L'Chaim Magazine August 2022

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contents August 2022 • www.lchaimmagazine.com

in this issue... COVER STORY Noa Tishby, Israel’s Special Envoy for Combating Anti-Semitism and the Future of Education.................................................................................................................................

1000 WORDS Rabbi Mathew Marko Joins Tifereth Israel........................................................................................

FOOD Edamame Hummus......................................................................................................................................... EDUCATION Teaching (and Repairing the World) with Solutionary Stories.............................................



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Leveling the Playing Field for Student Athletes in Need....................................................... ENTERTAINMENT


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La Jolla Playhouse's Here There are Blueberries......................................................................... The Remarkable Mr Holmes at Nroth Coast Repertory Theatre........................................ SENIORS Hadassah Celebrates Fanny Liebovits............................................................................................. It's Never Too Late to Connect to the Jewish Homeland......................................................



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


Mazel & Mishagoss..................................

PUBLISHERS Diane Benaroya & Laurie Miller

ART DEPARTMENT lauriem@lchaimmagazine.com LISTINGS & CALENDAR: calendar@lchaimmagazine.com

EDITORIAL editor@lchaimmagazine.com ADVERTISING dianeb@lchaimmagazine.com




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& passages A Lifetime of Torah Study

“Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and commanded us to study words of Torah.” It is customary to recite this blessing prior to engaging in the study of Torah. The basis is found in Deuteronomy 32:3, wherein Moses states that when speaking the word of God, he will first sing God’s praises. We refer to the Torah as a “Holy Book,” but it is so much more than that: It is our roadmap for leading an ethical and sacred life. Each week, a specific Torah portion (parsha) is studied throughout the Jewish world. On the holiday Simchat Torah, we read the last portion of D’varim (Deuteronomy), re-roll the scroll, and start our Torah reading all over again with the first portion of B’reshit (Genesis) Thus, our study of Torah literally and symbolically forms a cyclical basis for a lifetime of learning. There are four layers of Biblical interpretation known by their acronym “PaRDeS” — P’shat, Remez, D’rash, and Sod. P’shat is the simple explanation of 6


the text. Remez means “hints,” and this study involves looking for symbolic or “hidden” meanings behind the simple ones. In D’rash, additional texts are used as a basis of comparing how specific words or phrases are used elsewhere to enlighten our understanding of Torah. Sod is based on mystical or Kabbalistic interpretations of the Torah. We may never get beyond the first or perhaps second layer of understanding what the Torah has to offer. But as we progress through the various stages of our lives, we will likely discover nuances and lessons that we had never noticed before. We may read other people’s Torah commentaries or listen to the teachings of a clergyperson and suddenly have an “aha!” moment of insight that completely alters our perception of certain truths. This new understanding may help guide us through the myriad of life’s challenges. We benefit from studying Torah by internalizing these insights and applying them to our own lives. The Sh’ma prayer that Jews recite in both

morning and evening worship contains the following verse: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. And you shall teach them diligently to your children.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7) How can we teach our children to love God, and what does that even mean? These are questions that each of us must grapple with to find our own answers, and those answers will change many times throughout our lives. It is very important for us to teach by positive example, so that our own children will learn what the Torah expects of us in terms of ethical behavior. Yet since we are all children of God, we must always do our best to live a holy life based on the Torah’s teachings so that we may always be a light for others. RABBI-CANTOR CHERI WEISS IS THE SPIRITUAL LEADER OF TEMPLE EMANUEL IN HONOLULU, HAWAII.





& mishagoss Fiddler's Fabulous (but Finicky!) Females


n my last column I dissected men from Fiddler on the Roof to see what kind of husbands they’d make. Now it’s time to see what would happen if you ‘fiddled’ around with Fiddler’s females. And what better place to start than Yente the matchmaker? Be forewarned, if you’ve cast your eye on Yente, she’ll constantly lament her deceased husband Aaron (may he rest in peace) and how he couldn’t give her children. To tell you the truth, he hardly tried! And neither will you with Yente, a busybody who submerges herself in your business deeper than a woman dunks in a mikvah. To leave this relationship, pray Yente becomes overzealous in her career and suddenly decides to make a match for herself. Or one day she’ll lose her head altogether and a horse will kick it into the mud and goodbye Yente! Other than that, I’m sorry if you misunderstood, but you could get stuck for good! We’ll skip over Golde since she’s obviously already married and focus on Tevye’s eldest daughter, Tzeitel. First of all, have patience with Tzeitel as she’ll need to correct everyone misspelling her name. And she’s prone to roleplaying. (No, not that kind!) But sometimes while doing laundry she’ll drape a scarf over her head and do a spot-on impersonation of Yente. You may even think you married a hobbling old lady, but look at your fiancé’s eyes … so hopeful. Now look even closer at your fiancé’s eyes … she loves you, she wants you. Tradition!! There’s just one problem … Motel. You might’ve heard the rumor — Tzeitel and Motel gave each other a pledge!



And from such children come other children. On the other hand, even a poor tailor is entitled to some happiness. Bottom line? You won’t stand a chance. Move on to Hodel! Hodel is a great choice if you like to hang out in train depots, hearing melancholy songs. Just know she’ll never ask your permission to get her nails done. But she would like your blessing, so that’s something! Plus she’ll definitely follow you around, far from the home she loves, even if you move to Siberia, a frozen wasteland. So there! We’ve established Hodel’s unwavering loyalty. Just get used to being compared to the Rabbi’s son. Because they only have one Rabbi and he only has one son. Why shouldn’t she want the best? Don’t bother reminding her she’s only the daughter of a milkman, a girl from a poor family, with no dowry, because she’ll firmly put you in place by announcing an old custom they have — in which a boy talks respectfully to a girl. But maybe that’s too traditional for an advanced thinker like you! If you feel you must propose marriage to Hodel, for goodness sakes, don’t make it into a political question! If you want my advice, consider the younger sister, Chava. Especially if you’re into books. Because not many girls in this village like to read! Chava just divorced so she’s extra cautious with dating, even toying with the idea of remaining friends from a distance. That’s the lesson learned when you run off and have a priest marry you (and your gentile guy!) just because he shared some tattered paperback novel. Chava will demand proof you’re the

real deal … as in your mother must be Jewish. None of this “I’ll convert and we won’t have a Christmas tree” nonsense. When you’re scarred by your father disowning you, that’s simply not an option. One way to coax Chava into tying the knot again is calling her by her full name, Chaveleh. Oh yes, and definitely compare her to a bird. Indeed, why not? She was always such a pretty thing. Everybody’s favorite child. Gentle and kind and affectionate, what a sweet little bird she was, Chaveleh, Chaveleh. Works like a charm! So don’t marry in church, but feel free to exit Anatevka. It hasn’t exactly been the Garden of Eden. Someone should have set a match to that place years ago. Now as to Tevye’s fourth and fifth daughters? They’re still young and have nothing to say for themselves except giggling as they part the curtains thru the open windows of the Matchmaker song. (It’s the oldest three daughters stealing this show!) Oops, I forgot one final admonition…don’t think about messing around with that Fruma Sarah chick. She’ll come to you by night, she’ll take you by the throat and … Oy! Oy! Oy! Too dreadful to write about here so I’ll have to tell you in a dream! STEPHANIE D. LEWIS WILL INJECT HUMOR INTO ANYTHING YOU HIRE HER TO WRITE. EMAIL AT THEQUOTEGAL@YAHOO.COM.

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Rabbi Mathew Marko. 10






abbi Mathew Marko is a certified scuba diver, skydiver, motorcycle rider, and carpenter with an extensive theater background as a performer. He also plays guitar, sings and is a kosher chef of international cuisine. Why not become a Rabbi? As the new spiritual leader of Tifereth Israel synagogue, he defines Tifereth as meaning “splendor, glory and wonder.” This is what the congregation is looking forward to with the new Rabbi who became leader of the congregation on the first of July. The Rabbi has an unusual and eclectic background, as in college he majored in theatre and minored in Hebrew. Working Nagarut (Hebrew for Carpentry) and teaching Woodshop at Camp Ramah for many years, he had a special bond with campers. He shared how they often asked what Jewish wooden objects, such as Shabbat candle sticks, would look like and how to shape them. Rabbi Marko explained how when working with wood, the object will tell what it wants to be. As a young person, studying Hebrew and Judaism, he told his Rabbi, “I don’t believe in G-d.” He could not comprehend how people could do bad things with no consequences, while people performing acts of kindness were not rewarded. What he received in kind was a stern lecture which was not inspirational. Years later, Marko, as a more secular Jew,

met his wife Marie, a Network Engineer, master gardener, single parent with two children and a “Jew by choice,” having converted before she met him. When he asked her why she wanted a Jewish household, she responded that she wanted a home which was G-d centered, balanced with Judaism and she wanted him to be a part of it. Rabbi Marko's mentor and friend in Los Angeles Rabbi Dan Shevitz explained to him that Judaism is more of a “system of questions than answers.” The more Marko studied, the more he became drawn to Judaism. He had been a wood-working carpenter with a successful furniture store and a Shakespearean actor. Why not a Rabbi? “Call it the will of G-d or the way the universe wanted to unfold,” he said. “I will go to Rabbinical school.” He believes it is important to look at Judaism from all different perspectives and to “meet people where they are.” He already spoke Hebrew and had studied Torah, he wanted to learn more and be amongst the people. He studied Torah, Jewish law, philosophy, theology, liturgy and learned to lead the services, earning a Master of Arts in Rabbinic Literature and Rabbinic ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. Upon graduation from the seminary, a position through Temple Beth Israel presented itself in Greenville, S.C.

Believing in a vast G-d, with infinite love and seeking a higher level of understanding, Rabbi Marko had found his true calling. Tifereth Israel was founded over 100 years ago and Rabbi Marko is looking forward to working with the 350 families comprising the congregation while introducing new ways to accomplish Jewish life and learning. As we know, Jewish education is a vital part of belonging to a synagogue and Rabbi Marko enjoys nothing more than spending time with the “littles,” as he calls them, being involved in teaching Torah to all ages and often those going through adolescence who question the existence of G-d. He even keeps M&M’s at his desk for them, with an open door policy to answer any questions or concerns which may arise. The Rabbi has coordinated and organized trips for youth to Israel, which he greatly loves and supports, visiting many places “outside the box,” including markets and locations not generally listed on traditional itineraries. Groups can truly experience Israel in a unique and special way. He encourages youth to go for a swim and personalize their spiritual experience. They can celebrate Shabbat in different ways, in addition to learning about other cultures. His teaching is unique as he laughs with them, prays, teaches and sings with them, playing the guitar, all an essential part of an in-depth Jewish cultural education. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM



Rabbi Marko welcomes all people to participate in all areas of Judaism.

Marko is available for many memorable occasions, including weddings, brises, baby namings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, holidays and many other events as well. Although he and his wife Marie consider themselves ordinary people, they are extraordinary in their approach to life and improving the lives of others. Recently he has mourned with and has been deeply affected by those who have lost loved ones. Rabbi Marko welcomes all people to participate in all areas of Judaism. He suggests when someone wants to come only once a year he or she should come to Purim where there is fun, laughter, food and drink! Although the Rabbi has only begun his journey with Tifereth Israel, he has many new ideas and plans for the future, including an outreach program for seniors, an essential focus of the congregation. He also welcomes the congregation to bring essential items such as toiletries for those underserved in the community. His calling includes Torah, Jewish 12


community, tradition balanced with spiritual modernism, social justice and Israel. His passion for social justice prompted him to walk in the Pride parade. He has lived on a kibbutz, is an AIPAC Leffell Rabbinic Leadership fellow and is a fierce defender of Israel. Tifereth Israel’s President, Debbie Mishek shared her thoughts about welcoming Rabbi Marko: “Even though Rabbi Marko has only been with us for a short time, it is clear what a blessing he is not only to the Tifereth Israel community but also to the entire San Diego Jewish community. His warmth and compassion are so heartwarming and inspiring. Rabbi Marko’s emphasis on community building and creative approach to everything is so appreciated. He is bringing more music into services which is uplifting. How great to have such a wonderful spiritual leader and partner who is willing to jump right in at a moment’s notice.” Norman Kort, Tifereth Israel Board Member shared his enthusiasm for Rabbi

Marko: “Rabbi Mathew Marko has already shown his dynamic personality in the short time since he became our Rabbi. I particularly appreciate his innovative approach to Torah discussions, making them both accessible and interesting. Sadly, Rabbi Marko has already had to officiate at multiple funerals and Shiva Minyanim where he showed a sincere depth of compassion and empathy. I look forward to having Rabbi Marko guide our Congregation and me in our spiritual journey going forward. I particularly appreciate his patience in addressing my questions with insightful answers.” Rabbi Marko and his wife are excited to begin their creative, impactful and dedicated journey with Tifereth Israel Synagogue. Tifereth Israel Synagogue is located at 6660 Cowles Mountain Blvd. Learn more at tifereth. org.




PASSION FOR ADVOCACY Noa Tishby, Israel's Special Envoy for Combating Anti-Semitism





he land of Israel is “the most misunderstood country on earth,” according to Israeli actress, producer, author, and activist, Noa Tishby, who was recently named the Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism & the Delegitimization of Israel by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Tishby co-produced HBO’s 12-time Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated, and Peabody Award-winning drama, In Treatment, and was recognized as one of the 50 Most Influential Jews in the World by the Jerusalem Post. She is also the author of Israel, A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, which she wrote to fill in the information gap by creating an accessible and dynamic portrait of Israel. Note: This interview has been edited and condensed. Q: What was the catalyst for you to become an advocate and educator? Noa Tishby: I started becoming an advocate for Israel because I just couldn’t sit still based on what I was hearing. People had severe misunderstandings about Israel; they knew nothing about it and yet had very strong opinions. At first, it started out as this thing I would do at dinner parties — explaining to people, talking about it, drawing little maps on napkins. I went professional and took it to the next level in 2011 when I founded the first online advocacy rapid response organization dedicated to refuting lies about Israel. Q: What do you see as the future of Israel education and advocacy? NT: We are experiencing a complete breakdown in Jewish education when it comes to Israel. We are doing an incredible job of giving a beautiful Jewish education when it comes to values and traditions, but we fail when it comes to talking about Israel and its thorny issues. We look at claims against Israel, such as that Israel is an “apartheid” state, as fake news, and rightly so! But then we don’t discuss these claims with our children. This is a big mistake because they end up completely unprepared when they get to college. The fact that we don’t address it head-on means we let the other side get to them first. Unfortunately, what happens is they are vulnerable, they get exposed to these lies, and sometimes we lose them forever because they think we lied to them. This needs to be addressed in every primary school, high school and certainly before college. We need to directly address the lies, fake concepts and words they may face before hearing it from someone else.

"I started becoming an advocate for Israel because I just couldn’t sit still based on what I was hearing," Tishby says. Q: When you speak to students and young adults, what is the biggest message you try to convey? NT: The biggest takeaway that I have for young Jewish adults and for Jews in general is that wherever they live, their sense of freedom and their ability to do whatever they want, is directly connected to the fact that there is a Jewish state and a Jewish military. You cannot separate these two things. Much of the younger generation fails to make the connection between themselves and Israel. They don’t understand that the Jewish experience of the last 70 or so years is profoundly different — for the better — because of Israel’s existence. Making that connection for the younger generation is important for the continuation of the Jewish story, not just for the State of Israel. Q: You’ve spoken in the past about trying to reach new audiences, what have you found to be most effective for this? NT: Social media. Yes, Israel is on the receiving end of horrible attacks on social media, but it has also allowed me to reach new audiences that I never would have otherwise. The book is there for anybody who wants something more nuanced. But social media is what allows the conversation to begin. Q: How do you keep going and not get worn down? NT: I do get worn down! Around last May’s conflict [with Hamas in the Gaza Strip], I got really worn down, so I took a social media break. You must do it in a way that is healthy because it can get very toxic.




Q: Do you have any advice for educators and parents on how to help kids and teens understand the importance of Israel today? NT: Number 1 is to be honest. Discussing problematic issues is going to add a layer of authenticity. We don’t need to re-justify the existence of a Jewish state in the land of Israel; it’s based on indigeneity, on history, on archaeology, on religion, on science, etc. We don’t need to hide anything to have a conversation. If you explain to the younger generation the entirety of the picture — that Israel is a very small piece of land, has been disputed forever, and that these things have happened and that the Jews deserve self-determination and self-governance in their ancestral land — they will get it. If, however, you sell Israel as the most perfect place in the world with no problems, then one day they will wake up and realize that just isn’t true, not because of something specific to Israel but because every state and every country has issues. Israel has issues and controversial elements just like the United States, France, Canada or any other country. What’s awarded to Israel is the questionable honor of doubting its right to exist. Nobody talks about dismantling other places, but they do talk about dismantling Israel. Q: What is something that gives you hope? NT: I’m very optimistic! Life has ups and downs, and that’s true for the Jewish story too. We’ve been through challenges before, and we have survived all of them. No matter what, we will survive this. It’s a matter of pushing on and moving the ball forward. Noa Tishby is a proud Jewish National Fund-USA Arts & Entertainment Task Force member. On Sunday, August 28, 2022, Tishby will headline Jewish National Fund-USA’s 11th Annual Love of Israel Brunch, taking place at 10 a.m. at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines, where she’ll explain some of the misconceptions about the country and address other important topics impacting the global Jewish community. In addition to the festive brunch celebrating the land and people of Israel and the Jewish community of San Diego, the event will feature Jewish National Fund-USA’s President, Dr. Sol Lizerbram, among other local leaders, who will discuss the organization’s philanthropic impact that can be seen and felt throughout Israel from the Negev to the Galilee. “Visionary strategy drives Jewish National Fund-USA,” said Event Co-Chairs, Leslie & Shlomo Caspi. “Join us on August 28 to hear about our game-changing initiatives that improve the quality of life for all Israeli citizens, while ensuring a strong, secure, and prosperous future for the Jewish homeland and our People across the globe for generations to come.” A VIRTUAL OPTION IS AVAILABLE FOR THIS EVENT. TO REGISTER FOR THE FESTIVE IN-PERSON BRUNCH OR TO ACCESS THE VIRTUAL PROGRAM, VISIT JNF.ORG/ SDBRUNCH OR CONTACT MONICA SUISSA, DIRECTOR, SAN DIEGO AT MSUISSA@JNF.ORG OR 858.824.9178 X858.





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Edamame hummus is the perfect way to boost protein and antioxidants in dip form. The tahini paste has added calcium, but if you’re allergic to sesame, omit it. This hummus tastes great on whole-grain crackers, chips, and fresh veggies, such as carrots, bell peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, or celery. This recipe uses frozen edamame, so you can make it even if you don’t have fresh edamame on hand. This is recipe is from Tamar’s book, Cancer Diet for the Newly Diagnosed: An Integrative Guide and Cookbook for Treatment and Recovery. Edamame Hummus Serves 5 Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes Ingredients 8 ounces frozen shelled edamame 1/4 cup tahini Juice of 1 large lemon 1 garlic clove, halved 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 2 to 4 tablespoons water 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Directions 1. Microwave the frozen edamame for 2 to 3 minutes, or per package instructions. 2. In the bowl of a food processor (see substitution), combine the edamame, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, and 2

The perfect way to boost protein and antioxidants in dip form. tablespoons of water. Purée the mixture until it’s smooth. If it needs more liquid, add up to 2 more tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon at a time. 3. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time, blending well to incorporate after each addition. Serve immediately, store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. If frozen, thaw a container of the hummus in the refrigerator overnight before serving. SUBSTITUTION: A food processor is best for this recipe, so you can drizzle the olive oil in slowly while the motor is running. If you’re using a blender, add 1 tablespoon of oil at a time and pulse 5 to 10 times to incorporate. Nutritional Information (Per Serving): Calories 202; Total Fat 17g; Sodium: 180mg; Carbohydrates: 8g; Fiber 4g; Protein 7g


This recipe was submitted by the non-profit organization, Sharsheret, The Jewish Breast Cancer and Ovarian Cancer Community. If you or someone you love has been impacted by breast or ovarian cancer, or has elevated genetic risk, contact Sharsheret for free support and resources. For more information, visit sharsheret.org or call (866) 474-2774.







s a sensitive soul who deeply feels every suffering I ever learn about, I could never choose just one social issue to fully commit myself to. It was always “all the issues!” that tore at my heart. From a young age, I wanted to know how to fix everything from human prejudice to animal cruelty to littering. When I first heard the concept of tikkun olam — repair the world — I thought, “Yes, that’s it! That’s what I want to do!” But how? THE CALL OF HUMANE EDUCATION

In my early thirties, after stints in print journalism and academia, I discovered the field of humane education — teaching how to solve problems for people, animals, and the planet. And I felt the same feeling: “Yes, that’s it!” It was all connected and it all mattered to me. I wanted to work in that intersection. As when I first heard that ancient Jewish call to repair the world, humane education felt like a calling for me, too. I trained with The Institute for Humane Education and worked for a time as a humane educator in elementary schools for the non-profit, HEART. But writing has always been my core strength and most effective means of reaching others. Plus, I have chronic illness that made it tough to travel from school to school. So, in 2017, I left the classroom and threw myself completely into teaching humane education (and repairing the world) through my writing. CHILDREN’S BOOKS AS TEACHING TOOLS

From using nonfiction picture books in elementary schools and in my own home, I knew that they are amazing teaching tools. In 20


the 2000s, this genre of children’s literature began to undergo a renaissance — evolving from the dry, encyclopedic nonfiction books many of us grew up with to creative, powerful, gorgeous books that move children (and their grownups) emotionally with true stories and compelling facts. As a humane educator, I’d created a tradition with students where, at the end of each lesson, I would read them one of these new-generation nonfiction books — beautiful stories about famous people like Jane Goodall, Gandhi, and MLK, as well as non-famous folks repairing the world in their own ways. In humane education, we talk about raising “solutionaries,” so I called this Solutionary Story Time. With every book, the kids excitedly discussed what these extraordinary and ordinary people did, how they did it, and how we might do similar things. Their enthusiasm helped me decide to write my own Solutionary Stories — nonfiction picture books about helping people, animals, and the planet. MULTIPLE TOPICS, SAME HEART

Writing children’s books isn’t as simple as most people think. It’s a craft that takes training and practice. And so, as I’d done with journalism, academic writing, and essay writing before, I dove into learning the craft. I took workshops, attended conferences, and wrote many, many drafts. Eventually, I landed my first literary agent and trade publisher, and today I have a whole collection of award-winning Solutionary Stories — nonfiction picture books that I love to share with kids. My first book, which came out in 2019, was about two of my



longtime favorite solutionaries, Anne Frank and Miep Gies (the woman who hid the Frank family and rescued Anne’s diary). I’d had the honor of meeting Miep while writing a newspaper story on her visit with schoolchildren near Washington, D.C. She embodied the solutionary spirit, as did Anne Frank (whose diary I read countless times as a girl), so it was the perfect book for me to begin with. Since then, I’ve written nonfiction picture books about other solutionaries helping people — such as Helen Keller and, coming next year, Senator Sarah McBride — as well as early readers about famous solutionaries including John Lewis and Nelson Mandela. My other books highlight solutionaries for animals and the planet — such as folks building wildlife crossings (including one inspired by the famous “Hollywood cougar” in Los Angeles), tracking monarch butterflies, and cleaning up the oceans. Every book has back matter that includes action steps kids can take to help, and I offer free, downloadable teaching guides with more activities. For parents and educators, I also curate a categorized collection of other authors’ Solutionary Stories, so they can find many books to do their own Solutionary Story Times. (All linked on my website.) If someone were to look at my collection of books in the library, the theme tying them together might not be immediately obvious. (Anne Frank and a Hollywood cougar?) The topics spread across various social and environmental issues. But when I explain that they’re all about solutionaries helping people, animals, and the planet — or, for my Jewish readers, about tikkun olam — I often get that familiar nod of recognition: “Yes, that’s it!”


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hen Max Levitt was a student at Syracuse University, he had a unique window into the world of sports equipment. As equipment manager for the school’s football team, he regularly witnessed perfectly good cleats, footballs and other gear being thrown into the dumpster. “My first job was to prep the locker room and go through the inventory,” he said. “I had to throw away 300 useable footballs.” Levitt recalled being heartbroken at the sight of usable equipment being thrown away, saying “it really bothered me. It stuck in my head.” He learned that university sports departments negotiate contracts with partner companies that include receiving the newest gear each year. And so, he had an idea — collecting and redistributing sports equipment to those who don’t have the proper equipment. There is a particular need for sports equipment, as the gap in accessing sports programs and equipment for people without financial resources has widened in recent years. This wasn’t the case when Levitt, 33, was growing up in the 1980s. “Back then, everyone participated in youth sports through the public recreation department. We had coaches and equipment, and sampled various sports. “But over the last few decades,” he explained, “we have seen the privatization of sports and a ‘pay to play’ model. Some people pay as much as $30,000 or $40,000 a year for off-season training, pitching coaches and more.” This has impacted public sports programs, said Levitt. “Public recreation is now more about facility management. For lowincome families, there is no place to go for youth sports. As a result, participation rates for sports have gone down in low-income 22


communities.” Levitt said he was always a big sports fan and participant growing up. “I spent every second of my free time playing sports, organized or not organized — at the JCC [Jewish Community Center] and at my eight years at Camp Modin in Maine. Howard Salzberg, director of Camp Modin, remembers Levitt as a camper many years ago: “I remember him as a mature, kind kid who was athletic and loved to do all the activities, particularly sports.” Levitt emphasized that playing sports has benefits beyond the physical. “Sports shaped me as a person,” he said. It also provided structure, and helped him and his friends stay out of trouble in those hours when school was out and parents were still at work, he added. “As a kid with lots of energy and not always the best behaved, sports served as an important outlet.” He considered himself and his friends to be fortunate; they grew up in relative affluence with good role models. He also grew up in a home where Jewish values were emphasized. “Tikkun olam [‘social justice’] was woven in. We always had donation bags in our house growing up — for clothes, books and furniture — but nothing for sports equipment.” As he began learning of the lack of equipment of low participation rates in sports for children of lower-income families — and as he looked around his own home and the home of friends, and realized how much unused sports equipment was sitting in closets, garages and attics — a light bulb went off. “We have food banks where people can get the food they need. It is a simple model. But there is nothing like this for sports,” he observed. And so, in 2013, Levitt started “Leveling the Playing Field” in




Washington, D.C. The program has expanded to Baltimore and Philadelphia with collection boxes in various locations, including sports fields, and bar and bat mitzvah venues. Since then, he has regularly heard from people and organizations looking to bring the program to their cities. The program is funded through support from private donors, foundations and corporations. “We focus on the equipment barrier,” he stressed. In fact, “Leveling the Playing Field” may be in a unique position to address certain societal issues that have become more apparent during these past two years of the coronavirus pandemic. “Coming out of the pandemic, we have seen the significant impact on mental health, behavior and social/emotional learning. They were always there, but these problems have been exacerbated, especially in lower socio-economic communities,” explained Levitt. “Private sports programs have quickly returned, but not for people in these communities.” Levitt said his organization is in a position to help children who were “set back during the pandemic.” Reflecting on his own experience growing up, he noted: “We have to get these young kids playing sports; they have the energy. The more free and unstructured time they have … that is no good.” “I like to say that we are a food bank for sports equipment,” he said, noting that they don’t provide gear for individuals, but rather to entire programs, which receive equipment for free. “We have shelves full of gear in our warehouses.” The program also benefits kids from more affluent homes, who have the opportunity to donate equipment and volunteer for the organization. He said parents have told him their children benefit from both giving and receiving. Thirteen-year-old Jeremy Dwoskin of Frederick, Md., who celebrated his bar mitzvah in March, knows the benefits firsthand. He said he chose the program for his bar mitzvah project because he wanted to help others get the chance to play sports, just as he has always been able to. “That’s because sports are my passion; I can’t imagine my life without sports,” he said. “My goal is for everyone to get the opportunity to have fun while playing sports, even if their families can’t afford it.” He reported that his experience with the program was great. “After we began advertising on social media, it only took a day for people to start donating equipment. Although many people donated to the cause, I soon realized that it really only takes one person to make a huge difference. I collected so many pieces of equipment for just about every sport, as well as a check donation.” “I am so glad I am able to help make a difference,” said Dwoskin. “I hope all of these donations help others get on the field, court, rink, court, etc., and help others get the chance they deserve.”

This month, La Jolla Playhouse is launching the world premiere of the searing new play Here There Are Blueberries, written by Tony Award nominee Moisés Kaufman (Playhouse’s 33 Variations) and Amanda Gronich, conceived and directed by Moisés Kaufman. Co-produced with Tectonic Theater Project, the production runs through August 21. When an album of never-before-seen World War II-era photographs arrives at the desk of United States Holocaust Memorial Museum archivist Rebecca Erbelding, she and her team of historians begin to unravel the shocking story behind the images. The album soon makes headlines around the world. In Germany, a businessman sees the album online and recognizes his own grandfather in the photos. He begins a journey of discovery that will take him into the lives of other Nazi descendants — in a reckoning of his family’s past and his country’s history. Here There Are Blueberries tells the story of these photographs, and what they reveal about the Holocaust and our own humanity. “We are honored to welcome back Moisés, Amanda and Tectonic Theater Project for this searing new work that centers on a recentlydiscovered photo album from Auschwitz and the shocking aspects of the human psyche it exposes,” said Christopher Ashley, the Rich Family Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse. In partnership with Tectonic Theater Project and the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE), the Playhouse will present a series of free audience talkbacks on the themes and issues in Here There Are Blueberries: August 2: Doctors at Auschwitz: Joseph Mengele and the Role of Medicine in Nazi Germany; August 3: The Next Generation: How do we deal with the sins of our fathers, both literally and metaphorically?; August 16: Ethics in Nazi Germany: Himmler’s Posen Speech; August 17: There were Blueberries: the Transformation of Norms and Complicity as the New Normal; August 18: Nazi Crimes and the Complicity of Business Leaders and Professionals. For more information and tickets, visit lajollaplayhouse.org. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM



The Remarkable Mr. Holmes BY DEBORAH VIETOR

Looking for a rollicking good time, accompanied by laughter, mystery, music and singing? The Remarkable Mr. Holmes provides a performance Sir Arthur Conan Boyle himself would be proud of as the production pays a loving homage to him. Travel back to London, 1890s and meet Sherlock Homes as you have never known him, along with his new assistant. Sleuthing his way into your sense of curiosity, he may just teach us there is more to Holmes than meets the eye. Holmes demonstrates not only his mastery of solving crimes, but those involving a dynamic, fast paced performance with song. The musical is written by North Coast Rep Artistic Director David Ellenstein and playwright Omri Schein, who also provides lyrics, with music by Daniel Lincoln. This world-premiere musical offers a unique, creative perspective for theatre-lovers and Sherlock buffs alike. Ellenstein wanted to create an intriguing, yet fun play, exploiting Holmes idiosyncratic nature, and some of his weird quirks. A world premiere, this is the third Holmes production Ellenstein has directed. 24


Holmes is brilliantly performed by Bart Shatto who arrives at the North Coast Rep. with an impressive resume. Shining in the pivotal role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables on Broadway. Shatto also performed in CATS, both on national tours. He has performed at some of the most acclaimed regional theaters in the country. His credits include The Civil War, (Tony- nominated Best Musical and Helen Hayes Nomination for Best Musical). Additional theatre credits include both Tony-nominated War Paint, (starring Patti Lupone), and Hands on a Hardbody. Shatto also performed in Dracula: The Musical. Shatto is acclaimed as a versatile actor/singer, whose skills have garnered him national commercial spots, (ESPN, Omcast, Minolta, and Con Air.) Television credits also include: Ghost Stories, Guiding Light, Murphy Brown, Chicago Med and Chicago Fire. Appearances on and leads in short films, include Finding Father and Opening Fright. He has performed at distinguished venues, including Carnegie Hall and the National Theatre in Washington D.C. for President George Bush. Shatto also performed on tour with the Gold/Platinum selling rock-symphonic band, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. His vocals can be heard on albums including the original Children of Eden, (original cast) and several Trans-Siberian Orchestra soundtracks. Additional credits are too numerous to mention. He has been an Equity actor for 30 years. Asked what he has learned in life which has contributed to becoming a better actor, Shatto replied that his desire is to make people feel loved. “It is all about how you make others feel, a curiosity, love for people, and compassion for humanity,” he said. “Work itself makes me the most joyous and happiest.” Holmes is reminiscent of the antics created and presented by Mel Brooks, according to Shatto. (Think of A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to The Forum.) So much of Brooks’ work has been referred to as outrageous and irreverent, synonymous with the play, bursting with laughter with a combination of mayhem and mystery. Asked what advice he would give to those interested in an acting career, Shatto gave some great insight. “Have a curiosity about life and human beings, do regional theatre, audition for everything, visit museums, attend plays, learn how to sing and take a dance class.” His advice to those in the profession is to “recognize your greatness.” Shatto teaches a Master Class called “Creating a Dynamic Character


“It is all about how you make others feel, a curiosity, love for people, and compassion for humanity,” Shatto said of his approach to acting in Holmes. Through Song.” This explores an in-depth approach to making a song vibrant, alive and truthful through character development within music and lyrics. His reviews offer accolades and support for a unique approach, marrying song and character into an honest and passionate journey, inspiring students to “live truthfully in the song” and most importantly in the moment.” Practicing Transcendental meditation for years, he applies this in his classes to help quell anxiety. Students rave about his class, saying, ”This class was an eye opener. I really felt the character that each person was creating in their song came to life like it hadn’t before.” Shatto’s website is: bartshatto.com He compares the performance of Holmes to be somewhat consistent with the irascible Hugh Lorie, who starred in the television series House. He likened “the emblematic power of intelligence and ability to be not too close,” consistent with someone on the autistic spectrum like Vincent D’Onofrio in Law and Order. Shatto mentioned his great affinity for the cast as they collaborate well together to create this hilarious performance, with a collective appreciation for and understanding of comedy, believing his job is to

tell the story and be authentic. Describing Holmes complex character, Shatto shared the focus on Holmes interior life: What is he afraid of? We will also learn, what Holmes does while not solving a multitude of mind-boggling crimes, what he is thinking while not sleuthing, presenting a glimpse of situations such as what he does in his office. We discussed how Holmes takes something minute and turns it into something larger, forming the big picture to solve cases. “A master of deduction and master of disguise.” “This is going to be an evening of sheer fun and joy, and a walloping good ride, so be prepared to laugh,” he said. During these most challenging of times, many of us are so looking forward to an afternoon or evening of live entertainment at its finest. The Remarkable Mr. Holmes promises depth, mystery, humor, engagement, and brilliant entertainment through song. What more could we ask for? THE REMARKABLE MR. HOLMES HAS BEEN EXTENDED BY POPULAR DEMAND THROUGH AUGUST 28, 2022 AT THE NORTH COAST REPERTORY THEATRE, 987 LOMAS SANTA FE, SUITE D IN SOLANA BEACH. CONTACT THE BOX OFFICE AT (858) 481-1055, OR BOXOFFICE@NORTHCOASTREP.ORG.




San Diego Opera Gala

The Aherns: Brendan, Ashley, Kevin, Brianna, Sherry and Sara Baldwin


an Diego Opera’s Annual Gala “A Night to Dream” was held at The Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines. Chaired by Rebecca and Mitch Mitchell, and honoring the contributions to the community by Sherry and Kevin Ahern, the event featured the exceptional vocal talents of Grammy-award winning baritone Reginald Smith Jr. who made a memorable San Diego Opera debut in February 2022 as Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte. Local opera stars Tasha Koontz and Ted Pickell also delighted guests with performances throughout the evening which will also include a live auction and paddle raise with proceeds to support San Diego Opera programming. Each year, San Diego Opera identifies honorees who exhibit leadership, positively affect people’s lives, and demonstrate a deep 26 26 L’CHAIM L’CHAIMSAN SANDIEGO DIEGOMAGAZINE MAGAZINE• •AUGUST AUGUST2022 2022

commitment to fulfilling our mission - to deliver exceptional vocal performances and exciting, accessible programs to diverse audiences, focusing on community engagement and the transformative power of live performance. Sherry and Kevin Ahern embody these traits and San Diego Opera is profoundly grateful for their generosity and dedication. Sherry and Kevin have been champions of San Diego Opera for over ten years. As dedicated philanthropists and respected leaders, they have invested their time into giving back to the community they love.


Star-studded Luncheon Honoring Fanny Krasner Lebovits


adassah San Diego is presenting a Star-Studded Luncheon on September 11, 2022. Members and friends will gather from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Hilton San Diego Mission Valley to thank Hadassah’s annual givers and major donors and to honor long-time Hadassah member Fanny Krasner Lebovits on the occasion of her 100th birthday and on her lifetime of dedication, support, and love for Hadassah, Israel, and the Jewish people. Krasner Lebovits is a Holocaust survivor, nurse, Zionist, wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She is one of the fewer than 1.25 percent of Latvian Jews remaining after the Holocaust, managing to survive the Libau ghetto and five concentration and work camps. Krasner Lebovits moved to the United States in 1979, attended



a Hadassah meeting, and was hooked. As she wrote in her book, Memories, Miracles & Meaning, Insights of a Holocaust Survivor, when she thinks of Hadassah she thinks of healing, teaching, building, training, planning, and planting. She says it is a respected organization that is representative of Jewish women and values around the world. Not only is Hadassah the largest Jewish women’s organization in the United States, but it creates and offers a unique structure of social services that continues to create realities out of dreams. Krasner Lebovits served as president of the Pacific Southwest Region of Hadassah in 1989 and has continued to serve. It is especially significant that Krasner Lebovits is being honored at Hadassah San Diego’s luncheon that recognizes its annual givers and major donors, because as annual giving chair she has spearheaded annual giving in San Diego for many years. As a member of the Hadassah San Diego board, Krasner Lebovits can still be seen actively participating every month in the board’s zoom meetings. Krasner Lebovits has lived by the belief that hate is never good, and love is never bad. Hadassah, the Woman’s Zionist Organization of America, has nearly 300,000 members and supporters in the United States. Hadassah is committed to educating women about health issues and advocates for important issues such as gender equity in medical research, infertility, and combating antisemitism. Over its 110-year history, Hadassah women have raised the funds to grow Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) from a small medical delegation into two world-renowned academic research hospitals in Jerusalem with a diverse staff. HMO is the most advanced medical center in the Middle East, treating more than 1 million patients annually from Israel and around the world, regardless of race, religion, or nationality. Israel’s Health Ministry declared HMO’s hospitals as the best major and small hospitals in the country in 2021. HADASSAH SAN DIEGO IS CREATING A TRIBUTE BOOK TO HONOR KRASNER LEBOVITS. IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN A TRIBUTE BOOK AD, A DONATION, OR REGISTERING FOR THE EVENT, YOU CAN REACH THE HADASSAH OFFICE AT 858-2683200. DONATIONS WILL GO TOWARD HADASSAH HOSPITAL PROJECTS, EXPANSION, RESEARCH, AND PATIENT CARE.


It's Never Too Late to

Connect to the Jewish Homeland BY CAMI FUSSEY


he enduring promise of the land of Israel is that there will always be a home for the Jewish people. Eretz Yisrael will welcome you whenever you find your way to her - as Al Schneider has discovered for himself. Now in his 80s, Schneider has just returned from his very first trip to Israel, having been forever impacted by things he did not expect to see - lush greenery, modern buildings and technology, and camaraderie between peoples. “For most of my life I really didn’t identify as a Jew,” he explained. “I didn’t have Jewish friends, I didn’t marry Jewish women, I didn’t date Jewish women.” His career with Xerox led him to Oregon, and he spent 40 years of his life there without connection to the Jewish community, not knowing a single Jewish person. “It just wasn’t anything I thought about,” he said. Whenever Israel was brought up, he felt a connection, but not a driving interest. After his wife passed in 2014, Schneider found himself sitting in his beautiful home alone with his dog, missing direction, when his sister, Jacqui Schneider now the incoming President of Jewish National Fund-USA San Diego - suggested he move nearer to her in San Diego, California. Now that he lives in San Diego, Al says, “I don’t know anyone that isn’t Jewish.” Jacqui’s involvement in Jewish National Fund-USA has grown in recent years and she invited her brother to her home to watch a virtual tour of Israel during the pandemic. “Until then,” Al continues, “I had always thought of Israel as desert, camels - you know, the old city was (all there was to) Jerusalem to me, I had no idea that Jerusalem was this large city - a semi-modern city.” After seeing the tour, he

was compelled to become more personally involved with the work of Jewish National Fund-USA, donating first to a bomb shelter beautification project. He was pleased to see his donation resulted in a cheerful mural of a surfer and sea life on the wall of the shelter, bringing joy to children who could be traumatized by having to enter the shelter regularly for their safety. After initial attempts to travel were waylaid by COVID-19, their party connected with a local guide named Avi Gal - a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and a 35-year tour guide - and began a 12-day adventure that took them all over the country. Gal was “indispensable,” praises Al, crediting Gal’s skill and encyclopedic knowledge of Israel with much of the success of the trip. Once they arrived, Israel exceeded Al’s expectations. “I was blown away by the modernness of cities, buildings - green in places that shouldn’t be green,” he expressed. Since his trip to Israel, Al has deepened his personal connection with Special in Uniform, a Jewish National Fund-USA affiliate that “integrates young adults with disabilities into the IDF and, in turn, into Israeli society.” He has been so inspired by their work, and their determination that everyone belongs and everyone has a place, that he set up an annuity to help fund Special in Uniform for the remainder of his life. Although he has been an active donor to the organization for more than a year, it was seeing their work in person that made all the difference. What Al finds most moving is the resiliency of Israel and her people, and how much world-class technology has been born in a little over 70 years, despite constant adversity and doubt from observers and other nations. “You’ve tried to kill us over the years,” he explained. “You’ve driven us out of our country. You wouldn’t let us in your countries. In every way possible you tried to hold us down and hold us back - and now we have a country of our own and we are going to make it the most technologically advanced society on Earth.” He saw people living in bomb shelters, but still they live their lives in defiance of circumstance. He found community with Arab people, sharing meals and co-existing together more than he expected. “If you haven’t been (to Israel), or if it’s been years and years since you’ve been there, you’ll be blown away by what you see,” he insisted. “It’s not anything like even ten years ago. We saw things that didn’t exist two years ago.” Most of all, what Al is showing us is that the time to visit Israel is now, no matter your age. It’s never too late to come home. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM


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