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FEBRUARY 2014 l ADAR I 5774




Jewish Camping


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February 2014 Adar I 5774


COVER: A Reel Good Time: The 24th annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival is here! 24th ANNUAL



FEATURE: Rabbi Joel David Bakst reaches the highest dimensions of conciousness with help from the Torah, Talmud and Midrash


THEATER: La Jolla Playhouse hosts Carey Perloff’s latest work, “Higher” as part of the DNA New Works Series


CAMPS: Camp Mountain Chai’s immersive leadership program for teens is a five-week adventure with life lessons built in

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Neal Akin has a lot to celebrate in 2014


Véronique Benchimol, Sophrology Coach


A touring radio play of “The Graduate” at Poway Center for the Arts


Community at Camp Gilboa


Camp Ramah in California produces the next generation of Jewish leaders


Weight loss and healthy living at Camp Shane


Renaissance Village Academy

Good Eats 70 Food Around Town 10 Mailbag 12 Our Town 14 Event Recap 72 What’s Goin’ On 84 Calendar In Every Issue 8 Welcome 18 Parenting 20 Israeli Lifestyle 22 Dating 24 Guest Column 26 Spirituality 28 Israel 76 News 83 Desert Life Adar I 5774 l 5 February 2014 • Adar I 5774 PUBLISHER • Dr. Mark S. Moss CO-PUBLISHER • Mark Edelstein EDITOR-IN-CHIEF • Alanna Berman ART DIRECTOR • Laurie Miller ASSISTANT EDITOR • Natalie Jacobs ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR • Eileen Sondak ADVERTISING DIRECTOR • Mark Edelstein CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Tori Avey, Betsy Baranov, Linda Bennett, Tinamarie Bernard, David Ebenbach, Judith Fein (Senior Travel Correspondent), Michael Fox, Jennifer Garstang, Rabbi Philip Graubart, Natalie Holtz, Miki Lamm, Pat Launer, Curt Leviant, David Ogul, Pamela Price, Heidi Redlitz, Sharon Rosen Leib, Nikki Salvo, Andrea Simantov CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS/ARTISTS Vincent Andrunas, Leigh Castelli, Pepe Fainberg, Steve Greenberg, Pat Krause, Laurie Miller, Paul Ross (Senior Travel Photographer), Angela Sissa, Daisy Varley ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Diane Benaroya (Senior Account Executive), Alan Moss (Palm Springs) SAN DIEGO JEWISH JOURNAL (858) 638-9818 • fax: (858) 638-9801 5665 Oberlin Drive, Suite 204 • San Diego, CA 92121 EDITORIAL: ADVERTISING: CIRCULATION & SUBSCRIPTIONS: ART DEPARTMENT: LISTINGS & CALENDAR: SDJJ is published monthly by San Diego Jewish Journal, LLC. Subscription rate is $24 for one year (12 issues). Send subscription requests to SDJJ, 5665 Oberlin Drive, Suite 204, San Diego, CA 92121. The San Diego Jewish Journal 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. The San Diego Jewish Journal is not responsible for the accuracy of any and all information within advertisements. The San Diego Jewish Journal reserves the right to edit all submitted materials, including press releases, letters to the editor, articles and calendar listings for brevity and clarity. The Journal 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 the Journal become the physical property of the publication, which is not responsible for the return or loss of such material. All contents ©2014 by San Diego Jewish Journal. The San Diego Jewish Journal is a member of the American Jewish Press Association and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

#SDJewishJournal 6 l February 2014


WELCOME by Alanna Berman Editor of the San Diego Jewish Journal



don’t remember the first movie I ever saw, but I do remember my favorites. There was a kids sing-along video, complete with toys that came to life; the one about a dog-faced dragon and a boy who held the key to the salvation of an entire universe; and more than a few cartoon fairy tales, complete with well-dressed female protagonist and their prince charming. I watched these movies constantly. (My poor parents!) Even today, no matter what, if those movies are on TV, I am instantly transported back to childhood. I can even recite some of the lines or songs from my favorite movies today. I’m sure you can remember your first on-screen loves, too. It’s why I get so excited each year when we get the chance to cover the San Diego Jewish Film Festival. And the arrival of 60 films this month at five venues all over the county gives me great hope that I’ll find my new favorite soon! I’m especially excited, as I hope a few of you are, too, for some San Diego premieres, and even a few world premieres taking place starting on Feb. 6 right here in our sunny corner of the world. There’s a long list of films I want to see, and we’ve chosen a few to review for you starting on page 32. A full schedule of screening times can also be found on page 42 so that you can plan to see as many films as possible before the festival closes on Feb. 16. We also look at camps this month, just in time to start making plans for the little ones. Trust us: you’ll want to plan early. The role played by Jewish camp in raising confident, steady-in-their-faith Jewish adults has been well-documented for some time now, and spots at the most popular camps always book up fast. Today, there are more than a few options when it comes to camp programming. Science and technology, surf experience, arts and performance-based camps are on the rise, and so

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“I dont remember the first movie I ever saw, but I do remember my favories. ... I watched these movies constantly. (My poor parents!)”

are camps that get kids moving – there are more sports and fitness camps out there than ever before. For my brother, sister and me, summer camp was something we always looked forward to. Days spent hiking, canoeing, swimming, horseback riding and in the arts and crafts room were accompanied by nights full of stargazing, singing around a campfire, and making s’mores. It felt like the best week ever for us. Only now do I know that it was really the best week ever for my parents, who enjoyed a kidfree house for week while we were away without a care in the world. My own experience at camp and memories associated with my time at various camps over the course of my childhood resonate almost as much as my choice in favorite films. Even today, spending a summer evening in Balboa Park under the stars while a movie is projected outside is one of my favorite ways to enjoy San Diego – and a great way to combine some of my earliest memories: watching movies and being outdoors. On an altogether different note, I hope that you find what you’re looking for within the pages of our magazine this month, and if not, let us know what you would like to see. We’re making changes, and I think we do a pretty good job. If there is something missing, we want to know about it. So drop us a line, won’t you? A

My all-time favorite movie list: The Neverending Story

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Beauty and the Beast

The Goonies

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>> mailbag

We’re Listening! Let us know what you’re thinking.






NO SUCH THING AS “SECOND HANUKKAH” Dear Editor: Rabbi Ben Leinow’s article, “The Second Hanukkah” (December, 2013), is just plain wrong. Hanukkah comes to us every Kislev 25-Tevet 2. Those are the days that have been dedicated as the days remembering the miracle of Hanukkah, and they are the only days that can be remembered since those were the days when the miracle took place. The article suggests that it is OK to move the sacred days of Hanukkah to a more financially conducive time for some “Hollywood producers” and to enhance the “brotherhood between Christians and Jews” for Christmas. First, if we are not permitted to make use of these sacred lights – even to learn Torah by their light – how can we possibly be permitted to use the miracle of Hanukkah for

financial gain? As far as Christmas brotherhood goes, I for one love Christmas. I get paid for not going to work. What’s wrong with that? Regardless, Hanukkah should not be used to offset or compete with Christmas. Hanukkah is another part of the wonderful Jewish history that stands on its own merit. Len Hyman, President, North County Jewish Center La Costa


their nuclear power program – that will be satisfactory to Israel, whether such power is used for military or civilian purposes. And since Iran will not cave to Israeli wishes in such a complete way, we will have a stalemate. Since sanctions will continue to impoverish Iran, it’s a good guess that the population will not blame their own government, but rather Israel and the United States. War hawks on all sides will be emboldened. It’s a very bleak picture CG Siegel paints. From his comments it seems the only things to look forward to in the Middle East are more dead bodies and embittered populations.

Dear Editor: Well, it looks like war. How depressing it was to read the interview with Israeli Consul General David Siegel about Iran (January, 2014). Based on his comments there is nothing Iran can do – except to completely dismantle

Regards, Rob Cohen San Diego


Send us your comments: /SanDiegoJewishJournal

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@SDJewishJournal • 5665 Oberlin Dr., Ste 204 • San Diego, CA 92121

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An Afternoon in Style...

The installation for Rabbi Devorah Marcus turned into a beautiful weekend. The new religious leader of Temple Emanu-El came to our town from New York. She was installed by Rabbi Dvora Weisberg, Director of the School of Rabbinical Studies and Associate Professor of Rabbinics at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. Retired Rabbi Martin S. Lawson also participated in the service. Witnessing this momentous occasion were Garrett Ashman, Mark and Gail Braverman, Aaron Cohn, Ellen Gruer, Karen and Jerry Eisman, Char Sultan, Larry and Marilyn Ponseggi, Marlene and Mark Hamovitch, Mary Loera, Frank and Sunny Borkat, Marilyn Braun, Susy Doole, and Barbara and Matt Meis.



Happy 85th birthday to Mort Goodman!


Nancy Herzfeld-Pipkin and Jack Pipkin announce the birth of their first granddaughter, Calliandra Louise, born Nov. 28, 2013. Thrilled parents are Scot Pipkin and Kristin Brinkmann. Mazel Tov to all!


Native San Diegans Beth Kiefer and Bret Greenwald joyfully announce their engagement. Happy parents are Cindy Greenwald of Coronado, and Jeff Greenwald of Poway. Enjoying the news are grandparents Kit and Clare Greenwald of La Jolla.


Happy 60th anniversary to Annette and Fred Schriber! 12 l February 2014

Top: Bob Rubenstein and Marie Raftery. Clockwise from middle: Jim Lewis, Nancy Marcus, Rabbi Dvora Weisberg, Rabbi Devorah Marcus, Sebastian Eickholt, Anita Lawson, Rabbi Marty Lawson and Ron Marx; Rabbi Dvora Weisberg and Rabbi Marty Lawson; and Rabbi Devorah Marcus and Sebastian Eickholt.

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St. Germaine Silver Tea

St. Germaine Children’s Charity held its 30th annual Silver Tea to benefit programs that prevent child abuse. In honor of the milestone anniversary, many of the guests wore pearls for the event, appropriately dubbed “Pearls of Hope.” The festive afternoon Tea was held in the magnificent La Jolla Farms home of Claire Reiss, and as usual, the silver bowl was there to remind guests that the reason for the event was to raise money for St. Germain. Over the years, Children’s Charity has contributed about $3 million dollars to prevent child abuse. Sue Kalish and Mary Weightman co-chaired the Tea and were there to greet the 400 guests on hand. The large “Pearls of Hope” committee included Maurine Beinbrink, Terry Cooper, Lisa Corbin, Jorie Fisher, Nancie Geller, Gigi Goldman, Aimee Lansky, and Carol Portman. Among the deserving grant recipients of this year’s Tea are the Armed Services YMCA, Family Health Centers of San Diego, and Home Start, Inc.

Top: Louarn Sorkin and Robin Parker. Clockwise from right: Vera Pitrofsky and Jena Joyce; Adi Hilsdorf-Smith, Kelly Thomas and Cynthia Kronemyer; Jule Eberlin, Lia Johnson, Carol Rumsey and Diane Christensen; and Cristull Hasson, Rick Wildman and Phyllis Parrish.

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YAD’s Place2Be Jewish Federation’s Young Adult Division hosted their annual Christmas Eve soirée, Place2Be, at the House of Blues in December, 2013. More than 350 young people attended this year’s event, which gave Jews the option to spend time with and meet new friends for an otherwise slow Tuesday night. A House of Blues DJ, Israel-themed candy bar, Mardi Gras-themed photo booth, and delicious finger foods rounded out the evening, which included dancing in two spaces at the downtown landmark. Look out this month for more YAD events, including YAD Bowling for Israel on Feb. 6, at East Village Tavern and Bowl, downtown. Find out more at A

Top: Hadar and Seth Cohen. Clockwise from top right: Sarah Hoffman and Aaron Truax; David Israel, Michelline Wachter and Rachel Saslove; Elana Azose, Sara Zolott and Jewel Sud; and Rachel Kavanaugh, Rachel Saslove and Jasmin Cohen Tarica.

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MUSINGS FROM MAMA by Sharon Rosen Leib

Birthright Eligible?


irthright, a program that gifts a free 10-day trip to Israel to eligible young adults between the ages of 18 and 26, changes lives. Since Birthright launched in 1999, hundreds of thousands have been transformed by the magical opportunity to see how Israel’s desert has bloomed, touch the Western Wall’s cool Jerusalem stone, smell the Dead Sea sulfur, taste the spicy falafel, and hear the cacophony of voices and opinions that make Israel a real place – not an abstract, evil oppressor of Palestinians or a network news conflict zone. Equally as important is meeting, having fun and connecting with Israelis and Jews from all over the world. I hope and pray the Birthright gods will give my half-Jewish Hawaiian nieces and nephew the gift of Jewish knowledge. My 17-year-old niece recently shared a story that saddened me. Her history teacher (a Jewish, Berkeley Ph.D. grad), at the private Honolulu high school she attends, offered a bonus point to anyone who guessed what kind of bread he used to make French toast for breakfast. His students shouted out cinnamon raisin, whole wheat, sourdough. All wrong. “Okay, I’ll give you a clue – it was a Jewish kind of bread,” he said. No one knew the correct answer: challah. I sensed my niece felt badly that she couldn’t answer her teacher’s question. But how was she supposed to know? My sister-in-law, like a majority of American Jews (according to the 2013 Pew Research Center study), is proud, secular and intermarried (to a menschy Catholic husband). They don’t celebrate Shabbat, and Hawaii doesn’t offer much in the way of Jewish institutions. I responded to my niece’s story by suggesting she apply to go on a Birthright trip as soon as she gets to college. She really wants to go, as do her 25-year-old sister and 22-year-old brother. My eldest niece has twice applied and been waitlisted for Birthright trips. My nephew hopes to go this summer. So the $5,000

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(approximate cost of Birthright trip) question is this: Will they be deemed eligible? Thousands apply for the program, and approximately half are turned away, according to a recent Jewish Post article. My nieces and nephew meet the basic requirements. They have one Jewish parent, do not actively practice another religion, and have never been to Israel before. But why has my bright, engaging, go-getter eldest niece been waitlisted twice? What are the intangibles Birthright looks for? After doing some research, I sense the Birthright gods select candidates demonstrating a basic connection to their Jewish identity. They understandably want to separate the wheat of young people seeking a genuine educational experience from the chaff of those gunning for a free, party hookup opportunity. But what about applicants like my nieces and nephew? How are they supposed to demonstrate a connection to their Jewish identity when they haven’t had any Jewish education or exposure to Jewish institutions and don’t really know where to begin? Kids like them, who could most benefit from Birthright, have a tougher time establishing their Jew cred – a real catch-22. To further complicate matters, Birthright trips are run by a variety of providers, each with its own selection criteria. Thus, eligibility can be an inconsistent, moving target. Registration for summer 2014’s Birthright trips open this month. Prospective candidates like my nieces and nephew can up their chances by doing their homework. A few possibilities include walking the walk into their campus Hillel or local Jewish Community Center; reading a good book about Israel; or, at the very least, going online and familiarizing themselves with Birthright’s objectives. Anything to show they care enough to honor this priceless opportunity to learn! A

DON’T FORGET Registration for summer 2014 Birthright trips begins Feb. 19. The Jewish Federation of San Diego County is expanding its Birthright program, and requirements have changed! To sign up, visit

israeli lifestyle


Medical Chit-Chat


never met another member of the tribe whose doctor wasn’t “The Best.” “He graduated at the top of his class, you know...” is muttered in a bored, nasal tone as though the speaker is peeved to explain that, in matters of health, one only wants “The Best.” Duly chastised, I occasionally wonder who, exactly, is getting their yearly check-up by the plebeian who failed anatomy lab and graduated with a 1.0 average at a combination medical/ dance academy in the Caribbean. After all, someone is going to the man or woman who graduated at the bottom of the class and is still called “doctor.” Right? When I lived in the United States, I remember feeling awed by anyone wearing a white coat and stethoscope. In describing my symptoms, I’d

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speak rapidly and to the point, daunted by the preciousness of time, erudition and a terrifying unknown. It was sometimes difficult to express an ailment or emotional trepidation due to the clamoring tick-tock of a fictitious grandfather clock beating in my head. But the Israeli medical experience feels a little more relaxed. This isn’t to say that every doctor here isn’t “The Best” according to his or her mother, but the system itself is designed to knock humility into every intern as part of his training, lest he becomes delusional and actually believes he is better than the next slob. I’ve yet to meet a car mechanic or souk merchant who doesn’t feel eminently qualified to issue medical diagnoses or serve as acting Prime Minister when Bibi is overseas.

Out of excuses, I recently scheduled some overdue and dreaded checkups on the same day. Ugh. Hating a gynecological exam is a no-brainer, but the general practitioner/internist imbues me with a different kind of dread. His office calls me every six months if I haven’t checked in. He will not refill certain prescriptions without a visit, and insists on addressing weight, blood-pressure and cholesterol levels. He stays in touch with my breast surgeon, and they compare notes! Damn him, he cares, and doggedly dogs me into either maintaining my health or, minimally, feeling agonizing guilt when I disregard it. In summary, he’s a pain in my tuchus. “Get on the scale,” he says. In preparation of stepping onto the heinous device, I’ve cleverly thwarted him by skipping breakfast and eschewing an under-wire brassiere in favor of a lightweight sports model. My plan obviously worked because he exclaimed, “You’ve lost a lot of weight since your last visit!” Feeling both smug and a little lightheaded, I crowed, “Fifteen pounds, right?” He replied, “Fifteen and a half. You’ve also lost two centimeters and are still too fat. Go to Weight Watchers.” Grabbing my prescriptions, I stomp out, vowing for the umpteenth time to find another doctor, one who is morbidly obese, smokes like a chimney, thinks that exercise is for suckers, and prescribes Ben & Jerry’s for calcium. “Bedside Manner” is a Hebrew oxymoron, and future immigrants should take this into the equation when researching mortgage rates and school districts. The medical care I’ve both received and witnessed in Israel is excellent, and I feel confident that my health is of the utmost importance to the medical practitioners on hand. But if one needs his hand held or a pat on the back for maintaining his health, fuhgeddaboudit. Just drink eight glasses of water each day, get plenty of sleep, dress warmly, and call me in the morning. A

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PLAYING WITH MATCHES by Jennifer Garstrang

Oy Vey! It’s Valentine’s Day... Again! It’s that time of year again. The time when many modern Jews find ourselves swept up in the secular season of hearts, chocolate, and romance! L’chaim! Last year at this time, my three “Dos” for surviving Valentine’s Day (or for recovering after the fact) were as follows: 1. Lower the stakes. Whether you’re having a romantic evening with long-term partner, taking a new date to dinner, or watching a TV marathon with your puppy and a pint of ice cream, it never hurts to relax. 2. Make it about them. If you have a date, do something special for that person. Key words here are “for that person.” A heaping plate of irresistible chocolate-chip cookies is anything but thoughtful for a date on a diet! 3. Adjust your frame of mind. A date on Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to have more pressure than any other date. The night does not have to be perfect for you to have a good time. Likewise, if you don’t have a date, it doesn’t doom you to a life of loneliness. This year, I have two very important “Don’ts” to add to the list, which are particularly helpful in adjusting your frame of mind. These Don’ts hearken back to a Yom Kippur meditation from the New Union Prayer Book: “Keep two truths in your pocket, and take them out according to the need of the moment. Let one be: ‘For my sake was the world created.’ And the other: ‘I am dust and ashes.’” This reminds us to live our lives balancing these two opposite ideas. In the same way, when it comes to the 14th of February: 1. Don’t make too big of a deal out of Valentine’s Day. Pop quiz: You’ve got a date for Valentine’s 22 l February 2014

Day! Now should you a) blow the shofar from the hilltops to announce your upcoming union, b) panic over what to do/buy, or c) plan an extravagant evening in Venice, complete with gondola? Trick question! The answer is d) none of the above! Let’s try another: You don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day. Should you a) drown your sorrows in chocolate, b) cry about how you will be single the rest of your life, or c) desperately seek a casual hookup so you won’t be alone? Fooled you again! It’s d) none of the above (though chocolate is never completely wrong). 2. Don’t make too small of a deal out of Valentine’s Day. While it’s important not to over-exaggerate the celebration of this holiday, it can also be a bad idea to go to the opposite extreme and say, “Valentine’s Day is just a conspiracy by Big Chocolate, Big Flowers, and Big Greeting Cards to get us to buy their products.” I’m not saying you’re wrong, but lots of people think of this holiday as a joyful celebration of love and romance. If you’re single, a few well-placed jokes about Singles’ Awareness Day (S.A.D.) are just fine, but don’t be the single friend that rains on happy couples’ Valentine’s Day parades. And if you’re in a relationship, then don’t be that guy/gal who ignores Valentine’s Day when your significant other wants to celebrate. In short, I recommend a balanced approach to this secular celebration. After all, despite all the hullabaloo and heartache, this is a holiday. So, whatever your plans – be they going out, staying in, or going to Temple (Valentine’s Day does fall on a Friday this year, after all) – have fun! Oh, and one more “Don’t” to add to this list: Don’t forget to make reservations early! A


Valentine’s Day actually finds its roots in an Israelite custom dating to biblical times and founded on the divine idea of pairing.

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guest column


by Rabbi Philip Graubart

Jewish Nobels


very Nobel Prize season it seems we find Jewish (often Israeli) names in science, economics and literature on the list of winners, but why? I can account for the phenomena with one word: hevruta. It’s an Aramaic word that describes an ancient Jewish method of study: teaming up with a partner, an intellectual equal, whose task is to challenge, argue or disagree. The most illuminating hevruta story concerns one of the greatest Talmudic pairs: Resh Lakish and Rabbi Yochanan. The two studied together for thirty years, always disagreeing, but maintaining a close friendship. After Resh Lakish passed away, his rabbinic colleagues tried to comfort Rabbi Yochanan’s enormous grief by finding him a new study partner. But the new partner simply agreed with everything the old rabbi said. “That’s not what you’re supposed to do!” Rabbi Yochanan burst out. “I don’t need you tell me I’m right. I need you to point out to me how I’m wrong.” The Pirket Avot (“Sayings of the Fathers”) adds a theological dimension to the hevruta method of study: God gives the Torah to Moses, who transmits it to Joshua, who transmits it to the Men of the Great Assembly, and so on. But suddenly it goes, as a whole, to Hillel and Shammai, the Talmud’s most famous hevruta antagonists, who disagree about virtually everything, and even set up opposing schools. It’s as if God’s word suddenly bifurcates into opposing ideologies, and the only way we get at the deep truth is for the two schools of thought to battle it out. It’s a method that produced a great literature (The Talmud) and, perhaps, a few Nobel prizes. The tradition of great clashing pairs begins in the book of Genesis. Our first stories feature feuding opposites, and for me, Joseph and Judah are the 24 l February 2014

most important pair. Judah and his brothers throw Joseph into a pit, then sell him into slavery. Years later, the brothers encounter Joseph in Egypt. He toys with them for several chapters until Judah finally approaches him. The Hebrew word the Torah uses for “approach” is vayigash, which the rabbis read aggressively. Judah confronts Joseph as an enemy, an antagonist, an opposite, like a warrior with only two possible outcomes: victory or defeat. Judah and Joseph symbolize dueling approaches which still resonate in today’s Jewish world. Judah is the proud Israeli, Joseph the successful Diaspora Jew. Judah’s the “pure” Jew; Joseph, with his Egyptian name, wife, job, and children, assimilates. Judah works with his hands; Joseph uses his mind. Judah’s a nomad, Joseph’s a city boy. How can these opposites unite? As readers we expect a fateful clash, with a winner and a loser. But they don’t destroy each other. They embrace and forgive – which is to say they don’t strive for victory, but instead for synthesis and mutual understanding. Thousands of years later, the rabbis codify this approach with the famous and important hevruta slogan: “These and these are the words of the living God.” The challenge of hevruta is to disagree strongly, but love each other fully. It’s the only way, ultimately, we can learn from each other. In many fields, I’m convinced this model of loving disagreement produces great work. Sadly, this spirit’s been missing in the world of Torah study for many years. For the most part, scholars from the Orthodox and non-Orthodox worlds don’t even talk to each other, much less study together. But if we could regain the spirit of Hillel and Shammai; Rabbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish; Judah and Joseph, we could again produce something great. A


The first Jewish recipient of the Nobel Prize was Adolf von Baeyer, for Chemistry, in 1905.

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THE ARTIST’S TORAH by David Ebenbach

What We’re Called to Build


his month’s Torah portions zoom in on something unexpected: construction. Yes, this is the place where our tradition gets very focused on what we’re supposed to build, and how. Certainly, we learn what not to build. In Exodus 32:1, the people harangue Aaron, saying, “Make us a god.” They’re lost without Moses, their conduit to the divine, and so they tell Aaron to make something concrete that can be a god for them. Aaron does what they demand, unfortunately, melting down the people’s jewelry to make the Golden Calf. Of course, the calf statue turns out to be a completely ineffectual god, standing stiffly by as the Levites attack the people for their bad behavior (32:26-28), and as a retributive plague rages through the camp afterward (32:35). The rest of this month’s text focuses mainly on something we’re supposed to build: the mishkan, the sanctuary that the Israelites will carry through the wilderness. God specifically tells them to build this, saying, There I will meet with you (25:22). That is, luckily, what ends up happening. In other words, the people go wrong when they try to build themselves a God, but go right when they try to build something that connects them with God. As Moses learns in another chapter, when he finally gets to see God, but only from behind (33:20-23), humans are limited to encountering the divine indirectly. There are many ways that people have this indirect experience. Some find themselves caught up in the sacred when they’re in nature, say, or in loving relationships. But we don’t have to wait around for the experience to come to us;

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we can also actually build the possibility of this experience for ourselves and others. One of the most obvious ways we can do this is through art. The painter Mark Rothko, for example, intended his work to be “a reflection of the infiniteness of reality.” In other words, not infinite reality itself, but merely a reflection of it. “As it is, we have [through art] the exhibition of the infinite variety of its inexhaustible facets, for which we should be thankful.” As I wrote in my book, “The Artist’s Torah,” “We are not trying to reproduce God, but to connect to the divine, to connect to wonder, to awe, and to leave some tangible trace of our struggle and our experience – not so that others can worship it but so that they can join us in the attempt.” Not that what we’re trying to do is easy. It only takes Aaron three Torah verses to sculpt the Golden Calf (32:2-4) – indeed, Aaron even claims to Moses that the Calf practically made itself (32:24) – but those meager efforts fail to produce anything worthwhile. On the other hand, chapter upon chapter is devoted to the details of constructing the Mishkan. It’s hard, hard work, but it pays off. If we’re going to build something that takes us somewhere important, we’re going to have to work at it. It seems to me that artists are not alone in this mission. Rabbis share it, of course, and parents, certainly, and it may be a natural part of any profession that involves helping others. Perhaps it’s a part of any life that’s oriented in the right direction. It’s a question, really, and in fact it’s the question of these Torah portions: What will you build? And where will it take us? A

 This

month’s Torah portions Feb. 1: Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19) Feb. 8: Tetzave (Exodus 27:20-30:10) Feb. 15: Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35) Feb. 22: Vayak’hel (Exodus 35:1-38:20)

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Adar I 5774 l 27

I israel

WOMEN OF POWER Female IDF soldiers shatter contemporary infantry lines By Maayan Jaffe,


Cpl. Dylan Ostrin, of Houston,Texas, is on the IDF’s recent list of “8 Female Soldiers Who Shattered Barriers in 2013.” Today, she is an explosives instructor in the Combat Engineering Corps.


rom the inception of the Jewish state to the present, Israel’s military has been anything but a male-dominated institution. On May 26, 1948, Prime Minister David BenGurion established the Israel Defense Forces. Less than three months later, the Knesset instituted mandatory conscription for all women without children. Today 57 percent of all officers in the Israeli army are women, according to the IDF. The IDF recently highlighted the stories of a select group of those women on its blog, in a list titled “8 Female Soldiers Who Shattered Barriers in 2013.” The article, which featured women in a variety of military roles and from diverse backgrounds, said that in recent years women

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have “taken increasingly high-level positions in the IDF.” The female soldiers included in the list “challenge stereotypes,” wrote the IDF. Among those listed are two soldiers originally from the U.S.: Cpl. Dylan Ostrin, from Houston, Texas, who made aliyah at the age of seven, and Sgt. Sarit Petersen, from Maryland, who is currently in the process of making aliyah. Petersen, who recently completed her IDF term, served as a shooting instructor in the Nahal Infantry Brigade. Her job was to teach reconnaissance brigade soldiers (Special Forces) to use their weapons. Speaking from her parents’ home in Baltimore, Peterson waxed modest

about being chosen for the IDF blog entry. “There are awesome people doing awesome things in the army all the time,” she said with a giggle. A 2010 graduate of the Yeshiva of Greater Washington, Petersen said that she was “surprised” at her selection, though she was one of the first to hold her position in the IDF. Petersen trained soldiers slated for elite army units. They had already completed at least eight months of basic training, and they often had several additional months of more intense training. She said that she and her colleagues would “sit for hours and hours” planning and analyzing how they were going to take these men from “regular soldiers to

I israel

Sgt. Sarit Peterson, of Maryland, is a shooting instructor in the Nahal Infantry Brigade. She is one of two soldiers originally from the U.S. that made the IDF’s list.

Special Forces, to even better.” “We would spend hours and hours on an exercise list. We would look at their old ones, see what they had done, and figure out how to make it harder and faster, how they could run more. Then we would go to the shooting range and make them do all of these [exercises] we had set up for them and they would do it,” she said. “We would do it first, to test it out, and then they would do it.” Is Petersen good with a gun? “Yeah,” she said. “I am a pretty good shot.” Petersen said she shot her first gun as a 14-yearold on a vacation with a friend in Nevada, where they shot cans in the desert. “I thought, ‘Wow! I am really good at this, and it is really fun,’” she reminisced, noting that she could never have dreamed then of her time in the IDF. Other female soldiers on the list have vastly different roles. Take Pvt. Or Meidan. She moved to a southern kibbutz in Israel from Uganda. In November 2012, her town was a regular target of Hamas rockets. Today, she is an Iron Dome

missile defense system operator. Also listed is First Sgt. Monaliza Abdo, an Arab-Israeli combat soldier. While most Arab-Israelis don’t even take part in army service, Abdo rose through the ranks to become a commander, teaching soldiers how to combat terrorism and other threats. In December, she completed three years of service – one more than the required number for Israeli women. Lt. Amit Danon, a former Israeli national champion in rhythmic gymnastics, became a combat officer in the mixed-gender Caracal Battalion. She is also on the IDF’s list. “She was one of the first women to become an officer in a combat unit,” Risa Kelemer, a commander who also serves in Caracal, said. Kelemer, who is from Baltimore, said Caracal is the only co-ed combat unit in the world. “Boys and girls play the same roles,” she said, noting that despite this she has felt little tension from the men she works with. “I encounter more difficulty when I am in civilian life. I meet someone who says, ‘You are a combat soldier? Girls aren’t combat soldiers!’”

Kelemer does not pretend to be as strong as her male counterparts, though she said she is able to hold her own. When it comes to an operation, however, she said each person has a role. Kelemer, for example, is a trained grenade launcher. Another female comrade is a sharp shooter. Another is a medic. “Combat is not just running with 50 pounds on your back,” said Kelemer, “though we also do that.” Katja Edelman, originally from Kansas, and now a student at Columbia University, recently completed her service as a combat infantry soldier in the IDF’s canine unit. In that role, she worked with dogs in the field and trained them back at the base. The IDF “has a lot to be proud of regarding integration of women,” she said. “I felt like I had amazing opportunities in my service and was able to do many of the same things men do. … It was always important to me to demonstrate professionalism and capability to set the right precedent for a continued and hopefully expanded role for women in the IDF.” Edelman said she did feel pressure to prove herself in the IDF, and she went to extra lengths not to show signs of fatigue, “even if the boys were openly exhausted.” “I feel that most women in male-dominated workplaces can relate,” she said. Kelemer’s mother, Amian Frost-Kelemer, said she is “incredibly impressed” with and proud of her daughter. But she is also “petrified.” “Risa believes she can do whatever the guys can do,” Frost-Kelemer said. “She is really fast. But the weight they have to carry is not great for a woman’s body. “Mentally, there is no issue. Physically, the reality is that as strong as she is, it is about heart – she is there for the heart.” A Maayan Jaffe is a freelance writer in Overland Park, Kan.

Adar I 5774 l 29

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The 24th annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival is here!

Here in San Diego, we’ve come to expect the best: the best weather, the best food, and the nicest people. In the case of the Jewish Film Festival, that also means the best in movies. This year is no exception. With a new executive director on board and some great (and we mean great) films on deck, it will be hard to decide which to see first when the SDJFF rolls into town Feb. 6-16. “When we plan the festival, we look for the most powerful films; those that make an impact or trigger discussion,” Craig Prater, film festival executive director, says. “We try to balance documentaries, feature dramas and comedies so that everyone who comes to the festival has a choice.” Prater, who is new to the SDJFF, has been working on the lineup for the greater part of the last year. But before coming to San Diego, he worked on international film festivals in Palm Springs, Bangkok, Cape Town, Mexico and Los Angeles for 25 years.

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“So you could say film festivals have been ‘my bag,’” Prater laughs. “For more than 20 years I had a very close relationship with the San Diego Film Society, and of course, that’s in the backyard of this film festival; and for most of my career, it was always part of my job to secure


new Jewish films, so [coming to the SDJFF] was kind of a natural fit for me.” Even with all that expertise, Prater says choosing which films to showcase is not an easy task. This year, the film festival lineup brings some heavy hitters to five locations around town. Along with shortsubject, documentary and feature-length films, an international roster of guest artists, directors and actors will participate in panel discussions and meet-and-greet events with festivalgoers. New this year is a one-time-only screening for festival underwriters of “Neil Diamond: A Solitary Man” on Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. Other highlights include the San Diego premiere of “It Happened in St. Tropez,” and the official opening of “Brave Miss World,” directed by Ceclia Peck (daughter of Gregory Peck). A late addition to the festival’s roster is

“Walking With the Enemy,” from director/ producer (and San Diegan!) Mark Schmidt. The film, starring Jonas Armstrong, Sir Ben Kingsley and Hannah Tointon is a World War II-era piece full of suspense and danger. It is also based on a true story. “Regardless of the genre of film, it’s always about picking that most powerful film, and I think we’ve done that,” Prater says. “This year, I think there is something for everybody.” A The 24th annual SDJFF runs Feb. 6-16 at Clairemont Reading Cinemas, Arclight Cinemas, Carlsbad Village Theatre, Edwards San Marcos Theatre and the David and Dorothea Garfield

Theatre at the LFJCC. For tickets or information call (858) 362-1348, or visit Read on for reviews of select films, and see page 42 for a complete lineup of films and events.





ormer Israeli beauty queen and international cover girl, Linor Abargil is a sharp, intelligent woman with a cause: helping survivors of rape. Empathetic yet unsentimental, highly visible but also private, Abargil is a uniquely complicated individual. Moviegoers who have been directly or indirectly affected by rape will have a visceral, positive reaction to Abargil’s story, as depicted in the feature-length documentary, “Brave Miss World.” Cecilia Peck’s film suffers from a meandering structure and a lack of craft, but Abargil’s toughness and tenacity provide a steady source of inspiration. Shortly after Abargil was anointed Miss Israel in 1998, the 18-year-old went to Milan for some modeling jobs. Preparing to leave Italy and return home a few months later, Abargil was raped by an Israeli travel agent who had been recommended by her modeling agency. Abargil escaped with her life by promising the assailant that she would never tell anyone, but she quickly reported the crime to Italian and Israeli authorities. When the

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assailant returned to Israel, he was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced. The film marshals allegations that the perpetrator – an Egyptian Christian married to an Israeli woman – was a serial rapist and an ongoing danger to society. Having been declared Miss World in the same year as this tragic event, her rape soon became part of her public biography. The film picks up Abargil’s saga many years later, after she’s begun a website (now based at for rape survivors to confide their experiences as well as the ongoing effects of their trauma. “Brave Miss World” follows the peripatetic Netanya native from Tel Aviv to Cleveland, Johannesburg, New York, Princeton, Santa Barbara and Beverly Hills, where she meets with rape survivors and speaks at charity luncheons. Supplying solace and strength as needed, Abargil offers in-person proof that it’s possible to heal from a sexual attack and lead a satisfying life of unapologetic selfexpression. It’s not always a smooth ride, particularly when Abargil’s rapist is up for parole, and

she has to confront past events and ongoing fears. Her determination, along with her belief that the failure to prosecute more rapists is an injustice that contributes to the ongoing suffering of survivors, is truly inspiring. Abargil is a strong-willed, self-confident woman, and it’s always interesting watching her interact with strangers. But the documentary lacks her courage, tiptoeing around anything that might make her less sympathetic and saddling her with dull narration devoid of the bite of her personality. The omission of any discussion of how young women are objectified in advertising and fashion photography is an especially curious oversight given both Abargil’s extensive career as a model and her outspoken nature. “Brave Miss World” was shot over a period of time that encompasses her enrollment in law school as well as her abrupt transition from a secular to a religious Jew (which flummoxes her ever-loyal parents and may unsettle some audience members). Ultimately, “Brave Miss World” does a ham-fisted job of blending a character study with a social-issue documentary. It’s soft-centered, unlike its subject, and largely content to proffer good intentions and a parade of hugs instead of exploring the tangle of issues surrounding rape. Linor Abargil, however, is a pretty remarkable person who never stops pushing herself beyond the familiar and comfortable. She’s well worth getting to know. A - BY MICHAEL FOX

Adar I 5774 l 35


curious conversions with historical context “THE MYSTERY OF SAN NICANDRO”


onato Manduzio lived in Southern Italy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Bedridden after an injury in World War I, Manduzio taught himself to read by using one of the only Bibles translated in Italian (at the time, Bibles were mainly printed in Latin). He began thinking deeply about the Old Testament and found himself undeniably connected to Judaism. The only problem was, in his isolated town on the eve of the Holocaust, he thought Jews no longer existed. Determined to reignite the faith, he started attracting followers and spreading his Jewish message during a time when fascism was on the rise and antiSemitism was spreading through racial laws permeating Italy. “The Mystery of San Nicandro” explores, through diverse characters, this bit of lost history and the modern realities of Jews in Southern Italy. It begins in 2011 with an

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emotional second wedding between Incoronata Giulliani and her husband in Ancona. After realizing she was a direct descendant of two of Manduzio’s original converts, she felt called to solidify her Jewish faith and continue the traditions that her ancestors worked so hard to uphold. Later, we meet Rabbi Barbara Aiello, the first female rabbi in Italy. She takes us through conversion ceremonies, ancestral mapping exercises and archaeological digs while discussing the long but hidden history of Jews in Southern Italy. The documentary concludes with the personal journey of Canadian Laura Cattari, who, in 2003, after many years of religious soul-searching, realized that her family’s roots were actually Jewish. In an attempt to understand her connection to Judaism, she heads to Sicily to ask questions of distant cousins. Surprisingly, few are willing to admit their

Jewish ancestry. Fans of TLC’s royal dating reality show, “Secret Princes,” will recognize Prince Lorenzo de Medici when he makes a small appearance in the film. He discusses the Jewish ancestry of his name, and his new project to build a temple in Calabria as part of a beach resort. “In early 2011, I read a book called ‘The Jews of San Nicandro,’ written by Professor John Davis, about a group of Italian Roman Catholics in a small village who underwent a mass conversion to Judaism in Fascist Italy,” Vanessa Dylyn, producer/executive producer, says of her insipration for the film. “I was immensely fascinated by this story. … ‘The Mystery of San Nicandro’ is ultimately a testament to the inexorable force of the past, how it shapes our identity and sense of belonging, and how the echo of our DNA reaches across centuries to claim us.” The passionate and devout characters interviewed in the film weave together a compelling story about a forgotten history. Their conversions and connections to family highlight the power of Judaism, and you’ll leave the theater feeling proud and curious. A - BY NATALIE JACOBS





ladyslaw Pasikowski’s extraordinary “Aftermath” is a rare, delicious example of a filmmaker fearlessly exposing a grievous chapter in his country’s history. You can well imagine that everyone prefers that the secret and the amoral failings of a prior generation remain buried, but one strong soul has chosen to invite the skeletons out of the closet. The Polish director’s masterstroke is to wrap his harrowing exposé of World War II crimes and contemporary cover-ups around the layers of a seductive thriller. A slowly unfolding mystery that grows steadily darker, “Aftermath” is crackerjack entertainment capped with an unforgettable gut punch. German filmmakers have examined the Third Reich and the Holocaust since the

early ‘50s, confronting every aspect of the Nazis’ undeniable guilt. Polish directors, however, have largely steered clear of the period, with the notable (and controversial) exceptions of Andrzej Wajda’s wrenching “Korczak” (1990) and Agnieszka Holland’s powerful “In Darkness” (2001). Their dilemma is that the Poles, to this day largely deny the accusation that they participated with the Nazis in the murder of Jews. (Or that they opportunistically used the invasion and the war as a cover for eliminating Jews.) “Aftermath” shines a bright light on the dark canard of Polish innocence – literally, in a middle-of-thenight climax – and the revelation could not be more shocking. “It is a difficult and complex subject,” Pasikowski explained in an interview with Variety Magazine last year, “and one that

runs against the Polish image of the country as being both a heroic fighter against Nazism and a victim, which is also true.” “Aftermath” begins with the return of the prodigal son to his childhood village after many years in America. Although the surroundings and the people are familiar, Jozef (Maciej Stuhr) sees them through an outsider’s eyes. It’s a clever way of setting the scene, for we immediately identify with Jozef ’s point of view. As attractive and charismatic as Jozef is, though, we’re put off by his casual, antiSemitic putdowns of people he works with (or for) in Chicago. It’s another canny move by Pasikowski, for it limits our identification and comfort level with the main character. Jozef ’s younger brother, Franciszek (Ireneusz Czop), has been running the family farm since Jozef left. Jozef ’s arrival is fortuitous, however, for Franciszek’s placid, small-town routine has been disrupted by a serious yet initially indefinable threat. Actually, we’ve felt a sense of foreboding since Jozef got off the plane. The moment he sets foot on the road leading to the farm, an unseen entity – friend or foe? – makes its presence felt. It would be wrong to reveal any more of the plot and deprive the viewer of the pleasure of Pasikowski’s carefully thoughtout structure. “Aftermath” is the kind of film where every line of dialogue and every camera movement has a purpose, even if we only realize it after the fact. Ambitious, complex, shocking and wholly satisfying (admittedly, in a disturbing way), “Aftermath” is a beautifully executed example of a film that draws on heavyduty historical reality without exploiting or trivializing it. At the same time, it somehow also manages to integrate an otherworldly dimension into a wholly realistic story. Above all, the film takes on Poland’s World War II-era history and its ongoing silence with intelligence, style and – at the crucial juncture – unflinching courage. “Aftermath” is a movie to be savored, admired and celebrated. A - BY MICHAEL FOX

Adar I 5774 l 37




rt challenges us with all manner of serrated edges, not least the paradox that beautiful and beloved works can be produced by loathsome – or at least deeply flawed – people. It becomes easier over time to ignore the repugnant personalities and bad behavior of famous artists, and to simply savor their music, painting or novel; but much more strenuous mental gymnastics were required for conductor Hermann Levi, pianist Joseph Rubinstein, and producer Angelo Neumann to work with Richard Wagner for as long as they did. Or so one gleans from “Wagner’s Jews,” a one-hour documentary made for European television. Perhaps of greatest interest to amateur psychologists, as well as classical music and opera buffs, the film provides valuable background and insight for viewers

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who aren’t steeped in Wagner’s soaring music or his callous writings. Constructed from a prosaic mix of talking-head interviews, and 19th century photographs and woodcuts, “Wagner’s Jews” attempts the daunting task of reconciling the loyalty and devotion that key Jewish collaborators felt toward Wagner with the demeaning anti-Semitism of his public writings (and, incredibly, in his direct dealings with Levi and Rubinstein). Wagner’s animus toward Jews, expressed in a lengthy 1850 essay that he revised and reprinted nearly two decades later, could hardly have been based on his personal relationships with Jews. He owed much of his success to people like Giacomo Mayerbeer, a prominent German-Jewish composer who supported and touted the young Wagner, and the great Polish-Jewish

pianist Carl Tausig, who sold patron certificates to fund construction of the opera house at Bayreuth. Jews, Wagner wrote, were a “destructive foreign element” rather than a legitimate, organic part of German society or culture. Jewish artists were able to imitate, but nothing more, he declared. How could such first-rate musicians and valuable collaborators as Levi and Rubenstein work side by side with an unabashed racist? Well, to sum up the varied perspectives of the assembled historians and biographers: It’s complicated. Classical music and opera were the cultural pinnacle of Europe in the late 1800s, and the undeniably gifted Wagner was the highest peak. My hunch is that Levi and Rubinstein were inspired and satisfied with applying their talents to the highest purpose. If they had to endure personal insults, humiliation and anguish – and there is ample evidence that they did – they would. I don’t mind admitting that “Wagner’s Jews” demolished my ignorant assumption that the Nazis had simply embraced and promoted Wagner as an icon of superior Aryan accomplishment. In fact, the highprofile composer originated the theory that Jews were outsiders and parasites, providing a template for Hitler to build his platform of hatred and annihilation. This crucial fact explains the fervid opposition to the proposed performance of Wagner’s work in Israel in 2012. The controversy provides a compelling contemporary frame for “Wagner’s Jews,” and it invites us to grapple with the enduring conundrum of separating the creator from his or her creation. Hermann Levi and Joseph Rubinstein had the same problem, in spades. A - BY MICHAEL FOX

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t takes confidence and even audacity to weave the testimony of a Holocaust survivor into the plot of a psychological thriller – or any fiction film, for that matter. The risk of trivializing the suffering of millions is continually present, with the possibility that the audience will blast the filmmaker for fortifying his work with unearned gravitas. So give props to Larry Brand, the writer and director of “The Girl On the Train,” for sidestepping those pitfalls and pulling off a thought-provoking and potentially controversial rumination on our eagerness to believe stories. The audience is taken for a ride, along with the main character, and our susceptibility or gullibility is held up for review – although not ridicule. “The Girl On the Train,” which

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clocks in at a tidy 80 minutes including credits, should not to be confused with the unsettling 2009 French film inspired by the sensational case of a non-Jewish woman who alleged she was attacked by Arab youths who carved a swastika on her stomach. Danny (Henry Ian Cusick of “Lost”) is a documentary maker recently preoccupied with the idea of fate and chance meetings. New Yorkers are skeptics by nature, but a twinkle-eyed survivor named Morris Herzman has mesmerized the filmmaker with his remarkable saga. Herzman (the excellent David Margulies) recounts his deportation to the camps, and how his father nudged him to the side of the car where it was cooler and he could snatch an occasional breath of fresh air. This allowed young Morris to somehow glimpse a girl through the slats when the train made

a brief stop, and for her to miraculously drop a gold cross into his hand. As Morris tells it (to Danny but really to us), this precious gift – or act of kindness, or symbol that pockets of humanity still existed – gave him the determination to live. We can understand how Morris’ experience might inspire Danny with the seductive notion that a fleeting encounter with a stranger could switch his life from one track to another. So when Danny sees a young woman (Nicki Aycox) on a train who he’d previously “encountered” in the midst of crowd scenes he’d shot, he doesn’t let the opportunity pass to introduce himself. “The Girl On the Train” plays out in an extended flashback as Danny relates his version of events to a detective (Stephen Lang) in an interrogation room. Needless to say, things didn’t unfold quite the way Danny had intended or expected. He believed what he wanted to believe about the girl’s circumstances and leapt to conclusions, and he’s lucky the end of the line wasn’t, you know, the end of the line. There’s an epilogue to Morris’ story, however, that raises questions a good deal more serious than anything engendered by Danny’s adventure. The movie can’t be construed as a form of Holocaust denial – lowlifes who believe the genocide didn’t take place already have all the “evidence” they need, anyway – but a sly poke at just how eager we are to embrace happy endings. In that regard, “The Girl On the Train” is a reverse twist on a fairy tale. For Larry Brand, whose career has been largely devoted to scaring the daylights out of audiences with horror and slasher flicks, this film heads in the opposite direction. Instead of inviting us to fear the worst, it needles us about expecting the best. A - BY MICHAEL FOX


finding love, unexpectedly “ONE SMALL HITCH”


have an older brother and growing up, I spent a good amount of time fantasizing about falling in love with any number of his closest friends. In my dreams about falling in love with the older, “cooler” guys, I imagined our love to grow like this: We’d play Monopoly until 1 a.m. and make jokes about how terrible the Padres were. I’d tag along to sporting events and even be invited to the movies once in a while. Then, one day, I’d walk out of my bedroom looking hot enough and grown up enough to catch one of their eyes, and we’d eventually live happily ever after.

Needless to say, it never happened – probably because my life isn’t a movie. But if I could have written the script, I think I would have had it happen like it does in “One Small Hitch.” Molly Mahoney (Aubrey Dollar) is the little sister of Josh Shiffman’s best friend. They grew up together in Chicago and now, coincidentally (though we never find out why), they both live in Los Angeles. Before getting on a plane back to Chicago for Molly’s mother’s wedding, Molly and Josh (Shane McRay) both break up with their respective romantic partners for different

reasons. When their flight is delayed, Josh gets a call from his parents who tell him that his dad has cancer. In a heartfelt (though overly contrived) moment, Josh’s dad says his one regret in life is not meeting the woman his son will marry. Desperate to do something for his dying father, Josh tells him he already has. After getting over the initial shock and outrage, Molly agrees to play fiancé for the weekend. Just like any romantic comedy, their love blossoms from there, after the requisite “I hate you,” “I love you,” “We’re just friends,” “I can’t live without you” dance. On that level, “One Small Hitch” is your standard Hollywood love story; but even still, it manages to bring up some interesting questions about relationships. The film touches on the difficulties of interfaith unions and the complicated “friends with benefits” territory. It spends surprisingly little time on the cancer situation, which makes the whole thing seem like more of a plot device than an actual concern; but the film is really about what it takes to fall in love. Throughout the film, both characters ask themselves what they’re looking for in a partner, and they’re worthwhile considerations: Does he make you laugh? Is she accepting of your idiosyncrasies? Do you feel comfortable being yourselves around each other? And really, what is love if not the ability to giggle in front of a mirror while tooth paste drips down your chin? A - BY NATALIE JACOBS

Adar I 5774 l 41

FILM FEST SCHEDULE CLAIREMONT READING CINEMAS (Joy F. Knapp Presentations) 4665 Clairemont Drive San Diego, CA 92117 (858) 274-9994 Thursday, Feb. 6 7 p.m. “It Happened in St. Tropez” (Opening Night) Saturday, Feb. 8 6:15 p.m. “Bethlehem” 6:45 p.m. “The Sturgeon Queens” and “Every Tuesday: A Portrait of a

New Yorker Cartoonist” 8:45 p.m. “The Girl on the Train” 9 p.m. “Quality Balls – The David Steinberg Story” Sunday, Feb. 9 1 p.m. “Generation War Part I” 3:30 p.m. “Generation War Part II” 1:30 p.m. “Wagner’s Jews” 4:30 p.m. “Where We Grew Up” (Flix Mix Event) 7 p.m. “The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers” 7:30 p.m. “One Small Hitch” Tuesday, Feb 11 10:30 a.m. “Quality Balls – The David Steinberg Story” 1 p.m. “Friends From France” 1:30 p.m. “Two Who Dared: The Sharps’ War” and “Nyosha” 4:30 p.m. “Real Inglorious Bastards” and “The Eleventh Day” 6 p.m. “Brave Miss World” (Teen Screen) 7:15 p.m. “The Congress”

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7:45 p.m. “Aftermath” Wednesday, Feb. 12 10:30 a.m. “Before the Revolution” and “Summer Vacation” 1:30 p.m. “Take Us Home” and “Heavy Duty” 1 p.m. “It Happened in St. Tropez” 4 p.m. “Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy” 4:30 p.m. “The Lab” and “Rainbow” 7 p.m. “Friends From France” 7:30 p.m. “Brave Miss World” (Centerpiece Film) Thursday, Feb. 13 10:30 a.m. “Arab Labor” 1 p.m. “One Small Hitch” 1:30 p.m. “The Mystery of San Nicandro” and “The House on the Water” 4 p.m. “Return of the Violin” and “A Thing So Small” 5 p.m. “Naomi” 7 p.m. Gates to the Negev Program 8 p.m. “The Jewish Cardinal” Saturday, Feb. 15 6:15 p.m. “White Panther” 6:30 p.m. “Bethlehem”


8:45 p.m. The Third Half” 9 p.m. “Arab Labor” and “Layla” Sunday, Feb. 16 10 a.m. “Sukkah City” and “Sukkot at the Ranch” 10:30 a.m. “The Jewish Cardinal” 1 p.m. “Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story” 1:30 p.m. “Natan” and “Great” 4 p.m. “Walking With the Enemy” 4:30 p.m. “Return of the Violin” and “A Thing So Small” 7:30 p.m. “For a Woman” DAVID AND DOROTHEA GARFIELD THEATRE, LFJCC 4126 Executive Drive La Jolla, CA 92037 (858) 362-1348 Friday, Feb. 7 10:30 a.m. “Wagner’s Jews” 1:30 p.m. “The Sturgeon Queens” and “Every Tuesday: A Portrait of a New Yorker Cartoonist” Monday, Feb. 10 7:30 p.m. Joyce Forum Film Shorts Program 3 Friday, Feb. 14 10:30 a.m. “Commie Camp” and “The New Woman: Annie Londonderry Kopchovsky” 1:30 p.m. “The Last White Knight” ARCLIGHT CINEMAS 4425 La Jolla Village Drive San Diego, CA 92122 (858) 768-7770 Monday, Feb. 10 1 p.m. Joyce Forum Film Shorts Program 1 4 p.m. Joyce Forum Film Shorts Program 2 CARLSBAD VILLAGE THEATRE 2822 State Street Carlsbad, CA 92008 (760) 518-2786 Saturday, Feb. 8 7 p.m. “Disobedience:

FILM: Bethlehem DIRECTOR: Yuval Adler WHAT IT’S ABOUT: The complex relationship between an Israeli secret service officer and his teenage Palestinean informant. WHEN: Clairemont, Feb. 8 & 15; San Marcos, Feb. 9

The Sousa Mendes Story” Monday, Feb. 10 6 p.m. “The Lab” and “Rainbow” 8:30 p.m. “Sukkah City” and “Sukkot at the Ranch” Tuesday, Feb. 11 6 p.m. “The Third Half” 8:30 p.m. “Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy” Wednesday, Feb. 12 6 p.m. “Real Inglorious Bastards” and “The Eleventh Day” 8:30 p.m. “The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers”

EDWARDS SAN MARCOS STADIUM 18 1180 W San Marcos Blvd. San Marcos, CA 92069 (760) 471-3734 Sunday, Feb. 9 1 p.m. “The Sturgeon Queens” and “Every Tuesday: A Portrait of a New Yorker Cartoonist” 4 p.m. “Bethlehem” 7 p.m. “It Happened in St. Tropez” Saturday, Feb. 15 6:15 p.m. “The Jewish Cardinal” 8:45 p.m. “For a Woman”

Thursday, Feb. 13 6 p.m. “The Girl on the Train” 8:30 p.m. “Aftermath” Adar I 5774 l 43

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44 l February 2014

San Diego mayoral candidate Kevin Faulconer spoke to members of the Jewish community and others in January at WAXIE Sanitary Supply Headquarters. Charles Wax, president of WAXIE, welcomed Faulconer at the event. Sponsors for the informal meet-and-greet included Steve Cushman, Mark Gleiberman, Audrey Jacobs, Julian Josephson and Brian Seltzer. About 65 community members were in attendance to hear Faulconer outline his campaign. A graduate from San Diego State University, Faulconer touted his experience in the private sector and on the City Council. “We cannot allow our city to unravel and go back to the mistakes of the past,” he said. “We need a mayor the understands … the type of common sense needed to get back on track.” Faulconer is running against David Alvarez in the special election for mayor on Feb. 11.


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Neal Akin with his wife, Natasha, their son, Brody, and their two pups at home in Del Cerro.

A "BIG, WONDERFUL" LIFE Neal Akin has a lot to celebrate in 2014 BY NIKKI SALVO 46 l February 2014

eal Akin is on top of the world. The year 2013 brought “big, wonderful changes” for him and his family: He and his wife, Natasha, celebrated their second wedding anniversary and welcomed their first child, and he saw his real estate company grow faster than ever before. Son of Debi and Zvika Akin of famed local Jewish deli D.Z. Akin’s, Akin was born and raised in San Diego, and he never plans to leave. Like his love of food, passion for the city is in his blood. Akin is a gregarious, outgoing guy who seems to know someone wherever he goes. His fondness for people and our city, and his appreciation for architecture and design is what propelled him into the real estate industry; he is proud to say he helped 26 families purchase and sell their homes in 2013. “I realized that when my clients are the focus,” he says, “the sky is the limit.” Akin's approachability quality and work ethic are a testament to his humble history. His family’s legacy here can be traced back to his maternal grandparents, Ethel and Bernard Epstein. A traveling salesman, Bernard moved from Brooklyn to California in the late 1940s, and Ethel followed. Once they married, they attempted to settle in La Jolla, but, like many families at the time, they were shut out beacause they were Jewish. Instead, they made their home in the Granite Hills area. Longtime San Diego residents may remember the Brick Shirt House, the retail shop with several locations founded by Bernard and his son, Steven, in the 1970s. He and his wife also had success with a clothing manufacturing company, Squire of California. Akin and Natasha named their son Brody after Grandpa Epstein. (They went with the name over Bernie, because that would “just keep reminding people of a dead guy in a boat,” Akin quips, in reference to the classic 1980s comedy, “Weekend at Bernie’s.”) This penchant for business was also shared by the other side of the family. Akin’s father, Zvika was born in Israel and came to the United States when he was 15. Zvika began working at a Los Angeles butcher shop, which he soon purchased with the help of his father. He met his wife, Debi, when she came to buy chicken livers at the suggestion of a family friend who wanted the two youngsters to meet. In 1980, just three weeks after Neal was born, the couple established the


Neal Akin local mainstay D.Z. Akin’s, which has since been named San Diego’s best Jewish deli time and time again. As a child, Akin attended San Diego Hebrew Day School and later, Torrey Pines High School. He feels fortunate to have been educated by Rabbi Arthur Zuckerman. “He made it clear that it is okay to be who you want to be,” says Akin, and “you don’t have to do everything by the book.” He was a scientist, and he had a huge impact on who I am today: a cool, kooky guy.” At age 18, Akin participated in the March of the Living. While in Poland, he remembers local children outside the walls of the concentration camps taunting his group. The next leg of the trip included a week in Israel during the country’s 50th anniversary. He recalls being in Jerusalem watching jets flying overhead in the formation of a 50 to celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s 50th anniversary. That “pivotal experience” was one he’d never forget, one that left him with a sense of pride and a desire to “perpetuate the line ... there aren’t many of us left.” Having worked every position at his family’s deli since age 13, he found he was not a good line cook and a terrible waiter. He was, however, great at the business aspects, and with people. And although he admits he was never the best student, he spent three years at the University

of Arizona, where he focused on psychology and family studies. With education and work experience under his belt, Akin “hit the ground running.” This is not a man who would rest on the laurels of his parents; he was ready to start a career. He began reading books and seeking his own real-world, “hands-on education.” Because of his experience in a small family business, he was eager to see how a large corporation worked, and began working at Nordstrom. “I had a plan,” says Akin, “and it was to work my way up.” This is where he met his wife, so, as he says, “It a was two for one!” Akin advanced within the company and enjoyed his time there, but he admits he is “not very good at being complacent.” So it became evident that he needed to move up and on. He began studying real estate, and in July, 2007, he started building his business. “Ever yone said I was mad,” he says. “If everyone’s going one way, I go the other way.” But the instability of the housing market didn’t deter him from spending his entire savings and acquiring financial assistance that lasted until he made his first sale. After 11 months, Akin sold his first home. In late 2008, he came up with new ideas in the face of changing economic

trends, and along with an investor, he delved into flipping houses. Today Akin is a realtor with Coastal Premier Properties. He has been so successful that he recently hired an assistant to help him better service his clients. He is constantly setting goals, and plans to soon be among the top 20 agents in Carmel Valley. Along with career success, Akin is enjoying his first time as a father. He looks forward to sharing his loves with his son as he grows up. His devotion to San Diego’s “communities within communities, the food and beer scene,” and his love for people, his family and his work are all driving forces in his life. When asked what the future holds, he says, “Going to the moon! Great experiences.” He will indeed be a busy man this year. A

Adar I 5774 l 47


SAN DIEGO SOPHROLOGY Véronique Benchimol By Heidi Redlitz


Sophrology is a training tool that encourages mind-body harmony.


here are there are 7,000 practicing sophrology therapists in Europe but just one in San Diego. A native of France and current Solana Beach resident, Véronique Benchimol is San Diego’s first credentialed, certified Sophrologist. Defined by Benchimol as “a science of consciousness in harmony,” the practice of Sophrology began in the 1960s when Dr. Alfonso Caycedo, a Spanish neuropsychiatrist, sought to combine Eastern and Western techniques and philosophies related to the mind and body. “The overall objective of Sophrology is to restore your body, mind and spirit by acknowledging all your sensations as positive, leading you to gain harmony in your life,” Benchimol says. Sophrology is essentially a training tool that encourages the mind and body to handle life’s immediate and long-term stresses. It has three

48 l February 2014

specialized fields: clinical, sports and education, and stress prevention and personal development. Benchimol specializes in the latter. Through her 10 years of experience conducting individual and group sessions, Benchimol has helped athletes, students, expectant mothers, and individuals striving for self-development and stress management. Because results are both immediate and lasting, Benchimol’s patients come to her for both short and long-term goals. A session with Benchimol typically lasts 45 minutes and can be conducted one-on-one or in a group setting. After a 10-minute dialogue, Benchimol incorporates specific breathing exercises with slow movement, meditation and visualization. The session ends with a short dialogue in which Benchimol listens to the individual describe thier experience in the session. “The therapy leads the person to recreate harmony between their physical sensations and

their mind,” says Benchimol. The necessary state for a sophrology session is at the border between being awake and being asleep, Benchimol notes. It is intended to follow the principle of objective reality, so students see things as they really are and not as the mind and body interpret them. “In a session, I would ask a person to consciously acknowledge what they’re thinking and feeling right now, and [request that they] do not judge,” says Benchimol. Sophrology has no religious connotation and though it can address medical issues, should not replace any medical treatment, Benchimol says. It is strictly a well-rounded approach to health and well-being, meant to complement other treatment programs. Such emphasis on balance is what attracted Benchimol to the field. She came across Sophrology more than 15 years ago, at a very stressful time in her life. “During this period, I was questioning myself about the meaning of my life, not only as a mother but also as a woman and a professional. I always believed in the unbreakable body-mind connection, so I searched for a way to find a balance between my body and my mind.” After coming into contact with a family friend, who was the principal of a Sophrology school in Alsace, France, she interviewed and joined his program. Benchimol then graduated in 2002 from the Alsace Sophrology School, and in 2004 from the World Federation of Caycedian Sophrology. She relocated to San Diego in 2009 and opened her practice in May. 2013. Though Sophrology has grown rapidly in popularity throughout Europe, Benchimol hopes the San Diego community will embrace this placid technique of mind-body consciousness. A ______________________

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THE PSYCHEDELIC RABBI Rabbi Joel David Bakst applies Torah, Talmud and Midrash to access the highest dimensions of consciousness • BY NATALIE JACOBS


hrough analysis of the Torah, Talmud and Midrash, Rabbi Joel David Bakst has found what he believes to be a key to consciousness and the ability to communicate with God, and it comes from a very trippy place. “We have five levels of the soul,” he says. “[The soul] is a spectrum, not a thing – it’s like light. Torah is the study of that. If you really want to know your soul, you have to sit down and study it.” A product of the 1960s’ self exploration and boundary-pushing culture, Bakst grew up in San Diego with an interest in comparative religion and the occult. He’s spent more than 40 years studying Torah to get a closer understanding of the soul and human consciousness on both the personal and global levels. “Written Torah is like the left brain,” he begins, using one of his many analogies to explain the connections between the physical body and the teachings of Judaism. “Linear, mathematical, direct, binary. Your right brain, in this case, is the oral Torah, it’s circular, holistic, rhythmic, unifying. They are different modes, as analog is to digital. When you decode the Torah, you become the corpus

50 l February 2014

callosum [the neural bridge that connects the two hemispheres of the brain] – the very mechanism that is responsible for decoding these messages.” Bakst left Grossmont College in San Diego’s East County at 19 as a self-described atheist to begin his spiritual journey by traveling with a group of adult friends to Israel to live on a kibbutz. When his six-month stint there was complete, he enrolled in a yeshiva with the intention of studying Kabbalah. Since it’s impossible to jump from atheism to Kabbalah, Bakst started at the beginning. He studied Talmud, Jewish law and Jewish ethics in the yeshiva 12 hours a day, six days a week for 12 years. “Kabbalah doesn’t exist separate from all the rest of the Torah,” he says. “You have to know Talmud, you have to be able to perform exegesis on the difficult texts. You have to develop Talmudic logic and study the methodology. And, of course, you have to understand Hebrew and Aramaic. Essentially, I put [Kabbalah] aside for a number of years but little by little, I was collecting Kabbalah books.” Among the books that Bakst collected over the years was a curious title by Dr. Rick Strassman:

“DMT: The Spirit Molecule.” The book discussed the psychiatrist’s pioneering study of the naturally-occurring psychedelic compound dimethytryptamine (DMT). Found in humans, plants and other species, DMT is said to induce spiritual or “other-dimensional” experiences. While it is well known in the scientific community that DMT is produced within the human body, a principle source of its origin is a bit harder to pin down. But Strassman and his colleagues believe, and have amassed significant “circumstantial evidence,” according to Bakst, that the substance is produced in the pineal gland – the endocrine gland that sits in the very center of the brain; produces melatonin, regulates sleeping patterns, and is no larger than a grain of rice. In his study, the only study of its kind to be supported by the U.S. government to date, Strassman administered several hundred doses of DMT to 60 volunteers across a span of five years, from 1990-95. He observed the participants while the substance was active within their bodies (the “high” only lasts about 15 minutes). He then spoke with them about where they went and what they saw after they “returned.”


In 2010, a documentary based on and bearing the name of Strassman’s book was released. In it, study participants describe the experience of taking DMT in similar ways. It starts with an awareness of the substance spreading through the temporal body, a burning sensation, and visions of whiteness. Then, “you leave your body, at warp speed, backward, through your own DNA, into the universe,” says Susan Blumenthal, one study participant. As Patricio Dominguez, another study participant, describes it, time is meaningless, and “layers of your humanity melt away.” The “trip” takes Strassman’s study participants to what they explain as the “edge of the universe,” the “core of meaning,” the “machine room of advanced life forms,” or the “divine realm.” “A thousand years of experience in 15 minutes,” Dominguez concludes, flabbergasted in the documentary interview. “To say the least, it was profound.” “Thousands, tens of thousands report very similar experiences,” Bakst says, “so there’s something strange that’s going on here.” Bakst, Strassman and their psychonaut ilk believe and are working to demonstrate (and, in the case of Strassman, scientifically prove) that DMT allows human beings to access a parallel dimension – the spiritual dimension that Judaism says is possible to reach through Torah study and personal examination of the individual soul. By the time he came across Strassman’s work, Bakst was already deeply embedded in his study of Kabbalah. The DMT/pineal gland research seemed to be the legend that was missing on his map. The first piece of the consciousness puzzle for Bakst was the Foundation Stone, upon which

rested the two cherubim and the Ark of the Covenant within the Holy of Holies at the peak of Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. According to Jewish tradition, this is where Adam presented his offerings; this is where Abraham prayed, where he bound up his son Isaac; the place where Jacob had his dream. “This is the Jewish star gate, this is the heart of the Jewish people. ... We fell out of there,” he says. After reading about Strassman’s research, Bakst

realized that if the Foundation Stone is the physical portal back to the spiritual world, then the pineal gland and its production of DMT is the metaphysical one. “For some people who read [our Jewish traditions],” Bakst says, “to them it sounds like legends. Who cares about a temple? Ok, so Jacob had a dream, so what? But now we have a scientific model because your pineal gland in your brain ... it’s the seat of your consciousness. “Now, that’s a tradition from René Descartes.

Bakst says the pineal gland, located at the center of the brain, holds the key to accessing DMT stored in the human body.

Adar I 5774 l 51


Rabbi Joel David Bakst in Colorado.

He said more than 300 years ago that the pineal gland is the seat of the soul.” Bakst often repeats the Kabbalistic axiom “as below, so above,” which purports that everything happening on Earth, in “this world,” is mirrored in the spiritual world. When he came across Strassman’s DMT study, Bakst connected the function of the pineal gland in the body to the function of the Foundation Stone in the world. “As your pineal gland is to your body, this is what the Foundation Stone in Jerusalem is to the whole world. The Temple is a replica of the human body. The Foundation Stone is, in spiritual terms, the cosmic pineal gland of the world. When that gets woken up, just like if you can wake up your pineal gland inside by using certain meditations and spiritual exercises, we can wake up the collective pineal gland of the world. You want to bring world peace? You want to stop all the conflicts and war and poverty and suffering? That’s what we have to do.” Today, Bakst runs a small yeshiva in Colorado Springs, Colo. (and online), called City of Luz, where he teaches meditation methods to “wake up the pineal gland,” as well as traditional

52 l February 2014

Torah lessons and Kabbalistic ideologies. He has developed a meditation technique that he calls the “Peniel to Pineal Principle,” or “P2P,” based on the Torah teaching that every human is an entire world unto their selves, complete with a covenantal ark and foundation stone within every temple. (The Biblical Hebrew word Peniel, literally, “Face of God”, is one of the terms the rabbis use to reference this phenomenon.) The meditation, which requires that the practitioner focus all of their energy and attention simultaneously on their pineal gland and the Foundation Stone, is intended to spur the brain to produce endogenous DMT and naturally open up the portal between this world and the other. Bakst notes that the journey is a long one, and that the path to spiritual enlightenment and higher levels of consciousness is winding, but that it is possible to find harmonious peace within. “You can’t hate, you don’t want to do war anymore; you see,” Bakst says. “The veil is lifted between this reality and the hidden dimension. All the spiritual truths are revealed to you at once. From there, as humans on this Earth, we

“As your pineal gland is to your body, this is what the Foundation Stone in Jerusalem is to the whole world. The Temple is a replica of the human body. The Foundation Stone is, in spiritual terms, the cosmic pineal gland of the world.” can go about repairing the rip between this world and the spiritual one from which we came.” Bakst concludes that this is the tikkun olam we are really called to complete (although, he says, the other stuff is very important too). “This is the next big thing in Judaism; it’s about taking personal responsibility for our own levels of consciousness, or lack thereof.” A For more information on Rabbi Bakst and his study, visit




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THEATER L-R: Matthew Arkin, Brian Tichnell, Tom Virtue and Diane Adair star in a live radio play of "The Graduate."


A Universal Tale about Growing Pains A touring radio play of "The Graduate" stops in Poway BY PAT LAUNER

“The Graduate” was first a book (by Charles Webb, published 1963), then an acclaimed film (1967); in 2000, it became a stage play. Now it’s a radio play, courtesy of L.A. Theatre Works, the 40 year-old media arts organization started by a group of (mostly Jewish) young theater-makers that produces “audio theater.” Their current radio play tour is “The Graduate,” stopping for one night only at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts this month. “This show is sensational,” gushes LATW founder and producing director, Susan Loewenberg. “Since the tour began in October, audiences have absolutely loved it. It’s funny and terrifically written. In this hybrid format, there are no distractions; it’s just the text and the actors. “‘The Graduate’ is about what happens when, all of a sudden, the cocoon has burst open, you’re out of ‘protective custody,’ and you have to decide what to do with your life.” The Poway production features legendary entertainer Matthew Arkin, son of Alan Arkin, brother to Adam and Anthony Arkin; all lauded for being terrific actors. This is Matthew’s third production with LATW. He appeared locally in “Surf Report” at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2010. And last year, he gave a tour de force performance at South Coast Repertory, portraying a 600-pound depressive 54 l February 2014

(wearing an elaborate fatsuit) in “The Whale.” Now he’s playing Mr. Robinson, what one reviewer called the “avoidant, attaboy husband” of that celebrated seductress, Mrs. Robinson; and other, smaller roles. (Seven actors play a range of characters.) Arkin is used to being on the road. He was born in Brooklyn, but his parents’ acting gigs, divorce and boarding school kept him on the move. “It wasn’t until college that I attended one school for more than three years,” the affable Arkin says. His family was culturally but not religiously Jewish (his paternal grandparents were Communists; his maternal grandfather was a Reform rabbi in Texas, the first Jewish Naval chaplain in World War I). When Arkin kept getting cast as Jewish characters, he started reading about the religion. After the birth of his son, Sam, in 2001, his then-wife, a Lutheran, suggested that they enroll in a weekly Introduction to Judaism course. She soon decided that’s how she wanted to raise Sam. Arkin continued learning, and, after a two-year course, he became bar mitzvah at age 45. He’d never been to a bar mitzvah until his own. But he was astonished at how familiar the melodies and images felt. “Some things,” he says, “must work their way into your DNA.”

Arkin hadn’t planned to go into the family business, even though he started acting at age eight. He tried practicing law, but as he says, “once you’ve lived in the circus, it’s hard to take a regular job.” In addition to his many acting jobs on stage, screen and TV (including recurring roles on “100 Centre Street” and “All My Children,” and appearances on “Law and Order,” “Harry’s Law” and “Simple Justice”), he now teaches acting at South Coast Rep and privately in L.A. He is also about to publish his first book, a thriller called “In the Country of the Blind.” As for “The Graduate,” he says, “I love working in this style. After three weeks of totally interactive rehearsals, we have to stand there, in front of mics, not facing each other, and interact believably and humorously. We do all the sound effects, too. “Older folks relate to it as nostalgia; younger people relate to the ‘What’s out there for me?’ feeling of hopelessness. And everyone gets lots of laughs.” A “The Graduate” plays at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts, Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $13-48. For more information, call (858) 748-0505 or visit To learn more about LATW, visit




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Adar I 5774 l 55

while at kavanah

Camp Mountain Chai’s immersive leadership program for teens BY NATALIE JACOBS


f Jewish teenagers want to go to Israel, there are plenty of local, regional and international programs to facilitate a trip. But if sociallyminded high-schoolers want to spend time providing service and expanding community within the confines of the United States, that’s more difficult. To provide opportunity where there was none, San Diego’s Camp Mountain Chai created Kavanah, a five-week leadership and service trip that is available to high school students in the off-year between being a camp kid and becoming staff-in-training. “I felt it was very important that we do something within our own country,” Steve Gerard, Camp Director for Mountain Chai, says of the impetus for starting the Kavanah program. “Especially over the past five to eight years with the economy [in recession] and natural disasters [occurring all over the place] ... it’s a great way for kids to give back to communities within the country, where they can see their impact directly, 56 l February 2014

at that moment.” For their inaugural trip during the summer of 2013, Gerard took a group of nine students to live in Roseburg, Ore., a small community where most residents had never met a Jewish person, for the five-week immersion. For the first two weeks, Gerard and the students stayed at a charter school and showered at the local YMCA. For the second half of the trip, they moved to a private residence with a large social hall and a commercial kitchen. Showers still took place at the YMCA, but the kids were able to make themselves comfortable in the picturesque residence. During the week, the group worked with Habitat for Humanity, NeighborWorks Umpqua, The City of Roseburg, the Wildlife Safari in Winston, Ore., and more local organizations on various projects. “There was no comfort zone for us,” Gerard says of the lack of Jewish presence in the community. “So we really were, in that aspect, on our own.”

But that’s the kind of impact he was looking for with this program. To implement the details, Camp Mountain Chai partnered with the American Jewish Society of Service, an organization that works to connect Jewish people with service projects in the U.S. Gerard says the group was, coincidentally, looking to expand to this kind of camp-related program right around the time Gerard approached them with the idea. “[After they got on board,] we discussed that we would like [the first Kavanah trip] to take place in a smaller community that we can make a larger impact in; and a community; one that doesn’t necessarily have a solid Jewish population – if any – so that as a Jewish group going in, we could [make more of a difference].” Once they arrived in Roseburg, the Mountain Chai crew worked on lots of small projects throughout the town, things like painting fences and cleaning up debris, in addition to building a house with Habitat for Humanity. There was

Participants in Camp Mountain Chai's 2013 Kavanah group in Roseburg, Ore.

also time to explore the local surroundings, with weekend trips to Eugene, Ore., and to another Jewish camp near Portland. “Now,” Claire Wengrod, a member of the 2013 trip, says, “I can hammer a nail to a piece of wood in three hits. But to me, the most important skill that I learned on Kavanah was the ability to be empathetic and able to understand why people are in the situations they’re in, while helping them out with things that they can’t do on their own.” As much as the Roseburg community was unfamiliar with Jews, the Kavanah-niks (as they call themselves), many from San Diego, were mostly unfamiliar with the small-town lifestyle and the particular challenges that can bring to residents. “With a population of 21,000 and five coffee shops around the town, there wasn’t much to do,” Maya Reisman, a 16-year-old San Diego Jewish Academy student, says of the trip. “However, when we did get to offer our help through various community service projects, it was the most fun any of us had had in a long time.” Even in a strange place, many participants completed the trip with new friends.

“I wanted the opportunity to give back to a community in need,” Samantha Tabak of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, says, “[but] living in a new community was a bit weird for me .... But overall it was a really nice and needed change. People were very welcoming and seemed to be just as interested in my life as I was in theirs.” This year, Camp Mountain Chai will take a Kavanah group to fire- and flood-ravaged Colorado Springs, Colo., for similar service projects from June 30-Aug. 3. In the beginning of the trip, the volunteers will research and learn about the floods and fires that caused such devastation to the town in September, 2013. Specific projects in the beginning of their fiveweek stay will focus on repairing individual houses that are still damaged from the natural disaster. About midway through the trip, the group will begin their work with Habitat for Humanity, local soup kitchens, veteran’s organizations, and programs with at-risk youth. They will round out the trip with a week in the Fowler/Pueblo area of Southwestern Colorado, a steel-producing area that is known for its high rates of rural poverty. In addition to the service work, Kavanah-niks

"[Kavanah] is a great way for kids to give back to communities within the country, where they can see their impact directly, at that moment.”

will also go on weekend trips in Colorado. These will include hiking and camping to explore the natural beauty of the region. Although the Kavanah program is organized by Camp Mountain Chai, it is open to anyone, not just to Mountain Chai campers. “We’re hoping this program grows,” Gerard says. “A lot of other camps have been interested in either partnering with us or having this grow into its own, completely separate program.” A For more information on Kavanah, visit Adar I 5774 l 57

Gilboa Campers balance their time caring for the camp with fun in the sun.



vibrant overnight summer camp for Jewish youth ages 8-17, Camp Gilboa fosters a lifelong commitment to collective responsibility, equality, and knowledge of Jewish history and culture. Located in the San Bernardino Mountains, it has since 1936 been the west coast branch for Habonim Dror, an international Labor Zionist youth movement. Camp Gilboa has no shortage of typical camp fun, from kayaking and archery, drama and Israeli dancing, to nature hikes and teambuilding activities. Yet in its community-oriented approach to work and learning, “campers are participants and creators of their own space and experience,” says Dalit Shlapobersky, Camp Gilboa’s executive director. To embody their social-minded ideals, Camp Gilboa encourages youth leadership so that campers become proactive camp counselors and adults. The program is entirely self-maintained: Alumni and parents open and close camp each season, while campers, college-level counselors, and adults make it run through the summer. Since Shabbat is run by students, it becomes personally relevant to each camper, Shlapobersky 58 l February 2014

notes. Furthermore, every day (besides Shabbat) campers spend 45 minutes doing work (avodah): camp maintenance, fixing leaky faucets, washing dishes, gardening, and working on building projects. “Campers love taking part in avodah. They have a voice in how the community is run, and it creates a sense of belonging and ownership,” says Shlapobersky. “It makes them part of something bigger, and they are more prepared to take leadership roles in the community when they grow up.” Families are also asked to contribute a small amount to the communal fund (kupa) to use for causes campers decide on as a group. “This helps campers understand and live the principles of mutual responsibility by using their resources to help each other, as well as those less fortunate,” says Shlapobersky. At Gilboa, education is a constant spirited adventure. When campers learn about different Zionist thinkers, for example, their “ghosts” rise up to haunt camp until the campers can quiet restless souls by pledging to hold true to the

Zionists’ visions of the future. So that campers understand the role of non-violent resistance, a camp “tyrant” might take over camp. “Between making history come to life, or creating societal conditions that elicit real emotion, at Gilboa we believe that children can understand large ideas, as long as they are given the license to put themselves in the story,” Shlapobersky says. Gilboa encourages continual participation in the Habonim Dror community. Counselors are not required to be involved year-round, but most choose to be. They lead local branches, run youth activities, and help with educational outreach and ongoing events throughout southern California. While overnight camps generally elicit an immediate sense of pride among participants, Camp Gilboa alumni stay involved long after their first summer at camp. Their involvement extends not just to future contributions to the camp – as camp counselors, volunteers or donors – but also as active members of their Jewish community and in leadership roles for socially conscious organizations. A For more information, visit

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id you know there’s also a small Cuban Jewish community in need? CHAI Missions participants enjoy all Cuba has to offer, while helping our Jewish brothers and sisters in countless ways. If you’ve been curious what all the ‘buzz’ is about yet have time constraints, our upcoming June Mission is for you. This 5-Day Havana itinerary is perfect for young professionals, empty nesters and anyone wishing to experience the colors, sounds and flavors of Cuba while helping the Jewish Community. LET US INTRODUCE YOU TO A WHOLE NEW WORLD!

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Adar I 5774 l 59


Time at Camp Ramah is spent outdoors, where campers of all ages learn to care for one another while developing leadership skills that will serve them well into the future.

raising the next jewish leaderS Camp Ramah in California BY ALANNA BERMAN


or Rabbi Joe Menashe, an effective camp experience doesn’t stop at summer’s end. To the Executive Director of Camp Ramah in California, the national camp’s Western location, ensuring the health of the established camp and cultivating camp programs to develop the next Jewish leaders is all in a day’s work. “In addition to happy campers and happy families, [the camp experience] is a product that we are giving them, and the choices they are making later – professionally, environmentally, through service to the community and connection to Israel – are all impacted by a Ramah trajectory,” he says. “For a young Jewish person who goes through years as a camper and continues up the aspirational arc through the staff years, it is an incredible balance of challenge and support that cultivates their resilience and skills to be a leader.” Numerous camp programs focus on leadership skills and development of character at Ramah. The Barnhard Mador Leadership Program, for 60 l February 2014

example, asks incoming high school seniors to take on real responsibility at camp. Program participants do everything from teaching in the art room and swimming, to being a group madrich or counselor to a group of younger campers. In addition, participants spend about 10 hours each week learning intensive leadership and counseling skills through a Jewish lens. “We [at Ramah] are not ashamed to say that 17 year-olds should see themselves as leaders,” Menashe says of the program. “I think that’s important that Jewish leadership isn’t seen as something that you have to wait [to be a part of ] until you become older, or until you have the ability to give back monetarily. Our approach is that Jewish leaders can begin once they can be an exemplar for another Jewish person, and that starts at a very young age. And there is no better place for that than at camp.” Each summer, about 300 staff members serve 1300 campers at Ramah. In addition to executive leadership, head counselors, typically 21-22 year-

old past campers, manage their own group of 2030 high school students who are responsible for anywhere from 80-100 younger campers. “Even though this is camp, it’s a real responsibility to have the Jewish soul and physical welfare of someone else’s child on your shoulders,” Menashe says. This responsibility, he says, gives young people the confidence they need to be leaders in every facet of life. It’s why so many Ramah alumni have gone on to become the next great leaders in the worlds of Jewish camping and the greater Jewish community. “There is a very natural progression for Ramah alumni, who have touched and felt the trajectory of Jewish life at camp, to then realize how effective this Jewish educational model is, and to be able to impact more Jewish lives in a broader way as adults,” Menashe says. A For more information, visit

Educational Therapy for...

Reading, Spelling and Math Challenges including

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where are they now? MAYA COHEN A long-time Ramah summer staff member from a household of Ramah Alumni, Cohen is the Director of the March of the Living at the Bureau of Jewish Education in Los Angeles.

AMY MENDELSOHN A long-time Ramah summer staff member, Mendelsohn is now the yearround Program Director for Camp Ramah in California.

OREN GABRIEL The former Ramah camper is now a second-year MBA student at Stanford and sits on the Board of Directors for Ramah in California.

JOSEPH AND AMY MILLER Summers at camp resulted in a Ramah marriage for the Millers, who have both held leadership positions at RYAL (Ramah Young Adult Leaders). Both are involved in several organizations including the New Los Angeles Charter School and the Jewish Federation.

Reading problems happen when a child’s underlying processes are not working as efficiently as they could.

This can be changed.

SIMONETTE LOWY Lowy comes from a Ramah family and currently serves on the RYAL Board. She has helped the camp with a rebranding initiative and is in the process of creating her own business.

DAVID ASHKENAZI The long-time camper now works for Netflix, but he remains involved with Ramah RYAL and organizes grassroots Friday night young adult Shabbat discussions in the community.


Adar I 5774 l 61

62 l February 2014

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64 l February 2014

Fitness is an integral part of the fun at Camp Shane.


David Ettenberg, co-owner of Camp Shane, grew up attending Jewish summer camps. When he was 21 years old, his parents bought a piece of property in New York’s Catskill Mountains to found their own camp. Upon first seeing the camp, the beauty of the property prompted his grandmother to declare in Yiddish, “What a shayna place!” So the name stuck. Founded 46 years ago, Camp Shane is the longest-running weight-loss camp in the U.S. In its fourth year, the California campus is one of five national Camp Shane sites. Its location, on a college campus in Thousand Oaks, has state-of-the-art outdoor and athletic facilities for dance, theater, swimming, weight training, tennis, soccer, and more to encourage healthy lifestyle changes in campers. “The things that happen in every camp are very special, all these great friends you make,” Ettenberg says. “I’ve been here [at the flagship NY campus] 45 years, and I can tell you that there are thousands of adults who still say their best friends are kids they met at camp because they struggled together.” In addition to fun and games, campers learn techniques for weight management and overall health through cooking, nutrition and cognitive behavioral therapy classes (CBT). “CBT is learning how thoughts affect our feelings, which affect our actions,” says Terri Barach, the CA camp director, and a cognitive behavioral therapist. “We explore in small groups how this relates to eating and food.” Parents are kept informed with a handbook, a frequently updated blog, and a monthly newsletter dealing with weight management topics while their children are away. Since overweight kids often have overweight parents, Ettenberg says, parents are encouraged to attend an adult weightloss camp, called Shane Diet and Fitness Resorts, in Texas and New York. “We’ve recognized in the last five years or so that it’s very important to get the parents involved, too. Parents buy the food, do the cooking, decide to go out to eat and over order,” says Ettenberg. By encouraging positive lifestyle changes, every day at Camp Shane is an opportunity to build a strong foundation of self-confidence and friendship in a playful, supportive environment. A For more information, visit Adar I 5774 l 65

THEATER Carey Perloff

Play Aims "HIGHER" The La Jolla Playhouse relaunches its DNA New Works Series

Carey Perloff at work in the Geary Theater at A.C.T. in San Francisco.

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t’s all about faith. And architecture. Males versus females. Fathers versus sons. Secular versus religious Jews. Passion versus style. And most importantly, memorializing the death of a bus full of people killed in a terrorist attack in Israel. Carey Perloff has a lot on her mind; and not just in her play, “Higher,” which is getting a one-day-only reading as part of the La Jolla Playhouse’s DNA New Works Series. The highly acclaimed director and playwright is a woman of many thoughts and colors who is, by all accounts, a force of nature, described as “indefatigable” and “radiating some kind of superhuman level of energy” by her peers. All excellent qualifications for her job as artistic director of the American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.) in San Francisco, the Bay Area’s flagship theater company. After 22 years under her leadership, the once-floundering company now has three performing spaces, a new core troupe of actors, a Master of Fine Arts program, an operating budget of $20 million, and the added insurance of an endowment fund of $30 million. Perloff has staged edgy world premieres and daring productions of classics, and introduced new voices to the theater. She speaks endlessly in support of increasing the ranks of women in positions of authority in the theater. And she still finds time to do yoga, Pilates, and ride her bike to work. While her two kids were still at home, she also made sure to have dinner with the family every single night, even if, as often happened, she had to return to the theater for hours after the meal. Perloff is a superwoman, who’s come by her genes naturally, and seems to be passing them along. A LEGACY OF STRONG WOMEN She grew up in Washington, D.C., the second of two daughters born to a cardiologist/professor (Joseph Perloff ) and an author, literary critic, poetry scholar and former professor at Stanford and USC (Marjorie Perloff ). Her mother, born in Vienna, was a refugee by age seven. She fled the Nazis with her parents in 1938, right after the Anschluss, when Austria was annexed by Germany. Marjorie Perloff ’s highly educated family was comprised of “classic Viennese intellectuals,” Perloff reports. Her grandmother was a Ph.D. Economist and her great grandmother spoke five languages. Perloff has also mastered several foreign tongues. In addition to fluency in French and Italian, she

reads Latin and speaks Greek, so she actually peruses the ancient classics in their original form. Her sister is a curator at the Getty Museum, and Perloff ’s daughter, a Harvard graduate, currently teaches at the American University in Paris. Perloff ’s son is no slouch, either. A sophomore at Columbia University, he studies Economics and composes electronic music. Her husband, a British-born attorney, earned a Ph.D. in Soviet Foreign Policy from Columbia University. They met while Perloff was on a Fulbright scholarship at Oxford (this came after she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford, where she studied classics and comparative literature). Perloff describes her childhood home as “secular, but very culturally Jewish. We were very conscious of Jewish issues and concerns, from the Holocaust to the Diaspora to Israel. “Washington was not heavily Jewish when I was growing up, but the Jews there were obsessed with things that most Jews are: family, language and education," she says. "And those have all been central to my life.” In her early years, Perloff worked as an administrator at the International Theater Institute, then as a casting assistant for Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre in New York. She launched her directing career Off Off Broadway. In 1986, at age 32, she was named artistic director of Classic Stage Company, where she worked until she took over the reins at A.C.T. in 1992. While in New York, Perloff taught for seven years at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. A “HIGHER” PURPOSE Perloff is a recipient of France’s Chevalier de l’ordre des Artes et des Lettres, awarded for significant contributions to arts and literature. “I do a lot of French theater,” she explains. “The French like to honor people who support French culture. So they knighted me!” Here at home, she earned the National Corporate Theatre Fund’s 2007 Artistic Achievement Award. Her play, “The Colossus of Rhodes,” was a Susan Smith Blackburn Award finalist. Her one-act “The Morning After” was a finalist for the Heideman Award at the Actors Theatre of Louisville. And her latest play, “Higher,” developed at New York Stage and Film and presented at San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum in 2010. It won the $50,000 Blanche and Irving Laurie Theater Visions Award, an

“In ‘Higher,’ Carey mines intense and satisfying drama from the power struggles inherent in the intersection of relationships, politics and religion. The play is incredibly rich and thoughtful."

honor bestowed on “the best new unproduced American play.” In 2012, the piece was mounted in A.C.T.’s small, 150-seat theatre. Now it’s being further developed at the La Jolla Playhouse, with artistic director Christopher Ashley directing. “I’ve wanted to work with Chris for a long time,” says Perloff. “He’s fantastic. He asks really great questions and makes really great suggestions.” The feelings are mutual. “In ‘Higher,’ Carey mines intense and satisfying drama from the power struggles inherent in the intersection of relationships, politics and religion,” Ashley says. “The play is incredibly rich and thoughtful. I’ve wanted to work with Carey for some time, and it’s a true pleasure to direct her latest piece.” Perloff ’s inspiration for the play was her lifelong love of architecture. “I studied it, I read about it, and I always wondered why there were so few women in it. “I wondered what would happen if a woman and a man competed for a major commission [like a piece to memorialize the victims of a terrorist attack]. It’s a very male universe; there’s an assumption that women won’t be able to manage the construction workers. I loved writing a play where I get to design two buildings, including one by an intuitive woman.

Adar I 5774 l 67


Perloff, at a reading during last year’s inaugural DNA New Work Series at the La Jolla Playhouse, will return for the series this year with her work, "Higher."


Perloff’s inspiration for the play was her lifelong love of architecture. “I studied it, I read about it, and I always wondered why there were so few women in it."

When she first created the superstar male architect and the up-and-coming female architect, perloff says she didn’t plan on the two falling into a romantic relationship. That complicates matters in many ways – and makes the play that much more interesting. Even more intriguing in the plot is that the man doesn’t know until rather late in the game that his chief competition is his clandestine lover. He follows her to Israel not because of the project, but because he’s crazy about her, but she’s more focused on the work. It’s a fascinating dynamic. JEWISH CONCERNS, ARCHITECTURAL AGENDAS The man is Jewish; he’s disconnected from his faith and his son (a gay chef ). The younger female architect is Greek, and she has a better relationship with the son than his father does. One of the judges of the competition, the benefactor, is a tough-as-nails Jewish widow. The other judge is a young Israeli, the son of the Agriculture Minister who was killed in the bus disaster. The philanthropist encourages the male architect; the Israeli becomes close with the woman. The tonal variations are reflected in the setting, from plush New York digs to the shores of the Sea of Galilee. 68 l February 2014

In San Francisco, the response of the Jewish audience was extraordinary. “American Jews and Israelis packed the theater,” says Perloff. “They were fascinated by the generational issues, the religious/spiritual differences. It was a very powerful moment when the son asked his father, ‘How can you design a memorial if you have no faith?’” Perloff is well aware of the problems inherent in creating memorials. “Just too many agendas,” she explains. “There are two prevailing ideas: One is that the design should be soothing, like a garden, to foster healing. The counter-argument is that the memorial should be like a shard of glass, so you never forget.” Those agendas are directly represented in the competing designs of her fictional architects, who underscore the contrast between passion and style. “All designs start with a passionate idea,” Perloff says. “But architecture is also incredibly technical. So, the man aims his shard heavenward; the woman immerses herself in the land and the culture, and her design hugs the earth.” Despite the fraught relationships and serious issues in the play, Perloff didn’t want it to be humorless.

“Jews are funny,” she says. “I wanted my play to be funny, too. Valerie, the widow, is really funny. There’s so much that she wants in life that was thwarted by her husband. Now she gets to exercise her full energy and personality.” Perloff will be back at the Playhouse in late spring to exercise her own prodigious energy. She’s directing a new adaptation of a classic Chinese legend, “The Orphan of Zhao,” a coproduction with A.C.T. featuring Tony Awardwinning actor BD Wong (“M. Butterfly,” TV’s ‘Law & Order: SVU; last seen at the Playhouse in “Herringbone”). But now Perloff ’s laser-like attention is focused on “Higher.” She acknowledges that some of her characters are prickly, but says, “I hope you root for all of them. I want them to be three-dimensional, complicated, flawed.” They’re complicated, they’re flawed, they’re funny. Why not? They’re Jewish. A The La Jolla Playhouse's DNA New Work Series runs Feb. 17-March 2. The free reading of “Higher” is on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 3 p.m. (Reservations are required.) Information and Tickets are at (858) 550-1010 or

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They grew in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Elizabethans enjoyed them in tarts and stews. Thomas Jefferson planted them at Monticello. I’m talking about beets, those curious little root vegetables that tend to spark a passionate response from people. We either love them or loathe them. Among the anti-beet folks are President Obama and his wife Michelle, who asked that they not be planted in the White House’s organic vegetable garden. Many complain that beets have an “earthy” taste, which isn’t far off the mark. Beets contain a substance called geosmin, which is responsible for that fresh soil scent in your garden following a spring rain. Humans are quite sensitive to geosmin, even in very low doses, which explains why our beet response ranges from one extreme to the other. Some people adore the sweet and earthy flavor of beets, while others can’t stand the thought of them. I, for one, am a big fan of beets, especially when they’re roasted and paired with creamy, tangy toppings like feta or goat cheese. Not only are beets colorful and full of flavor, they are rich in antioxidants, folic acid, potassium and fiber. They also contain unique antioxidants called betalains, which are currently being studied as a potential weapon in the fight against cancer. Betalains give beets their red hue. The rosy betalain-rich juice of red beets was used as a cheek and lip stain by women during the 19th century, a practice that inspired the old adage “red as a beet.” Originally only beet greens were eaten by humans. The thin and fibrous roots were occasionally used in medicine, while the large leaves and stalks were consumed like chard, a close relative. Despite only growing well during spring and fall, beets were so well-regarded in Ancient Rome, Greece and Israel that methods were developed for producing them during the hot summer months. The beet root was cultivated for consumption in either Germany or Italy, first recorded in 1542. Its earliest form more closely resembled a parsnip rather than the bulbous shape we’re now familiar with, which began appearing near the end of the 1500s. This variety is thought to have evolved from a prehistoric North African root vegetable. Soon it became the most recognizable form of beet, but it wasn’t a worldwide culinary success until two centuries later. Northeastern Europe was the first to embrace the beet root as a dietary staple; it was valued as one of the

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only vegetables that grew well throughout winter. In 1747 Andreas Sigismund Marggraf, a chemist from Berlin, discovered a way to produce sucrose from beets. His student, Franz Achard, perfected this method for extracting sugar, leading him to predict the inevitable rise of beet beer, tobacco and molasses, among other products. Though not entirely convinced that beets had a bright future, the King of Prussia eventually subsidized a sugar beet industry. The first plant was built in what is now western Poland. It turned out to be a solid investment. Today, around 20 percent of the world’s sugar comes from sugar beets. Beets are an important part of the Jewish diet. They’re mentioned in Yiddish literature dating back to the Middle Ages. For centuries Ashkenazi Jews have used beets to make borscht, a bright red sweetand-sour soup, as well as pickles, ground horseradish and preserves. Moroccan Sephardic Jews enjoy them in salads and mezze. To show delight in the Sabbath, the Talmud suggests consuming beet greens. Beets even play a part in the Rosh Hashanah blessing. Beets have long been considered an aphrodisiac in many cultures. Ancient Romans believed that beets and their juice promoted amorous feelings. Frescoes of beets decorate the walls of the Lupanare brothel in Pompeii. In Greek mythology, Aphrodite, the goddess of love, ate beets to enhance her appeal. This quaint folklore actually has a basis in reality. Beets are a natural source of tryptophan and betaine, both substances that promote a feeling of well-being. They also contain high amounts of boron, a trace mineral which increases the level of sex hormones in the human body. With amour on many minds this month, treat your beloved to this tempting appetizer: Roasted Beets with Tahini Sauce. The combination of sweet, earthy beets and creamy sesame tahini is an unexpected yet perfect pairing.

ROASTED BEETS WITH TAHINI SAUCE Ingredients 6 medium to large beets, any color Nonstick cooking oil spray 1 cup tahini sesame seed paste (made from lightly colored seeds), room temperature


¾ cup lukewarm water, (or more for consistency) 2 cloves raw garlic ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (or more to taste) Salt 3 cups spring greens, baby kale or baby spinach 6 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted in a skillet Total Time: 75-105 minutes Servings: 6 Kosher Key: Pareve You will also need: 9x13 baking dish, aluminum foil, wooden skewer, tongs, food processor or blender, 6 salad plates To roast beets, place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 450° F. Line a 9x13 baking dish with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray. As the oven heats up, use kitchen shears to trim leaves and upper stems off the beets, leaving about 2 inches of the stems intact at the top of each beet. Do not trim the tails of the beets; if you do, you’ll lose precious juicy flavor that will drizzle out of the trimmed tails during roasting. Gently scrub the beets clean and pat dry. You want to get the dirt off of them, but you don’t want to scrub the skin off; it will help to hold the juices in while the beets roast. Place the beets in the a single layer in the bottom of the foil lined baking dish. Cover the dish tightly with foil. Roast the beets in the oven for 60 to 90 minutes (large beets may take even longer). Use a pair of tongs to flip the beets every 30 minutes to make sure they roast evenly on all sides. Test beet for doneness by piercing the largest

beet in the bunch with a wooden skewer. If the skewer easily and smoothly glides through the center of the beet, they’re ready. If not, roast another 10 minutes and test again. Repeat till they are roasted. After cooking, uncover the beets and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes till you can easily handle them. Cut off the beet stems and tails. Peel the skin from the beets while they are still warm under cold running water; the skin slides off easily this way. The red beet juice will come off your hands with a few soap-and-water washes. For stubborn skin stains, apply a little lemon juice. Wear an apron when peeling the beets to protect your clothes. Let the beets return to room temperature. Make the tahini sauce while the beets are roasting. Grind tahini paste, lukewarm water, garlic, lemon juice and ¼ tsp salt together in a food processor or blender till sauce is creamy and ivory-colored. A food processor is the easiest way to make this sauce; scrape the sides of the processor periodically during processing. If using a blender, you may need to use a long-handled spoon to break up the thick part of the sauce once every 30 seconds; this will keep it from clogging your blender blades. After a few minutes of blending, sauce will turn into a rich, smooth paste. Slowly add more water until it reaches the consistency of a thick salad dressing. Taste often during the blending process; add more lemon juice or salt, if desired. With this recipe you will end up with some extra tahini sauce; keep it in a sealed container for up to a week. To assemble salads, mound ½ cup of greens onto each salad plate. Slice one beet per plate and lay it on top of the greens. Sprinkle the beets lightly with salt. Pour 1-2 tbsp tahini sauce over the top of each sliced beet, then sprinkle each beet with 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts. Serve immediately. A


Adar I 5774 l 71





No Shortage of Entertainment

by eileen sondak •


ebruary may be the shortest month of the year, but it won’t shortchange arts lovers. The month is chock-full of theatrical and musical events, including the continuation of the San Diego Opera’s 2014 season, a world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse, a solo show by Hal Linden, and visits to Symphony Hall from the Moscow Festival Ballet and the Taiko Drummers of Japan. The La Jolla Playhouse is back with another new show. This time, it’s “The Who and The What,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar. The play examines life in a conservative Muslim family in Atlanta, as the brilliant daughter clashes with her traditional father. “The Who ...” is spiced with humor, but it focuses

on the chasm between traditions and contemporary life. This world premiere will be ensconced in La Jolla Feb. 11-March 9. The San Diego Opera’s powerful production of “Pagliacci” will wind down on Feb. 2, but the eclectic season at the Civic Theatre is just getting warmed up. Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love” will open on Feb. 15. This romantic comedy, with Tatiana Lisnic and Giuseppe Filianoti in their San Diego Opera debuts, will delight audiences through Feb. 23. The Old Globe will bring Shakespeare to the Main Stage this month, when Barry Edelstein directs “A Winter’s Tale.” This production is the first indoor staging of the Bard’s work at the venerable Theatre in 14 years.

February may be the shortest month of the year, but it won't shortchange arts lovers. The month is chock-full of theatrical and musical events.

San Diego Opera presents Gaetano Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love” as part of its 2014 season starring Tatiana Lisnic, Giuseppe Filianoti and John Del Carlo; Feb. 15-23.

72 l February 2014






It also marks the inaugural work directed by the Globe’s new artistic director. The complex play has myriad plot turns, plenty of drama and excitement, and original music. “Winter’s Tale” will dominate the Main Stage Feb. 8-March 16. Also on tap for the Globe is the continuation of “Bethany,” a dramatic contemporary play that puts the audience in the midst of the foreclosure crisis. The story revolves around a single mother trying to navigate through a dismal economy. This dark comedy, penned by Laura Marks, is recommended for mature audiences due to strong language. “Bethany” will play on at the White Theatre through Feb. 23. The Lamb’s successful production of “Fiddler on the Roof ” moved to the Lyceum Theatre in Horton Plaza, but its limited run will end on Feb. 2. Meanwhile, the Lamb’s Coronado space is reviving one of its most popular comedies, “The Foreigner.” This hilarious romp about a (L-R): Paul Michael Valley as Polixenes, Natacha Roi as Hermione, and Billy Campbell as stuffy Englishman stranded in a rural Georgia Leontes in William Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale," Feb. 8-March 16 at The Old Globe. lodge will amuse audiences until March 2. North Coast Repertory Theatre’s San Diego premiere of “Guitar: The Instrument that Rocked premiere of Aaron Posner’s “Who Am I This Perpetuelle” on Feb. 4 at TSRI. The Symphony, conducted by Maestro the World.” The exhibition, which celebrates Time? (And Other Conundrums of Love)” – a play based on short stories by sci-fi genius Kurt Jahja Ling, will take on Mendelssohn’s “Hymn music from classical to heavy metal, will stay put Vonnegut – will end its run at NCR’s Solana of Praise” Feb. 7-9, featuring the San Diego through April 6. The museum’s new “Rock in Beach home on Feb. 2. Following on Feb. 19 is Master Chorale and several soloists. Also on the the Park” series continues on Feb. 7 with Paul “The School for Lies,” a madcap comedy adapted program at Symphony Hall is “Pipa Concerto,” Cannon and Michael Tiernan and their guitarfrom Moliere’s “The Misanthrope.” This off- a new commissioned work by Zhao Jiping. driven melodies. You can still see intermittent color homage to Moliere packs the 17th century Balletomanes will want to catch the Moscow performances of “Rolling Stones at the Max” and tale with contemporary slang, and the results are Festival Ballet on Feb. 11, when they perform “Country Music: The Spirit of America” at the side-splittingly funny. You’ll have until March “Swan Lake,” and again on Feb. 12, when the Fleet through March. The San Diego Museum of Art is featuring 16 to enjoy this high-voltage, Baroque-style troupe dances another Tchaikovsky classic, “Sleeping Beauty.” “Women, War & Industry,” an exhibition of vaudeville show. On Feb. 14, the San Diego Symphony will works primarily from the permanent collection. The National Comedy Theatre on India Street welcome “Tao: Taiko Drummers of Japan” for This unique show, which includes posters, will celebrate Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14 with “House of Cards,” a unique night out for local some throbbing percussive sounds, followed on photographs and some works by contemporary lovebirds. The group is led by artistic director Feb. 20 by “Wagner’s The Ring Without Words.” artists, will be on display through Feb. 18. “Noah Maestro Ling will conduct, while Martina Filjak Doely: By the Light,” a photographic exhibition, Gary Kramer. Cygnet Theatre is giving “Maple and Vine” handles the keyboard for “Saint-Saens Piano will end its stay on Feb. 25. The Oceanside Museum of Art is winding its local premiere through Feb. 16. The clever Concerto No. 2,” which accompanies the fantasy about a modern couple who abandons Wagner/Maazel portion of the program. “The down two exhibitions. “Continental Landscape the big city for a gated compound reminiscent of Chieftons – An Irish Spectacular” will get the Photography: An International Perspective” the bygone world of Ozzie and Harriet, examines spirit of St. Patrick’s Day off to an early start on ends on Feb. 9. “Urban Entropy: James Enos” is attitudes about gender, race and sexuality, Feb. 23 with their traditional Irish music. Then, set to close on Feb. 6. However, two new solo and questions what people will sacrifice for “Wagner’s The Ring Without Words” returns shows will be replacing them on Feb. 14. Works by San Diego-based sculptors “Jean Wells and happiness. The comedy is ensconced at the Old Feb. 28-March 2. J*Company is taking audiences down the Kenneth Capps” will be on view. On Feb. 7, Town Theatre. The San Diego Symphony’s February slate yellow brick road to revisit “The Wizard of Oz.” an Artist Alliance Exhibition will be installed. kicks off on Feb. 1 with a 1924 flick at Symphony This classic tale, a treat for young and old, will “Nature Improved: San Diego Artists Interpret our Landscape” is a two-museum exhibition Hall. “The Thief of Bagdad,’’ starring Douglas play at the JCC in La Jolla Feb. 28-March 16. The Balboa Theatre has two offerings this featuring interpretive art works depicting the Fairbanks, has organ music by Russ Peck to propel the plot. “Nicole Cabell Sings Chausson” month. Jake Shimabukuro thwill be performing San Diego Region. Both shows will remain in is next on the roster. The soprano, accompanied Feb. 19, followed on the 20 by Colin Mochrie Oceanside and the San Diego History Center through Feb. 23. A by members of the San Diego Symphony, will and Brad Sherwood. The Fleet recently unveiled the West Coast perform the chamber version of “Chanson Adar I 5774 l 73

B business

RENAISSANCE VILLAGE ACADEMY A Unique School for the Gifted By Natalie Holtz

Children at Renaissance Village Academy cultivate a love of the outdoors as part of their study.


hen founder Nancy Retter began teaching in San Diego in 1989, she’d already begun to dream of creating a school where gifted children could learn and explore beyond the confines of categories and grade levels. “When things would go bad at work, [or] when I was stressed out, I would daydream about my perfect school,” Retter says of those days beofre realizing her dream in 2010. It was then that she opened Renaissance Village Academy, a K-8 private school for gifted, profoundly gifted, and/or highly motivated students. The philosophy at RVA is that students should learn whatever they are ready for, not a curriculum based on an artificial correlation of age with intellectual capacity. “Learning is fun when children are taught at the level appropriate to their abilities, rather than to an age-based norm,” Retter explains. “Gifted students are far more likely to develop asymmetrically, being advanced in some areas, but not in all.” Classes at RVA are organized around general reading abilities, with catergories such as pre-literate, learning-to-read, and reading-to-learn. Students spend most of their days in those groups, but come together for physical education twice a week, botany once a week, lunch and breaks. Extracurricular activites include Kempo Kung Fu and working in the school’s garden. The schedule at RVA is designed with working parents in mind. Most days run from 9:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., making after school childcare unnecessary and resulting in the equivalent of 57 additional school days per 74 l February 2014

year. The children do all their work at school so there is no homework to be overseen by parents, except in the case of children who must leave early to participate in team sports. Gifted herself, Retter graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of California at Irvine in 1986 with a degree in Russian Civilization and a minor in Linguistics. She went on to earn her teaching credentials from San Diego State University, and received a Master of Arts in Teaching from National University. Gifted education has been a lifelong passion for Retter; she wrote her first paper on the importance of specialized education for gifted students when she was 15 years old. “‘Bored’ is not a word that gets used around here very often,” Retter says. “If your child doesn’t have friends because they’re reading four grade levels above, or they’re excited because they just found out that ‘Roly Poly’ bugs are the only land-based crustacean and that in New Guinea they grow to be a foot-long and people eat them, but they don’t taste anything like chicken – if your kid is excited about learning stuff like that, and nobody cares – we care.” A ______________________

RENAISSANCE VILLAGE ACADEMY 9988 Hilbert Street San Diego CA 92131 (858) 564-9622

B business

THE FAB RAG Q & A with Iris


By Alanna Berman





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2009 Winner Best Deli The boutique owner and fashion designer herself (many of the store’s creations were designed by Iris and manufactured in the United States) speaks to the Jewish Journal. Q: How long have you been in Pacific Beach? A: This is my 7th year here, and I came to this location after moving back from Israel. The business was smaller when we first got here, but now, I’ve taken over the building! Q: What inspires you about your dress collections? A: I was always inspired by European fashion, and about four years ago, I got interested in fabrics and textiles and started to design eveningwear. Today, I look for weight, a good mix of color or dye in the fabrics, and I love lace and print together. Q: What can people expect when they visit the Fabulous Rag? A: Half of the stock is dresses, of which we have about 300 at any one time. We specialize in special occasion dresses. What’s great is that all our dresses are under $200. Q: What is the biggest time of the year for you? A: Opening Day at Del Mar is a busy time for us. Last year, on the day before opening day alone, we sold 157 dresses! Visit the Fabulous Rag online at

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N news

StandWithUs Annual Fundraiser Relaunches

The San Diego branch of national Israel activist group StandWithUs will host its annual fundraiser from 6-9 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23. Ralph Avi Goldwasser, co-founder of The David Project and the executive producer of many films including “The Forgotten Refugees,” will be the guest speaker, sharing details about his work with campuses nationwide to educate students about the Middle East conflict. Contact Nina Brodsky for sponsorship, community partnerships and volunteer opportunities at Ralph Avi Goldwasser

Yaron Kohlberg and Bishara Haroni are Duo Amal.


Duo Amal at Beth Israel

The San Diego Opera will present Duo Amal, which consists of concert pianists Yaron Kohlberg and Bishara Haroni, a Palestinian and an Israeli, in concert at Beth Israel this month. With a large and varied repertoire ranging from the baroque to the modern period, and with works from both Israeli and Palestinian composers, the duo’s work aims to show that musicmaking can transcend political and national differences. Even the group’s name, “Amal,” means hope in Arabic and is a reflection on the dynamics of their friendship. Duo Amal will perform at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at Beth Israel. The concert is free, but advance registration is required. Tickets can be reserved at or by calling (619) 533-7000.

The National Jewish Memorial Wall recently re-launched its website,, to coincide with recent partnerships with Jewish National Fund and other Jewish organizations. The new site digitizes the Jewish tradition to commemorate the passing of a relative or loved one on the walls within a synagogue. Among the core services and products available are free email reminders and memory pages. As part of the partnership with JNF, everyone now has the opportunity to plant a tree in Israel to memorialize family and friends. Most notable and unique is the ability to create an online memorial plaque, store photos and share stories. “Users have always been able to preserve memories of their families,” Michael Schimmel, founder and CEO of NJMW, said. “But now, as we say on the site, ‘Remembering is easier,’ and there’s even more to come in 2014.” Visit to explore the new features and share your memories.

Israel Home to Two New Marathons

Two large marathons will take place in Israel in the first quarter of this year. The Tel Aviv Samsung Marathon takes off Feb. 28 with tens of thousands of runners from Israel and around the world traversing through the central streets in Tel Aviv, past a collection of Bauhaus buildings and through a Mediterranean seaside promenade, in addition to other city landmarks. Details can be found at Then, on March 21, the third annual Jerusalem International Marathon will include the standard 26 miles, as well as 13-mile and 6.2-mile route options. This course will take runners through historic sites like Mount Scopus, Sultan’s Pool and Mount Zion. Details can be found at

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Israeli Folk Singer in Concert

American-born, Israel-based singer/ songwriter, Sandy Cash, will be performing at a private residence in La Jolla this month as part of a small U.S. tour. The show is open to audiences of all ages, but a $15 donation is recommended. One of Israel’s most popular Englishlanguage entertainers, Cash’s songs cover themes of life as an American immigrant to Israel and the challenges of living in the changing Middle East climate. For reservations and directions to the show, contact Sandy Cash

Kids Can Improve Hebrew Online

Carrie Goldman

Chase Masterson

ADL Presents Cyberbullying Conference: Delete Hate

The Israeli-American Council’s Sifriyat Pijama B’American (IAC) program, which provides free Hebrew children’s books to families in the U.S., has partnered with Storyly, a website for children’s Hebrew stories. The IAC will sponsor free Storyly subscriptions for its members, giving children and their parents access to dozens of Hebrew e-books and audio books intended to improve the Hebrew skills of children ages 2-8. Read more about IAC programs at

The San Diego Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League will present the 5th annual Novak Charitable Trust Cyberbullying Conference on Feb. 4. School representatives and members of the student body from middle and high schools throughout San Diego County will come together to address cyberbullying and bias on campus during the conference. “The impact of cyberbullying is far-reaching: victims and their families are left devastated, while cyber bullies often remain anonymous and free to continue their hateful behavior,” a statement from the ADL said prior to the conference. “This conference will empower participants to effectively prevent and address cyberbullying. School teams will then develop an action plan to combat cyber hate in their communities.” Speakers for this event include San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, award-winning author Carrie Goldman, and Chase Masterson (of Star Trek fame), co-chair of the Annual Anti-Bullying Red Carpet Mixer at Comic-Con. The 2014 Novak Charitable Trust Cyberbullying Conference: Delete Hate will be held Tuesday, Feb. 4, 8:15 a.m.–2:30 p.m. at the University of San Diego, Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. For more information, contact the SD regional office of the ADL at (858) 565-6896.

Israel Produces Smart Grid Roadmap The Israeli Smart Energy Association (ISEA) has developed a Roadmap for Smart Grid Implementation in Israel that industry experts are saying warrants study by utilities across the globe. The report, prepared without Israeli government funding, includes analysis and recommendations on technology, policy and regulation, marketing, and a detailed cost-benefit analysis for smart grids. The report advocates for utilities to implement smart grid plans with a keen understanding of the end customer and continuous monitoring of plan progress. The ISEA is a volunteer organization of local and global energy organizations committed to energy efficiency and enabling flexibility in energy generation. To read the full report and learn more about the organization, visit Adar I 5774 l 77

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JFS Heart and Soul Gala slated for March 9




Jewish Family Service will hold its annual Heart and Soul Gala next month, honoring Carol and Rick Kornfeld for their work with Jewish BIGPals; and Karen Foster Silberman for her work with Project SARAH; and featuring a live, acoustic performance by Grammynominated artist, Matisyahu. Join the community in support of the vital programs of JFS, which help more than 35,000 San Diegans in crises each year, at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 9 at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla. The 2014 Heart and Soul Gala is chaired by April and Mathew Fink, Jennifer Kagnoff, and Karin and Tony Toranto, with Auction Chair Heather Keith. To purchase tickets or for patron opportunities, call (858) 637-3057 or visit

Cystic Fibrosis in Jewish Populations

Medieval Knight Fights in Israel

For the first time ever in Israel, “Medieval Battles,” a World Medieval Fighting Championship, was held last month in the garden of the Haifa Convention Center. WMFC: Israeli Challenge was hosted by the Israeli team, which has already represented Israel several times in medieval battles in Russia and in France, most recently winning 14 consecutive battles and ranking 8 of 22 countries in the French “Battle of the Nations.” Seven countries participated in the tournament in Israel, including France, Russia, Latvia, Estonia, the Ukraine, Belarus and Luxembourg. There are several knight clubs across Israel in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Petah Tikva and Be’er Sheva, with each club specializing in a unique area or technique. Though Medieval Knight fighting is not recognized as a sport by the sports authorities in Israel, other countries do recognize it.

Cystic Fibrosis, or CF, is a chronic, progressive disorder causing the body to produce thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and impairs other organ functions. Affecting the Ashkenazi Jewish population in large numbers, CF is classified as a Jewish Genetic Disease by the Jewish Genetic Disease Consortium. Though there is no cure for CF, a number of drugs are in the works to improve quality and length of life for individuals with the disease, including those focusing on airway clearance, nutrition and drug therapies. In San Diego, the CF Foundation is working to raise funding for treatment related to the gene mutation that affects CF. You can help by contacting the local office of the CF Foundation and asking that donations be designated to support research into the gene mutations affecting the Jewish population with CF at (858) 4522873 or email san-diego@cff. org. If you would like to work or volunteer with the CF Foundation, contact Paul Motenko at paul@

Soille Partners with Shoes with Heart

Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School has partnered with Shoes with Heart to raise money to send its eighth grade students to Israel this year. A program of Angel Bins, Shoes with Heart will collect all wearable shoes donated by Soille families and then sell them to developing countries at a discounted rate. The partnership will, therefore, benefit not just the eighth grade class trip to Israel, but also people in developing nations who would otherwise not be able to afford shoes. Now in its 17th year, the eighth grade class trip to Israel helps fortify Jewish education and brings the Hebrew Day School experience to fruition. To help, bring used or new pairs of shoes of all types to the front lobby of Soille, located at 3630 Afton Road, weekdays between the hours of 8 a.m.-3 p.m. (Fridays until 2 p.m.). For other donation options, call (858) 442-1875. 78 l February 2014




Cantor Deborah Davis


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Let me help you create a wedding, commitment ceremony or baby-naming that will reflect the beauty and spirituality of your special day. As a Humanist cantor I welcome Jewish and interfaith couples and will honor the customs of both families. I also perform all life-cycle ceremonies. For further information please contact Deborah Davis • (619) 275-1539


80 l February 2014


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Blanca Jacobs – San Marcos 1/21/1936-9/30/2013 Survivors: husband, Elliott Jacobs; daughter, Risa Jacobs; sons, Michael, Richard and David Jacobs; sister, Celia Halzel; and three grandchildren Ethel Epstein – San Diego 8/17/1922-10/1/2013 Survivors: daughter, Debra Akin Jeannette Rubinstein – Bonita 3/30/1950-10/4/2013 Survivors: husband, Aaron Rubinstein; and daughter, Stephanie Buchwald Lewis Barnes – San Diego 7/24/1924-10/4/2013 Survivors: wife, Barbara Sue Barnes; and brother Ralph Barnes

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82 l February 2014

Bella Sherman – San Diego 7/20/1919-10/5/2013 Survivors: daughter, Lilla Spielman; and two grandchildren Arthur Schor – Encinitas 6/11/1925-10/5/2013 Survivors: daughters, Renee, Hilary and Barbara Schor; and one grandchild Viola Weiss – San Diego 5/11/1928-10/8/2013 Survivors: son, Rudy Weiss; two grandchildren; and two greatgrandchildren Norbert Scheinok – San Diego 8/26/1925-10/10/2013 Survivors: daughter, Edith Krieger; son, Allen Scheinok; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren Leonora Shev – San Diego 6/25/1920-10/12/2013 Survivors: sons, Jeffrey, Elliott and Stephen Shev

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Maya Gabinskaya – San Diego 8/24/1930-10/14/2013 Survivors: daughter, Yanina Gainskaya Joseph Rosker – El Cajon 5/25/1926-10/16/2013 Survivors: daughters, Libby Picardi, Blanche Stetler and Rachel Aschoff; sons, Allen, Michael and David Rosker; 10 grandchildren; and one greatgrandchild Sidney Goodman – La Jolla 3/21/1920-10/20/2013 Survivors: son, John Goodman Nathan Goldstone – San Diego 10/23/1919-10/19/2013 Survivors: sons, Jay and Stephen Goldstone; three grandchildren; and one greatgrandchild Marina Matzner – San Diego 2/4/1960-10/21/2013 Survivors: husband, Robert Matzner; and son, Andreas Matzner Kenneth Caplan – San Diego 10/16/1943-10/21/2013 Survivors: wife, Louise Caplan; sons, Ben and Jeremy Caplan; two grandchildren Jordan Butcher – San Diego 7/17/1957-10/22/2013 Survivors: mother, Eleanor Butcher; sister, Melanie Butcher Howard Krowitz – Imperial Beach 11/16/1946-10/22/2013 Survivors: sister, Marlene Surowitz William Wiss – San Diego 12/10/1921-10/27/2013 Survivors: daughter, Nancy Goldberg; sons, Barry and Donald Wiss; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren Riva Spektor – San Diego 2/2/1926-10/27/2013 Survivors: daughter, Anna Maunlis; one grandchild; and four great-grandchildren

desert life

PALM SPRINGS by Pamela Price

Make Way for Modernism


Palm Springs celebrates with Modernism Week

Temple Sinai, shown here circa 1953, is a classic example of modernist architecture, and will be host to tours during Modernism Week.


f you can’t remember the Mambo, Frank Sinatra or Sputnik, consider spending a few days in Palm Springs this month for events surrounding the Desert’s 9th annual Modernism Week. An ambitious, non-stop array of events honoring the essence of mid-century is a time capsule of delight that puts the spotlight on Palm Springs and the remarkable legacy of design, architecture, fashion, culture and art from Feb. 13-23. A stunning schedule of events, from a Premier Double Decker Architectural Bus Tour to a vintage travel trailer exhibition, has grown the event leaps and bounds over the years. Lisa Vossler, spokesperson for Modernism Week, reports that 80 percent of past attendees came from outside of the Coachella Valley. It all starts on opening night with “Modern Mambo!” a Modernism Week After Dark event dubbed “the hottest party west of Havana” at the Caliente Tropics hotel. Built in 1964, the original home of the Congo Room will be transformed into a Mid-century Modern Mambo club at 8 p.m. “The next 10 days are not only entertaining but educational,” modernism mavens, Larry and Laurie Wietz said. Adding to the daily events and guided tours of some of the area's most famous neighborhoods are a series of cocktail parties at stylish hotels: a “Party at the Prefabs,” featuring prefabricated model homes lit by lanterns for a dramatic effect; and a '60s style supper club at The Purple Room, featuring dinner shows with live music. This year, a sunset tour of architectural buildings on Palm Canyon Drive reveals the essence of the jet-set age with a captivating nightly exhibit showcasing contemporary and modern buildings. But there’s more to bring back the magic of that iPhone-free era. Trina Turk, a world-renowned

designer, will present “Sunnylands Chic,” a lecture at the Rancho Mirage Public Library. Her personal appearance will be followed by an exclusive meet-and-greet cocktail reception at the nearby Sunnylands Center and Gardens. Home to nine acres of “pristinely planted gardens” designed by James Burnett, this setting reflects the heart of Mid-century, and was visited by President Obama in June 2013. For the record, Modernism Week is a California 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission: to “celebrate and foster appreciation of mid-century architecture and design as well as contemporary thinking by encouraging education, preservation and sustainable modern living as represented in Palm Springs.” One of the most recognizable symbols of Modernism is Temple Isaiah, designed by E. Stewart Williams. Frank Sinatra was one of the major supporters of this architectural masterpiece, which will host guided tours from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Feb. 14. The original Liberman Sanctuary and Jewish Community Center remains almost entirely intact, and will be on display during the day alongside memorabilia from the time of the structure’s building, in 1952. A collection of works by contemporary Israeli sculptor Yaacov Agam will also be available to view at each tour. “Modernism Week is an opportunity to share the cool, iconic modern design aesthetic of Palm Springs with visitors from around the world,” Board Chairman Chris Mobley says. There are over 100 events on agenda for Modernism Week this year. A Visit for more details.

Adar I 5774 l 83

TAKE NOTE FEBRUARY 1-28 by natalie jacobs



veryone has mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day. It’s a good excuse to spend a night out with a loved one, but there’s really no need to go overboard. If a lighthearted evening is more your style, consider spending Valentine’s Day at the National Comedy Theatre with a special show on Friday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. or 9:45 p.m. The “House of Cards” Comedy Show is set up in two parts. In the first part, the cast will interview a married couple from the audience, chosen at random, and then act out significant scenes from their life together. Then the Comedy Court takes session, giving couples the opportunity to “sue” their significant others for all the annoying little things they do. Someone once said laughter is like a mini vacation, and on this day especially, you deserve it. Visit for details and tickets. Next, if a bar or bat mitzvah is coming up in your family, there’s a lot of planning to get started on. With so many things to coordinate, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start, but that’s where BESA comes in. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Event Services Association has the insider information on everything you’ll need to make the big day a smash, from DJs to party rentals to catering. On Sunday, Feb. 23, get your planning started with their Candy Craze Expo at the San Diego Marriott La Jolla from noon-4 p.m. Meet top event industry professionals, and get ideas to make your mitzvah magnificent. Admission is free, but parking is $5. Register at And if you’re new to your neighborhood or have been stuck in a restaurant rut, Bite Food Tours might be the perfect way for you to explore your surroundings and put some new favorites on your out-to-eat list. This walking tour includes food tastings and cultural food facts in premier San Diego neighborhoods like La Jolla, Coronado, Downtown, and Old Town. The La Jolla tour stops by Nosh Delicatessen, Ohana Café, Krafty Krepes, Girard Gourmet, We Olive, and Cups; while the tour guide discusses the Spanish conquest of the area and shares stories about how Dr. Seuss came to call the neighborhood home. Tours take off every weekend this month, so pick a day when you have about three hours and a few calories to spare. Find details at Finally, you have until the end of February to catch the Raoul Wallenberg Exhibition: To Me There’s No Other Choice at the Lawrence Family JCC (on the second floor). Wallenberg is one of the world's most well-known Swedes and he has received worldwide praise for his commitment to saving lives during World War II. The exhibition celebrates his life and honors his courageous deeds through a series of panels created by the Swedish Institute ,in partnership with the Living History Museum. For more information on the exhibit, visit A

84 l February 2014

Mark your calendar.

HOUSE OF CARDS Friday, Feb. 14 7:30p.m. and 9:45 p.m. National Comedy Theatre 3717 India St.

CANDY CRAZE BAR/BAT MITZVAH EXPO Saturday, Feb. 23 Noon-4 p.m. San Diego Marriott La Jolla 4240 La Jolla Village Drive BITE FOOD TOURS Saturdays and Sundays in February Tours start at 1p.m. Various San Diego neighborhoods




Lawrence Family JCC 4126 Executive Drive, LJ Contact Melanie Rubin for details or to R.S.V.P. (858) 362-1141. AARP Smart Driver Refresher Class Wednesday, Feb. 19, 10:30 a.m. You must have taken AARP Mature Driving Full Course within the past three years to be eligible. $15 for AARP members, $20 nonmembers. RSVP by Feb. 12. What Technology is Right for Me? Tuesday, Feb. 25, 1:30 p.m. Learn about the features and benefits of iPads, laptops and smartphones. $8 for JCC members, $10 nonmembers. RSVP by Feb. 18. Oceanside Senior Center 455 Country Club Lane, Oceanside Call Josephine at (760) 2952564 North County Jewish Seniors Club Third Thursday of each month, 12:30 p.m. Join us to hear speakers and/ or entertainment at our monthly meetings. Light refreshments served. Visitors welcome. JFS University City Older Adult Center 9001 Towne Centre Drive, LJ Call Aviva Saad for details or to R.S.V.P. (858) 550-5998. Love and Friendship Celebration Thursday, Feb. 13, 10 a.m. Meet new friends, exercise, eat a hot kosher lunch, and enjoy entertainment by Jasmine. Lunch available at noon with reservation. Presidents Day Tuesday, Feb. 18, 10 a.m. Celebrate our presidents’ birthdays, exercise, enjoy a hot kosher lunch, and dance to the music of Musicstation. Lunch

available at noon with reservation. Caregivers Support Group Wednesday, Feb. 19, 12:30 p.m. Meet other people who are experiencing the difficulties of providing care for their aging loved ones. On the Go Excursions A program of Jewish Family Service, On the Go provides transportation to events throughout the county for homebound seniors. For information on any of these excursions, please call (858) 6377320. Collage 2014 Dance Perspective Balboa Park Sunday, Feb. 16, bus leaves at 1 p.m. Cost is $39, due by Feb. 11. Various dance styles such as tap, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, modern and musical theater will be included in this dance performance by the San Diego Civic Dance Company. Tour of New San Diego Central Library and Brunch Friday, Feb. 28, bus leaves at 9 a.m. Cost is $25, due by Feb. 24. Enjoy a one-hour tour of our fabulous new nine-story San Diego Central Library. After the tour, we’ll have brunch at the Mission Restaurant downtown. Space is limited, brunch not included. JFS No. County Inland Center 15905 Pomerado Road, Poway Call (858) 674-1123 for details or to R.S.V.P. Safari Experience: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 10 a.m. Meet some unusual animals with the traveling Safari Park. How to Keep Your Voice Vibrant Monday, Feb. 10, 11 a.m. Dealing with the aging voice with voice therapist Dory Kafoure Italy: Birthplace of Opera with


Tuesday, Feb. 11, 11:30 a.m. Rabbi Graubart Series: Chava by Sholem Aleichem Call (858) 452-1734 for details or to R.S.V.P. Erica Miner Wednesday, Feb. 19, 11 a.m.

at 10:45 a.m. San Diego North County Post 385.

JFS Coastal Club at Temple Solel 3575 Manchester Ave., Cardiff by the Sea Call Melinda Wynar at (858) 674-1123 for details. R.S.V.P. for lunch by Monday at 12:30 p.m. Info Overload with Professor Denise Stephens of Mira Costa College Tuesday, Feb. 4, 11 a.m. Trends in Judaism with Rabbi Lenore Bohm Tuesday, Feb. 11, 11 a.m. Jewish/Gentile Romances on Film with Professory Lawry Baron Tuesday, Feb. 18, 11 a.m.

JFC College Avenue Center 4855 College Ave., San Diego Call (858) 637-3270 for details or to R.S.V.P. Word 2007 Bootcamp Tuesday, Feb. 4, 1 p.m. Create documents that appear exactly the way you want them to look. Learn how to change the font, line spacing and margins. Work with formatting and page layout. This class is free. Using Folders to Organize Your Files Tuesday, Feb. 18, 1 p.m. For PC users, learn how to manage your documents by creating and moving documents into folders. This class is free. Sweetheart Dance Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2 p.m. Ballroom dance instructor Sharon Emerson hosts our annual Sweetheart Dance. Refreshments will be served.

Joslyn Senior Center 210 Park Ave./Broadway, Escondido Call (760) 436-4005 Jewish War Veterans meetings Second Sunday of each month, 11 a.m. Preceded by a bagel/lox breakfast

WANT MORE CALENDAR? The full version of San Diego’s most complete Jewish events calendar is now online at

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86 l February 2014

Adar I 5774 l 87

San Diego Jewish Journal February 2014  

The San Diego Jewish Journal is the pioneer Jewish lifestyles magazine on the West Coast. It was founded in October 2001 by Dr. Mark Moss an...

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