L'Chaim August 2021

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August 2021 • www.lchaimmagazine.com

COVER STORY Revival & Resilience: For the Love of Yiddish............................................................................................

FOOD Veggie Stuffed Eggplant..............................................................................................................................

EDUCATION AMCHA Initiative Fights Antisemitism on College Campus.................................................... StandWithUs Fellow Honored................................................................................................................... FEATURES North Coast Repertory Theatre's Spotlight Gala........................................................................




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Israel Guide Dogs for the Blind................................................................................................................ Israelis are revolutionizing agriculture................................................................................................



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NEWS In the Know.......................................................................................................................................................... In Memorium: Michael Jeser.....................................................................................................................



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


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

PUBLISHERS Diane Benaroya & Laurie Miller

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CREATIVE DIRECTOR Laurie Miller Ariela Alush, Barbara Birenbaum, Michael Gardiner, Donald H. Harrison, Stephanie Lewis, Salomon Maya, Jana Mazurkiewicz Meisarosh, Terra Paley, Mimi Pollack, Rachel Stern, Eva Trieger, Deborah Vietor, Chana Jenny Weisberg, Cheri Weiss


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Concert Series

Le Salon de Musiques Season 2021-2022 at the LA JOLLA WOMAN'S CLUB

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For tickets: LeSalonDeMusiques.com






& passages The Priestly Blessing


ne of the most moving blessings in our liturgy is known as Birkat Kohanim (“The Priestly Blessing”) found in the Torah portion Naso (Numbers 6:23-27). In this reading, God commands Moses to instruct Aaron and his sons to speak these words to the Israelites: May God bless you and protect you. May God’s presence shine upon you and be gracious to you. May God turn toward you and grant you peace. On Shabbat and holidays, the Priestly Blessing is recited near the conclusion of the Musaf service. During the High Holy Days Musaf service, the Kohanim cover their heads with their talliot (prayer shawls) and separate their four fingers into a “V” pattern made famous later by Star Trek’s Mr. Spock (played by Jewish actor Leonard Nimoy). After an introductory prayer, the leader calls out the Priestly Blessing one word at a time, echoed by the Kohanim. To preserve modesty, the congregation is forbidden from watching these proceedings; they must just listen. Today, a Rabbi may offer this threefold blessing to the congregation at the end of a Shabbat service, or to a couple at the end of their wedding ceremony. You may hear these sacred words at a Brit Milah or baby-naming ceremony as an infant is welcomed into the Jewish fold, or at a Bar or Bat Mitzvah as a teenager Jewish adulthood.



To recite the Birkat Kohanim during worship services, a minyan of ten adults (i.e., Jews over age 13) is required — not surprising as it was meant to be a communal blessing. Yet, the Hebrew used is not in the plural format; rather it is in the singular. Why is it written this way? A clue lies earlier in this Torah portion. At its opening, God instructs Moses to take a census of the Levites — priests who were not descended from High Priest Aharon, the brother of Moses. The general translation is: “Take a census of the sons of Gershon, of them too, following their fathers’ houses, according to their families.” However, the exact words in Hebrew are “Naso et rosh,” which literally means “lift the head of” (singular) “B’nei Gershon” (“the sons of Gershon”) (plural). If you were to count a group of people (“1, 2, 3…”), you would probably not be looking at any of them as anything but a number. But what would you see if you lifted someone’s head and looked at his/her face and into his/her eyes? You would see an individual, a unique human being, each with hopes, dreams, challenges, feelings, fears, and joys. In Jewish services, we pray as a community, yet we are also present as individuals. During our busy lives, it is easy to lose sight of each person’s individuality and uniqueness. But God never does. God sees in us the good and the bad and still loves us. We are not expected to be perfect, but we are expected to constantly strive to be the best individual

that each of us can be. The Priestly Blessing confirms that. In Naso, these words follow the Priestly Blessing: “They shall bestow My Name upon the children of Israel, so that I will bless them.” It reminds us that although the Kohanim are meant to administer the blessing, they are only the intermediaries; it is God who blesses us. As individuals, we have responsibilities to those around us: our family, friends, and community. If we are fortunate enough to be blessed with the light of God, we are expected to shine that light upon others. May the light of God always shine upon you. 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.





& mishagoss I Made a JDate Profile for My Ex-Husband


also personally corresponded with all the women who replied. What’s wrong with that? My ex and I stayed good friends and I’m helping him find a high-quality mate. Okay, okay, a possible ulterior motive? I’ve recently realized we’ll be planning weddings together for our kids (and one day co-grandparenting!) and I don’t want him showing up with an older Kim Kardashian type or a younger Dr. Ruth type. Translation – I want some control in this process! Here’s the exact profile I made for him: Total Mensch, Still Looks Okay, Even After All the Tsuris I Gave Him! Versatile-aged man could pass for 39 (if you don’t keep up with optometrist appointments) or could sneak by as 65 (and often does to get senior discounts at movies!) seeks loving female who understands “I work hard all day and when I come home, I’d like a little peace and quiet, good food, and a clean house. Is that too much to ask for?” He’ll be your best friend except will not go shopping, compliment your appearance, help around the house, make you a surprise party, or hold your hair back during morning sickness, which everyone knows is really “All Day” sickness – but please be beyond that stage of life! Treats your family nice when over, but afterward makes a few off-color jokes about the designer dress your sister wore. But hey, at least he notices fashion! Great with automobiles, (driving, washing, and repairing) but overreacts poorly if you



go over a curb, back into a pole, or happen to smash into a parking attendant booth, causing your car to be forever banned from all beaches. Supportive of your career if it’s math or science related but if you’re a writer, have a ready-made list memorized so you can easily rattle of the answer to “And what exactly did you do all day long, hmmm?” Please have a sense of humor (ability to laugh enthusiastically at his same jokes told ad-nauseam) and a positive outlook (the washing machine isn’t old and broken, it’s quaint and charming!) Interested? Contact his ex-wife at EveryoneDeservesA2ndChance JustNotWithMe@gmail.com. After a few days, I received and replied to the following messages that landed in the inbox: Hi there! Everything sounds pretty typical here with the no shopping and no compliments, but is he open to breakfast in bed? Signed, Endearing Gregarious Gorgeous Sharon Dear E.G.G.S: Yes, he’ll be on the receiving end any weekend. Oh, silly me! You meant will he serve YOU brunch in bed? Mother’s Day and sometimes Valentine’s Day, but you must be okay with runny omelets because he once overcooked mine and I made the mistake of kvetching, so now he overcompensates. (Or else he’s just vindictive!) Hi, and thanks for telling it like it is. What about communication? Will he listen without always trying to solve or fix everything?

Signed, Needs Understanding During Gloomy Experiences Dear N.U.D.G.E: Yes, he will stay silent while you talk, but you should occasionally check to make sure he’s awake. With regards to solving problems or fixing everything – not to worry your pretty little head. He’ll fix absolutely nothing. Especially if it’s in desperate need of repair. To Whom it May Concern: Good idea to write your Ex’s profile, but no mention of money. Did you get jewelry? Taken out for meals? What about vacations, live-in maids, weekly massages? Signed, Just Appreciate Pleasure Dear J.A.P.: This may not concern me anymore since I removed the cubic zirconia from my left-hand years ago, but you really need to move along to a different profile. You’ve got the wrong guy! Pretty soon this whole dating profile thing got old, so instead I posted a review about him on Yelp. I would have given him five stars, but he needs more convenient locations, better hours, and most importantly … an exwife who minds her own business. Like that will ever happen! STEPHANIE D. LEWIS WILL CREATE YOUR DATING PROFILE OR ANYTHING ELSE YOU HIRE HER TO WRITE AT THEQUOTEGAL@YAHOO.COM


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REVIVAL AND RESILIENCE Yiddish and Polish Jewish Culture

L-R: Ariela Alusth and Jana Mazurkiewicz





wo dynamic young women, transplanted in America’s Finest City, are researching the Polish-Jewish Culture and teaching Yiddish here and beyond, through artistic multimedia. Jana Mazurkiewicz is the driving force to revive Yiddish in San Diego and the world. Her non-profit organization, the Yiddish Arts and Academics Association of North America (YAAANA), is about to open Yiddishland, an immersive, multigenerational, shtetl-inspired community in San Diego. Since she has taken advantage of Zoom opportunities during COVID-19, her reach is now worldwide, and she has both international teachers and student body. Available to Yiddish and non-Yiddish speakers, Yiddishland will be a living museum for the study of the history of shtetlekh. “Yiddishland is a concept of an international and intergenerational community where people will have a chance to live a Yiddish life,” Mazurkiewicz said. “It will be a place for adults and children to immerse themselves in Yiddish culture even if they do not speak any Yiddish.” Ariela Alush, an Israeli filmmaker, was in the middle of her Polish documentary production, when the pandemic cut her shooting work and she had to leave Poland. In her Polish film, Alush has researched the revival of the JewishPolish culture, and the third generation of Holocaust survivors’ interest, among other, in Yiddish. While Poland and Israel were locked down, Alush found herself working on a second documentary film in

the U.S., about post-trauma and resilience in American society. “San Diego was the warmest and happiest place I have found to keep developing my films,” Alush said. “The reality of a world-wide pandemic add to my quite deep artistic themes could really be depressing for a sensitive filmmaker like me, so I had to protect my soul and find the right environment to work in”. Like any other devine interference, the two energetic Jewish blondes with the rich cultural backgrounds and artistic point of view found each other in La Jolla Cove Park and started to share their creative ideas about intergenerational loss and the revival of Jewish-Polish themes. We sat down with Mazurkiewicz to learn more about her dream of Yiddishland and how it transpired. L’CHAIM: WHERE WERE YOU BORN? DID YOU GROW UP SPEAKING YIDDISH? JANA MAZURKIEWICZ: I am from Kielce

in Poland. I grew up during the end of Communism, a time that Yiddish was not popular or even known in Poland. So no, I did not grow up speaking the language. But as a child I remember my parents listened to Yiddish music and we went to Yiddish theater quite frequently. Kielce is a city that was surrounded by many shtetls, so we traveled there often, and this was my first exposure to shtetl architecture and landscape. L’CHAIM: WAS THERE A YIDDISH CULTURE IN KIELCE? JM: Most people might have heard about

"San Diego is a great place for hosting an organization promoting the Yiddish language and culture because of its diverse Yiddish-speaking community consisting of Yiddish speakers [from all over the world]." Terri Carne

my city because the last pogrom in history took place there in 1946. When I was growing up there, there was not much left of its previously vibrant Jewish





"The Broken Fingers'' is a piece of Yiddish revival art, created by Israeli graffiti artists in the backyard of "Alte Schul' in the Jewish quarter of Krakow, Poland.

community. There were no regular Yiddish classes in other cities either. After the fall of Communism, when Poland entered the European Union, I had a chance to study Yiddish abroad. In the 2000s, the biggest Yiddish summer courses were organized in Vilna, Paris, Brussels, and other European cities. Many young people traveled there to learn more about their own Yiddish roots through learning the language of their ancestors. These very intensive courses helped me eventually become a fluent Yiddish speaker. L’CHAIM: WHAT IS YOUR FORMAL EDUCATION AND WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON IN YOUR RESEARCH? JM: I have an M.A. in Polish Philology,

Jewish Studies, and Rhetoric from the University of Wroclaw, Poland. I am now finishing up my PhD in the Slavic Department of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I am working remotely on a dissertation about the role of the Communist system in preserving the Yiddish Theater of Warsaw, an institution that still promotes Yiddish theater in



Poland. L’CHAIM: WHAT DOES YIDDISH MEAN TO YOU? JM: Yiddish is a language without borders!

Wherever you go, you can find Yiddish speakers. If you decide to learn Yiddish, you immediately become a part of that international community. The revival of Yiddish, paradoxically, became even stronger during the pandemic through Zoom classes and events. Last year, I reconnected with my Yiddish speaking friends all over the world, and some of them got very heavily involved in the activities of our organization. L’CHAIM: WHY DID YOU CHOOSE SAN DIEGO TO LAUNCH YIDDISHLAND? JM: San Diego is a great place for hosting

an organization promoting the Yiddish language and culture because of its diverse Yiddish-speaking community consisting of Yiddish speakers who have immigrated from Mexico, Russia, South Africa, New York City, and many other places. We are also an international destination for tourism and our great weather is helpful

in getting people together all year round. Our Yiddishland project will merge nonprofit work with tourism, and I cannot imagine a better location for it than San Diego County! L’CHAIM: TELL US ABOUT YAAANA, AND WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU. JM: YAAANA (www.yaaana.org) is a non-

profit organization created to further the study of the Yiddish language and culture for anyone with interest in any level of Yiddish. This organization helps people to learn not only the language but also other forms of cultural expression, including theater, music, and food. Everybody is welcome! We recently opened additional chapters including a Yiddish translation agency (https://yaaana.org/yiddishtranslation-services), a Yiddish theater academy (https://yiddishtheateracademy. org), and a Yiddishland project (https:// yiddishlandcalifornia.org). We are currently working on developing a website for our newest baby, the Polish-Jewish Dialogue Center. To exhibit our rich collection of Judaica


and further educate the public, we are now in the process of fundraising for a physical location in La Jolla. Our first exhibit will feature the artwork of Seymour Rosenthal (1921–2007). Ideally, we would open in September of 2021 and launch in-person operations such as classes, performances, concerts, exhibits, and an afterschool Yiddish program. If you wish to contribute to that cause, please text the code “mameloshn” to 44-321, and help us “Yiddishize” San Diego County. THE JOURNEY OF FILM

Ariela Alush was born in Ramat Gan, Israel. Her parents spoke French so the children would not understand, but her Greek grandma talked with her in Ladino, which for her was the language of true love. Living next to Bney Brak, young Ariela heard Yiddish from her Orthodox Haredic neighbors and was frustrated she couldn’t understand a word. Her multilinguistic father thought her some sayings in Yiddish, but it wasn’t enough for her curiosity. Throughout her childhood, Alush was writing poems, singing, painting, and used to be on stages telling the stories that her wide imagination showed her. In her IDF service, she was assigned as a strategic planning officer in the Computers Unit of Mamram. After her service she worked as a training specialist in a hightech company, teaching organizations how to use their ERP software, and teaching the programmers the specific needs of their customers. After a few years in that field, she decided to develop her love to the media and started studying for a degree in Communication and Management at Colmann college in Tel Aviv. Being elected as the faculty Head of Students Association, her time was full of creative thinking, in finding solutions to students’ issues, mediating between their voice and the college staff, and producing social events in holidays and special memorial days. After finishing her B.A., excelling in her directing TV and commercial storytelling classes, she started working as a content manager and screenwriter in the Educational Television

Channel, on several children’s shows. In 2004, her life changed drastically when, on a vacation with two of her friends in the Sinai Peninsula, a terrorist attack killed one of her friends and seriously injured Alush. An explosion cracked her skull, broke her right hand, and tore her eardrum, but doctors said Alush had “optimistic cells,” and her recovery was better than they ever imagined. After rehabilitation and going back to working in TV production in different roles, Alush understood that there was a higher cause to her staying alive, almost losing her eyesight and her ability to hear. So, she started in the MFA program at the Tisch school for Film & Television in Tel Aviv. There, she made short films about multi layered conflicts and people who lived their lives like true heroes. Her documentary film, Copy Brad Pitt (in Hebrew “Brosh Levado”), tells the story of a young screenwriter with cerebral palsy. It was broadcast on the Yes-Docu channel in Israel for several years and won Best Jewish Film at the Girona Film Festival. Presenting the film at various film festivals brought Alush to Poland in 2018, where she was invited to Warsaw and Krakow to screen her film and speak about her own personal story of being an Israeli, a Jew, and a terror victim who struggled to succeed as an independent filmmaker. Through meetings with today’s Polish youth, Alush realized how complicated the reality of the Polish-Jews were after 30 years of independent lives without the soviet antisemitic roles, and she started her research about the current relations between non-Jews and the Jewish culture that existed before the Holocaust. “I was amazed to find that so many young Poles are attracted to the Jewish culture despite having no Jewish roots, but as a ‘good Jew’ who was raised on the horror stories of Nazi-Polish collaboration during World War II, I was immediately suspicious about their intentions, and that suspect led me to find their complicated truth,” Alush said. Just like Mazurkiewicz in San Diego, Alush met a lot of characters during her

research in Poland, and their passion to revive the “Shtetl” culture started either in one of the most identifying cultural elements: the Yiddish language, the holiday customs, and the Polish-Jewish food. One of the most interesting people that filmmaker Alush met in her cinematic research is the former Austrian-German author, Uve Von Seltmann and his wife, the theatre director Gabi Von Seltmann, who are both artists that put their social goals to preserve the ancient Jewish culture, by the fringe theatre shows that Gabi is presenting with her ensemble, and the books that Uve is writing, in Yiddish, about the forgotten Jewish heroes were living in the times of between the wars. During the pandemic, this Jewish-Polish relations film stopped its production, but Alush managed to edit a short film of one of her characters, called Lucky Daniella. This film tells the story of a young Israeli artist that, while studying in Krakow and researching her ancestors’ graves, finds a shocking truth about the “Lucky Jew” image in today’s Poland. Like these Jewish artists, and Like Mazurkiewicz who dreams to build “Yiddishland”, Alush also believes that art – in her case the art of filmmaking – can change people’s perspective to the reality they live in and give them new strengths overcoming daily obstacles by connecting to their cultural roots. Despite the pandemic and the closed borders in Europe, Alush continues her research, and funds search for this important Polish-Jewish film, while working on another documentary film in the U.S. about post-trauma and the ability to gain resilience between different generations and different cultural roots. Lucky for us, we have two talented and extremely creative women to teach us more about our Ashkenazi cultural roots through theatre and cinema.








his veggie stuffed eggplant is the perfect side dish to any meal; or make it a main for any vegetarians in the house! As it’s vegan, low fat, low carb, and gluten free, it is also a perfect option for any picky eaters or those with dietary restrictions. Easy enough to prep the night before, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to try this recipe. VEGGIE STUFFED EGGPLANT

Ingredients 3 small eggplants 1 onion 1 zucchini 1 red bell pepper 1 yellow bell pepper 3 cloves garlic 1 yellow tomato 1 red tomato 6 sprigs fresh parsley 3 tbsp. olive oil Salt Pepper Directions 1. Wash the eggplants and pat dry. 2. Cut a slit in one side of each eggplant to make a pocket. 3. Place eggplants on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with 1 tbsp. olive oil. Bake 15-20 minutes at 350° F. 4. Dice all the vegetables, parsley and garlic. 5. Sauté the onions in 2 tbsp. olive oil until translucent. Add the peppers, zucchini, garlic and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are soft and mixture has started to thicken. Mix in most of the parsley. 6. Fill the eggplants with the vegetable mixture, sprinkle with remaining fresh parsley and bake for 10 minutes at 350° F.

Vegan, low fat, low carb, and gluten free, this dish is a perfect option for those with dietary restrictions.

This recipe was written by Uriel Shtern, copyright and reprinted with permission from chabad.org. For more, visit https://chabad. org/3510795.




Years of Work Erased A

lthough many in the Jewish community thought that after two years of tireless work the risk of antisemitism and anti-Zionism being promoted in California schools was in the rear-view mirror, the issue is heating up once again with the stakes even higher than before. The new threat involves AB 101, a bill moving through the California legislature that makes ethnic studies courses a requirement for high school graduation. But what is less known about the bill is that it will permit school districts to teach the rejected and highly antisemitic original Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) to be taught in California classrooms. This overtly antisemitic and anti-Zionist first draft outraged the Jewish community and the Legislative Jewish Caucus and was flatly rejected by the State Board of Education and Governor Gavin Newsom who said it “would never see the light of day.” However, despite learning of the fine print here from nearly 70 rabbis, more than 1,000 California residents, and 75 religious and civil rights organizations, shamefully, every member of California’s Jewish Legislative Caucus supported the bill when it came before the California Assembly for a vote. And this month, in a petition signed by more than 4,000 concerned citizens, the California Jewish community said enough is enough. They criticized the legislators and demanded they use their final chance to stand up for Jewish students and the Jewish community by opposing the bill when it comes before the Senate. The petitioners pointed out that many alarming new developments raise the stakes even further, including skyrocketing antiZionist-motivated antisemitism; California 16


school districts committing to adopt the original antisemitic draft; and the two largest teachers’ unions in the state and several University of California ethnic studies departments, essentially those responsible for training the high school teachers, endorsing the antisemitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. We were “deeply disappointed that not only did every Legislative Jewish Caucus Assemblymember vote in favor of AB 101, but Caucus Chair Jesse Gabriel even made a speech on the Assembly floor that spoke about the bill in glowing terms and belittled concerns about antisemitism that were shared by a non-Jewish Assemblymember,” wrote the petitioners. “Anyone who understands the threats that are currently facing the Jewish community can understand why AB 101, as well-intentioned as it may be, will unleash a torrent of antiJewish and anti-Zionist sentiment, hostility and aggression into classrooms throughout the state if it becomes law. The vast majority of California Jews understand this. As the CA Senate stands poised to vote on AB 101, please stand up and oppose this bill. There is still time to do the right thing,” continued the petitioners. And here’s why the petitioners are right to be alarmed. The dethroned original authors of that first draft have for many months been hard at work carrying out a covert campaign to promote their curriculum – including its antiJewish and anti-Zionist lessons -- throughout the state, and they’ve been successful. They’ve garnered support from the two biggest teachers’ unions, as well as from the state’s higher education ethnic studies community. They’ve also been vigorously lobbying

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

individual school districts and some, such as Hayward Unified, have already adopted it. If AB 101 becomes law, most school districts will likely follow suit. Especially now, as violence in the Middle East is spilling over into vicious attacks on Jews all over the world, including in California, AB 101 directly threatens the safety and well-being of Jewish students in our state. Our legislators, particularly members of the Jewish Legislative Caucus who are self-proclaimed defenders of the Jewish community in the California legislature, must vote no on this bill. TAMMI ROSSMAN-BENJAMIN IS THE DIRECTOR OF AMCHA INITIATIVE IS A NONPARTISAN, NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO COMBATING ANTISEMITISM AT COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES IN THE UNITED STATES. AMCHA MONITORS MORE THAN 450 COLLEGE CAMPUSES ACROSS THE U.S. FOR ANTI-SEMITIC ACTIVITY, AND IT HAS RECORDED MORE THAN 3,500 ANTISEMITIC INCIDENTS SINCE 2015 ON ITS DAILY ANTI-SEMITISM TRACKER.

Temple Etz Rimon is Hosting an

OPEN HOUSE August 15, 2021 3 - 5pm 2020 Chestnut Avenue, Carlsbad

RSVP: info@templeetzrimon.org

www.templeetzrimon.org 760.929.9503 2020 Chestnut Avenue Carlsbad, CA 92008




StandWithUs Fellow Recognized Sivan Barashy is the first place winner of the prestigious Roberta Seid Award for Courage and Leadership.


ongratulations to 2020-21 StandWithUs Emerson Fellow Sivan Barashy from UCSD who is the first place winner of the prestigious Roberta Seid Award for Courage and Leadership. Named in honor of SWU's first Director of Research and Education Dr. Roberta Seid, Sivan is recognized from among 150 Emerson Fellows for her exemplary courage, leadership, and commitment to Israel activism on campus and beyond. Despite the challenges of virtual programming, Sivan approached program-planning thoughtfully and creatively and through her work, educated her peers about Israel. She worked tirelessly to pass the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism. She coordinated efforts with the 10 different colleges that make up UC San Diego and ran a campaign that was adopted unanimously. Throughout the academic year, Sivan never backed down from any of the ongoing challenges and her efforts yielded significant results. 18


“My time as the Emerson Fellow has been extraordinary, even with the new online platform that SWU adapted to so smoothly,” Sivan said. “I hope to continue to positively affect the Jewish community with the help of StandWithUs." StandWithUs San Diego is pleased to welcome the 2021-22 Emerson Fellows Melina Aryan from UCSD, and Zev Sorokin from SDSU. The six Kenneth Leventhal High School Interns are: Liam Rosenberg, Canyon Crest; Julia Galperin, Frances Parker Upper School; Tamar Ladd, High Tech High Mesa; Ariela Moel, San Diego Jewish Academy; Iyar Galor, San Dieguito Academy and Esther Turquie, Chula Vista High School. Both campus and high school programs select and train student leaders to educate about Israel and combat Antisemitism. TO LEARN MORE STANDWITHUS.COM.










L-R: Laura Applegate, Chair and Sarah King, Co-Chair PHOTO BY NANCY RICHARDS




oin the North Coast Repertory Theatre to celebrate the beginning of life with the Spotlight Gala! Sunday, August 29, the theater community will come together at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, beginning at 5 p.m. with cocktails and a silent auction followed with wine, fine cuisine, and an elegant plated seated dinner served in the ballroom at 6:30 p.m. Auctioneer Clint Bell will conduct the live auction and fund-a-need segment. Some elements include an evening with Richard Dreyfuss and a doll house signed by Dr. Ruth and Tovah Feldshuh and a live session with Dr. Ruth. There will be a cork pull as well. Artistic Director David Ellenstein will serve as Master of Ceremonies during the event. The dedicated and passionate volunteer committee, led by Chair Laura Applegate and Sarah King are preparing a festive evening for 350 guests. Honorary Chairs for the Gala include Academy Award winning actor Richard Dreyfuss, and wife Svetlana, longtime 20


supporters of the North Coast Rep Theatre. Entitled “The Lights Are Bright at North Coast Rep,” who will join the fun? Featuring show tunes from Gypsy, Cabaret, Sweet Charity and Forum, guests will be delighted to dance in their seats with this evening of musical comedy, with a 4-piece band and 5 local actors. A performance by the Theatre School will be included as well. Surprises illuminate the evening, joining guests for a magical evening through the North Coast Rep. The event’s fundraiser is another way to raise philanthropic revenue. Through the generosity of table sponsors, auction bidders & event sponsors, North Coast Rep raises over one third of their total annual budget for donated income at this event. Dreyfuss’s observations on the impact of the theater are viewed through the looking glass of an actor. “Most people don’t realize that when you do a comedy and you make people laugh, you are doing what is known in Judaism as a mitzvah – it’s a gift. It means

you can find that people laugh so hard it looks like they haven’t laughed in a hundred years, and you know you’ve lifted something painful off their shoulders.” Svetlana illustrated her enthusiasm by proclaiming, “It’s our favorite theatre. They do remarkable work! At it’s purest, theatre, like religion, answers questions you didn’t know you had. The plays at North Coast Rep open your eyes to new worlds, exposes you to new experiences, and makes you think. We are happy to do anything we can to support them. They’re just terrific!” An American actor and writer, Dreyfuss achieved an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Goodbye Girl, (the youngest actor ever at the age of 30 to win.) He was also awarded a BAFTA, Golden Globe Award and countless others. His starring roles include: American Graffiti, Jaws, What About Bob?, Stand By Me, and Mr. Holland’s Opus, (nominated for an Academy Award in 1995.) Dreyfuss has performed multiple outstanding roles over


At it’s purest, theater, like religion, answers questions you didn’t know you had. The plays at North Coast Rep open your eyes to new worlds, exposes you to new experiences, and makes you think.” Honorary Chairs: Richard Dreyfuss and his wife Svetlana

the years. Jay and Julie Sarno will be presented with San Diego’s Champion for the Arts Award, a community-wide effort honoring individuals who have made a difference in the arts. This honor is bestowed to individuals giving an extraordinary measure of their time, talents and treasure to benefit the visual and performing arts in the greater San Diego region. With a passion for North Coast Rep, Julie was the former Director of Development and Jay currently (a Board Member) dedicates time and energy during the week, assisting in many ways. The Sarno’s met at the North Coast Rep, marrying there 34 years ago!

Nancy Richards, director of marketing and public relations mentioned North Coast Rep was the only theater open with live streaming for a full season during these trying times of the pandemic. Richards has brought her creative expertise, dedication and resilience to the North Coast Rep for several years. North Coast Rep announced Season 40, for 2021/2022, celebrating the resiliency of the human spirit, with the first live show previewing on September 8. The lineup includes Dancing Lessons, Ben Butler, Desperate Measures, The Homecoming, Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits, The Outgoing Tide, and The Remarkable Mr.






I AM A PUPPY RAISER WITH ISRAEL GUIDE DOGS | BY LINDA YECHIEL “How will you be able to give him up?” That is the question I am most often asked when people see me walking my guide dog puppy, Pierce. How will I be able to give him up after the year, after becoming attached to and learning to love this dog who started out as a 15 lb. chubby puppy and is now, at (only) four months, already a sleek, powerful dog of 44 lbs? Of course, I will get attached, but I also knew, from the very beginning, that I am committing myself to raising a pair of eyes for someone with visual impairment. That after my year of love and training – and suffering chewed sunglasses (oy! I just left them on the coffee table for a second), puppy biting (I am NOT your toy!!!), peeing and pooping in the house (but I just took you out fifteen minutes ago!), some digging fun in my garden (zinnias are supposed to stay in the ground!) my Pierce will, hopefully, have the qualities needed to begin his career as a guide dog. I have been a volunteer with the Israel 22


Guide Dog Center for almost 18 years. I was a Puppy Raiser first, then a foster mom for a breeding dog, then I helped out in the clinic. For about ten years now, I have had the pleasure of taking visitors around the Center, telling them about our fascinating thirtyyear history during which we have grown from the small, “mom and pop startup” on a Moshav, into the big beautiful, stateof-the-art campus in the center of Israel. I take pleasure in explaining what it takes to turn a roly-poly mischievous puppy into a mature, responsible, thinking dog who can profoundly change a person’s life (and I have the stories to prove it). And now I’m a Puppy Raiser once again! So what is involved? What are the special things that Puppy Raisers teach their charges that you may not know? Of course, we teach them the basic commands that any wellmannered dog should know: sit, down, sit up, stand up, stay, wait, come. This is all done using positive reinforcement, lots of treats and oodles of love.

We also teach them the very important command, “busy busy.” This is very important so the dog does his business when his handler wants him to – and quickly if you please! Recall that ultimately, he will have a very special job … to walk and lead, and it won’t be very smart to have a dog that just stops when he pleases to poop or pee. I will teach him to walk on a short leash at a steady pace on my left, pulling very slightly (enough to lead, but not enough to send me flying) and to ignore barking dogs, people going “here doggie, here doggie,” and any p-mail along the route. He will learn not to scarf dropped sandwiches and donuts on the sidewalk … and when it’s a lab puppy, this is especially challenging…labs will eat anything and everything. They don’t know the meaning of “finicky.” Later on, I will also teach him “yemina” (turn right) and “smola” (turn left). Puppy raisers can never allow the dog on the bed or the sofa. They (the dogs, not the people) are taught to never jump up on


anyone in greeting. Guide dog puppies are fed only their own food. Never anything “human” (well, except for peanut butter or carrots if we need “special treats”). They cannot ever get the slightest idea that human food is for them because a counter-surfing, begging, whining, drooling dog, is not a dog that will be appreciated in a restaurant or another person’s home. But all is not rules and learning. We also have lots of fun with our dogs. My Pierce didn’t even need one lesson to learn to fetch! It was totally natural. (There’s a reason they are called Labrador retrievers!) Stuffed toys, short sticks, empty soda bottles … all make great toys and help them get rid of some of their puppy energy, although there is usually at least one bout of the “zoomies” every day. Just not balls. We are not allowed to play with balls because these are common items, and we don’t want them to ever get distracted when they will eventually be working. Then there are the perks of being a puppy raiser, the best of which is to be proudly walking your beautiful, noble-looking dog,

decked out in his special “Guide Dog Puppy in Training” jacket, into stores and malls and restaurants. Or hopping onto the bus or train with your puppy in tow. In Israel, guide dog puppy access laws are the exact same as those for guide dogs. In other words, they are allowed into any public venue. I got my Pierce when he was just under eight weeks. Today he is just past four months and I already love him to pieces. In another eight to ten months, I have no doubt that the tears will be streaming down my face as he goes back for the evaluation which will decide what career is best suited for him. (Only some of our puppies have the perfect characteristics to become guide dogs. Those that don’t may become special-needs dogs, or PTSD assistance dogs). But hopefully, the day will come, about six months after that, when I will meet my puppy once again, now a mature, fully trained dog who will be changing the life of a visually impaired individual in a way that is hard to imagine. This is the miracle of the guide dog. But let me add this: miracles need financing. The

I am committing myself to raising a pair of eyes for someone with visual impairment. Israel Guide Dog Center runs almost entirely on the good will and generosity of the public (government funding is only about 10% of the budget). If you would like to be a part of this miracle, please visit our site: www. israelguidedog.org for more information. LINDA YECHIEL HAS BEEN LIVING IN ISRAEL FOR 40 YEARS. SHE WORKS AS A TRANSLATOR (HEBREW TO ENGLISH) AND ENGLISH EDITOR. HER EMAIL IS ENGLISHWITHLINDA@GMAIL.COM.





Israel Talpaz (left), SeeTree’s co-founder and CEO, with Guy Morgenstern SeeTree co-founder and CTO. PHOTOS COURTESY SEETREE



group of former Israeli intelligence experts are in the midst of revolutionizing the fruit-tree farming industry around the world, utilizing their know-how, along with some of the most advanced agriculture technology (“agtech”) on the planet. With the use of drones, satellite imagery, artificial intelligence and plain-old boots on the ground in countries such as the United States, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and Greece, the Tel Aviv-based SeeTree company has been retained by some of the world’s biggest fruit-tree farmers in order to analyze and provide important in-depth information on each individual tree’s health and productivity. SeeTree is getting set to celebrate its fourth year in business, collecting data and monitoring some 50 million trees for more than 30 farming customers ... and counting. Co-founder and CEO Israel Talpaz said, “when I retired from Israel’s intelligence community, I hooked up to agriculture 24


with the goal of bringing the expertise, technologies and capabilities that I learned in the defense world to the world of agriculture.” He added, “surprisingly, I saw similarities in the challenges agriculture has today with what happened in the defense community about 20 years ago. Both were analog, not digital, especially in the world of trees and permanent crops — crops that live for many years.” Talpaz explained that “most technologies went to row crops — those that you replant every year — livestock and other areas, and I asked experts why that is. I was told that trees are very complicated; they are like people. Every tree varies from one another. Farming trees is complex because of the high level of variability.” On the other hand, he said, “the value of a tree is very high because it lives for decades and produces fruit every year. A farm of trees is like a factory that has production units. Every tree is a production unit. It has [annual] inputs and outputs. And you would not

imagine a factory today that is not digitized. What would you do with a million trees or 25 million trees, and the farmers don’t have the tools to manage these trees at all?” Until now, farmers — some with 100,000plus trees on their property — would physically be unable to obtain accurate information in terms of their trees’ health, how its crops were doing, whether or not the tree was receiving enough water and sunlight, the amount of crop-protection pesticides that are needed and other important data. Talpaz explained that without that information, farmers essentially estimate those figures by examining several trees and calculating averages in all categories. So in comes SeeTree, he said, to “create a digital entity for every single tree. Each one is separated and mapped, and monitored and has a name. And all of the data is connected to that file of that tree like a health file, and that’s what enables us to optimize for the farmers.” With teams on the ground in the above-


mentioned countries, the company starts by sending in an agronomist to create an initial assessment and establish a protocol for a farmer’s trees. The trees are then tagged and monitored utilizing military-grade drones, satellite imagery and team members in jeeps with mounted cameras. Each tree receives a score using a 0-to5 scale based on the tree’s health and productivity. A score of “5” means the tree is doing very well, while a “0” indicates to the farmer that for one reason or another, the tree is no longer even standing in the orchard. Once the teams collect the data, it is uploaded to the cloud daily, and the analysis is done in Israel with AI technology coming into play. “We bring in the data and then we teach the machines how to analyze it; it’s like we copy the farmers, training the machine with thousands of examples, and the machines know how to detect the different symptoms. It’s a learning process, and it works fantastic,” said Talpaz. The analysis team in Israel utilizes algorithms that take the examples found in the data and teaches the machines that certain symptoms show that a tree might be suffering from water stress, a certain type of disease or any other ailment that could harm food production, thus negatively affect the farmer’s crop output. The farmers are then able to see how their trees are doing using a web-based or mobile platform in order to monitor each and every tree. In terms of the fruit itself, the SeeTree technology allows a farmer to prepare for an upcoming harvest. Using oranges as an example, “we know how many oranges will be on the trees five months before harvest time. We give the farmer a prediction—an assessment on the yield he is going to have,” explained Talpaz. “Therefore, the farmer can start negotiating the prices and selling before harvest time,”

he continued. “This is crucial. Without the technology, they can’t. They have to harvest, count how much they have and start selling. That is a problem because they don’t have any leverage. The retailers know they have already picked the fruit, and if the fruit is not sold fast, it’s going to spoil, so we’re empowering the farmers with that insight early.” Uri Rosenzweig, the company’s vice president of product management, who made aliyah from Chicago in 2005, started his professional career in Israel as a farmer himself growing sugar snap peas, mushrooms and ginger. He said that he joined the company with the ability to empathize with the struggles of farmers. “I was growing produce in Israel and then went from farming to serving farmers,” he said. “So I come from a background of understanding the pains of farmers and challenges and struggles they have.” He said that his role in product management is to help those in the agriculture industry meet those challenges. “Product management is the bridge between the needs of the industry and being able to identify significant opportunities for optimization, and then being able to translate that into the best way we can package our capabilities and also develop those capabilities to solve the industry challenges,” said Rosenzweig. Gary Schiff, who made aliyah from Maryland three years ago, was a forester in the United States for more than three decades. He started “Natural Resource Solutions and Guiding Israel-U.S.” and serves as a consultant for SeeTree. He said that the company has revolutionized the business for orchard growers across the globe. “For 100 years, foresters have been walking through the trees and stopping to sample a very small part of a forest and making assumptions from those small samples about the forest,” he said.

“SeeTree’s key to success is that they can see every tree in detail like no one else. Because they can see every tree they can help the forest owner before small problems become big problems, such as insects and diseases or drought stress,” he said. “They can see when the fruit is ready, how much wood volume is in a tree or how much carbon is stored in a tree. This is a game-changer for foresters.” Talpaz said that in addition to benefiting the farmers themselves, the company has found itself on the radar of organizations and other bodies from around the world interested in improving food production in Third World countries, along with those who understand the importance trees play in benefiting the environment. He shared that the company’s lead investor from the last round of raising seed capital was the International Finance Cooperation (IFC), the investment arm of the World Bank in Washington, D.C. He added that the IFC not only invested for financial reasons but saw the company as a world leader in technological strides towards improving food production and farming that could greatly benefit those in poorer countries. Other groups interested in the environment, as well as urban planners, recently approached SeeTree to measure the carbon sequestration in trees. This refers to how a tree captures carbon emissions. Talpaz said that trees have a positive effect on carbon emissions because they capture and store the carbon for photosynthesis, which prevents it from reaching the atmosphere, thus slowing CO2 pollution and helping to mitigate climate change—just one of many other examples of how monitoring trees benefits the earth.



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least some of the upcoming groups will be held in person. Last year’s virtual meetings were successful, even attracting new members from as far away as northern CA and Chicago. This year the BNC chapter will offer several book and movie discussions, including two with Jewish themes. Other groups range from current events, painting, cooking, medicine, and Jewish genealogy to pickleball, walking, canasta, bridge and mah jongg, and various social activities. BNC, now about 25,000 members strong nationwide, is not an alumni organization but an important supportive arm of the university. For more information or to reserve a place for the luncheon, contact Barb Howard at barbarahoward@gmail.com or (760) 747-0303. Visit blogs.brandeis.edu/bncsandieguito/ to see the complete Study & Social Groups Brochure. SD OPERA’S MIDSUMMER GALA

San Diego Opera’s Midsummer Gala honored Stacy Kellner Rosenberg for her volunteerism and charitable contributions to the community. Mayor Todd Gloria, Representative Scott Peters, and Supervisor Nathan Fletcher presented her with proclamations that declared June 26th “Stacy Kellner Rosenberg Day”. Since moving to San Diego, Stacy has made notable impacts as a volunteer and Board member of organizations including San Diego Opera, inewsource, the San Diego regional American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and Congregation Beth El in La Jolla. BRANDEIS NATIONAL COMMITTEE SAN DIEGUITO CHAPTER LUNCHEON

San Dieguito Chapter of the Brandeis National Committee is holding its first event of the year, live and in person. The Opening Meeting/Study and Social Group Showcase Luncheon will take place Wednesday, August 25th at 10:30 a.m. at the Lomas Santa Fe Country Club, 1505 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach. This is an invitation to the community, especially newcomers. Coffee and informal mixing begin at 10:30, followed by introductions of the study and social groups which form the core of San Dieguito’s programs along with community service and fund-raising for Brandeis University. The cost will be $40. After a successful year of Zoomed meetings, it is expected that at


On Sunday, July 25th, Jews and Christians came together in the Prescott Promenade in El Cajon to support Israel and stand up against antisemitism. Organized by Shield of David and supported by Mayor Bill Wells, the rally attracted an overflowing, peaceful crowd. Among the speakers were Mike Pompeo, 70th U.S. Secretary of State, and Larry Elder. A prayer service was officiated by Rabbi Polichencko and Ministers. Learn more at www.shieldofdavid18.com. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM


Michael Jeser JANUARY 28, 1976 - JULY 24, 2021 26 SEVAT 5736 - 15 AV 5781


On Shabbat Va’etchanan Michael lost his fouryear battle with Esophageal Cancer. He leaves his much loved and adored wife, his Malka, Laura, and the four-year-old light of his life, Eleanore. He will be greatly missed by his brothers, his partners-in-crime, Marc and Dave, his sisters-inlaw Elizabeth and Lisa, and his fourteen nephews and nieces. His parents, Faye and Paul, will never fully recover from losing their baby, their hero and their most special mensch. For the past three years, Michael has been the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater San Diego. The love for Michael has shown itself in many ways. The support given to him by the SD Federation’s leadership and staff has been beyond any expectations. When Michael decided to run a GoFundMe campaign to provide support for Laura and Eleanore, over 1,400 people responded! There have been over one thousand personal emails and comments on the many Facebook streams which



announced his passing. As one close family friend wrote, ‘there are more tears than words.’ As his cousin from Israel wrote, ‘Michael, who gave you permission to leave?’ One of Michael’s ‘happy places’ was Camp Tevya (NH) where he attended from an early age through college when he was appointed Boy’s Head Counselor. His other ‘happy places’ included rooting for the Jets and Celtics, going to Disneyland, whale and eagle watching, going to the movie theater and eating popcorn, drinking with his brothers and close friends, and, most of all, sitting on the couch with Laura and Eleanore watching his favorite TV shows and movies. The family has requested that donations in Michael’s memory be given to either the Jewish Federation of San Diego (in support of the Michael Jeser Outstanding Jewish Professional Award) www.jewishinsandiego.org/, or Camp Tevya www.camptevya.org/support-camp/ May Michael’s memory forever be a blessing.



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