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Leaving A Legacy Local organizations unite in an effort to “pay it forward.”

CAMP ROUNDUP Something for Everyone






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Choice Words from the Editor


Letters/Who Knew?

20 News 78

Celebrating Orange County’s Jewish History


Israel Scene: “Kacha Zeh”


On the Lighter Side: Kippah


Parashah of the Month/Torah: Merit v.s. Entitlement


Israeli Guy: Santa Claus and Zionism


Rabbinic Reflections: Putting Family First


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Starting with a KISS: Women’s Shabbat at Temple Beth El

40 Czech Mission: Shir Ha-Ma’alot Traces Sefer Torah Roots



Fresh Orange Jews


Gen Y World


Seniors Calendar


Desert Destination

CAMPS 50 Creating Memories: URJ Camps A&E 56

Cooking Jewish with Judy


Society Roundup: Faces of the Community


Taste with a Twist: Jewish Learning with Spirits Tasting


Obituaries: Nira Kozak Roston, Cookie Stern, Sol Chase, Scott Rowen

Kids Konnection: Sharing Sadness



44 His Own Persona: Josh Young


34 On the Cover

The Jewish Community Foundation brought together its first ten partner organizations to leave a legacy at the First Annual Community Endowment Book of Life Signing Event.

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OCJL is published monthly by Orange County Jewish Life, LLC. Subscription rate is $24 for one year (12 issues). Send subscription requests to OCJL, 5665 Oberlin Dr., Ste. 204, San Diego, CA 92121. Orange County Jewish Life is a free and open forum for the expression of opinions. The opinions expressed herein are solely the opinion of the author and in no way reflect the opinions of the publishers, staff or advertisers. Orange County Jewish Life is not responsible for the accuracy of any and all information within advertisements. Orange County Jewish Life reserves the right to edit all submitted materials, including press releases, letters, articles and calendar listings for brevity and clarity. OCJL is not legally responsible for the accuracy of calendar or directory listings, nor is it responsible for possible postponements, cancellations or changes in venue. Manuscripts, letters, documents and photographs sent to OCJL become the physical property of the publication, which is not responsible for the return of such material. Orange County Jewish Life is a member of the American Jewish Press Association and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. All contents © 2013 Orange County Jewish Life.


From the Editor

TALKING REALITY It’s not such a beautiful day in Israel’s neighborhood.

FOR THOSE WHO have never been to Israel or who may not realize how close the center of Israel is to a lot of hostile activity, Col. Miri Eisen’s talk on “The Changing Neighborhood in the Middle East and Implications for Israel” had to be an eye opener. The area’s complex geopolitics and their potential effect on Israel are truly sobering. Eisen, former Israeli government spokesperson and international media adviser to the prime minister of Israel, spoke about dramatic changes in the Middle East as power shifts threaten to alter the political landscape. Her recent talk at Temple Beth El of South Orange County, sponsored by that congregation and the Rose Project of Jewish Federation & Family Services, also addressed changes inside of Israel. Eisen talked about four events and how they impact the domestic, regional and international scene. October 16 marked 18 years on the Hebrew calendar since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. It was also 40 years since the Yom Kippur War. A week prior to Eisen’s visit was the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the chief Sephardic rabbi of Israel and founder of the Shas political 14

party. The funeral was attended by 750,000 people; Shas, which now represents 11 of 120 members of the Knesset, had had 18 Knesset members at one time. Finally, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the United Nations about the plight of Israel. “In Israel, when you wake up in the morning, you have to think of the implications of everything and know why you’re going into the shelters,” Eisen said. Eisen cited “an enormous demographic change in Israelis.” In 1979 there were 3.5 million Israeli citizens. There are 8 million now. There have been two mass immigrations of 1 million Russians and 150,000 Ethiopians. One-sixth of Israeli citizens have a native tongue of Russian, including one-quarter of the military forces. Israel has lots of children, with a high birth rate in certain segments of the population. Fortysix percent of the first graders are in the Arab or ultra-Orthodox school systems. Recent elections in Israel have been about domestic issues, rather than about the peace process. January will mark three years since the beginning of the Arab upheaval, Eisen pointed out. “There is a triangle of strength


in Middle Eastern states – the state (the president), the military and the mosque,” she said. “The Muslim Brotherhood is the only one that delivers consistently. With the lack of education and jobs, young people are frustrated that they can’t get married and get on with their lives.” Eisen went on to describe the brutality in the countries surrounding Israel. Since the uprising in Tahrir Square in Cairo, there is no rule of law in the Sinai Peninsula. In Syria more than 110,000 people have been killed in the last 2 years. Two million have left Syria (700,000 to Lebanon and 1.3 million to Jordan), and Eisen wondered out loud about how that would affect the Israel-Jordan relationship. “And who feeds these people?” she asked. Iran, as described by Netanyahu at the UN, is an “existential threat” as opposed to a “credible threat.” What it means is that Iran is willing to settle for no less than the “annihilation of the Zionist entity.” “Sadly, Israel has failed to persuade the world that a nuclear Iran is an existential threat to the whole world,” Eisen concluded. “It’s our biggest failure.”

Ilene Schneider

The area’s complex geopolitics and their potential effect on Israel are truly sobering.

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Neither of the boys started out as avid dancers. However, in 1996 they did join the Speech and Language Development Center’s Dance Team (SLDC) called The Hi Tops. The boys were also part of the SLDC Special Olympic team during this time (Josh from 1996 to 2002, Jason from 1996 to 2000). Josh has many friends who are still on the team. In February 2000 Jason was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. After a lifetime of struggles and 10 long months of battling cancer, Jason lost his battle and passed away December 26, 2000.


Here are some additions and corrections to the item about Special Olympics athlete Josh Levine that ran in Society Roundup on page 67 of the November issue: Although Josh was 32 when he received his award he is actually now 33. Josh was honored and spoke at the Columbus Day event, but received the award of Athlete of the year in April. Josh and Jason were involved with Special Olympics since the early 1990s (not 1999).

We moved from Whittier to Irvine in 2001. Josh joined the Irvine Eagles sometime in 2002. Josh and Jason both had their Bar Mitzvahs at the Whittier synagogue (Beth Shalom). Josh had his confirmation at Temple Beth Emet. Jason unfortunately died the year before his confirmation. He was honored with an empty chair. Ilene Levine, Irvine Detroit Tigers’ new manager Brad Ausmus was a Dodger in his playing days.

ABOUT A MITZVAH Thank you for the item about the kidney match for Lawrence Hart. Such a mitzvah you did; it made him realize that there are people who care. I loved your write up on Adeline Cohen. She was my best friend. I had lunch with her every Tuesday for years. I still talk to her everyday. Thanks you for all that you do.

NEW YORK (JTA) — Brad Ausmus, who managed the Israeli national team’s bid for the World Baseball Classic, was named the manager of the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers announced the hiring of Ausmus, 44, on Sunday, making him the only Jewish manager in Major League Baseball. Ausmus was a catcher for four teams in his playing days.

Zoe Rock, Irvine


Orange County Jewish Life welcomes your letters. Email your feedback to, accompanied by your full name, street address, and daytime phone number. OCJL will publish letters anonymously if requested.


Who Knew?


His Israel team failed to qualify for the World Baseball Classic in 2012, losing to Spain, 9-7, in 10 innings in the final game of the qualifying tournament. With the Tigers he will succeed Jim Leyland, who stepped down following Detroit’s loss to the eventual world champion Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series. Leyland managed the Tigers for eight seasons, twice winning the A.L. pennant.

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El Al Celebrates 65th EL AL Israel Airlines celebrated its 65th anniversary of when the airline was officially incorporated on November 15, 1948. Merely a vision in 1948, EL AL is today one of the most well-respected global carriers and maintains its role as Israel’s national airline. Having both been established in 1948, EL AL and the State of Israel have evolved together, serving as a bridge in uniting Israel with the outside world. In September of 1948, the new State of Israel wanted to bring President Chaim Weizmann home from a meeting in Geneva in an Israeli aircraft. Improvising, an Israeli Air Force aircraft was converted to a civilian plane, the pilots and an inflight crew were recruited from the Israeli Air Force, furnishings were borrowed and Kosher food was ordered. It was decided to call the airline “EL AL,” taken from the book of the Hebrew prophet Hosea, meaning to the skies. The name “EL AL” was painted on the aircraft, as was an Israeli flag on the tail. Celebrating almost 65 years of service, EL AL Israel Airlines offers the most nonstop flights between New York (JFK/Newark) and Israel as well as the only nonstop service from Los Angeles. Worldwide, EL AL flies to 36 destinations from Israel and serves dozens of other destinations throughout the world via partnerships with other carriers. Only 20



EL AL has first class service on nonstop flights between the U.S.A. and Israel. The airline has annual revenues of about $2 billion and carries 3.6 million passengers every year. EL AL embodies Israel’s values of innovation and the promise of a genuine Israeli welcome.

TVT Students Recognized by NMS Seven students at Tarbut V’Torah (TVT) Community Day School in Irvine received recognition in the 59th Annual National Merit Scholarship Program, and two were named as semi-finalists. The seven – Jordan Berman, Ethan Bogart, Matthew Cohen, Roy Elzur, Tristan Levinson-Hayes, Nathan Price

and Lahna Sheron – represent 18 percent of the graduating class at TVT. They are among the top 50,000 students of 1.5 million who took the National Merit Scholarship qualifying test. Elzur and Berman, the semi-finalists, are part of a group of 16,000 students who will continue in the competition to receive some 8,000 scholarships worth $35 million to be offered in spring 2014. About 90 percent of the semifinalists will become finalists, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship. “This is very exciting for the students and the whole school,” said Keren Wolf, dean of students. “These students have worked so hard at increasing their learning, and it’s paid off.” She added, “They’ve gone above and beyond the requirements to avail themselves of what we can do. They have a natural curiosity that the school has helped them to develop. TVT ignited a spark that they have developed into a flame.” Most of the students were both surprised and pleased at the recognition. Many want to decide later about their career choices.


Tarbut V’Torah students are recognized by National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Elzur, who has spent his entire academic life at TVT, likes the fact that he knows students and teachers personally. Excelling in math and science and interested in art, he is thinking about parlaying his skills into industrial design or architecture and hopes to go to college in a big city on the east coast. Berman, who also has been at TVT since kindergarten, said, “To say it has shaped my education would be understatement of the year. I learned the definition of learning in the hallowed halls of Tarbut, and my experience has been understandably positive.” He said he was delighted that his hard work paid off. Cohen, who also placed in the top 25 in an essay contest sponsored by the American Foreign Service Association, hopes to have a career involving public policy. Also at TVT since kindergarten, he credits the English and math departments with this achievement and likes the sense of community at the school. Sheron, the only girl in the group, said that TVT is “an environment where teachers encourage you to love learning rather than stressing a need to win.” Also a “lifer” at TVT, she likes history, math and science, as well as poetry, music and the trampoline. She hopes to explore multiple

career options at Tufts University. Bogart, also at TVT since kindergarten, hopes to get a computer science degree “and maybe do something with music as well.” Adept at math and science, he plays several musical instruments, is on the baseball and cross-country teams, does competitive imrpov, is in National Honor Society and serves as co-president of his synagogue youth group. Levinson-Hayes, who started TVT in the sixth grade, was glad to see his friends get recognized. He likes TVT, because “there’s a lot of teacher-student connection, small classes, the Jewish aspect and great teachers.” He hopes to go to the University of Chicago, Washington University or Brandeis. Price, who did the accelerated math program at TVT and culminated with multivariate calculus, is also a musician in a garage band. Also undecided about his career choice and applying to multiple colleges, Price is excited that his hard work resulted in this accomplishment. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) was established in 1955 to award scholarships. The scholarships are underwritten by NMSC and 440 business organizations and academic institutions to honor the nation’s scholas-


tic champions and enourage the pursuit of academic excellence. TVT is a pluralistic Jewish day school with nearly 600 students. Its mission is to challenge students to think critically and creatively to achieve their fullest potential in an inclusive, pluralistic environment; to prepare students to be leaders, active learners and responsible citizens; and to succeed at the finest colleges and universities. TVT also strives to strengthen its students’ Jewish identities and inspire them to lead meaningful lives, steeped in Jewish values. For more information on TVT, 5200 Bonita Canyon Drive, Irvine, CA 92603, contact (949) 509-9500 or A OCJEWISHLIFE.COM | DECEMBER 2013



Kacha Zeh

Election results leave a bad taste.


NO ONE ASKED me to be an apologist for Israel. It evolved naturally in college where, in the uber-liberal environment of 1970s Boston, pro-Palestinian and/or “Zionism=Apartheid” demonstrations were de rigueur. Feeling defensive, I opted to learn more about the miracle in the desert called Israel. As I’d already been “outed” by dorm-mates, instructors and anti-Israel protestors as a “New York Jew,” it made sense to acquire a rudimentary grasp of my heritage, which, in turn, resulted in a deeper faith and spirituality. While it may be true that “the best defense is a good offense,” I’ve never felt sufficiently well-read or otherwise informed about budgets, the military or even the history of the Middle East to voice cogent opnions akin to those of Dershowitz, Pipes or Glick. My sphere of expertise runs more toward a euphoric feeling, knowing that children in Israel can walk the streets at night without fear, Jewish education and synagogue membership are free and stockings and neckties are not listed in the


dress code. What I can never wrap my head around are data revealing that there are Jews who have never visited the only Jewish country in the world and that Jewish “literacy” is woefully absent except for discussions about where to get the best bagel in New York. Rarely complaining aloud, I’ve accepted an unofficial role as champion of all things Israeli and have led many flag-waving-let’s-dance-the-Hora-celebrations of my beloved country. Until today. We are both healing and/or reeling from recent municipal elections throughout the country. And I’m angry. Angry because the country I love, have sent my sons to fight for, pay my taxes to and will continue to praise (lest some Jew in the West thinks for a moment that this isn’t the Emerald City) is rife with political con men, thieves, hookers and bums. On a good day. And we old-time, grizzled Anglos and the neophyte Nefesh B’Nefesh idealists, still impassioned Zionists,


have been numbed into muttering en masse, Kacha zeh. (“That’s the way it is.”) J’accuse. The fraud perpetuated by elected officials in many Israeli cities was staggering to behold. Forged voter registration cards and fake IDs were seized hours after polls closed, and several mayors were re-elected while under indictment!!! And in the same weekend paper that threatened an already hard-to-digest meal from revisiting the dining table, reports of pension gouging and attacks on hospital personnel dwarfed every glorious attribute of my country, leaving me struggling to recall anything and everything I’ve giddily shared with readers over the years. Shamelessly paraphrasing, I’m mad-as-Hell and I’m not going to take it anymore. Neither, hopefully, are the good people of Beit Shemesh, who were dragged through indescribable political slime only to see their incumbent mayor, at best a thug-protector and, at worst, himself a thug, reelected by 900 votes. It was reported that at least 20,000 took to the streets in protest, demanding a new election; in addition to the aforementioned fake registration cards and IDs, also discovered were assorted hats, wigs, scarves and other accessories to disguise the fraudsters. Pinch your nostrils tightly, because, amazingly, the mayor was heralded into office by quite a few votes from dead people. No joke. Names of deceased citizens appeared on the rosters, and, they all voted to keep Moshe Abutbol in office. Some in Beit Shemesh are selling their homes: others talk of secession. Regardless of how defiance manifests itself, I pray that our nation of kacha zehniks becomes stricken with a condition called New-Think and symptoms of morality and purpose. Consequently, I’m slipping into a fearsome role of local crazy lady who shouts at people who don’t leash their dogs or pick up their excrement, scold bus-riding children who don’t stand for the elderly and bang on the windshields of drivers who block crosswalks. I’ve developed a zero-tolerance level for abhorrently behaved service providers, politicians, medical staff and children. If pierced lips and body-tattoos are accepted fashions in the Jewish state, I’ll try to introduce another red-hot trend: Civility. Dreams unrealized kill the spirit and my spirited Israel boasts dancing in the street, courtesy and a shared understanding that we’re not “all that.” My new clubhouse is open, and the door is ajar. A simple sign bears the name “Civility, Morality, Accountability Now.” All are invited 24/7. Coffee and cake are free.

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New York-born Andrea Simantov is a mother of six who moved to Jerusalem in 1995. She frequently lectures on the complexity and magic of life in Jerusalem and can be contacted at OCJEWISHLIFE.COM | DECEMBER 2013


On the Lighter Side | BY MAYRAV SAAR



Could headwear make a global statement?


WHEN SOMEONE IS particularly good at creative problem-solving, we generally compliment him by saying he has a Yiddishe kop. The term literally means a “Jewish head,” and when I go to my son’s Jewish day school, it amuses me to no end to see so many Yiddishe kops adorned with taqiyahs from Pakistan. Sometimes called a kofi or a topi, the taqiyah is the often white but sometimes colorful and beautifully adorned cap worn by Muslim boys and men. It fits over the entire skull, the way the “skullcap” kippah never really does. Most importantly, the taqiyah stays on through rigorous basketball games and doesn’t require a single barrette. Because Zev’s Jewish day school requires that boys wear a kippah everyday – and because the standard Ashkenazi kippah is just asking to end up in the Lost and Found, the taqiyah has become in vogue among the elementary school set. Of course, nobody calls it a taqiyah; we all call it a “Moroccan-style kippah.” But we’re all deluding ourselves. Just as hummus did not originate in Israel, the “Moroccan kippot” our kids wear do not come from Morocco – nor are they kippot. Instead, most were hand-embroidered by Pakistani and Afghani women with every intention that they’d be worn in a madrasa. I know this, because every year I buy Zev a new kippah at our synagogue’s Chanukah boutique from a man who speaks with a Middle Eastern accent that is decidedly not Israeli. To find these unique skullcaps, the man says he travels regularly to Afghanistan and Pakistan. I’m not that well-versed in the mercantile trends of the Middle East, but I’m guessing the kippah market is not exactly booming under the Taliban. I can’t imagine what the Pakistani and Afghani women would say if they knew their fine stitch work ended up in a shul in Southern California, but here’s what I wish they would say: “Oh, good.” I’m one of those Lysistrata-reading feminists who


believes that war is the invention of men. I don’t think women of any culture raise their children to strap bombs to themselves, and I would be willing to bet that the whole “72 Virgins thing” is not something a Muslim mom mentions when tucking her baby boy into bed at night. If I’m right, then maybe one of those seamstresses would be as amused as I am by the cross (cultural)dressing I witness at Zev’s school everyday. And maybe she would even be heartened. Maybe she’d even marvel, as I do, at the strangeness of globalism and the power it has to make a half-Irish Jewish boy from California look totally normal in a Pakistani hat. Maybe she would secretly wish, as I do, that this small bit of symbolism could snowball into something far more powerful. I know it’s asking too much to assume that a Jew wearing Muslim garb sold by a guy who’s probably Christian can change the world. The hate is too strong and the politics too thorny. But I do believe there is an answer to the years of war and destruction that have laid waste to people of different faiths. I am optimistic that there will be a solution. And I’m hopeful that whatever the answer, it is percolating now, perhaps beneath a taqiyah in a very Yiddishe kop.

After a 10-year career as a newspaper reporter for the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register, Mayrav Saar left to try her hand at child rearing and freelance writing.



Parashah of the Month | BY A. SIMANTOV


Merit vs. Entitlement God often chooses someone other than the firstborn to lead the people.


“VA’YISHLACH YISROEL ET yemino va’yashet al rosh Efrayim . . . “ Yaakov places his right hand on Efrayim’s head even though he was the younger one, and his left hand on Menashe’s. Yaakov maneuvered his hands because Menashe was the firstborn. By blessing Efrayim, the younger of the two brothers with his right hand, Yaakov gives the younger son priority over his older brother. Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch stressed that there is no ethical or spiritual superiority deriving from one’s birth order. The only advantage a firstborn has is based on material inheritance. Yaakov, through Ruach Ha’Kodesh (Divine inspiration), chooses to grant priority in the blessing on the basis of whose offspring will be greater, instead of on the basis of who is the firstborn. By maneuvering his hands for the blessing, Yaakov rejects the pagan custom of favoring the firstborn merely because of birth order. Instead he shows that Judaism places greater importance in the concept of what a person is and what he will become. Among the many commentators to the passage, the Kli Yahar observes that God chooses the weak and downtrodden, as opposed to the cult of strength associated with the status of the firstborn. The Torah points to other examples of where a younger brother achieved moral and spiritual superiority over his first born sibling. God favored Hevel (Abel) over his older brother Kayin (Cain). Yitzchak is favored over his older brother Yishmael. In his youth, Yaakov is favored over his older brother Esav. Yoseph is favored over firstborn Reuven. Reuven was not given the double portion of inheritance usually reserved for the firstborn; it went instead to Yoseph. This occurred when Yoseph’s sons, Efrayim and Menashe, were elevated to a status equal to the other tribes. The actual blessing that Yaakov gave to Yoseph’s sons – “May God make you as Efrayim and Menashe” – became the most famous and widely known of all the blessings that Yaakov gave. This blessing serves as a model to all Jewish parents who wish to bless their children. As an addendum to “accepting one’s lot,” it might be ascertained that the redemption from our current exile is


foreshadowed in the Yoseph experience. If the renewed love of the brothers could be duplicated by their modern day descendants (i.e., “us”), our Redemption would come, as did theirs. (A thought worth pondering.)

From the Torah to Your Table: “Ribbet, Ribbet.” Sound Familiar?: Rashi explains that there was only one frog, but when the Egyptians struck it, it split into a great deal of frogs. When the Egyptians observed that striking the frogs caused them to multiply immeasurably, common sense would dictate that they stop. But a person who acts in anger does not listen to the voice of reason. Anger begets more anger and the land of Egypt was covered with frogs. Comments the Birkaz Peretz, “In any dispute, if the aggravated party would remain silent, then the squabble would gradually subside. Regrettably, the opposite is true. Accusations and recriminations are voiced, provoking a torrent of counter-claims, acrimony and name calling. Ultimately, the bickering escalates into a crescendo of uncontrollable rage, a perfect parallel to the plague of the frogs.”

DECEMBER 2013 KISLEV-TEVET 5774 Candle Lighting Times and Torah Portions Friday, December 6 Light candles at 4:25 p.m.

Friday, December 20 Light candles at 4:28 p.m.

Saturday, December 7 Torah Portion: Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)

Saturday, December 21 Torah Portion: Shemot (Exodus 1:1-6:1)

Friday, December 13 Light candles at 4:26 p.m.

Friday, December 27 Light candles at 4:32 p.m.

Saturday, December 14 Torah Portion: Vayehi (Genesis 47:28-50:26)

Saturday, December 28 Torah Portion: Vaera (Exodus 6:2-9:35)







Santa Claus and Zionism

There are no December dilemmas in Israel, but…


ONE EVENING IN early November a few years ago, we were having dinner, and the name “Santa Claus” came up. (I think we were speaking about differences between Chanukah and Christmas.) My then-12-year-old son Elie said, “Who’s Santa Claus?” Despite the immediate questioning of Elie’s intelligence provided gratis by his sister Rebecca (“Oh come on, are you for real?”), I realized that it was perfectly understandable that Elie had no idea who Santa Claus was. Elie arrived in Israel at the age of two, and since then he has been back in the States only twice (and both trips were during summertime). Still, it was a bit of a shock for me since we are American Israelis, and it seems that I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not recognize the name “Santa Claus.” Elie did not know about Santa Claus, because Elie lives in a country without a Christian majority culture. (I wonder: if there is a person reading this column whose child or grandchild does not know who Santa Claus is.) In America, Jews are cognizant of major Christian holidays and traditions — this is fine and only natural given the dominance of Christian culture in America. In Israel, Jews don’t have to measure themselves against a different religious culture. Indeed, religious Zionism’s dream was that in a country where Judaism is the majority culture, Judaism can grow and thrive in ways unimaginable in the Diaspora. This dream, however, has been put on hold. A major reason for this is an unusual interplay between secular and ultra-Orthodox Israelis concerning religion, the result of which prevents Judaism from contributing to the life of a modern state. On the part of the ultra-Orthodox, there is no interest in what religion can contribute to general culture, because the ultra-Orthodox are not interested in general culture. Their main focus is on punctilious observance of the Sabbath and of the kosher laws. A huge effort in Israeli culture is thus made towards seeing to it that the state’s apparatus functions in accord with stringent ultra-Orthodox demands concerning the Sabbath and kashrut – and as long as these demands are indeed kept stringently, the ultra-Orthodox are content. The secular populace, for its part, is content to keep religion confined to ritual observances. This segment of the population would rather preserve the status quo (even

though it gives the ultra-Orthodox disproportional power in certain political situations), rather than consider what Judaism has to say about such wider societal issues as the environment, animal rights, organ transplantation and nuclear proliferation. Will the national religious camp be able to make good on its dream of a vibrant Judaism in the Jewish state, a Judaism that speaks to and addresses all issues of society? I’m not sure. During my first year here (1997-1998), I sat in on a theology seminar given by the noted scholar Rabbi David Hartman (who unfortunately passed away in February of this year). I remember Rabbi Hartman pounding on the table and saying, “Thirty years ago when I made aliyah [he moved here from Montreal in 1971], I thought that in Israel there was finally going to be an opportunity for Judaism to embrace all of life. But I was a complete idiot! Because what did I discover -- that the religious here are concerned mainly with pas akum [the Jewish legal issue concerning bread that is made by gentiles].” The truth is that in Israel we have not yet fully exercised our religious freedom. We have the luxury of living in the world’s only Jewish majority culture, where a child can grow up without having heard of Santa Claus, but what have we done with this freedom? Answer so far: Not enough. When, for example, Judaism is associated with a massive campaign against road fatalities on Israel’s highways – instead of with protests against construction on the Sabbath of those highways – then we will have realized the State of Israel of which Rabbi Hartman dreamed.

Teddy Weinberger, Ph.D., is a tennis coach who made aliyah with his family in 1997 from Miami, where he was an assistant professor of religious studies. He and his wife, Sarah Jane Ross, have five children. OCJEWISHLIFE.COM | DECEMBER 2013


Rabbinic Reflections | BY RABBI DAVID ELIEZRIE


The Crisis of the Jewish Family Put family ahead of career.


SHMUEL TAMARI WAS gravely concerned. As a senior government official in the young State of Israel, he was facing a crisis. The state economy was shaky, and the country was barely holding on. A new idea was being considered, limiting the amount of children each family could have. Clearly, this proposal would encounter opposition from the Orthodox sector, so he sought out the advice of Rabbi Arey Levine. Known as the Tzaddik of Jerusalem, he had been the rabbi of the early Zionist pioneers. He was beloved by both religious and secular Jews in Israel. Rabbi Levine responded to Tamari’s suggestion with a story: “Many years ago a couple came to me to ask if they should have an abortion. Things were rough during the British Mandate, and they did not know how they could support another child. I told them that every child comes into the world with a unique spiritual mission, something only that soul can accomplish. G-d has blessed them with a child, a sign from above that their child has a mission to fulfill in this world.” Tamari asked the rabbi, “What happened?” He answered, “That is still a question, the couple was your parents and the question is will you fulfill your mission?” Each person has a unique mission in this world; when a couple brings another child into the world, the parents are partners in this Divine purpose. The Pew Survey of the Jewish Americans has created a tidal wave of debate and discussion in the Jewish community. One of the most startling statistics is the lower birth rate and high rates of intermarriage in the non-Orthodox segment of the Jewish community. Demographer Steven Cohen, who advised the study, told the JTA: “For every 100 Orthodox Jewish 50-yearolds, there are 230 Orthodox 10-year-olds, and for every 100 non-Orthodox 50-year-olds, there are 70 non-Orthodox 10-year-olds.” Coupled with the present intermarriage rate in the non-Orthodox community of 70 percent, there is a real question of a Jewish future for more secular end of the community.


Orthodox families are having about four children each; non-Orthodox families 1.5. Why? It’s a question of values. In the more secular end of the community, young people have made a career a priority. They are marrying later and deferring having a family. They are so focused on making a living that they are not thinking about how to live. In the Orthodox segment there is a much greater emphasis on the idea of family, and most are marrying earlier and having children. It’s time for the Jewish community to begin a new conversation to encourage young adults to marry earlier and begin families. The first commandment in the Torah is to be fruitful and multiply. What has happened is the values of modern western culture have overwhelmed Jewish ideals, and more and more young people see marriage as something to do once they have finished school and have a good job and career. A good job provides us with the tools to live a productive life, but it is not the purpose of life. Jewish educators must stress this idea to children, and rabbis need to discuss this from the pulpit. Major Jewish organizations need to develop strategies to promote the idea of creating Jewish families as a communal priority. There can be no greater thing than to live a life with meaning and purpose. Having a family is a key to this. There is no greater accomplishment than bringing another human being into this world.

Rabbi David Eliezrie is rabbi at Congregation Beth Meir HaCohen/ Chabad. His email is

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Kids Konnection | BY BARBARA BOARNET


Sharing Sadness

Funeral reminds us of how precious life is.


UNFORTUNATELY, THIS WEEK I attended the memorial service of a fellow congregant. It wasn’t the first funeral for us this year, but it was the only one of a person in our generation, a husband and father of two kids hardly older than ours. It is always difficult to accept the death of someone so young, taken in the prime of his life. It hits closer to home and reminds us of how precious life can be. As I sat there during this service, remembering our friend and feeling pain for his family, several things had an impact on me that I wish to impart to my children in the hopes that they will take them to heart and that it will make a difference in their lives. Hopefully sharing them this way will have an impact upon you as well. First, one of the speakers giving a eulogy was the decedent’s daughter, a freshman in college. As difficult as it was to speak publicly during the most difficult time of her life, she spoke from the heart and shared stories about her dad that made us smile and gave us insight into the person that he was. She had to stop frequently to compose herself, but she got through it and it was very touching and admirable. I, too, spoke at my father’s funeral when I was in my twenties. While it was the hardest thing I had ever had to do, to this day I am so glad that I chose to do it. The lesson from this that I would like to impart to my children is that they should not shy away from doing something that seems insurmountably difficult and persevere through something that is incredibly hard to do. Second, during the daughter’s eulogy, her brother, four years her senior, was standing next to her waiting his turn to speak. When his sister broke down crying a few times and needed to compose herself, I noticed him putting his arm around her, patting her shoulder, rubbing her back and showing her that he was there for her. It was very touching, and those gestures alone showed that he will be there for her in all aspects of their lives. I don’t know them well enough to know if it was these tragic circumstances that brought them closer together or if this has been the general nature


of their relationship, but, as I watched, I pictured my own children up there in a similar situation and hoped that they would be as loving and supportive of one another. I want to remind my own children that they share a very special bond as siblings. They need to support and love one another and stand up for each other, not just during a bad or difficult time, but also during the good times and regular life as well. Third, what I learned of the decedent during this service was so impressive. In the face of the diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease, he immediately began to fight, not just to try to combat his disease physically, but to raise money and awareness for a cure. Throughout the last year of his advancing illness, he refused to let the disease take away his entire life and did not sit back and accept defeat. Instead, he tried to live life to the fullest and spent time with his family and friends, going places and doing things until he just physically could not do so anymore. We can all remember that if we are ever faced with similar adversity, we should fight and persevere and live our lives to the fullest, trying to enjoy each and every day. We have been fortunate not to have had to deal with a serious illness, but if we are, I would hope that we would be able to fight with the strength, dignity and courage that he exhibited. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Griffin family during this unimaginably difficult time. May Reid’s memory be for a blessing. His strength and character and that of his children made an impact on our lives and, hopefully, through this article, on those of others as well.

Barbara Boarnet is a freelance writer, attorney, former PTA president, Hadassah member, wife and mother of three teenagers.



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Leaving A Legacy Local organizations unite in an effort to “pay it forward.” BY ILENE SCHNEIDER

Polly Sloan and her late husband, Sol, founded the Jewish Community Center in Laguna Beach in 1997 and “then saw that there were many organizations and ways to get involved in the Jewish community. Basil Luck came to Irvine 31 years ago from South Africa, where the founders of the Jewish community built everything. Finding a “tremendous void of Judaism,” he helped to build Beth Jacob Congregation and wants it to carry on. Miki Sholkoff is so pleased with the education her children and grandchildren received through the Bureau of Jewish Education that she believes “we have to ensure a Jewish legacy through education.”




According to Gideon Bernstein, president of the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County, “We need to carry on the legacy of Moses and the Jewish people and pay it forward, weaving together the fabric of the community – the agencies, synagogues, day schools and families.” “Whatever you can envision, we can envision to create a Jewish tomorrow,” said Wendy Chase Arenson, J.D., CSPG, director of legacy planning of the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County, as she welcomed more than 100 community supporters to the First Annual Community Endowment Book of Life Signing Event on November 6 at Tarbut V’Torah. Attendees had either committed or seriously considered committing to leaving a legacy for one of the foundation’s Create a Jewish Legacy (CJL) Partner organizations. The Endowment Book of Life is a growing collection of signatures and histories, of both individuals and families, from more than 40 communities in North America. In Orange County the Endowment Book of Life is a symbol of united commitment to create a culture of legacy in Jewish Orange County. At the signing event Marjory Kaplan, the senior professional of the Jewish Community Foundation in San Diego, spoke about her personal journey towards creating her legacy gift and the success San Diego’s Jewish community has achieved with its legacy program. Bernstein spoke about the Orange County foundation’s journey towards the creation of a unified legacy program in Orange County. “The night was topped off with an incredible dinner, engaging conversation and the knowledge that clergy, professional and lay leaders from our CJL Partner organizations all came together in the same room for the united purpose of creating Jewish legacies for our community,” Arenson said. On October 1, the foundation launched the CJL program in partnership with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. CJL is a proven program that trains local Jewish agencies and synagogues to work together to build endowment funding for future generations. After a thorough application process, the Grinspoon Foundation selected ten local partner institutions into the first phase of this program. The Jewish Community Foundation serves as the center point and mentor for the CJL program in Orange County and provides extensive training, marketing assistance and incentive grants to the partner organizations. Each partner has signed a Brit Kodesh (covenant) to invest all funds obtained through the program with the local foundation. “We now have 75 signers of our Jewish Community Foundation Orange County Endowment Book of Life – and we’ve just begun,” Arenson said. “In real terms, that is 75 individuals who are committed to leaving an endowed gift to the Jewish Community of Orange County. On the day before the signing event, there was a “Create a Jewish Legacy” training seminar for the partner organizations on the topic of how to talk to donors. Arlene Schiff from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation conducted a presentation for the group, and then individuals from the various organizations interacted in role play conversations, sharing ideas on creating endowed gifts for the local Jewish institutions. “The CJL program benefits everyone who is involved,” Arenson said. “Our local Jewish institutions benefit through increased endowed giving and connection with their members. Donors 36


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Jewish organization in Orange County.” As stated by CSP Founder Arie Katz, “With the introduction of their new Create a Jewish Legacy program in our community, the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County is providing all of us a strong foundation upon which we can build the future of Jewish Orange County. We are honored to participate in this program and want to give a ‘shout out’ to the Foundation for its vision and achievement.” Each year, the foundation will celebrate its community partners and those who have committed to leaving a legacy gift at our annual Endowment Book of Life signing ceremony. Current participants are: Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine, the Bureau of Jewish Education, the Community Scholar Program, Hebrew Academy, Heritage Pointe, Jewish Federation & Family Services Orange County, the Jewish Community Center, Tarbut V’Torah, Temple Bat Yahm and Temple Beth El of South Orange County. “There is no Jewish non-profit in our county doing more for the future of Orange County Jewry or which is better at bringing the community together for a common effort than the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County,” said David Lewis, executive director of the Bureau of Jewish Education Orange County. “Its leadership, guidance and support in establishing a community-wide effort to leave an enduring legacy will not only ensure the future of Jewish youth but will bring stability and energy to every segment of our population and the agencies that serve us.”

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COVER STORY Continued from page 37

What is Create a Jewish Legacy? •

It is a capacity building partnership program offered by the Jewish Community Foundation and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (through Life & Legacy) that provides training, support and monetary incentives to move organizations to secure meaningful after-lifetime legacy gifts. This program creates a strong partnership between the Jewish Community Foundation and our local Jewish community agencies, synagogues and day schools. Through Create a Jewish Legacy, participating organizations will embark on a legacy building program benefiting the entire Jewish community. •

What are the benefits of participating in Create a Jewish Legacy? •

A comprehensive educational curriculum with topics including speaking with donors, marketing, stewardship and best practices. Incentive grants. Marketing assistance. An annual Endowment Book of Life signing event hosted by the Foundation for your organization’s committed donors. • • •

What are the basic requirements for applying for participation in the program?

Honoring participants who created a legacy gift were (left to right): Gideon Bernstein, president of the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County; Arlene D. Schiff, Life and Legacy national director at the Grinspoon Foundation; Marjory Kaplan, senior professional of the Jewish Community Foundation in San Diego; and Wendy Chase Arenson, J.D., CSPG, director of legacy planning of the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County.

The ability to put together a legacy team made up of both senior professional(s) and lay leaders who will be responsible for: Securing after-lifetime gifts for their own institution; Attending 6 training sessions per year; Submitting excel-based reports in a timely manner on a quarterly basis; Meeting goals outlined in your legacy plan; Establishing board-approved written endowment policies and procedures; and Placing all bequests and other planned gifts received through this program at the Jewish Community Foundation in funds to be held for the benefit of your organization. • • • • • •

If ten organizations all begin seeking legacy gifts at the same time, won’t we be in competition with each other to reach donors first?

surable goals. Offer quality group training seminars. Assist each agency to develop a plan, implement action and track progress. Provide consulting and coaching services. Provide legacy marketing for the region and templates for individual agency’s public relations material. Recognize and thank all Create a Jewish Legacy donors, with donor approval, on behalf of the Orange County Jewish community. Host an annual Endowment Book of Life signing event to honor donors committed to endowing their gift. • • • • • •

The program is designed to eliminate competition between agencies, and is intended to result in the creation of after-lifetime gifts that benefit the entire Jewish community. Incentive grants are not based on who reaches a particular donor first; but rather, whether a particular donor commits to leaving an endowed gift for your organization. Donors are sophisticated, and they generally leave legacy gifts to the organizations closest to their heart, regardless of which organization speaks with them first. Most donors leave bequest gifts to more than one congregation or organization. By speaking with a significant number of individuals, we raise the total level of legacy giving in our community.

How did the Community Foundation decide which organizations can participate in Create a Jewish Legacy?

What are the obligations of the Jewish Community Foundation? •

During a community meeting on May 29, 2013, the Jewish Community Foundation distributed application forms. A committee reviewed the applications and selected 10 local organizations for the first two-year phase of Create a Jewish Legacy. The selected organizations were notified of their acceptance into the program in July.

(Source: Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County website)

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F E AT U R E S Rabbi Steinberg’s daughter, Abigail, read from the Torah scroll, still being read at Shir Ha-Ma’alot since 1968.

Czech Mission Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot traces Sefer Torah roots and more.






The Shir Ha-Ma’alot congregants took color copies of the Torah portion and read it on the site as if it had been 50 years ago.

Litomysl, a Czech village, was once the home of the Sefer Torah used at Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot in Irvine.

OUT OF THE ashes of death and destruction, there is a resurgence of Jewish life in Eastern Europe. Rabbi Richard Steinberg of Shir Ha-Ma’alot in Irvine thinks that understanding that part of Jewish history can only be done by being there, in the same way as a trip to Israel. As an added bonus of a trip he conducted for 15 congregants, there was

a chance to see the place where the congregation’s Sefer Torah came from when it was founded in 1968. “During World War II the Nazis destroyed all sorts of institutions,” Rabbi Steinberg explained. “In Litomysl, Czechoslovakia, the Nazis rounded up Jews and sent them to camps but didn’t destroy the synagogue.

They created a museum to show the extinction of the Jewish race.” After the war, more than 1,500 Torah scrolls remained in Czechoslovakia for more than 20 years. Then a financier in London paid $30,000 to bring them to Britain to evaluate whether they could be used, repaired or deemed unrepairable. In 1968 the Czech Memorial Sefer Torah Foundation was created to loan out the scrolls on a permanent basis to small synagogues, Jewish senior homes and youth groups. “Enter Shir Ha-Ma’a lot, then known as Harbor Reform Temple, founded in 1968,” Rabbi Steinberg said. “As a new congregation, it applied for an received one of these Torah scrolls on a permanent loan. It’s the Continued on page 42



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In Warsaw people have just finished building a Jewish museum on the site of what had been the Warsaw Ghetto.

The Torah scroll that came from Litomysl.

same Sefer Torah that we read from every Shabbat.” In fact, Rabbi Steinberg’s daughter, Abigail, read from it at her Bat Mitzvah ceremony in November. The Litomysl synagogue was dormant for years, then used as a storage facility and then destroyed. Now an apartment building stands on the site, but a plaque commemorates the synagogue and the Jewish presence in the town. The Shir Ha-Ma’alot congregants took color copies of the Torah portion and read it on the site as if it had been 50 years ago. “Sitting there, people were crying,” Rabbi Steinberg said. “The idea of being where that Torah scroll was read was incredible.” He added, “Hitler doesn’t get a posthumous victory, because we read from that Torah scroll every Shabbat. Judaism is still here.”

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Abigail Steinberg with her proud father, Rabbi Richard Steinberg, at Abigail’s Bat Mitzvah

Litomysl was a detour from the rest of the trip, which included sites in Warsaw and Krakow, Poland; Budapest, Hungary; and Prague, Czechoslovakia. “It was an amazing trip – emotionally challenging and, at the same time, totally uplifting,” said Rabbi Steinberg. “We understood the destruction of the Jewish people in all its sadistic evilness, but it was uplifting to see the resurgence of Jewish life.” In Warsaw people have just finished building a Jewish museum on the site of what had

been the Warsaw Ghetto. The government supports it, and the young people want to reclaim the history of the people who lived there, the rabbi explained. In Krakow, hundreds of kids are enrolled in Jewish studies classes, according to the rabbi, who added that there had been 3½ million Jews in Poland before World War II. After the Nazis were defeated in Poland, the Communists gained control. With that came another form of repression. “As a result, a lot of young people didn’t even know they were Jewish until recently,” according to Rabbi Steinberg. “One girl discovered that she had Jewish lineage, and even her grandmother is now unafraid to admit it.” Krakow was not touched, and synagogues still exist there, as they do in Budapest. In the Galitzianer Synagogue in Krakow, there are pictures of Auschwitz, life in Poland and kids in camps. “It’s an amazing experience to celebrate Shabbat in a place where Jewish life was never meant to exist again,” Rabbi Steinberg said. He concluded, “This is a huge, important part of Jewish history. We can learn about it, but we can’t fully appreciate it without being there. Eighty percent of the Jewish world now lives in the U.S. or Israel, but we have a responsibility for the rest of the Jewish world, especially where it flourished before.”

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Litomysl, a town and municipality in the Pardubice Region of the Czech Republic, was the home of the Sefer Torah used at Shir Ha-Ma’alot. The chateau complex in the town centre is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Litomysl is located 85 miles east of Prague. Fifteen SHM congregants accompanied Rabbi Richard Steinberg and Cantor Arie Shikler to the village to revisit the site of the synagogue where the Sefer Torah had been, as part of a trip to experience places in Eastern Europe where Judaism flourished before World War II.

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Josh Young in Evita




His Own Persona Evita tango waltzes into the Segerstrom with Josh Young as Che. BY JUDY FLORMAN

EVA PERON AND Che tango waltz into the spotlight of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts stage December 10 to 12 for the first national tour of the Tony Award-Nomination smash hit of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita. This is the first new Broadway production of the seven-time Tony Award-winning musical since it debuted more than 30 years ago. Starring will be Tony-nominated Josh Young as Che, Caroline Bowman as Eva Peron and Sean MacLaughlin as Juan Peron. Young as Che, the fun-loving translation of its Spanish name “Hey Buddy,” identifies with his own persona as a kid. A member of a Conservative Jewish family, he reminisces that at age 12, he was a “wild, rambunctious kid.” Growing up in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, his parents decided to enroll him in a theatre class at Pennsylvania’s Young People’s Workshop “hoping to keep me out of trouble, settle me down and increase my creativity. It was the best thing they ever did for me. From that point all I wanted was theatre. I love this more than anything else.” His education continued at the Pennsylvania Governors School for the Arts, and he holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University. “This role in Evita fits me so well in terms of singing,” he said. “I love the story telling, but I love singing it as if I have been singing it my whole life. It is a perfect match for my voice. This is my most fun role.” The story is told through the score, including “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” “Buenos Aires,” “Another Suitcase in Another Hall,” “High Flying Adored” and “You Must Love Me,” the Oscar-winning hit from the film Evita. Young played Che for the first time in 2010 at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario. But this is a different Che, re-imagined, he explained. And he is pleased to appear as this different character. Producer Hal Luftig and Hal Prince, the original Broadway director of 1979, originally decided to make the character

“Ernesto Che Guevara,” adding some serious “There’s a lot of wonderful singing and incredtension with Eva because their ideas conflicted. ible dancing; the best of the play are the songs The original won a Tony with Mandy Patinkin as and dance.” Young added, “This waltz becomes Che Guevara. But in this production the script a climax, creating a source of controversy in the says only “Che,” creating the “buddy” character, ending. It leaves people thinking.” revealing specifically how members of the workYoung, 33, is a recipient of a 2012 Tony ing class people are affected by Juan Peron and Award nomination as the best featured actor Eva’s political moves. in a musical and the Theatre World Award “I had originally played the Che Guevara for his critically acclaimed Broadway debut as character and was worried that the new Che “Judas” in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ wouldn’t be as effective in telling the story. But I Superstar. He also won the award for his role as feel that this is the best way to tell the story, and Connie Rivers in Grapes of Wrath at the Stratford I am pleased to be back doing it again in a totally Shakespeare Festival. different way.” He has never considered Directed by Tony and another profession. “But Olivier Award winner the quality of the audition Michael Grandage and chois so important; your life Young, 33, is reographed by Tony Award depends on it. So, when a recipient winner Rob Ashford, the I’m auditioning, I wonder play tells the story of the that if I don’t get the job, of a 2012 life of Eva Duarte Peron, am I going to work again? Tony Award second wife of Argentine But it’s worth it in the end, president Juan Peron from because I wouldn’t be happy nomination 1946 to 1952. She supin any other field. I find as the best ported the low-income and that in this profession, if working class, spoke on you just work really hard, featured actor behalf of labor rights and work begets more work. in a musical. championed women’s sufThis has become my favorfrage, winning international ite role. I love the relationacclaim and the adoration ship between the audience of her own people. and the other actors.” In the play Che is a member of the working His hope is that when the national run of class, providing for his family, and needs Eva Evita ends in June 2014, other plans he has in the to change his life. In the beginning as young works, including Broadway, will come to fruition. people, Young explains that they are friends, then He is the co-founder of Cutting-Edge the relationship changes. Throughout the pro- Composers, concerts for young upcoming songduction they don’t have much contact, but they writers. It is a concert series that strives to create finally do in the climax duet of “The Waltz for greater exposure for new songwriters by providEva and Che,” where they sing and tango waltz ing them with venues, publicity, performers and at the same time. “Essentially it’s a confronta- musicians to best showcase their material. tion,” Young explained, “with Che questioning Single tickets, which start at $25, are available if she is just a puppet. Is she in it for her own online at, the box office at 600 Town benefit or for that of the people? It ends with a Center Drive, Costa Mesa, or by calling (714) love-hate relationship.” 556-2787. OCJEWISHLIFE.COM | DECEMBER 2013



Seeing Cirque du Soleil

Speaking at CBI Gidi Grinstein, the founder and president of the Reut Institute, www., an organization who Tom Friedman called “the most important strategic resource of Israel,” will be launching his new and important book, FLEXIGIDITY: The Secret of Jewish Adaptability, at Congregation Bnai Israel at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 7, two days before doing it at the American Jewish University.

Cirque du Soleil has an all-new awe-inspiring big top touring production. TOTEM, a fascinating journey into the evolution of mankind, premieres for a limited engagement November 21 through December 29 at the Orange County Great Park Festival Site in Irvine. Winner of the 2013 Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Unique Theatrical Experience, TOTEM features a cast of 46 acrobats, actors, musicians and singers, Get tickets at www.

Celebrating Chanukah It’s that time of year again, even though it got such an early start. Bring your family and friends to the JCC Community Chanukah Celebration on Tuesday, December 3 at 5 p.m. at the Merage JCC, One Federation Way, Irvine. There will be candle lighting, games and music. Latkes and sufganiyot will be available for purchase. The event is free and open to the public.

Stacey Battat

Kicking Off Final Follies The Palm Springs Follies’ 23rd edition, The Last Hurrah!, will be a greatest hits show with the best dance production numbers from past years, three iconic headliners and – for the first time – three variety acts packed into one spectacular Follies season. It will be a fitting and exciting last hurrah! For details, visit 46





Starting with a KISS

Women’s Shabbat brings congregational community together. BY ILENE SCHNEIDER

Wendy Lupul, Jill Birch (holding Sefer Torah) and Rabbi Rachel Kort stand in front of the Ark in Temple Beth El’s Sidney Eisenberg Chapel.




While it is led by women, everyone is invited and encouraged to attend the service.

BESTY (youth group), TBE Connections (senior group) and ECC (Early Childhood Center – preschool). Kol Isha Shabbat Service planners elicit their input and enlist support from those constituencies. Typically the centerpieces created for the Temple Beth El women look on as Jill Birch lifts the Sefer Torah revealing the Song of the Sea (Shirat HaYam) in Parashat Beshellach. KISS Kiddush Luncheon are repurposed and engage other parts of the community. IT STARTED WITH the legacy of 2014, in part due to the important role “In the past we’ve have done canned food Sisterhood Shabbat, held by many con- women played in the Exodus, their activi- for Food Pantries and toiletries for women’s gregations around the time of Parashat ties upon crossing the Red Sea, a time when shelters,” Lupul said. “Since we’ve been Beshellach, when the Israelites cross the their voices were most distinct. ‘Kol Isha’ at Temple Beth El and since KISS is on Red Sea and the women, led by Miriam, means both ‘every woman’ and ‘woman’s or near Tu B’Shevat, we’ve had a plant/ tree theme. Last year we had dance with their timbrels. For Wendy voice.’ The Haftarah is about plants along with shovels and Lupul, it started with being asked to lead Deborah. It tells the story buckets for the ECC children “Ashrei” in the service and then becoming of Deborah, the Judge, and to use in learning about Tu the coordinator of Sisterhood Shabbat, a how she leads Israel to victory B’Shevat and planting the role she has held on and off for 25 years, over the Canaanites, and also centerpieces on the Temple first at Congregation Eilat and now at of Yael, who kills Sisera, the Beth El campus.” Temple Beth El of South Orange County. enemy of the Jews.” Lupul loves to get everyScan with “It engages people when they lead the ser“This year we created a task body involved and is happy your smart vice,” Lupul said. force, so all groups in the conthat new people are participhone to listen One might say that the concept started gregation feel like they own pating in the service this year. to a portion with a KISS (Kol Isha Shabbat Service) – a it,” she added. “It’s about the She is happy to sing with of the Kol special service of, by and for women but people coming together and people on the phone and do Isha Shabbat enjoyed by the men in their lives – that having a good time.” whatever it takes to “give peoService Torah developed at Eilat and continued at Beth While it is led by women, ple the tools” to be part of the reading. El when the congregations came together. everyone is invited and service and enjoy it. Now, in its third year at Temple Beth El, encouraged to attend the ser“KISS lets people reconaccording to Lupul, KISS brings the whole vice. The congregation’s auxnect, come together and enjoy congregational community together. iliaries get involved in the Kol Isha Shabbat Shabbat,” Lupul said. “They can find their Lupul explained, “KISS is always on Task Force, tasked with coordinating as well groove at the synagogue, where barriers (Saturday morning) Shabbat Shira – as encouraging broad community support. are broken down. It’s a matter of building Parashat Beshellach– this year January 11, They include the BE Sisters, Men’s Club, community one person at a time.” A OCJEWISHLIFE.COM | DECEMBER 2013





URJ camps have something for everyone.




Creating Memories URJ Camps offer more than fun. BY CARINE NADEL

THE UNION FOR Reform Judaism (URJ) has a huge variety of summer camps for all ages and interests. With 14 camps throughout North America, all are very committed to the health and safety of every child. The programs strive to immerse the kids in learning all about their Jewish identity, teaching Jewish knowledge, instilling Jewish values and cultivating lifelong friendships within a fun community of living Reform Judaism. All the camps are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA) and the Ontario Camping Association (OCA) in Canada. While each camp is tailored to the various interests of the individual children’s wishes and needs, URJ has a variety of sports, dancing, art, sciences and traditional camping activities to choose from every day. The URJ camps have been developed with the foremost thought of being able to accommodate all children with all kinds of disabilities. Lisa David, associate director of camping for the URJ, said, “We are committed to having all the children with special needs being able to take part in any of our camps. Each of our facilities has an inclusion coordinator to help make any necessary accommodations possible for all participants, and it’s our hope to successfully mainstream everyone.” OCJEWISHLIFE.COM | DECEMBER 2013


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She added, “We do, however, have two camps devoted to those who need more care, and they are located in New York. One is in Warwick, the Kutz Camp, and is run by the mitzvah corps program. It’s a camp within a camp for kids who are on any level of the autism spectrum. They are given a peer mentor.” According to David, “The other camp is Camp Chazak in the Berkshires. It’s hosted by Eisner and Crane Lake camp and works with those who have communications and social challenges. It’s a weeklong camp.” The goal of the special needs camp is the same as the others -- to give the kids a joyful experience and immerse them in their religious heritage. For those who would like more information on the special needs camp, David suggests logging on to www. The URJ also has a program for those who are interested in science and technology. It will open in July 2014. The 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy is for those seeking high-level experiential and fun learning over their summer. Those enrolled will work alongside experienced instructors to design projects in such areas as robotics, video game design, environmental science and even digital media design. Greg Kellner, who has been with the URJ camps for more than 20 years, will serve as the director of the program. He wants everyone to know that what makes this camp unique is “the The goal of combination of outstanding science and tech with the immersion the special of Jewish learning.” It will be held at the Governor’s Academy needs camp near Boston. For those interested, Kellner suggests logging onto is the same to as the others obtain more information. For those who would like – to give the the camping experience closer to home, there is a location in kids a joyful Northern California run by Ruben Arquilevich. As he explained, experience.

Kids of all ages engage in a variety of activities.

“The URJ Camp Newman is located in Sonoma County and serves children, teens and adults, throughout not only California but the surrounding Western States. We have 1,500 youth attending during summer months and another 5,000 during year-round retreats. Hundreds of families and adults also attend retreats throughout the year. Sessions range from 11 days to 7 weeks during the summer. Our mission is to inspire a love of Judaism, through Jewish community living, friendship, celebration of best selves and life skills. Campers and staff are immersed 24/7 in Jewish values, ritual, celebration, Shabbat, Hebrew and Israel. Some of our themes include social justice, arts, sports/ general recreation and nature.” Arquilevich added that “some of the sports offered are hockey, skateboarding, scootering, softball, baseball, soccer, swimming, Frisbee and football. The kids can also take sessions in archery, gymnastics, martial arts as well as Israeli dancing and music. These are just some of the areas that are popular amongst the junior and senior high school attendees. Leadership programs do tend to fill up the fastest.” For those wanting to “rough it,” the camp does offer overnight hiking options. The URJ says that its fondest hope is that all the children, teens and even the adult campers come away with a deep understanding and strength from living the Jewish life and values . Lisa David wants everyone to know that the URJ is distinct because of the Reform Judaism ideology. “We have 50 years of experience,” she said. “We have excellent programs and facilities. Our goal is to immerse all of our campers’ senses in all forms of Jewish life.” Ruben Arquilevich agrees. He added, “In recent years, many foundations (most notably the Foundation for Jewish Camps), universities and the Jewish philanthropic community have confirmed what we’ve known for decades – that Jewish residential camp is the best investment for securing adult participation in the Jewish community.” For those interested in learning more about the URJ and individual camp information and cost, please go to: about/program. OCJEWISHLIFE.COM | DECEMBER 2013





Jewish camps offer a wide range of sports activities.

JEWISH CAMP NEWS Registration Opens for Leaders Assembly 2014 The Foundation for Jewish Camp announced that registration opened for Leaders Assembly 2014: ONE FIELD. MOVING FORWARD. The conference is a springboard to heighten the impact of Jewish camp on the Jewish future. The only gathering of its kind, Leaders Assembly will join together over 500 of the brightest, most creative minds devoted to Jewish camp including lay leaders, communal professionals, educators, researchers, philanthropists, overnight camp professionals and for the first time this year, day camp professionals, according to the foundation. Leaders Assembly 2014, the fifth biennial conference of the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC), will offer attendees the opportunity to learn from both experts and peers in creative, relevant and interactive sessions sharing best practices, exploring communal trends and presenting opportunities for growth. Some notable speakers and presenters include, among others, Tiffany Shlain, one of Newsweek’s “Women Shaping the 21st Century,” filmmaker, public speaker, writer, founder of 54


Summers at overnight camps are packed with a wide range of fun activities — aquatics, arts and crafts, basketball and soccer, dance, music, cooking, archery, drama, outdoor adventure and hiking, and much more! Campers are encouraged to discover new skills and interests they never knew they had. Jewish camp weaves Jewish values, culture, and traditions into the fabric of camp, helping campers to connect to their own identity and the larger Jewish community. Spirited and dynamic staff members use experiential learning to reveal what makes Jewish religion and culture so unique in today’s world. At camp, Jewish and Israeli culture is celebrated through song, food, art, and dance. Each camp designs its own program to be accessible and enjoyable for all campers. Whether they’re telling stories in their bunks, learning about the environment, or playing tennis, campers explore what The Webby Awards, and co-founder of the Judaism means to them in a safe, nurturing, International Academy of Digital Arts and and fun environment. Sciences; and Alexis Kashar, civil rights The impact of Jewish camp is immediand special education attorney and activist. ate — campers return home connected to a An evening spotlightcommunity and friends ing Israel’s social action will last them a At camp, Jewish that culture with a special lifetime. And it doesn’t performance by Israeli there. Children and Israeli culture stop musician David Broza, with pivotal Jewish creative plenaries and camp experiences are is celebrated the Shuk: The Program more likely to become Marketplace will round through song, food, adults who value their out the experience. Jewish heritage, supart, and dance. “FJC will deliver port Jewish causes, and content at Leaders take on leadership roles Assembly 2014 that in their communities. promises to be relevant and innovative,” There are a variety of traditional and spesaid Jeremy J. Fingerman, CEO, FJC. “We cialty overnight camps that span different look forward to gathering together with denominations of Judaism, accommodate colleagues and supporters of Jewish camp special needs and interests, and offer unique to further strengthen the field and advance programming, catering to each family’s our common agenda: creating a more needs. Use our Find a Camp tool to begin vibrant Jewish future.” your search for the perfect summer experiLeaders Assembly 2014: ONE FIELD. ence and then visit each camp’s website for MOVING FORWARD. will be held at the more detailed information. Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick, New If your child has never been to Jewish Jersey, from March 23 to 25, 2014. Early camp, FJC’s One Happy Camper program bird rates are available until December 16, offers need-blind grants of $1000 to first2013, at time campers. For more information, go to A







Beef Pita



Holidays are all about creating memories.

December Delight

Intersection of two holidays offers interesting recipe possibilities. BY JUDY BART KANCIGOR

YOU KNOW THAT old joke: Jewish holidays are either early or late – they’re never on time. This year – talk about early! By the time this is published, we’ll be lighting the last of the Chanukah candles while downing the remains of the Thanksgiving leftovers. Now the whole month of December merriment looms before us, and the elephant in the room – I might as well say it right out – is Christmas. When my boys were young, I used to hate it when Chanukah came early. By the time Christmas rolled around, all their toys were already broken. Oh, the joys of the Hebrew lunar calendar. Only once, to my

memory, did Chanukah fall after Christmas. That year I saved all my Chanukah shopping for the day-after-Christmas sales. (Talk about a leap of faith!) Holidays are all about creating memories. Whether you are a parent or grandparent, Christmas vacation (or as the PC generation now calls it, Winter Break) is a splendid opportunity to make those memories, and nothing fulfills that goal better than cooking with the kids (and it doesn’t hurt that you get to eat the fruits of your labors too.) Children’s cookbooks have gotten more sophisticated these days. Kids Cooking:

Favorite Triple Tested Recipes (Artscroll) is the third title in the Made Easy series by Leah Schapira, co-founder of cookkosher. com, and Victoria Dwek, managing editor of Whisk, a popular kosher food magazine. Featured are 60 easy-to-follow, tempting recipes that are fun to make, such as Spinach Quesadillas, Pizza Soup, Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets, Hot Dog Garlic Knots and a beef riff on falafel they call Malafel, with color photos accompanying every recipe and additional step-by-step photos and “Cooking School” tips teaching young chefs techniques, such as how to simmer or sauté. “If you are a kid and think you can’t cook, you will learn very quickly that you can,” says Dwek. Schapira adds, “Once your kids are old enough, you can bring them into the kitchen like my mother did with me. Kids feel so confident and proud when they learn to prepare their first dishes on their own.” “Kids love to cook, all kids, all ages, both genders,” says Susie Fishbein, author of the wildly popular Kosher by Design series. Her Kosher by Design Kids in the Kitchen cookbook (Artscroll) includes 80 kid-friendly (and adult-pleasing) recipes such as Potato Bourekas, Asian Wonton Soup, Breakfast Burritos, Chicken Pot Pie, Pizza Bubble Ring and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake. “The best way to get kids to try a new food is to have them prepare it,” she says. “As kids grow to be comfortable in the kitchen, they will become more independent and gain a better awareness of what they are eating.” Each recipe is accompanied by an equipment list, and there is even a section on keeping kosher as well as a kidfriendly guide to safety. Her tips “to rule your kitchen” are not just for kids: Set out and prepare all your ingredients ahead of time, what the French call “mise en place.” “Read through a recipe before you start cooking,” she advises, and “clean up as you go.” Turn our December dilemma into December delight as you create memories with your kids.




There is even a section on keeping kosher as well as a kid-friendly guide to safety. Malafel

Yield: 4 servings “As a huge falafel fan,” Dwek writes, “I set out to create a meat dinner while still getting my falafel fix. My taste-testers, the neighborhood boys, all shocked me by filling their pitas with the meat and tons of salad and requesting seconds…arguing about what to call my creation. Their choice? ‘Eata meata pita.’”


1 Place ground chicken, ginger, minced

3 tablespoons vinegar 1/2 teaspoon salt

garlic cloves, teriyaki sauce, salt and pepper in medium bowl. Mix well. If you have a latex glove, put it on and use your hand to really mush ingredients together.

Pinch black pepper

2 Lay wonton wrappers in front of you, four

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1-2 teaspoons oil 1 (8-ounce) bag shredded purple cabbage 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced 2-3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1 pound ground beef 1 garlic clove, crushed 1 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons cumin 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1 teaspoon onion powder 2 tablespoons oil 4 pita breads, tops cut off 1/4 cup hummus 1 cup Israeli salad or diced cucumbers and tomatoes 1 cup red cabbage or “purple salad” (recipe follows) 1/4 cup techineh

1 In small bowl, gently combine meat,

In small bowl, combine vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and oil. In large mixing bowl, combine cabbage, onion, and sesame seeds. Toss with dressing just before serving.

Asian Wonton Soup

4 Wash your hands and anything chicken

If you don’t have ground chicken, make it yourself. Pulse one raw chicken cutlet in the food processor until ground.

5 Heat oil in medium pot over medium-low heat. Add mushrooms; cook 5 minutes until mushrooms are soft, a little brown and smell good. Mushrooms will give off a little liquid. Stir with wooden spoon so they don’t stick. Add 1 loose cup cabbage; cook 2 minutes until wilted. Add chicken stock and pepper. When soup starts to simmer, carefully add wontons. Cover and cook 4 minutes. Wontons are done when they float to the top. Sprinkle green onion slices into soup. Carefully add sesame oil. Stir and ladle into bowls.

WONTONS 4 ounces ground chicken 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce 1/4 teaspoon salt

2 Heat oil in skillet or sauté pan over medi-

12 (3- or 4-inch) wonton wrappers

3 Spread 1 tablespoon hummus inside each pita bread. Fill with meat, Israeli salad and red cabbage. Top with techineh.

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

8 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced 1 tablespoon canola oil 1 small head Napa cabbage, sliced 6 cups chicken stock 2 green onions, root removed, white and half green part only, sliced 1 teaspoon roasted or toasted sesame oil


touched with warm soapy water.


1/4 teaspoon black pepper


your finger into water and go around whole outside of each wonton wrapper to wet all 4 edges. Place 1 teaspoonful chicken filling into center of each wonton wrapper. Fold wrapper in half diagonally to form triangle. Press around filling to push out extra air. Firmly press edges to seal. Repeat until all 12 wrappers are filled. (Freeze any extra filling for another time.) Lay finished wontons on parchment paper in a single layer not touching each other.

Yield: 4-6 servings

garlic, salt, cumin, coriander and onion powder. um-high heat. Form meat mixture into little balls like falafel balls, or simply place entire mixture into hot oil. Use wooden spoon to break meat into pieces as it cooks. Cook meat until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

at a time.

3 Fill small measuring cup with water. Dip

OCJL Food Editor Judy Bart Kancigor is the author of Cooking Jewish (Workman) and The Perfect Passover Cookbook (an ebook short from Workman), a columnist and feature writer for the Orange County Register and other publications and can be found on the web at


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Society Roundup

Faces of the Community Ezra Center celebrates milestone; TVT celebrates new face in new program.

The Ezra Center kitchen with Anita Muchnikoff, longtime caterer, at right

Chai Year for Ezra In April 1996 a group of volunteers met at the request of Jerry and Eva Silverman to discuss the idea of providing North Orange County retirees with some communal activities. At that meeting the Ezra Center was born. With no facilities or assets, the group put together a concept, business plan and marketing plan. In October 1996 the com60


munity was introduced to the concept of daytime programming provided at familiar neighborhood locations. Of the 180 people who attended this introductory meeting, 90 joined on the spot. By December 1, 250 had enrolled. On October 24, 2013, the Ezra Adult Activity Center commemorated entering its 18th year of operation with a celebration of food and entertainment. “We had to do

something to acknowledge the near miracle of our survival for these 18 years,” said Mel Grossman, the event chairperson and part of the original group. “It is even more amazing when you realize that volunteers for the first three or four years accomplished this with the only paid staff being the caterer, Anita Muchnikoff.” Based on its mission statement, the Ezra Center provides a variety of activities and services to meet the needs of the mature population of the community it serves. Based on the belief that healthy, well-motivated and challenged individuals are most likely to be happiest and most fulfilled, the Ezra Center provides a warm, safe and caring environment that includes a nutrition program, health assessment program and full-services activities program. These programs are recreational, social, educational and cultural. Eva Silverman, who co-chairs the program committee, pointed out that “in addition to Ezra’s nutrition program, Ezra offers a wide variety of activities, free of charge, including senior health issues and evaluations, exercise programs, local political issues, world religions, senior finance and taxes, history, philosophy and bereavement support counseling. She added, “This variety of activities, including opera appreciation, book club, films, cards and games, serves to meet the social, intellectual, nutritional and health needs of our adult demographic. It is our aim to insure that no senior is isolated in his


Jeremy Shine

New Program and Director at TVT

Margalit Moskowitz, Ezra Center director, with Jerry and Eva Silverman

or her home. We want to make Ezra Center a place where people will feel comfortable and will join with other active senior adults in exercising their minds and bodies.” The Ezra Adult Activity Center is committed to providing seniors with at least one good, nourishing meal containing sufficient protein levels each day. The lunch program is the key element in providing the socialization, which studies have shown is necessary to senior health and well being. Grants from organizations such as Jewish Federation & Family Services, the Jewish Community Foundation and Disney VoluntEARS Community Fund have allowed Ezra to offer our lunches at a much-reduced price and to those in need, at no cost. The Ezra Center is open to all adults wishing to join. Most are retirees over 55 years

of age. About 20 percent no longer drive and get to the center with Ezra-arranged transportation. Most live in North Orange County (Anaheim, Garden Grove, Fullerton, Orange, Placentia, Brea and Buena Park), although there are members coming from Seal Beach, Westminster, Fountain Valley and Long Beach. Anyone able to come to Ezra’s daytime (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) activities and noon lunch program is welcome. Ezra Center programs can be duplicated anywhere as a community need exists. Ezra leadership will be pleased to assist anyone desiring to satisfy a community’s need for organized adult activities. For more information, call Margalit Moskowitz at (714) 776-1103 or visit www.

Tarbut V’Torah (TVT) has announced that Jeremy Shine has been named the dean of the school’s Advanced Institute of Jewish Studies. For students wishing to immerse themselves in the fullness of Jewish thought, the upper-division program will capitalize on the dynamic history of Jewish philosophy, law and practice. Students who complete the program, which will begin in the 20142015 academic year, will get a special certificate with their diploma. Shine, who currently serves as a Jewish Studies teacher and student adviser at the Milken Community High School in Los Angeles, is working on his Master of Arts in Teaching program at American Jewish University and iCenter Masters Concentration in Israel Education Program Fellowship concurrently. A graduate of Hebrew University in Jerusalem with a dual major in international relations and Russian and Slavonic Studies, he is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. For details, visit A OCJEWISHLIFE.COM | DECEMBER 2013



Taste with a Twist

Series blends Jewish learning with spirits tasting. BY RABBI DREW KAPLAN

IN OCTOBER, A unique programmatic offering in the area kicked off a new year, designed for Jewish adults. The “Texts & Tastings” series features spirits tastings accompanied by an in-depth textual exploration with Rabbi Drew Kaplan. Held on October 20 in Long Beach, “Vodkas & Vampires” was the first of four bimonthly tasting events for the 2013-2014 year series. The evening allowed for a tasting of seven different vodkas while examining Jewish angles on vampires. The “Texts & Tastings” series is in its second year, building off of last year’s series. 62


Last year’s series began in October with “Witches & Whiskies,” which explored the prohibitions concerning sorcery in Judaism along with an entree into several different types of whiskies. The second event, in December, continued on to “Torches & Tequilas,” which featured a pleasant pairing of foods with the tequilas and an inquiry as to why Jews light Chanukah candles. The tequilas presented that evening – a blanco, reposado, and an añejo – were all doublegold winners at the 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and were delicately paired with food, thanks to the assistance of Guershon Moreno. “I love how Rabbi Drew has paired Jewish learning with an education in alcohol,” said Moreno. The tequilas were great,” said Steve Faulkner. “It was interesting to go to a tasting to try things I would probably never purchase myself.” The third event, taking place in February, “Rums & Rituals,” explored various rums from around the Caribbean and why Jews incorporate wine at a variety of our rituals – from holiday events to different lifecycle events. Last year’s series concluded with a journey through Jewish attitudes concerning alcohol consumption, alongside a tasting of over a half-dozen different singlemalt Scotches, sponsored by Cheryl and Farley Herzek of Long Beach. “Combining a single-malt Scotch tasting with education on alcohol in the Jewish tradition brought together a diverse mix of people,” said Josh Kaplan. “Rabbi Drew blends his interest in spirits with a unique style of learning, mak-

The series is held at private homes and is intended for any adult of legal drinking age.

ing for very enjoyable evenings!” The series is held at private homes and is intended for any adult, provided that he or she is at least of legal drinking age. The series has three goals, the first of which is to “educate Jews about booze,” said Rabbi Kaplan. “I have found that Jews have not typically explored, or are familiar with, the wide variety of spirits that are out there, beyond vodka and, perhaps, Scotch.” The second goal is to offer an in-depth textual exploration of topics that may not be frequently discussed in other Jewish educational settings. And the final goal is to offer people an opportunity to financially contribute to the continued success of Rabbi Kaplan’s endeavors with both Southern California Jewish Student Services and Southern California Jewish Young Adult Enrichment. Upcoming events in this year’s series are this month’s “Scotches & Separation” on Sunday, December 22, “Gin & Genocide” on February 9 and “Bourbon & Boundaries” on April 27. For further details on these events, please visit A


Four Beloved Leaders The Orange County community mourns losses.

Nira Kozak Roston

NIRA KOZAK ROSTON Of the thousand or so people who attended the funeral of Nira Kozak Roston, most could not even remember where they met her. Nira seemed to be everywhere – a true matriarch of the Orange County Jewish community, a woman who was deeply connected to almost every Orange County Jewish communal organization and many non-Jewish ones as well. Nira was a force of nature -- a woman who was an active member of several Orange County synagogues spanning the denominational spectrum. She touched countless people, young and old, with her 64


elegance, her warmth, generosity and passionate spirit. Nira dressed elegantly – with a strand of opera length pearls, a stunning opal and a playful pin – even when she came over to help unpack boxes. She conveyed warmth that came from an open, curious heart. Friends said of her that she was a close friend and close friends said she was family; and nieces and nephews that she was a surrogate mother. Her parents were Zionists who came separately from Poland to Palestine in the 1930s. Nira had an identical twin Rina, who would later live her life in Melbourne, Australia, and a sister, Varda, born when Nira was twelve, the same year the State of Israel was declared. She taught other children when the schools were closed. During her army service she served as a secretary to a Commander of an Army base and at night attended the Levinsky Teaching Seminary earning a teaching credential. After her Army Service, she came to the US to attend Queens College and then transferred to UCLA, where she earned a degree in psychology and supported herself as a Hebrew teacher at Temple Adat Ariel, the University of Judaism and the Valley Jewish Community Center. She then met Max Roston, a young physician living in Orange County, and it was love at first sight. There were three children: Daniel, Elana and the late Michael, who passed in 1976 from a brain tumor. Max died in 1984. Nira was a founder of Jewish Federation

Nobody told a story like Cookie, captivated a class like Cookie or made a kugel like Cookie.

of Orange County, now Jewish Federation & Family Services. She was active in Women’s Division of Orange County (now Women’s Philanthropy), Heritage Pointe, the Community Scholar Program, Israel Bonds, the Technion, Tel Aviv University, Hadassah, Tarbut v’Torah, Jewish Family Service, UCI Jewish Studies, the Jewish Community Center and the American Jewish Committee. As one of the first woman board members of Beth Emet, she pushed to allow girls to have aliyot as Bnot Mitzvah. She was a member of Congregation B’nai Israel, Temple Beth Emet, Shir Ha-Ma’alot and Temple Bat Yahm and an annual contributor to University Synagogue. In the larger community Nira was a member of the UCI Chancellor’s Club Leadership Council and the UCI Advisory Council for Jewish Studies. She established the Maxwell Roston Memorial Lectureship for the MD-PhD program at UCI Medical School and a writing competition of the Anaheim School District in honor of Michael Roston. Nira is survived by her children Elana

and Daniel and her sister Varda as well as her children in law and her grandchildren.

MURIEL (COOKIE) STERN Muriel (Cookie) Stern passed away on October 31. She touched the lives of many people at Temple Beth Sholom -from her chavurah, to the Sisterhood, the Brotherhood, the worship committee, the social action committee, the preschool and religious school committees, generations of parents and children, the staff at TBS and her canasta group. She reached many generations of children and adults through her teaching and singing and the way she lived Jewishly. Cookie was the first person most people met when they came to Temple Beth Sholom. She came in 1971 as a rebbetzin with her then husband, Rabbi Frank Stern, and she took that role very seriously and to heart. Cookie was woven into the fabric of the congregation. She knew everyone; their stories, their background, every detail about their lives. She loved everyone’s stories and loved being involved in every aspect of a person’s life. Cookie was there for weddings, when a child entered the world, when boys and girls were called to Torah as Bar and Bat Mitzvah to give them the Kiddush cup from Sisterhood and her special blessing. She was there when someone passed, attending shiva minyanim, calling loved ones and being the stable, constant presence when life seemed

Muriel (Cookie) Stern

to be turned on its head. She was the rock and strength, there to help anyone through life’s challenging times. She not only taught the children but she especially taught the adults. She made it very clear that our children learn from their parents’ actions and that parents needed to lead by example. She was the force behind Temple Beth Sholom’s Mitzvah Day, she was the inspiration for many community service projects, she was a true SHAYNAH (Sisterhood Has All Your Needs at Heart) through Sisterhood, and she made it clear that if the congregation is to succeed, if it is to ensure that the Jewish people, the

Jewish community and the congregation were going to be here for our children and their children, then it is imperative for each person to live our Jewish values, support the synagogue and teach ourselves and our children. Cookie knew that people could never say, “oh, someone else will take care of it, or, I know it will be here when I need it.” She knew that life was precious and each moment was a gift, often being there to try to motivate others to live and live fully. Nobody told a story like Cookie, captivated a class like Cookie or made a kugel like Cookie. She had time and love for everybody, even when she suffered so much for so long with a lengthy illness. Cookie is survived by her children, Debbie Zalmonowitz and David Stern; her grandchildren, Josh and Becca Zalmonowitz; her brother, Ken Bernstein (Joanie); her sister: Lenore (Richard); her nieces, Allison and Julie; her nephew, Brian; her Aunt Ceil; her cousin, Leonard Bernstein; and her former husband, Rabbi Frank Stern.

SOL CHASE Sol Chase passed away on October 28. He was born in Lodz, Poland, to a very religious and wealthy family. When the war broke out, he insisted that the family should go to Russia. Three brothers found their way to Palestine. The older three brothers insisted that they should wait for the Moshiach to deliver them and did not survive. Sol barely escaped from the Lodz ghetto OCJEWISHLIFE.COM | DECEMBER 2013



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Sol Chase

in April 1940. Turned into the Germans and sent to the ghetto in Krakow, he was saved by a German soldier who liked his work ethic and put him on a train with a bag of food the day before everyone in the ghetto was sent to the death chambers. Sol briefly joined the Partisans in the mountains, eventually going into hiding with two sisters. Within a Catholic community he met a young priest who later would become Pope John Paul II. Although righteous gentiles watched over Sol, he was taken captive and sent on a train to Buchenwald where he narrowly escaped death. He was liberated by American soldiers in April 1945. Sol returned to Lodz and met Fay, who would eventually become his wife. In 1948, Truman authorized the entrance of 300,000 European refugees. Fay’s aunt lived in Santa Monica and was willing to sponsor the young couple. After a difficult journey, Sol and Fay began a new life in a new country and in a new home with jobs as a presser and a seamstress, eventually owning a liquor store. Within six months, Sol taught himself to read, write and speak English. He was finally home. Sol and others are the last of a generation who we cannot

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allow to ever be forgotten. While there were those who sought to destroy Sol, his family and the Jewish people, from two – from Sol and Fay, there are 20 new souls and that number continues to grow. Sol is survived by his wife, Fay Chase; his son, Irving (Nancy); his daughters, Felicia (Mike) Zeff, and Rosalind (David) Shapiro; his grandchildren Ryan and Brooke Chase, Catie Chase, Brandon and Becca Zeff, Rebecca Zeff and Howard Luck, Matt and Amy Shapiro, and Blair and Michael Murav; and his great grandchildren, Vivienne Shapiro and Max Benjamin Murav.

SCOTT ROWEN Scott Rowen, M.D., passed away on October 20. He attended UCLA, where he met his wife, Rana, whom he married in 1980. They came to UCI as he began his medical school training and their lives together in Orange County. Sports was one of his great passions. From the time his grandmother took Scott to Sandy Koufax’s no hitter at Wrigley Field in Chicago, to going with his brother Mark to the baseball games when he was 10, Scott loved a great game of baseball. Scott followed his sons, Steven, Matthew and Kevin, in all of their sports, and they played every sport – except golf. He lived through them and all of their accomplishments. He loved to watch the games with each of them, talk stats, and celebrate, especially when the Angels won the World Series. He dreamed of playing baseball professionally but decided to become a doctor. While he carefully studied all his medical books, Scott still found time to read his baseball books. Scott’s family also included his medical family. He loved being a doctor and he was very good at it. He was so proud of the work he did, yet he was quiet and unassuming. He shared the joy and credit of what he did with his partners and knew that the greatest acknowledgement he could receive was knowing that he saved lives every day. Even when he was not able to go into the office, his partners would call him and ask him to review cases in hopes that he might find something they were missing. Scott was a man who so many looked up to and so many admired. He had a generous spirit and wanted and loved to take care of people. He was brilliant and had an amazing sense of humor. He loved growing up in Orange County and especially his friends he made at Temple Beth Sholom. Scott always saw the best in everyone. Even when others gave up on someone, he always believed that there was so much good within each individual. Scott was a man of great integrity and a true moral compass. He is survived by his parents, Marshall and Helen Rowen; his wife, Rana Rowen; his children: Steven, Matthew and Kevin; his brothers, Mark (Julie) and Eric (Elizabeth); his nephews Luke and Brian; his niece, Alaina; and his uncle, Albert. A

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GOOD TIMES Nearly 200 young professionals attended “Ignite Your Generosity,” the annual fundraiser sponsored by NextGen OC, formerly known as Young Leadership Division (YLD). Highlights of this fun-filled event included a live band, dancing, great food, a silent auction and an interactive “text-to-pledge” donation format that raised funds for programs and services supported by JFFS. To learn more about NextGen and programs for young professionals ages 21 to 45, contact Jackie Menter or (949) 435-3484. TOP LEFT: Adam Klug, David Hammer, Julie Amster, Elissa Klug and Lisa Greenberg TOP RIGHT: Sharon Chelouche, Laryn Hineman, Jessica Nicastro and Stephanie Epstein MIDDLE LEFT: Jacob Saphir and Mayraav Zimmerman BOTTOM RIGHT: Ally Mars, Michelle Fishberg and Suzanne Katz






Orange Jews

PARTIES GALORE People from 21 to 39 have many places to meet other Jewish people for Shabbat dinners, brunches, parties, discussions and other events. Several organizations in the area – Moishe House, Jewish Young Adults (JYA), Gesher City and others – offer such gatherings for the “Fresh Orange Jews” set. Orange County Jewish Life will be highlighting their activities every month. Watch this space to follow the fun. TOP LEFT: Jewish Young Adults Happy Hour at Canaletto – Joshua Weiss, Elana Simon and Seth Groder TOP RIGHT: Moishe House DIY Sushi – Eitan Noodle, Sarah Wolf, Eric Halvorsen, Seth Groder and Alexa Levine MIDDLE LEFT: Jewish Young Adults Happy Hour at Canaletto – Elana Simon, Natalie Silverman and Elana Pepper MIDDLE RIGHT: Moishe House Potluck Shabbat – Tal Mor and Linda Zwick




G e n Y Wo rl d



BIRTHRIGHT, KNOWN AS “Taglit” (discovery) in Israel, is a ten-day experience of a lifetime. Currently, our local community is at risk of not being able to provide this transformational experience for OC Jews ages 22 to 26. As of this moment, Orange County will not be sending young Jews to Israel on a community trip in 2014, unless the critical funds needed are raised before the nearapproaching deadline. For many of us, Birthright has been the link to our own personal experience with Israel’s people, culture, geography and political situation. After participating in Birthright, I became a community lay leader, a president of Hillel and a vocal and active supporter of Israel. Subsequently, having the privilege to staff multiple Birthright trips, I have watched people discover meaning and their own personal Jewish identities. Most Birthright participants come to Israel with little knowledge of their Judaism. Bailey Cuzner, an OC summer 2013 participant, said “ [t]here are many things both felt and learned that contributed to what I consider the life-changing part of my Birthright experience. I’ll share two: first, being able to go on a trip with complete strangers to a foreign land opens your eyes. Then to add an absence of expectations being placed on you, other than to succumb to the Birthright experience, makes it mind- and heart-opening.” Bailey decided to take a Hebrew name and have a Bat Mitzvah ceremony on her 72

Birthright trip. “I wanted more than ever to honor those who were lost in the myriad tragedies of our past. I wanted to embrace the traditions that were placed down for me. And I wanted to give my children the opportunity to know Israel.” Birthright participants leave with an enriched sense of pride and a changed perspective on community, Israel and being Jewish. Samantha Miles, reflecting on her 2013 Birthright experience, said, “I have made lifelong friends, I had a Bat Mitzvah and have made promises to myself and my Jewish community, and I have become connected to Judaism in a way I never thought possible. I am so lucky to have experienced something like this and hope that these programs can continue to bring people closer to their past, their culture and to Israel.” Each year Orange County sends one community bus (40 participants) to Israel on Birthright at a cost of $120,000. Funds are raised primarily by Jewish Federation & Family Services (JFFS), with additional funds from the Birthright Israel Foundation. If the full cost of a bus is not raised soon, our community will be forced to deny 40 community members an experience that is indeed their Birthright. To date, Orange County donors have contributed $35,000 toward the 2014 bus, plus an additional to $15,000 that has been budgeted by Jewish Federation & Family Services. Any new donations raised will have their gifts matched dollar for dollar by the Sheldon


Adelson Foundation. As of right now, Orange County’s 2014 bus is approximately $70,000 shy of the required funds. With the Adelson match, $35,000 from new or increased donations could fund our community’s bus! The annual OC community Birthright bus is the least we can do to give 22- to 26-year-olds this experience that changes lives and impacts not only the participants but also our community as a whole. It is imperative to provide this trip to cultivate a demographic of people who consider Israel an important aspect of their lives. Gidi Mark, CEO of TaglitBirthright Israel, proclaimed, “Birthright will ultimately guarantee the long-term existence of the Jewish people.” In a May 2012 Haaretz article, Mark explained that more than 330,000 Jews from more than 60 countries have visited Israel on a Taglit-Birthright trip. The numbers do not lie. In a Brandeis University study, the findings revealed in “The Impact of Taglit-Birthright Israel: 2012 Update”: Taglit participants are 42 percent more likely to feel “very much” connected to Israel, 45 percent more likely to marry someone Jewish and 23 percent more likely to view raising their children as Jews as “very important.” To prevent this experience from being canceled at a local level, please contact JFFS to ensure the success and longevity of this important program. Remember, having a Jewish identity comes from Jewish experience.

Birthright will ultimately guarantee the long-term existence of the Jewish people.

RACHEL SCHIFF is an English teacher who graduated from Cal State Fullerton. She was president of Hillel, a representative of the World Union of Jewish Students and a YLD intern. Currently, she is a master’s degree student in American Studies, with emphasis on Jews in America.

The Ezra Adult Activity Center DEDICATED TO SERVING THE ACTIVE ADULT COMMUNITY OF ORANGE COUNTY Daytime Programming Includes: • Stimulating Lectures: medical, financial, comparative religion, history, current events • Exercise Programs • Creative Writing • Cards & Games Have something in mind? Ask and we’ll try to get it for you! Affordable Kosher lunch is available Monday & Thursday Includes soup, salad bar, main dish, tea, coffee and dessert. $5 members; $7 guests Guests Welcome!

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MONDAYS 10 A.M. News & Views 11:30 A.M. Drop-in Bridge 7 P.M. Drop-in Mah Jongg/ Learn to Play Maj Jongg Merage JCC 10 A.M. Tai Chi 10:30 A.M. Stretching Ezra AACA TUESDAYS 10 A.M. Bridge – Advanced Beginner 10:30 A.M. The View for Women of All Ages Merage JCC


WEDNESDAYS 8:30 P.M. iPhone Tips and Secrets Merage JCC WEDNESDAYS AND FRIDAYS 8:45 A.M. Gentle Yoga Merage JCC THURSDAYS 10:30 A.M. Beyond the Canvas Merage JCC 9:30 A.M. Keeping Fit Ezra AACA FRIDAYS 10 A.M. Men’s Club at the J


MONDAY, DECEMBER 2 11 A.M. What’s Up? 1:15 P.M. Yiddish Club - Ezra AACA

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18 10:30 A.M. The Writer’s Roundtable Merage JCC

7 P.M. The Jewish Experience Merage JCC

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19 10:30 A.M. Living with Integrity Ezra AACA

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3 5 P.M. JCC Community Chanukah Celebration: Merage JCC THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5 10:30 A.M. Jews of Shanghai Ezra AACA MONDAY, DECEMBER 9 11 A.M. Spirituality of Imagination 1:15 P.M. Yiddish Club - Ezra AACA WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11 11 A.M. Writing for Reminiscences Ezra AACF THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12 10:30 A.M. How to Detect a Lie Ezra AACA MONDAY, DECEMBER 16 11 A.M. Events That Changed History 1 P.M. Yiddish Club - Ezra AACA TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17 10 A.M. Books & Bagels Snow in August, by Pete Hamill 7 P.M. Men’s Wine Tasting RSVP: Sid Field, (949) 464–9939: Merage JCC

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 22 1:30 P.M. Orange County Jewish Genealogical Society: Family Research in Poland Temple Bat Yahm 1011 Camelback Street Newport Beach RSVP:; or (949) 423-3746 MONDAY, DECEMBER 23 11 A.M. Happiness Hour Ezra AACA THURSDAY, DECEMBER 26 10:30 A.M. The Southern Kingdom & Babylonian Exile Ezra AACA MONDAY, DECEMBER 30 11 A.M. Save a Life Noon New Year’s Party Ezra AACA All events are at the Merage JCC, 1 Federation Way, Irvine, (949) 435-3400 x 303;; the Ezra Center at Temple Beth Emet, 1770 W. Cerritos, Anaheim, (714) 776-1103; or the Ezra Center at Temple Beth Tikvah, 1600 N. Acacia, Fullerton, (714) 871-3535 unless otherwise indicated.




Desert Destination

Doing His Bit for Israel


U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz likes what he sees in Israel.

WHEN U.S. Representative Raul Ruiz arrived in Jerusalem in August with a delegation of 37 House Democrats, a greater understanding of Israel resulted. The delegation was sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), a charitable organization affiliated with AIPAC, America’s pro-Israel lobby. Thanks to a grant from AIPAC, the Foundation funds educational seminars to Israel for members of Congress and “other political influentials.” This enabled Ruiz, the desert’s recently elected Congressman from the 36th District (representing the Coachella 76


Valley) to get a broader view of issues confronting Israel today. Ruiz is no stranger to Israel when it comes to emergency care, his medical specialty. His relationship with Israeli physicians and rescue workers began in 2010 in Haiti, after the island’s devasting earthquake. Ruiz was the medical director for the Jenkins/ Penn Haitian Relief Organization, supervising seven physicians and 23 relief workers alongside Israeli colleagues. He said later that the trip to Haiti was a life-changing event for him. The timing for Ruiz’s recent tour to Israel was right, as it was when the Israeli and Palestinian Governments were restarting peace talks. According to his spokesperson, Whitney Mitchel, this visit was also an opportunity to talk to key Israeli business leaders about trade and investment opportunities in his 36th Congressional District. Ruiz’s candid impressions of Israel reflect his concern as a physician and a politician. “We asked why the Israelis don’t move on faced with unending attacks,” Ruiz said. “This is because of the of the nation’s ability to be resilient. My overall take home of the trip is that Israel is a vibrant land with a secure people. Despite being surrounded by extremists who want to do harm, they persevere.” He said after the trip that that viewing the West Bank from inside the country was his moment of truth. “Despite the challenges, the Israelis thrive,” he said. While based in Jerusalem, the delegation’s focus on environmental issues looked at desalinization, the efficient use of water and renewable energy.

Viewing the West Bank from inside the country was his moment of truth.

Ruiz says its easy to see the similarities between Tel Aviv and Palm Springs. Both share a flair for Modernism, with the former having been influenced by the Bauhaus architectural style. And while Palm Springs has attained global coverage for its Modernism Week events taking place annually in February, Tel Aviv also honors Modernism with similar tours, lectures and publications. “Israelis are secure with their love of families and faith and that the future is theirs in the making,” Ruiz said upon his return. “As a ‘start up’ nation’ with a strong infrastructure rooted in education, the interconnectedness between the United States and Israel is evident. I think it fundamentally starts with the fact both countries were born from an idea of creating a safe haven for people who want to build a better world based on peace and dignity where all can prosper. I went to Israel with an open mind and heart taking my journal and making notes. I returned a better person with a deeper understanding and appreciation of Israel. I want to return as there are many projects deserving our attention. We can build those bridges and collaborate. We can learn from each other to find solutions.”


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Chicago Clothing Store Ad, Orange County Directory, 1921

FOR SALE: Double Plot in the Jewish Section of Pacific View Cemetery in Corona Del Mar Located in the Cedarlawn section. The cemetery price is $23,000. We will sell for $19,000 including endowment and transfer fees. For information call Kathy Stephens at 310-490-5524

MAX ISAAC KARP was born in Kiev in 1875 and immigrated to the U.S. in the 1890s, along with his widowed mother Gittel and younger brother Abe. The 1900 census shows him living in San Antonio, Texas, in the same neighborhood as fellow Jewish immigrant Mamie Raffee; by 1910 Max and Mamie are married and have two daughters and a son. In 1920 the family has settled in Santa Ana, where Max runs the Chicago Clothing Store, most likely purchased in 1915 from previous owner Morris Nasatir, another Russian Jewish immigrant. Later records show their daughters living in Los Angeles; Ethel married George Schneider and had a daughter, Rosanne, and Gertrude married Sam Rosen and had a son, Arnold.

Dalia Taft, archivist of the Orange County Jewish Historical Society - a Connect 2 People Initiative of Jewish Federation & Family Services - highlights images from the archives every month. For more information, please visit www.jewishorangecounty. org/historical. You can also contact Dalia at or at (949) 435-3484, ext. 167.



Profile for San Dieguito Printers

Orange County Jewish Life - December 2013  

The Orange County Jewish Life is the sister publication of the San Diego Jewish Journal. The Jewish Life is the only Jewish lifestyles magaz...

Orange County Jewish Life - December 2013  

The Orange County Jewish Life is the sister publication of the San Diego Jewish Journal. The Jewish Life is the only Jewish lifestyles magaz...