Special virtual programs highlight fall season
By Ilene Schneider
Now that the holidays are over, various Jewish organizations have planned numerous activities for learning, volunteering and engaging. Some are virtual, some are hands-on and all are fun and philanthropic.
JFOC Women’s Philanthropy Voices on Demand
On Thursday, October 22, Women’s Philanthropy will release a virtual program that will enable participants to learn about the impact that they make possible through Jewish Federation and hear from Keynote Speaker Suzi Weiss-Fischmann at their leisure. The standard couvert of $54 per registrant includes a swag bag with OPI nail polish, Suzi Weiss-Fischmann’s Book, I’m Not Really a Waitress (first 300 registrants) and other items from sponsors.
Participants will receive a personal access code to watch the event and entrance into the opportunity drawings. Winners will be announced throughout the On Demand broadcast. People can pick up the swag bag on October 22 or 23 and get ready to join Jewish women from all over Orange County for this experience. Tickets must be purchased by Wednesday, October 14.
Known worldwide as the “First Lady of Nails,” Suzi Weiss-Fischmann is the co-founder and brand ambassador of OPI and author of the 2019 book, I’m Not Really a Waitress. Born in communist Hungary to parents who survived the Holocaust, Suzi came to the U.S. at age 10. She later realized the American dream with her business partner by transforming a dental supply company into the multi-million-dollar business OPI is today. Suzi places a strong emphasis on philanthropy through the Fischmann Family Foundation, which focuses on education. She has been featured in magazines such as W, More, Family Circle and Martha Stewart Livingand has appeared on top television programs, including Today Show (NBC) and Nightline (ABC).
A minimum donation of $180 to the Jewish Federation of Orange County 2020 Annual Campaign, can be made when purchasing tickets or online at JewishOC.org/Donate, strengthens Jewish community and helps people in need. Please note suggested minimum gifts for the following ages: 13–18 ($36); 19–24 ($54); 25–29 ($90).
For more information please contact Jahanna at 949-531-3166 or email Jahanna@JFFS.org.
“DIGGING DEEPER”, a CSP, Multi-Track, Israel Adventure
Starting on Sunday October 18 and continuing through Thursday October 29, the Orange County Community Scholar Program (CSP) will offer online programs at 10 AM PDT and at 12:30 PM PDT every day other than Friday the 23 and Saturday the 24. The AM series features programs with amazing Israelis, including Ruth Calderon, Michael Freund, Udi Goren, Ayelet Gundar Goshen, Melila Hellner, Rachel Korazim, Shirel Horovitz, Dorit Rabinyan, Natalie Marcus and Asaf Beiser. On the PM track, there will be guided adventures with Uri Feinberg in Tel Aviv, the Negev, Jerusalem and the Galilee. Though this series in no way can replace the actual visit CSP was planning (which has been postponed to next October), it provides a taste of what a CSP Israel travel adventure is like — thought-provoking, eclectic, deep, with lots of options.
This travel adventure is free of charge, but CSP asks participants to consider making a donation of $36 or more to CSP. They would underwrite one or more musical events with Israeli musicians who are in desperate need of funds due to the cancellation of their concerts and events as a result of the pandemic. At the end of the trip, consider staying longer and joining all or part of the excellent spiritual tour curated by Rabbi Kvod Wieder of Temple Beth El.
Check out CSP on the web at www.occsp.org and by phone at (949) 682-4040.
JCC In-Person Workouts
JCC Fitness is OPEN! The Merage JCC wants people to enjoy fresh air fitness outdoors. Machines are spaced out to ensure physical distancing. JCC staff clean regularly throughout the day. All members are required to thoroughly wipe off the equipment after each use with disinfecting wipes that are readily available.
Outdoor fitness classes are available for Spin, Fitcore, Zumba and Yoga. The JCC’s most popular fitness equipment has been moved outside to allow the Fitness Center to remain open with outdoor operations in beautiful space. On the upper level there are weights, cable machine, strength equipment, Pelotons, treadmills and climbers. Tented on the field are bikes, ellipticals, AMT, Arc Trainer, strength machines, rower and climbers.
For more information, visit the Merage JCC at www.jccoc.org.
University Synagogue Adult Education
A full complement of classes is available online via University Synagogue. Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Rachlis occurs one Wednesday per month at noon on 10/7, 11/4, 12/2, 1/6, 2/3, 3/3 and 4/7. “The Biblical Book of Deuteronomy” will be taught on Zoom by Rabbi Rachlis, who will explain the formative myths and stories of our tradition, from the wandering through the wilderness in search of a better life to the most ethical portions dealing with justice, freedom and the building of a humane society. Guests and new students are welcome to the adult class.
On Saturday mornings, at 10:30 AM on 10/10, 11/7, 12/12, 1/9, 2/13, 3/13, 4/3 and 5/8, there will be Torah study on Zoom. Life experience is the only tool needed to join this group, which approaches the Bible with a Reconstructionist viewpoint guided by an experienced Torah Study group participant. The group will discuss specific Parashot (Torah portions) and Books of the Bible emphasizing ideas and themes to illuminate the imprint of the ancient books upon religious practice, philosophy and cultural life. Women and men from all backgrounds, levels of Jewish education and ages 16 and above are welcome. Instructors are Sue Penn, Director of Congregational Learning, and Michele Walot.
“Basic Judaism and Beyond” will be held on Wednesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 PM, starting September 30. Who are “The Jews”? How did we evolve? What do we collectively and individually believe and not believe as Jews? This online class has been gathering small communities of learners who have never been exposed or those who need a refresher course to de-mystify Judaism through discussions about who Jews are philosophically, ritually, historically and religiously. The class will compare and contrast four branches of Judaism to see how we are the same and different, explore many aspects of Jewish rituals and practices including the celebration of Jewish holidays and life cycle rituals and learn why we do what we do, how it has evolved and what it means to us today. As time permits, we will explore “What Judaism Says” about current topics of the day. The class is free for members; $250 per semester for all others, plus a one-time $50 book fee for all students. Minimum number of students is 15. Instructors are Carol Richmond, Rabbi Rachlis and Director of Congregational Learning and Membership Sue Penn.
For more information, contact University Synagogue at (949) 553-3535 or office@UniversitySynagogue.org.
Holiday Greeting Cards
This year is different from any other year, because there are so many seniors who celebrated the holidays all by themselves. The Hebrew Academy OC and the IsraeI-America Council (IAC) worked together to ease the pain with a project called IAC & HA Care.
The students and families wrote and colored Shana Tova blessing cards and attached them to a honey stick with the hope of staying in touch with the seniors for the entire year. This project worked very well with the mission of the school and the values that the students are learning every day: kindness, gratitude, and caring for others. IAC’s mission is to build a coast-to-coast community with Israel in its heart.
The team of volunteers was able to send these care packages for more than 200 individuals. “Working together, we hope to brighten this holiday for these wonderful seniors,” explained Nelli Greenspan, marketing director of Hebrew Academy.
For more information, contact Hebrew Academy, 14401 Willow Lane, Huntington Beach, at (714) 898-0051 or visit http://HACDS.org.
In other news, several events impact members of the Jewish community. Get involved to learn more.
Newsom vetoes AB 331, a bill that would have made anti-Semitic courses a requirement
AMCHA Initiative, a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism at colleges and universities in the United States, coordinated a letter from 80 organizations demanding that California Governor Gavin Newsom veto this bill.
AMCHA Initiative Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, stated, “We applaud Governor Newsom for keeping politics and anti-Semitism out of an educational curriculum. There is an important distinction between the broad and worthy field of ethnic studies, with its goal of understanding and celebrating the contributions of California’s and our nation’s diversity, and the narrow field of ‘Critical Ethnic Studies’ that the developing California curriculum is modeled after. The mission of this narrow understanding of ethnic studies is to promote political beliefs and political activism that are antithetical to the educational setting, inherently anti-Semitic and pose a dangerous threat to Jewish students. We commend the Governor for recognizing this important distinction, and we hope that moving forward, the state legislature will take steps to ensure that state approved instructional materials and K-12 classrooms are free from political bias and not used to advance political causes.”
In September, AMCHA organized a letter from 80 organizations that urged Newsom to veto AB 331, a bill that would have mandated high school students take a course based on the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC), a curriculum currently being developed in California. According to AMCHA, the state needs to address the anti-Semitic nature of the first draft curriculum, and new additions in the latest version pose serious threats to Jewish students. For example, the latest draft “gives school districts the option of offering a UC A-G pre-approved course that includes a unit on ‘Irish and Jewish Americans: Redefining White and American,’ which requires students to write a paper ‘detailing certain events in American history that have led to Jewish and Irish Americans gaining racial privilege’ and asks students to ‘think critically about why and who is allowing this evolution in white identity.’ At a time when anti-Jewish sentiment, hostility and violence has reached truly alarming levels, indoctrinating students to view Jews as ‘white’ and ‘racially privileged’ is tantamount to putting an even larger target on the back of every Jewish student,” warned the groups. In addition, an Arab American Studies lesson, the source of much of the blatant anti-Zionism and BDS promotion in the original draft, was recently added back into the curriculum, without the option of review before the public comment period ends.
The groups, in their letter, also noted that many California citizens do not support the “politically-charged, polarizing and divisive ‘critical’ ethnic studies approach,” instead favoring a “multicultural approach that celebrates and unites,” and that many of California’s Jewish families are concerned that “critical ethnic studies’ overt anti-Jewish bias will serve to increase anti-Semitism.”
AMCHA monitors 450 college campuses across the U.S. for anti-Semitic activity. The organization has recorded more than 3,500 anti-Semitic incidents since 2015.
Israel Bonds appoints Laura Stein as L.A. Women’s Division chair
Development Corporation for Israel/Israel Bonds announced the appointment of Laura Stein as chair of Bonds’ Los Angeles Women’s Division, which works to facilitate and promote women’s leadership in driving investment in and support for the Jewish state. Before assuming this role, Stein has been active in Bonds’ leadership and held a number of positions with other pro-Israel and Jewish community groups. She serves as counsel at the law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP.
“I have always been a proud investor in Israel Bonds and a proud pro-Israel activist,” said Stein. “This new role is one that I know would have made my mother, Sandra Stein, of blessed memory, very proud, l’dor v’dor. Now, more than ever, as global anti-Semitism and BDS are on the rise, we need to stand by Israel. This investment—not a donation—is one you can be proud of, and it strengthens America’s strongest ally in the Middle East.”
In addition to serving as Bonds’ new Los Angeles Women’s Division chair, Stein has served in leadership roles with several community and national organizations. She sits on the National Campaign Advisory Committee for Israel Bonds and on the boards of Beat the Streets Los Angeles, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, WIZO Israel Leadership Forum and the American Friends of Sheba Medical Center. Along with her husband, Sam Goldfeder, she also serves on the advisory board of the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica, and she has been an active supporter of Stand With Us, the Zimmer Children’s Museum, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the Maccabi Games and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“Throughout her years of service with Israel Bonds, Laura has demonstrated her dedication and personal passion for generating support for the Jewish state,” said Erez Goldman, executive director for Bonds’ Western Region, which includes Los Angeles. “I can’t think of anyone better suited for the role of Los Angeles Women’s Division chair, and we’re looking forward to seeing the opportunities for growth and innovation that her leadership brings.”
Working Wardrobes opens new Career Success Center
Working Wardrobes, Orange County’s foremost career readiness nonprofit, has opened its new Career Success Center, which provides vital career development tools, resources and training. The opening of the Career Success Center – located at 2000 E McFadden Avenue, Suite 100 Santa Ana, CA 92705 –marks an amazing comeback after a devastating multi-million-dollar fire destroyed the Working Wardrobes headquarters in February.
“While this is certainly Working Wardrobes’ comeback story, this is also a story of Orange County’s comeback, as we could not have built the Career Success Center without our wonderful local business and community partners, generous donors and our incredible volunteers,” said Jerri Rosen, CEO and Founder of Working Wardrobes.
“Even in our 30th year, our work is just beginning. The pandemic has stolen the livelihoods of so many thousands of men and women here in Orange County, and our mission is to put donations to work to help rebuild careers.”
The career success center offers clients a full menu of services, including career assessment, job coaching, hard and soft skills training, interview techniques, resume writing skills, and job search and placement. It champions at-risk men, women, young adults and veterans to help them to achieve the dignity of work. Founded in 1990 by CEO/Founder Jerri Rosen, Working Wardrobes has been serving the Southern California region for more than 30 years, providing job training, career placement and wardrobe services to more than 105,000 clients to overcome barriers to employment and achieve the Power of a Paycheck®.
“While we have helped veterans, domestic abuse survivors, and so many with barriers to employment get back on their feet over the last 30 years,” says Rosen. “we’re seeing hard-working men and women who have been in the workforce for years in dire need of assistance now. We are rebuilding careers in our community, and to do that, we continue to be in need of volunteer and donor support.”