L'Chaim Magazine September 2020

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contents September 2020 • www.lchaimmagazine.com

COVER STORY Lifting Voices for the High Holidays, Even in COVID Times..............................................................

FOOD Israeli Couscous with Asparagus and Tomato Confit................................................................






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California's School Curriculum on Ethnic Studies.......................................................................... CAJE: A Springboard for Jewish Education....................................................................................

HIGH HOLIDAYS High Holiday Prayer Books in High Demand for Those at Home...................................... How to Fulfill the Mitzvah of Sukkot While Fighting Anti-Semitism..................................


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Business Feature: Coco Jolie Fine Chocolates............................................................................

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NEWS TO KNOW...........................................................................................................................................


Jewish Veg: Toward a Pandemic-Free World.................................................................................


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Random Rants..............................................

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

Torah: Of the Book......................................


PUBLISHERS Diane Benaroya & Laurie Miller




L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO, LLC (858) 776-0550 San Diego, CA 92127

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Barbara Birenbaum, Daniel Bortz, Michael Gardiner, Donald H. Harrison, Steve Horn, Stephanie Lewis, Salomon Maya, Mimi Pollack, Rachel Stern, Eva Trieger, Deborah Vietor, Chana Jenny Weisberg


Diane Benaroya (dianeb@lchaimmagazine.com) 4


Copyright ©2020 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: publisher@lchaimmagazine.com Published in San Diego, CA • www.lchaimmagazine.com


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random rants

The Wonderful World of Virtual Kindergarten


h, the wonderful world of virtual Kindergarten. (Checks notes) Wait a second did I just write that sentence? (Checks notes again) Yup I did. And I didn’t mean one second of it. Because there is no wonderful world of virtual kindergarten. This past week is a testament to that very tangible fact. FRIDAY. THREE DAYS BEFORE START OF VIRTUAL KINDER.

I receive a text message from my Family’s CEO (which in this case is my wife) asking me to grab the laptop that was being provided to my son to start virtual-garten. We live about two blocks away from the school, so I figured “sure no problem.” Fast forward close to two hours of sitting in my car, trying not to go insane and being saved only by listening to an endless playlist of Yacht Rock radio. Finally, I was able to obtain this late 1990s laptop (which was later returned due to its slow processor and overall disgusting sticky keys). So goodbye two hours lost of my life. Never to be recuperated. MONDAY. DAY 1 OF VIRTUAL KINDERGARTEN.

Be ready to go at 8:15 a.m.—sharp, the email read. Okay. No problem. I normally wake up 6


at 6 a.m. anyway. But never has a time snuck up on me like this one. The wife is working in her office so I gotta put my Mr. Mom pants on and get my son dressed. Get him fed. Get him ready. By 8 a.m., only one of those had been accomplished. Working at warp speed, we got in front of my laptop ready to learn! Only to realize my WiFi signal was poor. Insert Charlie Brown arg sound here. WEDNESDAY. DAY 3.

Okay okay. Day 1 and 2 weren’t that bad. My son at times was in and out. I mean honestly kids his age aren’t into just sitting and learning in front of a computer screen. However, put him in front of his iPad and new LEGO Brawl video game and he could go weeks without food or water more than likely. But day 3 was not good. At first, he constantly wanted to unmute himself and talk. I reminded him he needed to raise his hand. Finally, he was called upon and informed the class that he had just received a new ant farm. And for the next, what seemed like 4 hours, every kid unmuted themselves to talk about ants. That poor teacher. My son relished in the attention and constantly wanted to partake in dialogue. I kept telling him not to unmute and then he just had it.

He slammed the computer down and pouted. We’ve discovered something new in this world. A school you literally can slam shut. FRIDAY. DAY 5.

We have survived the week. That particular morning my son sat patiently and quietly at the laptop listening to fellow students. I informed my wife that I needed to be excused from my duties to use the restroom. I was given my hall pass and went to the bathroom. I sat on my porcelain throne reminiscing about the week that just passed. Dare I say it, I sat there proud. Here we are, a family, sticking together during this pandemic and guiding my son through this strange world of online learning. Dad was ecstatic. Just then, my phone received a text message from my wife. It read: “Your son just raised his hand and informed the entire class that you were pooping.” And Charlie Brown missed that football once again. SALOMON MAYA IS A LOCAL EMMY-WINNER, ACTOR AND PLAYWRIGHT. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @SALOMAYA OR EMAIL HIM AT SALOMONM@LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM.





the book Returning to Our True Selves


n 1985, The Aleph Institute, serving the needs of Jewish inmates in prison, was granted permission to bring inmates for a Shabbat program. Director Rabbi Shalom Ber Lipskar brought them to Brooklyn to experience a “Farbrengen” — Hassidic gathering of songs and talks led by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Sensitive that they may be questioned and embarrassed in some way, the Rebbe asked that they split up into small groups around the room. Now this was after Shavuot with lots of visiting Rabbis in attendance. Thus, the Rebbe focused his talk on how some Rabbis may tend to rest on their laurels and not review their studies, and admonished those that aren’t constantly growing and learning. He went so far as to demand that they receive Rabbinical ordination again on their original studies. Then in the middle of the talk, he suddenly shifted his focus to inmates in jail. He described how a soul descends into a body and feels like it is imprisoned by physical desires. And then when that body is in an actual prison, it is in a doubled exile. Yet, an inmate is only in such a position because he or



she is being entrusted with a special mission there to shine light in such a dark place and find the good there too. The prisoners voiced their wonder to Rabbi Lipskar: “Your Rebbe admonishes your leaders and praises us!” As we approach the “10 Days of Repentance” from Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur, from Sept. 18-28, this story can teach us how to view “Teshuva” — Repentance, or more accurately, Return ­­— to your true self and path. On one hand, we must know that we are essentially perfect. Unlike the idea of “Original Sin,” we look at our souls as pure and perfect, regardless of our deeds. Like the way the Rebbe viewed these inmates, we are like a diamond covered in some dirt. All that’s needed is one true moment, a pure desire to be connected to G-d and live as good a life as we possibly can, to shake off the dust — like a rooster powerfully shaking its feathers free of all dirt. A moment of sincere regret and a desire to live right can move worlds. But on the other hand, like the Rebbe’s talk to the Rabbis in the room, we shouldn’t ever be spiritually satisfied and complacent. Teshuva isn’t only a one-time thing — it’s a

way of life. It’s a state of being. For ultimately, we are not human beings, we are human becomings, constantly moving upward closer to our highest source potential. The Sages ask a fundamental question: How can we even be able to do Teshuva? If Torah, Mitzvot, and an ethical life stem from G-d’s Infinite will and wisdom, how can mere mortals mess that up and then have it all be good through a simple change of heart? The answer is, that we are rooted deeper within G-d than the Torah. A King may demand certain things of his prince and princess in order that they grow to their greatest potential, but if they mess up, as much as it hurts the King, they can be forgiven because they are rooted higher within the King than even His desires and wishes. Let’s always remember the power of one moment of good, while never being satisfied with all the good we’ve done. Wishing you a good and sweet new year, materially and spiritually! DANIEL BORTZ, THE MILLENNIAL RABBI, IS THE FOUNDER OF JTEEN AND SOUL X. CONNECT AT RABBIBORTZ.COM.

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Joey Weisenberg. Photos courtesy Joey Weisenberg via Facebook.



ike Maestro Leonard Bernstein guiding young people through the joys and intricacies of classical music two generations ago, Joey Weisenberg is a gentle, but no less passionate, tutor. He’s not teaching about the bravado of a bassoon or the timbre of a tympani, but rather giving would-be High Holiday prayer leaders an intimate tour of the wordless melodies and ancient modes of the Jewish liturgical tradition. It’s nigunim and nusach for a new generation, and with the latest video technology. And it’s a place where, if you get it right, prayer and musicality meet, the goal being what Weisenberg calls “spiritual artistry.” From a studio in a Philadelphia synagogue’s choir loft, outfitted in a billowy white shirt with a Nehru collar as casually stylish as Bernstein’s trademark turtleneck, Weisenberg is the picture of a hip ba’al tefillah, or prayer leader. His extensive library of master classes for those looking to lead High Holiday services, newly posted online, ranges far and wide. It moves from the bluesy feeling you get from a flatted seventh note to the emotional punch of a wordless Chassidic melody (nigun) to the beauty of Rosh Hashanah’s opening Amidah prayer to the majesty of the Ne’ilah service at the end of Yom Kippur “as the gates are closing,” he says. Called the “High Holidays Training Initiative,” Weisenberg, a leader in the movement to re-energize congregational singing and spirituality, has filmed 128 episodes (most run six or seven minutes) that amount to a curated trip through the entire arc of High Holidays davening. Along the way, there

is also instruction in the scales and modes that define what Weisenberg refers to as “Nusach Ashkenaz in America.” A prayer leader will pick up hints about the “Freygish” and the “Ukrainian Dorian,” modal scales that give ancient chanting its distinctive musical flavor. If that prayer leader has an ear for jazz, he or she might find echoes of the modal jazz that defined the art form in its golden age in the 1950s and ‘60s. Weisenberg himself is something of an improviser. “Nusach is heavily modal,” he says. “Most of the time when people are davening, there are a confined set of notes. But in the singing you’re sliding in between the notes. Once you know the sound of the mode, you can improvise within it.” That tension between the fixed and the spontaneous — the dialogue between tradition, and the here and now — is central to Weisenberg’s musical and spiritual ethic. At 38, he’s an old soul, with a foot in the old world and one in the new. With a ready smile and wide Midwestern vowels courtesy of an upbringing in Milwaukee — where he soaked up the blues playing guitar and harmonica in the city’s clubs, and the soaring Chassidic chanting at Rabbi Michel Twerski’s renowned shul — Weisenberg is both a musician steeped in many strains of American music and a natural educator. The COVID-19 crisis, of course, has cramped his style. Weisenberg is used to being smack in the middle of a circle of singers or on a tightly packed stage next to fellow musicians with fiddles and banjos and lap-steel guitars in the Hadar Ensemble. But, like many creative types in these plague months, he sees a window opening. “Every time one thing gets shut down, something else opens

Joey Weisenberg performs in 2017.




up,” he says about lockdown and isolation. “I’ve spent the last 10 or 15 years with the Hadar Ensemble and the Rising Song Institute [both are affiliates of Yeshivat Hadar, the traditional egalitarian yeshiva on Manhattan’s Upper West Side] getting close to people and spilling globules via singing. That’s not possible now; singing is verboten. But what this time does do is open up a more introverted path toward music-making.” Weisenberg had been getting a lot of calls from people asking for private lessons in prayer leading. He had a library of material he had created a year ago — in a “month-long video spree,” he says. And, given the coronavirus, he spotted an opportunity. “This is the perfect time to let people into the world of the ancient tradition for leading prayers and singing wordless melodies. If this terrible pandemic can open up a doorway for people to study and become empowered in their ability to lead song and Jewish prayer, that would be a great outcome from my perspective.” The training-initiatives pilot launched in June; about 200 people are already taking part (it costs $18). “People are joining with very different sets of expectations,” says Weisenberg. There are some “established cantors” looking to learn a few new melodies. And there are people who have never led prayers and will be using the material as a crash course for their initial forays into prayer leading this High Holiday season. The Days of Awe in late September will be filled with uncertainty given the constraints of social distancing. Weisenberg says some of the people taking the master classes will be leading prayers online 12


from their living rooms. Others might be leading small groups of worshippers in backyards. (He’ll be leading prayers online for the Kane Street Synagogue in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he was music director; for the last seven years, he’s been living in Philadelphia with his wife and four children.) The pandemic, he says, represents “an unparalleled opportunity for people to lead davening. If people can clear away some of the chaotic busyness of their lives, there’s a chance to focus in on what they always wanted to learn.” For Weisenberg personally, this time of isolation has sent him into the “woodshed,” a musician’s colorful shorthand for working alone, often for intense periods, on one’s craft. “Despite what I do [in front of the camera on video or live on stage], I’m an introvert,” he says. “It’s nice to have quieter time with fewer people around to start to dig into the music — to go into the woodshed and practice, compose, study, work in a more solo way.” His work and his old-new aesthetic can perhaps best be gleaned from his “Lincoln’s Nigun.” (It’s recorded on his CD, “Brooklyn Spirituals,” the fourth of seven collections of nigunim.) A student of American history (he says most of his German-Jewish family has been in the United States since before the Civil War), Weisenberg was reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s examination of President Abraham Lincoln’s politically mismatched cabinet, Team of Rivals. There is a passage in the book that describes Lincoln’s visits to the battlefield during the Civil War to meet the Union troops. “As he came down the ranks,” says Weisenberg, recalling a scene sketched in the book, “the troops would part ways and they’d let him


through, welcoming him in style.” Weisenberg says he read the passage on a Friday night, adapting the new melody he wrote then to the “Lecha Dodi” prayer welcoming the Sabbath Queen, which contains the words, “To your right and your left you will burst forth/And the Lord will you revere.” The tune, with its military march riff played on snare drum and with the Hadar Ensemble’s old-timey stringband instrumentation, “has a Civil War-type sound,” describes Weisenberg. “But it has a Jewish character in the accents and the wordlessness. “I feel committed to the old Jewish tradition, but as a musician, I have my ears open. You can’t close your ears. My music draws from the depth of the Jewish tradition and the depths of the American tradition.” Weisenberg expands on this interplay of the past and the present. “I’ve spent a lot of time studying the old traditions, and I’m deeply immersed in it. I feel as if the new compositions are outpourings of the soul — the overflow of the cup of tradition, as in the verse from Psalms 23, ‘My cup overflows.’ I keep learning old things, the bowl gets full and spills out; that overflow is the new composition, and it fits in the lineage of the older tradition.” Weisenberg’s musical-spiritual approach has won over many people. His 2017 book, The Torah of Music, earned a National Jewish Book Award. His work at the Kane Street Synagogue in Brooklyn put that congregation at the forefront of the neonigun movement, and as the founder and co-director of Hadar’s Philadelphia-based Rising Song Institute, he is credited with helping to reinvigorate synagogue singing. “Joey is a unique talent: he has adapted traditional nusach and given it new meaning,” says Nancy Abramson, director of H.L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music at the Jewish Theological Seminary. “His use of accessible music and the participation of all congregants during services continues a trend that began in the 1970s.” (In some ways, Weisenberg is working the field first tilled by two beloved folk music-inspired figures: the Chassidic/counterculture troubadour Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and Debbie Friedman, the sweet-voiced singer-songwriter most associated with Hebrew Union College.) “Joey has been collaborating with JTS for a number of years,” continues Abramson. “He teaches our clergy students and has led joyous singing circles with us. Several JTS cantorial and rabbinical students have been active in the Rising Song Institute, some as teachers and some as learners. And many of our students incorporate Joey’s unique style in their ‘toolbox’ when leading services.” That “toolbox” is on vivid display on the master class videos for the High Holidays. Like providing a glimpse into the private marginalia on a composer’s score, Weisenberg opens up his own machzor to reveal to the student his personal musical markings (for instance, “1-5-3,” to remember proper notes in a given mode). There are scribbles, sections bracketed off to denote where to start

“I feel committed to the old Jewish tradition, but as a musician, I have my ears open. You can’t close your ears. My music draws from the depth of the Jewish tradition and the depths of the American tradition,” Weisenberg says. and stop, and “notes to self” squeezed into the narrow white space between two lines of black text. It’s all in the service of offering hints to the arc and emotion of a melody. There are times when he loses himself in demonstrating a nigun — head raised up, eyes closed, ancient Jewish chanting pulled along into the present day. The longstanding tradition of the musician-educator — the guide who passes along the Jewish musical wisdom of earlier generations to the new one — is close to Weisenberg’s heart. He learned to play harmonica at 11 from Jon Gindick’s “Country and Blues Harmonica for the Musically Hopeless.” (“That’s how I got into playing blues,” he says.) And he devoured instructional videos from guitar masters like Nashville’s Brent Mason and the late jazz-blues virtuoso Danny Gatton. “Those videos and instructional materials have been really important to me. They opened up a whole world of music for me. These virtuosos saw beyond their own expression and saw the importance of bringing more music into the world through their teaching. I’m following in that lineage. “It’s not enough just to make music,” Weisenberg says, articulating his “rising song” vision. “You have to make everyone make music.” WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM







here are more than a handful of dishes that are “traditional” for Rosh Hashanah, as there are for all Jewish holidays. For our New Year, it tends to be fish (particularly fish heads or gefilte fish), apples and honey, pomegranates (featuring their abundant, brightly colored seeds), carrots (particularly as tzimmes), and brisket (which we seem never to miss an opportunity to deploy). Most of these are Ashkenazi in origin. One of my favorites, Seven Vegetable Couscous, is not: it is Sephardic. For my elegant version I take this Moroccan dish and plant it firmly in Israel using two vegetables and Israeli couscous. The latter may be Israeli, but it’s definitely not couscous. Couscous is ground semolina (crucially without being mixed with either egg or water) rubbed together with wet hands until tiny granules form and are then dried. Israeli couscous, on the other hand, is tiny balls of true pasta made from both wheat flour and semolina then toasted. ISRAELI COUSCOUS WITH ASPARAGUS AND TOMATO CONFIT

Serves 4 For the Vegetable Stock 1 ounce dried mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, porcini, or morel) 1 medium onion, roughly chopped 1 large carrot, roughly chopped 2 large (or 4 small) ribs celery, chopped 3 leeks, green parts only (reserve the whites for another use), cleaned and roughly chopped 4 cloves garlic, crushed, peeled/crushed 2 large russet potatoes, peeled/chopped 1 (4-inch) piece kombu 3 bay leaves 6 sprigs thyme 6 sprigs parsley 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns 1 tablespoon whole white peppercorns 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds 1 tablespoon salt (plus more as needed) For the Tomato Confit 30 cherry tomatoes 4 cloves garlic, minced 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil For the Israeli Couscous 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1 cup Israeli couscous Salt 2 to 3 cups Vegetable Stock 14 ounces slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut diagonally into ¾" pieces (~2 1/2 cups) 1/4 cup Tomato Confit Directions • Combine vegetable stock ingredients in a large stockpot and add water to cover, ~ 4 quarts. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, until the vegetables lose their texture and the stock takes on a soft but distinctly vegetal flavor, about 1 hour.

• Strain the stock into a heatproof bowl,

discarding the solids. Taste the stock and add additional salt if required.

• Cool the stock, uncovered, to room

temperature, then cover and transfer to the refrigerator until chilled. This subrecipe will make more stock than you will need for this dish.

• While the stock is simmering, make the

jar and refrigerate. Again, this will make more then you’ll need for this recipe. The tomato confit will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

• When the stock is done, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium heavy saucepan until shimmering.

• Add the Israeli couscous, season with salt, and cook until most of the couscous is golden brown, about 5 minutes.

• Add 2 cups of the vegetable stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to boil.

• Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover,

and simmer until the stock is fully absorbed and the couscous is tender, about 10 minutes, adding more broth by the tablespoonful if the couscous is not yet tender.

• Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil in a large saucepan.

• Prepare an ice bath. • When the water boils, add the asparagus segments and blanch until their color brightens, 3 to 4 minutes depending on the thickness of the asparagus.

• Remove the asparagus from the water and shock in the ice bath to fix the color. Drain and pat with paper towels to remove excess water.

tomato confit by combining the cherry tomatoes, garlic, and oil in a small saucepan.

• Toss the asparagus with the couscous

• Place over medium heat and bring

• Top each bowl with 1 tablespoon of the

to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to simmer and cook until the tomatoes just start to split, ~ 30 minutes.

and divide into four bowls.

tomato confit and drizzle with as much as a teaspoon of oil from the confit (depending on how saucy the confit is).

• Transfer the tomatoes to a glass quart WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM


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n the 1980s, Latino Jews left Mexico City and Tijuana to provide safety, security, and prosperity for future generations in San Diego, Calif. Our families and organizations like the KEN Jewish Community taught us the importance of tzedakah, justice, and tikkun olam, fixing the world through action. As Latino Jewish high school students, we could not sit idly by as our community’s experience is ignored in the California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC). Mark’s family are Syrian Jews who were forced to flee from their homes and made their way to Mexico City. Once there, they were penniless, homeless, and destitute. The community eventually built itself up but many chose to go to America, to safety and promise. Anna’s family is from Turkey and Syria. Fleeing persecution, they too made



their way to Mexico City hoping for respite from the rampant antisemitism they faced. In time, they too, came to San Diego. Like so many Jews, we carry with us unique legacies of trauma and resilience. However, the bigotry our families faced stills haunts us in California. We’ve been in high school collectively for five years, and the amount of hate we’ve seen in our schools is shocking — from degrading jokes to swastikas engraved on the bathroom stalls. There is no doubt that California’s education system has to do more to fight this hatred. We are also well aware that our ancestry and culture are incredibly diverse, and there are many students in California who identify with two or more ethnic groups. We need thoughtful education to teach that identity is not monolithic. The concept of ethnic studies is undoubtedly

necessary and we thought the ESMC might finally give us and other students like us representation in the classroom. However, in August 2019, over 18,000 California parents, students, and stakeholders raised their voices against antisemitism and anti-Israel teaching in the first draft of the curriculum. The second draft was released in August 2020, and we were disappointed to see our families’ diverse history continue to be left out. Recently, it was announced that an Arab American lesson plan will be added to the curriculum under the umbrella of Asian American studies. Our families fled the Middle East, yet their stories are not seen as important enough to be in the ESMC. Jews are barely mentioned at all, and there is no representation of Middle Eastern Jews, Latino Jews, and other Jews of Color. We know Jewish identity isn’t simple; there are countless stories of Jewish immigrants from all over the world including Israel, Central and South America, Arab nations, Iran, the former Soviet Union, and more. The curriculum should include Jews of different identities and experiences, and genuinely teach about antisemitism. That is why we are part of a student campaign, @includeourvoices on Instagram, calling for a more equitable and inclusive ESMC. NOTE: YOU CAN ADD YOUR NAME TO THE LIST OF SIGNATORIES IN A LETTER TO THE CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, AND MEMBERS OF THE INSTRUCTIONAL QUALITY COMMISSION TO VOICE YOUR SUPPORT FOR A REVISION TO ESMC. TO DO SO, VISIT HTTPS://BIT.LY/3H5XPQP.








was lost when I found myself at NewCAJE, an experienced educator on the edge of a multi-level midlife crisis. The year 2013 was one of the darkest summers ever for me; that must have been why Cherie Koller-Fox reached across the country and with her firm vision, graceful coaching, and generous scholarship brought me into the light. I’d heard of CAJE but had no idea what I was in for. Never before had I seen so many musicians, storytellers, rabbis, cantors and principals in one place; teachers of all ages and movements inviting interaction in workshop after workshop on everything under the sun.


All day long, I eagerly studied everything from texts and theories to budgets and Bible stories, enjoyed mealtime meetups, Artsfest, concerts and then — Kumzits — singing and dancing late into the night, creating camplike connections. As I finally lay down in the wee hours of each magical morning, the smile on my face and my soul never faded. Each of the four days was better than the one before and I came home with wind beneath my wings. Each year I spread them a little further and always find I’m lifted. My future was transformed that summer although the changes were just in perspective. I realized that I’d grown into the passionate


teacher that I was through the experiences I had and they were worthy. My value as an independent creative educator was validated. Now, I am pleasantly pursuing happiness leading Israeli Folk Dance: Fun On Your Feet and In Your Seat, teaching religious school as well as private academic tutoring. I teach what I love, love what I do and my students do too. I found a home at NewCAJE and a glow that keeps on growing and enriching me all year long and ever so much more every summer. At a concert this year, during the month-long virtual Summer of NewCAJE, when the songwriters began sharing the magic of when they first discovered the conference, shined in a spotlight, or shifted into a new start, I found everyone had a story they were excited to tell. I was curious so I began collecting. “Attending NewCAJE has been a nourishing source of learning, enrichment, and summer-camp camaraderie,” Nina Gelman-Gans said. The tales of how and what folks found were not at all and exactly like mine, sharing the common themes of finding recognition and appreciation, realizing dreams, forming fierce and fast friendships (especially with Facebook connecting us across the country all year long), coming home and giving back. An upcoming series about experienced educators inspired into new endeavors through the love that is NewCAJE are forthcoming. LEARN MORE AT WWW.NEWCAJE.ORG.

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s the summer months near their conclusion, some can already hear the echoes of the upcoming Rosh Hashanah prayers. The High Holidays are the focal point of the year for many, and the start of a new year gives the opportunity to step back, reconsider and start afresh, an idea much neglected in our turbulent world. This year, however, the High Holidays arrive amid the coronavirus pandemic with a set of challenges unprecedented in modern history. Instead of the usual scenes of overflowing synagogues and large numbers gathering to pray, many congregations will be curtailing their crowds, and many regulars will be celebrating at home due to self-quarantining. Jewish publishers say that the prospect of praying alone has brought many to purchase their own Machzor prayer books for the first time, leading to record sales and dwindling volumes in stock. In Jewish teachings, the month of Tishrei is referred to as the month of festivals. Beginning with Rosh Hashanah, continuing with Yom Kippur and Sukkot, and then culminating with Simchat Torah, the month is brimming with moments of spiritual uplifting, each holiday in its own form. And with each holiday comes a set of observances — traditions enshrined throughout the centuries and customs passed down from generation to generation. 22

One of the special aspects of Rosh Hashanah is the unique prayers associated with the day. Jewish tradition teaches that Rosh Hashanah is the day that Jews reaccept Gd’s kingship, crowning Him again as King. The holiday, in line with the name Rosh Hashanah, “head” of the year, is also seen as setting the tone for the entire upcoming year, giving it vitality, much like the physical head does for the body. The prayers reflect these themes, drawing upon these messages to connect to Gd in a way unparalleled the rest of the year. The holiday prayers also contain poetic liturgy, authored by various Jewish sages and combined for a powerful prayer experience. The newly reprinted Kehot Annotated Rosh Hashanah Machzor is an invaluable tool for anyone seeking to draw inspiration from these exquisite prayers. Together with its Yom Kippur companion, the Machzor presents a lucid translation of the prayers and hymns, alongside instructions to assist in fulfilling the laws and customs of the prayers and of the holiday. Having been reprinted numerous times since its first printing in 2003, its most recent edition just arrived from the printer. The reprint comes just at the right time. A large percentage of High Holiday congregants do not own their own Machzor for Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, and would instead rely on their local synagogue


or Chabad House to supply one for them. With many planning on spending the holidays at home and others unable to leave their house due to being in a high-risk category or immunocompromised, the need for a personal prayer book has skyrocketed. Jewish bookstores around the country are seeing their shipments of Machzorim quickly snatched up and are scrambling to order additional copies. Publishers and online stores — foremost among them the Kehot online shop — are offering deals or free shipping to make the prayer books accessible to anyone across the country who needs or desires one. “We are working our utmost to assure that everyone can experience and celebrate the High Holidays, no matter where they may find themselves,” said Rabbi Mendel Laine of Kehot Publication Society. “Our goal is that every Jew — whether at home or in the synagogue — should have the ability to tap into the spiritual energy of the High Holidays, garnering the inspiration necessary for the upcoming year, which we hope and pray will be one of blessing and health.”


Temple Etz Rimon Would Love to Have You Join Us for The High Holidays! If you would like to join our online services, please email the following information to info@templeetzrimon.org: • Your name(s) • Address • Phone number • Write ‘High Holiday Reservations Request’ in the subject line Reservation & specific details about schedules & Zoom links will be provided after sending your information. There is no charge for this year’s online services, though donations are greatly appreciated. Questions? Call or email for more information.

L’shana tovah u’metukah! May you be inscribed for a good & sweet year! www.templeetzrimon.org 760.929.9503 2020 Chestnut Avenue Carlsbad, CA 92008 WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM





nviting two neighbors of different faiths into one’s socially distanced sukkah this year, says 2 for Seder founder Marnie Fienberg, can help address the isolation felt during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the rising tide of anti-Semitism. Fienberg, the daughter-in-law of Tree of Life victim Joyce Fienberg, started the 2 for Seder initiative as a part of the nonprofit Pittsburgh Interfaith Evolution (PIE), in the wake of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue shooting to empower Jews to combat anti-Semitism in their own communities by inviting those of a different faith to share their Passover seder. This coming Sukkot, she is calling upon North American Jews to open their sukkahs in a “COVID-safe” way and share this Jewish experience with two neighbors of different faiths — ta way to “rethink the High Holidays for our current world.”



According to Fienberg, inviting guests continues the thousands-year-old Jewish mitzvah of ushpizin (welcoming guests into one’s home), and helping Jews find relevance and spirituality during the High Holidays. “Abraham and the prophet Zechariah set examples that hospitality with others makes the world a better place. Many believe that according to the biblical prophet Zechariah, during the messianic era Sukkot will become a universal festival. All nations will make annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast,” she says. The tradition that was “inspired by our ancestors” also provides a safe way to connect to others when many have been socially isolated, she says. “Sukkot is home-based and outside. If you stay socially distanced or virtual, this is exactly the safe protocol that we have been following for months to prevent transmission

of the virus,” she notes, following CDC recommendations. “If you already have a sukkah, are thinking of getting one or plan to get in the spirit of Sukkot on your porch, this is the time for beginning a new family tradition,” says Fienberg. “The sukkah doesn’t have to be perfect this year. Find a space to create a temporary structure so you can see the stars and feel the air, reminding us how fragile the structures we build in our lives are compared to the power of nature.” For those who are not yet ready to host guests, Fienberg has also designed guidelines for a virtual celebration. It can include a traditional “Four Species” ceremony — incorporating the etrog (citron), lulav (date palm frond), hadass (myrtle bough) and aravah (willow branch) — with a synagogue or other Jewish group, showing off sukkah spaces and playing games with grandparents


A view of one of Marnie Fienberg's past sukahs. CREDIT: COURTESY

who may be isolated from their families. Also accessible online is a guide to planning one’s own holiday family traditions, including basic educational materials from both Sephardi and Ashkenazi traditions, a SukkahSAFE fact sheet and a webinar that help identify commonalities between religions and cultures. Inviting two guests of different faiths not only fulfills the mitzvah in a safe way, claims Fienberg, but helps to fight anti-Semitism at its core. “Sukkot is home-based and outside. If you stay socially distanced or virtual, this is the safe protocol we have been following to prevent transmission of the virus.” “Jews are being blamed for COVID and cruel tropes burn across the Internet daily,”

she relates. “As we have been pulled apart during COVID, hatred and anti-Semitism has focused on the old trope that Jews cause all plagues. This has given people who are frustrated with our health restrictions a potential outlet for their anger. ... We can’t give up fighting anti-Semitism because of COVID-19. At the same time, we also have to be realistic and extremely safe in how we approach our model of sharing a Jewish experience with neighbors of different faiths to build bridges.” Fienberg says that sharing a meal with a friend or neighbor of another faith gives others a firsthand experience of Judaism, “cutting through the noise of anti-Semitic tropes and news while fostering open communication and conversation. Many people who hate

Jews or just feel ambivalent toward us have never really known a Jewish person.” While she acknowledges that “you can’t fix the whole world,” inroads can be made between people, especially when it’s someone familiar. “Our home-based Jewish holidays lend themselves to this goal,” adds Fienberg, who also expressed gratitude in 2 for Seder: in the sukkah’s partners, which include the JCC Association, Women of Reform Judaism, Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, and Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa. “Sukkot gives us the power to change and repair our corner of the world,” emphasizes Fienberg, “our best hope for true peace.”




Moving Toward a Pandemic-Free World


OVID-19 has been a miserable, even tragic, experience. Another killer pandemic? It’s certainly not something we want to experience again anytime soon, or ever. I know San Diego, where I grew up, has suffered greatly at the hands, or spikes, of the coronavirus. But here’s the good news. If we’re serious about greatly reducing the chances of a second, quite possibly worse, pandemic, the solution is simple and comes with wonderful side effects. A transition to plant-based diets on the individual level, and away from animal agriculture on the societal level, will not only help prevent another pandemic — it will improve your health, spare animals from suffering, reduce environmental degradation, and even lessen world hunger. And it will move you into alignment with Judaism’s most noble values. THE ORIGIN OF EPIDEMICS

A little history is in order. 26


Throughout most of human history, there were no epidemic diseases. “No one got the flu, not even the common cold, until about 10,000 years ago,” said Dr. Michael Greger, author of Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching. What happened 10,000 years ago? We began domesticating animals. “When we brought domesticated animals to the barnyard, they brought their diseases with them,” Greger said. Measles, for instance, has killed 200 million people over the course of history. It entered into the human population from cattle, in the form of the rinderpest virus. The flu, which takes the form of many viruses, originally came from domesticated ducks. Even the common cold came from camels. In the mid-20th century, scientists developed vaccines to slow and even stop the spread of some of the worst infectious diseases. Measles. Polio. Smallpox.


But in the last 35 years or so, humanity has been visited by an unprecedented variety of frightening virus outbreaks. AIDS. Ebola. SARS. MERS. The swine flu. And now COVID-19. In addition to their lethality, these viral outbreaks have something else in common. All of these diseases are zoonotic, meaning they spilled over from animals into the human population. In fact, all of them have come about because of the confinement, slaughter and consumption of animals. Yes, even AIDS. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, made the jump from animals to people when someone slaughtered a chimpanzee for meat. The chimpanzee was carrying the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV). WHAT WE CAN DO

Fortunately, we have the power to greatly reduce our chances of creating another pandemic. “To prevent future outbreaks like COVID-19 or worse, we have to treat planetary, animal and human health as inseparable,” Viveca Morris, executive director of the Law, Ethics & Animals Program at Yale Law School, wrote recently in the Los Angeles Times. “This will require … changes to business as usual. “To date, we’ve operated under the fallacies that medicine and ecology can be understood independently and that the conditions that impact the animal kingdom are separate from those that impact humans.” Preventing future outbreaks will require some dietary modifications. Positive ones. Eating plants, not animals. In the words of University of Oxford zoologist Cynthia Schuck, “Our purchasing and dietary choices can build a safer future for generations to come.” The author or authors of the Torah seemed to understand this. In the very first chapter of Genesis, we’re told unequivocally that we should eat plants and only plants (Genesis 1:29). The eat-plants edict remained in effect for the first thousand years of the Biblical story. Only after humanity had sunk to its lowest spiritual state (Genesis 9) did God reluctantly give people limited permission to eat animal flesh. God tried again to impose a vegan diet when the Israelites were wandering in the desert, nourishing them with manna. And when a subset of the Israelites clamored for meat, God gave it to them, but the meat-eaters died shortly thereafter in a plague (Numbers 11). So, as Jews, we were warned that the consumption of animals would trigger an outbreak of a lethal disease. Today, factory farms, which produce literally 98 percent of our meat, are tinder boxes for a viral outbreak. You’ve heard of social distancing? Well, in a factory farm, it’s the exact opposite. Animals are crammed together by the thousands in confined, indoor spaces, enabling viruses to easily spread and mutate. This is not conjecture or paranoia. This is exactly what happened in 2009, when the swine flu spread from factory farms into the human population, killing as many as 500,000 people globally. If you think the current pandemic is bad, and it is, we could really be in trouble if the H5N1 bird flu becomes more contagious. First identified in a poultry farm in 1997, H5N1 has killed more than 50 percent of the people who have become infected.

“To prevent future outbreaks like COVID-19 or worse, we have to treat planetary, animal and human health as inseparable,” Viveca Morris wrote recently. The only thing that has spared humanity from a devastating H5N1 pandemic is the low rate of human-to-human transmission. If the H5N1 were to mutate into a form that is more transmissible from human-to-human, like the new coronavirus, this bird flu could kill anywhere from 5 million to 350 million people, according to an article in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. NOW IS THE TIME

Rosh Hashanah is just around the corner, making this a spiritually opportune time to make positive changes in our lives. As Jews, we can set an example for the rest of humankind, we can truly serve as a light onto the nations, by transitioning to plant-based diets. As individuals, there is no single change we can make that addresses more personal and global problems. When we transition to a plantbased diet, we can improve our health, spare animals from suffering, reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and, now you know, do our part to prevent another pandemic. And, this being Rosh Hashanah after all, we can commit ourselves to living up to Judaism’s highest values, which include showing compassion for animals and caring for both our personal and our planet’s health. Let’s not wait for another pandemic to do this. Together, let’s prevent the next pandemic before it ever starts. JEFFREY SPITZ COHAN IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF JEWISH VEG, A NATIONAL NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO INSPIRING AND HELPING JEWS TO ADOPT PLANT-BASED DIETS. HE GREW UP IN EL CAJON AND BECAME A BAR MITZVAH AT TEMPLE BETH ISRAEL. FOR MORE INGO ON THE CONNECTION BETWEEN PANDEMICS AND MEAT-EATING, AND FOR FREE RESOURCES ON TRANSITIONING TO A VEGAN LIFESTYLE, VISIT JEWISHVEG.ORG/PANDEMIC. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM



Coco Jolie Fine

Chocolates & Confections


hocolatier Miriam Gitelman is a talented woman indeed. A mother of three, she is the chef and owner of Coco Jolie Fine Chocolates & Confections based in Englewood, N.J. She has a retail storefront as well as a chocolate production kitchen where everything is made on site. Gitelman had two previous careers in architecture and technology, but five years ago was able to fulfill a lifelong dream and attend the International Culinary Center, where she graduated with a Professional Pastry Arts degree. She then pursued further study in the field of chocolate. Her business started at home and then eventually moved into a rented commercial kitchen. A year ago, she moved into her current space which she was able to customize specifically for chocolate production. In addition to her retail store, she sells through her website and wholesale to other food purveyors, caterers, and event planners. Her products are certified Kosher OU, vegan, organic and fair trade. Her signature product are chocolate bonbons, which customers have said look like gems or pieces of glass. The bonbons are filled with a variety of ganache’s, fruit fillings, pralines and caramels which all vary according to season. Chocolate bars, chocolate covered popcorn, mixed berries and hazelnuts, are among the other items available. Soon, a new line of truffles as well as Pate De Fruit (upscaled Parisian styled fruit jellies) will be launched online and in-store. 28


“The presentation is just as important as the taste and the quality of the product,” Gitelman said. All the products are beautifully packaged, creating a truly luxurious and unique experience for the lucky recipient. Custom orders are done for bar mitzvahs, weddings and other special events, as well as corporate gifting which is especially popular during the holiday season. She can match the designs of the chocolates as well as the packaging to match any theme, logo or monogram. “I always wanted to do something in either culinary or pastry,” Gitelman said. “Attending the International Culinary Center was truly one of the best experiences of my life.” Gitelman specializes in French techniques, and has spent considerable time and effort replicating classic recipes in vegan form. All the ingredients she uses are natural, and many are also organic. At her culinary school, she studied the professional pastry arts program and then completed supplementary chocolate courses with master chocolatiers in the U.S., Belarus and Israel to refine her chocolate skills. In French, coco jolie means beautiful chocolate and that is just what Gitelman creates. COCO JOLIE SHIPS NATIONWIDE. TO ORDER, VISIT COCOJOLIE.COM.

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& mishagoss Hopeful High Holidays Happening Here, "Honey!"


his year it’s not looking too hopeful for the High Holidays to be held amongst family, friends, fellow congregants, and your favorite Rabbi in synagogue. How do you like them apples? (And honey?) Well I don’t like it at all. I’m not good with change. I like my Jewish laws to stay consistent and my traditions to remain stable (and I REALLY like the round chocolate chip challah a certain Temple member always makes!) so I’m sad the pandemic keeps cancelling everything, because then I miss out. But I have a Jewish friend who finds silver linings in everything -- even CoronaVirus. Deborah, (whose favorite phrase is “No Worries!”) claims facemasks are wonderful because they hide her double chin. She also points out mandatory mask laws make 2020 a dandy time to straighten her teeth since she was too embarrassed to let the orthodontist do his thing as a teenager. You go, girl! Keep that (double) chin up! Hmmph. Okay, okay, if I’m going to be totally honest here, there’s something about having a 24/7 good-natured, round-the-clock chipper friend that tempts me to test her limits. Or at least get her to admit she views the world through rose-colored glasses. And once those rosy spectacles are removed, she’ll discover that (just like the rest of us!) sometimes she wishes she could remove other things from her face as well. Like itchy masks. And 30

painful metal braces. Listen, I’m not saying to do it, only confess that you’d like to. Yes, I have a classic case of Misery Loves Company. Not very mensch-like of me, I’m aware! (I’ll throw an entire loaf of bread in the ocean this year to atone.) I should just cultivate a positive attitude and join Deborah with looking on the bright side in 2020. But having an inquisitive personality, (you might know this trait as being a nosy Yente!) instead I quiz Deborah about what she’s looking forward to regarding Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur? After the way Passover went down, I really want to hear her reasons. Her cheery answer? “The New Year brings fresh starts, clean slates, renewed beginnings to all!” (Spoken like a true optimist.) What nonsense! COVID-19 doesn’t follow the Hebrew calendar and it won’t mysteriously evaporate at the first trumpeting of the shofar. Speaking of that lovely tradition, I’m also upset at not hearing it in person this year. That’s when Deborah (and her equally “Glass is Half Full” husband) inform me they’re organizing “Drive-by Shofar Blowing” experiences throughout San Diego. I sit there amazed by their upbeat attitude, picturing frightened mailmen, anxious dog-walkers, and the ice-cream truck guy getting blown away (literally!) on every cul-de-sac by a blasting ram’s horn emanating from the open window of a diligent Rabbi’s Toyota. What’s


planned for Tashlich? A “Gloved, Drive-Thru Breadcrumb Toss” into Lake San Marcos? When the subject switches to attending Kol Nidre on Zoom, Deborah expresses glee at only being visible from the waist up. Evidently classy (and comfortable!) white pants and skirts are difficult to find. I envision only the top half of Deborah ascending with the angels. Hey, Levi Strauss….take some notes, will ya? But when I bring up the idea of fasting alone for twenty-four hours, I finally see Deborah frown. Aha, gotcha girl! Everyone knows Jews need to suffer in crowds for it to be deemed effective. Self-affliction doesn’t count if there’s nobody around to hear you moan and groan --AND commiserate over having C.B.B (Community Bad Breath!) from not brushing or chewing gum. Deborah’s joyful answer? A “Drive-By Kvetch” session? Or a “Zoom Gloom N’ Doom No Food to Consume” gripe session? Nope. Deborah smiles, showing her crooked teeth in all their glory, “My braces go on the day before and they’ll make my teeth so sore, I won’t want to eat anything at all!” Then she added, (you guessed it!) “No Worries!” FIND STEPHANIE D. LEWIS ON THE HUFFINGTON POST COMEDY SECTION AND AT ONCEUPONYOURPRIME.COM.



Professor Hadas Mamane at her lab at Tel Aviv University. Photo by Dr. Vered Cohen Yaniv/Courtesy of Israel21c.









By Naama Barak, Israel21C via JNS Hand sanitizers—once the preserve of nurses, mothers and the uber-clean—have now become a ubiquitous accessory found in purses, cars, businesses and offices worldwide. Israeli scientists bent on creating ethanol from environmental waste for purposes such as planet-friendly fuel decided to carry out a pilot project to turn local waste into alcohol for disinfectants. “We were surprised to find out that Israel is still completely reliant on the import of alcohol for the purpose of disinfection. From there, it was a short distance to producing alcohol as a disinfectant in the struggle against corona,” said Professor Hadas Mamane, head of Tel Aviv University’s environmental engineering program. She and Professor Yoram Gerchman from the University of Haifa used a pre-treatment method involving ozone to turn waste into ethanol that was in turn transformed into alcohol. “The use of ozone is a simple pre-treatment method that’s easy and cheap to set up and operate, and has many advantages: It’s almost non-polluting, doesn’t require using dangerous substances and can be carried out on a local and global level,” Mamane said. Mamane is now working on setting up an applied pilot program at Tel Aviv University to create alcohol for disinfectants using local waste. “Our challenge,” she says, “will be to increase the efficiency of the process of creating alcohol from as many waste sources as possible.”



Co-founder Rita Heller reports that T.E.A.M., Training And Education About The Middle East, has been dissolved. “Co-founded by myself and J.J. Surbeck in 2008, our last fundraiser was not successful enough to hire a new director and I could no longer carry on by myself,” Heller said. “I truly appreciate all of the people who assisted us over the years, as well as those who came to listen. I believe that we did make a difference in Israel advocacy.”




When the Pandemic reached the State of Colorado, Jamie Korngold, also known as the Adventure Rabbi had to curtail her outdoor Hebrew School adventures and her in person lessons. As she was looking for curriculum to fill the void, Korngold realized that nationwide there were tens of thousands of kids who might benefit from an online version of Hebrew school. With years of expertise in the virtual classroom space, Korngold has created a special online Hebrew School that combines both her adventure outings and real word Hebrew School classes, to captivate students who are now home-based. “I am known for the way that I do things - that are unique and different and with Covid-19, I want to reach out and bring my enthusiasm for Judaism to youth everywhere,” said Rabbi Korngold. “My Hebrew School is not the dreaded school of yesterday, and being part of my Adventure Judaism Congregation, kids can now get engaged with Judaism in a unique and exciting way.” Additional information can be found at www.adventurerabbi.org.



With more people facing food insecurity in San Diego than ever before as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFS) has already begun calling for donations to its annual High Holy Days Food Drive — which will be held on October 18 from 1-3 p.m. at the JFS Joan & Irwin Jacobs Campus. Online donations are also encouraged and currently available as part of the food drive. The 102-year-old nonprofit is hoping to surpass the 30,000 lbs. of food usually collected during this food drive to help offset the 309% increase in families and older adults served through JFS’s nutrition assistance programs since the pandemic began. More information can be found at www.jfssd.org/high-holy-daysfood-drive. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM




mom.com What's Going to be With Our Kids This Year?!!!


ver the last few days, I’ve been spending a significant amount of time listening to and speaking with mothers who are trying to determine what is best to do for their children this upcoming school year. I think what is clear to all of us is that this won’t be an easy year, not for teachers, not for parents, and not for children. No matter what decisions the mothers I’ve been talking to end up making, they are decisions that many of them never wanted to make, never wanted to think about. Listen to Rav Hirsch on Parshas Re’eh. Moshe begins the Parshah by saying: “See I am setting before you today blessing and curse and you have a choice, you can pursue the blessing by following Hashem or you can choose the curse by turning away from Hashem.” Then Moshe gives us a tiny glimpse of what will happen later on and he continues, “and you shall deliver the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Eival”. Rav Hirsch beautifully points out that Har Grizim and Har Eival are the perfect mountains to illustrate the difference between a blessing and a curse. The two mountains, located side by side, present the most striking, instructive visualization of a blessing and a curse. Both of them rise from the same soil, both are watered by the same precipitation, rain and dew. The same air passes over them both, the same pollen is blown over them both. Yet Eival remains starkly barren, while Gerizim is covered with lush vegetation to its very top. Thus we see that blessings and curses are not dependent on external circumstances — but on the manner in which we react to these circumstances. Hence, whether we are blessed or cursed is not dependent on the superficial conditions that are imposed upon us, but on how we deal with them



— on our attitude toward that which should bring us blessing. Wow! Blessings and curses are not dependent on external circumstances but on the manner in which we react to those circumstances! That is exactly what I need to hear, what my children need to hear, and what each mother I’ve talked to needs to hear. It is easy to fixate on the external circumstances: how can my child learn in a mask all day? How they can handle socially distanced lunches and recesses? How can my child cope with more Zoom classes? Lots and lots of external circumstances which we may be tempted to think are the problem. But no, it’s not the circumstance that’s the problem it’s our attitude to them that can be the blessing or the curse. That is such an empowering message, for ourselves, and to give over to our children. Yes, the circumstances are out of our control, but our attitude is within our control and at the end of the day, our attitude is all that matters. We can change the way we look at the upcoming year. We can fill ourselves with delight and anticipation of all the growth, all the learning, all the new opportunities that are coming our way and we can share that with our children. Let’s take these words to heart so that we can help our children start their school year with an attitude of blessing, of optimism, of excitement. That is the message of Har Grizim and Har Eival. External situations just don’t matter all that much, it’s what’s inside us that counts. REBECCA MASINTER IS THE CREATOR OF TORAS IMECHA, A DAILY 2-3 MINUTE PODCAST WITH INSPIRATIONAL THOUGHTS ON THE PARSHA AND JEWISH MOTHERHOOD.



ewish National Fund-USA’s (JNF-USA) 2020 National Conference will, for the first time, be held virtually, announced the organization’s National President, Dr. Sol Lizerbram. Slated for October 18 – 23, 2020, JNF-USA’s Virtual National Conference will continue to serve as the organization’s premier planning and celebratory event. This year’s conference will again feature a substantive program with a focus on how JNF-USA is impacting Israel’s present and future, all available from the comfort of the participants’ own homes. The Conference will include an inspiring Opening Event on Sunday evening, two 45 minute informative and lively sessions each day (Monday – Thursday), and an exciting Closing Event on Friday. The full program can be found on jnf.org/virtualnc. “As it does so ably and efficiently, Jewish National Fund-USA is making the best of the current situation and following through on its promises to Israel, its people, and our partners,” said Lizerbram. “This will be a great opportunity to review our tremendous accomplishments and shift our focus on successfully achieving the goals of 2021.” Featured topics and discussions will focus on how JNF-USA is helping Israel shape itself as the food and culinary capital of the world; the tremendous strides JNF-USA is making to support Israel’s role as a leader in global food, energy, and water security; a behind-the-scenes look at the world-wide impact of the training international students receive at the Arava International Center for Agriculture Training; and much more. “The Virtual National Conference will be an opportunity to reflect on the past year, share how we pivoted with the times and continued to deliver on our promises to the land and people of Israel, and lay out the foundation for our vision for the upcoming year,” said Jewish National Fund-USA San Diego President Shari Schenk. “Next year, we hope to see everyone in Israel for JNF-USA’s 2021 National Conference!” Sponsorship opportunities are available for the 2020 Virtual

National Conference at levels from $500 – $25,000. “This is a significant time and a wonderful opportunity to show your support for Israel,” said Jewish National Fund-USA Vice President, Communities and Regions, Kenneth Segel. “Those who sponsor the 2020 Virtual National Conference will get a two-for-one deal, and receive recognition at the 2021 Conference in Israel as well. Our vital work in Israel continues despite the challenging times, and our vision for the future is bigger than ever.” Registration for Jewish National Fund-USA’s 2020 Virtual National Conference is now open at jnf.org/virtualnc. Jewish National Fund-USA is offering a complimentary registration Zoom spot to members of its World Chairman’s Council, King Solomon Society, Negev Society, and those who have registered for the 2021 National Conference in Israel. For more information about the National Conference or how to get involved with Jewish National Fund-USA, contact Monica Edelman, San Diego Director, at medelman@jnf.org or 858.824.9178 x988.





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