November 2014 lchaim san diego

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SDSU pg. 29

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November 2014

Features 12 A Thousand Words Deanne (Goodman) Gustagson, Kombucha on tap

16 COVER STORY: Cracking the Bar Mitzvah Code What should your daughter wear?


20 Putting the Mitzvah in Bar Mitzvah For Israeli families in need, it’s often Diaspora Jews that make the difference

22 Just the Beginning On becoming a Bar Mitzvah

24 Holy Texting! Does new app make smartphone use ok on Shabbat?


26 YAM JAM They’re playing our teen’s song

30 POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews Opens Illuminating the millennium-long Jewish history of Poland


6 Hello 7 Of the Book 8 What Jew Mean 9 My Comic Relief 10 Salon Shalom 34 Mazel & Mishagoss

PUBLISHERS Diane Benaroya & Laurie Miller EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Alanna Maya CREATIVE DIRECTOR Laurie Miller CONTRIBUTORS Yigal Adato, Daniel Bortz, Jeffrey Cohan, Rachel Grossman, Salomon Maya, Rob Greenspan ADVERTISING & SALES Diane Benaroya, Ally Ginzberg, Sharon Rapoport

Events Chai Life

11 Teri, Campus of Life, Building Bridges 12 Melvin Garb Hillel Center Opens at SDSU The future of Jewish life on campus

To Health!

32 Transitioning Into Fall



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to life. A Bar Mitzvah Tale


he year: 1993. The Synagogue: Beth Jacob.

The Party: Red Lion Hotel in Mission Valley (now a DoubleTree or as my friend Aaron reminds me every time we pass by it the place with the best chocolate chip cookies). Do not adjust your TV screens faithful L’CHAIM viewers (yes I know it’s a magazine…just please bear with me) this is not your normal editorial. The person writing this is Salomon, the man with the Random Rants section, and after hearing the topic was Bar-Mitzvahs I decided to hijack the normal Editors column and write my own on that fateful day when boys become men. I was a pale, plump lad with a highpitched nasal voice and chubby cheeks that were so fluffy people sometimes asked if I had just been stung by a bee. I am the youngest of three boys so I rode the caboose train when it came to having a Bar-mitzvah. 6


And like most of my fellow youngest-in-thefamily kids, I was a mommy’s boy. I knew my bar mitzvah had to be the best and my mommy dearest was going to make sure it was. My oldest brother’s bar mitzvah was in 1984, and held in a golf course in Bonita, Calif., and I knew I could top that. I mean first of all, it was in the mid ’80s so it wasn’t going to be that hard. The DJ played endless jams from Wham and Prince. He also wore a bright blue sequined vest so automatically I had to subtract points just on fashion alone. My middle brother’s bar mitzvah was in 1987 and held in Mission Valley. The location today is an all you can eat sushi buffet in the shape of a giant whale. His party was a little harder to beat, as my middle brother has always been the cool one. He was the one who was good in sports and had all the girlfriends. My parents used to make him take me along with his friends and I knew he hated it. I hated it too because all these schmuck kids would do was sit outside of the Pizza Hut off of Sweetwater Road and

draw on each other’s K-Swiss sneakers. So his bar mitzvah was filled with the typical rigmarole, girls dressed up like Punky Brewster be-bopping to Walk Like an Egyptian by The Bangles… Then it was my turn. 1993 seemed like an eternity away from K-Swiss’ and acid washed jeans. I had my entire ballroom decked out in huge movie posters (to remind you all, I was an actor at 10 years old, so the movie posters just went with my bar mitzvah theme). I looked pretty dang fly as well with my 3-button suit I just had tailored from Men’s Fashion Depot. I mean—ladies, watch out. Physically I looked like a more Jewish Manny from Modern Family, but I didn’t care, it was my bar mitzvah. It was my time to shine. It was my turn to beat my brothers! I killed my bar mitzvah speech and made the entire room belly laugh from my mispronunciation of Spanish words. Everything was going perfect until my mother informed me of a surprise. I looked around astonished, awaiting my barmitzvah gift. Was it a new video game? A new bike? A new brother? What was it? It was a singing telegram. Yes! A man dressed up as a gorilla came to my bar mitzvah and sang to me. This was my surprise. This stupid gorilla even embarrassed me further when he attempted to place a pointy bar mitzvah hat on me and let go of the elastic that goes around your chin too soon and whipped me right in the eyes… right in the deepest part of my Jewish soul. That was my bar mitzvah. That was my path to manhood.


of the

book Becoming a Giver


he saga of the development of mankind and the Jewish People, as laid out in the beginning of the book of Bereishit, is a fascinating one. But it is also one which carries deep and powerful messages for each and every one of us in our development as human beings. Alone in the Garden of Eden, Adam he has not a care in the world. Then, God decides to craft a partner for Adam. The Torah tells us that when God created Chava from Adam’s rib, Adam said, “This (Chava) is the one! She is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh,” and then the Torah tells us, “Therefore, a man leaves the house of his father and mother and connects with his wife.” Therefore? What does “therefore” mean here? There is the obvious connection between the passages; they both deal with the topic of the connection between man and woman, but why “therefore”? The word implies that people leave their parents in order to get married because Chava was taken from Adam’s rib. As children we are given everything we need by our parents. As we grow older, we slowly transition into a state of selfsufficiency. But, when we are born and while we live in our parents’ home we are takers. In order to properly enter into a relationship with another human being we must change this nature and grow up. We must “leave the house of our father and mother” and cease to be takers.

We must become givers. The Torah tells us that in order for a person to have a successful marriage, friendship, or any other type of relationship, they must be a giver. Just as the first interpersonal relationship of mankind– Chava–was created through an act of giving–the giving of Adam’s rib–so too all future interpersonal relationships must come from a place of giving. We can now read the passage as follows: “Just as Adam gave of himself to build his relationship with his wife, so too a person must leave the taker mentality of his youth and become a giver.” Indeed, this is the theme of the saga which ensues: Adam fails to be a giver, takes (the forbidden fruit) and so is forced to work for his sustenance (in order to break the taker mentality). The taker mentality is, alas, too strong for mankind to overcome and so, due to rampant theft, the world is overturned by the flood and Noah is responsible for nourishing the whole world; giving for an entire year by feeding and sustaining all life. Finally, we meet Abraham, the paradigm of a giver, of whom the Talmud says, “So long as Abraham was alive God’s attribute of giving was not needed, for Abraham took its place.” So what does this mean for our lives today? I would like to offer three practical pieces of advice: 1. Stop being a taker. Realize that although it was a necessary stage of your development to be a taker, as we grow

The Torah tells us that in order for a person to have a successful marriage, friendship or any other type of relationship, they must be a giver. up it is important to slowly move away from this mentality. 2. Give to others. The next time you get up to get yourself a cup of water or a snack, get one for someone else too. You have two hands for a reason. You don’t have to be a giver all the time, but at least whenever you think about yourself, think about other people. 3. Teach and inspire. When you sustain someone else physically, you are giving, which is good for you, but you are forcing them to become takers. When you teach and inspire others it is like lighting a candle, instead of creating a relationship of giver and a taker, you have created two givers. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM




jew mean Promises, Promises


was 18 years old and it was my first year at UCSD. I had been walking the campus to try to figure out where all my classes were so that I wouldn’t be late, and came to a table with a sign that said “Free T-shirt.” I approached the table and the pretty girl behind the sign told me that all I had to do to get the free t-shirt was sign up for this new Visa credit card and so I did. I got my free t-shirt and was happy thinking that I had just fooled them; I would never really use the credit card. Two weeks later, the card arrived and I began to spend. I was working in retail and made minimum wage, so taking on another bill was probably not the best idea, but hey, what the heck; I got a free t-shirt. I loved using my new credit card. About 60 days passed, and I went to get gas with my new card. 8


I handed my card to the woman behind the counter and she looked at me with a funny face and followed by cutting my new card into pieces with scissors because I had not paid. I was furious. I called the credit card company and began to yell at the customer service representative. I told her how they had embarrassed me and how this wasn’t fair. What she said in return would stay with me for the rest of my life: “When you get a credit card you promise to pay us back what you spent and on time.” As a life coach, people often ask me what creates success and what causes people to transform their lives. My answer is integrity. Integrity is following through with your promises and taking care of business in a timely manner, regardless of what will happen if you don’t. We tend to make excuses to others if we can’t complete a task,

or worse; we make excuses to ourselves. How many times have you told yourself that tomorrow you will wake up early and go to the gym. Then, 7 a.m. comes around, your alarm sounds, you look at your phone and decide that one more hour of sleep is more important than keeping your word to yourself. You see, what happens in that moment is something that many people don’t recognize. Your subconscious takes your lack of integrity, views it as a failure and remembers it. Two days later, you promise to eat healthy and that same weekend you pig out and call it a “cheat” day. Once again your subconscious remembers it. You may have forgotten all those little things but your mind does not. It holds onto them, especially when you want to create new goals, almost laughing at you; knowing that you have not kept your word so many times before. Why would you do it now? So how do we make sure that our mind is programed for success? The answer is always keep your word. From the promises you make to others and especially to yourself to what you say about others and even your thoughts, your word is the secret to success. The Talmud states that the tongue is so powerful that it has to be hidden behind two barriers, the lips and the teeth. So I challenge you to keep your promises for 30 days. I promise you will see a shift in your mindset to success.



comic relief Path to Man(in the)hood


rowing up I knew I had three passions: writing, acting and science. I was obsessed with how things worked and always imagined myself wearing a white lab coat and sticking wooden applicators in patients’ mouths. (Cue dramatic music.) But all that changed on September 11, 2001. I was in college and I had a huge exam for my General Zoology class. My professor was extremely liberal, had strawberry blond oily hair that reached her waist and wore Birkenstock sandals non-stop. Upon hearing the news of the morning’s events, she made a quick antiwar comment and began handing out the exam. I stood up, said that this was the last thing we should be doing today and walked out. That day, I withdrew from the course and decided that science just wasn’t for me. Now that doesn’t mean that science and the endless pursuit of empirical evidence doesn’t still haunt me daily, especially

when attending synagogue. Especially my old synagogue. Since I was born my family belonged to an Orthodox synagogue. And I won’t lie to you. I detested it! The teachings just didn’t mix well with my inquisitive mind. Now I know there are many Orthodox Jews who will see that and want to correct me, and again I’m just stating my opinion. Every time I had a question or looked in the Siddur for an answer all I got was just more prayers. I wanted to know about God and I was curious about how the religion explained dinosaurs or UFOs. True, these questions might seem asinine but I was a kid and I wanted answers. Unfortunately I never got them. I was just told to sit down and be quiet and pray. So I just twirled my tallit on the High Holy Days counting seconds and daydreaming. When I was old enough to fast, I would question why I could do certain things like drive to temple yet I couldn’t have water; again I was

met with the same look of shut up and pray. But what really defined religion for me was a dinner in Israel. When I was 19, I lived there for a year and one Shabbat, I was invited to a Rabbi’s house on Mea Sharim. Everything started the same as it did at home, we gave the blessings for wine and bread and sat and ate chicken and rice. At one point during dinner the Rabbi asked me if I could name some of the members of the US national soccer team, which I could. I rattled them off like clockwork. The Rabbi again smiled and asked me if I could name any of Joseph’s brothers. I stared at him and at the other people at the table, and said, “no, I can’t.” The Rabbi then called over his daughter and asked how old she was. The girl quickly answered, “Chamesh” (five). The Rabbi then asked her to name all of Joseph’s brothers. She didn’t name them, she sung them. I sat there embarrassed. My friends bowed their heads. My blood boiled in frustration and my pseudo smile just cut the awkward moment like a knife. Like 9/11 killed my dream of being a doctor, this Rabbi disrupted my passion for being Jewish.. I never forgot that Rabbi and his daughter. It possibly even led to my many frustrations with the Orthodox side of our beautiful religion. Today I belong to a conservative synagogue with a Rabbi I not only look up to but envy for his love of science. I don’t blame that Rabbi in Israel who questioned my knowledge of the Torah, because that’s all he knows. I guess in the end all that matters is that we love who we are, because it is the only way we will ever truly know where we come from and where we’re going. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM




shalom Nostalgia


ne stop shopping via the general store or convenience market for all our needs is a thing of the past. Back in the heyday of art for arts sake, one could easily slip into a number of venues on the Bowery, or the Lower East Side in New York to experience a spiritual, political and artistic epiphany neatly rolled into one event. In Joseph Chaiken’s Open Theatre or Judith Malina and Julian Beck’s Living Theatre, the function of the ensemble was to transform the empty space, whereby through communal expression and dissolution of the fourth wall, metaphysical experience was brought to light. Across the Atlantic, famed theatre practitioner Jersey Grotowski paraded naked through the Polish forest with a group of actors as guinea pigs in search of a poorer physical theatre and ecstatic experience. The Southeast Asians have long understood the marriage of art and spirit. One only has to look at their fire walk, synchronized trance dance or the purification of the masks ritual; all regular cyclical events in their Hindu practices and festivals. If you ever walked into a Gospel church on a Sunday, there’s no doubt that you are witnessing the Holy Spirit expressed through body and soul. The closest parallel in Judaism is the Chassidic Nigun, a largely 10

improvisational repetitive melody sung to evoke the mystical joy of intense prayer. Too many of our houses of worship have become stale institutions regurgitating the same old same old with minor variations or branding. We need more granola and Birkenstocks with our Torah. And so, it was refreshing to see the new kids on the block: The Jewish Collaborative of San Diego or JCo usher in Rosh Hashanah with an interactive smorgasbord of art, song, prayer and media. Aptly enough, services were held at the Carlsbad High School Theatre, where Mega Temple met Ted Talk, as Rabbi Josh Burrows wowed us with a big screen show of time-lapse photography courtesy of the International Space Station. Set to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and narrated by the Rabbi’s overarching question: “Where are you,” JCo asks us to navigate the road of introspection toward a more authentic self. The New Year’s Eve montage expanded on the Creation theme with clips from Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s chant: “You are the Universe, the Universe is within you.” Today’s youth interact and create via social media and in the digital realm; for the millennial the message is in the medium. Kudos to the organizers for reaching across the divide to engage our youth on their own turf. A perfect footnote to this point was


depicted in a video performance by dub step and hip-hop maestro Marquese Scott. Rabbis Arad and Burrows define JCo as its constituents, the operative word being collaborative. They reject traditional titles of Senior Rabbi and Cantor and instead prefer to be called co-organizers. Member formed cohorts in the arts, healing and prayer helped shape the High Holiday service as congregants contributed their talents in meditation, storytelling, art, writing, movement, mask and voice. Arad shared the spotlight with several congregants, singing renditions of Hinei Mah Tov, Yihiyu Leratson and Sin Shalom. Arad’s Torah reading was a small part of the service, signifying that the sum or whole of the experience is greater than it’s individual parts. True to the “happenings” of theatre events past, the gestalt is the message. Burrows several times broke the fourth wall by coming off the stage or makeshift bima to question the audience, each time prefacing his questions, with: “This is not rhetorical, I want to hear your answers.” AIMEE GREENBERG IS A DIRECTOR, WRITER, PERFORMER, DRAMA THERAPIST AND TEACHER BASED IN SAN DIEGO. EMAIL HER AT TOPCAT8787@AOL.COM.




he following is a review of a spectacular event held to raise awareness and help fundraising efforts for TERI and their Campus of Life, a college like campus for individuals with special needs. TERI is a local nonprofit with a mission of changing the way the world views and helps children and adults touched by special needs. For more info:


“Building Bridges,” an educating, inspiring, and entertaining show was an innovative combination of music, bittersweet comedy, philosophical rant (in the best sense of the word), and science which took place on October 17 at the California Center for the Arts. New York Times best-selling author Ron Suskind shared a powerful story that evening: The outstanding tale of how a father found a unique way to converse with his non-verbal son, a boy with Autism Spectrum Disorder, through

scripted dialogue passages taken from Disney movies. Suskind interspersed his monologue performance with famous Disney ballads, played by the Palomar Symphony Orchestra. His findings are supported by scientific research called “Affinity Therapy” for people on the Autism Spectrum. Characters, maps, calendars, (what used to be called “obsessions”), can now be a tool for them to make sense of the world and to help them connect. That describes the left-brained logistical/ mechanical portion of the evening, but the real essence of this palpable handson experience was a significant and meaningful turning point that will stay with the audience forever. The opening tune, (When You Wish Upon a Star) performed by the amazing all-studentrun band, was followed by 90 minutes of Suskind’s riveting delivery (with several humorous Jewish asides) as he recounted wayward dreams and smashed hopes which slowly resurrected and reincarnated into a new path of engagement that nobody dared to imagine for his beloved young son, Owen. By the show’s conclusion, (Let It Go from the movie Frozen, which was belted out in the pure voice of an angel from student, Emily Holderman) it was clear this had been a waterproof mascara test night, indeed! Most memorable was Suskind’s description of that fateful cold, rainy afternoon when Owen, who had regressed and stopped talking completely, as so many children with autism do, began uttering something sounding like, “Juicervose, juicervose.” A sippy cup with apple juice was repeatedly offered, but to no avail. In the background, the family television droned on with its usual Disney feature, this time The Little Mermaid, and specifically the highly theatrical scene where evil Ursula demands Ariel make a crucial trade.

“Go ahead— make your choice! It won’t cost much, just your voice!” Like lightning, it struck Suskind and his wife. Owen wasn’t attempting to quench his thirst, (at least not his thirst for juice) he was relating emotionally to the dialogue spoken in the movie from a scene with an ironic theme that hit very close to home. “Juicervose” = “Just your voice!” Amidst jubilant whoops and cheers, Owen kept repeating this telltale phrase with a wide smile on his face. Upon hearing about additional Disney breakthroughs like this one, the doctors remained highly dubious. But in the Suskind family’s eyes, Owen had definitely not vanished, as it first appeared a few years back with the onset of symptoms and his complete regression. He just needed to be reached in a different way. And the entire family knew exactly what they needed to do. Through countless months, from talking to Owen through a realistic puppet (Iago from Aladdin) to sharpening their acting chops while taking on entire personas and characters straight out of The Jungle Book, Beauty & the Beast, and The Lion King, in what they dubbed “Disney Therapy,” they forged ahead with immensely successful connections that resulted in the transformation of their son. Together, they navigated their own personal “Circle of Life.” Meanwhile, after the last round of thunderous applause faded in the theatre, the question (which could have been appropriately asked using another famous Disney song title) that was surely on the minds of all in attendance who had just experienced this magical evening was, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” And as sure as fairy godmothers wave their magic wands, that answer would have to be a resounding, “Yes, definitely!” Because a dream is a wish your heart makes. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM







WORDS Deanne (Goodman) Gustagson, Kombucha on Tap


ombucha is an ancient, fermented tea beverage that has a natural effervescence full of probiotics, antioxidants and B vitamins. Those who drink it will tout its health benefits and tastiness, and the trend is quickly catching on. Kombucha enthusiasts Jared and Deanne Goodman Gustafson are on a mission to get the healthy drink on tap in locations throughout Southern California. The recently married couple founded their business, Kombucha on Tap, to do just that. Clients in locations from San Diego to Temecula and now in Orange County have already gotten on board, and why not? Kombucha is the fastest growing health beverage, and U.S. sales topped $500 million last year.

has been found to be 100 times higher than vitamin C and 25 times higher than vitamin E.

working with companies to distribute their kombucha on tap.





Deanne (Goodman) Gustafson: Kombucha is a live, raw, gluten-free, non-GMO, certified organic, fermented tea. It has actually been around for thousands of years, but lately it has been growing in popularity among health food lovers. It’s a probiotic drink with helpful bacteria that support digestion and the immune system. It also contains enzymes, amino acids, antioxidants and polyphenols. LCHAIM: WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF DRINKING KOMBUCHA?

DG: Drinking kombucha has been linked to detoxification, increased energy and immunity. Kombucha’s antioxidant activity

DGG: The longer it ferments, the higher the alcohol percentage, but the stuff you buy in the store is regulated, so not very much, and it’s considered alcohol free. That being said, it makes a great mixer for an adult beverage. We even served kombucha on tap at our wedding! Some of my favorites are beerbuchas, which is a pint glass of half beer and half kombucha on tap, but you can also make a kombucharita, like a margarita with kombucha, and there are also great craft cocktails to create with kombucha, including Moscow Mules.

DGG: My husband and I both come from a media background, and I tagged along on a trip to Bend, Oregon, for one of his media events. While we were there, we noticed there was kombucha on tap literally everywhere we went. I am big into kombucha, and he had never even had it, so I made him drink it everywhere we went on that trip, and he enjoyed it. Later, we realized that this had the potential to be a big deal, because no one was offering this in Southern California, and we are people that enjoy a healthy lifestyle. We started this business because it was the perfect blend of our active lives and it promotes healthy living, so we just started

DGG: Right now, we have two kombucha companies that we work with and we distribute their drinks on tap at all of our client’s locations. Between the two companies, there are currently 12 flavor options. GT’s is a national brand that has been brewing kombucha since 1995, and there are a lot of different, all really good, flavors. Anne’s Kombucha is a local brewer that brews small batches that are hand crafted. We distribute both GT’s and Anne’s in kegs to our clients at coffee shops, restaurants and even bars! LCHAIM: WHY DO YOU PERSONALLY LIKE KOMBUCHA?

DGG: There are so many reasons to like kombucha! It’s really great for you. Personally, I feel a lot better when I drink it. There are also so many probiotics in it, that it really cleans your gut, and a healthy gut is linked to a healthy mind. LCHAIM: WHY NOT BOTTLED STUFF?




DGG: When kombucha is on tap, it’s smoother than in the bottle, fresher, and it’s a little more bubbly. It’s kind of like the difference between beer in a bottle versus beer on tap. It’s all about taste!




Check it out

KOMBUCHA QUICK FACTS: the drink’s antioxidant power protects against cell damage, inflammatory diseases, suppressed immunity, and tumors. Drinkers get sick less often.


GASTRIC ILLNESSES: Kombucha balances



intestinal floral, curbing stomach and intestinal issues. OBESITY: Kombucha helps balance the

CHOLESTEROL: studies show kombucha may decrease total cholesterol as much as 45–52%. It may also significantly decrease triglyceride and LDL levels while increasing HDL.

Kombucha has been used to prevent headaches and dizziness caused by hypertension and has been recommended for treating high blood pressure.

metabolism, aids in weight loss. ANEMIA: enhances the absorption of DIABETES: Research dating back to 1929

found kombucha can decrease blood sugar levels.

iron and helps prevent iron deficiency, great for vegetarians. NERVOUS SYSTEM: It


may help eliminate kidney and liver damage. 14

can help with headaches, nervousness, and epilepsy prevention.


DEPRESSION: healthy gut probiotics release serotonin (happy feelings) through the body. PREVENT

Daily kombucha may help asthma patients. ASTHMA:

JOINT PROBLEMS: It may also help relieve

arthritis, rheumatism, and gout.


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Each patient’s care Phase plan is individually Last of Life tailored to meet his or her needs and the needs of the family. Each patient’s care plan is individually tailored to meet his or her needs and the needs • Dedicated Medical Directors of the family. • Registered Nurses • Social Work Services • Dedicated Medical Directors • Home Health Aide Services • Registered Nurses • Transitional Care Services • Social Work Services • Home Health Aide Services • Transitional Care Services For more information please call:

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y the time you’ve opened the Bar Mitzvah invitation that showed up in the mailbox this morning, you will have already breached your teen’s privacy. See, it’s her who was invited, and she will let you know. And after sulking for a while she’ll get to the really important stuff, and undoubtedly ask: “What am I going to wear?” It is an important question, a question that as parents, we should also be concerned about. As a mother of teenage daughters, I have witnessed my fair share of unfortunate attire choices made by young girls at Bar/ Bat Mitzvah parties, especially at the dance parties held in hotels and lounges after the religious event. Is that little Hanna from the old playgroup wearing a Kleenex size skirt? Is that Stephie from Kindergarten with the wobbly, high-heeled legs? Choosing what to wear to a Bar/Bat Mitzvah party is trickier than it sounds. Our girls want to look good; “on point,” as they say. We don’t want them to catch a cold in their tushies. It is a question of dressing age- and event-appropriately. And that is not at odds with looking modern and gorgeous and cool. Linda Waisbord is a fashionista, Personal Stylist at Nordstrom Fashion Valley, and mother of two teens, so we asked for her insight on this matter. ON APPROPRIATE ATTIRE FOR A BAR MITZVAH PARTY:

“It really depends on where the party is and if the party includes adults, which might make it a little more formal than an all-teen party. From a nice pair of pants or jeans dressed up with a nice top, to a dress or skirt, a young girl can look very modern and elegant,” Waisbord says. ON A GIRLS TASTES AND CHOICES, AND OUR ROLE AS MOMS:

“I believe at this age teen girls are finding their sense of style and it’s important to respect their choices while we guide them on some do’s and don’ts of appropriateness.

That being said, I always try to show by example what appropriate is, and the beauty of sticking to classic style pieces which will never go out of style.” This season’s trends and styles for the tween and young teen set: “Some fashion trends right now include the ‘athletic style,’ which I personally love, with a big focus on comfort clothes like sweats and athletic gear and tennis shoes of all types. “Another big trend right now is ‘borrow from the boys’ which focuses on boyish pieces like slouchy pants or jeans, button down shirts and oversize coats or blazers. I also love the denim on denim look for teens, and plaid!” But how can these fashion trends be integrated into party attire? “All of these trends can be part of a smart party outfit,” Waisbord says. “It can be done by including one piece into your outfit or doing a more exaggerated look and going all out. For example, wearing a dress with tennis shoes or booties and doing a feminine skirt with a boyish slouchy sweater or button-up shirt. It’s all about balance. “When wearing jeans or pants, go for a more formal top or nice blazer to dress it up, and nice flats. Simple jewelry is also fun to play with, and Bar/Bat Mitzvah parties are the perfect events to play with accessories and personal style!” RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING HEEL HEIGHT AND SKIRT LENGTH:

“I personally do not like heels for girls under 15 years old because I think they will have many years of foot, ankle and knee damage ahead of them, and the later they start the better. I’m a firm believer in teaching our girls the elegance of the classics, which include the old adage, ‘you can never go wrong’ with a nice ballet flat. As for skirt length, if I can see something inappropriate when you raise your arms: It’s too short!” At Orthodox parties, kids and adults should be respectful of the traditional dress

code even if you are not observant. This means, as a minimum, skirts that cover the knees and elbow-length sleeves. Take a clue from the way the host family members dress, and avoid showing more skin than they do (or don’t.)


Who really knows what “party attire” means? The invitation might say “fancy shmansy,” for all I care. And the mother of all riddles: “dressy casual” might as well include a Sodoku puzzle in the envelope for me. Rules might vary a little depending upon whether the invitation includes the religious ceremony or if it’s just a kids dance party. If your child is invited to Shul, his or her attire should definitely be more modest and formal than if it they were just asked to a dance party. When attending a religious service, a mid-length dress is a good idea for the girls, and a light sweater to cover the shoulders— even if they shed it for the Hora afterward— is appropriate. Jeans are not proper attire for either boys or girls. Here is a little guide you might want to share with your teen. (Even if you’ve been telling her the same things, she might actually believe it if she reads it here. Just cross out this line so we parents can keep our credibility.)


WHAT IT MEANS: This description allows

for color, bling and sparkle.

HOW TO PULL IT OFF: Some dresses

might make you feel a little fuddy-duddy, and you definitely don’t want to look like your bubbe. A great alternative is a skirt. It is also more cost effective (which might make mom happy), since you can pair it with different tops and completely change the look for another event down the line, without anyone really noticing that you’re “wearing-that-again.” A stretchy fabric that is not too tight, or a fuller skirt at the right WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM



length will allow you to dance and have fun.


WHAT IT MEANS: A combination of comfort

and glamour. How to pull it off: Grab some comfortable staples, like jeans or tennis shoes, and dress them up with a satiny top and a faux letter jacket or shrug. The trick is to look pulled together, so opt for darker jeans, newer sneakers or nice ballet flats. Use accessories to dress the outfit up. If you are unsure, dress “up,” not “down.” It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.


WHAT IT MEANS: What this really means is

“not too casual.” In other words, your host does not want you to stress over your outfit,


but to relax and enjoy yourself. But if you take the “casual” too literally, you will end up feeling underdressed, and embarassed. How to pull it off: You can be a little bit more relaxed than in the “dressy casual” category. Lighten up the accessories, but still try to look pulled together. Wear what you might for a first day of school, or a special family dinner. Above all else, remember that even if your outfit looks good in the mirror, it should also look good while you are on the move, so choose clothes that do not require constant checking, pulling and tugging, and make you feel confident. And enjoy the celebration! SHARON RAPAPORT IS A WRITER AND MOTHER OF TEENAGED GIRLS. EMAIL HER AT SHARON.RAPOPORT@VINXX.COM

Linda Waisbord is a Personal Stylist at Nordstrom Fashion Valley. In addition to styling teens and young adults for parties and events, she styles parents for everyday and formal wear. Email her at linda.waisbord@nordstrom. com or call (619) 295-4441 to set up a consultation.

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A father helps his hard of hearing son put on tefillin for the first time at a bar mitzvah organized by the International Young Israel Movement and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

For Israeli families in need, it’s often Diaspora Jews that make the difference between having a bar/bat mitzvah at all 20 L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER 2014


JERUSALEM—It’s 9:30 a.m. on a sunny Monday morning in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Two large groups of revelers almost collide in the alley leading to the main square. Both groups are accompanied by a clarinetist and a drummer belting out traditional “simcha” tunes, and in the middle of both are 13-year old boys dancing with beaming grandmas and uncles under a small chuppah as they make their way under the stone arches from the Western Wall. It’s the Israeli version of the bar mitzvah extravaganza, and it’s repeated every Monday and Thursday (days when the Torah is read) throughout the year. Boys from all over the country get called up to the Torah for the first time at the Wall, and then get danced up the steps to the Jewish Quarter and on to a lavish breakfast spread at one of the many restaurants or halls dotting the area. But not every bar or bat mitzvah-aged teen in Israel is fortunate enough to have that kind of experience. For the tens of thousands of youths from dysfunctional families who are cared for in residential facilities all over the Jewish state, it’s often Diaspora Jews who make the difference between having no bar/bat mitzvah at all, or having a meaningful transition into Jewish responsibility. Zemira Ozarowski, coordinator of donor relations for AMIT (, a network of educational programs that serves 28,000 Israeli children, is responsible for the twinning program that encourages American bar and bat mitzvah kids to share their celebration with needy Israeli kids. Some of the Americans come over with their families to take part in the simcha they have sponsored, Ozarowski explains, while others conduct fund-raising projects at home and send over funds to help support AMIT’s efforts to inject joy into the lives of Israeli kids from difficult backgrounds. Part of the donation is designated for the Israeli “twin” to receive a traditional b’nai mitzvah gift of a siddur or tefillin. Some lasting relationships have been forged, Ozarowski notes, and the program was recently expanded to include twinning between Israeli pre-teens from established Jerusalem neighborhoods and kids in AMIT’s Beit Hayeled facility in Gilo. In Netanya, the Beit Elazraki Children’s Home ( run by Emunah,

a prominent religious Israeli women’s movement with worldwide supporters, hosts many bar and bat mitzvah twinning events. American b’nai mitzvah and their families have sponsored several major projects at the home, which houses almost 300 children whose families cannot care for them. Back in 2011, a group of budding musicians from Teaneck, NJ, raised more than $20,000 as their bar mitzvah project, which funded new equipment for the music therapy program at Beit Elazraki. Several times a year, American and British b’nai mitzvah join their peers at Beit Elazraki for a lively party that always features loud music and a festive meal. A popular b’nai mitzvah activity for institutional groups as well as individual families is a visit to the Yad Lashiryon Latrun Tank Museum ( a few miles west of Jerusalem. Elisha Kramer, a U.S.-born graduate student, spent part of his army service as a tour guide at the museum. “Some weeks there would be two or three bar mitzvah groups every day,” Kramer recalls. “It’s a great place for kids to learn about the need for a strong Israel and the legitimacy of fighting for Israel,” Kramer adds, regarding the outdoor museum where more than 150 armored vehicles are on display along with a moving memorial complex dedicated to fallen Israeli soldiers. Many b’nai mitzvah want to take an active role in their celebration, and Jerusalem Scavenger Hunts ( provides creative opportunities for learning and fun in and around Jerusalem. Founder and director Tali Tarlow explains that Israeli kids can train to guide their friends and family on a fun-filled, educational, thematic navigation through the city as they engage with its history and figure out their place in its future. The program is tailored to the interests of each child, who works with one of the Scavenger Hunt professional guides and educators to develop a presentation at one of the stations used in the Hunt. “We believe a bar or bat mitzvah should be a special occasion and an opportunity for a meaningful experience,” says Tarlow, a long-time informal educator who made aliyah from South Africa. Any family that’s been part of the Package from Home Bar and Bat Mitzvah Project ( would agree

with that sentiment. Started by American immigrant Barbara Silverman at the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000, the volunteer-run program prepares and sends tens of thousands of care packages to Israeli soldiers, focusing particularly on Lone Soldiers (soldiers without family in Israel) and wounded soldiers. B’nai mitzvah in the U.S. can raise money for the project, and those visiting can take part in the packaging and distribution of everything from warm clothing to toiletries to snacks. Each package includes letters of appreciation for the soldiers, which kids are encouraged to write. For children with physical as well as emotional challenges, it takes a special effort to create a bar or bat mitzvah program they can relate to. At a recent ceremony in a Jerusalem synagogue, 63 deaf and hard of hearing children were called to the Torah in front of parents who were visibly moved by the moment, which was sponsored by the International Young Israel Movement (IYIM) and its Deaf Programming Division in cooperation with the Jewish Agency. Boys with cochlear implants opened up the brand new prayer shawls provided by the IYIM with a flourish, while groups of girls chattered in sign language and waited for their turn to recite a special blessing for becoming a bat mitzvah. Ben Zion Chen, the head of the Association for the Deaf in Israel told the kids, “I grew up with hearing parents and didn’t know what Torah was. You are all very fortunate.” “It’s important that you know your rights and how to deal with your deafness as you grow up,” Chen added, while a sign language interpreter translated his words to the attentive students. “He didn’t sleep all last night,” Orna said about her son Shai, a profoundly deaf 13-year-old from Ramle. “He’s gone through so many operations, and had so many difficulties in his short life—it’s a joy to be here with him and see how happy he is,” she exclaimed as Shai took his place under the prayer shawl spread over his group, while Rabbi Chanoch Yeres, director of the IYIM Deaf Programming Division read the Torah portion. In true Israeli b’nai mitzvah style, the kids and their families, who had come from all over Israel, were treated to a celebratory lunch and a tour of the Old City to mark the day.




“How long do I have to read my Torah Portion for?” “Does Judaism believe in heaven?” “What’s Tefillin?” Becoming a Bar and Bat Mitzvah is a special moment in every young Jewish life. This momentous occasion marks an internal shift in becoming a more spiritually mature person. This shift, from child to teenager, brings with it many questions and challenges, as well as an incredible opportunity for growth, which is why I so enjoy teaching Bar & Bat Mitzvah classes. Recently, my cousin in France who had just had his Bar Mitzvah expressed to me how he wasn’t particularly interested in continuing his involvement in Synagogue. Why? Even though he had learned his Torah portion well, he hadn’t had a stimulating and fun experience. Yet Judaism is meant to be enjoyable, full of life and spirit, stimulating to the mind and the heart. The B’nai Mitzvah is not only a milestone and culmination of efforts, but the beginning of one’s exciting Jewish journey. 22

There is an amazing potential that only youth possess, which mustn’t be squandered. The Bar & Bat Mitzvah year is a powerful time to begin to access this potential. Rabbi Simon Jacobson, in his book Toward a Meaningful Life, writes: A young person is like fire. With direction and guidance, he or she can change the very shape of the world. Without direction, the fires of youth are wasted at best, while at worst, they can become a dangerous, destructive force. To lead a meaningful life means harnessing the fires of youth; but first we must understand the purpose of youth itself. The period of adolescence is nestled between childhood and adulthood. Teenagers are no longer content to play like children but don’t yet have the knowledge and experience to be fully engaged in adult pursuits. Youth is one of the most precious periods of a person’s life, and yet one of the most difficult. What young people need and are searching for is a higher purpose. SAT scores, grades, sports, and socializing are the most promoted things in today’s society. But to satisfy the needs of our teenagers we must first recognize that their restlessness


and hunger for meaning is not material but spiritual in nature, and that only spirituality can feed spiritual hunger. Their lives include a higher purpose, where their youthful energy for good will be expressed. The fire of youth must be harnessed not only to build careers, but to build young adults who understand what really matters in life, with true care for their communities. It is our responsibility as adults and teachers to provide our young people with a spiritual guide to life, consisting of the Torah’s instructions on how to best lead a meaningful life. If there’s one idea I can impart to my students, it’s that their B’nai Mitzvah process is not a one-time event, but the beginning of a fantastic lifelong journey. As our children grow into teenagers and young adults, we must stoke the fires of their souls and inspire their self-expression in meaningful ways. These are the future Jewish leaders. RABBI DANIEL BORTZ IS THE DIRECTOR OF JTEEN OF SAN DIEGO. EMAIL AT JYOUTHSD@GMAIL.COM OR VISIT JTEENSD.ORG.

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Holy Texting!

Does new app make smartphone use ok on Shabbat?


eens love texting. Cell phones don’t jive with Shabbat. A new app seeks to address this uniquely Jewish case of “unstoppable force meets immovable object.” In 2012, teens were sending an average of 60 texts per day, according to a report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That number was up from 50 in 2009, so it is likely even higher in 2014. Orthodox teens are no exception. In 2011, an article published in the New York Jewish Week drew attention to the high percentage of modern Orthodox teens for whom “half Shabbos” is a way of life. Half Shabbos is when one refrains from all of the 39 Shabbat prohibitions except when it comes to texting, which falls under the prohibition of using electricity in nonemergency situations. Yossi Goldstein and a like-minded team of smartphone app developers, however, think they have a solution to half Shabbos, one that enables teens to text on Shabbat without compromising halacha (Jewish law). 24

“It’s to make life easier for Orthodox Jews,” Goldstein, a partner in the Shabbos App (, told On the company website is a list of the halachic challenges related to texting, such as muktzah (the device has no use on Shabbat), mavir (turning the screen on and off may be considered making a fire), and koteiv (writing), among others. It also lists why the Shabbos App technology works around these challenges, making it possible for teens (and anyone else)—for $49.99—to text permissibly on Shabbat. The company, according to Goldstein, does not yet have rabbinic support or approval but is “working with several rabbis.” Could the Jewish world be seeing widespread smartphone use in synagogue by next Rosh Hashanah? It’s unlikely, say all those who spoke with about the app—Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike. That’s because the app goes against what is commonly referred to as “the spirit of Shabbat,” explained Rabbi Daniel Rockoff,


who received rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Sha’alvim in Israel. “The observant community won’t go for it,” he said. Nonetheless, Rockoff isn’t surprised such a technology was invented. He said Jewish law develops with the times and that technology is playing an everincreasing role in our lives. He said this role is heightened for teens, and that it’s the responsibility of the Jewish community to listen to, understand, and address the next generation’s concerns. “But we also need to keep it in perspective and realize the things we think are necessities may not be, and we have to consider their place in relation to the whole idea of Shabbos and that Shabbos is a sanctuary in time. We need to show the next generation Shabbos is something to be preserved,” he said. Rockoff drew on a rabbinic dialogue that dates back to 1917, around the time when telephones were invented. He said rabbis at the time examined telephones


from a scientific perspective to determine whether they could be used on the Sabbath. By 1930, rabbis had determined that while use of the telephone might work out on a technical level—“the circuits are open so by picking up the phone you are not really doing anything substantial”—using them was not something the Jewish people chose to accept. “Just because something is OK in principle, that doesn’t mean it is something that should be practiced. We don’t use electricity because of minhag Yisrael (tradition),” said Rockoff. That doesn’t mean that there haven’t been inventions that have made keeping Shabbat easier or have enabled people with disabilities and other challenges to keep Shabbat. Machon Tzomet, a company in Alon Shvut, Israel, has been at the forefront of these developments, including a Shabbatpermissible electric wheelchair and stairlift as well as disappearing ink for essential writing tasks. Maish Latidus, chief engineer for Machon Tzomet, said he thinks the Shabbos App might be something worth exploring, but not for the reasons the company is touting. He told he does not like the direction of the app. “When you look at the applications Machon Tzomet works on, they are either for essential services such as health or security or they are for other services in line with the spirit of Shabbat,” said Latidus, noting he could see such an app being used to make a necessary map accessible, perhaps for doctors who would need to use smartphones anyway. Elie Klein—who from 1999-2003 served as an advisor for NCSY, the youth movement of the Orthodox Union, today is raising his own two children, ages 7 and 5, in Jerusalem—said he was taught from working with teens was that one should empower them, help them create their own Jewish path, and meet them on their level and at the locations they like to frequent. But one shouldn’t water down faith on their behalf, he said. “There has to be a point at which you stop giving them all the power and hold a little bit back, so they understand the way

tradition works and that to some extent they have to fit into the framework of what came before [them],” said Klein. “They can push it forward with their own voice and in their own way, but it has to fit.” Klein said the Shabbos App should force the Orthodox community to examine itself and how it conveys the message of Shabbat observance to youth. He said Jewish teens should be taught to feel the beauty of Shabbat, and to understand their history as well as the depth of the religion and tradition. “Shabbat is the technology you cannot get enough of once you get into it,” Klein said. “I think it is really important to model that.” Meredith Jacobs, author of “The Modern Jewish Mom’s Guide to Shabbat,” expressed a similar sentiment. She said that even for non-observant families, Shabbat can and should be seen as a day “that we do things differently, where we spend more time at dinner, where we have a different kind of meal, linger at synagogue with friends—spending time with each other.” The Shabbos App, she said, “would ruin Shabbat.” Jacobs thinks today’s teens today are losing the ability to communicate in person and that family celebrations of Shabbat can serve a role in helping teens to unplug and be present—and for parents to do the same. “The turning off of electronics lets you have that time to communicate with each other in a way I feel we lose otherwise,” Jacobs said, noting that parents should set limits on texting and electronics for themselves and their children. Using Shabbat as an opportunity for this will help teach teens that there is something deeper than their smartphones, and there should be repercussions if a parent’s limits are not

adhered to, she said. “You are the parent and no means no,” said Jacobs. But what about when it comes to outreach? The Chabad-Lubavitch movement, for example, has been at the forefront of creative use of technology to meet people where they are at, and to engage them in Jewish life and learning. Could the Shabbos App work in these instances? “It’s a slippery slope,” said Mendel Segal, executive director of the Vaad Hakashruth of Kansas City and a member of the Chabad movement. “What is being done on the phone? Is it something necessary or is it just for personal gratification? First your texting, next thing you could be watching a movie, buying shoes.” Segal said Chabad takes Shabbat laws very seriously, and cannot imagine the app being encouraged. But how about further down the road? “I don’t know how technology will evolve in the next five years,” said Rabbi Rockoff. “Could I see even in 20 years that there is some way to read literature or learn on some type of electronic device on Shabbos? Yeah. The Shabbos App is making waves and that will lead to something—at a minimum the process of a good conversation.” MAAYAN JAFFE IS SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR AT NETSMART (WWW.NTST.COM) AND A KANSAS-BASED FREELANCE WRITER. REACH HER AT MAAYANJAFFE@ICLOUD. COM.




“Chabad philosophy is an adaptability to the environment without compromising Judaism, by finding depth and spirituality in everyday matters.” 26 L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER 2014


YAM JAM THEY’RE PLAYING OUR TEEN’S SONG! “Yam Jam!?” I inquire with equal parts intrigue and amusement, “What on earth is that?” I direct this question to the highly gregarious and very warm Rabbi Zevi New, who (together with his wife Musy) runs the Youth Action Movement (YAM) in San Diego, a unique teen Jewish organization (based on Chabad teachings) that empowers, enlightens, entertains, and educates young people through energy, enthusiasm, and expressiveness. Rabbi New quickly clarifies the clever “Yam Jam” is a name used for any of their events featuring music, like open mic nights or concerts, like the upcoming Chanukah concert at FLUXX nightclub Dec. 21, featuring The Moshav Band from Los Angeles, an Israeli/American group playing rock fusion. But “Yam Jam” could also apply to their lively teen discussion forums, a group of 13-18 year olds seated in the round, their voices “jamming” together in crescendo conversation, culminating in a fevered pitch, matched only by the passionate beat of their hearts. Indeed, New is no stranger to keeping a beat. Playing drums back in Brooklyn when he was a young teen is actually what drew him to the YAM community, originally founded and led by Rabbi Yosef Kanofsky. “At age 15, I was welcomed as a new drummer in their events with total acceptance,” New says. “There’s nothing like the realization that you have something inside of you that can be fully shared in the presence of your peers, a place with zero judgment and complete support. I was no longer jittery or nervous to reveal myself through my drumming.” It is this same element of trust, expression and

heightened self-esteem that envelops adolescents at all YAM events. “We all possess the inner power to overcome and it’s my job to point that out,” Rabbi New emphatically states. “We focus on the individual teen, providing them with tools like Friday night Shabbat dinners and roundtable circles of conversation which we call ‘Stump The Rabbi.’ They get to ask anything at all in a completely relaxed atmosphere and an honest answer is guaranteed. If I’m not sure about something, I admit that and together we’ll find out. I never want to come off as a know-it-all.” The Rabbi is patient with me as I direct him back to something he mentioned before, and a big interest of mine: food. I want to now about Shabbat dinners. Do they take place in his home? And if so, who provides all these kosher meals? A contagious smile slowly spreads across his face as he nods and describes his wife Musy’s abundantly delicious home-cooked meals and how they have often host 30-40 kids, many dropping in without prior notice. In an effort to focus on the individuals he works with, Rabbi New personally takes kids one-on-one to places like Starbucks for chats, invites them to a drumming session with him, and they even surf together. A parent can request these individualized outings with the Rabbi as well. I emphasize this isn’t typical behavior of any Rabbi I’ve ever encountered before (He’s even been nicknamed “The Graffiti Rabbi” for his unusual art). When I reach out to one of YAM’s members, 16 year-old Mark from Rancho Penasquitos he mirrors these same declarations. “I found out about [YAM] through a friend and

Rabbi New made me feel very included and at home even though I only knew the person who invited me to the event,” Mark says. “It’s not your typical youth group, nothing is standard or by the book. It was a really fun party that was combined with learning about my culture.” When asked to give five adjectives to describe New, Mark doesn’t hesitate, “optimistic, fun, exciting, uplifting and contemporary,” adding that the Rabbi is very much in touch with modern day issues and has elicited in him a feeling of trust regarding other adults. Most of these modern day issues fall into three general headings: Social, Education, and Humanitarian pursuits. YAM uses these three realms to classify a variety of their programming engagement. Much of it is intensely teen driven, manifested and organized. What do they want to talk about or do? How do they think a charitable project should be implemented? “Every single kid has the potential to be a leader,” says New. By giving kids a voice and a choice, he’s become irresistible in garnering motivation from youth. His philosophy that “Every teenager is special and as long as they are moving forward from their initial starting point, it’s great progress,” goes a long way in imbuing kids with a strong sense of self-esteem. The expansive safety net held out by Rabbi New through YAM certainly fills a real void, offering teenagers a secure place to go in time of emotional need. “Kids are encouraged to ask any question,” New says. “Nothing is out of bounds, but there’s an advanced understanding that all answers will sincerely be taken to heart. They need to be open WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM



to learning, readjusting and reevaluating without fear of failure.” But would an uncomfortable question make a teen fall silent instead? New reiterates that anonymity and privacy can be freeing when this age group seeks information. To address that, Rabbi New and Musy also have a special online site designated for questions without a name attached at teenagersask. The headline on this page: “Ask questions anonymously about anything: Religion, love, depression, ideas, drugs, life and anything that you just want to get out of your system. The most intriguing questions will be selected as a foundation topic at our teen discussion forums! You CAN make a difference.” The frank and vulnerable online format includes discussions of a vast breadth of topics ranging from, “What happens after death?” to “What is the Jewish perspective on masturbation?” and “Should I get a tattoo?” Rabbi New tells me that nothing ever shocks him because he doesn’t have expectations for kids. Rabbi New is the son-in-law of Rabbi Yonah Fradkin, (revered Regional Director of Chabad of San Diego County) and arrived with his wife Musy from New York in March of 2012. It’s easy to see why the words “action” and “movement” figure prominently in their group’s name; they definitely hit the ground running! Amazingly, by April 2012, they were well on their way with the start-up of this wonderful non-profit 28 L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER 2014

organization. By the way, membership continues to be offered at no cost for the already 400 teenage participants. They have set a goal to reach every single Jewish teen in San Diego, and donations are gratefully accepted. With two young children of their own, New and Musy have a keen intuitive sense as to what parents look for in a Jewish environment. “Open communication and a healthy sense of independence will trump that tug-of-war over control and power that parents often feel,” New says, and instinctively knows that balance is a key principle here. Having an all or nothing, black/ white attitude doesn’t fly with kids this age. However, mixing and matching unlikely activities can lead to surprising newfound exuberance and Jewish inspiration. For example, two projects – YAM’s “Israel Club” (teens learning to combat common misconceptions about our Jewish state) and the ReSurf Project, ( which obtains secondhand surfboards as a group so the kids can work together to refurbish and beautify them will be integrated together to have an end goal of introducing surfing to a selected Israeli youth village. Young people who’ve not had a chance to partake in the exhilaration of that first wave will finally get the chance to do so. “Suddenly surfer kids in San Diego who have never stepped foot in a synagogue are now highly motivated to find out more,” New says with pride. “We’ve even had teens discover they are Jewish for the very first time in our group because they

were raised with only their father’s heritage. “We are accepting of all, no matter what level of observance. We don’t want the subject of religion to be seen as another obligation in their crowded daily schedules. It actually lightens their load and unburdens them by enabling them to embrace a positive energy. We talk about the issues that matter to them through a Torah perspective, sometimes harnessing the diverse energy from the kids themselves for lively debates. It’s all in our approach.” A recent YAM contest demonstrates yet another creative avenue. Over the High Holidays, teens earned raffle tickets for each service attended at any synagogue. Three drawn winners and their friends will get to enjoy an Alex Clare concert (a personal friend of New’s) at House of Blues, plus a hang-out with him backstage this December. This is just one of many out-of-the-box incentives that shine in Rabbi New’s innovative repertoire. “Religion is like a humming energy in the background and everyone can tap into it,” he says, but there should be meaning and significance behind it. Our Judaism represents a strong foundation and is seen as an anchor so that teens can be themselves while striving to be something greater.” Though it was Rabbi New’s drum playing ability that initially led him to become an active participant in the original YAM program back in Brooklyn a decade ago; nowadays it is the harmony of teenagers working together; each playing their individual melody, culminating in a symphony of confidence, self-pride, and motivation (in exploring the roots of their Jewish heritage) that inspires this devoted Rabbi to continue as the Director (or is he a metaphoric orchestra conductor?) of this outstanding San Diego youth organization today. Yes, a YAM Jam will always be a requested encore, but it’s the rest of what Rabbi New and Musy have ingeniously composed in Chabad’s Youth Action Movement (YAM) that is sure to be beautiful music to any parent’s ears! For more info: or email Rabbi New at STEPHANIE D. LEWIS, MOTHER OF SIX, IS A FEATURED WRITER FOR THE HUFFINGTON POST. PLEASE VISIT HER HUMOR BLOG AT THEQUOTEGAL.WORDPRESS.COM FOLLOW HER ON TWITTER @MISSMENOPAUSE


MELVIN GARB HILLEL CENTER OPENS AT SDSU The future of Jewish life on campus


illel of San Diego has a new building next to the San Diego State University campus, and people can’t stop talking about it. “Students at this campus deserved this building a long time ago,” Jackie Tolley, Hillel’s Campus Director at SDSU, said. Discussions about building a new facility for Hillel of San Diego have been ongoing since 1987. A series of delays over the decades prevented the project from moving forward, but in April, just in time to host Passover Seder, the new building was complete. All those years of waiting gave project leaders, students and staff a lot of time to think about elements they wanted to include in the building. Designed by MW Steele Group Inc., the 10,500 square-foot, LEED Gold certified Melvin Garb Hillel Center is booming. Following the summer lull, a dedication ceremony was held on October 12 to celebrate the milestone and recognize the leadership and generosity of the organizations and individuals that brought the building into being, including the Melvin Garb Foundation which gave the naming gift of $2.5 million, and Hebert J. Solomon, an alumnus of SDSU and longtime Hillel leader who led the $9 million capital campaign to fund the project.

“We didn’t want an institutional feel,” Tolley said. “We wanted something that students felt like was for them.” The result is warm and inviting—twostories of state-of-the-art design and architecture. A pool table, coffee bar, free Wi-Fi and snacks have quickly made the lounge area a popular hangout, and late night hours during exam periods ensure that students can take advantage of the library and boardroom to study. Staff offices are on the first floor to facilitate interaction with students, and on the second floor, a large, multi-purpose space with a fully-equipped kosher kitchen can accommodate large-scale events. The building is also environmentally friendly— solar photovoltaic panels on the roof supply more than 30% of on-site energy demands. Michael Rabkin, Hillel of San Diego’s executive director, said students are looking for a home away from home. The dedicated, flexible space in the new building greatly expands the options for student programming, including Shabbat dinners, banquets, films, and lectures. Friday night services and dinners alternate with Friday Lunch & Learns with a local rabbi. “The building itself is designed for building Jewish life on campus,” Rabkin said, “but we also are opening it up to other

student groups.” The building has hosted rush activities for a new sorority that doesn’t have a house yet, and a business fraternity frequently rents out space for events. “Diversity and inclusion are important values that the university itself holds dear, and that is certainly the set of values that Hillel holds dear,” Rabkin said. “We’re seen as a really important partner to the university in pursuing those goals.” Hillel of San Diego has a youthful Board of Directors and partners with two studentled organizations, the Jewish Student Union and Students Supporting Israel (SSI), to create programming. “Everything we do is that partnership between staff and students that makes for success,” Tolley said. Upcoming events include an Alumni– Student Networking Shabbat Dinner on November 14. The dinner will be an opportunity for students to ask questions about life after college, and for alumni to share their professional insights and experience the excitement and energy the new building has brought to the campus community. Over the next five to 10 years, Rabkin predicts more niche, interest-based Jewish groups, more students taking part in more events, and more staff to meet the needs of a growing and increasingly involved Jewish population on campus. “What we’re creating is very much a Jewish community that builds pride and ownership of Jewish life, that builds Jewish leaders,” Rabkin said. For more information about Hillel of San Diego, the Melvin Garb Hillel Center, and upcoming events, visit ERIN PHILIPS IS A SOUTHERN CALIFORNIABASED FREELANCE WRITER. WHEN NOT HUNCHED OVER HER COMPUTER SCREEN, SHE ENJOYS COOKING, YOGA, READING, AND THE ARTS. SHE CAN BE REACHED AT PHILIPS.ERIN@GMAIL.COM.




POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews Opens


iven that half of the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust came from Poland, many descendants of Polish Jews may be surprised to learn about the current hospitable environment for the Jewish population of their ancestors’ country. Poland experiences far less anti-Semitism than the typical European country and is home to a burgeoning—albeit relatively small—Jewish community (estimates suggest 10,000-20,000, but no definitive figures are available). At the same time, young non-Jewish Poles are increasingly curious about Jews and the Jewish religion. Recognizing that this environment was fertile ground for a museum highlighting the history of Polish Jewry, a group of Warsaw-based organizers invited émigré scholars and cultural activists in New York to help promote the museum concept and identify funding sources for what two decades later became the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which opened its core exhibition

on Oct. 28. The museum, located on the site of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising directly across from the Monument of the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes, has received more than $60 million from the Municipality of Warsaw and Poland’s Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The rest of the needed funding was raised by the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland, a nonprofit that has served as a caretaker of the country’s Jewish heritage for more than six decades. As a civic initiative and state-funded institution, the museum’s target audience “is much broader than the Jewish community in Poland,” says Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, program director of the museum’s core exhibition, which traces the 1,000-year history of Jews in Poland. “It is intended for a much broader public: Poles, including Jews; the world Jewish community; and the European and world public,” she says. From the perspective of Polish-born philanthropist Tad Taube, honorary consul for the Republic of Poland in San Francisco,

the significance of the museum’s content goes beyond Polish Jewish history. “In portraying 1,000 years of Jewish culture and history in Greater Poland, the museum traces the foundations of Judeo/Christian Western culture,” he says, referring to the contribution of Polish Jews to the various spectrums of Jewish and Christian faith in addition to significant Jewish cultural influence in philosophy, litertature, theater, music, and the physical sciences. Taube is the chairman of Taube Philanthropies and president of the Koret Foundation, which together provided significant funding for the museum. Retired Polish diplomat Krzysztof (Kris) W. Kasprzyk, who has been an enthusiastic promoter of the project for more than two decades, sees the museum as particularly important to the Poland of today. “Our national cultural heritage is really impoverished without all that Jewish history in Poland had been bringing for centuries,” he says. “This museum is like bringing fresh water to the desert—maybe that is an

A portion of the “Paradisus Iudaeorum” gallery within the core exhibition of the new POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. 30





overblown metaphor, but we needed this venue badly.” The museum’s goal of reaching out to both the Polish Jewish and broader Polish communities stems from the country’s increasingly welcoming environment for Jews. Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich suggests two reasons for that trend: first, the papacy of Polish-born John Paul II, who he notes was “the first pope to ever say that anti-Semitism is a sin according to the Catholic Church.” The second factor is the fall of Communism, which created not only political and economic change, but also a social upheaval. “People are willing to be more open to change than under normal circumstances,” Schudrich says, adding that younger Poles are curious about Jews, who had been largely absent or secretive about their identity in the country for 50 years after the Holocaust. The fall of Communism, adds Kasprzyk, gave people the gift of free speech, which has allowed them to explore painful events from the past. One of these was the 1941 murder of Jews in Jewabne, a small town in northeast Poland where a Polish mob, encouraged by German Nazis, burned Jews from several surrounding communities in a barn. This incident was revealed to the larger Polish public in the book Neighbors by Tomasz Gross (published in 2000) and was widely and openly discussed, a process that Kasprzyk says “heals the wounds.” Although Kasprzyk had strong Jewish connections from an early age and today cooks gefilte fish and Jewish sweets, the definitive moment in his lifetime devotion to Polish-Jewish relations came during his sophomore year at the University of Krakow. That year, during the 1968 Polish political crisis, Kasprzyk recalls that he “witnessed the expelling from Poland of many colleagues from my high school and from the university [because of the anti-Semitic campaign sponsored by the Communist government], and I also witnessed labeling them simply as ‘Jews,’ as somebody who would be outside of the Polish community.” “Ever since that time, the subject of Polish Jewry was always very dear to my heart,” he says. About two decades after the political

crisis, the fall of Communism in Rabbi Schudrich’s estimation marked “the first time in 50 years people [could] now think about, ‘Do I feel safe telling my children and grandchildren that they are really Jewish?” “Since ’89 thousands and thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of Poles, have discovered they have Jewish roots,” Schudrich says. Schudrich, whose job is to create pathways back to Jewish identity for Poles, says the museum can play a role in that process. “For Poles with Jewish roots it can be an entry point into some kind of connection with their Jewish identity; they can learn more about their past and what Judaism is about,” he says. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett says the museum “can support the renewal of Jewish life” by showing to “Jews in Poland, who kept their Jewish roots a secret, that they have nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to be afraid of, and much to be proud of.” But the museum goes beyond a sense of pride, offering a tangible resource for Polish Jews to learn about their history. “[The museum’s creation] says Jewish roots are not enough—you also need to know who you are,” says KirshenblattGimblett . “And who you are is not simply genetic. It is also historical and cultural. While the chain of transmission may have been broken, because of the Holocaust and Communism, there is an opportunity to restore that chain of transmission, and the museum can play a very important role.” Kirshenblatt-Gimblett suggests that Jews today are not aware that their coreligionists lived in the Polish territory continually for 1,000 years. “It’s quite baffling, because they assume it was one unmitigated story of antiSemitism that led to the Holocaust,” she says, explaining that if this was true, Polish Jewry would never have become a center of the Jewish world and also, for some of its history, the world’s largest Jewish community. “We place the Holocaust within the 1,000year history of Polish Jews, not a 1,000-year history of anti-Semitism,” KirshenblattGimblett says. The approach of the core exhibit is what Kirshenblatt-Gimblett calls a “theater of

history” that organizes the story of Polish Jewry “as a continuous visual narrative.” The exhibit intends to explore more than instruct, empowering the visitor. “We are not offering a master narrative, but a rather more open story, asking visitors to engage in that story and engage with primary sources and engage with debates and with conflicting views on particular subjects,” says Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. Regarding how the museum presents Poland and Poles, Kirshenblatt-Gimblett says, “We are a history museum and have to be intellectually responsible, so it is not our intent to improve anyone’s image and engage in any kind of polemic. We never start from the misconceptions. We think Jews will be surprised, and Poles will be surprised. Jews expect that the museum will whitewash Polish history, and Poles expect an unmitigated indictment of Polish history. I think the museum will be a revelation for both.” Some highlights of the exhibit are a handpainted gallery of the medieval period based on Hebrew illuminated manuscripts; a comic-book version of the story of the Ba’al Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism; a painted animation telling the story of the modern yeshiva via 24 hours in the life of the Volozhin Yeshiva; and an 85-percent scale model of the painted roof and bimah of the 17th-century wooden Gwozdziec Synagogue. The model, built over the course of two years by an international group of volunteers, is based on complete drawings and sketches of both the synagogue and its ceiling. Emphasizing why he believes this museum is as important for young nonJewish Poles as it is for Jews in Poland and worldwide, Kasprzyk says, “The Jewish world of Poland was exterminated during the Holocaust, and I feel the Jewish world of Poland as the phantom pain—we don’t have this limb but it hurts; we feel it; it’s still there.” “This museum somehow closes the gap or brings back, very often in virtual form, what we had for centuries,” he says. “It is very important, especially for the younger generation, because the younger generation don’t have Jews around. They don’t have Jewish colleagues or Jewish friends.”




TRANSITIONING INTO FALL Back-to-school routines for healthy familes


t’s that time of year again. Summer is over, kids are back in school, and it’s time to get back into a routine for fall. During the summer months, parents struggle to keep their kids busy and out of trouble. From the very first day of summer, parents are already counting down the seconds until the first day of school. But, once fall hits, getting back into a routine can be quite challenging. Whether you’re starting a new school year or if you just want to help your family to de-stress as the holiday season approaches, here are five great tips for kicking off the fall season in a healthy and un-stressful way!


Get the kids to bed early at the same time every night. According to the Family Literacy Foundation, reading with your children can boost self-esteem and imagination while improving communication, listening, vocabulary, memory, and language skills. Try starting a bedtime ritual like reading a book as a family before lights out. This will help to wind down and adjust more quickly to a new routine, while also developing their core learning skills.



Establish a consistent family dinner time. Research has shown that consistent family dinners have been linked to lower risks of obesity, substance abuse, eating disorders, while helping to optimize learning. With work, school, and extracurricular activities, it can be hard to find bonding time for the whole family. To get the most out of your family dinner time, have everyone share the best and worst part of their day. This is a great way for family members to bond and stay connected throughout the school year.


Dedicate time during the weekend to prepare for the week ahead. Once Monday rolls around finding time to prepare for the week can be difficult (or non-existent)! Do the laundry, plan the week’s meals, get the grocery shopping out of the way, and ask your family members to participate in the week’s preparation. (More bonding time!) This way you’ll have more time during the week to focus on the needs of your family instead of those weekly chores.



Get the family outdoors! In today’s world we spend too much time being

sedentary: computers, television, cell phones, school work, office work, etc. After the school work and chores are done get outside to enjoy the last few hours of daylight. Encourage your family to use up the last of their energy so dinner and bed time are a breeze! Walk the dog. Play catch. Visit a park. Go on a bike ride. Rejuvenate the whole family with some fresh air and sunshine EVERY day! Life is too short to be wasted in front of a digital screen.


Make nutritious foods a part of every meal. This might be the most important tip of all. You are what you eat! If you feed your family junk, they will look, feel, and act like junk! If you want a healthy, focused, and energetic family, offer nutritious foods to support that. Foods like fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and breads, nuts and nut butters, hummus spreads, and unprocessed foods are great to keep your family healthy and strong! Not sure how or what to feed your family for optimal health? Shop the outer edges of the grocery store and avoid the packaged processed foods in the middle aisles. The healthier foods can usually be found in the outer sections of a grocery store and will give your family boundless energy for their long school and work days!



With just 4 simple ingredients, you can have a breakfast that is tasty, healthy and satisfying!


oming up with new breakfast choices can be challenging. Especially if you’re constantly on-the-go, even eating breakfast can be a challenge! But, as we all know, skipping breakfast is never a good idea. So, here is a quick and easy recipe for those of you that are on-the-go and need something that can be made the night before! Eating breakfast really is so important. Think about this for a second: At night time when you are fast asleep your body is busy fasting (gathering toxins from your tissues and using your stored fat cells as energy). This process takes a lot of work and uses a lot of your stored energy! So, when you wake up in the morning it’s important to hydrate and nourish your body. The simple practice of starting your day with water (instead of coffee!) and a good hearty breakfast will give you tons of energy for the day ahead! I love using cinnamon in my breakfasts. I am generally a sweet eater in the morning

and cinnamon is great for stabilizing blood sugar and will also help prevent a drastic spike in your blood sugar levels. I especially like to add it to my smoothies! Because smoothies are generally higher in sugar (good natural sugar from fruit is still sugar!) it helps to prevent the blood sugar spike and adds a great depth of flavor. The tortillas I used in this recipe are the Ezekiel brand Sprouted Grain Tortillas. These are my favorite because they are 100% organic, most of the grains are sprouted, and they consist of a variety of whole grains that most people don’t usually eat on a regular basis like barley, millet, and spelt. These tortillas can be found at most natural food stores.


1 Ezekiel sprouted grain tortilla 1-2 tbsp. almond butter or other nut butter of your choice 1 banana, sliced 1 tsp. ground cinnamon


1. Spread nut butter over tortilla, sprinkle with cinnamon, and place banana slices on top. 2. Gently roll up tortilla and enjoy! 3. If taking with you on-the-go, then place burrito in a plastic bag and take with you, or store in the fridge for 1-2 days. Note: If I am eating this on the spot, I like to heat the tortilla in a dry skillet and then assemble the burrito. But it can be eaten cold as well! CAMERON BARRIOS IS A CERTIFIED HOLISTIC HEALTH COUNSELOR WHO OFFERS GROUP AND INDIVIDUAL COACHING. FOR MORE GREAT TIPS FOR A HEALTHY THRIVING FAMILY, VISIT HEALTHCOACHCAMERON.COM.




mazel &


Compile Your JDate Profile in Style


eing a writer means I often get asked for “little favors.” They sound like this: “You don’t mind just tidying up my website do you because you’re good at writing and my home business is taking off and there’s just so many run-on sentences on my website so I didn’t think you’d mind ’cuz it would just take a jiffy and there’s just so many run-on sentences.” Really? I can’t believe you would have run-on sentences! Even though surgeons won’t do these little favors and remove your appendix (how large can your appendix be?) probono, or a car mechanic will not rotate your tires (in a jiffy!) on-the-house, I still help out the majority of my single Jewish friends by writing their JDate profiles for them, probably because that’s how I met my “special someone.” One friend (I’ll call her Gabriella) asked me to not only compose her Jewish personal ad, but also to follow-up any replies with a “kibitzing” email. What am I? Cyrano de Bergstein? I insisted on drawing the line at marrying the guy, but for a small fee, I would stand in for her at her bridal shower. 34

I like pink Jordan almonds. Gabriella found it difficult to meet nice Jewish men in the real world. Nobody was intelligent enough for her, she said. I knew it was actually because of her speech issues. She essentially talked too much, and this qualified her to be a “Long Talker.” She was also a “Loud Talker,” a “Close Talker,” and a “Nervous Talker” (compelled to fill in awkward silences with reciting recipes) so Seinfeld would have had a field day with her. Additionally, she applied too much perfume. Channel #5 bath anyone? I immediately knew what my dating profile headline would be for her: Gregarious woman seeks good listener with long attention span & anosmia. I figured this would also weed out unintelligent men (are you looking up “Anosmia” right now, too?) Besides, how could it hurt to slant things so she would meet men who could tolerate her? Now for the Jewish part. There’s an interesting phenomenon going on lately, and most of my friends seem to have a strong preference about Judaism: They


want it. That part they are sure of; but they don’t want too much of it, religion-wise. They prefer the focus to be on traditions and spirituality. My next line: It would be Great if you eat knishes & kugel during your kabbalah. I’ve set friends up on blind dates before only to hear their feedback, “Nah, too Jewish.” What does that even mean? I questioned Gabriella, and she answered as if it should be perfectly obvious, “Too Jewish is like being too pregnant. You never get around to the giving birth part.” I love metaphors as much as the next person but what? That’s when I knew the next line of her profile had to say: Please don’t pray too much, let’s just have a baby.” I am happy to report that Gabriella has met her soul mate, Myron, and the two of them laugh that I was instrumental in their union. Ironically, her only complaint is: “Oy, he wears so much cologne. You’d think he couldn’t smell himself!” And finally, a sly confession: whenever I write a dating advertisement for a friend who has one or two small personality defects, (in Gabriella’s case, her incessant talking) I feel obligated to encode a shrewd warning inside the online profile, in the form of an anagram. Wanna be in on my secret? Just read the bolded capital letters above to find out the “appropriate” nickname Myron affectionately calls Gabrielle nowadays. STEPHANIE LEWIS IS A SINGLE MOTHER OF SIX AND A REGULAR CONTRIBUTING WRITER TO THE HUFFINGTON POST. SHE IS A HUMORIST AT ONCE UPON YOUR PRIME, AT THEQUOTEGAL.WORDPRESS. COM AND HAS A PUBLISHED NOVEL CALLED, “LULLABIES & ALIBIS.” SHE CAN BE REACHED AT THEQUOTEGAL@YAHOO.COM.

Working Together Hand in Hand Yad- BeYajad Sefi Preschool 380 Telegraph Canyon Rd • Chula Vista 91910 (619) 422-7115 •


will be holding its annual Boutique Event this year at Morgan Run-Resort & Club 5690 Cancha De Golf • Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92091 December 2 •10am - 3pm An exceptional assortment of vendors for all holiday gift shopping needs will be participating and will be donating 20% of their proceeds of the day to support Adopt a Family Foundation work with victims of terror in Israel.

Therapeutic Skin Care Permanent Hair Removal Electrolysis

Jacqueline Semha Gmach will be presenting and signing her book “From Bombolini to Bagel-A story of Two Worlds” from 11am-1pm For more information, please visit and or contact

Lynn Connolly, R.E. 16766 Bernardo Center Dr., Ste. 209a • San Diego • 92128


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