SPIRITUALITY IN MUSIC
CHERI WEISS BRINGS HARMONY TO JEWISH SAN DIEGO
PLUS Rabbi of the Rainforest The Wine and Vine
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
Wishing you a Shana Tova!
15644 Pomerado Rd, Ste. 104 Poway, CA 92064 WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
September 2019 • www.lchaimmagazine.com
COVER STORY Cheri Weiss Brings Harmony to Jewish San Diego................................................................................
1000 WORDS What it's Like to be the Rabbi of the Rainforest............................................................................
FOOD Wine and Vines: The Vibrant, Drinkable Israeli Culture the Diaspora Needs..................
FEATURES Celebrate "A Night of Heroes" with FIDF...........................................................................................
20 22 24 28 33
New Spiritual Leader at Temple Etz Rimon..................................................................................... Eleanor Roosevelt's Efforts to Save Jewish Refugees from the Holocaust............... The Swimming Pool Helps Israel's Disability Community Learn to Walk....................... ADL...........................................................................................................................................................................
COMMUNITY 5 Minute Play Festival's 2nd place winner: A Gutte Nashuma...........................................
COLUMNS Mazel and Mishagoss................................................................................................................................... Of the Book.........................................................................................................................................................
PUBLISHERS Diane Benaroya & Laurie Miller
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
ART DEPARTMENT email@example.com LISTINGS & CALENDAR: firstname.lastname@example.org CIRCULATION & SUBSCRIPTIONS email@example.com
SUBSCRIBE ONLINE: www.lchaimmagazine.com/shop
Diane Benaroya (firstname.lastname@example.org), Sharon Buchsbaum (email@example.com)
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Laurie Miller
ADVERTISING & SALES
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO, LLC (858) 776-0550 San Diego, CA 92127
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Alanna Maya
Daniel Bortz, Donald H. Harrison, Steve Horn, Stephanie Lewis, Salomon Maya, Terra Paley, Mimi Pollack, Rachel Stern, Eva Trieger, Deborah Vietor, Chana Jenny Weisberg
WINE AND VINE
ON THE COVER: (L-R) Cheri and Dan Weiss Photo by Dana Greene Photography Copyright ©2019 L’Chaim San Diego LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator” to: firstname.lastname@example.org Published in San Diego, CA • www.lchaimmagazine.com
Let us help you move forward. Making critically important family decisions in the aftermath of emotional life changes can be extremely difficult. Our dedicated family law attorneys can help you navigate the complex divorce process with clarity.
Divorce, high conflict child custody, alternative dispute resolution, and more.
Call 858-720-8250 or visit frfamilylaw.com for more information. Legal Experts with Humanity
Wealth Management Investments Taxes Financial Planning
WEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;RE HIRING Contact us for a free portfolio review.
Fill your pockets with GREEN!
While helping the community get their word out.
WANTED: SALES EXECUTIVES
Email email@example.com with your resume and ideas. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
HUMOR | BY STEPHANIE LEWIS
& mishagoss Necessity is the (Jewish!) Mother of Invention
ichael Lindell is rich and famous for “inventing” My Pillow, even though we all have soft rectangular objects on our beds known as Regular Pillows. But tweaking it slightly, and putting the word “My” in front of his product was ingenious. If he achieved all that merely by using a tiny possessive pronoun, what can I accomplish by adding a wonderful adjective that embodies an entire race, religion, culture, tradition, food, — plus tons of guilt?” Tada! This New Years, I’m introducing my line of “My Jewish” inventions: MY JEWISH PILLOW : Make no mistake, this is no copycat because “My Jewish Pillow” is much fancier! For instance, never worry about bringing “My Jewish Pillow” to recline at the table on Passover, because it’s stuffed with 100% salmon feathers so it’s Pareve. On Yom Kippur, you’ll find “My Jewish Pillow” to be excruciatingly uncomfortable to accommodate your personal Night of Affliction. Stubborn insomnia? Pushing the “Bubbe Button” on the left side of the pillow turns on a speaker that generates a recording of “My Jewish Grandma” narrating her last five doctor’s appointments. Alternatively, flipping the “Sermon Switch” on the right plays three of the longest speeches any Rabbi has ever given in the history of the High Holy Days. Either way, rest assured…sleep will be your only escape. (Order now and receive your bonus Talking Guilt Quilt — Batteries not included.)
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
MY JEWISH BATTERIES: You saw this coming, yes? But I’m tweaking the name on the package from Duracell to DuraKvell to justify it. MY JEWISH FIT-BIT: This is gonna fly off the shelves! Especially my version for circumcisions, which I’m calling “Brit-FitBit.” It will cut out (no pun intended) the stress of your special event by calculating the weight and length of the baby boy before and after the ceremony. It also sends notifications alerting you how many miles away the Mohel is from your home, digital reminders to whomever is holding the baby on the ceremonial pillow to take deep calming breaths, and calculates how much rugulah to purchase in relation to the guests’ appetites, considering what they’ve witnessed. MY JEWISH BREAD: Yes it’s still just Challah, but I’m marketing it as baked with “My Jewish Flour” and “My Jewish Yeast.” When ordered with “My Jewish Tablecloth” you get something you can label, “My Jewish Dining Room.” MY JEWISH HAMMER: Before you ask, “How much use could there be for a hammer in a Jewish home?” answer me this. How do you put up your ketubahs, your mezuzahs, and your sukkahs? (Aha! Nailed it, didn’t I?) Note to self: Because ‘Hammer’ comes from the root word ‘Ham,’ to be on the safe side think about calling this “My Jewish Slammer.”
MY JEWISH SOCKS: Sorry, I keep requesting this typo be corrected. There are no Jewish Socks, silly. That’s supposed to say “Sacks.” Specially insulated To-Go bags a pushy Jewish hostess sends all the delicious brisket dinner leftovers in on Rosh Hashana. MY JEWISH STAIRMASTER: This sophisticated piece of workout equipment automatically posts impressive daily updates on Facebook regardless of you using it. MY JEWISH SCALE: Numbers Shnumbers. “My Jewish Scale” gives feedback in positive, polite phrases. Step on it and look down to see, “What are you, the poor skinny tailor from Fiddler?” Or, “I want that you should fress!” Or “Your pulkes are disappearing, do me a favor and stop eating like a bird.” MY JEWISH DOCTOR: Alright, so this isn’t exactly an invention per se, but it’s crucial to choose the right physician so at your next check-up he’ll accept a printout from “My Jewish Stairmaster,” and he’ll weigh you on “My Jewish Scale,” giving you a clean bill of health and granting you permission to attend a Break-The-Fast dinner in “My Jewish Dining Room” where I’ll send you home with all the leftovers stuffed inside – wait for it…"My Jewish Sock." STEPHANIE D. LEWIS APPEARS IN THE COMEDY SECTION OF THE HUFFINGTON POST AND AT ONCEUPONYOURPRIME.COM
“Pray for the love of Jerusalem. Those who love her will find serenity.” May we be counted among those who pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and may serenity embrace Israel and all her people.
L’Shana Tova! Warmest Wishes for a Happy, Healthy & Peaceful New Year. Sandy Roseman, Richard Prager and Families, and the Law Offices of Charles S. Roseman and Associates Providing quality legal representation throughout California for over 48 years
- Psalm 122:6
• Personal Injury Law • Product Liability Law • Professional Malpractice Law • ADA/Personal Injury Law • Civil Rights Law • Elder Abuse Law • Insurance Law • Wrongful Termination Law • Discrimination Law
1761 Hotel Circle S., Ste. 250 · San Diego, CA 92108
• Business/Contract Law
P: (619) 544-1500 F: (619)239-6411
TORAH l BY RABBI DANIEL BORTZ
the book A Change in the Air “Though summer still lingered and the day was bright and sunny, there was a change in the air. One smelled already the Elul-scent; a teshuvah wind was blowing. Everyone grew more serious, more thoughtful… All awaited the call of the shofar, the first blast that would announce the opening of the gates of the month of mercy.” So said Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe, when describing the energy inherent in the last Hebrew month of the year, Elul (This year September 1 to 28). Let’s look deeper at the symbolism of air to describe the spiritual reflection of the growth of this month as we prepare for the high holidays. A young boy was sitting in class, when his teacher took out a few pictures depicting the weather. The first picture showed a sunny day. “What’s the weather in this picture?” “Sunny!”, everyone yelled. But how did they know? They knew because they saw a sun and its rays. Next came a picture depicting a rainy day. The children all guessed correctly again, pointing to the dark clouds and numerous raindrops. Then came the third picture. “What’s the weather here?” “It’s windy!” 8
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
But how could they possibly have known? There’s no wind to point to! It’s simply because they could see the effects of the wind: The leaves flying off the tree and the person and kite bending backward. Love is the same way. It can’t be empirically seen and measured, weighed or heard. But its impact on all of us is clear. Radio waves are everywhere. Do we see them? Know, but bring a radio into your room, turn it on, and you’ll hear their existence. The waves just need a fitting vessel to express them properly. The soul and its Divine source can’t be seen with our eyes or heard with our ears. But their effects and impact are apparent. Like radio waves, the soul just needs a body to become a proper means of expressing itself; to carry out its mission on earth. If we look at the Hebrew words for wind and rain, we discover something fascinating. Wind in Hebrew is Ruach, which is also used for soul/spirit (Spirituality in Hebrew is Ruchaniyut). Rain is Geshem and physicality is Gashmiut (Rain, like all things physical, is seen). We can’t see or touch G-d, but through noticing the Divine providence in our lives — the guided journeys we have taken - we can notice His impact. We sense the Divine when we see a Del Mar sunset or experience the birth of a child. We can’t see our
souls, but when we feel a moment of deep inspiration, are moved by a song or have a desire for transcendence, greater meaning and purpose, that’s the effects of the wind of our souls. In a world where the loudest, wildest and most negative grabs our attention, this month is said to be an auspicious time to attune our minds and hearts to the quiet truth of the spirit, the subtle beauty of this world and ourselves we often overlook. Author James Joyce said: “Shut your eyes and see.” Let’s turn off the phone and Netflix for a moment and connect with a deeper side to ourselves and our source. We may then merit the clarity and connection we’re looking for, as Elijah the Prophet described: “...A great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind was an earthquake , but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire. But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire — a still, small voice.” DANIEL BORTZ, THE MILLENNIAL RABBI, IS THE FOUNDER OF JTEEN AND SOUL X. CONNECT AT RABBIBORTZ.COM.
L’CHAIM | BY MENACHEM POSNER | JNS.org
When Rabbi Arieh Raichman was growing up in Texas, he never imagined that he would be koshering pots and pans in Brazil’s Amazon River. 10
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
PHOTO BY CHABAD.ORG/NEWS
WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE THE RABBI OF THE RAINFOREST
estled deep in the Amazon rainforest lies one of most isolated Jewish communities in the world. Located where the Solimões and Negro rivers join to form the Amazon — 1,500 kilometers upstream from the Atlantic and inaccessible by roads — Manaus is the capital of the resource-rich Brazilian state of Amazonas. Rabbi Arieh and Devorah Lea Raichman have co-directed the Chabad House in Manaus for nearly 10 years. A native Texan, Rabbi Raichman recently shared some of the challenges and joys of tending to Jewish life (and raising six children) in a city that sits smack-dab in the middle of a jungle. RABBI RAICHMAN, PLEASE DESCRIBE MANAUS. DOES IT REALLY FEEL DIFFERENT FROM ANY OTHER MAJOR CITY IN A DEVELOPING PART OF THE WORLD? RABBI RAICHMAN: In a sense, Manaus
is a typical Brazilian city with its fair share of slums, malls, high-rises and highways. But you constantly feel the jungle with every one of your senses. The heat and humidity here are oppressive, so people rarely walk outside if they can avoid it. It rains a lot out here in the tropics, and our Chabad House (which is also our home) flooded twice this past year. There are also jungle animals in the city. When driving, you sometimes need to wait for monkeys or snakes to cross the road; our previous Chabad House had jungle bats in the roof. You hear the Amazon sounds as well. There are lizards that make terrible screeching sounds at night, and the acai tree in front of our Chabad House attracts all kinds of chirpy parrots. It’s cute for tourists, but a nuisance that we locals just get used to. Being so distant makes our community very close-knit. People are here for the long-term; they value friendships and companionship.
HOW DOES THE ISOLATION AFFECT THINGS? RABBI RAICHMAN: For the most part,
it means that you sometimes need to learn patience. If, for example, your air-conditioner breaks, you may need to wait a few days for a spare part to be shipped (literally) from Belem or flown in from São Paulo. The lack of parts may also be the reason we have frequent power outages. When that happens, we have to check into a hotel for the night since it is nearly impossible to sleep without air-conditioning. At the same time, being so distant makes our community very close-knit. People are here for the long-term, and they value friendships and companionship. It also means that we need to be everything for everyone all the time. For example, there was someone hiking through the Amazon to raise money and awareness for cancer. He contracted malaria and then got arrested on the Amazon border with Colombia, where he was in dire need of help. His family reached out to us since we are the only Jewish resource for miles around. A visitor from Israel recently got into a car accident in Alter do Chão, which is more than an hour flight from here. The only Jewish person in the region happens to be an orthopedic surgeon, and we were able to connect them. WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF JEWS IN MANAUS? RABBI RAICHMAN: Jewish history
begins here with the 19th-century rubber boom, when the city bloomed quickly, as did business all along the Amazon. The opportunities attracted Jewish explorers and entrepreneurs, especially from Morocco. In 1910, Rabbi Shalom Muyal of Morocco, who had traveled up the Amazon to foster Jewish observance and perform circumcisions among the settlers, passed away from yellow fever and is buried in the Manaus municipal cemetery. He has come to be regarded as
"The community here is small, maybe 500 Jewish people in total. Many are the descendants of the original Moroccan traders." a saint by many in the local non-Jewish population, who make regular pilgrimages to his gravesite. His great-granddaughter, who now lives in France, recently came to visit. She shared that Rabbi Muyal had left behind a pregnant wife and three children when he came here on what he thought would be a temporary trip. His wife didn’t even find out that he had died until eight years after his passing. For 99 years between his death and our arrival, there had never been a rabbi living here. My wife is the first rebbetzin to ever live here. WHAT IS JEWISH LIFE LIKE TODAY? RABBI RAICHMAN: The community here
is small, maybe 500 Jewish people in total. Many are the descendants of the original Moroccan traders, but we also have others who came here for business opportunities or environmental purposes. My wife grew up in Belem, where her WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
parents direct the local Chabad center, so the mentality and customs are familiar to her. People are friendly here, so it did not take me long to become acclimated to the community as well. When we arrived, there were three families who kept kosher. Ten years later, there are 14 households who buy kosher meat and other supplies from the store we run out of our Chabad House. There are weekly classes for children and adults, and different themed and holiday activities throughout the year. There are also 15 men who bought their own tefillin and put them on every morning, which is amazing. Before we came, not one woman used the mikvah. Today, there are five. IS THERE A MIKVAH IN THE CHABAD HOUSE? CAN THEY JUST USE THE AMAZON RIVER? RABBI RAICHMAN: We do not yet have a
mikvah, which is obviously a challenge. The Amazon is not an option either. It’s muddy and polluted, and not safe for swimming. It’s also not halachically ideal because it is fed largely by rainwater and would therefore need to be confined to a stagnant pool to be kosher, which it is not. Until we get funds and a location for a mikvah, the women fly to São Paulo, which is normally the cheapest ticket but takes four hours each way, or to Belem, which is two hours each way. HOW ABOUT THE RAINFOREST? IN WHAT WAYS DOES THAT IMPACT JEWISH LIFE THERE? RABBI RAICHMAN: Manaus is deeply
connected to the river and the rainforest on many levels. On a communal level, this Tu B’Shevat (the “New Year for Trees”), 10 men from our community went out to a tower in middle of the rainforest, where we studied and prayed together as a minyan. There are very few places in the world where you can get that experience. One really feels the beauty and verdant vitality of Gd’s world. And, of course, the rainforest attracts many tourists, who we serve in many ways.
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
CAN YOU SHARE MORE ABOUT THE TOURISTS? RABBI RAICHMAN: Tourists come here
from all over the world, to hike in the rainforest, swim with the pink dolphins, meet the monkeys, and all that. We provide them with prayer services, kosher food and whatever else they may need. There are 20 cruises that come through every year during the rainy season, when the river is deep enough for the ships to pass safely. We greet Jewish tourists at the famous Amazon Theater, which was built with imported materials in 1896 during the rubber boom, and is considered one of the city’s most impressive landmarks. One year, we lit a giant Chanukah menorah there. Some tourists are surprised to see us, but others looked us up online and expect Chabad to be there for them, no matter where in the world. HOW HARD IT IS TO GET KOSHER FOOD? RABBI RAICHMAN: For the most part, it
takes patience and foresight since everything needs to be shipped down the Amazon from Belem in refrigerated containers. We often find ourselves without kosher milk. I tried a few times to supervise the milking at a local dairy farm and bring home some chalav Yisrael milk, but that proved impractical. The weather is so hot that by the time I brought the milk home and pasteurized it, most of it had spoiled. When things get tough, we’ve just learned to make do, and do without. ARE THERE CHILDREN IN THE COMMUNITY, AND WHAT DO YOU DO FOR THEM? RABBI RAICHMAN: There are several
dozen Jewish children here that we know of, besides our own six kids. During the winter and summer breaks, we hold a day camp for them, where they explore Judaism and have fun in a kosher environment. On Sundays, the kids gather for learning and an activity. We do a lot of one-on-one tutoring, helping kids learn Hebrew, learn about the holidays and everything to give them a Jewish education.
We take tremendous pride in watching the kids grow in their Judaism, and celebrate bar and bat mitzvah, and other milestones. We recently had the pleasure of officiating at a wedding of a local young man who married a Jewish woman in the United States, and is now involved with Chabad in New York. IT SOUNDS LIKE THINGS HAVE REALLY PROGRESSED. IS THIS WHAT YOU IMAGINED ALL ALONG? RABBI RAICHMAN: I have family in
Brazil, and when I was a teenager my family came to tour Manaus. I really enjoyed the Amazon and wanted to go back, but I never envisioned that I would eventually live here. Back then, I didn’t even know that there were Jews in the Amazon. When we got married, my wife and I settled in Brooklyn, N.Y., and we considered becoming Chabad emissaries in Manaus. We took a pilot trip in June, and it was really a disheartening experience. Our 2-month-old baby kept on fainting from the heat, and the people we met seemed to be pretty far from Judaism. One elderly man we met told us that he had made the mistake of living a nonJewish life and implored us to help make sure that the next generation does not make that same mistake. That affected us, but we were not ready to make the commitment. Then, a few months later, Rabbi Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg were murdered in their Chabad House in Mumbai. We were inspired by their dedication and their willingness to move to the other side of the world for a small, isolated community. We decided to try Manaus for a year with the understanding that we would leave if we could not hack it out. We came here and have never looked back. This past Shavuot, our sixth child was born right here in Manaus. This is home for us. The people are our people. Until Moshiach comes, this is our place in the world, and we wouldn’t trade it for anywhere else. Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Chabad.org/News.
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
WINE AND VINES: The Vibrant, Drinkable Israeli Culture the Diaspora Needs BY ELIANA RUDEE | JNS.org
hilanthropist and serial entrepreneur Adam Bellos cares deeply about the current direction of the Jewish future outside of Israel. As he describes what he sees as the Jewish community and philanthropic base “disappearing” in America, he maintains that traditional institutions are unsuccessfully engaging the Jewish people, especially the younger generation. “Donors are disappearing, the community is disappearing, and institutions can’t keep people in synagogue. That’s not what interests them,” he said. The only way to reignite the Jewish future outside of Israel, he maintains, is to bring the true Zionist spirit into the 21st century, connecting people around the world to the vibrancy and creativity of contemporary Israeli culture, which is non-religious and non-political, starting with its wine. Wine, he says, is “a modern expression of our ancient tradition and way of life. It is the deepest part of our culture that has lasted.” “Wine is everything; it is the root of our culture, prevalent throughout our entire history and a way to make a living. Planting vines is part of our culture,” he maintains. Bellos, raised in Cincinnati by an entrepreneur and an artist, is the fifthgeneration American from a line of “selfgenerated entrepreneurs.” Entrepreneurs begin with finding a problem and a need within society, and according to Bellos, there is a need for leaders who earnestly want to make a positive impact
in shaping the Jewish future — ones with a young, innovative and entrepreneurial mindset “that is embodied in the Israeli spirit of every man and woman.” Bellos’s initiative, Wine on the Vine, is a modern upgrade to the traditional model of planting trees in Israel, but “making it more your own.” A project of the Israel Innovation Fund, for $18, one can purchase a vine
A project of the Israel Innovation Fund, for $18, one can purchase a vine in Israel for any occasion. in Israel for any occasion, learn about the stories of different wineries and build a direct connection to a small business in Israel. So far, Wine on the Vine has planted 4,000 vines. Bellos hopes to travel to Jewish Community Centers throughout the country — running parties and events that reach young people, and “creating a new atmosphere that inspires the next generation.” “Every single thing comes back to wine,” he says. “Every single life-cycle event is
consecrated with wine: confirmations, consecrations, b’nei mitzvot, weddings and births.” “You cannot deny the connection of Jews to glass of wine,” he affirms. After ancient vineyards were destroyed and many replanted as olive groves, Bellos notes that the reintroduction of winegrowing to Israel “is so authentically Israeli.” The products speak for themselves, he says; “Israeli wines are exported and considered among the finest in the entire world.” For a people who are rooted in the land, much like the vines themselves, “Jews need to be taught that they can do what they want if they believe in themselves and who they are,” continues Bellos. And it’s not necessary to immigrate to Israel to engage in this transformation; it’s not about “selling Israel,” he says. This collective consciousness, the future of Jewish identity in America, is Israeli culture, maintains Bellos — and that change in mentality is “exactly what the Israel Innovation Fund is doing with their projects, creatively connecting to our vibrant and sexy country that is our history.” “If you want your great-grandchildren to be Jewish,” insists Bellos, “they need a connection with Israel. They need to know its language, art, film and history, and to appreciate the things that come from Israel and understand its cultural side.” And a bottle of Israeli wine,” he quips, “is easiest way to bring Israel to you.” WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
COVER STORY l BY DEBORAH VIETOR
antor Cheri Weiss is a visionary who has created an innovative and joyful spiritual dream infused with beautiful music for Judaism in San Diego. Weiss has identified a need and filled it with a congregation where people can practice “Independent” Judaism at San Diego Outreach Synagogue Weiss received her Cantorial ordination in 2018 from the Academy for Jewish Religion, (AJRCA), a postdenominational seminary in Los 16
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
Angeles, she will be ordained as a rabbi next May by AJRCA. “Over the past six years at AJRCA, I have been fortunate to have had fantastic teachers from a wide variety of Jewish backgrounds,” she said. A classically-trained vocalist with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in vocal performance from CSU Northridge, she taught voice lessons privately and at Palomar College for many years.
memory), urged me to go to Cantorial school. Initially, I was reluctant to pursue my long-held dream of becoming a cantor. With the encouragement of Gene, my daughter Emma; and husband Dan, I embarked on a five-year journey to the Cantorate. My family sacrificed both personally and financially as I traveled weekly to Los Angeles for classes.” Following her cantorial ordination last year, she considered working in a traditional synagogue, but her heart was not in it. She wanted the visionary freedom to develop and nurture a new congregation without a denominational label so that people of all backgrounds could discover and celebrate their own Jewish identity. This led her to found San Diego Outreach Synagogue in 2018. Here, she shares her motivation and passion regarding Judaism, inclusion, spirituality and music. L’CHAIM MAGAZINE: Do you collaborate with others in order to create your music? During performances, are you accompanied by additional musical talent? CANTOR WEISS: We are blessed to be accompanied by the Outreach Band, which includes keyboardist Diane Benaroya, bassist Rocky Smolin, and guitarist Dan Weiss, (my husband). We have had — and will continue to include — guest musicians, instrumentalists, and vocalists. I sincerely believe that music elevates prayer, which is why it is the foundation of our services and other events.
I HAVE ALWAYS HAD A PASSION FOR THE HEBREW LANGUAGE AND JEWISH MUSIC, PARTICULARLY LITURGICAL MUSIC.
L’CHAIM: Where is SDOS located and what is your focus regarding Judaism? Please describe “Independent” Judaism? CW: SDOS is not aligned with any specific denomination. This frees me to follow my vision of creating an inclusive community welcoming people of all religious backgrounds. In recent years, there has been an amazing growth in independent congregations, almost all of which rent space in other synagogues, schools, office parks, etc. Some meet weekly for Shabbat evening and/or morning services, while others meet once or twice a month for services and in other venues for other holidays and celebrations. I have explored many of these new congregations in Los Angeles, Palm Desert and San Diego and have been amazed at the energy and enthusiasm generated by these independent congregations. We hold our monthly musical Shabbat evening services and dinners at a rented venue in University City. We provide the location of our services once people sign up to attend via our website. This is primarily due to security concerns, even though we hire a private security firm. This also ensures there is enough food for the vegetarian potluck dinners following all of our services. These dinners are part of our conscious intention to create connections among our attendees, building a welcoming and inclusive spiritual
“I have always had a passion for the Hebrew language and Jewish music, particularly liturgical music. I lived in Israel for six years, am fluent in Hebrew, and served as the High Holy Days Cantor at synagogues in Providence, Houston and the San Jose area.” “In 2013, my fellow congregant and mentor, Gene Newman (of blessed
community. We draw more from contemporary composers connected to the Reform movement but not exclusively. Many of our songs are in English or a combination of English and Hebrew so that more people can join in. Our services are not meant to be performances; we want people to sing along, feeling the music and prayers in their own hearts. L’CHAIM: How do you believe the new synagogue and your inspiration will change Judaism in San Diego? CW: “The majority of people living in San Diego County who identify as Jews are unaffiliated with any synagogue. I have spoken to many people who want to engage in Judaism, but for one reason or another have not found a place to do so. Some feel uncomfortable in a traditional synagogue because they don’t understand the language or the prayers. Others are part of an interfaith family and have felt discouraged by their non-Jewish spouse’s lack of inclusion in traditional prayer services. Some had a negative experience in the past, while others just don’t want to pay thousands of dollars in dues. Yet, something in their souls is searching for meaning, for their spirits to be uplifted and to be – on some level – a part of a contemporary Jewish community, WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
A PRAYER SUNG TO A BEAUTIFUL MELODY TOUCHES MY SOUL IN A WAY THAT A PRAYER WITHOUT MUSIC DOES NOT.
especially in the current climate when our lives and our society seem to be spinning out of control. Since we are not interested in building our own physical structure, we keep our costs low. Our dedicated Board of Directors recently instituted a modest $180 per year membership model to help us pay for room rental, security services, insurance, food, etc. We are a 501c3 non-profit organization, donations in any amount are truly appreciated, and everyone is welcome regardless of their finances.” Asked how music engages and inspires the community, and in particular the Jewish community, Cantor Weiss, stated that to her, music elevates prayer. A prayer sung to a beautiful melody touches my soul in a way that a prayer without music does not. I believe that is true for most people. I am so excited to be leading our very first High Holy Days Services this year, in a lovely setting overlooking the golf course at Morgan Run Club & Resort in Rancho Santa Fe. We held our first Passover Seder there this year and had an amazing turnout of almost 100 people! Our High Holy Days Services will feature our Outreach Band as well as some incredible guest musicians, including violinist Alicia Previn and oboist/vocalist Emilia Lopez-Yañez. I want everyone to feel comfortable at our services and events regardless of their background. We welcome interfaith families, members of the LGBTQ community, and anyone who has ever felt marginalized by traditional denominational Judaism.” L’CHAIM: What are some of the SDOS upcoming events, and where can they be found? CW: Our events are listed on our website. We will be offering two classes in the Fall: “Introduction to Judaism” and “Jewish Mysticism and Philosophy.” Our “Coffee with the Cantor” program was recently created so people could meet in an informal setting to exchange ideas on such topics as energizing our Jewish lives and finding inspiration in Jewish traditions and practices. We have also launched community service initiatives in partnership with Jewish Family Services. It is really an honor and a blessing to be at the helm of a growing, independent Jewish congregation at a time when people are so open 18
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
to its infinite possibilities. L’CHAIM: Please tell us about your High Holy Days album and where our readers can find it. CW: In 2016, I raised $10,000 through crowdfunding, recorded and produced “Hineni: Music For the High Holy Days,” which features Diane on piano, (she also served as co-producer and created many of the arrangements), and includes several guest musicians. My motivation was to distribute “Hineni” at no cost to seniors and others who were unable to attend High Holy Day Services. We distributed over 1,000 CD’s nationally. “Hineni” is also provided to chaplains, rabbis, and others working in hospitals and care facilities and currently available in CD or download formats through the CD Baby website: www.store.cdbaby.com. To learn more about Cantor Weiss and the San Diego Outreach Synagogue, visit www.sdo-synagogue.org or call (858) 280-6331.
FEATURE STORY CELEBRATE "A NIGHT OF
Friends of the IDF will host the San Diego Annual Gala on November 9 bringing together Israeli soldiers, community leaders, and special guests
or Jews the world over, Israel remains central to their very identity, and inspires the hopes and dreams of the Jewish people. Every single day, the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) put their lives on the line to protect those hopes and dreams, and the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) is in turn devoted to helping these defenders of the Jewish homeland with educational and wellbeing support. The IDF’s central mission is: “To defend the existence, territorial integrity, and sovereignty of the state of Israel. To protect the inhabitants of Israel and to combat all forms of terrorism which threaten the daily life.” No organization has played such an important role in ensuring that IDF soldiers are cared for while carrying out their crucial tasks quite like FIDF, which since 1981 has been at the forefront of supporting Israel’s brave heroes as they protect the Jewish homeland. A NIGHT OF HEROES
This year, FIDF will salute and celebrate the heroes of the IDF and honor the heroes of the community at the San Diego Annual Gala on Nov. 9 at the Hilton Bayfront San Diego, and the Orange County Annual Gala on Nov. 10 at the Hotel Irvine. Local Holocaust survivors are expected to join FIDF supporters, as well as
PHOTO BY ALON DAVID PHOTOGRAPHY
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
U.S. AND IDF SOLDIERS AT THE 2017 FIDF SAN DIEGO ANNUAL GALA
several IDF soldiers. The FIDF San Diego Gala will honor Sydney and Denise Selati, key pillars of the community.
Participants of the FIDF LEGACY Program for children from bereaved families visit the White House in Washington D.C., July 2019. (Photo courtesy of FIDF)
A WORTHY MISSION
While the IDF protects Jews in Israel and around the world, FIDF changes the lives of IDF soldiers during, and after, their military service, through its mission: “To offer cultural, recreational, and social services programs and facilities that provide hope, purpose, and life changing support for the soldiers who protect Israel and Jews worldwide.” One of FIDF’s flagship programs is supporting Lone Soldiers – those who leave their native countries to join the IDF and serve with no immediate family in Israel. This program lies at the core of the powerful relationship between the United States and Israel. The growing Lone Soldier phenomenon is the most treasured link between Jewish communities in the United States and those in Israel. Each Lone Soldier has their own personal reason for joining the IDF, yet a strong love of Israel and a sense of duty are universal among both soldiers who volunteer to serve and the families they leave behind. San Diego is home to many families that have sons and daughters that served or are currently serving in the IDF as Lone Soldiers. FIDF’s support for Lone Soldiers includes housing, mentoring, a 24-hour call center, financial grants, flights to visit their families abroad, Shabbat meals, holiday gift packages, social gatherings, Fun Days, and much more. In 2018, FIDF provided guidance and support to over 3,500 Lone Soldiers, ensuring no soldier ever feels alone. Another leading program is the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship Program, which grants full, four-year academic scholarships to IDF combat veterans of modest means. For the 2018-2019 academic year, FIDF granted 4,580 IMPACT! scholarships to IDF combat veterans who could not afford the cost of higher education, sponsoring students at over 80 institutions throughout Israel. Through this program, FIDF helps to guarantee that Israel’s soldiers continue to grow as educated citizens and leaders. Each IMPACT! student volunteers in the community for a total of 130 hours each year of their studies, ensuring these veterans pay it forward by helping at 20 different nonprofit organizations. Since the inception of the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship Program in 2002, IMPACT! students have volunteered over 5.5 million hours of community service, making it the top scholarship program in providing community service in Israel. About 8,900 IMPACT! graduates have entered the Israeli workforce to date. The FIDF LEGACY program is another way FIDF offers support to the families of IDF heroes – by helping 5,790 widows, orphans, siblings, and other family members of fallen IDF soldiers through a variety of life-cycle celebrations, including trips to the U.S. for Bar/ Bat Mitzvah children, R&R weeks in Israel, recreational activities, financial support, and special family days. Investing in construction projects, FIDF builds, refurbishes, and maintains facilities for the well-being of IDF soldiers – including sports centers, culture halls, synagogues, memorial rooms, swimming
pools, and soldiers’ homes throughout Israel. FIDF’s newest series of projects includes 7 facilities serving the IDF’s elite units, at a total cost of $14.5 million. FIDF continues to build the wellbeing and education centers at the IDF Training Campus in the Negev, where FIDF funded the construction of 12 facilities at a total cost of $43 million. In addition, in 2018, FIDF helped 910 soldiers wounded in battle to rebuild their lives through financial aid, mentoring, recreational activities, employment assistance, and athletic prostheses for amputees injured during military service through the FIDF Strides Program; granted financial aid, basic appliances and furniture, food vouchers, special grants, and holiday gift vouchers to over 8,000 soldiers in-need; funded 39 weeks of crucial rest and recuperation to combat soldiers; and FIDF supporters formed unbreakable bonds with the soldiers of 10 brigades and 70 battalions, squadrons, and flotillas. “As they did 71 years ago, the brave men and women of the IDF still put their lives on the line every day to protect Israel and Jews around the world,” said FIDF Executive Director in San Diego, Orange County, and Arizona Oz Laniado. “This evening will give our community a chance to meet and personally thank the heroes who risk it all to defend the Jewish homeland, and our supporters will hear firsthand about the incredible impact FIDF’s well-being programs have on these soldiers’ lives.” For tickets to the San Diego Annual Gala on November 9, or visit www.fidf.org/sdgala19, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (858) 926-3210. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
FEATURE STORY l BY RACHEL STERN
Temple Etz Rimon's new Cantor, Caitlin Bromberg will lead the 100-member congregation
n August 9, 2019, Temple Etz Rimon of Carlsbad welcomed Cantor Caitlin Bromberg as she led her first Shabbat service as the congregation’s new spiritual leader. Cantor Bromberg succeeded Rabbi Karen Sherman, who, after a 10-year tenure leading the Reform congregation, left to take a position closer to her home in Orange County. During Shabbat worship, Cantor Bromberg led congregants in prayer and reflection, accompanied by cantorial soloist Mark Britowich, while congregants enjoyed the summer-season outdoor services. “Her love for the Shabbat service was palpable,” said Dorie Goldman, congregational president. She added that congregants were impressed with Cantor
Bromberg’s warmth, enthusiasm, and friendliness as well as her ability to connect Jewish tradition to current news events. Bromberg was born and raised as an Irish Catholic in an artistic San Diego family. Her mother worked at the Old Globe Theater as an educator and previously worked as an actress, so Cantor Bromberg is familiar with what it takes to perform in front of an audience. Her interest in Judaism also goes back to her childhood, and after studying theater and anthropology at UCSD, she moved to New York where she participated in the folk music scene and met Jewish folk musicians. Her friends introduced her to Jewish music and synagogue life; she met a female rabbi and was on her way to living a Jewish life and becoming a Jewish leader. Noting that “all religious expressions begin with acting out stories with music,” Cantor Bromberg made a connection between culture, religion and theater. At age 26, she converted to Judaism in a Reform synagogue and swiftly became a cantorial soloist; a few years later, she completed an Orthodox conversion. Further exploration of the denominations led her into Conservative, Reconstructionist and Jewish Renewal communities and leadership. She was accepted into Cantorial school at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she earned a master’s degree in sacred music and a diploma of hazzan, leading to cantorial ordination in 2000. Bromberg’s first job was at a Conservative shul in El Paso, Texas, where she served as both cantor and assistant rabbi. She then
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
went on to serve as cantor at temples in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Ridgewood, N.J., where she also served as a coordinator for an Introduction to Judaism course at the Union for Reform Judaism in New York and New Jersey. After returning to San Diego in 2017, Cantor Bromberg served as interim rabbi at Temple Ner Tamid in Poway before to taking her current position at Temple Etz Rimon, a welcoming and forward-thinking community of approximately 100 members. She is now pursuing rabbinic ordination at the Academy of Jewish Religion in Los Angeles. Cantor Bromberg described her desire to be a Jewish religious leader as akin to a little girl watching a ballet and exclaiming, “I wanna do that when I grow up!” And as somebody who followed and fulfilled her dream of becoming a cantor, she has great advice for other girls who would like to become cantors one day. “Learn to be a song leader at camp, get involved in your synagogue, and study,” she said. “Ask your local cantor to coach you, pursue vocal and musical education as well as advanced Jewish studies.” Cantor Bromberg admits that there are still gender challenges for women in this profession, and adds “Stay focused on what you are doing, do it well, and do not pay attention to other people’s attitudes.” For more information about Temple Etz Rimon, contact Dorie Goldman at etzrimonpresident@ gmail.com or visit templeetzrimon.org.
Live In Your Dream Home Serving ALL of San Diego County
DEDICATED TO YOUR REAL ESTATE NEEDS Villa La Jolla Condo. 1 bedroom/1 bath move in ready! Fabulous location. $218,888. Call or email for details.
Shana Tova Kris Gelbart
Cal DRE 01345809 858-395-0761 gelbartrealtygroup.com
Kris Gelbart Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage DRE #01345809 858-395-0761 • www.krisgelbartrealty.com
Therapeutic Skin Care
Permanent Hair Removal • Electrolysis • Fabulous Relaxing Facials • Microbrasion
Lynn Connolly, R.E. 16766 Bernardo Center Dr., Ste. 209a San Diego 92128 Complimentary Consultation
10 Minute FREE Electrolysis Treatment
FEATURE STORY l BY ELIANA RUDEE | jns.org
feature story ELEANOR
A 35-minute film "Nobody Wants Us" shows how she acted as a visionary, saying peace will come when all citizens have access to education, jobs, housing, security and health care.
PHOTO CREDIT FLICKR
n 1940, a passenger cargo ship called the SS Quanza left the port of Lisbon carrying several hundred Jewish refugees to freedom. But no country would take them in, and so the passengers became trapped on the ship. Nobody Wants Us tells the gripping true story of how Eleanor Roosevelt, along with two other integral figures, stepped in to save the passengers on board because of her moral conviction that they were not “undesirables,” as the U.S. State Department labeled them, but rather “future patriotic Americans.” She sympathized with the refugees, as her family, too, were once immigrants to the United States. The 35-minute film by Laura Seltzer-Duny, which premiered in New York City on Aug. 11 (coinciding with Tisha B’Av, a day of mourning on which numerous tragedies befell the Jewish people) by the Sousa Medes Foundation and the American Sefardi Federation, intends not only to restore the history of the Quanza after 79 years, but to illustrate the power of individuals to change history and save lives. “It brought me to tears to hear what my parents risked to bring me here,” Lucienne Geldzahler, an audience member at the film’s premier, said. Her family from Antwerp arrived on American shores from Lisbon on a similar ship, she said. As the experiences of political refugees continue to top headlines in the United States,
ELEANOR SPEAKS TO A WARTIME AUDIENCE, WHILE ROSE PESORRA AND OTHERS LISTEN L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
Stephen Morewitz — a leading expert on the Quanza and the grandson of attorney Jacob L. Morewitz, who helped save the passengers — said “this is an episode in American history that everyone needs to know.” At the beginning of World War II, Portuguese diplomat Sousa Mendes defied the orders of his regime to issue visas and passports to 40,000 refugees fleeing Nazi Germany, such as the artist Salvador Dali; Margret Rey and H. A. Rey, the authors of the Curious George books; and tens of thousands of other Holocaust refugees, including many aboard the SS Quanza. “If so many Jews are suffering because of one man, Hitler, surely I can suffer for so many Jews,” said Mendes, who was later recognized by Israel as a Righteous Among the Nations. On Aug. 9, 1940, the SS Quanza left Lisbon — one of the few ports from which Jews could flee Europe — carrying hundreds of Jewish refugees from dozens of European countries who had received such visas. However, the journey turned out to be more than a month-long; the Jews aboard were transported from port to port for a month, refused entry in the United States and then Mexico. Breckinridge Long, supervising the U.S. State Department’s Visa Division under U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, turned the immigrants away, wanting to shut down immigration (infamously writing in his diary that “Hitler’s Mein Kampf is eloquent in opposition to Jewry”), and seeing the immigrants as “undesirables.” He voiced concern that allowing the immigrants into America would compromise national security, as there could be “potential Nazis” on the ship, as well as “Jewish communists.” Just as the vessel returned to Virginia to buy fuel for the way back to Europe, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt spoke to maritime lawyer Jacob L. Morewitz, who successfully delayed the departure of the ship to buy time to litigate the case and allow the passengers to enter the United States. As the group was finally able to disembark, women from the Jewish society brought cars and began to pick up the refugees late at night, hosting them until they found accommodations.
Michael Dobbs, author of The Unwanted and project director for the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, was the first to write about the history of the SS Quanza in 1990, maintaining that it was forgotten over time as Eleanor Roosevelt saw the event as a defeat since Long was given total power following the SS Quanza episode. Dobbs noted at the premier, “The Quanza incident is a timely reminder that individuals make a difference. Without visas supplied by the Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, many of the Jewish passengers on board might well have been stranded in Nazi-occupied Europe.” “Without the legal brilliance of a maritime lawyer named Jacob Morewitz, the ship would have been obliged to sail back to Europe. Without the intervention of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the passengers would not have been permitted to land,” he continued. “It took three people, from entirely different backgrounds, to save dozens of lives that might otherwise have been lost.” Jason Guberman, executive director of the American Sefardi Federation, said, “With the rise of hate (particularly anti-Semitism), bigotry and fanaticism globally, and as the Iranian regime disingenuously denies the Holocaust while enthusiastically endorsing a new genocide against the Jewish people, it is imperative to learn from and emulate the righteous of the past as we stand against evil.” In this story, that evil, maintained Blanche Wiesen Cook, a world expert on Eleanor Roosevelt and the author of her three-volume biography, was represented by silence. “Everything was known by people who could have made a difference, but the silence was resounding,” she said. While the United States began to bomb Nazi economic infrastructure in 1944, it is suggestive that the railroad to Auschwitz was not. The U.S. Treasury Department’s “Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of the Jews” found the State Department guilty not only of “gross procrastination and
willful failure to act” during the slaughter of the Jewish people in Europe, but there were also “willful attempts to prevent action from being taken to rescue Jews from Hitler.” “It is clear that Franklin D. Roosevelt could have done so many things, like fire Breckinridge Long,” said Wiesen Cook. “He did not want to let the refugees in and risk the upcoming election,” she said, as many voters might have seen the war as a “war for the Jews” — a war for which Americans were not ready to enter. “Even the silence of the American Jewish community was beyond unfortunate — disgusting perhaps,” she added. “Eleanor Roosevelt acted as a visionary, saying we will have peace when we all have education, jobs, housing, security and health care. She made the refugees an interest, opposed fascism, and said that everybody on the SS Quanza could be her guest.” Even so, Guberman said on the Tisha B’Av film showing, “We are rather enjoined to reject victimhood in order to focus on what we, as individuals, can do in our time to overcome bias and divisions. And so it is fitting today not to focus on the failures of those who could have saved Jewish refugees and did not, but rather on those who, as Eleanor Roosevelt, were courageous and determined and successful against great odds in saving lives.” In addition to airing a longer version of the film on PBS in 2020, Seltzer-Duny and New Day Films are distributing the film to public high schools and junior high schools, along with educational material to accompany it. “We need to reach the community at large, who get a little bit of Holocaust education but not enough,” she said. “By taking this film and deconstructing it, teachers can create more empathy for the refugee plight then and now by understanding America’s response with volunteers on the ground, who took a chance and helped.” “It’s up to us not to stay silent when we see refugees struggling now because it happened to us — we were refugees, too — and we need to stand up for [them] and educate about what happened so that it doesn’t happen again,” she said.
THE ELIJAH MINYAN uvhkt ihbn THE ELIJAH MINYAN
our 27th year
uvhkt ihbn ELIJAH MINYAN our 27th year
th HIGH HOLIDAY our 27 28th yearSERVICES year
HIGH HOLIDAY conducted bySERVICES WAYNE & HIGHRABBI HOLIDAY SERVICES conducted byDOSICK CANTOR KATHY ROBBINS RABBI WAYNE conducted byDOSICK & in the auditorium of CANTOR KATHY ROBBINS The Redeemer Presbyterian Church
(formerly The North CoastDOSICK Presbyterian Church) RABBI WAYNE & call for El Camino just north of inReal, the auditorium ofManchester, North County CoastalROBBINS location CANTOR KATHY The RedeemerEncinitas Presbyterian Church
(formerly The North Coast Presbyterian Church) El Camino just north of inReal, the auditorium ofManchester, combiningThe traditional davening, with powerful English prayer, Encinitas Redeemer Presbyterian Church joyous singingThe andNorth chanting, authentic kabbalistic meditation, (formerly Coast Presbyterian Church) Rabbi Dosick’s Real, inspiring sermons, and the El Camino justteachings north of and Manchester, magnificent and music Cantor Robbins, combining traditionalvoice davening, with of powerful English prayer, Encinitas withand Kol chanting, Eli’ahu, The Elijah Minyan Choir, joyous singing authentic kabbalistic meditation, in aDosick’s warm, heimesh atmosphere festive celebration. Rabbi inspiring teachingsofand sermons, and the magnificent voice and music of Cantor Robbins, combining traditional davening, English prayer, not that “same old”with rote,powerful boring service; with Kol Eli’ahu, The Elijah Minyan Choir, a new inspirited Judaism for a new age meditation, joyous singing and chanting, authentic kabbalistic not that rote, boring service; in a“same warm,old” heimesh atmosphere of festive celebration.
Dosick’sJudaism inspiringforteachings and sermons, and the aRabbi new inspirited a new age magnificent voice and music Cantor Robbins, not thatticket “same old” rote,ofboring service; Nominal prices Nominal ticket prices with aKol Eli’ahu, The Elijahfor Minyan Choir, new inspirited Judaism a new For ticket information, call age ticketheimesh information, call of festive in For a warm, atmosphere celebration.
(760) 943-8370 not that “same old” rote, boring service; Nominal ticket prices (760) 943-8370
a new inspirited for acall new age For ticketJudaism information, Affiliated with ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal Affiliated with ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal Come meet a community of friends creating joyous Judaism. Nominal ticket prices For ticket information, call
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
Affiliated with ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal
FEATURE STORY l BY NOAM MIRVIS | jns.org
feature story THE SWIMMING
Helping Israel's disability community learn to walk
s the summer heats up, families around the world are taking refuge in the cool, relaxing waters of their local pools. In addition to providing a seasonal and healthy way to beat the heat, pool time also serves as an outlet for children to release their pent-up energy following the long school year, and creates opportunities for families to connect and let loose. In a word, pools represent freedom, a buoyant escape from the confines of life. However, what most people don’t realize is that pools can also represent potential, as the weightlessness and relative calm that exists in the water helps children with severe complex disabilities feel free and unrestricted, and often leads to growth well beyond their initial prognoses. In some cases, children who were never expected to walk are able to take their first steps following extensive hydrotherapy. “The parents send us videos of their children walking around the house,” said Timna Vaknin, a special-education teacher at ALEH, Israel’s network of care for children with severe complex disabilities. “It’s incredible to hear them crying with joy as they count every step. They just can’t believe that their child is able to walk.” Its Jerusalem residential and rehabilitative facility inaugurated a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool last spring, providing its
HYDROTHERAPY WORKS WITH A RESIDENT WITH SEVERE DISABILITIES AT THE ALEH HYDROTHERAPY POOL IN JERUSALEM 28
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
students with easy access to the water-based therapies that allow them to build muscle mass, improve mobility and move freely and without pain. The hydrotherapy center is the first of its kind in Israel to use an augmentative alternative communication (AAC) system, enhancing the experience for ALEH’s nonverbal students by allowing them to express their wishes and emotions to caregivers, support staff, therapists and lifeguards via special communication boards placed strategically around the pool. This fairly simple yet enlightening system has set the standard for other hydrotherapy pools serving the disability community across the country. Each resident and special-education student is assigned to a hydrotherapist who knows their individual strengths, weaknesses, achievements and goals. As the children are unable to speak, staff members are always on hand to assist and guide the hydrotherapists, serving as a go-between to
interpret each child’s likes and dislikes. “The pool is the best of both worlds. It’s a place where the children can have fun, as well as a platform for their growth, where we can help them develop their emotional, sensory, motor, and media skills; reach goals; and even exceed expectations,” explained Vaknin. Remarkably, the hydrotherapy center has already seen huge successes in the short period of time since its grand opening. One such success story is Eliyahu, an adolescent with very complicated special needs who was afraid to exert himself physically. For years, the staff did everything for Eliyahu and struggled to motivate him to take his first few steps. When they could coax him into the standing position, every attempt to walk ended the same way: Eliyahu would take a single step and freeze, instantly debilitated by fear of tackling the task on his own. “We decided that one of his goals would be to walk five or six steps by the end of the year,” said Vaknin. “We work with Eliyahu
and his hydrotherapist for months. After Eliyahu was able to walk from one edge of the pool to the other with no extra support, he was able to conquer his fears out of the water. Today, he can walk about 15 steps independently outside of the pool.” Vaknin was amazed by how quickly Eliyahu took to the water, doing things he had never attempted before. “I believed that he would be able to walk eventually, but I never imagined he would make so much progress so quickly. After reaching far beyond his goal, we decided to raise the bar and started working with him on walking up the stairs.” The philosophy employed by Vaknin and the rest of the staff is to ease the children into their hydrotherapy sessions and remove anything that makes them feel uncomfortable so that the children associate water with a positive experience. As the staff has seen firsthand, the children can only harness the powers of hydrotherapy to overcome their fears if they feel calm and WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
confident in the water. Pe’eri, a 7-year-old girl with severe disabilities, who is unable to crawl, walk or eat on her own, is the prime example. After a month of sitting next to the pool in a swimsuit refusing to enter the pool, Pe’eri finally agreed to take the plunge. The first step was to build her confidence in the water while integrating her into group activities. Previously, during physiotherapy treatments on the treadmill, Pe’eri would just sit down, as she didn’t understand the mechanics of walking and found it difficult to carry her own body weight. After intensive hydrotherapy work in the pool, it became noticeably easier for her to learn how to move around. Following several months of moving her feet in a walking motion in the pool, weights were added to her legs to increase resistance. Recently, Pe’eri started walking properly on the treadmill, pushing herself ever forward. “I look forward to the hydrotherapy session
all week because I can actually see how much happiness and serenity it brings the ALEH residents and special-education students,” said Vaknin. “There are children who weep tears of joy in the pool, and they constantly express their desire to progress—not with words, but with body language and sounds. Even when they are in the elevator on the way to the pool, we hear them uttering sounds of joy and excitement. It is amazing to see that what we do in the pool has such a marked impact outside the pool.” In addition to the hard work put in by the children and staff, the involvement of parents remains key to the children’s continued developmental success. With this understanding, the staff involves the parents every step of the way, sending photos and videos of their children at the pool and inviting them to the hydrotherapy sessions to watch their children’s progress in realtime. Sitting poolside, parents cheer on their children and learn how to do the exercises
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
with their children for their next family trip to the neighborhood pool. “It’s incredible that my son gets to enjoy the pool just like everyone else, and that I get to be front and center to watch his progress,” said the mother of Eliyair, a young boy with a tracheostomy, who is usually connected to an oxygen machine. While Eliyair’s special needs were initially viewed as too complex for hydrotherapy, ALEH found a way to make it work after his mother advocated on his behalf and pledged to be there beside him to assist. “Every session, I get into the water with Eliyair to allow the hydrotherapist to work with him and help him reach maximum movement and his greatest potential. We work as a team, and Eliyair continues to improve, one step at a time,” reported his mother. “It is thrilling to watch, and I am eternally grateful for the gifts he is receiving here: hope, courage and freedom.”
K9 HANDLER OF THE YEAR APPRENDS SYNAGOGUE SHOOTER SUSPECT Dedication, bravery, and commitment to the community were clearly evident on April 27, 2019 when Officer Jonathan Wiese, without aid or backup, confronted and arrested an armed suspect responsible for the shooting at Chabad of Poway.
Fill your pockets with GREEN! While helping the community get their word out.
SALES EXECUTIVES Email email@example.com with your resume and ideas. 32
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
$ $ $
We all remember that horrible morning. On the last day of Passover, as services were well underway, a man with an assault rifle entered the Chabad of Poway and opened fire, killing one woman and injured three more, including the Rabbi. Multiple citizens alerted law enforcement agencies. Officer Wiese immediately drove to the area and stopped a grey Honda blocking the entrance to a restaurant. As the driver’s door opened, alone and without help, Officer Wiese shouted commands to the driver. A man emerged from the vehicle wearing black gloves and a green tactical vest. The suspect complied with Officer Wiese’s orders and slowly knelt on the ground and was handcuffed. A rifle and ammunition were found in the vehicle. Officer Wiese’s quick decision to respond to the area, and his bravery to confront a man suspected of an unspeakable crime at a place of worship, resulted in the swift apprehension of the suspect. When violence strikes, law enforcement officers such as Officer Wiese stand ready to serve and protect our communities. Officer Jonathan Wiese will be honored as the K9 Handler of the Year at the Gold Shield Gala.
Jewish Students ADL resources and education | BY LINDSEY ZIPKIN
he beginning of the school year also often coincides with many other important milestones, events, and holidays. For Jewish families and students, fall brings both the High Holidays, and potential for additional challenges of navigating religious observance and schooling. The Anti-Defamation League firmly believes that to create welcoming and respectful school environments, diligent efforts should be made to accommodate observance of the High Holidays and other religious practices with school responsibilities in a meaningful way. To help local schools best support and respect their Jewish students’ religious needs, ADL’s education team shares important guidelines and information for local schools about the High Holidays, how they are observed, and what students are legally entitled to in terms of participation in religious holidays. Additionally, our regional website has a number of resources for parents
and students on ensuring Jewish students are able to reasonably observe the High Holidays. Still, ADL San Diego fields dozens of calls each year from parents who feel that their school is not allowing for appropriate accommodation around religious observance. We are dedicated to responding to each of these reports promptly, and working with parents and schools for productive, thorough resolve of the issue. “We spend time each fall reaching out to schools to let them know when the High Holidays are, and how many Jewish students will be observing them,” said Kelsey Greenberg Young, ADL San Diego’s Education Director. “We know, though, that sometimes problems still come up during the holidays, and ADL is committed to helping parents, students, and schools find positive solutions.” In addition to helping schools allow for reasonable accommodations around religious observation, ADL San Diego provides
important anti-bias education each year for K-12 campuses across San Diego. Over 70 local schools participated in our signature program, No Place for Hate®, last year alone. ADL encourages parents and students to make sure their school participates in No Place for Hate® to help ensure campuses are committed to inclusive school communities. There is still time to register your school for the 2019-2020 school year. We also urge you to report any potential bias or hate-motivated incidents to our office. For more information on the High Holidays resources for educators, parents, and students, to register for No Place for Hate®, and to report potential bias incidents, please visit ADL San Diego’s regional website at sandiego.adl.org. Shana Tova!
THE COMMUNITY PLACE
SECOND PLACE WINNER
A Gutte Neshuma
By Jessica Feder-Birnbaum Characters: HARRY BLITSTEIN — Age range 60s and up. He is a pillar of Temple Shalom and the community. He owns a sportswear manufacturing business. He is not yet retired and still vital. He is a widower. RABBI DEVORAH JACOBS — Age range late 20s and up. Her position at Temple Shalom is her first rabbinate. She has been recently appointed. DR. LOUISE LAZARUS — Age range 40s and up. She is a professor of Ancient Jewish texts and she is the board president at Temple Shalom.
HARRY BLITSTEIN: (Cuts off RABBI JACOBS) Rabbi, (to DR. LAZARUS) Is that better Dr. Lazarus? I didn’t just rescue Kugel. Kugel rescued me. And Rabbi Jacobs - you should always call me Harry. RABBI JACOBS: Harry, in Judaism, there is a distinction between how we mourn for pets and how we mourn for people. HARRY BLITSTEIN: Rabbi, my wife Bea was my world. After she died I couldn’t go on. Kugel gave me a new lease on life. DR. LAZARUS: Harry, Kugel was a dog. If we provided a memorial plaque for him in our sanctuary it would diminish the significance of an honor that is meant for people. As board president, I mandate that we cannot allow this at Temple Shalom. HARRY BLITSTEIN: Why should honors only be reserved for people? My dog died two weeks ago and I’m devastated.
Production note: Costumes, props and stage directions may be under the discretion of the production team.
RABBI JACOBS: Harry, while it is not a Jewish custom to sit shiva for a dog, you can remember Kugel by making a photo album and sharing stories.
Setting: RABBI JACOB’S office at Temple Shalom, a suburban synagogue.
HARRY BLITSTEIN: A picture here, a story there will never do justice to Kugel, Rabbi.
Time: The present. Late spring: A Sunday morning.
DR. LAZARUS: Harry, you just lost your brother Milton. Why not dedicate a plaque to him?
At rise: There is a desk that RABBI JACOBS sits behind. To the left of the desk is a chair where DR. LAZARUS sits. HARRY BLITSTEIN is standing.
HARRY BLITSTEIN: My brother MIlton, may he rest in peace, was a shmendrik. Besides, it was at Milton’s shiva where Kugel met his maker.
HARRY BLITSTEIN: Devorah, I implore you...
DR. LAZARUS: Kugel died at Milton’s Shiva?
DR. LAZARUS: (Interrupts HARRY BLITSTEIN) Harry, you will refer to our new congregational leader as Rabbi Jacobs.
RABBI JACOBS: Apparently Kugel ate a bon-bon that one of the bereaved dropped on the floor.
HARRY BLITSTEIN: Dr. Lazarus, Devorah is young enough to be my granddaughter.
HARRY BLITSTEIN: Can you believe it? Kugel only ate organic so he didn’t know from chocolate. The one exception to the organic rule was on Shabbat. I’d say “Shabbat Shalom Kugel” and he’d raise his paw. Then I’d give him a piece of challah. That Kugel was something else.
DR. LAZARUS: Rabbi Jacobs must be treated with respect. RABBI JACOBS: Dr. Lazarus, it’s okay. Mr. Blitstein. 34
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
RABBI JACOBS: Harry, this is wonderful. You are already keeping
Kugel’s memory alive by sharing this story.
welcome me, and my sustaining donor-ship with open arms.
HARRY BLITSTEIN: It would be more fitting to keep Kugel’s memory alive by giving him his own memorial plaque in our sanctuary.
RABBI JACOBS: Harry, please reconsider.
DR. LAZARUS: Harry, Temple Shalom is traditional in its ritual practice, which means in the sanctuary, no dogs are allowed. HARRY BLITSTEIN: Rabbi and Dr. Lazarus - Kugel was a more than a dog. He was a mensch. Actually, he was more than a mensch - he was a gutte neshuma. There will never be a more decent soul on this planet. DR. LAZARUS: Harry, we have acknowledged your loss. It’s time to wrap up this meeting. HARRY BLITSTEIN: Look, Dr. Lazarus, Temple Shalom’s mission isn’t just to adhere to traditional ritual practices, but to welcome all people and families of diverse backgrounds to Jewish life. And Kugel was part of my family. You shouldn’t discriminate against him because he was a canine. RABBI JACOBS: Harry’s right. One of Temple Shalom basic tenets is to be inclusive. I’ve seen pet memorial trees in other synagogues. Each leaf represents a departed pet. The leaves can vary in size. Dr. Lazarus, we can discuss having this place of honor for our congregants’ departed pets at our next board meeting.
HARRY BLITSTEIN: Look Rabbi, you want me to donate a Pet Memorial Tree to raise money for our congregation? I’ll do it. And as I’d wish to remain anonymous, we can call it the Temple Shalom Pet Memorial Tree. But I will only write that check on the condition that Kugel gets his own memorial plaque in the sanctuary. RABBI JACOBS: Dr. Lazarus may we present Harry’s request to the board under these conditions? DR. LAZARUS: Harry, one of the reasons you’ve been so successful in business, is that you are relentless. I will propose to the board that we dedicate a plaque to K. Blitstein, without specifying exactly who he was. HARRY BLITSTEIN: Dr. Lazarus, I agree. We don’t have to advertise that Kugel was a dog. But he needs to be recognized by his full name, not just his first initial. DR. LAZARUS: Very well Harry. I will present your plaque proposal at this week’s board meeting. RABBI JACOBS: Dr. Lazarus and Harry, yasher koach. You both demonstrate that we can weave the realities of our modern lives into the rich tapestry of Jewish tradition.
DR. LAZARUS: We have the building expansion deadline and a capital campaign to launch. The board does not have time for such frivolities.
HARRY BLITSTEIN: May Kugel Matzoh Ball Blitstein, beloved family member of Harry Blitstein, whose memory shall forever be for a blessing, grant comfort to all in our sanctuary who mourn.
RABBI JACOBS: A pet memorial tree could be a significant revenue stream for our congregation.
RABBI JACOBS/DR. LAZARUS: (Say in unison) Amen.
DR. LAZARUS: Rabbi, now that’s innovative thinking. HARRY BLITSTEIN: It’s always about dollars and cents. RABBI JACOBS: No, Harry. We’re trying to create a solution that works for everyone. As one of Temple Shalom’s sustaining donors, you can honor Kugel in a meaningful way. As long as there’s board approval - we can deem this initiative the Kugel Blitstein Pet Memorial Tree.
END JESSICA FEDER-BIRNBAUM IS A NYC BASED PLAYWRIGHT, AUTHOR, AND INTERDISCIPLINARY THEATRE ARTIST. HER PLAYS ARE PRODUCED IN NEW YORK AND REGIONALLY. OTHER WRITINGS HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED IN PRINT AND ON-LINE. SHE DEVISES AND DIRECTS COMMUNITY BASED WORKS.
DR. LAZARUS: We can place it near the rest rooms. HARRY BLITSTEIN: Absolutely not - I refuse to have Kugel hanging by a toilet. He belongs in the sanctuary. DR. LAZARUS: Harry, we’ve gone over this. No dogs allowed. HARRY BLITSTEIN: Dr. Lazarus, I’ve been a member of Temple Shalom for forty-five years. That’s before our rabbi was born, and when you were just a kid. There are plenty of others shuls that would
Chai Five Projects L'Chaim's non-profit: helping our large community feel a bit smaller by keeping us connected. Go to lchaimmagazine.com & click on Chai Five Projects. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
THE PIONEERS OF HALUTZA
veryone saw a desert,” says Yedidya Harush, “but when we stood on the sand dunes, we saw a future with prosperous, thriving communities.” Fourteen years after the dismantling of the Gaza settlements in 2005, a new community, founded by former residents of the Gaza settlements, has sprung from the barren desert, and has become a flourishing, thriving home to thousands. Its name is Halutza, and just 10 years ago, it was an uninhabited, sandy strip of land near the Egyptian border. “Halutza was a place where no one wanted to go,” recalls Harush, Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) liaison to the community. Yet, the pioneers who started it were determined to make it succeed. Rabbi Eli Adler, rabbi of Naveh, one of the three communities in Halutza, and a former resident of Gush Katif, says, “After the disengagement in 2005, we decided that we would not be angry, but would make a breakthrough and a contribution, turn the page and continue.” Today, Halutza, which in addition to Naveh, includes the towns of B’nei Netzarim and Shlomit, is home to 2,000 people. It is projected that within the decade, the population will increase to 15,000 residents. Young families are flocking to Halutza, and 70% of Halutza’s population is between the ages of one and 18, the highest percentage of any area in Israel. The youth of Halutza excels not only in quantity, but in quality as well. Recently, two of Halutza’s high schools were numbered among the top 50 schools in Israel, in which 100% of the graduating students passed the matriculation (bagrut) exams. With great determination and a pioneering spirit, Halutza’s infrastructure and facilities have been planned and assisted by the efforts of JNF-USA. Harush explains that the vision of Halutza dovetails with JNF-USA’s ambitious Blueprint Negev plan to build and expand the Negev. “JNF has a big vision to develop the Negev and bring half a million Israelis to the Negev. Halutza fits that vision, because we are going to play a critical role to bring 15,000 residents to our area…a place that no one ever thought could succeed.” Among JNF-USA’s prominent projects in Halutza are the Halutza Medical Center, a dental clinic, three synagogues, parks, playgrounds, and a spacious, modern community center that is under construction. The Halutza Medical Center has been a major addition to the community, with its young, growing population. Until its opening in August 2017, residents requiring medical care had to travel to Beersheba, an hour and 20-minute drive away. JNF-USA’s lay leaders, many of whom are doctors with experience in the medical field, were extremely helpful in developing the medical center and dental clinic. “We used their knowledge and experience to come up with the best plan,” explains Harush. “We work in full partnership.” JNF-USA has been instrumental in developing agricultural projects 36
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2019
in Halutza. More than 75 different species of vegetables and fruits are grown in Halutza, including bug-free lettuce. Halutza’s potatoes and organic carrots are exported throughout the world. In addition, plans are underway for construction of a dairy farm in the area that will be the largest in the country. Halutza’s Young Farmers Incubator project trains young people to become farmers and provides them with greenhouses for planting, as well as with expert advice from leading agronomists and farmers in the area. Harush explains that “today more and more people walk away from the farming business, because it’s difficult to be a farmer if you don’t come from a farming family, and the farming business is expensive.” More than 95% of those who have enrolled in the incubator program have successfully transitioned to become full-time farmers in the community. Hi-tech is also in Halutza’s future. A medical startup in the community is in advanced stages of product development, and it is expected that the academic program that was created with JNFUSA that brings students to the community to live in Halutza while studying in nearby universities, will eventually bring hi-tech startups to the area. While the dangers from nearby Gaza and Egypt are always present, Halutza residents focus on building their community in partnership with JNF-USA. “This summer, we are absorbing 50 new families to Halutza,” says Harush. “When terrorists throw rockets, we build communities. We plant a tree and build a park and bring new families to the area. This is our answer to terror, and it is much more powerful than any F16 plane or Merkava tank.” Rabbi Adler points out that they could not have done it alone. “We needed the tools, and JNF-USA gave us the momentum and impetus to help us grow – not just from an economic point of view, but from a strategic one as well.” He adds, “JNF-USA is not just donations – they have a vision and a long-term strategy.” The goals and hopes of Halutza are to create a sustainable area with thousands of people, to fulfill David Ben-Gurion’s dream of building the Negev and to create a community that will be an attractive place for people to live. Halutza, with the help of JNF-USA, is well on its way to achieving these goals, and turning the dreams of its founders into reality. To learn more about Halutza and Jewish National Fund’s work in the Negev, contact JNF’s Executive Director Lou Rosenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 323.964.1400 x963. A version of this article originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post.
Shana Tova JEWISH
JEWISH WAR VETERANS WAR VETS OF THE USA OF THE USA
“The Voice of American Jewry” “ThePatriotic Patriotic Voice of American Jewry”
Post 185 San Diego
Invites you to become a member Post 185 San Diego
Meettoonbecome the 2ndaSunday of the month Invites you member
• Fight anti-Semitism • Support our military overseas our military overseas • Fight anti-Semitism • Support • Comradeship • Comradeship • Support youth through scouting & JROTC • Support youth through scouting & JROTC Lt/Col. Allen Miliefsky, USAF Ret. Past State Cmdr. (619) 737-6910 Paradise (916) 995-6916 Village 2700 E 4th Street • National City, CA
Rick Nathanson, Post Commander
Allen Miliefsky, Past State Commander
737-6910 THE(619) OLDEST ACTIVE VETERANS ORGANIZATION IN AMERICA THE OLDEST ACTIVE VETERANS ORGANIZATION IN AMERICA
September 21st: Ice Cream Social 6:15pm â&#x20AC;¢ Service 7pm
September 29th 7:00pm
September 30th 10:00am
October 8th 7:00pm
October 9th 10:00am
Honor the Officer who Arrested the Chabad of Poway Shooter We all remember that horrific morning. On the last day of Passover, as services were well underway, a man with an assault rifle entered the Chabad of Poway and opened fire, killing one woman and injuring three more, including the Rabbi. Alone and without backup, Officer Wiese located, approached, and apprehended the shooter. When violence strikes, law enforcement officers such as Officer Wiese stand ready to serve and protect our communities. Officer Jonathan Wiese will be honored as the K9 Handler of the Year at the San Diego Police Foundationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gold Shield Gala on Saturday, September 23.
Call (619) 232-2130
To give a gift in Officer Wieseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s name Or register for tickets or a table at the 2019 Gold Shield Gala