May 2020

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May 2020 Iyar / Sivan 5780

Synagogues and Arts Orgs Adapt Jewish Connections in Mexico






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Seventy-one years after Israel fought for its independence, Magen David Adom is helping the country battle a different enemy. The coronavirus pandemic is indeed a war. Even if Israel can keep mortality rates for those infected to 1 percent, it will still mean the death of more than 30,000 people — more than all of Israel’s wars combined. Magen David Adom has been on the front lines against the coronavirus, but the fight has taken an extraordinary toll on MDA’s resources. We need your support to keep saving lives. Observe Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s independence day, by keeping the people of Israel strong. Give today to our Coronavirus Emergency Campaign at

Iyar / Sivan 5780 5

CONTENTS Iyar/Svan 5780

May 2020

27 FEATURE: SDJA Transitions to Online Learning in Times of Social Distancing


MONTHLY COLUMNS 10 From the Editor 14 Personal Development and Judaism 16 Israeli Lifestyle 18 Examined Life 20 Religion


In Every Issue

Chicken Soup for Anyone Who Needs It

13 What’s Up Online 39 Food 40 Diversions 41 Advice 42 News




San Diego Arts Organizations Deal with Coronavirus Measures

Jewish Strategies for Stress Reduction

6 | May 2020

How Jew-Dar Works in Mexico

31 OP-ED: Tikkun Olam Part 3


Countering Iran's Spanish-Language News Channel

36 FEATURE: Coastal Roots Farm Rises to the Challenge

Do you need help right now? We’re here for you. For more than 100 years, we’ve supported San Diegans through community-wide emergencies. From wildfires, to government shutdowns, to public health crises, we’re here to help our neighbors when they need it the most. If you or someone you know needs assistance, please call (858) 637-3210 or visit Together, we will make it through this.

Iyar / Sivan 5780 7

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Architecture has recorded the great ideas of the human race. Not only every religious symbol, but every human thought has its page in that vast book. - Victor Hugo May 2020 • Iyar/Sivan 5780 PUBLISHERS • Mark Edelstein and Dr. Mark Moss EDITOR-IN-CHIEF • Jacqueline Bull ASSISTANT EDITOR • Alex Wehrung ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR • Eileen Sondak CREATIVE DIRECTOR • Derek Berghaus OFFICE MANAGER • Jonathan Ableson SENIOR CONSULTANT • Ronnie Weisberg CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Emily Bartell, Linda Bennett, Leorah Gavidor, Emily Gould, Judith Fein (Senior Travel Correspondent), Paul Ross (Senior Travel Photographer), Patricia Goldblatt, Pat Launer, Sharon Rosen Leib, Andrea Simantov, Marnie Macauley, Rabbi Jacob Rupp, Saul Levine, Rachael Eden, Sybil Kaplan. ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Jonathan Ableson – Senior Account Executive Alan Moss – Palm Springs SAN DIEGO JEWISH JOURNAL (858) 638-9818 • fax: (858) 638-9801 7742 Herschel Avenue, Suite H, La Jolla, CA 92037 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, 7742 Herschel Ave., Suite H, La Jolla, CA 92037. 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 ©2020 by San Diego Jewish Journal. The San Diego Jewish Journal is a member of the American Jewish Press Association and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.


8 | May 2020


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Iyar / Sivan 5780 9

Every night at 8 p.m.


very night at 8 p.m. the world outside my apartment windows erupts. Cars honk, people clap and holler from their balconies, lights flash on and off, sometimes police cars drive by with their sirens. It’s a mini celebration that lasts for about five minutes. What I’ve heard is that this is the city’s way of showing thanks for the healthcare workers who are showing up each day to face the pandemic. It surprises me every time it happens. The sounds of the city–cars, ambulances, music, foot traffic, dogs, garbage trucks–come together in a familiar hum, but these separate sounds coming together on purpose startle me. Most days at 8 p.m. I’m on the phone or eating dinner and smile when I hear the commotion start. And some days I get out on my balcony and holler with them, but before I do that, I take a second and listen and look out to all the apartment windows I can see and watch the other people celebrate. It sounds corny, but it is incredibly moving. It isn’t group meditation, but it is a brief moment of catharsis and gratitude. ‘Mental Health in the Time of Coronavirus’ is essentially the idea that I’m seeing on many media channels. I’ve seen think pieces on how this is the nation’s loneliness epidemic come to roost and I’ve seen many articles about reducing stress and anxiety. I’m wondering if stress is an expected

reaction to extraordinary and challenging circumstances; trying so hard to fight it may be too much to ask of ourselves. First let’s throw away some expectations. When we emerge from this, many of us will have faced the death of loved ones and at best, our daily routines and social roles have been thrown out the window. We shouldn’t be thinking we’ll emerge as flossing fanatics having taken both Steve Martin and Gordon Ramsey’s MasterClasses, became tremendously fit, reorganized the entire house, mended long-estranged relationships and completely self-actualized. Just managing to maybe keep up with some laundry, showering occasionally and eating some real meals is a high enough bar to shoot for. Anxiety is an expected side effect of the times we are living in and I think it is ok to sit with that feeling. And not follow it down into a catastrophizing spiral, but think about what you are worried about and how you can use that energy. I would encourage you to sit and think about what the world may be like when an amount of normalcy returns. What do you hope we might leave behind? But more importantly what do you hope stays? What might be a casualty of this that you hope to save? Is it a favorite restaurant, theater group, museum? What are you most looking forward to doing when this is over? How can you help them? Who can you be of service to? Very

From The Editor 10 | May 2020

few places need in-person volunteers (notable exception being JFS), many of course need funds; I would wager to say all need support and attention. Maybe your circumstances are such that you can’t provide a donation to a theater you normally go to, but maybe they are providing online offerings that you can still engage in and show them you are still a member of their audience and community. Maybe you can use your social circle to shed light on groups that need a little love right now. Some things my family members are doing to help the effort are sewing masks for the hospital, utilizing their social circle to talk about nonprofit arts groups, supporting local restaurants with delivery and doing grocery runs for older family members. One way to look at these things is productive uses for anxiety. We worry, we see a need and we act. And in helping we feel a bit more in control. Demanding tranquility from yourself is a tall order, so perhaps just yelling your gratitude from your balcony is a good place to start. A

Jacqueline Bull

Dear Jewish San Diego, Your caring, compassionate response in the face of the COVID-19 crisis inspires us.

We cherish our devoted volunteers, committed community professionals, dedicated leaders, and frontline and first responders. The San Diego Jewish Community COVID-19 Emergency Fund was established to support those who are most impacted and vulnerable during these difficult times. The Fund is acting fast to meet rapidly changing and increasing needs. Seniors, families and children who have never sought assistance before now need our help. Thank you to the hundreds of generous donors who have supported the Fund. You make this important work possible. During this challenging time of hardship and grief, our community is counting on us. We need your support more than ever. Together, we can heal and rebuild.

San Diego Jewish Community COVID-19 Emergency Fund Partners

Make a gift at Or mail a check to: Jewish Community Foundation, 4950 Murphy Canyon Road, San Diego, CA 92123 100% of donations will be used to meet COVID-19 related needs. Contact: Sharleen Wollach (858) 279-2740,

Iyar / Sivan 5780 11



Yom Huledets Sameach to… Herschel Feigelson celebrating his 91st birthday. Alice Feldman celebrating her 88th birthday. Nancy Geist celebrating her 87th birthday. Edy Greenberg celebrating her 87th birthday.

Mazel Tov to… Ed & Shirley Haimsohn, on their 66th wedding anniversary. Marcia & Bob Malkus, on their 61st wedding anniversary. Les & Harriet Niss, on their 59th wedding anniversary. Bernice & Jack Kleid, on their 59th wedding anniversary. Joyce & Robert Blumberg, on their 51st wedding anniversary. Arlene & Henry Rosenthal, on their 51st wedding anniversary. Sandie & Dan Kindred, on their 50th wedding anniversary.

Mazel Tov to… Penny & Paul Arenson, on the birth of their newest granddaughter, Lorelei Hava. Lorelei is the daughter of Aliza & Dave Schnayer. Born in San Francisco on Feb. 4, grandparents Noel & Steve Schnayer of Laguna Hills join in celebration of this blessed family addition.

On The Cover:

Todd & Deena Kobernick and Sheryl & Neil (z”l) Rabinowitz, on the birth of their grandchild, Neilah Miri, born on Mar. 30. Happy parents are Elana & Gregg Rabinowitz.

Al and Naomi Ruth Eisman on the marriage of their grandson Yuda Piha to Sarah Springer. Yuda is formerly from Israel. Mark and Lynda Better on the birth of their grandson, Jason Lee Slater, son of their daughter April and husband Jared Slater. Born Mar. 11 in Los Angeles.

Katelyn Gardner, who was called to the Torah as a Bat Mitzvah on Jan. 11 at Temple Beth Israel. Katelyn is the daughter of Julie & Andrew Gardner. Proud grandparents Byrne & Dick Eger and Inky & Phil Aronoff looked with pride. Zach Musicant, who was called to the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah on Feb. 29 at Temple Emanu-El. Zach is the son of Scott & Carrie Musicant.

Mikayla Mandell-Harrison, on becoming a Bat Mitzvah on Feb. 29, at Congregation Beth Am.

Mom Caryn Mandell along with grandmother, Susan Gail Thomas and Rabbi Kornberg looked on with pride. A

Famed revolutionary, Emiliano Zapata, is an icon of Mexico and is represented as a giant paper mâché “skullpture,” complete with florid mustache. Photo by Paul Ross for the article "How Jew-Dar Works in Mexico" on page 28.

12 | May 2020

what’s up


‘Remembrance is constantly evolving’: This year’s Yom HaShoah Holocaust memorials are forced online by the coronavirus For more than three decades, thousands of teenagers from dozens of countries have trekked each April to Auschwitz to learn about the horrors of the Holocaust. This year, they stayed home. With the coronavirus pandemic making travel and gatherings impossible, the March of the Living, like so much else, took place exclusively online.

Netanyahu and Gantz sign agreement for ‘national emergency government’ that keeps Netanyahu as prime minister for now

So are countless other memorial programs developed for Yom HaShoah, the international Holocaust remembrance day. They included films, prerecorded concerts and talks by survivors and even the recitations of names of victims that are a centerpiece of observance in many communities. Coming 75 years after the end of the Holocaust and as the coronavirus poses a serious threat to frail, elderly survivors, this Yom HaShoah is giving rise to innovation–but also grief about what has been set aside, and questions about whether online Holocaust education can replicate the impact of an in-person experience.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz signed a deal Monday to form a “national emergency government” that keeps Netanyahu as the prime minister for now. Israel has spent more than a year under a caretaker government as neither Netanyahu, who heads the right-wing Likud party, nor Gantz of the center-left Blue and White could assemble a coalition government. With the agreement, the country avoids a fourth national election in less than a year and a half. The agreement also accedes to Likud demands that Israel annex parts of the West Bank, according to an Israeli TV report. That could happen as early as July. Netanyahu will serve as prime minister for the next year and a half and then be succeeded by Gantz in October 2021, according to the joint statement from the parties.

Celebrity-studded Saturday Night Seder yields 1M viewers, $2.6M for charity and 4 big insights about the Jewish people With its glittering assembly of stars, jokes that worked and attendees who could, well, sing, it was the Zoom Seder you wished you had. The Saturday Night Passover Seder that aired on YouTube brought together dozens of celebrities and raised $2.6 million for the CDC Foundation. As a coming together of the Jewish community’s most visible Jews, the event offered insights about where American Jews are in the national thinking, or perhaps more precisely, where a lot of American Jews want to believe they are. Here are four messages conveyed by the Saturday Night Seder. Continue reading at

Iyar / Sivan 5780 13


THIS WAY TO EDEN by Rachel Eden

Who Are You?


ry this at home: Cross your arms. Go ahead, put the magazine down and cross them. Note which arm is on top? You instinctively have a preference. Either your right arm crosses over your left or the other way around. Now, cross them the opposite way. It should feel unnatural and require more effort. What’s the lesson? We all have innate leanings. You have two arms and you’re partial to placing one arm over the other. This is how psychologist Dr. Jean Kummerow describes how we come to have dominant personality features. The field of trait psychology has five categories of patterns that establish behaviors, thoughts and feelings. The acronym for the Big Five is OCEAN. O is for openness to experiences and ideas, C is for conscientiousness (competence, discipline, and thoughtfulness), E is for extroversion (sociability, assertiveness, expression), A is for agreeableness (cooperativeness, trustworthiness, good natured) and N is for neuroticism (instability in emotion, temper). Our traits generally determine our behavior, so our lives are heavily informed by them. For example, according to a National Institute of Mental Health study, conscientious men earn more money and have overall higher salaries than their counterparts. Other studies have found that conscientious people have increased professional satisfaction, and can find and keep a job better than those who lack this trait. Extroverts are characterized by their need for stimulation including loud noises and social settings. Harvard and Cambridge professor Dr. Brian Little describes how to spot the extrovert in the room; He asserts that it's virtually impossible for adults to lick the outside of their own elbows. He then explains that, within seconds of his assertion, 14 | May 2020

the extroverts not only have tried to do so, but have successfully licked the elbow of the person sitting next to them (a joke). He also refers to studies that reflect how often an extrovert and introvert engage in intimacy per month. On average: an introverted man 3.0, introverted woman 3.1, extroverted man 5.5, and for an extroverted woman 7.5. He jokes that the heroic extroverted woman not only handles the male extroverts, she picks up some introverts as well. Personally, I adore all personality typing systems from Myers-Briggs to Enneagram. My cocktail party trick is to “diagnose” people in five minutes or less and my success rate is rather high (confirmed by my own bias, but I’ll take it). While some hate the idea of being boxed into a category, I feel more equipped in my relationships with others thanks to the awareness these categories afford me. During my first year of marriage, my husband and I earnestly tried to share ideas and discuss our thoughts. Sometimes, we spent hours exhausting ourselves and left frustrated. I wish I knew that our conversations were a reflection of the way we thought about the world and received information. My husband’s preference (an ‘S-Sensing’ in Myers Briggs Type Indicator) is through his five senses: considering the practical, actual, here and now. In contrast, I have a preference (an ‘N-Intuitive’ in Myers Briggs Type Indicator) toward understanding the abstract, seeing the possibilities, meanings and big picture. Now I can appreciate that we were essentially speaking two different languages. Someone who speaks Mandarin cannot understand someone who speaks Russian–no matter how slowly and clearly the other language is spoken. This knowledge helps both of us translate what we mean for each other

Jeffrey R Lib Managing D CA Insuranc jeffrey.liber person is

without judgement. Judaism contends that each unique and individual. While we have global tendencies and similarities, weGina are not Grimm defined by our traits alone. What does this practically look like? While nature Financial (biogen- Co Insuranc ic) determines our tendencies andCA nurture (sociogenic) determines how theygina.grimme appear, Dr. Little coined a term called idiogenic, our idiosyncrasies, or the ‘free traits’ we enYesenia act. He says, “We’re like some other people Gil and no other person” in that thereClient is an XAssoc factor that makes each of us different and Fluent in Sp also, loveable. While our traits are extremely yesenia.gil@ important, they are not the all-important. So, what makes us different? Free traits are traits we utilize to advance our core projects, our passion and our mission in this world. A father, generally characterized by his predilection to new experiences, may choose to live in the same school district for a number of years in order to support a child with special needs. A colleague, generally agreeable in nature, might choose to be confrontational when she sees discrimination at her place of work. We transcend our zodiac, our traits, and even our perceived destiny. Dr. Little advises that it’s “the peripheral things of life which make life meaningful. I often tell my students to be open to the delights of fortuitous circumstance. Around the corner, you never know who you’re going to bump into and how delightful that can be.” While I’ll continue to be captivated by people and my quest for personality typing, his words empower us all. We are so much more than we think and far more capable than we know. Who are you? You are unique, loved and G-d-like. Keep those arms wide open. Crossing them will only get you so far. A

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ciate panish Jeffrey R Liber, CFP® Jeffrey R LDirectoriber, CFP® Managing Investments Managing Director-­‐ Investments CA Insurance Lic #0C28496 Financial Consultant SeniorYesenia ClientGil Associate Gina Grimmer CASaffa Insurance Lic #0C28496 CA Insurance Emily Patty Dutra Lic #0821851 Client Associate Registered Client Associate CA Insurance License #0I70215 858-523-7904 Investment and Insurance Products offered through affiliates: !NOT FDIC Insured !NO Bank Guarantee Financial Consultant SeniorYesenia ClientYesenia Associate Gil Gina Grimmer !MAY Lose Value FluentGil in Spanish CA insurance Gina GrimmerLic #O178195 Client Associate Registered Client Associate CA Products Insurance License #0I70215 Investment and Insurance offered through affiliates: !NOT FDIC Insured 858-523-7904 !NO Bank Guarantee Client Associate Registered Client Associate Investment and Insurance Products: NOT FDIC Insured and NO Bank non-bank Guarantee MAY Lose Value Wells Fargo Advisors, SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer a separate affiliate of Fargo & Company. !MAY Lose Value LLC, Member Fluent inWells Spanish Yesenia Gil CA insurance Lic #O178195 Gina Grimmer Fluent in Spanish ©2009 Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC.CA All insurance rights reserved. –v1 -0312-2590 (e7460) Lic88580 #0178195 Michelle Hasten Client Associate Registered Client Associate Investment and Insurance NOT Insured NO Bank non-bank Guarantee MAY Lose Value 12531 High Bluff Dr., Suite Wells Fargo Advisors is a Products: trade name usedFDIC by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC Fargo Advisors, LLC, Member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and a separate affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. Wells Fluent in Spanish ©2009 Fargo Advisors, LLC.CA AllServices, rights reserved. –v1 -0312-2590 (e7460) insurance Lic88580 #0178195 (c) 2016Wells Wells Fargo Clearing LLC All Rights reserved 1016-02995 Senior Registered Client Associate Michelle Hasten 12531 High Diego, Bluff Dr.,CA92130 Suite 400 Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC San


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Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used byFargo Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC,FINRA/SIPC Member FINRA/SIPC Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Clearing Services, LLC, Member (c) 2016 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC All Rights reserved 1016-02995 Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade nameServices, used byAll Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC (c) 2016 Wells Fargo Clearing LLC All reserved Rights reserved 1016-02995 (c) 2016 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC Rights 1016-02995 (c) 2016 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC All Rights reserved 1016-02995

WellsFargo Fargo Advisors is a trade used byFargo WellsClearing Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC. Wells Advisors is a trade namename used by Wells Services, LLC, Member SIPC. Iyar / Sivan 5780 15



The Morning After


ver coffee, my husband and I pondered the eeriness of the timing. After all, quarantine began immediately after Purim, the holiday that chronicles triumph over the threat of physical extermination. Passover followed, a paean to spiritual survival. Counting the blessings of our unlikely existence, the Hagaddah’s refrain holds especially true: “Dayenu!” Enough! After all, what can I do when confronting a world that seems not to care about me? Once the shock of quarantine settled, I attended to the busy work of clearing my computer of space-hogging photos. Delete, delete went pics of baboons and rhinos on safari and beautifully plated meals I either prepared or was served in five star restaurants.. What merited saving? People. Parties. The laughter. Moments that, beaded together, create a magnificent necklace called “A Blessed Life.” In the silence of Isolation Mornings, I wept from the delicious aroma of coffee. I could smell. I breathed. I heard. I noticed birds I’d never seen before. Something within me stirred and (crediting either the Book of Proverbs, Kurt Vonnegut or “The Music Man”) I recalled that the “Idle mind is the Devil’s playground,” and decided to decide. Because not deciding is deciding. I fought that. Reassessing my passion for social media, I decided to use it for spreading a virus of my own: a virus motivated by caring, listening, networking, connecting. Thanks to a) karma, b) Heaven or c) late winter Big-Bang, our schedules allow us time to reach out a little and a lot. Wending our respective trails toward people–not away–whether we profess to care about them, or have only recently crossed paths. And what if others don’t quickly warm to my new love-and-peace persona? Patience is a forgotten skill as well and I’ll just keep at it. Connection is forged by exercising

16 | May 2020

spiritual muscles that need to be stretched daily, lest they tighten and eventually atrophy. Undoubtedly, there are many who can’t or won’t hop on board and prefer the lazy, time-worn and proven fruitless method of hand-wringing and finger-pointing. They prefer to sit among the figurative trees and, playing the Blame Game, refuse to look past Washington, Jerusalem, Wuhan or Rome. They choose (again, the operative word) to lash out and, even in front of children cry, “Our leaders have failed us!” To this I say, ‘Stop.’ The ones you empower with your votes or fury are merely temporary. Voted in or out–cogs in an incomprehensible cosmic wheel. The question we might humbly ask ourselves is who/what are the other influencers I have allowed to permeate my orbit? Those not so easily erased as mere politicians? Madison Avenue admen? Religious shamans with bank accounts larger than the GNP of some small nations? Rock stars and cinema idols? Who or what is raising our children or determining our values? How many of us can honestly, humbly, face the agonizing questions of our own culpability or (gasp) abdication of the purpose of our lives? As we stand at the cusp of a new dawn, let us together cherish the quiet and even find meaning in these pandemic days. Impossible? No. Hard. Yes. Still, in striving to break free from the shackles of labeling, judging, knowing, manipulating, conning and hating, we might find magic. The majesty of deep breaths in still working lungs. Humility in meditation and prayer. Once free from the cacophony that dulls our senses, we can

finally realize that we are the engineers of our own greatness. Greatness does not come with the crash of symbols, trumpets and timpani drums. Greatness is a breakfast served to someone else or a sandwich purchased for a hungry stranger. Greatness is reading a story to a young person via Zoom. Greatness is readily available once we turn off the television and put away the credit card. If there is anything to be learned from an uninvited pandemic, perhaps it is that the days of hogging our rightful share have collapsed with a dull thud. Ideas of what we may or may not “deserve” is childishly deflective. The concept of ‘merit’ is too subjective; We might instead consider the question, “What can I give?” This ‘aha’ moment reinforces our personal control and, if lucky, will result in better insights to our respective roles in this fragile existence. Build up your portfolio. Invest time, caring, listening. Recognize the endless cache of riches you possess. We are wealthy, if only we embrace the width, breadth and depth of our respective abilities to give. Terror, fear and anxiety needn't be permanent. The future is unpredictable but that, frankly, can be the fun part if only we drop our resistance. Accidental adventure can, if we allow it, give our lives unexpected meaning and result in a legacy worth celebrating. A

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Iyar / Sivan 5780 17


OUR EMOTIONAL FOOTPRINT by Saul Levine, M.D., Professor Emeritus in Psychiatry at UCSD

The Paradox of Quarantine: Humans Are Coming Together


he infernal coronavirus has unnerved us all. We must be living in a surrealistic movie, because this cannot be happening in our actual lives! You remember those lives we inhabited only a few weeks ago when everything seemed so settled and predictable, so easy. Suddenly, we find ourselves quarantined in our homes, maintaining social distances, engaged in hygienic rituals, few of us going to work, no students in schools, shops and museums closed, concerts and sports cancelled and hospitals overwhelmed. Streets are empty, the atmosphere “filled” with an eerie quiet and uncomfortable apprehension. That eerie quiet outside is easily matched inside our sequestered homes by relentless noise from news and social media. Overwrought voices of politicians, scientists, medical personnel, fearful citizens (and conspiracy theorists) bringing simultaneous reassurances and alarmist predictions, data and opinions, clarity and ambiguity. We’re suffering from (confusing) information overload, with many questions and few answers. It’s clearly not an easy time to be an optimistic, grateful and engaged citizen. We all find living in the midst of this pandemic unsettling. I worry about my vulnerable "elderly" category, but I’m much more concerned about my wife and children, their spouses, my grandkids, extended family and friends. We harbor mixed emotions: Anger about America's inept responses to the epidemic, fear for ourselves and loved ones, pessimism or fatalism, optimism and hope. All these feelings can come over us in sudden waves. But most people are cooperating in efforts to overcome this viral scourge, resolutely coping with the new rules of sequestered living, obeying safety procedures and hoping for the best. In fact, there is an amazing 18 | May 2020

paradox: While we are physically separated from each other, there are actually signs of us coming together, the humane part of humanity emerging. Passersby smile and wave (while social distancing, of course), as if saying, “We’re all in this together.” People are more polite, eager to communicate, sharing concerns and enjoying momentary interactions. Many citizens are offering to bring food, shop or help in other ways to enable those less ambulatory or more isolated to access places and services. Students, retirees, neighbors, even off-duty medical personnel and first responders are volunteering to help needful people or short-staffed services. The internet, which has had its share of severe critics, has suddenly become a conduit of caring and help, empathy as well as artistic beauty: people are emailing or posting touching, heartfelt, uplifting poetry and prose; words of empathy, inspiration, courage and appreciation appear in inboxes or as posts on a variety of sites; musicians of different genres, classical or rock or folk or hip hop, amateur and professional, solo or group, are posting their creative compositions and concerts; museums of all kinds from over the world, famous and esoteric, have put their collections and tours online at no cost; parents at home with children can access support in occupying their attention, shared activities and games, teaching aids, instructions and demonstrations; formal education is being taught online to students at all levels of schooling; many people are involved in online courses on hundreds of subjects in wide areas of human endeavor like exercise routines, sculpting and painting, mindfulness and meditation, yoga and Tai Chi, stretching and dance, cooking and music lessons, languages and books, politics, psychotherapy, film appreciation; the list is

endless. Families at home are engaged in games, cards, video games, group puzzles, movies, TV series and streaming and both serious and fun discussions. We are making up for the lack of close social interaction by using Internet communication tools (email, texting, messaging), and especially visual formats (Zoom, Skype, FaceTime) for seeing each other in real time. I’ve recently participated with other people in the confines of our homes using these technologies (and I’m a technophobe!) in a variety of “get-togethers.” There are birthday parties, group meetings, Seders, therapeutic sessions, wine-tastings, lectures and other experiences. These obviously can’t replace physical touching, but participants find these experiences enlivening and fulfilling. I am not pretending that all is sweetness and light. Far from it: COVID-19 is taking a devastating toll on us–spreading fear, inflicting loneliness, causing many tragic deaths and wreaking havoc with the economy. And as in other times of quarantines and shortages, there are examples of hoarding, scamming and other selfish or malevolent acts. We humans may be imperfect beings, but if anything, we are a social species with enormous potential for generosity and benevolence. Most of us on this perpetually spinning life raft called Planet Earth are compassionate and cooperative and our intrinsic goodness is especially apparent during hard times. The forced quarantining has actually facilitated creative ways to increase our communication and communing, our contact and caring. We have time and interest to offer sympathetic ears, “shoulders” to metaphorically lean on or cry on, or to find caring souls who will hear our pain, commiserate or em-

pathize. We also find ways to keep each other company from afar. We provide bonhomie and opportunities to laugh together or to be inspired, and we offer each other our metaphoric arms to express caring, love, solidarity and support. What can we learn from the desolation and loss of this coronavirus? Of course, we have to have confidence in science and other sources of knowledge, and in trustworthy leaders who prepare for all contingencies. In addition, the devastation wrought by this pandemic might even force us to confront our own aggressive tendencies, and engender feelings of kinship with all of humanity. This could be a fortuitous, profound moment for us, a crucial opportunity in our evolutionary trajectory. Like-minded people have been calling for a global cease-fire, putting aside our endless hate and hostilities. We could together confront our really dangerous global foes, like other lethal viruses, extreme poverty and global warming-induced events like wildfires, rising oceans, droughts, floods, storms and other cataclysms. Mother Nature offers us such vistas of beauty, such colors and flora, such aromas and oases, but “she” does not suffer fools gladly: If we stewards of Planet Earth continue to abuse that privilege, pursue our selfishness and wars and fail to heed her warnings and ignore Global Warming, she will continue to wreak havoc on our species. The truth is that if we are to survive as a species, we really have no alternative but to live in harmony and to work and strive together to achieve a better and more peaceful tomorrow. I know we can do this. We might even leave future generations a lasting Positive Emotional Footprint. A

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POST-POLITICAL by Rabbi Jacob Rupp

Appreciating GO time


he post-Passover period in the Jewish calendar is one of the most exciting times in our history. Far from recovering from whatever gastric damage was done by the matzah, or (if you are like one of the sages from Talmud) recovering from all the wine, the stretch of time from Passover to Shavuot is one of profound significance. The Torah speaks about the 50-day period between Passover and Shavuot. One Passover we were freed and on Shavuot we camped around Sinai and received the Torah, which is in essence our national mission statement. Now the road out of Egypt, according to our sages, was easy–G-d swooped in with a strong hand and outstretched arm. But the days afterward, when we trekked through the desert to Sinai, were quite difficult. The Jewish astrological symbols suggest as such: the month of Nisan in which Passover falls, is symbolized by a lamb; the month of Iyar, which follows is symbolized by a bull. The lamb is an animal that is tender, led and at the mercy of its master. The bull is powerful, representing hard effort. Much of modern life has been the attempt to find peace, convenience and “freedom” from hard struggle. And perhaps, as we are sitting in our home offices and using our multitude of devices, we can appreciate just how far we have come from our ancestors. But on the other hand, too much peace, too much “freedom” leads us to be lazy, tired and unmotivated. The freedom of Passover was supposed to get us to a place where we removed ourselves from the haze of our involvement in things

20 | May 2020

that didn’t add to our lives: the distractions that kept us tied up and not fully expressing who we are. Post that, we don’t just sit down and take a break but rather muster the strength of a bull to go after what we truly desire: our spiritual self-development. I have a very weird relationship with the role of rabbis. On one hand, I think it is our obligation to be phenomenally engaging and talented in presenting Judaism in a way that our flock can understand. If you go to synagogue, or go to a class and don’t feel inspired and desire to learn more, I feel that in some way the rabbi (even if it is me) hasn’t done his duty. But on the flip side, there is a generation sickness prevalent in our culture where we sit back and wait for others to do something for us. And while convenience is always appreciated, we can’t be lambs all our lives, passively waiting for greatness to find us. Trust me, I get the grind. I get how hard it is to go out there day after day. I also deeply resonate with the idea that work should be fun and/or meaningful. But just like we don’t expect a paycheck to fall on our door, we shouldn’t expect spiritual fulfilment to fall there either. The pre-Shavuot run is all about the concept that we need to go out and find our purpose. We have to actively pursue meaningful spirituality in our lives and not just wait or expect someone or something to drop it there. Some of us are “lucky” in the sense that they might have always had meaningful spiritual connection, or on the flip side, just never been interested in living a more meaningful life. I’m not knocking it

at all–some people just aren’t born hungry. But for those of us who do have expectations and desire for living a more connected, elevated life, THIS IS YOUR TIME. There is the moment where you can celebrate the sweat of the journey and push yourself hard to find what you need in life. Hard work is scary because we don’t want to fail. We don’t want to demand something of ourselves or others because G-d knows how hard it is when we try and don’t make it. I’ve started a million diets and know how bad it feels when you’re munching those cookies a few weeks (read: minutes) after you’ve decided to embrace a healthier life. Everyone wants to be Brene Brown these days: vulnerable, open, hungry and present. But no one wants to really open up and put it all on the line. The symbol of the bull, the opportunity of this time, however, is to go forward without fear of stumbling or falling. That’s the greatest demon of this era; the blessings of the modern age produce the great curse. You can do pretty much whatever you want. You can actually live the life that you desire. But if it’s in your hands, the greatest challenge isn’t that the opportunity is too far, it’s that we become too lazy to walk. Or too scared to go after it. Don’t expect spiritual connection or meaning to come from your rabbi. Or your yoga teacher. Or anyone else. It’s sitting there inside of you, waiting for you to take responsibility over your own life, to own your life and to go forward after what you most desire. A

Iyar / Sivan 5780 21


San Diego Arts Organizations Deal with Coronavirus Measures BY ALEX WEHRUNG


multitude of arts venues in the greater San Diego area were forced to shutter their March productions as a result of state and city-issued health mandates meant to combat the spread of COVID-19. While shows and events were cancelled for April and some are still tentatively scheduled for May, many of these organizations have had to adapt to the pandemic. Most are struggling, but many have found ways to keep making art. Here are their situations:

Cygnet Theatre Cygnet postponed its productions of “Cage aux Folles” and “Musical Monday,” and gave patrons the options of keeping the tickets for when “Cage” eventually opens, return the tickets as a tax-deductible donation or turn the tickets into credits. Other tax-deductible donations can be made at Cygnet’s website. “While we are disappointed, we stand in solidarity with the other performing arts organizations who have taken this step to slow down the spread of the virus and give our healthcare system more time to do its work,” said Artistic Director Sean Murray in a statement. In a trend that you will see recurring throughout this list, Cygnet made the move to online content distribution: you can watch its new interview series on its Youtube channel. Plainly called the Cygnet Interview Series, it features chats with actors, playwrights, designers, production managers and directors.

list: “Stay strong. Stay safe. We will keep in touch about how and what we are doing to weather this storm. We will emerge stronger than ever for having experienced this together.” “Head Over Heels” is still scheduled to premiere at Diversionary on May 21.

La Jolla Playhouse In the aftermath of cancelling “Fly,” La Jolla Playhouse decided to take its content online, starting its LJP Vault series. The Vault allows LJP staff, volunteers and artists to publicly share their favorite LJP experiences, whether it’s a photo, a video or a memory. “This is devastating in so many ways, but the one silver lining seems to be everybody looking at it and trying to say, ‘Okay, there are new ways of communicating, there is new art to be talking about and there’s new ways of creating community that we hadn’t focused on before,’” said Managing Director Debby Buchholz. The theater has been reaching out to artists who participated in LJP’s Without Walls (WOW) Festival to create a brand new work “that is specifically meant to be experienced in a technical medium, as opposed to in a live event,” Debby said. LJP’s education department has also been rolling out more online engagement events. More content will become available on La Jolla Playhouse’s website and its affiliated social media channels.

Diversionary Theatre

National Comedy Theatre & Unscripted Learning

Diversionary Theatre managed to assemble the cast of the cancelled “Plot Points in Our Sexual Development” on Mar. 25 to film a recording of the play so that it could be archived. Diversionary expressed its disappointment in the play’s cancellation, especially after its writer, Miranda Rose Hall, won the Craig Noel Award for Outstanding New Play for “The Hour of Great Mercy.” But the theater remains hopeful, as it expressed in a statement to those on its email

National Comedy Theatre and Unscripted Learning are both improvisational comedy programs, the latter of which is a nonprofit catered towards children and young adults who are on the autism spectrum. Gary Kramer (Artistic Director and Executive Director for both) describes both orgs’ purposes as using improv comedy to encourage social skills, keep brains healthy and help people connect. With both currently closed, the COVID-19 pandemic marks the first time in

22 | May 2020

20 years that the NCT has been forced to suspend its performances, and Unscripted Leaning its classes. However, both groups have been meeting up on Zoom to practice; Gary said that everyone is antsy to return to the stage, though the senior performers had to be educated on how to work the proper technology. “2020 is the year that video conferencing suddenly exploded upon us,” Gary said. One thing he found particularly interesting in the course of working online was finding new ways to keep the figurative improv ball rolling. “I was just saying that today, with a dozen seniors on Zoom together, plus two facilitators: how dialed-into each other we had to stay. And it was actually a pretty good lesson in active listening and staying focused on each other.” He attributed this to focusing more on audio cues in lieu of visual ones. However, both venues could use some help in this trying time. You can support the NCT by buying advance tickets and gift certificates via its website, and Unscripted Learning by making donations.

New Village Arts Theatre The coronavirus caused New Village Arts to cancel the remainder of its 19th season and postpone the announcement of its 20th. The theater subsequently started its New Virtual Arts series, which features a variety of different performances from various artists, and is distributed via Instagram and Facebook. “New Village Arts will be able to come out [of ] the other side of this pandemic,” said NVA founder and Executive Artistic Director Kristianne Kurner in a video uploaded to Youtube. “But we will do so thanks to the support of [our board of directors] and [our] staff, and our artists and our patrons, our villagers. It is going to be one of the toughest times of our existence, but we are a pretty resilient bunch.”

North Coast Repertory Theatre In the aftermath of cancelling “The Homecoming”, Artistic Director and occasional NCR actor David Ellenstein started a vid-

Cygnet Theatre.

eo series called Theatre Conversations, in which he speaks with figures in the local arts scene. For his first video, Ellenstein spoke with Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss. After that, Ellenstein spoke with actor/writer Omri Schein regarding NCR’s scheduled July-August production, “The Remarkable Mister Holmes.” “Whenever you can step back from something,” Ellenstein said, “if you can step back and take a breath and really look at what you’re doing, you’re always gonna find a new perspective and how to do things better, and what you should appreciate, what you should let go of. So from that standpoint, this can be a healthy thing. As much as the different kinds of damage it’s doing to all the arts organizations, taking stock in what you do and how you do it is never a bad thing. “So I think for all of us, if we can survive it, we should come out with new knowledge and the ability to do things better. Maybe we’ll have gained some new techniques.” “Gotta try to stay positive, as awful as this whole thing is.” North Coast Repertory’s “Human Error” is currently scheduled to premiere on May 27.

National Comedy Theatre.

help; a $10 donation is suggested. The theater is a 501c, tax-deductible organization, and you can donate at its website. “I would ask you, as all of us on this program are asking you, to please join us. Invest in OTC so that the powerful beat, the essence, the rhythm of all our lives–art–continues its full strength at OTC and beyond just this crisis period,” said OTC President John McCoy in the theater’s State of the Arts webinar.

The Old Globe After postponing “Little Women” and “Faceless”, the Old Globe put emphasis on its online workshops, including Community Voices and Behind-the-Curtain. Since Mar. 31, Artistic Director Barry Edelstein has been leading a free online edition of Thinking Shakespeare Live!, his workshop that explores the language of William Shakespeare.

Oceanside Theatre Company “We were impacted tremendously,” said Ted Leib, Artistic Director of the Oceanside Theatre Company. “This really couldn’t have happened at a worse time for OTC.” After just three performances, OTC was forced to cancel “Sweet Charity,” the Neil Simon-penned (and costly) romantic comedy musical that Ted had been directing. The resulting cancellation put the theater in a considerable financial crutch. Oceanside Theatre has a full-time staff of four and they have all been furloughed. The company will not be able to produce any more shows until summer, assuming that the coronavirus pandemic is alleviated by then. Until that time, Oceanside Theatre needs

bined in Balboa Park. So we are definitely reaching an enormous number of people. And you know, that’s a function of the appetite for this work, and the affection in which San Diego holds the Globe.” What makes acting for an online audience special, Barry said, is knowing that it is still happening live, as opposed to, say, a movie that the viewer knows was produced years prior. “What this points to is the special superpower of the theatre, which is creating community. That’s what the theatre does; it brings people together. And if we can’t bring people together in a physical space because of fear of infection, then we’re succeeding at bringing people together in a virtual space.” Regarding what the future holds for the world of theatre, Barry drew upon his experience of running a New York theater during and after 9/11. While he saw permanent changes implemented in reaction to the attacks—bag checking, for one thing—he also saw that people were eager to return, in droves. “I know that theatre’s going to endure. I know that I, like every other artist, is going to stick to this work. I’m not bailing out, I’m not leaving. I’m determined to rebuild, and to remake and to reopen,” he said.

San Diego International Film Festival

Barry Edelstein.

“In the first week of our online offerings, they were viewed by 12,000 people,” Barry said. “And if you compare that to the capacity of the three theaters at the Old Globe, that’s more people than would see eight performances a week in our three theaters com-

Of all the venues listed here, the San Diego International Film Festival may be the least affected by coronavirus, due in no small part to being scheduled for mid-late October. CEO and festival Artistic Director Tonya Mantooth said that for now, the Festival is “watching the landscape” and considering its options. In April, passholders became able to watch online screenings of independent films, as part of the festival’s online film series. “We’re really looking for ways to keep our community together, and I feel like people Iyar / Sivan 5780 23

"Write Out Loud."

"House of Joy."

want that more than ever,” Tonya said, saying she wants the festival to remain true to its mission statement, the idea that while there are many things that divide people, humanity is shared. “I think that this is an unprecedented time, where every person on this planet is experiencing this moment." “[Film] really has the ability to allow you to step into another’s shoes, and gain a new perspective. And I think people are more open to that today, and now want that, because … I believe a new perspective can change the world. So we really are working to be able to continue to engage our film community.”

they premiered their online reading of “Quiet Cross” by Casey Tibbits, a dramedy about a family of Catholic Bostonians dealing with the oldest daughter’s pregnancy. Susan appeared in the play as Kate O’Connell. “Sharing talent, resources and extending the reach of the stories we tell has created a wonderful collaborative relationship between the two organizations. Partnering up to continue to share stories creatively was a natural fit,” said Scripps Ranch Theatre Artistic Director Jill Drexler in a statement. Drexler also had a role in the play, as the Narrator.

Write Out Loud

San Diego Repertory Theatre San Diego Repertory Theatre had just performed their opening night of Madhuri Shekar’s “House of Joy” when Governor Gavin Newsom ordered that any gathering larger than 250 people was to be cancelled or suspended. SD Rep later streamed the show on their website for a limited time. In the meantime, the theater’s staff has been communicating via frequent video conferencing while also trying to keep in touch with its own donors, subscribers and audience members. Managing Director Larry Aldredge called working from home an “interesting experience. I actually think in some ways, we’re working together more closely than when we’re all in the same building.” The half of the “House of Joy” cast that are from San Diego have also been interacting with one-another online. SD Rep may also turn to online services for potential content distribution, but at the time of writing, Larry said that the future of the theater all depends “on the unknown” and that he hopes that it comes out of the 24 | May 2020

pandemic just as strong as it was before. “We’re always gonna be a theater at heart,” he said, praising the medium for its longevity and its nature as a communal art form. SD Rep also hopes to put on the Lipinsky Family Jewish Arts Festival in the summer, but in the meantime, it remains committed to its mission of celebrating local San Diego voices and being a vital part of San Diego culture.

Scripps Ranch Theatre Scripps Ranch Theatre’s actors are disappointed that after all the work they put into their rehearsals, no one will get to see them perform “Love Song.” “It’s like, maybe, writing a story that you’ve put all this time into, and then nobody gets to read it,” said Susan Clausen, Scripps Ranch actor and their public relations representative. Despite the circumstances, the theatre went ahead with its seasonal collaborative project with Oceanside Theatre: on Apr. 2,

Write Out Loud is a story and poetry-reading group; its readers are mostly local San Diego actors and actresses, while some thespians are occasionally brought down from LA to perform. For four to five days a week, Write Out Loud’s storytellers go to senior residences, libraries and classrooms to dictate stories. However, the pandemic has shuttered these readings, as well as the San Diego Student Shakespeare Festival, which Write Out Loud had been scheduled to co-produce for the first time. Like other venues on this list, WOL has gone online in order to continue engaging with its longtime patrons and listeners. Everyone on their email list received a recording produced by its various readers of them performing stories. Artistic Director and Co-Founder Veronica Murphy said that despite the challenges posed to Write Out Loud, “Our goal is to encourage a love of reading and literature. To read to people aloud. So if people have an interest in that, it’d be nice to have their support.” A

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26 | May 2020


SDJA Transitions to Online Learning in Times of Social Distancing BY EMILY GOULD


s every educational institution in the state will continue to be shut down until at least the start of summer, how our children are progressing in school has become a major concern for parents across California. While many public schools are still out of commission and trying to navigate how to transition to virtual learning, the San Diego Jewish Academy took a proactive approach to the situation. SDJA quickly transitioned to online schooling and has continued to deliver an unparalleled education to their students since less than a week after the quarantine began. “We ended school on Thursday Mar. 12, and by the following Wednesday (Mar. 18) we were up and running online,” said Jessica Fink, a parent of two students (in second and fourth grade) who attend SDJA. “It’s pretty amazing what the teachers have done.” Every morning by 8am, each SDJA family receives an email with links to everything they will need for the school day. For the lower school (grades 6-12), school runs from 8:30am to 12pm: three one-hour classes with short breaks in between each, and a one hour lunch break before optional afternoon “specials” (12-3pm) begin. The morning classes focus mainly on reading, writing, and math, while the afternoon enrichment classes vary to include physical education, music, science, art, storytime, cooking, sign language and drama. Because younger children are not able to do their distance learning completely independently, the school has been cognizant

of parent scheduling during this time. “We provide structure with flexibility,” said Kelley King, Head of the Academy’s Lower School. “Kids have a schedule to follow, but parents can be flexible depending on their work and other needs.” The school has overcome this scheduling barrier by offering both synchronous and asynchronous Zoom classes for their students. Children are invited to attend live (synchronous) group video chats with their teachers, or they may opt for prerecorded (asynchronous) lessons to be viewed at their convenience. Additionally, the school has a website where students turn in their schoolwork and receive feedback from their teachers. There they can also schedule private (one-on-one) Zoom calls with their teacher for extra help. King says that this system "offers families a sense of routine, which is important with all the uncertainty we face.” Like the lower school, SDJA’s upperschool (grades 6-12) has a near identical daily schedule and website for their students; the major difference being that the older children are able to complete their distance learning independently. Therefore, the upper school students go to virtual school just like they would normally: they attend live Zoom classes from 8:30am to 3:30pm with breaks and lunch in between. The biggest challenge with the older students is “balancing screen fatigue with strong academia,” said Mike Quigley, Head of the Upper School, “Academic excellence is part of our mission, so we’re doing everything we can in this virtual world to accomplish that.” It seems

that the Academy has achieved that mission; student “attendance to online classes is near perfect” and the “kids are working hard” to continue their education. “Teachers are also working incredibly,” Quigley said proudly, “they have really risen to the challenge. Our teachers are very forward thinking, they take time to reflect every day and are intrinsically motivated and curious.” SDJA has been fortunate that the “entire community has come together during this difficult time,” said Quigley. The school had been preparing since Feb. 24 (well before the COVID-19 quarantine was federally implemented) to move to distance learning, and the students, parents, faculty and staff have taken great measures to ensure that the transition was a smooth one. “It’s astonishing how thorough and engaging all the classes have been,” said Fink who feels “so lucky that this is where [her] kids and family are.” Not only has SDJA successfully transitioned their learning to be online, but they’ve also managed to continue holding schoolwide events like Kabbalat Shabbat and Modeh Ani virtually, which has been another source of hope and happiness for families looking to stay positive while they shelter-in-place. Fink’s family, like most, is “trying to keep an eye on the bright side. Our kids get it; they don’t like it but they get it. When one of us is having a bad day, we’re all there to pick each other up. And we try not to have our bad days on the same day.” A

Iyar / Sivan 5780 27




as this ever happened to you? You’re on a plane, in a store, on a guided tour or wandering through the main town square in a foreign country and you meet someone with whom you feel a connection. You chat, you have an intense exchange, you laugh together, you feel a bond, you get personal … and then you find out that she or he is Jewish. Even if his or her last name is McDonald. Is it a coincidence? I think not. Does it mean that the other person is somehow a superior being? Nope. Does it indicate that there is some magnetic pull to atoms with which we share a common origin? Probably. Is it an invitation to start playing Jewish geography? You bet. So I thought I’d invite you along to a few Jew-dar experiences I had in Central Mexico recently. It all started in Puebla, which is perhaps the most beautiful city in the country because of the 2,500 multi-hued colonial houses that hug the streets of the historic center. One day, my husband Paul and I were walking to the zocalo, or plaza, when I remembered that my glasses needed tightening. In Puebla, it’s easy to find whatever you need because the shopping streets are arranged by category. I am certain it’s the way shopping life was organized in ancient times–long before department stores and before the 16th-century arrival of the Spanish. Maybe the items were different–like salt and fried bugs and indigenous bling–but the principle was the same. Today there’s a candy street, a paper goods street, a street for shoes, another for mariachis and I headed for the optical area. I randomly chose a shop, but you can probably guess that it wasn’t really random. It was that Jewish magnet thing. Anyway, a very pleasant woman named Paulina fixed my glasses and we were about to leave when Paul whispered, “Did you see the

28 | May 2020

Jewish star she’s wearing?” I hadn’t noticed it, but Paul is a scout, and he sniffs out things he know I’ll be interested in. “Paul, will you ask her if she is Jewish?” It was like asking a sheep to moo. “I think it would be intrusive,” he answered. So I asked, and Paulina was excited to meet us because Jews are as rare as good Chinese food in Puebla. Then came the personal part. Paulina told me that she is Orthodox and there are very few Jews in Puebla, but she has a rabbi who lives several hours away in Mexico City. She added that she heard about a Reform rabbi in the U.S. who helps to convert people and has a congregation in Mexico City and online. When she told me his name, I almost dropped my newly tightened glasses. Jacques Cukierkorn. Two minutes later we were chatting excitedly with my friend Rabbi Jacques on Facebook, and when he heard we were going to Cuernavaca after Puebla, he connected me to Israel Rocha, the president of Brit Braja, a congregation of Mexicans, Latin Americans and South Americans that Jacques helped to form. Almost all of them are converts, and the rabbi trains and prepares them online, and then comes to Mexico to finalize the conversions with mikvah immersion and a Beit Din. Afterwards, he continues to teach and lead services in-person and from a distance. If you are wondering why the newly converted Jews don’t belong to other congregations, Israel explained that they were rejected because they’re not Orthodox and they’re also brown-skinned and not wealthy. And then it got personal, and Israel said it was his own choice not to join another congregation. “I decided to form a different community with different values: a community free from the disease of classism, racism and discrimination against people by those who have always been welcomed, treated well and allowed to be the

great prosperous communities that they are now. I don’t agree that Mexicans who want to be Jews are rejected by those who hide behind a takaná (law) of not ​​ receiving converted people. For that and many other reasons, I decided not to be with them.” In Cuernavaca, Israel was our unofficial guide. As we watched a Mexican wrestling match, visited magnificent ruins like Xochicalco and visited the Museum of Traditional and Popular Art, Israel dazzled me with his deep stories of Mexican culture and history and the breadth of his knowledge of Torah and Judaism. He explained that the congregation he leads has curious, intelligent members who analyze aspects of Judaism and do a deep dive into Torah and ritual, which they balance with social justice and community outreach. When we asked Israel what he does for a living, he said he literally makes eyes. He is a master of prosthetics and said he gets deep satisfaction from giving his clients what they describe as a new lease on life. A few days later we were at the Mexico City airport to catch our plane back home. Paul, the scout, pointed to a row of seats where two women, dressed elaborately and garishly as clowns, were waiting for their flight. It was pretty unusual to see women of a certain age who are clowns in an airport in Mexico. Out of curiosity, we approached the two women and asked them about their clowning. They were very friendly, and told us they volunteer with Patch Adams’ organization called Gesundheit, which spreads joy and laughter wherever they go. They explained that they were returning from a week in Mexico with a group of 25 clowns. They went into a women’s prison and into hospitals and the shorter woman, which means she was about my height, said that her life had been transformed. Totally transformed. And then there was the Jew-dar moment.

Mexico’s most famous volcano, Popocatépetl, looms over the city of Puebla.

When I asked her how her life changed, somehow her story led to the fact that her immigrant great-grandfather from Poland wanted to go out west and he ended up being the Orthodox rabbi in San Antonio, Texas. He traveled by horse and buggy to the Jews who were in Monterey, Mexico to be their rabbi. “He went back and forth and it was a period in history that was so interesting because there was a concentration of Jews in northeast Mexico and I happen to be in the lineage of their rabbi,” she said with obvious pride. When you meet another Jewish person, you can never assume how observant, affiliated or secular they are. So just to be sure I wasn’t treading on any clown toes, I asked Elaine if she was religious. She replied that, “When I grew up in Los Angeles my parents were radical, left-wing people who were not at all interested in following the religion.” “Los Angeles? I grew up there too,” Paul said with a grin, and that was when Jewish geography began. It turned out that Elaine went to the same junior high school and high school as Paul. And then it was time for the get-personal moment. I asked her what was transformative about her week as a clown, after she told me that it was the first time she had done it. She said that she had had a very traumatic life with a lot of abuse and that this experience lifted her out of herself and blew open her heart to the people she met and her life changed. “Elaine?” I asked, “Do you think you changed or did you go back to your true self?” She smiled and replied, “Yes, I went back to myself.” At this point we hugged, and then, feeling bonded by many ties, we headed off for the security line. A

Baruj Rocha with his father Israel. The latter is President of Brit Braja Jewish congregation.

The historic heart of Puebla is filled with colorful buildings from various periods of Mexico’s past.

Judith Fein, a former San Diego resident, currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her website is

Iyar / Sivan 5780 29

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Tikkun Olam —On Repairing the World Part 3: Repairing Our World After COVID-19 BY BETH SIRULL


ore than 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits during the last two weeks of March. That is more claims initiated in a two-week period than during the entire 18-month period of the 2008 Great Recession. Approximately 75% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck. And 45% have no savings at all. These precipitous job losses hold the prospect of a large-scale humanitarian disaster. At the very least, they will place an unprecedented stress on social services across the country. We already see the demand at food banks rising dramatically, with some seeing food requests of eight times what they were a few months ago. San Diego–and the Jewish community in San Diego–will experience its share of the pain. Economists estimate that 350,000 people in the county will lose their jobs as a result of COVID-19. As businesses of all kinds close or severely curtail service, the number of San Diegans who are without a paycheck is growing. But rent is due. Prescriptions need to be refilled. Families need groceries to eat. First responders need safe childcare, so they can work in the hospitals and clinics that are facing a flood of patients. Before COVID-19, there were nearly 10,000 Jewish households living on the edge. With COVID-19, that number is rising significantly. What’s to be done? Meeting the societal challenges presented by COVID-19 requires government aid, business adaptiveness and philanthropy’s flexibility. The Federal government committed $2.2 trillion to help individuals, families, businesses and nonprofits. These funds are a start, but they won’t be enough.

Businesses can do their part as well. Now is a good time to adapt Hillel’s Golden Rule: What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. If you are a business owner, you probably need your vendors to relax payment terms. Do the same for your customers. Better to receive late and lower payments than to see your customer go into bankruptcy and your entire investment become worthless. Ultimately, patience will prevent bankruptcies–and you will likely get your money or most of it, albeit later than preferred. Even if all business owners were able to act with this compassion, and government aid is delivered, needs will remain. Philanthropy is fast and flexible capital. The needs are now. Your charitable dollars can help where restricted government dollars cannot. We will undoubtedly see remarkable innovation in social service delivery. Philanthropy can fund these ideas until they are proven and scalable. Extrapolating from national statistics, San Diegans likely donated over $4 billion to charity annually in recent years. We need San Diegans to step up in a big way in 2020. A challenge of this magnitude facing our community requires a central response. The three largest philanthropic funders supporting San Diego’s Jewish community–the Jewish Community Foundation, Jewish Federation of San Diego and Leichtag Foundation–have joined together to establish the San Diego Jewish Community COVID-19 Emergency Fund to meet the community’s growing needs. Governed by a task force of lay and professional leaders, the Emergency Fund is working with organizations in our community to

help individuals and families meet their basic human needs in the face of severely curtailed income or no income at all. We also want to ensure that Jewish organizations are not forced to make hasty decisions in these very challenging times that could have longterm, negative ramifications. And, at least at this point, to the extent we can, we want to enable our community organizations to make their payrolls–better to keep those who work for Jewish organizations employed with a paycheck than make grants to cover their basic human needs. The fund is striving not to cover costs that government aid will cover, but it is making interest-free “bridge loans” to help organizations cover the gap until federal aid is available. Philanthropic dollars are precious and should be used where no other funds are available. By making these bridge loans, repayable from government funding, the emergency fund is meeting needs today, while preserving funds for longer term challenges. As bridge loans are repaid, we will reloan or grant the dollars based on the situation at that time. That’s double the impact for every dollar. Government aid will not be felt immediately. Philanthropy can meet the immediate existential needs of individuals and families literally unable to put food on the table. Business can help minimize the number of people who find themselves in that predicament. We must all do our part. A Beth Sirull is the President and CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego, Miriam and Jerome Katzin Presidential Chair

Iyar / Sivan 5780 31


Chicken Soup for Anyone Who Needs It San Diego Chabad Centers Respond to COVID-19 Crisis BY LEORAH GAVIDOR


acing the challenge of continuing to provide spiritual, religious and educational services to the San Diego Jewish community during COVID-19 closures, Rabbi Eilfort, founder and director of Chabad at La Costa, put it this way: “We are NOT going to give in to this pandemic! We ARE going to overcome it by adding to our Acts of Kindness, our Prayers and our Torah Study! The doctors and first responders have their role to play and we have ours.” He sees the current “safer at home” situation as an opportunity to come together in new ways. As soon as Governor Newsom issued the order for California, Rabbi Eilfort and leaders from Chabad organizations from all around San Diego County came together for a virtual meeting. “Our job is to offer a meaningful connection to G-d and community, so we figured it was time to start thinking outside the box about how to do this. We immediately discussed what we could do to help people realize that they are not isolated.” Out of these uncertain times grew the idea for an online “Day of Learning,” a full day of live learning and inspiration from “your Chabad family.” With just a few weeks of planning, the organization Chabad SD 4U put together a day of virtual classes and talks that people could attend via Facebook Live or the event’s dedicated website. Through the various platforms and offerings, they had about 10,000 views. Rabbi and Rebbetzin Eilfort hosted “Family Friendly Seder Ideas.” Other timely topics included “The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Response to Crisis” by Rabbi Cagen of University City Chabad and “Keeping Positive in Tough Times” by Rabbi Ezagui of La Jolla Chabad. The day concluded with a 32 | May 2020

live Q & A with world-renowned author, lecturer and counselor Rabbi Manis Friedman. Shaina Miller, who lives downtown and sells real estate, live-streamed a few events during the Day of Learning. She checked in at 10 in the morning “just to see what it was all about,” and then she ended up watching for three hours. After a brief walk around her neighborhood, she came back and watched for the rest of the day. “I live alone,” Shaina shared, “but I felt like there were people all around me.” From the virtual meeting of local rabbis also came a new website,, where anyone can join the forum. Access a list of live online learning classes, daily videos to watch and discuss, a kids corner with children in San Diego and around the world, and a “Get Help – Give Help” section that connects those in need with those who have the ability to give time and resources. “We are the clearing house for caring people right now,” said Rabbi Eilfort of his organization. Since kids are furloughed from school, “we’ve been getting requests from parents and young people asking what they can do to help.” So they put the students to work helping those who are unable to leave home due to age or underlying health conditions. Expanding on the old tradition, the teens have gotten together (distancing safely) in the kitchen at La Costa to make massive batches of chicken soup for Shabbat dinner delivery to anyone who needs it. They leave the packages on the porch or doorstep and wave from the car. Hundreds of meals have been prepared and delivered (following strict sanitary guidelines, of course) and hundreds more will go out to the community in the coming weeks.

Chabad Downtown also offers food and bread distribution for anyone who needs it on Fridays from 10 a.m.–12 p.m. in the parking lot at 275 Island Avenue. San Diego State Chabad is sending out meals for students. Chabad of Carmel Valley introduced a new section of their website, “Resources and Ideas for Special Times.” Rabbi Polichenco offers his phone number “if you need anything.” Links include articles such as “How to Talk to Your Kids About Coronavirus” and “I’m a Rabbi and a Physician Assistant: Why I Want You to Stay Home.”

Seder in a Box Since the Passover holiday coincided with “safer at home” practices, many Chabad centers posted detailed Seder instructions and links to resources for celebrating, along with articles addressing questions like, “While strictly following the guidelines of the CDC, how are we to prepare with minimal ingredients and limited access to communal resources? How to celebrate the Seder alone? How will we celebrate the Festival of Freedom with our movement restricted?” While many Jewish families are accustomed to being spread out in the diaspora and connecting virtually to wish each other good tidings for holidays throughout the year, the post “How to do a pre-Seder Zoom gathering” was completely unique to the COVID-19 crisis. Shaina Miller usually celebrates Passover with her sister and her family. This year she made a Seder in her apartment and set the table for four: her parents who have passed away, Elijah and herself. “Your mother and father will come to visit you for Passover,” the Rabbi told her. “Passover was my father’s favorite holiday,” Shaina said, tearing up, “and

it’s mine, too.” Chabad of East County and others had “Seder in a Box” available on their websites for free or suggested donation. Chabad of Chula Vista went out on a matzo delivery mission–with sanitizer wipes in tow.

Havdalah in Pajamas Several synagogues are offering online live streams or links to recorded services. Rabbi Eilfort has been recording his Shabbat sermon beforehand to make it available, along with prayer printouts and instructions. Chabad of La Costa created a YouTube channel, “Chabad Virtual Academy,” for services and classes that people can access in lieu of attending synagogue and other activities. “We are providing spiritual fuel,” Rabbi Eilfort said. “To alternate with binge watching,” he laughed. “We want to provide something uplifting. This gives us an opportunity to put ourselves in a better position to make the world a better place.” At Chabad of Pacific Beach, Hebrew school has gone virtual, along with Havdalah in pajamas after Shabbat. Rabbi Yossi of Carlsbad North took out his guitar and did a sing-a-long for Havdalah. Chabad centers got together virtually and created a video of local rabbis and rebbetzins wishing “Shabbat Shalom,” posted on Facebook pages for the various synagogues. “This Shabbat is an amazing opportunity. Your home is your synagogue. You are the Rabbi, Rebbetzin, Cantor and Torah Reader. If you don't usually keep Shabbat fully, try to do it this Shabbat,” Chabad PB posted on Facebook at the end of March, followed by detailed instructions and inspiration. “The Jewish people have always been bound tightly together and that has kept us strong through thick and thin. Now, with the precaution of social distancing, we are finding alternative ways to stay connected and keep each others’ spirits up.” “Unprecedented times mean unprecedented opportunities!” Rabbi Eilfort posted.

Quarantine Kaddish Service On their website, Chabad of Carmel Valley is providing inspirational articles along with practical guidance. They are also offering a free quarantine kaddish service for those who cannot get to synagogue. “If you are unable to make it to services to say kaddish for a loved one due to coronavirus, we’re here to try to ensure that the mourner’s kaddish will be said in their merit. We know how important it is to people who are mourning to know that someone is saying kaddish for their loved one. But we also are mindful that doing so can't come at the expense of putting any individual or the public at a health risk. Therefore, as the coronavirus spread and communities around the world closed synagogues–and rabbis and health officials advised against public gatherings of even ten–we have sought out people around the world to say kaddish with a minyan where doing so follows the guidelines of all health and rabbinic authorities and does not put anyone at risk.”

Reach Out and Touch Someone “Remember the old AT&T commercials? Reach out and touch someone,” Rabbi Eilfort repeated the old slogan to describe another of Chabad’s efforts to help during the COVID-19 closures. Volunteers are picking up the phone and calling people to let them know they’re not alone. Under normal conditions, people visit Chabad centers to connect with others. Now, Rabbi Eilfort and all the Chabad organizations of San Diego are building a virtual family and community to bolster traditions through tough times. “It’s what we do.” A

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Iyar / Sivan 5780 33


Countering Iran’s SpanishLanguage News Channel Leah Soibel and Joseph Humie at The United Nations G77 conference in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.



ispanTV’s motto is “Nexo Latino,” or “Latino Connection”; it is broadcast to predominantly Spanish-speaking countries, such as Venezuela, Spain, Cuba and Argentina. If you have never heard of this news organization, you might be wondering who or what HispanTV is supposed to be connecting the Latin-American community to? Iran. HispanTV, founded in 2011, is owned and operated by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Iran’s state-sanctioned propaganda network. It is the Spanish-language equivalent of their English-language propaganda channel, PressTV. The outlet has published anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. On Mar. 19, HispanTV published a story claiming that the Jerusalem Post ‘pointed out’ that the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is a Zionist conspiracy between Israel and the United States, meant to harm Iran. That Post article is a story on Turkish anti-Semitic reaction to the coronavirus pandemic. “In my experience, this is new,” said Leah Soibel, founder of Fuente Latina, “because they typically never cited any Israeli media in their fake news narrative. And this was actually one of the very few times I’ve seen them do that, and I guess it’s a way to legitimize their own conspiracy. A typical article for them is very much conspiracy-laden.” HispanTV’s article quotes Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer who has espoused anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denying view-

34 | May 2020

points in the past. This is not the first time an IRIB channel has used an American as a source. In 2013, PressTV interviewed David Duke regarding his opinions on the thenstate of United States politics, one of multiple instances when Iranian media has shone spotlights on Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. When I asked journalist and Los Angeles Jewish Journal contributor Karmel Melamed why these people would want to be interviewed by those they would otherwise hate, he said, “A lot of those anti-Semites don’t care. They want any kind of publicity. They’ll go for any outlet that will spew and push their agenda.” And HispanTV is by no means a small operation; Leah claimed that it once had over 45,000 videos on its Youtube channel. However, multiple takedowns have cut into HispanTV’s total number of videos. (Which was, at the time of this article’s writing, at approximately 263 videos since the channel returned to Youtube on Feb. 12.) By Apr. 1, the Youtube channel had nearly 7,000 subscribers. With more than an accumulated 334,000 views total, the average amount of views per video was around 1,270. HispanTV can also claim at least one significant face to its brand. One of the more well-known producers of its content is Pablo Iglesias Turrión, Second Deputy Prime Minister of Spain and head of the populist Podemos party. Despite that Spain banned HispanTV in 2013, Turrión has his own program there: “Fort Apache,” and its Youtube

channel has been in operation since Nov. 2012, accumulating over 4 million views. But HispanTV is not without opposition. Eight years ago, Leah noticed that there was a gap in the Spanish-language media market, and no resources that would help Spanish-speaking journalists conduct objective reporting on the Israeli government. There was also a growing interest in global Hispanic media for information about Israel and the region, but no organization that could provide 24/7 access and support. Leah said that the countries that have the greatest demand for news about Israel are Argentina, as it has one of the largest Jewish populations in Latin America, as well as Mexico. “You have a couple reasons why these countries would have interest. You have places like Mexico, Columbia, Panama … most countries in general, just because there are, number one, Jewish communities, some larger than others.” “Israel has made a real, concerted effort and over the last five–if not more–years, to really re-establish strong economic, political and just ties in general regarding tourism relations, political relations and economic relations,” she said. “There’s a lot of interest in Latin America with regard to Israel.” In 2012, Leah founded Fuente Latina–a non-profit media organization headquartered in Miami with locations in Jerusalem, Madrid and Los Angeles–to fill in this gap. Fuente Latina helps connect Spanish-speaking journalists and ‘influencers’ to Israel in an effort to promote more objective coverage

of the region, while also providing some production services. “There are very few Spanish-language, Israel-based correspondents that cover Israel in the region,” Leah said. “And so a lot of the stories that are coming out about Israel are either taken off the wire, or they’re written by journalists that aren’t even based in Israel; they’re based in Latin America, the U.S. or elsewhere. “And so if you’re a journalist, you’re trying to put together or piece together a story, by maybe speaking to an expert and getting some video B-roll online on Youtube, there isn’t a lot of it in Spanish, from, let’s say, an objective standpoint.” Latin American journalists have spread false HispanTV stories before; in 2019, an article that said Israelis were conducting medical experiments on jailed Palestinians was published in the Chilean monthly publication El Ciudadno and on the website of Uruguay’s La Republica. Fuente Latina is aware of certain journalists who are performing freelance work on behalf of HispanTV; some are looking for side work and to cover issues such as immigration, not knowing that they are working for a propaganda network. HispanTV predates Fuente Latina by a mere one to two months, and the former is aware of the latter; HispanTV ran a two-hour piece on a trip Leah–and Fuente Latina-associated security expert Joseph Humire, who accompanied her–took to a United Nations conference in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia in 2014. (The two had been investigating whether or not a facility, which was inaugurated by Interpol fugitive Ahmad Vahidi and allegedly staffed by members of the Iranian military, was in-use in the city of Warnes. It was not.) As far as who pays attention to HispanTV’s stories, Karmel said those who are likely to listen are people in Spanish-speaking countries who have Middle Eastern ancestry or background. “They’re second or third-generation from Lebanon, for example. Or from Syria, or from Egypt, or from Morocco.” He also postulated that Christians who believe

that Jews are responsible for Jesus’s death may be impacted by HispanTV. And the pro-Iranian coverage is reaching its intended audience; to measure the impact HispanTV has on potential viewers, Fuente Latina conducted three focus groups in Mexico, Columbia and Chile. “We were asking, ‘What news sources do you most rely on to get real news?’” Leah said. “And one of the participants said, ‘I go online to get my news on Youtube. And one of the main sources that I get my news from is HispanTV.’ And her subsequent answers throughout the focus group were an exact verbatim of the verbiage and narrative that HispanTV uses throughout their site and their stories.” Around the end of March, Fuente Latina redoubled its efforts to counteract HispanTV’s daily news, upon recognizing the channel’s persistent coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such work requires deliberate planning, but not necessarily opposing action. In Leah's work, she examines the sorts of stories that HispanTV puts out, and draws up plans to counteract them. Her goal is not to confront HispanTV in a direct fashion, but instead inform people regarding its nature as a propaganda outlet, and give Spanish-speaking journalists more accurate information. “Our main strategy,” Leah said, “is to work proactively and make sure that mainstream outlets–like the ones that your average American or average Latin American or Spaniard watches, reads or listens to on a daily basis–has accurate content and tailored content specifically for their news audiences that doesn’t feed into the total conspiracy-theory, anti-Semitic language.” Fuente Latina provides fellowships to journalists and influencers, and brings them to Israel to study the country through a journalistic lens. The idea is to give these people an idea of “why Israel is important to the Hispanic world and how best to cover it by utilizing Fuente Latina as a resource for their news story.” “Basically, we’re facilitators. We’re produc-

ers, I like to say, in a sense,” Leah said. At the time of writing, HispanTV was primarily covering the coronavirus pandemic, so Fuente Latina sent a team to Israel to speak to experts regarding the virus and shoot B-roll footage. One cameraman went to shoot at an Israeli start-up, Growponics, which was producing ventilators and employs Assaf Shemesh, a Spanish-speaking engineer. “We connect the Spanish speaker with the journalist, we also do our own video to provide some B-roll content so that journalists, back where they are, whether that’s Mexico or Miami, are able to take that B-roll and edit it as they please. We give them facts on the company, on the ventilators, what’s happening, currently, with them and we allow them to form their own story using the resources and support that we’re providing them,” Leah said. Karmel, who will be working with Fuente Latina in the future, also said that the best way of counteracting HispanTV coverage is to inform people that they are a state propaganda network that’s working on behalf of Iran. “My belief is the best way to fight hate speech is with truth-speech,” he said. “Get out the message that Hispan is a propaganda media outlet; it’s not a legitimate news outlet. Go into the other Spanish-speaking news media–television, radio, online–and expose them for who they are. “Expose their hate. Expose their message of ridiculous anti-Semitic conspiracies against the Jews. Debunk their false claims that they’re putting out about Israel and America and COVID-19, and their other ridiculous claims. “The best way to fight it is to expose it, and to show that it’s a sham, that it’s a lie. I don’t think shutting [HispanTV] down will stop the regime from trying to advance their message of hate. The best way to fight it is with good speech. The truth-speech.” A

Iyar / Sivan 5780 35


Coastal Roots Farm Rises to the Coronavirus Challenge The farm moves programing online and increases deliveries to Holocaust survivors. BY JACQUELINE BULL


oronavirus has meant a slow down or shut down for many industries, but for those in the food system like Coastal Roots Farm, it means ramping up to meet the need. They’ve had to adapt to new regulations and protocols; the first change was the farm stand. “In terms of our food production and distribution, we are busier than ever. We are 100% committed to fulfilling our food distribution commitments. And during a time when the need is higher than ever before, maybe you know one of the ways you can access food is through our paywhat-you-can farm stand,” Kesha Spoor, the Philanthropy and Communications Manager at Coastal Roots Farm, said. The pay-what-you-can farmstand is still open on Thursdays (12-3) and Sundays (10-3) and seeing about double or triple the customers it normally does. Kesha explained that some of the people at the farmstand have expressed the desire, firstly, for local food, and secondly to be able to shop safely where they may have felt ill at ease about the protocols and the proximity to other people that is common in a grocery store. The protocols that Coastal Roots has implemented are having people queue up in their cars, wait their turn and approach the stand one person at a time where the staff do all the packing and handling of the food for them. This new protocol is more time-consuming–wait times are about a half an hour or more during peak times– but Kesha said that people have been very understanding and grateful.

36 | May 2020

Another big change is running the nonprofit farm without their volunteers. “I don’t typically work the land, but our entire farm team, in order to meet this increased need, is being folded into the production and distribution effort, so from our executive director to our educators and including myself, we are all participating in that. We planted over 8000 onions yesterday. And I’m your new official egg lady [laughs]. I wash the eggs now which is an amazing experience,” she said. They’ve also seen increased demand for their completely donated food distribution efforts that they do at community clinics, serving military families and veterans and their weekly deliveries to Holocaust survivors. “We’ve added on specifically to the [deliveries] to our Holocaust survivors in partnership with Community Resource Center (CRC)–they are a food bank up here in Encinitas. They’ve given us some non-perishables for the Holocaust survivors, knowing how high risk they are at this particular time, so we wanted to provide as comprehensive of a service as possible. The produce that we give them does really nourish their body, but to give them a box of cereal and some canned goods would just increase the likelihood that they wouldn’t need to leave their home for that period of time, so we’re grateful to that partnership,” Kesha said. Another adaptation is moving their education and outreach efforts online. They started a weekly virtual Havdalah, partnering with the Hive at Leichtag Commons. They

are offering weekly Facebook live streams with different topics: one stream all about chickens and eggs and one for farm tips for home gardeners. “People can tune in and they can enjoy the beautiful, serene, thriving environment from the comfort of their own home and learn a little something,” she said. And their education team is going virtual too with live streamed storytimes and activities. “What [the education team] specialize in is environmental stem-based education, so they are still going to bring that same mission which is to bring equitable access for youth of all kinds and educate them about the environment and Jewish culture and all of the things that we do,” Kesha said. And to help other educators, they are working with the Climate Science Alliance to prepare an online teacher training. At the farm stands they’ve been collecting surveys to understand the situation of their customers and about 70% have said that COVID-19 has affected their income or their family’s income; many are furloughed or newly unemployed. “So that’s probably been the largest outpouring of gratitude to continue doing this work when more people than ever before are needing to access additional support in order to keep themselves healthy,” Kesha said. “We understand we are part of the food system and not the one and only solution, we are just trying to do our part.” A

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Jewish Strategies for Stress Reduction BY RABBI JACOB RUPP


Jewish telegram reads, “Start worrying … details to follow.” It’s a classic joke that taps into the underlying stereotype about Jews being nervous. But unlike many stereotypes, there may be a lot more truth with this one than we might think. Studies have proven that trauma passes through generations, with the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors who were raised as orphans with no knowledge of their grandparents’ saga exhibiting higher levels of anxiety. So the millennia-long anti-Semitism may come to play a role in us feeling less settled than the average person. Not only may it be genetic, but we talk about anti-Semitism a lot. It’s in the news, our history books, even the topic of most holidays. I remember another joke about the essence of Jewish holidays, “They tried to kill us … let’s eat!” Even the Talmud makes statements about the nervous nature of Jews, though it is referencing more to our anxiety at performing all the commandments and living up to our national creed. Suffice to say, Jews do stress really well, regardless of where it comes from. But do we offer the world any coping mechanisms for stress other than the wellknown Yiddish expression, “Oy vey?” Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe, a famous modern rabbi who was a world leader in character development, taught what I thought was a brilliant insight around fear. One of the main goals that a person should aspire to is “Fear of G-d.” Now for a kid from California (me) I oftentimes interpreted that concept that I should be good otherwise lightning or earthquakes were going to get me. This idea was complex and complicated; after all, I knew people who decided to give up religion because the pork that they had been taught would invoke G-d’s wrath in the physical world did nothing of the sort. The idea of fearing G-d doesn’t mean fear38 | May 2020

ing punishment. The proper term in Hebrew alludes more to “being in awe of G-d” instead of fearing him. R’ Wolbe taught that fear that just made you depressed, scared or nervous wasn’t valuable at all. The only value fear has is when it is enough to jar you from making an ethical mistake. You don’t steal because you are in awe of G-d and know you shouldn’t do it? Good! Sitting around thinking you’re going to get hit by lightning? Bad! This gnawing sense of fear is all the rage these days. Of course, COVID-19 is very real but much more widespread than the pandemic is the fear. To the extent that it creates positive, proactive action: great. To the extent that it leaves us feeling panicked and powerless: bad. Jewish ‘fear’ means take proactive action, not feeling powerless. Perhaps the main antidote to stress management from a Jewish perspective, however, comes from the basic tenets of Judaism instead of any one teaching. The Jewish understanding of an all powerful G-d is the ultimate antidote to stress and chaos. Learning to understand that there is an infinite power, greater than us, in control at all times brings a person to a deep and largely unshakeable calm. Granted, of course, is that nagging question; if G-d is all powerful and in control, what about all the bad things that happen? Anyone trying to sell you a bag of goods which includes the absence of any pain and suffering in the world should be trying to sell the Brooklyn Bridge as a package deal. There is anguish and suffering and challenge in life. No one is suggesting there isn’t. In fact, there are separate blessings one makes over exceptionally good news and exceptionally bad news. Judaism recognizes that there will be things that make you cry, make you scream and shake you. However, as Viktor Frankl famously explains in his magnum opus “Man’s Search for Meaning,” humanity always has the ability to contextualize our experience. Sure, there are

terrible things in life, but meditating on the fact that our lives are in the hands of G-d, and even if we don’t understand why things happen, we can return to the idea that G-d is the source of love and that all is in his hands. Then, life becomes more about how we can expand instead of engaging in a lifelong battle to avoid suffering. We pray that when difficulty comes, G-d helps us have proper perspective. We long to understand why and how we are in pain, not the childish understanding that life is supposed to be easy. We find meaning in the pain and we use it to contextualize our life. There are an infinite number of examples of people who didn’t see their personal tragedies as anything other than a way to reframe their lives and move in a new direction. Knowing G-d exists and is in complete control allows a person to surrender to life and all it entails. It means doing your best to live a responsible life, but not have unrealistic expectations that life is supposed to be easy. Our experience in the physical body is one of work and development, not easy street. The more we attempt to change our perspective from pain avoidance to embracing what comes as a part of our ever-evolving experience in life, our minds naturally shift from fear to abundance. People are broken by tragedy and people are built. It has a lot more to do with what one cultivates within than any external experience. The more that we accept the yoke of how we react to things in our life, the more empowered, calm and purposeful our lives become. Work on it now–we don’t want to wait until we need our inner calm to develop it and we don’t want to wait to build a relationship with G-d until we’ve found ourselves in a proverbial foxhole. Proactive versus reactive, generating calm for ourselves instead of hoping the world will provide it is the Jewish secret for living a life of calm connectedness. A

Blintz Hotcakes with Strawberry Sauce BY MICAH SIVA Shavuot celebrates two things: the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai and the wheat harvest following Passover. Why do Shavuot menus typically include dairy foods? While there are several ideas as to why we choose blintzes over brisket, it may be that milk is often considered to be symbolic of the “land flowing with milk and honey”, and as a source of life, as nourishing as the Torah. Regardless of what the roots are, there’s never been a better time to make a stack of blintz-inspired hotcakes. Making traditional blintzes can be labor-intensive and are often only eaten on simchas, but these blintz hotcakes come together quickly, meaning you can enjoy the taste of blintzes, no matter the occasion. BLINTZ HOTCAKES WITH STRAWBERRY SAUCE

Serves: 4 Ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. baking soda 4 eggs 1 cup cottage cheese ¼ cup milk 1/3 cup yogurt or sour cream 1 tbsp. honey 1 tsp. vanilla extract Zest of 1 lemon 1 tbsp. butter Strawberry sauce 2 cups frozen sliced strawberries 2 tbsp. water Juice of 1 lemon Zest of 1 lemon 1/4 cup honey 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Preparation: In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add eggs, cottage cheese, milk, yogurt, honey, vanilla and lemon zest to the flour mixture, mixing until fully combined. In a non-stick pan, melt butter over medium heat. For each hotcake, pour ¼ cup batter into the pan. When bubbles form on top, flip and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, prepare the strawberry sauce: In a small pot over medium heat, add strawberries, water, lemon juice and zest and honey. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until the strawberries have broken down. Remove from heat and stir in balsamic vinegar. Serve warm. Enjoy the hotcakes with strawberry sauce. A

Iyar / Sivan 5780 39


‘What We Do in the Shadows’ is the best show you’re not watching BY JTA NEWS

40 | May 2020


aika Waititi is one of the hottest Jewish celebrities on the planet right now. The director, writer and actor is best known for his humorous “Thor” film and for “Jojo Rabbit,” his poignant Nazi satire that earned him an Academy Award. He was born to a Māori New Zealander father and a Jewish mother. He’s also a co-creator of the best TV show you’re not watching: “What We Do in the Shadows.” The premise is simple, if ridiculous: a documentary crew follows four vampires who live together in a house on New York’s Staten Island. The simplicity is what makes the show so successful–the tone is silly, deadpan, absurd and downright hilarious. Much of the credit goes to the stellar cast–that includes some famous Jewish guest stars such as Nick Kroll, Vanessa Bayer and Beanie Feldstein–and Waititi’s co-creator, the “Flight of the Conchords” star Jemaine Clement. Waititi and Clement have been collaborating since they attended university together. In 2004, they made the short film “What We Do in the Shadows: Interviews with Some Vampires,” about vampire roommates in Wellington, New Zealand. Ten years later, the Kiwi comedy stars turned it into a full-length feature, using the same title, that premiered to critical acclaim at Sundance. The idea of mocking vampires came from a bit they used to do. When they initially pitched the film, Clement said, “The world needs ridiculous shit.” The second season premiered Wednesday on FX and also is available on Hulu (along with Season 1). A


ASK MARNIE by Marnie Macauley

How To Manage Feelings During This Difficult Time


iven my advanced age and years of clinical and personal experience, there has never been a better time to send you the concepts I practice and believe in: Reality, Correct thinking and Strategies. Over the years, we Boomers have lived with the fear of imminent nuclear holocaust during the Cuban missile crisis when the brilliant powers decided the best defense for school children against a megaton bomb would be hiding under a 50-year-old wooden desk that couldn’t support a pencil box. We have also lived through assassinations, terrorism and a number of strange flu viruses. And yes, it’s scary. But also yes, throughout, I have never seen the panic I’m seeing now. So here are a few proportional/correct thinking strategies that may help.

tect yourself and others to the degree possible. Limit over-exposure to media on the virus. You need to know the facts, absolutely. Avoid obsessing by listening too long and to too many sources. Over-exposure increases anxiety, especially in light of differing points of view and politics. Stay connected to others! Another emotional hazard is loneliness. The words “Keep your distance” is in direct opposition to our human need for connection. Skype, phone, email, join groups online and keep your friends, family, co-workers close in other ways.


Refuse to catastrophize. Here’s why. Once you’ve taken reasonable precautions, to wallow in anxiety over something that is out of your control is both useless and dangerous to your emotional health.

Take reasonable precautions. Follow the guidelines put forth by the CDC. These steps are simply common sense. So do pro-

Comfort and support your children. Our children take our cues from us. It’s critical to reassure them that life will continue and

use this as an opportunity to teach them adaptability and positivity. If we’re hysterical, they will be as well and it will follow them into adulthood. The changes in the way they’re schooled will affect them, positively and negatively. Most are ambivalent. As with adults, they need safe socialization with family, peers, friends. Proceed living your life as normally as possible. Much like hiding under a wooden desk to “save” us kids in case of nuclear war, hoarding/stocking up for a “bomb” shelter is ridiculous, turning your neighbors into “Twilight Zone” characters trying to break into your shelter. This only adds to the panic and drives prices into the stratosphere. MORE, USE THIS TIME TO BE INVENTIVE. In our “busy” generation one cost is family time. Let’s use it well now. Finally, if you’re experiencing significant anxiety or panic, you can reach me through the Editor. All of my love, support and prayers! A

Iyar / Sivan 5780 41

the news Representative Scott Peters Calls for Improvement to CARES Act Financial Relief

North Coast Repertory Actor J. Todd Adams Passes Away at 51

Representative Scott Peters of California’s 52nd district sent two letters calling for greater investment in and improved execution for the relief programs outlined in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Security (CARES) Act.

Veteran North Coast Repertory actor and star of last June’s “A Walk in the Woods” J. Todd Adams passed away on Apr. 9 at the age of 51. Adams was staying with relatives in Utah after the rehearsals were canceled for a production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors” that he was cast in, due to the coronavirus.

“Congress is poised to pass an interim package this week that will provide $360 billion more for the vital aid programs created by the CARES Act last month,” said Peters. “While this is a step forward, substantive action still comes a week after the appropriated money for many of these programs ran dry, leaving many Americans in a precarious and stressful limbo.

“He was generous, right there in the moment, willing to go with whatever happened. We had great camaraderie backstage and onstage,” said North Coast Repertory Artistic Director David Ellenstein in an interview with the Union-Tribune, which broke the story of Adams’ passing.

“Nonprofits and small business owners in San Diego and across the country require immediate assistance and we must prioritize assistance to smaller main street businesses that had a more difficult time gaining access to these funds in the first go around.”

Ellenstein said that Adams, a longtime friend, struggled with depression. “He was just a sweet, sweet-souled person who couldn’t get past the darkness that hung on him,” Ellenstein said. “He was a light. He was really a light, both in life and in person.”

Peters’ first letter–sent to Secretary Steve Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza–outlines requested fixes to the Paycheck Protection Program. The second–sent to the House Small Business, Appropriations, Ways and Means, and Financial Services committees chairs–asked for expanded eligibility of nonprofits, as well as the creation of a separate fund for small businesses that may not have banking relationships.

Private funeral services are planned to take place in Utah, and North Coast Repertory plans to memorialize Adams for their scheduled production of “Human Error” in May. Adams was born Jan. 26, 1969 in Utah. He held a master’s degree in acting from American Conservatory Theater. He also performed at South Coast Repertory, the Mark Taper Forum, the Utah Shakespeare Festival, the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Santa Cruz and the Great Lakes Theatre.

SodaStream Announces 5-Year City of San Diego Seeks Public Commitment to Reducing Input for Parks Master Plan Plastic Waste Israeli beverage and manufacturing company SodaStream announced that it will attempt to reduce its usage of single-use plastic bottles over the course of the next five years. The company intends to save 67 billion plastic bottles by 2025. It will also start selling all its flavors in metal bottles, which will in turn bring down its usage of plastic bottles by another 200 million.

For the first time in over 60 years, the the City is releasing a draft document outlining the plan for the future of the City’s parks. Before finalizing this plan, they are seeking input from San Diegans.

The company also released a video to commemorate Earth Day, which encouraged viewers that “we need to stay at home to overcome this, and once we do, let’s make sure we take better care of the planet–our home.”

“San Diego is home to one of the largest and most diverse park systems in the nation, and we are very excited for the release of the City’s updated Parks Master Plan,” said Andy Field, the City’s Parks and Recreation Department Director. “The plan will help identify, direct and prioritize park improvements to meet the recreation needs of future generations and help make San Diego’s world-class park system a destination for residents and tourists alike.”

“While we are all going through something so challenging, my hope is that, once COVID-19 will be behind us, we will remember to take much better care of the planet we live in, all together as mankind,” said SodaStream CEO Eyal Shohat.

42 | May 2020

“As we continue to navigate a global health pandemic, we have seen just how valuable our neighborhood parks really are,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer.

To view the draft plan and submit comments, visit parks-master-plan.

Snapshot of Jewish Family Service During COVID-19

TOP L to R: JFS staff load groceries to San Diegans in critical need through its no-touch drive-thru distribution at the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Campus. More than 30 high school students in JFS’s Teen Leadership Program signed on from the comfort and safety of their homes for a Virtual Teen Leadership meeting. BOTTOM L to R: JFS Team Member Alina delivers groceries to Dora, whose family lives in a different state. Volunteers and JFS staff sort hundreds of frozen Foodmobile meals scheduled for delivery to isolated older adults.

The JFS Loonin Family Kitchen added a second shift so they can produce 1,600 meals a day for isolated older adults. Since opening the drive-thru food distribution, they’ve helped more than 500 people receive a total of 9000 meals. All four Safe Parking Lots are at full capacity: 213 vehicles, approximately 360 people. JFS staff is working remotely to continue to connect to clients to provide the services that thousands of people rely on. Donation Opportunities JFS is accepting donations for their Emergency Response Fund. At press time, gifts up to $360K will be matched. The no-touch drive-thru donation food distribution service is also in need of food and hygiene supplies. Drop off hours are from 2-4 p.m. Monday-Friday at the the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Campus

(8804 Balboa Ave). Food items like peanut butter, canned tuna, canned beans, shelf stable milk and kosher items are requested. And hygiene items like hand sanitizer, wipes, deodorant and body wash are requested. Volunteering Opportunities JFS has prepared kits with pre-cut cloth and elastics for sewers to make cloth masks for JFS staff, clients and other volunteers. They also need volunteers for assembling toilet paper packages from community as part of their no-contact service for their drive-thru food distribution. There are also opportunities for cooking meals in the the JFS Loonin Family Kitchen and providing individually packaged meals for the Safe Parking Program guests. Visit to donate or learn more.

Iyar / Sivan 5780 43


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