiva High remarks, “I became an Intern to gain knowledge about Israel and to better understand the complicated history in the region.
Throughout the year, I will create nuanced programming about Israel.” Emerson Fellows and High School Interns attended their respective training conferences in August, energized to begin making a difference at their schools across North America. SWU San Diego will continue to offer it’s “Campus Crash Courses,” “Lunch & Learn” community events, and bring speakers and programs to campuses and high schools. Designed for both students and parents, SWU staff utilize their experience in bringing Israel to universities and countering antiIsrael rhetoric on colleges and the community to lead “Campus Crash Course.” The group covers topics including “Israel 101”, “Answering the Tough Questions” and “Knowing Your Legal Rights.” There’s even a Krav Maga demonstration. “Lunch & Learn” has brought a variety of speakers to San Diego
including Hispanic Outreach Coordinator Sebastian Parra who explained how to build connections among Christians and Jews. Last year’s StandWithUs San Diego gala attendees will remember keynote speaker Hussein Aboubakr’s harrowing life story and how he escaped Egypt and found safety in the US. He also spoke at UCSD that year thanks to 2018-19 Emerson Fellow Adam Taryle. “Our dynamic gala will inspire guests to become involved with StandWithUs San Diego and to become more active against antiIsrael rhetoric and antisemitism,” states Yael Steinberg. TO PURCHASE TICKETS FOR THE GALA VISIT: WWW.STANDWITHUS.COM/ SDGALA2019, CONTACT YAELS@STANDWITHUS.COM OR CALL THE OFFICE AT (858) 598-8220.
Responders Israel's Emergency Volunteer Project has a San Diego Connection
hat is your first instinct when you see a burning building? For most of us, it would be to run for safety or to call 911 to summon a firefighter. Well, for Dana Ben Kaplan and several other Emergency Volunteer Project (EVP) workers, the reaction is the polar opposite. Not only do they race in to extinguish the fire, but they are also deployed to Israel to offer medical expertise and community support. What’s most impressive, as the name implies, they are not paid but take this on out of their love for Israel and solidarity with the Jewish people. EVP’s main mission is to help prepare Israel to be ready for the next crisis. Sadly, this is a fact of life in Israel, but with the support 26
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2019
PHOTO COURTESY ORI~. CREATIVE COMMONS
By Eva Trieger
of firefighters, medical professionals and community helpers, Israel is able to address situations as they arise. This organization recruits, trains and certifies volunteers who respond to crises and terrorist activities. Authorized by the Israeli government this registered 501(c)(3) organization acts on behalf of the State of Israel. To date, the EVP has trained over 1,800 emergency responders throughout America and Israel. This organization boasts over 64 chapters in 11 states, including 9 located in California. According to their website "the EVP Auxiliary teams are for those who may not meet the requirements as responders, or for those who may not want to deploy to Israel in times of emergency. The EVP Auxiliary
provides an opportunity for those volunteers to assist with team deployment logistics and coordination, fundraising, public speaking, and more. The EVP Auxiliary is a team of people who will provide the necessary logistics support and coordination from their home area in the US." In a recent phone interview, retired Santee firefighter, Kaplan, provided details of his recent nine-day deployment to Israel for training. As a responder on the Fire Team, he was partnered with a Los Angeles-based firefighter. Kaplan felt confident that the high standards of the Santee Fire Department had placed him in good stead, and this coupled with the top tier apparatus and equipment made it easy for him to do a good job. In
order to be eligible for the EVP firefighter training, an individual must be an active or retired Firefighter. Donations provided airfare for these ten volunteers, most of whom are Christian men. After going the extra mile and demonstrating their commitment and dedication, the Americans deployed won compliments and feedback from the Israel Fire and Rescue Authority. For almost all of the men, this was their first time in Israel. These volunteers are on standby and are expected to be ready to deploy within 12-24 hours after receiving notification. Once they arrived, the EVP teams were dispatched to Fire Stations in central and southern Israel. Kaplan found that the structure of the Israeli and American Fire Service have more commonalities than differences. While he had done ride-alongs all over the world when serving as an active firefighter, he reported that he felt a special bond between the American and Israeli firefighters. Both countries set high standards for their organization and share many tactics, strategy operations, and equipment. The firefighters respected each other very much and learned a great deal from each other. Kaplan observed and admired the way the Israelis did things, and also felt that in some circumstances the US methods were preferable. Much of the firefighting equipment used in Israel comes from Europe. For instance, the Israelis employ a hose connection system that is newer, lighter and more modern. Israel has a National Fire Department, whereas, Kaplan explained, the United States has separate Fire Departments in each city, country, or state. New vocabulary was required for learning to discuss the equipment in Hebrew. The Israeli firefighters with whom Kaplan worked while in Jerusalem had historical family roots from Morocco, Ethiopia, Israeli Arab areas, France, Tunisia, and many other countries. Dana shared that he seldom would ask someone’s origin directly, as he felt that might be impolite. While
female firefighters do exist, they are few in numbers. As impressed as Dana and his EVP Fire Team partner, Frank of the Los Angeles Fire Department, (ret.) were, they received mutual positive feedback from their Israeli counterparts for being all in. The Israelis made note of the EVP volunteers’ work ethic and professionalism. Two other groups of firefighters aided in some of the calls. The reserves, or miluyim, serve for about two weeks. They have completed their mandatory military duty, but are required to leave their professional lives temporarily to don orange or blue helmets to quell flames. Most of these individuals are conversant in English, likely using it in their careers. Then, there are Cadets, youngsters who would like to become firefighters. They are in training but do not enter the structure during a fire. They are not yet in the military, but the experience may give them a leg up in a field that is as highly competitive in Israel as it is in San Diego. Dana has been to Israel many times for vacation and has family and friends in the country. He has trained extensively in Krav Maga while in Israel, though he originally learned it at our San Diego JCC! He has traveled around Europe with the Israeli instructors teaching this unique and highly effective self-defense system. This school has remained pure, while other area studios that teach Krav Maga have evolved into gyms. He took over as the lead instructor at La Jolla JCC’s Krav Maga San Diego. Because of his past experience and knowledge of the culture, Kaplan was able to assist with language translations and cultural concerns while in Israel. (For more information about Dana’s personal experience, he may be contacted directly at Dana@KravMagaSD.com.) While each of his visits to Israel has been meaningful and formative, Dana Ben Kaplan shared that this deployment was especially memorable. He reported the sense of unity in purpose and mutual love that the combined group of firefighters experienced. Despite
only getting between 2.5-4.5 hours of sleep a night housed within the fire station, the men enjoyed a Shabbat meal when two firehouses came together for the weekly observance. During Shabbat there was an emergency that brought the firefighters to an apartment building. As it is halachically forbidden to initiate the flow of electricity during the period, the firemen had to climb flights of stairs and hop from balcony to balcony to get to the emergency location. Sadly, Kaplan explained that the cause of many fires is arson, a terror tool used by Arabs. Curious to know where the funding for such an incredible organization derives, I asked Kaplan to explain. All of the monies that pay for these heroic and selfless EVP Teams come from donations. Fundraising events, such as galas and dinners, are held in the U.S., and the opportunity to adopt a firefighter or sponsor a deployment flight is available on the website, www.EVP.org.il. Additionally, for those eager to be trained for EVP, the Jewish Federation offers a variety of dates for certification for each aspect of the team. There are multiple opportunities to become involved in protecting Israel, but supporting the training and deployment of American emergency workers is integral to the program’s success. Openings also exist for Doctors, Nurses, and other Emergency Aid Workers. While not everyone has the flexibility, skillset or opportunity to be an emergency volunteer, each of us has the capacity to provide support to a program that shows Israel how critical we find the continued existence of a Jewish Homeland. Even if your contribution cannot singlehandedly send a firefighter, medical provider or community helper to assist, your involvement and promotion of EVP will ensure that first responders will be on hand to provide support and relief services to our Israeli brethren and those who seek to protect them.
Poland's Jewish Heritage A $28 million project refurbishing and documenting Jewish sepulchral heritage in Poland is prompting dialogue between the Polish and Jewish people.
PHOTO BY ELIANA RUDEE
By Eliana Rudee | jns.org
A women cleans a tomb at Warsaw’s Jewish cemetery, July 2019.
ichał Laszczkowski, CEO of Poland’s Cultural Heritage Foundation, spends a great deal of time discussing Jewish law with rabbis at various Jewish cemeteries across Poland; in fact, it’s safe to say that he does so much more than the average Jew. And yet, Laszczkowski is not himself Jewish. As the visionary behind the $28 million restoration and documenting of Jewish sepulchral heritage in Poland, Laszczkowski has helped the organization raise funds from Poland’s Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and Capital Monument Conservation Office. In addition to their biggest project — cleaning up the major Jewish cemetery in Warsaw — other work includes the preservation of other Jewish and Muslim cemeteries, churches and various
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2019
national heritage sites connected to Polish heritage abroad. The Jewish cemetery in Warsaw on Okopowa Street was built in 1806 outside the city ramparts, and is one of the last Jewish cemeteries in Poland that is still being used. From its founding until 1939, some 150,000 Jews were buried there, making it the largest cemetery of its kind in Europe (according to number of people buried there) and representing 10 percent to 15 percent of Jewish tombstones in Poland. So far, under the direction of rabbis who ensure that the restoration work is done according to Jewish law, the organization has renovated more than 100 tombstones and gravestone art, they have also cut down bushes, weeds and about 500 wild trees that pose a danger to those who visit the cemetery.
According to Laszczkowski, making the area safer and better preserved will bring more people to the cemetery, Jews and non-Jews alike. “Right now, teachers are afraid to take responsibility for bringing students here because of an incident where a tree fell on a tourist,” he said. As the material heritage of the Jewish community was almost totally destroyed during World War II, with Nazis stealing Jewish tombstones for building projects and street pavements, Laszczkowski expressed the need for Poles “to have a place to understand Jewish heritage and contributions to Polish society.” The cemetery does just that, with styles of the tombstones and the contents of the epitaphs reflecting the diversity of Warsaw’s
Jewish community. Although the cemetery archives were burned during the war, and thus the identity of many buried there are unknown, information from the monuments show that among those buried at the cemetery are thousands of victims of the Warsaw ghetto, buried in mass graves; rabbis and tzadikim (“righteous Jews”); leaders of secular movements like the assimilation movement, Zionism and socialism; promoters of Hebrew; Yiddish writers, journalists and actors. Exhibiting the prominence of Jewish presence in Warsaw, people buried there also include those who were at the forefront of Polish life: leaders of Polish uprisings, industrialists, physicians, scientists, artists, publishers, philanthropists and patrons of culture. Laszczkowski views the cemetery as it exists right now, however, as a missed opportunity. While 40,000 tourists visit the cemetery each year, he estimates that only 10 percent of them are non-Jewish. With only 400 Jews living in Warsaw (less than 1 percent of the community of nearly 375,000 in 1939) most Poles do not know Jews or about Jewish tradition, maintained Laszczkowski. “They should know that Jews were in the public of Polish society,” he said. Ola Waszak, project coordinator for the Cultural Heritage Foundation, noted that before she began to volunteer at the cemetery and started her job, she had never been to the site and didn’t know its history. “It’s a cool, shared heritage,” she said. Laszczkowski’s vision is to drastically increase the number of non-Jews who visit by making it a mandatory part of Polish education. “I want to organize a large program where every Warsaw student comes to this cemetery during high school,” he said. Making the area safer and better preserved will bring more people to the cemetery, Jews and non-Jews alike. “Poles are afraid to come inside the cemetery, and so they don’t open the door. But once they come here during their education, they’ll know that all they have to
do is open the door,” he explained. “I want to make this an exotic, attractive place, not just for students but also for Jews to visit tzadikim and relatives.” In late 2017, after touring the cemetery with Laszczkowski, Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture and National Heritage Piotr Gliński agreed in the importance of the vision, allocating PLN 100 million (more than $26 million) to the Cultural Heritage Foundation. The donation represented some 2 percent of the ministry’s 2018 budget, and nearly half of the budget earmarked for “institutions whose activities include taking care of the memory, culture and heritage of the Jewish nation,” which also includes the AuschwitzBirkenau State Museum, the Jewish Historical Institute, the State Museum at Majdanek and the Museum of History of Polish Jews POLIN. “The heritage of Jews is the heritage of Poland,” said Gliński in a meeting with Israeli journalists earlier this month. “Knowledge of Polish history, including Jewish history and during the Second World War, is insufficient everywhere,” he said. In the same year that the ministry allocated the budget for the Cultural Heritage Foundation, it also signed an agreement for the co-management of the Ulma Family Museum of Poles Saving Jews in World War II in Markowa, which according to the ministry is “of great importance to Poland.” “I am responsible for this heritage,” said Gliński, noting that ministers from opposing political parties came together on this act. “It’s good for us; it’s good for everybody,” he said. Laszczkowski estimates that one of the reasons for the large endowment is public diplomacy, “to show that Poland cares about common Polish-Jewish heritage,” he said. One intention, according to Gliński, is to “increase mutual understanding and knowledge of a complicated history.” “I hope it doesn’t get more political than it already is.” In the context of some Israeli criticism that
Poland’s lack of reparations, Holocaust bill and anti-shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter) bills were anti-Semitic, the deputy prime minister maintained that there is no visible rise in anti-Semitism in Poland, and while any anti-Semitism is “stupid,” he strongly criticized “anti-Polish sentiment” among some Israelis. “It is important to eliminate the bad atmosphere and behavior on both sides,” he added. In light of the controversial Holocaust bill (or anti-defamation bill as Poles call it, which forbade the use of the word “Polish” in relation to “concentration camps,” preferring the term “Nazi-German concentration camps in occupied Poland”), Laszczkowski maintained that while the intention of the bill was important — namely, to affirm that Poland did not collaborate with Nazis and were in fact “one of the most suffering nations in the Second World War — the bill was “inadequate” and “not the way to [achieve its goals].” “I understand that some people are upset because Polish history is not well-known — in nearly every family, there was a death,” he said. “But because we don’t know Jews, we don’t feel their perspective.” Gliński, too, noted that while it’s “hard to compare [the loss that Polish people experienced in the Second World War] to the Holocaust, material loss and deterioration of humanity in Poland was terrible, and it was all the fault of the German and Soviet occupants.” “That is the opinion of 90 to 95 percent of Polish people,” continued Gliński. “Sometimes, our history doesn’t help us, but we have a lot of common interests.” “I hope it doesn’t get more political than it already is,” said Waszak. Although the cemetery repairs and upgrades are unlikely to bring back new Jewish life to Warsaw, Laszczkowski hopes that the restoration may initiate dialogue between peoples — both between Poland and Israel, as well as between Poland and its Jewish cultural heritage. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
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L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2019
33 1/3 House of Dreams is a piece of musical history | BY MIMI POLLACK
here is nothing better than to see a labor of love come to its fruition. After six incarnations, the musical play, 33 1/3 House of Dreams, will be presented at the SD REP during the month of August. It is a “dream come true” for Jonathan Rosenberg and Dr. Brad Ross. The history of how this play came about is also interesting. It all started at the dentist’s office. Since 1989, Dr. Brad Ross has been and continues to be Jonathan Rosenberg’s dentist. For many years, they shared a cordial professional relationship. Ross knew that Rosenberg was a special education teacher/psychologist in La Mesa, but it took some years for him to discover that Rosenberg was also a musician and music historian. Rosenberg discovered that Ross was the son of a man who was a pioneer in the music industry, Stan Ross. Thus, a deeper and more personal partnership was born as they decided to work together and find a way to honor Stan Ross’s legacy. Rosenberg and Ross complement each other as the former works in broad strokes; whereas, the latter is into details. The same could also be said of Stan Ross and Dave Gold who co-founded Gold Star
Recording Studios in 1950. Brad’s father, Stan Ross, was an engineering genius who also had a way with people. His partner, Dave Gold, a studio design genius, was more of an introvert, but together they made magic. Gold Star Recording Studios operated from 1950 to 1984 and during that time, many famous and talented people came through its doors, like the Beach Boys, Phil Spector, and Sonny and Cher. Gold Star produced more Top-40 hits than any other independent recording studio in history. In fact, “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys was recorded there. Some of the artists became personal friends. Sonny and Cher were at Brad’s brother’s Bar Mitzvah. Brad Ross had wanted to do something to honor his father’s legacy, such as a documentary, so in 2013, Ross and Rosenberg began working together. However, they realized that with all the great music, they should embark on writing a musical. They certainly did their homework, making countless trips to Los Angeles to interview Brad’s late mother, Vera Ross, Brian Wilson, Herb Alpert, Bill Medley, members of the Wrecking Crew [famous studio musicians that considered Gold Star a “home away from
home”] and others who had been involved. They discovered that Gold Star was one of the first independent studios that was “color blind”. African-American artists [Hugh Masekela, Barry White] and Hispanic artists [Richie Valens, Chris Montes] recorded there. Phil Spector created his famous ”wall of sound’ at the studio, including hits such as the Ronettes, “Be My Baby”. It took about six years for the play to arrive at the SD REP. An early incarnation of the play that I saw at Lamplighters in La Mesa was in 2015. However, things really began to gel when both Javier Velasco and Steve Gunderson came on board and brought their talents to collaborate with Ross and Rosenberg. Velasco is the director and choreographer and Gunderson is the musical director. Both Ross and Rosenberg agree that Velasco is the glue and his vision has helped the play come to its fruition. I saw two incarnations of the play after that, one at Liberty Station and the last time was a great performance at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. I am excited to see this new version at the SD REP as so many talented people are involved, including some of the same actors and musicians from the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. Although not a Jewish story, there are many Jewish connections and Yiddish is peppered in the script. Ross and Rosenberg made sure of that. In addition to all the great music, they wanted the play to be about the “story of sound” and to show how Gold Star was a cauldron of creativity and audio inventions earning a place in music history. 33 1/3 House of Dreams runs August 1-25, at San Diego Repertory Theater’s Lyceum Space. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
Research and Innovation A hot ticket around the globe By Abigail Klein Leichman | Israel21c via JNS
esearch from Israel is driving awesome advances in medicine, health care, water management, autonomous vehicles, consumer products, manufacturing, and, well, you name it. So it’s only natural that many international academic, corporate and government bodies are signing collaboration agreements with Israeli research universities and hospitals. Nanotechnology is one of the hot fields of shared interest for application in everything from cancer-drug delivery to finding dark matter in outer space. Israeli physicist Beena Kalisky from Bar-Ilan University’s Institute for Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA) is leading a team of researchers in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden in developing a desktop-sized 32
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quantum computer. Israel is famous for its startup smarts, and recent academic partnerships are leveraging that expertise. BINA recently inked research and cooperation deals with the United Nations International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory in Portugal; the University of Jyväskylä in Finland; State Key Laboratory for Modification of Chemicals, Fibers & Polymer Materials at Donghua University in Shanghai and at Hanyang University in Seoul. “Israel offers a combination of good research and good conditions for partners, and that attracts entities to us,” said BINA director Dror Fixler, also a member of the Bar-Ilan Faculty of Engineering and a new fellow of the International Society for Optics
and Photonics (SPIE). “In order to get big grants for projects, researchers must gather a team of individuals and labs from different places around the globe,” Fixler said. Bilateral agreements signed by the Israeli government with many countries in Europe and Asia over the last 10 years ease the way for researchers in these countries to find partners in Israel when they need collaborators, he explains. It is internationally acknowledged that there’s vast innovation to be mined from Israeli research institutions, said Dr. Rafael Beyar, director of Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa. The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) recently chose Rambam as its partner for a new Biomedical and Digital Health Innovation Center in Atlanta to help Israeli med-tech startups get their products on the U.S. health-care market. “This is why collaborations with, for example, Atlanta, are so important. [The idea is] to try and generate an easy path to regulatory approval and clinical adoption of leading new innovations that stem from Israel,” said Beyar, who is also a professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. GCMI CEO Tiffany Wilson said Rambam was picked because “Israeli engineering and entrepreneurial expertise regularly translate to medical devices capable of improving patient outcomes while driving the overall cost of care down in many parts of the world, including the United States.”
POOLING OUR COMPLEMENTARY RESEARCH STRENGTHS
Global health care also stands to benefit from joint research projects in the Technion and Intel Corporation’s newly inaugurated Center for Artificial Intelligence. In addition, the center will apply Technion innovations to the task of making better autonomous vehicles, smart environments, and home and industrial robots using natural language processing, deep learning and hardware optimization for learning algorithms. “The Technion is the leading university in Israel in the field of artificial intelligence and is one of the top 10 universities in the world in the field,” said Center for Artificial Intelligence director Shie Mannor from the Technion’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering. The Technion and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot have collaborated on nearly 50 research projects since 2011 with the University of Michigan as part of the Michigan-Israel Partnership for Research and Education program. The latest projects in this collaboration, funded by $20 million from the D. Dan and Betty Kahn Foundation, are focused on building autonomous robots to assist humans with difficult, repetitive or dangerous jobs; and tools to enhance privacy and accuracy in big-data analytics for precision health. “In this day and age, international and interdisciplinary collaborations are vital to the future of science and engineering,” said Professor Boaz Golany from the Technion, adding that the research “will benefit people not only in the U.S. and Israel, but worldwide.” “Technion is a perfect match to join and boost this joint endeavor, given its scientific excellence and vibrant innovation ecosystem,” said Jan Mengelers, president of the EuroTech Universities Alliance, established in 2011. “We are pooling our complementary research strengths and connecting our innovation ecosystems for more impact.” “We bring the ‘Technion way’ of doing things to this partnership: reaching our
goals faster and with fewer resources,” said Technion President Peretz Lavie. “The combination with the great strengths of the other members of the alliance, which comprises an elite group of European universities similar to Technion, will help us ensure we are at the forefront of scientific research, benefiting millions worldwide.” GLOBAL WATER CHALLENGES CAN BE SOLVED
Many international bodies are thirsty for Israeli expertise in water and health expertise. The past year alone saw significant international activity in these sectors. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research agreed to a five-year R&D partnership with the Water Institute of the Gulf in Baton Rouge, La.—America’s first international water-research center—for joint projects to improve groundwater, farming, drinking water aquifer utilization, surface water and streams. Justin R. Ehrenwerth, president and CEO of the Water Institute of the Gulf, said, “Our future generations depend on finding and developing the best possible science. And BGU has done a lot of that. You’ve made the desert bloom. You’ve taught the world that water challenges can be solved.” “We believe that our cooperation with ECNU will lead to groundbreaking studies in applied science, biostatistics, brain research, behavioral research and more,” said Professor Ron Robin, president of the University of Haifa. The Regional Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research (RADAR) Center of Ben-Gurion University, recognized by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse for its “contributions to scientific diplomacy through outstanding efforts in international collaborative research,” recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus to promote substance-use research, education, training and exchange. RADAR works with international
governmental agencies including the U.S. Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, U.N. Interregional Crime and Justice Research Initiative, and universities worldwide. Radar is starting collaborations with the University of Malta, Chiang Mai University, and universities in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Vladivostok to study attitudes, beliefs and knowledge among medical and allied health-care students regarding medical cannabis. IBM’s Alpha Zone partnered with Hadassah University Medical Center of Jerusalem to establish an accelerator for postseed Israeli startups developing deep-tech solutions and services in digital medicine. Tel Aviv University was chosen as the only foreign founding partner of a new innovation and entrepreneurship hub in Chicago focusing on research, education and startup creation in the fields of cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, big data and food security. Tel Aviv University and Yissum, the tech-transfer company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, are partners with the University of Illinois, University of Chicago and Northwestern University in the new $500 million Discovery Partners Institute, supported by the State of Illinois and the city of Chicago. Discovery Partners Institute will facilitate academic and industry collaboration, with the initial focus on entrepreneurship, biosciences, computer science including AI, big data and cybersecurity, as well as food and agricultural technologies. Yissum also is opening centers of international cooperation in Asunción (Paraguay) and Shenzhen (China) to facilitate regional commercialization of early-stage technologies coming out of the university’s research labs. Yissum CEO and president Yaron Daniely said additional international centers of cooperation are in the pipeline. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
THE COMMUNITY PLACE
THIRD PLACE WINNER: WENDY SABIN-LASKER’S THE INVESTMENT CLUB Wendy Sabin-Lasker is an arts manager and former director of the Center for Jewish Culture at the Lawrence Family JCC. Before that, Wendy served in arts and culture leadership roles in NYC at the 92nd Street Y, 92Y Tribeca, 14th Street Y and Brooklyn Center for Performing Arts at Brooklyn College. While completing her Business Management Certificate at UCSD, Wendy penned The Investment Club, her first attempt at playwriting. Wendy is a North County resident and serves on the Board of Carlsbad Friends of the Arts.
The Investment Club
CAST HOWARD, Club President SYLVIA, Secretary/Treasurer MARSHA, a committee member SEYMOUR, a committee member NETTIE, a committee member IRVING, a committee member SCENE: A clubhouse room in a retirement community, somewhere in a warm climate in the present. (Note: Stage Directions in CAPS are intended for reading)- any not in caps may be read at discretion of director) (The group is ‘‘yacking it up.” Howard is trying to officiate and establish decorum with little success). HOWARD: OK everybody. We’re gonna get started. (Group continues chatter while the president calls for quiet) Ok everybody settle down, we gotta start… Hey everybody, we GOTTA get going-- we only have the room till the Coy Club comes in --so let’s go! (Chatter continues, president clearly has no 34
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control of this group) HOWARD: People, people, PEOPLE — PLEASE, CAN EVERYBODY JUST SHUT UP!! ? (Group quiets) HOWARD: Thank you. OK, so Sylvia, do you have the notes from last meeting? SYLVIA: OF course, why wouldn’t I? (SYLVIA, GROUP SECRETARY/ TREASURER LOOKS EFFICIENT, AND WAITS AT THE READY. THERE IS SILENCE, AS EVERYONE SITS LOOKING AT SYLVIA . AND WAITS. AFTER A FEW MORE SECONDS OF WAITING) HOWARD (looking at SYLVIA): So? SYLVIA: So? What so? HOWARD: So READ the thing already. SYLVIA: oh, so just say so….(Howard and Sylvia exchange looks, clearly they annoy each other) (Sylvia reads) ‘Meeting Minutes from Dec 9th 2017 for The Silver Springs Investment Club: The meeting was called to order at 12:13 p.m. We were 13 minutes late on account of Seymour was in the bathroom for a really long time.’ (Everyone looks at Seymour- judgmentally) SEYMOUR: (puts up hands like, not my fault) Hey, I TOLD Ethel “DO NOT get spicy” SYLVIA: -- And a 2nd reason we were late starting was because Marsha was on the phone with her son – … the one from New York who still doesn’t have a job… (group looks at each other and grumbles about the sad, longstanding plight of Marsha’s poor boychik) HOWARD: OKAY Sylvia PLEASE get on with it. (Now Sylvia is busy ordering her papers in neat piles and doesn’t respond immediately— Howard tries to move the meeting forward) So WHO was THERE at the meeting?
SYLVIA: Okay- so- who was there- right. OK so who was there at the meeting was Millie Stein, Bert and Linda Steinberg, Howard Goldstein, Seymour and Ethel Steiner, Irving and Nettie Steinman, and me, Sylvia.(Pause) Goldstein. Your wife. HOWARD: (they exchange ‘the look’ again) AND also … SYLVIA: Also, what? HOWARD: Also… (prompting Sylvia again)… Marsha…. I thought you said Marsha was there. SYLVIA: Yes, but well, really I didn’t know if I should count her since she missed half of the meeting talking to her son and then missed the rest yacking to Nettie about the farshemt schlemiel . MARSHA: (In protest) Yes, but I was listening. I was! I was listening with one ear. IRVING: And maybe if you tried listening with TWO ears, we wouldn’t have to go over everything again just for you. MARSHA: Oh come on, Irving, its not like there was a lot of actual business to talk about. My son — who used to be a very important manager in the Israeli baseball league — (group has heard this so many times they practically mouth the words along with her) — he says nothing important ever happens at the beginning of meetings. IRVING: Well, Maybe if the Netanya Tigers had listened to how they could beat the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox at the beginning of their meetings, they would’ve had more than ONE season. And your son wouldn’t still be looking for a job since 2007. (glares, rumbles, agreement/disagreement from group) HOWARD: Can we please get back to notes? Sylvia? SYLVIA: Right. So then we read the agenda. (Sylvia stops) HOWARD: (prompts) And?... SYLVIA: And nobody wanted it.
MARSHA: What? What did she say? Nobody wanted …what? IRVING: See what I mean? She doesn’t listen. SYLVIA: The agenda. Nobody wanted the agenda. NETTIE: (who has been quiet till now, politely says) Um, well, if I remember, it was you Sylvia who said it was a lousy agenda. SYLVIA: Yeah so, I know I did. NETTIE: So YOU wrote it! SYLVIA: Yeah, but everyone didn’t have to agree with me. SEYMOUR: But it was a rotten agenda—it didn’t have any business on it. SYLVIA: (defensively) What are you talking about— ‘It didn’t have any BUSINESS’ on it?; It had, “Welcome, Discussion, Break for Lunch.” NETTIE: Well, you spend two hours talking about the agenda, of course people are going to need a nosh. MARSHA: See what I mean a whole lot of nothing at these meetings. SEYMOUR: Yeah, but lunch was good. (Group starts to talk amongst themselves to argue this and HOWARD has to call them back to order: HOWARD: Okay PEOPLE: —PLEASE— PLEASE CAN YOU SHUD-DUP!?? (Room quiets as Howard tries to compose himself) HOWARD: Sylvia — was there ANY business — ANY business at ALL — that was recorded last meeting? SYLVIA: Yes. We voted on whether there was anything that the group could invest in. HOWARD: OK. NOW we’re getting somewhere. And what was recorded? SYLVIA: Nothing- zilch- gornisht — It was dead in the water. IRVING: OH, NO, NO, NO THAT’S not what happened; I said ‘we should buy a new cover for the pool before somebody ends up ’dead in the water.’ (Group starts arguing this again; that’s not what he said, I heard him, etc, etc .and has to be quieted) HOWARD: (clearly frustrated) Listeneverybody — we got an hour before the Coy club takes over the room with all their fancy goldfish lovers — can we please stay on track? NETTIE: I second that motion.
IRVING: Nettie, “beshert” … we don’t need to vote to stay on track… SEYMOUR: I agree. Everything is already “dead in the water” anyway. MARSHA: (sarcastically) Better not tell that to the goldfish people… SYLVIA: Well we DID vote on one suggestion. HOWARD: (clearly exasperated by now is relieved) Thank you Sylvia. Please read the results. SYLVIA: There was a very heated discussion and the community was very much divided. Some thought that we should do the annual luncheon at Maxie’s. Some people wanted to bring in from Zeekie’s . (). But some people thought Maxie’s was better. Except for their lox. (Group starts to mutter about this in private agreement /disagreement) HOWARD: What’s wrong with their lox? NETTIE: Nothing. It’s delicious. But it’s too expensive for what they give you. A bissel lox on a bagel with a shmear you can’t even see?? (People continue to “discuss amongst themselves”) HOWARD (who is trying desperately to hold on to the meeting protocol): and the decision? About Maxie’s vs. Zeekie’s? SYLVIA: Nothing. Gornisht. The whole thing was dead in the water. MARCIA: See what I mean — a whole lot of meeting about nothing. SEYMOUR: Tell you what, you grab some of those fancy goldfish from that fancy, schmancy pond and you got yourself enough lox for the whole neighborhood… IRVING: Can we please stop talking about those DAMN fish? SEYMOUR: Hey, is it time to break for lunch yet- I’m starving. NETTIE: I say we vote to close the meeting. Zeekie’s early bird has their Romanian Steak. Not as good as you got at Sammy’s back in “the City.” They say it has something to do with the water not being the same. SEYMOUR: What are you talkin’ about- the water ? That’s the bagels. The bagels are no good on account of the water. It’s the onionssomething about the onions not being the same…. HOWARD: ok people; can we stop talking food and talk investments, already? This is
the investment club not the dinner in the dining room at the Catskills! And the fish pond people are gonna be breathing down our necks in 5 minutes. NETTIE: I think HOWARD is right. We gotta invest in something. Does anybody have any ideas? IRVING: I HAD some ideas LAST MEETING. But now I forgot them. HOWARD: Does anybody remember Irving’s ideas from last time? SYLVIA: Yeah, it’s right here in the notes: (Reads) Irving suggested…. that we break for lunch SEYMOUR: I make a motion we second that motion. MARSHA: Me too, this whole meeting is dead in the water. HOWARD: OK, OK, fine. If there is no other business, there is a motion to break for lunch. All in favor say “Aye” (WHOLE GROUP SAYS “AYE” LOUDLY TOGETHER- THE ONLY TIME THEY HAVE BEEN IN FULL AGREEMENT THROUGHOUT THE MEETING) HOWARD: I hereby adjourn this meeting of the Silver Springs Investment Club. Good Meeting everyone. (EVERYONE SMILES, HANDSHAKES, SELF-CONGRATULATIONS ALL AROUND. AFTER A FEW SECONDS HOWARD SPEAKS AGAIN) HOWARD: Okay EVERBODY, Now let’s quiet down. (Group is chattering away) PLEASE would you all just SHUDDUP? (THE GROUP BECOMES ATTENTIVE AGAIN AS IN EARLIER MEETING) Thank you. I’d like to call to order the Meeting of the Silver Springs Coy Club. Sylvia- do you have the minutes of the Dec 9th meeting? SYLVIA: Of course, why wouldn’t I? CURTAIN
FAMILY | BY CHANA JENNY WEISBERG
mom.com I Kept the Speech Therapist Waiting for Half an Hour
esterday, at 4:29 p.m., I got a text message from my kids’ speech therapist asking why we hadn’t shown up for our 4 and 4:30 appointments. What 4 and 4:30 appointments?! Yes, I did remember setting up appointments. But for some reason, they weren’t on my calendar. The speech therapist was rightfully upset. Her schedule was full, she would have seen other clients if she’d known we weren’t coming. And, since we were her final appointments of the day, she ended up waiting around when she could have already been on her way home. So I went back and looked at my calendar, and figured out what had happened. A few weeks ago I had moved our appointments from an earlier day to yesterday so my two kids could go together. And later on, looking at the calendar while I was distracted on the phone, I had seen yesterday’s appointment and thought (with 1/8 of my distracted brain) that the new appointment was the one I’d canceled, so I crossed it out. Anyway, you can imagine how I felt, and the kind of mental selfflagellation that ensued. How could you have missed 2 appointments? Why did you cross out that appointment! What a scatter-brain you are! Hopelessly disorganized!” And then the phone rang again. It was the speech therapist’s secretary. Calling to give me a piece of her mind. Which led to more: Scatter-brained! Disorganized! Hopeless… And then I caught myself. And remembered one of my all-time favorite Rabbi Nivin workshops called: “The Belief Notebook,” in which every day we would write down a false belief we were having that had been triggered by a certain event. And then we would write down a true 36
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belief regarding the upsetting event to replace the false one. During the workshop, I spent several months responding to my false beliefs with true beliefs morning after morning. And it made a huge difference, reducing my daily self-flagellation dramatically. So this is what I did yesterday. I thought of my disempowering false belief: “I am hopelessly scatter-brained and disorganized.” And I thought of the trigger: Not taking my kids to their speech therapist appointments. And I thought of a true belief: I am almost always on top of appointments. I show up more or less on time, and cancel at least 24 hours before if I can’t make it. But occasionally, as a person juggling a lot of schedules and information, there are mess-ups. Ahh, that felt much better. True beliefs generally do. Over the next few hours, I felt the false belief (“scatterbrain!”) bubbling up within me. But with a firm hand I replaced it with the true belief (You’re not scatterbrained, you’re just human). Anyway, I wanted to share that with you, for the next time you start thinking stuff about you that isn’t true. CHANA JENNY WEISBERG, THE CREATOR OF JEWISHMOM.COM, IS A STAY-HOME MOTHER OF 8 CHILDREN LIVING IN JERUSALEM WITH HER HUSBAND, RABBI JOSHUA WEISBERG. ORIGINALLY FROM BALTIMORE, CHANA JENNY HAS DEVOTED HER NONMOM TIME OVER THE PAST DECADE TO PROVIDING INSPIRATION AND ENCOURAGEMENT FOR OTHER JEWISH MOMS THROUGH HER POPULAR BOOKS EXPECTING MIRACLES AND ONE BABY STEP AT A TIME.
DEVELOPING HOUSING & COMMUNITIES IN ISRAEL
“Not many people can go out to their backyard, look up at a sky full of stars, live in the middle of nature, or take an afternoon stroll with an almost biblical view,” says Nadav Eylon as he looks happily at a plot of land where his family’s new home will soon be built in Moshav Hatzeva, in the Arava deep in Israel’s Negev Desert. But that’s exactly what’s happening, and thanks to Jewish National Fund-USA’s (JNFUSA) Housing Development Fund, Nadav and his family are able to realize their dreams. “JNF-USA is making it possible for younger families, like ours, to return and build their dream home in the Arava. It’s incredible.” In the 71 years since Israel’s founding, the country has grown from a population of 806,000 to over 9 million. Housing prices in the Tel Aviv-Haifa-Jerusalem corridor, where 90% of Israelis live, are constantly on the rise. Where – and how – can young Israelis, like the Eylon Family, find affordable housing? Jewish National Fund-USA’s Housing Development Fund is facilitating the movement of population to the Negev and Galilee by providing targeted funding for the physical infrastructure needed to begin the home building process in these areas, enabling construction to begin rapidly without delay. In Israel, all development is controlled by municipalities and local councils, and while many communities in the Negev and Galilee have wanted to expand, they lacked the means to develop their land for housing—until now. The Housing Development Fund solves this problem by providing interest-free loans to communities, allowing them to complete the necessary basic infrastructure for home construction to begin and avoid the red tape often associated with housing development. Individual JNF-USA donors contribute a minimum of $5,000 to participate in the project, and $100,000 donors become ‘stakeholders,’ participating in meetings and missions to Israel to assist in the review of current and future projects for the
Housing Development Fund. Alon Badihi, director of JNF-USA’s Operations in Israel, says that “the main goal is to shorten the time until construction begins. Once the shovel is ready, we start digging and the families see that we are serious. The infrastructure gets completed and the family can plan and build their home.” Badihi explains that the Housing Development Fund is part of JNF-USA’s larger plan to attract 500,000 new residents to the Negev and 300,000 to the Galilee, respectively, through their groundbreaking Blueprint Negev and Go North initiatives. The short-term goals for the Fund, Badihi says, are to build 50 housing lots in 50 different communities by the end of 2021. He adds that the communities the Housing Development Fund assists are open to both native Israelis as well as new immigrants from around the world. “We are open to everybody.” Before deciding to move to Moshav Hatezva, Nadav Eylon served as a Shaliach (emissary) for the Jewish Agency in Long Island, NY, from 2013 to 2016. When he and his wife, Merav, returned to Israel three years ago, they decided to move to the Arava, the desert valley stretching from the Dead Sea to Eilat. Living in the Arava can be challenging, says Nadav, because of its remote desert location, extreme temperatures, and lack of water. But Nadav, Merav, and their three young children, love the area and that’s when they decided to build their new home in Hatzeva—with the assistance of JNF-USA’s Housing Development Fund. A loan from the Housing Development Fund enabled the local council to begin working on the infrastructure in Hatzeva, building sewage lines, adding electricity, paving roads, and marking lots, thus enabling the beginning of home construction. “This is the only way to expand in the Arava,” says Nadav. “Otherwise, we would be stuck. Without the Fund, it would be impossible. If you want to develop the Arava, you have to have a space for people to build their homes.” Construction on Nadav and Merav’s home is expected to begin within the next year. Living in the Arava is not for everyone, says Nadav. “It takes a certain breed,” he says, adding, “The Arava is Israel’s last frontier, where people are living the Zionist dream as pioneers, and JNF-USA’s Housing Development Fund is a pioneer in making the desert bloom in 2019.” This article originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT JOINING THE TASK FORCE OR TO MAKE A DONATION, CONTACT JAMES KIMMEY AT JKIMMEY@ JNF.ORG OR 858.824.9178 X988.