LA’s Global Day Of Jewish Learning Canceled

I’m the target demographic for these events. I love anything limmud. For many years, I went to UCLA Hillel’s day of learning during Passover. I love to learn Torah with the community. I’m a natural for these things.

I went to sign up for this year’s event in Malibu, but first I checked the speakers. I did not recognize anybody. No single class struck me as compelling, so I didn’t put down any money and I didn’t reserve a spot (except on Facebook).

Next time they want to bring in a crowd, they should ask Rabbs and me to teach parsha.

Any who wants to drive all the way out to Malibu for this type of thing? Much comfier to have it in Pico-Robertson.

The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles does not challenge any of the spin when it reports:

On Sunday, Nov. 7, more than 350 communities around the world will take part in the Global Day of Jewish Learning. Due to low pre-registration numbers, Greater Los Angeles will not be among them.

“We had a great program planned, and to do a quality program we needed more people, and we just didn’t have them,” said Rabbi Mark S. Diamond, executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, which was one of the event’s local co-sponsors. LimmudLA, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Shalom Institute were also co-sponsors of the Los Angeles event, which was to have taken place at Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu.

In addition to affirming Jewish learning as a central part of Jewish life and culture, the Global Day of Jewish Learning is intended to celebrate Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz’s completion of his translation of and commentary on the Talmud, a project Steinsaltz started nearly five decades ago. The Aleph Society, a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting Steinsaltz’s work and to making Jewish texts accessible to Jews around the world, is spearheading Sunday’s event along with about 40 major Jewish organizations.

The Global Day of Jewish Learning was announced at last year’s General Assembly and has been advertised on a number of different Jewish news sites. Saying that the decision to cancel the event was made “with great regret,” Diamond was nevertheless certain that calling it off was the right way to go. “Sometimes you plan a great program and you don’t get the people necessary,” he said. “I’d rather admit that and move on rather than try to run a program for too few people.”

Here are the presenters for the now canceled day of learning:

Cindy Paley has been for more than 20 years, a musical educator and performer, has brought the joys of Jewish music to teachers, students, and families throughout North America. She has combined education and entertainment to teach Jewish values, holidays, and traditions. With eight recordings to her credit, Cindy has provided musical tools for teachers, families, and children that enrich lives and ensure that the best of our heritage will continue. Cindy has served as the Music Educator at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California since 1977. After receiving her teaching credential at UCLA, she chose to devote her career to songleading and music as a Jewish educator. In addition to her recordings and family concerts, Cindy often serves as a cantorial soloist, and is currently involved in creative prayer services for women. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Herzel, and three wonderful children.

Mike Sirota began song leading while he was a counselor at Camp JCA in Barton Flats near Big Bear when he was eighteen. Since then he has sung in camps, synagogues, at parties, and just for fun. Mike and Cindy Paley have sung together and led group singing many times through the years since first meeting in 1965 at a Valley Cities JCC Day Camp. They thoroughly enjoy singing together. Mike is a founding member of The Folk Collection, a folk trio singing the classic songs of the 60’s Folk era throughout Southern California and in venues across the United States. Mike is currently the Cantor at Temple Ami Shalom in West Covina.

Maya Zack 2000 Bezalel graduate already boasts an impressive filmography and catalog of worldwide film screenings, solo exhibitions, and awards. A frequent lecturer at Bezalel Academy and the Tel Aviv University Department of Film and Television, Maya is currently best known for her award-winning short film Mother Economy. This masterful 20-minute work, selected from 500 submissions as the winner of the Celeste Art Prize during the 2008 Berlin Video Art Festival, is a contemporary exploration of issues of Jewish identity, cultural memory, and emotions. The residency opportunity for noted Israeli artist Maya Zack is a collaboration between the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity (CJCC) and The Jewish Artists Initiative of Southern California (JAI). This artist exchange is made possible with the generous support of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, the Israeli Consulate, and the Jewish Federation’s TA/LA Partnership.

Daniella Gold received her Masters of Public Art Studies from USC in 2010 and her B.A. in Art History and International Relations from Brandeis University in 2007. She is the 2008-2010 Spinner-Avodah Fellow as well as the recipient of the Kathleen Neely Macomber Travel Award. As the Macomber Travel Award recipient, Daniella completed first hand research in Israel during the summer of 2009. Her research culminated in her Master thesis “Mediating Sand and Sea: Video Landscapes by Israeli Women Artists”. Daniella’s interest in Israeli art lies specifically in works that are situated in contested and liminal spaces, thus interpreting the relationship between Israeli identity formation, gender politics, spatial theory and political geography. Daniella is currently a Content Design Researcher at the LA Museum of the Holocaust.

Elana Havusha is the Garden Director at the Shalom Institute. Prior to joining the Shalom Institute, she spent the last couple of years studying Judaism’s connection to the environment and organic agriculture. She became passionate about this work during her time in the ADAMAH Jewish Environmental Fellowship, a three-month leadership program that integrates organic farming, sustainable living and Jewish learning and while interning at the Kayam Farm at the Pearlstone Retreat Center. Since then, she has spent time working on organic farms around the country, teaching, learning and growing within the Jewish environmental movement and loving being a part of our exciting and vibrant Jewish community

Bill Kaplan is the Executive Director of the Shalom Institute in Malibu, Bill is entering his 21th year with the Shalom Institute and in the Jewish Community Center field. Located on 135 acres in the beautiful Malibu mountains, the Shalom Institute provides high quality experiential retreats and programs year-round for synagogues, day schools, JCC, Jewish federations, and other Jewish communal institutions. Bill works year-round with Jewish day school, religious school, and early childhood educators (as well as many others in the Jewish community) to develop more eco-friendly practices at their institutions while incorporating these practices into their curriculum and connecting their “greening” to their Jewish educational goals. Bill has a BA from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT., an MBA in Non-Profit Management and Jewish Communal Service from American Jewish University, and is currently a third year rabbinical student at the Academy For Jewish Religion in Los Angeles.

Ariel Dinar is Professor of Environmental Economics and Policy & Director, Water Science and Policy Center (WSPC) at UC Riverside. Ariel has B. Sc, M.Sc and Ph.D. in Agricultural & Natural Resource Economics, from Hebrew University of Jerusalem. HIs topics cover: Water and Environmental, Economics, Water Policy, Climate Change, Regional Cooperation, Cooperative Game Theory, Economics of Extension.

Andrew Feig is a native Chicagoan. He has lived and worked in Los Angeles for the last twelve years. He received his degree in Hebrew studies and political science from the University of Wisconsin and has a Master’s in Jewish studies from the University of Chicago. In 2007, he was ordained as rabbi at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California. He comes to Sinai Akiba Academy from Milken Community High School where, for four years, he was a dean of students and Rabbinics teacher. Previous to Milken, he was an administrator and teacher at Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School. Committed to life-long learning and the richness of Jewish tradition, he loves working with students and families to experience and mine the richness of Judaism. Rabbi Feig is blessed with a lovely family: His wife, Julie, who is a researcher at UCLA’s Dept of Education, and Ella, Ezra and Eytan who are students at Sinai Akiba and the Douglas Family Early Childhood Center.

Mike Comins is a yeshiva-trained, Israeli-ordained Reform Rabbi and a licensed Israeli desert guide, Mike Comins is the founder of TorahTrek Spiritual Wilderness Adventures (www.TorahTrek.com) and the author of A Wild Faith: Jewish Ways into Wilderness, Wilderness Ways into Judaism and Making Prayer Real: Leading Jewish Spiritual Voices on Why Prayer is Difficult and What to Do about It (MakingPrayerReal.com).

Ilana Berenbaum Grinblat teaches Midrash (biblical interpretation) at the American Jewish University’s, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, where she was ordained as a rabbi in 2001. She currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Southern California Board of Rabbis. Formerly, she served for five years as the rabbi of Temple Beth Shalom in Long Beach, CA and subsequently for two years at Temple Ner Ma’arav in Encino, CA. She is the wife of Tal (a franchise lawyer) and mother of two children, Jeremy and Hannah. She developed a curriculum for parents which she taught at the Long Beach Jewish Community Center. She now focuses on her writing, teaching and most of all her family. Her writing addresses the spiritual insights that she learns from parenting. Her web site is www.rabbigrinblat.com.

Erez Sherman is a Rabbi of Shomrei Torah Synagogue in West Hills, CA, under the wonderful leadership of Rabbi Richard Camras. A graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Rabbi Sherman was ordained in May of 2009 and awarded the United Synagogue Award for Congregational Service. He is also a graduate of Albert A. List College and Columbia University with degrees in music and Talmud. Rabbi Sherman served as Rabbinic intern at Temple Sholom of Greenwich, CT. Rabbi Sherman is a native of Syracuse, New York and comes from a family of Rabbis. The son of Rabbi Charles and Leah Sherman, his father has served as spiritual leader of Temple Adath Yeshurun in Syracuse, NY for the last 33 years and his sister, Rabbi Nogah Marshall serves as educational director of Har Zion Temple in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Rabbi Sherman is married to Rabbi Nicole Guzik of Sinai Temple. Rabbis Sherman and Guzik have presented “He Said: She Said” the life of Two Congregational Rabbis” to audiences around the Los Angeles area.

Ida Unger, M.Ed. and Certified Iyengar Yoga Instructor grew up with a Yeshiva education and a love of Torah and spiritual pursuits. She later became a full time yoga teacher, offering classes at colleges, studios and schools. Her path led her to connect her Jewish roots to her yogic wings, resulting in a deepening of both. She has taught Yoga & Judaism to hundreds of students nationally since 1992.

Noah Farkas serves as a rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California. In addition to his work at VBS, Noah co-founded Netiya: the LA Jewish Coalition on Food, Environment, and Social Justice. He has presented at many national conferences about Judaism, the Environment and Social Justice. He recently authored, The Social Action Manual: Six Steps to Repairing the World (Behrman House). Noah lives with his wife and two children in Sherman Oaks. Noah’s number one passion after spending time with his family is thinking up creative ice cream flavors.

Jonathan Freund is the Director of Educational and Interreligious Programs for the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. Freund received a BA in Theater Directing from Oberlin College, and for over 20 years worked in various capacities in theater, film and television at Manhattan Theater Club, Williamstown Theater Festival, Paramount Pictures, HBO, Warner Bros. and Punch Productions, among many others, on both the east and west coasts. In 2006, he received a Masters in Jewish Education from the University of Judaism. Prior to joining the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, he ran programs with the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, Storahtelling, and Camp Alonim. He has taught Torah and Judaica, to adults and youth, at Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Adat Ari El, University Synagogue, Shomrei Torah Synagogue and Milken Community High School. As a writer, he has contributed to the 2007 edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica, and to Murder Most Merciful: Essays on the Ethical Conundrum of ‘The Judgement of Herbert Bierhoff’ (Studies in the Shoah), edited by Michael Berenbaum.

Risa Goldstein is the Program Director for the PJ Library, an award-winning Jewish family engagement program designed to strengthen the identities of Jewish families and their relationship to the Jewish community. The PJ Library offers free, high-quality Jewish books and music each month to Los Angeles children between the ages of 6 months and 5 ½ years. The name “PJ” stands for “pajamas” and invokes that time of the day when parents and children strengthen their bond through love and learning by cuddling up with a book. As part of their mission to ensure the Jewish future, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles has made the PJ Library program available to children in both the City and the Valley in an effort to build, strengthen, and preserve Jewish identity. The goal of this dynamic program is to enrich families, regardless of their level of observance or affiliation, on their Jewish journeys through stories and song.

Miriam Phillips is a fourth-year rabbinic student at Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles, and the rabbinic intern for the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. Last year she received her Master of Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College as a Mandel Fellow. As part of the Fellowship Miriam studied leadership and peoplehood through the lens of visionary communities that use education as growth. Miriam is a native West Coaster, hailing from rural Washington state and Long Beach, CA (where her family was a member at Temple Israel). Miriam graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis University in 2003. At Brandeis, she majored in history and was active in pluralism, multicultural, and dialogue work, including developing a series that explored meditation in different campus religions, a series of spirituality walks, and co-leading a multicultural seder each year. Miriam was also involved in Christian-Jewish-Muslim dialogue, to the point that she was elected an honorary member of the Muslim Student Association. After college, Miriam volunteered in Israel on Otzma, sponsored by the Long Beach Federation.

Erez Sherman is a Rabbi of Shomrei Torah Synagogue in West Hills, CA, under the wonderful leadership of Rabbi Richard Camras. A graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Rabbi Sherman was ordained in May of 2009 and awarded the United Synagogue Award for Congregational Service. He is also a graduate of Albert A. List College and Columbia University with degrees in music and Talmud. Rabbi Sherman served as Rabbinic intern at Temple Sholom of Greenwich, CT. Rabbi Sherman is a native of Syracuse, New York and comes from a family of Rabbis. The son of Rabbi Charles and Leah Sherman, his father has served as spiritual leader of Temple Adath Yeshurun in Syracuse, NY for the last 33 years and his sister, Rabbi Nogah Marshall serves as educational director of Har Zion Temple in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Rabbi Sherman is married to Rabbi Nicole Guzik of Sinai Temple. Rabbis Sherman and Guzik have presented “He Said: She Said” the life of Two Congregational Rabbis” to audiences around the Los Angeles area.

Edna Miron-Wapner is an Artist and Expressive Arts Educator living in Jerusalem, Israel. As an artist with specialties in Sumi-e Painting, Calligraphy, Printing and Papermaking, she has exhibited her work over the past thirty years in museums and galleries in the US, Israel, Russia and Japan. She is the founder of two studios in Jerusalem, the first Studio Spiral, a unique intermodal Children’s Creativity Center and secondly, Studio Indigo an Adult Expressive Arts Center. She has also taught Expressive Kavannah at Jewish Institutes in Israel and the U.S.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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