Volume 3, Number 135
"There's a Jewish story everywhere"

Today's Postings:

Friday-Saturday, June 12-13, 2009

{Click on a link to jump to the corresponding story. Or, you may scroll leisurely through our report}

The nation reacts to Holocaust Museum shooting ... a roundup of comments from various sources.READ MORE

UJF holds annual meeting in atmosphere of austerity ... by Donald H. Harrison in San Diego
In  a somber mood, United Jewish Federation of San Diego County on Thursday installed new board members and officers while bidding goodbye to approximately one-third of its staff, including Chief Executive Officer Michael Rassler, as the result of downsizing prompted by the worldwide economic crisis.READ MORE

Briefing on Jewish issues, lawmakers in the U.S. capital

Sessions prompts House to reaffirm Israel's right to defense READ MORE
Klein legislation withholds foreign aid to nations who close airspace to U.S. hurricane tracking planes READ MORE
Susan Davis' bills to protect absentee voting advance READ MORE
Lieberman says Judge Sotomayor has striking 'depth of knowledge' READ MORE
Feingold, Kohl want 'high-efficiency' states shielded from cuts in Medicare reimbursement READ MORE
Sanders says Fed should disclose more about bailout funds READ MORE
SEC's Schapiro backs sunshine procedures for executive salaries READ MORE

News of Jewish interest from home and around the world
Ahmed convicted in Georgia of conspiracy to support terror READ MORE
Documentary on Soloveitchik's legacy to screen Sunday READ MORE
Chabad rabbi urges Netanyahu to resist Obama's demands READ MORE
SEC accuses Matthew Weitzman of bilking investors of $6 million READ MORE

Festival helps to revive Jewish culture in Poland ... by Kathi Diamant in San Diego
For nine days, from the last Saturday in June to the first Sunday in July, Jewish culture and life return to Krakow, Poland. This year, the 19th annual Jewish Culture Festival  begins June 27 and runs through July 6.  Centered in the once thriving ancient Jewish district of Kazimierz, the Festival draws world-class artists and musicians and regular people like you and me from all over the world, with  concerts, classes, workshops, art installations, museum exhibits, theatre performances, films, tours, discussions, lectures and much more. READ MORE

Writers Sheila Orysiek and Sara Appel-Lennon team up to discuss what we should and should not say to people who are sick or grieving
The fine art of empathy; knowing what to say – or not ... by Sheila Orysiek in San Diego
One of the more difficult circumstances we face in our interaction with other human beings is transmitting our heartfelt thoughts when trying to console a mourner, connect to someone facing a health challenge – or any of the other vicissitudes which life casts across one’s path.READ MORE

Bettering our mitzvot of visiting sick, comforting bereaved ... by Sara Appel-Lennon in San Diego
In Judaism we consider it our humanitarian duty to visit the sick and comfort the bereaved. However, in American culture where people don't openly acknowledge grief, we often don't know what to say when we hear about a tragedy.READ MORE

Those movie scores give added dimension, context, to film ... by David Amos in San Diego
“What came first, the chicken or the egg?” I am sure that you have heard of this puzzle which has been with us forever. But, here is a different twist to the same question: What came first, the film, or the music to the film READ MORE

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Bible in Pop Culture
Let us make man, Genesis 1:26 SEE IMAGE


Adventures in San Diego Jewish History
May 15, 1953, Southwestern Jewish Press
“Stay Home” Magic Carpet Day Sunday—Ask Workers
Camp Whispering Pines to Open in July READ MORE
T.I. Religious School To Be Dedicated READ MORE
Conference of United Synagogue Held in Los Angeles READ MORE

America's Vacation Center
Balloon Utopia
Congregation Beth Israel
Jewish Community Foundation
Jewish Family Service; Car Mitzvah
Lawrence Family JCC
Math Is Easy
Ohr Shalom Synagogue
Ronald Reagan Diaries
San Diego Community Colleges
San Diego County Library
San Diego Jewish Arts Festival
San Diego Jewish Chamber
Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School
Therapy in Motion Inc.
Tifereth Israel Synagogue
United Jewish Federation
XLNC-1 Radio


Have you ever been grieving and some well-meaning person has made it worse by saying the wrong thing? Or have there been times when you wished you recalled the words that came out of your mouth while visiting a seriously ill patient? Sheila Orysiek and Sara Appel-Lennon teamed up to produce a two-part series today on what to say--and what not--to people you are trying to comfort.

Each day's issue may be dedicated by readers—or by the publisher—in other people's honor or memory. Today's issue is dedicated with happy birthday wishes to
Janet Brody Esser and to Muriel Goldhammer, and also in loving memory of Alice Harrison Walters, z"l, on the 97th anniversary of her birth. Past dedications may be found at the bottom of the index for the "Adventures in San Diego Jewish History" page.

PLEASE HELP US POLICE THIS SITE: If you see anything on this site that obviously is not in keeping with our mission of providing Jewish news and commentary, please message us at editor@sandiegojewishworld.com, so that we can fix the probem. Unfortunately, large sites like ours can be subjected to tampering by outsiders. Thank you!

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The nation reacts to Holocaust Museum shooting

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Following is a roundup of comments issued on Wednesday and Thursday iin reaction to the fatal shooting of Stephen Tyrone Johns, a security guard at the Holocaust Museum by white supremacist James von Brunn, on Wednesday afternoon.

President Barack Obama: "I am shocked and saddened by today’s shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms. No American institution is more important to this effort than the Holocaust Museum, and no act of violence will diminish our determination to honor those who were lost by building a more peaceful and tolerant world. Today, we have lost a courageous security guard who stood watch at this place of solemn remembrance. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this painful time."

Matthew Brooks, executive director, Republican Jewish Coalition: "RJC expresses condolences to the family of Stephen T. Johns, the security guard who was fatally shot at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday. Friendly and well-liked, Officer Johns was part of the museum's security team for six years. He died heroically in the line of duty. His fellow officers, who returned fire and stopped the intruder, saved the lives of countless museum visitors and staff. We are grateful for their quick action and dedication. In a place where the memory of the victims of the Holocaust is preserved and honored, the memory of Officer Johns will also be honored."

U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin (Democrat, Maryland)—“I have visited the Holocaust Museum many times with my family and today’s despicable act is one that was intended to frighten and intimidate all people who care about equality and liberty. My prayers and thoughts are with the family of the security officer who gave his life to protect countless others. I also want to affirm my commitment to ending racial bigotry and hatred that have apparently led to this heinous act. There is no place in our society for individuals who would harm or deny rights to others, especially based on religion, race or ethnic identity.”

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (Democrat, New York):—"I am outraged and heartbroken by the terrible act of hate carried out today at our precious national memorial to one of history's worst atrocities. This is yet another stark reminder that we must recommit our efforts to combat anti-Semitism and religious intolerance and provide the resources necessary to protect our non-profit and religious institutions.  I am thankful for the D.C. first responders on the scene who acted swiftly to prevent more violence. My thoughts and prayers are with the security guard's family, who lost a loved one in this senseless tragedy."

U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (Democrat, New Jersey): “We are horrified by what happened in Washington today.  It is especially shocking that this attack took place at a museum designed to prevent violence and remind us of the dangers of hatred and bigotry.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the security officer’s family, the staff of the museum and the museum visitors who were there today.”

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UJC/Jewish Federations of North America:"This despicable act of hatred and cowardice at the citadel of our nation's efforts to fight prejudice and ignorance reminds us that the lessons of the Holocaust still must be taught and re-taught," said UJC/Jewish Federations of North America President and CEO Howard Rieger.“This is also the fourth reminder in as many weeks that hateful attacks against the Jewish community can happen at anyplace, anytime, and anywhere," Rieger added. “Fortunately, as in the Wesleyan University murder, the Bronx synagogue bomb plot, and the Arkansas military recruiting center shooting, the swift actions of law enforcement and security officials played a significant role in mitigating the violence at the Holocaust Museum. “Oh behalf of the entire North American Jewish community, we mourn with the family of Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns, a righteous man who bravely gave his life to protect the lives of other innocents. This tragic attack demonstrates yet again that the Jewish community must be prepared for the unthinkable. Such violence underscores the need for UJC/Jewish Federations of North America to continue supporting security for Jewish Federations and other institutions at heightened risk of threats. UJC was one of the first organizations seeking the creation of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) support for non-profit institutions at increased risk of attacks and has helped secure more than $55 million in grants for Jewish Federations and other communal institutions to improve physical security, preparedness planning, and training. UJC began advocating for the creation and funding of the Nonprofit Security Grant Program six years ago, which has become the only federal program designed specifically to address security at non-profits deemed at heightened risk of terrorist attacks. Since 9/11, UJC has diligently worked with the federal government to point out potential threats against the Jewish community and to work to arm Federations, synagogues, and community centers with the resources they need to improve their security infrastructure," said William Daroff, Vice President for Public Policy & Director of the Washington Office of UJC/Jewish Federations of North America."

Preceding compiledfrom press releases

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INSTALLATION—Rabbi Michael Berk of Congregation Beth Israel, at podium, installs new and returning UJF board members, standing with him.


UJF holds annual meeting in atmosphere of austerity

By Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO—In  a somber mood, United Jewish Federation of San Diego County on Thursday installed new board members and officers while bidding goodbye to approximately one-third of its staff, including Chief Executive Officer Michael Rassler, as the result of downsizing prompted by the worldwide economic crisis.

Rassler, who since the financial cutbacks were announced has accepted a job as chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation in Santa Barbara,  and Nadine Finkel, who has served San Diego’s UJF in a variety of senior level staff positions over nearly two decades, were among eight departing staff members specifically saluted by UJF President Andrea Oster for their contributions to San Diego’s umbrella organization.

Another was Eyal Dagan, the community shaliach, who is returning to Israel under a normal rotation and will be replaced by another emissary hired by the Jewish Agency for Israel and funded by the Federation. Introduced at the meeting, the new shlicha is Shoshi Bogoch from Elazar, Israel.

The bag-lunch meeting was held in the board room of the Federation’s own headquarters at 4950 Murphy Canyon Road, in contrast to other years when annual meetings were more glittering affairs at the Lawrence Family JCC. 

Rabbi Michael Berk of Congregation Beth Israel installed new and returning board members, including Oster,  after delivering a dvar Torah in which he said that Judaism teaches us not to wait for God to solve humanity’s problems, but to partner with God to make the world better.

Oster said despite formidable financial problems—including annual collections that, at $6.4 million, amounted to a 15 percent decrease in contributions from the previous year—the UJF was able to do some  important and beneficial work both for San Diego and for overseas Jewish communities.

She pointed out that UJF has partnered with the Jewish Community Foundation to assess the community’s needs as a result of the economic downturn and “effectively design a plan to help those Jews with the greatest needs and then fund raise to implement that plan.”

She said $750,000 has been raised, and that she anticipates the entire $1 million goal will be accomplished by the end of the month.

Furthermore, said Oster, in cooperation with Jewish Family Service and the Jewish Community Foundation, the “On the Go” program to provide “comprehensive, affordable and accessible senior transportation” has been brought on line.  In the last nine months, she said On-the-Go “has provided 14,800 rides to 766 seniors.”

The UJF met its second-year commitments for three initiatives undertaken last year to promote Jewish education, reach out to single parents and to promote the Maccabi games, Oster reported.

She said that under a reformulated program, outgoing shaliach Dagan will conduct 22 teenagers from 15 area high schools on a 17-day adventure in Israel, a program that many

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FAREWELL GIFT—Andrea Oster, board chairman of United Jewish Federation, presented a gift to departing Chief Executive Officer Michael Rassler at UJF annual meeting yesterday.

people in the Jewish community believe can reinforce Jewish identity among youth.  Oster noted that “half of the teens are unaffiliated and one is currently attending a Catholic high school.”

The UJF President commented that $915,761 has been raised to date to help Sha’ar Hanegev build a high school that will be fortified against rocket attack from the neighboring Gaza Strip.  Of this, she said, “over $99,000”  was raised by the Bike for Israel campaign led by Rick Kornfeld.  As reported in daily stories by San Diego Jewish World’s correspondent Ulla Hadar, who accompanied the group, San Diegans spent a week biking from Metula, Israel, on the Lebanon border, to Sha’ar Hanegev.

Through a network of Jewish agencies around the world, UJF contributed to the relief of some 10,000 Jews caught in the warfare between Georgia and Russia.   Additionally it has contributed to the airlift of Jews out of Yemen, where anti-Semitic violence has been on the rise, Oster said.

The UJF president said the economic and management changes have prompted remaining staff and donors to pull more closely together to meet the crisis.  Michael Sonduck has been serving as the new chief executive officer, pending the results of a search for a permanent replacement for Rassler.

“I am very optimistic and believe that the current crisis will cause us to gain strength as we go forward,” she said.

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Briefing on Jewish issues, public officials in the U.S. capital

Sessions prompts House to reaffirm Israel's right to defense

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)– Congressman Pete Sessions (Republican, Texas) on Wednesday sponsored legislation recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself from an imminent nuclear or military threat from Iran, terrorist organizations or nations that harbor terrorist organizations. Despite some stated Democrat opposition, Sessions’ pro-Israel amendment passed the House today by voice vote.

“Clearly, Iran and its proxies – Hamas and Hezbollah – pose an existential threat to Israel and the entire region,” stated Sessions. “No nation, including Israel, should be expected to tolerate the threats and terrorism produced by these hate-filled regimes. The United States must stand for Israel based on principled leadership to ensure that freedom, democracy and security ultimately prevail.”

Israel is currently threatened on three fronts: Hamas in the South, Hezbollah in the North, and through Iran – which provides material support to both of these terrorist organizations. Since 2001, Hamas – which pledges to destroy Israel – has fired over 7000 rockets and mortars at civilians from the Gaza Strip into Israeli towns. In 2006, Hezbollah fired over 3970 rockets into civilian centers in Northern Israel from Lebanon. And in addition to calling for Israel’s annihilation, last month Iran successfully tested a surface-to-surface missile with a range capable of reaching Israel.

“In contrast to President Obama’s current policy of openly rebuking Israel – which only serves to embolden its enemies, I believe that the United States should stand steadfastly and respectfully with Israel as our strongest ally and democracy in the Middle East,” Sessions said. “My pro-Israel amendment allows Members of Congress an opportunity to demonstrate the courage of their convictions in support for Israel’s right to exist and protect itself from aggressors in the region.”

Sessions amendment was added to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 (HR 2410).

Preceding provided by Congressman Sessions

Klein legislation withholds foreign aid to nations who close airspace
to U.S. hurricane tracking planes

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release) Critical language related to hurricane preparedness, authored by Congressman Ron Klein (Democrat, Florida), passed the U.S. House on Wednesday as part of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 2009 (H.R. 2410). 

Klein’s provision addresses the issue of nations in the Western Hemisphere, including Venezuela, who do not allow hurricane hunter planes to travel through their airspace and collect vital data about a hurricane’s path and intensity. The data collected by these planes is essential to accurately predicting how storms will impact South Floridians and Americans across the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf Coast.

“By denying hurricane hunters access to their airspace, some of our neighbors are creating blind spots in our knowledge about the possible paths and power of hurricanes,” Klein said. “If just one country obstructs our hurricane preparedness efforts, it could be the difference between life and death for our citizens.

“That is why I authored a provision that will allow the State Department to resolve this issue as soon as possible. We have given the Secretary of State the ability to withhold some assistance to nations that fail to cooperate. If a country puts our citizens at risk, there should be consequences.”

After being made aware of the problem by the Director of the National Hurricane Center, Klein raised the issue with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a hearing of the Foreign Affairs Committee in late April. Secretary Clinton indicated her strong support for Congressman Klein’s position that this problem must be rectified immediately.

Klein also supported the underlying legislation, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 2009, which allows the United States to advance our foreign policy and national security goals. The bill strengthens our diplomatic corps by authorizing over 1,500 new Foreign Service Officers as well as an additional 25 new positions to increase the arms control and nonproliferation capabilities of the State Department. The legislation renews our national commitment to diplomacy and development, which can help prevent conflicts before they start, rebuild America’s image in the world and strengthen relationships with friends and allies across the globe.

Preceding provided by Congressman Klein

Susan Davis' bills to protect absentee voting advance

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)– A package of election reform bills sponsored by Rep. Susan Davis (Democrat, California) cleared an initial hurdle on Wednesday.  The House Administration Committee approved legislation to allow for national no-excuse absentee voting, help voters track absentee ballots, and prevent a state’s chief elections official from serving on federal campaign committees.

“Democracy flourishes when all Americans have a fair chance to participate in elections and have confidence that the process is fair,” said Davis, a member of the committee.  “I’d like to thank Chairman Brady and my colleagues on the committee for passing this package of bills.  I know that, while we may have our differences, we all share the goal of making our elections as fair as possible.”

The bills passed by the committee were:

Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act (H.R. 1604) - Allows all eligible voters nationwide to vote by mail for any reason in federal elections. Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia restrict an eligible voter’s ability to vote by mail, also known as absentee.  The bill removes the doctor’s note, notary and privacy information requirements imposed by some states.

The Absentee Ballot Track, Receive and Confirm (TRAC) Act (H.R. 2510) - Helps states, through a grant program, to establish absentee ballot tracking systems.  An absentee ballot tracking system allows voters to easily find out, online or through an automated phone system, whether an elections office has sent out a ballot, whether a completed ballot has arrived back at the registrar’s office and whether the ballot was actually counted.  Davis worked with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Republican, California), also a member of the committee, in sponsoring H.R. 2510.

The Federal Election Integrity Act (H.R. 512) - Prohibits the chief elections official of a state from serving on federal campaign committees or engaging in other political activity, such as fundraising, on behalf of federal candidates in any election over which the official has supervisory authority. 

The action by the House Administration Committee clears the bills to be considered by the full House of Representatives.

“Wisconsin is recognized nationally as a leader in providing high-quality health care, while saving taxpayer dollars at the same time,” Feingold said.  “Just yesterday, the Washington

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Post reported that if all hospital systems operated like those in La Crosse, Wisconsin, patients around the country would receive better medical care that costs patients, insurers, and the government less.  As Congress considers ways to replicate this success and reward states for improving their Medicare delivery, Wisconsin and other high efficiency states should be rewarded for the progress they have already made.”

Additionally, shifting to a Medicare reimbursement system based on performance could finally address the historic underpayments Wisconsin, as a rural state, has received.  Wisconsin uses an integrated Medicare system and aggressive quality controls to provide Medicare beneficiaries better care for lower costs.  Studies show that moving to a coordinated, integrated delivery system could save Medicare more than $100 billion a year.  The senators’ effort reinforces President Obama’s call to use high efficiency states as a model.  In a letter to Senators Edward Kennedy (Democrat, Massachusetts) and Max Baucus (Democrat, Montana) last week, President Obama said, “We should ask why places like the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, and other institutions can offer the highest quality care at costs well below the national norm.  We need to learn from their successes and replicate those best practices across our country.”

“We are proud to represent regions and states that have demonstrated true leadership in lowering costs to Medicare and increasing quality outcomes for patients,” the senators wrote.  “We strongly support efforts by the Finance Committee to use these health systems as a model for all Medicare providers to improve patient care and better manage taxpayer dollars.”

Preceding provided by Senator Feingold

Sanders says Fed should disclose more about bailout funds

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release) – Senator Bernie Sanders on Wednesday called “completely insufficient” a new monthly report by the Federal Reserve on aid to banks, investment firms and other financial institutions.

“Today's report is completely insufficient.  It is time for the Fed to name names.  The American people have a right to know who received more than  $2 trillion in loans from the Fed, how much each one received, and what they are doing with this money.  This money does not belong to the Fed. It belongs to the American people,” Sanders said. 

The need for greater Fed transparency is even more important since the Obama administration, in a separate action yesterday, agreed to let 10 big banks repay federal bailouts they took to help them weather the recession.

“Getting this information is even more important now that 10 banks are starting to pay back their TARP funds,” Sanders said.  “Are these banks paying back TARP funds to the Treasury Department today, while receiving secret loans from the Fed tomorrow?  As long as the Fed keeps this information secret, we will never know.”

Sanders, at a Senate Budget Committee hearing on March 3, asked Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to name the hundreds of banks that took money since the financial crisis began. Bernanke refused to name any of the financial institutions.  He would he say how much assistance was provided to each bank, nor detail what the banks are doing with the money.

The separate $700 billion financial rescue package that was signed into law last October requires the Treasury Department to identify recipients of bailout funds.  Unlike the bailout, which Sanders opposed, Congress did not vote to directly authorize the Fed to spend any of this money. 

Preceding provided by Senator Sanders

SEC's Schapiro backs sunshine procedures for executive salaries

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)— Securities and Exchange Commission Mary Schapiro on Wednesday made the following statement regarding executive compensation:

“Debates over how much corporate executives are paid are not new. The large short term incentive compensation packages of the last few years — juxtaposed with the recent losses in shareholder value — have left many investors asking important questions — questions about their company’s compensation practices and whether some incentives are actually undermining shareholder value over the long term.

“At the SEC, our role has not been to set pay scales or cap compensation. Our role is to protect investors by ensuring that they have the information needed to make sound investment decisions, whether those decisions impact proxy voting or a decision to buy or sell a stock.

“Over the years, the manner and types of compensation have continually evolved and become increasingly complex. In response, the Commission has frequently revised its disclosure rules to keep pace with new developments in compensation practices.

“That is why the SEC is actively considering a package of new proxy disclosure rules that will provide further sunshine on compensation decisions. While these proposals would not dictate particular compensation decisions, they would lead companies to analyze how compensation impacts risk taking and the implications for long term corporate health of the behavior they are incenting.

“To achieve this, we will be considering several proposals requiring greater disclosure:

  • About how a company — and its board — manages risks.
  • About a company’s overall compensation approach. Incentive structures that rewarded short term risk taking without taking into account the potential long term effects on the company are widely believed to have contributed to the economic crisis.
  • About potential conflicts of interest by compensation consultants, including disclosure of relationships between the consultants and the company and their affiliates, so both compensation committees and investors will be better able to assess the advice the consultants provide.
  • And, about director nominees, including their experience and qualifications to serve on the board or on particular board committees — and about why a board has chosen its particular leadership structure.

“Knowing this kind of information can be of great benefit to investors, but even disclosure only takes us so far. If investors don’t like what they learn, they have two choices: sell their shares or use the proxy process to vote for change. Unfortunately, neither of these options is easy. Selling their stock deprives the investor of the upside value that change can bring. And, under current rules, shareholders who wish to nominate their own candidates must typically launch a costly proxy fight.

“It is for this reason that last month the SEC proposed rules that would enhance the ability of shareholders to exercise their legal rights to nominate directors on corporate boards. Of course, these proposals are just that — “proposals” — and we fully expect to receive many comments about them. I believe the meaningful ability of shareholders to nominate directors is intricately linked to the ability of shareholders to hold directors accountable for their compensation decisions.

“I firmly believe that better disclosure of compensation leads to more informed shareholders and in turn to more accountable corporate directors. This is the foundation of our capital markets.”

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Jewish-interest news from home and around the world

Ahmed convicted in Georgia of conspiracy to support terror

ATLANTA, Georgia (Press Release) - After a bench trial held last week, United States District JudgeWilliam S. Duffey, Jr., announced on Wednesday that Syed Haris Ahmed 24, has been foundguilty of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.

“This case has never been about an imminent threat to the United States, because in the post-9/11 world we will not wait to disrupt terrorism-related activity until a bomb is built and ready to explode,” said David E. Nahmias, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. “The fuse that leads to an explosion of violence may be long, but once it is lit – once individuals unlawfully agree to support terrorist acts at home or abroad – we will prosecute them to snuff that fuse out. This investigation is connected to arrests and convictions of multiple terrorist supporters in Atlanta and around the world– all before any innocent people were killed. I commend the agents, prosecutors, and support staff who have worked so hard for so long to gather and present the evidence that led to today's guilty verdict.”

"This prosecution underscores the importance of international and domestic cooperation in combating terrorism,” said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for
National Security in Washington, D.C. “The agents, analysts and prosecutors involved in this case and in related investigations around the world deserve a special thanks for their efforts.”

“Protecting the United States from terrorist attacks is the highest priority of everyFBI employee,” said FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Gregory Jones. “Working with our law enforcement and intelligence community partners, the FBI was fortunate enough to have disrupted and dismantled a group whose stated goal was to provide support to those engaged in terrorism. I would like to thank the men and women of the Atlanta Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) who, for over a year and a half, painstakingly pursued this defendant and others as they conspired and devised ways to achieve their dangerous goals. The conviction in this case validates the FBI’s approach that we do not need to wait, nor should we wait, for an individual to be caught with his hands on a bomb before we recognize and respond to the threat.”

According to United States Attorney Nahmias and the evidence presented during the trial: Ahmed is a naturalized United States citizen who was born in Pakistan and raised in Marietta and Dawsonville, Georgia. At trial the government presented evidence that, beginning in late 2004 and early 2005, Ahmed unlawfully agreed (conspired) with others to provide material support to terrorists engaged in violent jihad. The evidence indicated that the material support consisted of (1) Ahmed and other individuals who
would provide themselves as personnel to engage in violent jihad, and (2) property, namely, video clips of symbolic and infrastructure targets for potential terrorist attacks in
the Washington, D.C., area, including the United States Capitol, which were taken by Ahmedand his principal alleged co-conspirator and then sent to “the jihadi brothers”

At trial the government presented evidence that Ahmed and his co-conspirators used the internet to develop relationships and maintain contact with each other and with other supporters of violent jihad in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, and elsewhere. In support of the conspiracy, in March 2005 Ahmed traveled with his principal co-conspirator to Toronto, Canada, to meet with other co-conspirators and discuss their plans to travel to Pakistan in an effort to attend a paramilitary training camp operated by a terrorist organization, as well as potential targets for terrorist attacks in the United States. In April 2005, Ahmed and his principal co-conspirator traveled to the Washington, D.C., area to take the casing videos, which the government’s evidence showed they made to establish their credentials with other violent jihad supporters as well as for use in violent jihad propaganda and planning. Ahmed’s co-conspirator sent
several of the video clips to Younis Tsouli, a/k/a “Irhabi007” (Arabic for “Terrorist 007”), a propagandist and recruiter for the terrorist organization Al Qaeda in Iraq, and to
Aabid Hussein Khan, a/k/a “Abu Umar,” a facilitator for the Pakistan-based terroristorganizations “Lashkar-e-Tayyiba” and “Jaish-e-Mohammed.” Both Tsouli and Khan
have since been convicted of terrorism offenses in the United Kingdom.

The government also presented evidence at trial that in July 2005, AHMED traveled from Atlanta to Pakistan in an unsuccessful attempt to enter a training camp and ultimately engage in violent jihad. After returning to Atlanta to resume his studies at Georgia Tech in August 2005, AHMED expressed regret at his failure to join violent jihadists, conducted internet research on topics such as high explosives and evading surveillance, and discussed his intent to make another attempt to enter a violent jihad training camp. In March 2006, however, Ahmed was approached by FBI agents andagreed to a series of voluntary, non-custodial interviews over the course of eight days. Amid efforts to deny his illegal activities and mislead the agents, Ahmed made increasingly incriminating statements. Efforts by the FBI to obtain Ahmed''s cooperation in the ongoing international terrorism investigation ended after the FBI discovered that Ahmed was surreptitiously contacting his principal co-conspirator, who was then in Bangladesh, to advise him of the FBI investigation and to warn him not to return to the United States. The conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists did not result in any known acts of terrorism.

Ahmed was arrested in Atlanta on March 23, 2006, on the original indictment in this case, which charged him with one count of material support of terrorism. He has been in custody since that time. The initial indictment was unsealed and publicly announced on April 20, 2006, after the arrest of the alleged principal co-conspirator in Bangladesh. Superseding indictments added three additional charges. Ahmed recently waived his right to a jury trial on the conspiracy charge of the second superseding indictment (Count One) and agreed to have the verdict decided by the Court. The other three counts were severed. The bench trial was held on June 1-4, 2009, and the Court then took the verdict under advisement until Wednesday. Judge Duffey delivered the guilty verdict in open court, but sealed his written findings supporting the verdict until the completion of the jury trial of a related case against the alleged principal co-conspirator, which is scheduled to begin on August 3, 2009. Judge Duffey set a hearing for Thursday, June 11, for anyone interested in being heard on the sealing of the findings
supporting the guilty verdict.

Ahmed could receive a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, followed by a term of supervised release up to life, and a fine of up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders. A
sentencing date will be set after the completion of the alleged co-conspirator’s trial.

Preceding provided by the U.S. Department of Justice

Documentary on Soloveitchik's legacy to screen Sunday

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)--The documentary, Lonely Man of Faith, on the life and legacy of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 14, at Congregation Beth Jacob, 4855 College Avenue.

Following the screening, Ethan Isenberg, director and producer, will answer questions from the audience. Rabbi Soloveitchik was considered the intellectual leader of Modern Orthodoxy through much of the 20th Century

Preceding based on material provided by Beth Jacob Congregation

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Chabad rabbi urges Netanyahu
to resist Obama's demands

CARLSBAD, California (Press Release)-- Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort, spiritual leader of Chabad of La Costa, is urging members of his congregation and freinds to write to Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to urge that he resist U.S. President Barack Obama's efforts in behalf of a two-state solution.

Following is a text of an email that Eilfort sent out to congregants and others:

"Prime Minister Netanyahu is scheduled to make an important speech this coming Sunday. His speech is the official Israeli response to President Obama's speech given last week in Cairo.

"It is incredibly important that the Prime Minister is encouraged by those of us who want peace (and therefore no two-state solution or concessions to the Palestinian Authority) to communicate our feelings and support to the PM before this Sunday. Here's the email(rivkaki@pmo.gov.il) address where these emails are most likely to be read plus below you can find my own letter to the PM.

"Please be sure to be respectful but firm. There is no room for equivocation any more!

"Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

"Please do not allow President Obama or his Jewish staffers to influence you to make concessions to the Palestinian Authority -- even with their protestations that they only want what is good for Israel. We implore you to stand strong for Israel and her rights. We all know that the 'Settlements'
are not the issue preventing peace.

"We will stand behind you! We will do all in our power to make sure the Government of the US does not become hostile towards Israel.

Preceding based on email from Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort

SEC accuses Matthew Weitzman
of bilking investors of $6 million

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)— The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday charged an investment adviser who lives in Armonk, N.Y., for orchestrating a scheme in which he stole more than $6 million in investor funds for his own personal use, in some instances victimizing clients who were terminally ill or mentally impaired.

The SEC alleges that Matthew D. Weitzman sold securities in clients’ brokerage accounts and illegally funneled their money to a bank account that he secretly controlled. While Weitzman spent the money on a multi-million dollar home, cars, and other luxury items, he provided false account statements to clients often showing inflated account balances and securities holdings. Weitzman also submitted to a broker-dealer phony letters from clients that purported to authorize the money transfers. When clients questioned Weitzman about the transfers they did not authorize, he misrepresented that he was withdrawing their funds to make legitimate investments.

“Investment advisers are entrusted to act in their clients’ best interests. Weitzman betrayed his clients’ trust and looted millions of dollars for his personal enjoyment,” said James Clarkson, Acting Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office. “Weitzman even stole from some clients who were suffering and especially vulnerable as they relied upon him to safeguard their investments.”

According to the SEC’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Weitzman is the co-founder and a principal of AFW Wealth Advisors, the business name for AFW Asset Management, Inc., a registered investment adviser located in Purchase, N.Y., with an office in Natick, Mass. Weitzman also served as AFW’s compliance officer.

Preceding provided by the Security and Exchange Commission


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FESTIVAL SCENES—At left, Konansans Retro, a Klezmer band from Ukraine, Germany and England performs at a free "Concert between Two Synagogues" on the square between Ciemna and Jakuba streets in Kazimierz, Poland. At right, Young artists
painting in the lane leading to the archway on Jozefa Street, seen in the film "Schindler's List" by Steven Spielberg. BELOW:
Edgar Gluck, the Chief Rabbi of Galicia, on Ciemna Street in Kazimierz, leads tours of Jewish cemeteries and synagogues
during the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow. 
{Byron LaDue photos}

Festival helps to revive Jewish culture in Poland

By Kathi Diamant

SAN DIEGO—For nine days, from the last Saturday in June to the first Sunday in July, Jewish culture and life return to Krakow, Poland. This year, the 19th annual Jewish Culture Festival  begins June 27 and runs through July 6.  Centered in the once thriving ancient Jewish district of Kazimierz, the Festival draws world-class artists and musicians and regular people like you and me from all over the world, with  concerts, classes, workshops, art installations, museum exhibits, theatre performances, films, tours, discussions, lectures and much more. 

I discovered the Festival last year by luck. One year ago this week, I left San Diego in pursuit of a literary treasure, the lost last writings of Franz Kafka.  I wrote about my quest in San Diego Jewish World, and then blogged my adventures on KPBS.org.   After traveling through the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany with the Kafka Project’s “Magical Mystery Literary History Tour,” my research partner and husband, Byron LaDue and I returned to Poland to continue the research for the month of July.    
By mistake, we returned to Krakow from Berlin a day before we orginally planned.  It was fortuitous: we arrived on the first day of the Jewish Culture Festival, which we quickly learned was the largest festival of its kind in the world.  We spent the following week attending classes, concerts, lectures, absorbing sights and sounds of a reawakened ancient Jewish center.   

The heartbeat of the festival is the music—which pours from the five synagogues and other venues, classrooms, squares, and community centers. World-class artists, like famed cantor Benzion Miller, perform in the inaugural concert and then stay all week, performing and participating in panels and events.  A harmonium of Jewish music floats down the narrow winding cobblestone alleys--Klezmer, Hasidic, classical, and Jewish folk music from a dozen countries.

The Festival’s culminating concert, Shalom on Szeroka Street, (shown above, in photo by the JCF Society) attended by more than 12,000 people from around the world, started in the rain—Byron and I stood for the first hour in a sea of umbrellas—and didn’t end until two a.m.  

On our first visit in May 2001, Kazimierz was depressing, with no visible life, Jewish or otherwise, in the dark lanes. Being a part of the Festival in 2008 was an entirely different experience, as we were immersed in Jewish culture in its many colors and complexities. Most encouraging is that young people are such a big part of the picture. Packs of students from the USA, UK and Israel travel in study groups from venue to venue, imbibing in art, dance and language classes, and attending the concerts.    

Many of the events include a small fee. Byron and I threw ourselves into several of the many free activities offered.  We enrolled in an intensive week-long Yiddish class taught at the Galicia Jewish Museum, attended art openings and participated in the Yiddish singing workshops in the afternoon.  It was a deep pleasure to experience so much Jewish life, art and culture in this place where it had been silent since the Holocaust.

After the Festival ended,  curious about how it all came to be, this lively Jewish celebration in a city less than 60 miles from Auschwitz in a country many Jews still consider a graveyard,  I arranged to interview  the Festival’s founder and director, a Polish non-Jew named Janusz Makuch.  We met in his office, a large room bustling even after the festival’s conclusion with busy young people.  

Janusz Makuch, festival founder. Photo: Byron LaDue

Janusz Makuch is a spare, energetic man, slight of build, and bursting with a kenetic energy.  He was cordial, if harried, as he handled a menorah he picked up from his desk, talking about how he created the event and why he continues to dedicate his life to it.

Born in 1960 in a small town in Poland, Makuch grew up not knowing any Jews, not knowing even that Jews existed.  He remembers being told, as a boy, that one half the population of his town had been Jews. “Who are these people, Jews?” he wondered. When he was 15, he met Michal Strzemski, the author of In the Shine of the Menorah, one of the first books published in Poland in Polish about the history and culture of Jewish life.

One night in 1988, when he was 28 years old, Makuch was drinking vodka with a friend, when the idea of the festival was first conceived. “Poland was still under the Communist regime, and it was a little underground operation, playing in a small theatre and one other small venue,” he says.  He did not think it would become a major festival, and certainly not one of the largest Jewish Cultural Festivals in the world. He says he was simply hungry with a desire for knowledge of Jewish culture in Poland. This festival is the realization of an uncompromising expression of that desire.

It grew, step by step, developing with a huge diversity of music. Makuch vigorously resists the idea that many Poles have that all Jewish music is Klezmer music. “We present the most significant movements in Jewish music, including jazz and avant-garde bands.”  

Film is a part of the festival, too. At a recent festival, thirteen Yiddish films made in Poland before WWII were featured. This year includes a daily screening of international films, including Waltz with Bashir, which will be presented in Hebrew with Polish subtitles. The four-person staff works year-round,

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booking the 208 separate events scheduled for this coming Festival, and planning those in 2010 and 2011. 

Makuch is most passionate when talking about why he continues to make the Festival his life’s work. As Poles, he said, “we must acknowledge that Jewish life was a significant part of European culture. Even if we are not Jewish, we have to recognize that Jews in Poland made huge contributions to Polish culture. I am paying homage by presenting a living Jewish culture. Living is the key word. The festival is a mirror. Who am I? I am a guy who has the honor to present authentic Jewish culture to non-Jews. Kazimierz is the perfect location. We have a great treasure here. We need to teach ourselves how to recognize it.”

He admits at the beginning it was difficult to convince Jews to come. “Of course!” he says, “this is a Jewish graveyard. But who made this history? Not me. I am not Jewish. But it’s not my fault I was born a Pole. I never forget, but I try to do something positive. I focus on life, not death. Life! This is what energizes me.”  

The Festival is not a random assortment of events, he asserts, but an authentic dialogue, a never ending educational process aimed at the systematical transformation of Poles and Jews. “It’s not a political statement,” Makuch says. “In terms of a thousand years Jewish history here, what is 20 years? But it is the beginning of a process. Hopefully after my death, it will continue.”

Makuch says he is trying to find his own way to express his love and longing for Jewish culture. “It sounds strange, I know,” he admits. “For whom do I do this? For myself! I thank God that there are more Poles who think as I do, and together we are writing a new chapter in of our Jewish/Polish history.”  

Michael Steiman, an attorney in Philadelphia, was born in Poland, and has attended every Festival since 1992. This year he will be attending with his daughter. “It feels magic,” he says, “to go back to my past, my people’s roots, and to get to know those roots, and get to know Jewish culture in a very intense matter over a period of nine days, and to hear the greatest Jewish music. It is a cultural feast for me.”

To support the work of the Festival in the United States and abroad, eight years ago he co-founded the nonprofit Friends of the Krakow Culture Festival, along with Michael Sztejnberg of Chase Bank in New York, and currently serves as the group's president.

“Overstating it,” Steiman says, “I call [Makuch] the Polish Moses. Obviously, not in a religious sense, but in terms of bringing knowledge of Polish Jewish culture and history to Polish people, to Jewish people and to all people who wish to come and learn.”

 The 19th Annual Jewish Culture Festival begins in Krakow on June 27 and runs through July 6th, 2009. Schedules and tickets are available online at http://www.jewishfestival.pl
Or click here

Kathi Diamant is Director of the Kafka Project and Adjunct Professor in the College of Arts and Letters at San Diego State University. Seen on KPBS and on PBS stations across the United State as a fundraising host, she is also author of Kafka’s Last Love: The Mystery of Dora Diamant, published in the US and UK in 2003, translated in Spain, France, China, Russia and soon in Brazil. For the results of the Kafka Project’s 2008 Eastern European research, visit www.KafkaProject.com.

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The fine art of empathy; knowing what to say – or not

By Sheila Orysiek

SAN DIEGO--One of the more difficult circumstances we face in our interaction with other human beings is transmitting our heartfelt thoughts when trying to console a mourner, connect to someone facing a health challenge – or any of the other vicissitudes which life casts across one’s path.

These situations are difficult precisely because we want so much to offer comfort, empathy – a sharing of human love and care.  We step forward to console another person not only because we are enjoined to do so as a Mitzvah, but because we really do care.  This is further complicated since the person we wish to approach is most probably in a heightened emotional state and knowing this we, too, are emotionally charged; wanting desperately to communicate.  But what to say?  What words to use?  And, conversely, what not to say? 

Through the years, though I know my heart was in the right place – my words sometimes were not.  From this experience as well as what has been said to me upon those occasions when I was in need, I have compiled a list of things I try to remember not to say.

“There but for the grace of G-d go I.”  This is certainly a graceful sentence – well balanced and euphonious, but the message it conveys is less than helpful.  It tells the hearer that somehow the speaker has earned G-D’s grace whilst the one we wish to comfort has not.  Fortunately, though I’ve heard this said to someone facing a major health challenge – it was never part of my compendium of “comforting things to say.”

Many years ago when I broke my foot I noticed that people spoke more loudly to me.  Since my foot is not connected to my ear, I found this phenomenon disturbing.  Unless the injury or illness affects one’s hearing or mental process, speaking louder or more slowly is not necessary.  I broke my foot in ballet class (executing a grand assemblé entournant) and some people told me that I could have avoided this accident by not dancing.  Judging from this one might be persuaded to believe that only people who dance might break a foot.   Interestingly, this was said to me by a lady who had broken her ankle while stepping off a curb. 

Another questionable method of offering comfort is to tell the sufferer how much worse off others are.  Though it can lend perspective I’ve never found it consoling to think of others suffering more than I.  Knowing there is more pain in the world doesn’t alleviate any one else’s pain. 

Giving advice is a tricky business – and backward looking advice such as “well you shouldn’t have smoked/drank/eaten so much/stayed out so late – etc., - is water under the bridge.   It smacks of blaming the victim.   It also assumes that the “comforter” knows the cause of the problem.  This is part of the view that illness/accidents are punishments.  Since everyone eventually gets hurt and/or sickens and dies – then we are all equally “guilty” and thus the point is moot.

Expressing disbelief – such as: “I’ve never heard of such an illness – are you sure about it?” is of scant comfort.  One’s own knowledge base is not the “test” of accuracy.  If you don’t understand it – is not

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the test of reality.  Even if the person is truly a hypochondriac – well, they too suffer. 

While recently in the hospital a friend came to visit – and I was happy to see her.  However, she spent the entire time telling me how fit she is – never sick – and how she intended to stay that way.  Well, I’m happy for her – but perhaps sitting beside my hospital bed was not quite the time to inform me of her good fortune as contrasted with mine. 

Along this line of thinking is a statement such as “it’s a shame you were too ill to come to the party – we had such a wonderful time” and then proceed to elaborate on the fun had by all.  It would be much better to elaborate on how much the ill person was missed and then only expand on the details if asked.

Another less than comforting effort is to tell the sufferer how one knows of others with this particular affliction and how they were in agony and died within a very short time.  Or – suffered slowly for many years.  Yes, I actually did witness this offer of “comfort.” Such a message is not one of hope or consolation and might not be true in this individual’s case.  Likewise, statements like “you really have the worst case of this I’ve ever seen” (another I actually heard someone say) are definitely on the “things not to say list.”

Offering condolences at a funeral or while sitting Shiva are situations where our sensitivity is important; the mourner is in an extremely emotional state.  Statements such as “at least he/she didn’t suffer too long” is of small comfort to the mourner who faces a long time ahead of loss.  And conversely, this includes the situation in which the death occurred slowly:  “At least you had time to say goodbye/get used to the idea…..” – one should not presume to know which is best – a sudden death or a slow decline.  In either case the mourner faces loss.

“I meant to call you (send a card/e-mail/letter) to see how you are doing but I didn’t have time.”  This tells the sufferer that in your busy day he/she has a very low priority – or none at all.  You can’t get “points” for something you meant to do, but didn’t.  Such a statement leaves the hearer with the option of saying “I know you would have if you could have” or (the one I prefer) “I would thank you for your good intentions – but I don’t have time.”

It is almost reflexive for most of us to want to help as in: “Let me know if I can do anything.”  This offer should be made with the knowledge that indeed we might be asked to help in some way and thus the offer should not be made unless we are truly willing and able.  It is better not to offer than to subsequently add caveats or otherwise be unable to follow through as this puts the supplicant in the humiliating position of asking and getting a refusal to something that person was led to believe was acceptable.

What one says should also take into account the reality of a situation.  Wishing a cheery speedy recovery might be apropos for someone recovering from surgery, but not recommended for someone terminally ill.

As the reader might have noted – while I have offered a list of negative statements – I have not given any positive suggestions.   For that I give you into the capable hands of my esteemed colleague – Sara Appel-Lennon, whose column is located just below this one.

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Bettering our mitzvot of visiting sick, comforting bereaved

By Sara Appel-Lennon

SAN DIEGO--In Judaism we consider it our humanitarian duty to visit the sick and comfort the bereaved. However, in American culture where people don't openly acknowledge grief, we often don't know what to say when we hear about a tragedy.

Many don't even talk about the troubling situation as a sign of respect for those affected. So, how should we perform the mitzvot of visiting the sick and comforting the bereaved ?

Is it preferable to say nothing or to risk making a faux pas by saying something that is unintendedly hurtful ?

I remember that in 2000 my father died from Multiple Myeloma. At the time I was studying for my adult bat mitzvah at Temple Emanu-El. When I returned to class after having travelled to the funeral, I remember feeling hurt that nobody acknowledged my loss.

I later discovered that the other students thought that they were being respectful by saying nothing and they didn't know what to say.

People who are ill or who are grieving do not always act the same. As best as you can, try to take your cue from them. While some patients want to talk about their illness, others decidedly do not. When my brother-in-law was in the hospital, he told me that he wished that people would quit asking him how he was feeling. I made a sign that said "please stop asking me how I am." I posted it near his bed. Everyone who saw the sign laughed, and they quit asking him how he was.

As Sheila Orysiek says in the column above, giving advice to someone about what s/he should have done is not helpful. My dad used to explain that this way: if you come to a fork in a road and you take one road, you can't say what would have happened if you took the other road. The only thing one could say with certainty is that the experience would have been different. No one can possibly know whether the experience would be better or worse.

For some other suggestions, I am indebted to the book I Willl Not Be Broken by Jerry White:

1) Instead of resorting to blame or pity, focus on the person's strength.

2) Advice is not helpful. Instead offer support.

3) Avoid dominating the conversation. Listen and ask open ended questions.

4) Recognize the loss and talk about it.

Offer to help when visiting.

Another approach recommends that you "LUV" someone. It was developed by Resilience Specialists, Dr. Lennin Echterling, Dr. J. Edson McKee, and Dr. Jack Presbury at James Madison University

L-Listen: Show open body language and lean forward while maintaining eye contact.        

U-Understand:   Mirror or paraphrase what is said so the person feels heard.
V-Validate  Nod and smile and refrain from advice giving. Ask the person how s/he has handled difficulties before. This will help the person to think in terms of how to move forward. It will be a new kind of normal. As White says "What we want to do is fuel the inner survivor rather than feed the inner victim."

At a shiva visit it is safe to express condolences or regret for the person's loss.

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Instead of saying "Let me know if I can do anything." I suggest asking for specific gestures i.e. offer to bring a prepared meal or promise to call the next day and do it.

White interviewed thousands of survivors and discovered these tips:

At the risk of saying something insensitive, it is important to acknowledge the loss. It is even acceptable to say "I don't have the right words but I do care."

Offer to lend a hand with chores without expecting gratitude.
Mention the name of the person who died and talk about that person. It's important to focus on how s/he lived rather than how s/he died.

Know that life is temporary and everyone experiences loss at some time in their lives. Invite mourners to activities. Encourage them to continue to participate in life.

White said that empathy and compassion are needed during a crisis. Empathy etiquette can be summarized with these five steps: "You feel for and with someone in pain; you show you care; you show up, watch your tongue, and offer practical support."

Appel-Lennon's email: appels@jewishsightseeing.com

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Those movie scores give added dimension, context, to film

By David Amos

SAN DIEGO—“What came first, the chicken or the egg?” I am sure that you have heard of this puzzle which has been with us forever. But, here is a different twist to the same question: What came first, the film, or the music to the film?

The answer is, of course, that it happens both ways. There are films which use music that was composed many years before, usually to a completely unrelated subject, and there are films for which a specific composer was hired to write the musical score to accompany the drama. In the old days, long before films, the latter was called “incidental music," and we have wonderful examples of this by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Bizet, and others.

But what is most important is whether the music, be it the background or the center of attention, is supporting the drama, the story line, and its spirit. I once heard a speech by Hollywood composer Ernest Gold (Of Exodus fame), in which he said that some of the finest orchestral music of the Twentieth Century was composed for the movies.

Maybe so. But unquestionably, some film scores are stunning, not only as pure music, but in the way they are an integral part of everything else that is going on. There are many good examples, but the first one that comes to my mind is Míklos Rózsa’s unforgettable score to Spellbound. There is no way to describe it. Rent the DVD and you will see what I mean. Listen attentively to the music, and you will see why this film score won an Oscar

As an aside, I offer you another challenge. I have seen television and film dramas where the background music was extremely modern, very strident and dissonant. But nobody complained about that, as we might be inclined to do when we attend a concert and are assaulted by an unexpected contemporary work which could try our patience and tolerance. The answer is obvious: In film and television, there is a story line, it is verbal and visual. Therefore, if the music is tense and gritty, it complements everything else, becomes part of  the whole effect, and we readily accept it. Even more so, if we hear the same music in a concert all by itself, it reminds us of the story line and visual action, and no matter how modern and dissonant it might be, we relate to it and actually enjoy it.

But, all this brings another question. Can music which is composed for films hold its own in an orchestral concert, without the silver screen? It may depend if we saw the film beforehand, or already know the music, or the meaning of the music is explained at the time of the concert.

Also, is the music of real quality or just kitch? It is no different than some ballet scores. If it is of lasting value, their appeal is forever.

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Through the years, I have worked with, commissioned, and recorded the music of several film composers. You will recognize some of their work. Rózsa, (Ben Hur, El Cid, Quo Vadis, and dozens of others), Laurence Rosenthal (The Miracle Worker, Becket, The Comedians, A Raisin in the Sun, Clash of the Titans, The Island of Dr. Moreau) and have heard them talk about the research and preparation which has to take place before the music is composed. There is also the matter of squeezing and editing music into very tight time segments and the coordination of the drama and action taking place.

I have seen Mr. Rosenthal make a very effective demonstration in a lecture. A scene is presented on the screen with no music at all. Then, sound effects are added. And in the final version, the music is superimposed. The final result is pleasurable and meaningful many times over.

Also, imagine a man, sitting in an outdoor European café, sipping a cappuccino and waiting, looking at passers by. If the music is dark and mysterious, we anticipate that he is in for some trouble very soon. But if the music is casual and whimsical, the man could be anticipating the arrival of his sidekick. Dramatic, romantic music would make us await the arrival of his beloved. Music can modify the mood, the tension, and affect the whole feeling of the scene.

If you keep these concepts in mind the next time you are watching a film or a television drama, you may open in your mind a whole new way of enjoying and absorbing entertainment in the small and large screen,

Amos is conductor of the Tifereth Israel Community Orchestra as well as guest conductors of orchestras around the world

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Bible in Pop Culture: Let Us make man...

Genesis 1:26

And God said, "Let Us make Man in Our image, after Our likenes.s They shall rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and over the animal, the whole earth and every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."

"Let Us Make Man" was the theme of a Black empowerment conference in August, Georgia, in March 2009. See graphic at left.

Do you have a photo that you think illustrates how a biblical verse has worked its way into pop culture. Please send it to us for possible publication in this series, "The Bible in Pop Culture."

You may send your jpg photo for posting online to us at San Diego Jewish World, emailing it to editor@sandiegojewishheritage.com.

If possible, please send it at 72dpi resolution and 400 pixels wide. Please include the name of the photographer, the date and place the photo was taken, and any other relevant caption information.

For our growing "Pop Bible" collection please see
Bible in pop culture index

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Adventures in San Diego Jewish History
With thanks to Gail Umeham for the transcription

“Stay Home” Magic Carpet Day Sunday—Ask Workers

Southwestern Jewish Press May 15, 1953, page 1

With “Magic Carpet” Day taking place on Sunday, May 17, the annual Campaign of the United jewish Fund will enter the cleanup day this coming week.

Workers for “Magic Carpet” day will meet at the Jewish Community Center, 3227 El Cajon Blvd., for breakfast between 9:00 and 9:45 a.m. on Sunday and then will receive their instructions and assignments.  Fanning out into all sections of the city, Fund workers will solicit contributions from all Jews in the community who have not as yet given their pledge to the 1953 campaign.

“Though we are far ahead of last year in the number of contributors already in, 1400 as compared to 1750 at the end of 1952,” Carl M. Esenoff and Milton Y. Roberts, General Campaign Chairmen said, “many potential contributors who are still not solicited are waiting for operation 'Magic Carpet.'”

Mack Esterson and Louis Mongy, both experienced campaign leaders and community workers, will head the “Magic Carpet” Day operation.  Expected to bring this phase of the drive to a successful conclusion, the annual cleanup day will find over 150 workers participating in the event which has become traditional in local campaigns.

Last Tuesday evening, under the chairmanship of Esterson and Mogy, organization leaders and area chairmen met to complete the plans for “Magic Carpet” Day and for cleanup of the Fund Campaign.  The grim determination to finish their assignment in a successful campaign indicated that “Magic Carpet” Day would be one of the best ever held in San Diego.

In the past week many prospect cards with checks and cash attached have been turned in to the Fund Office by workers.  The response to the appeal to finish the campaign quickly ha been excellent, though there is still over $50,000 in unpledged prospects.

Returns in the last ten days were over $17,000 bringing the total pledges in the drive to date to $165,300 as we go to press.
“Indications,” said Esenoff and Roberts, “point to an excellent drive which will exceed 1952’s total of $210,000.” The pledges in to date are 12 percent higher than last year from the same people.

In an attempt to clean up the campaign as fast as possible, and in preparation for “Magic Carpet Day,” a Tuesday morning breakfast club of “Early Morning Fund Raisers” has been organized to solicit the larger gifts still outstanding.  The group will meet every Tuesday morning for breakfast, take their assignments and complete them that morning, according to the plan as outlined by the chairmen.  Members of the group are old campaigners and outstanding leaders in the community, consisting of:  Victor Schulman, Milton Roberts, Murray Goodrich, Jack O. Gross, Rodin Horrow, Harry Snyder, Louis Moorsteen, Carl Esenoff, Max Maisel, Rubin Umansky, Harry Wax, Henry Price, David Stotsky, Mack Esterson, Sol Price, William Colt, Abe Bronstone, Al Steinbaum, and Al Hutler. 
Anyone willing to give up a Tuesday morning is welcome to join the group at the Grant Hotel Coffee Ship.

In announcing the total Figure to date of $165,300 it was shown that the Women’s Division has raised $35,188 and the Christian Division $7,114 to date.

In order to save campaign expenses and your neighbor’s time and energy, the chairmen of the campaign urge everyone who has not as yet given to the 1953 Fund Campaign to do so immediately by mailing their contribution to the office,. 333 Plaza, or by making sure they are home on Sunday to make their contribution to their neighbor, who will call on them during “Operation Magic Carpet.”

Camp Whispering Pines
to Open in July

Southwestern Jewish Press May 15, 1953, page 1

A limited number of children will be accommodated at Camp Whispering Pines, in Julian this summer, according to Al Hutler, director of the camp.

A change in policy will enable parents to register their children for periods of 2, 4, or 8 weeks at a time.  The cost will be $40.00 per week.

An excellent staff of counselors will offer a full program including swimming, hiking, overnight trips, horseback riding, games, sports, campcraft, woodcraft, nature lore, songs, campfires, etc.

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Campers who register will pay a $25.00 deposit which will be credited.  Camp will open soon after July 4.  Blankets and linens
must be supplied by the parents.  Ages are from 7-14 for boys and girls.  Call F-8393 or B-8223 for further information.

T.I. Religious School
To Be Dedicated

Southwestern Jewish Press May 15, 1953, page 1

A committee composed of representatives of trhe Tifereth Israel Synagogue, Daughters of Israel, Sisterhood, Men’s Club and Young Couple’s Club, met at the home of Synagogue President M. S. Berlin to formulate plans for the three day celebration which will mark the dedication of the Tifereth Israel Religious School Building.  This event has been scheduled to take place on Aúgust 28, 29 and 30.

Mr. Sam Addleson was unanimously elected to serve as General Chairman of the Dedication Committee.  In an address to the Committee, Mr. Addleson stated that he will call on members of the Congregation and the community at large to help make this a memorable occasion.

Members of the Committee are Mesdames N. Prager, J. Shulack, Wm. Moss; Messrs R. Cheron, M. Zeman, F. Pomeranz, Z. Greenberg, J. Finkleman, S. Newman, P. Nestor, H. Zall, B. Levenson, S. Addleson, Rabbi Monroe Levens, Mr. and Mrs. H. Tulchinsky and Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Newman.

Conference of United Synagogue
Held in Los Angeles

Southwestern Jewish Press May 15, 1953, page 1

The Combined Conference of the United Synagogue and National Women’s League is to be held in Los Angeles the weekend of May 15, 16, 17.  The theme of the Conference is “Key to American Jewish Living.”  Many outstanding meetings and discussions have been planned.  Thirty congregations will be represented, and some 1200 delegates are expected.

The opening session of the Conference will be held at Congregation Sinai, Friday evening, May 15, 1953.  A large Community Service is being planned, and all Conservative Temples will participate.  Temples in the community are suspending their own late Friday Evening Services in order to participate in this outstanding event.  Rabbi Monroe Levens will deliver the sermon at this United Service.  The Oneg Shabbat to follow will be sponsored by the Sinai Sisterhood.

“Adventures in Jewish History” is sponsored by Inland Industries Group LP in memory of long-time San Diego Jewish community leader Marie (Mrs. Gabriel) Berg. Our indexed "Adventures in San Diego Jewish History" series
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