OC Jewish Experience

The official blog of Jewish Orange County

UCI, the First Week

Students are back at UC Irvine and classes are in full swing as we head into Simchat Torah and the first week of October.

The students on the Orange County campus finally made news for something other than the Muslim Student Union suspension on September 21st when nearly 1,800 Anteaters gathered at the Bren Events Center for a reported Guinness World Record for the largest game of dodgeball.  It may sound surprising that so many students were in the Bren Center at one time, but the event was well received and the media picked up on the event.

However, it is back to business as usual now that classes have begun.

The New University, the school’s weekly student run newspaper had the following headline in the year’s first issue:

MSU Suspension Unjust

The story, an opinion piece by Madiha Shahabuddin stated in the second paragraph of a lengthy story, “UC Irvine’s recently disappointing decision to suspend the MSU for fall quarter and impose a two-year probationary period is an unjust punishment that will be detrimental to the diversity of this campus.” You can read the entire MSU related opinion piece here.

Aaron Elisa, countered with his own opinion piece titled:

Suspending MSU the Right Move for UCI

Here is how Aaron led the opinion piece:  “I’m willing to bet that you, like me, are sick to your stomach with the feud that’s been raging on campus for years between Anteaters for Israel and the Muslim Student Union. It’s bad for the atmosphere and for the school’s reputation; too many people and institutions all over the world think UC Irvine is a vile cesspool of Jew-hatred. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have just one year without all the saber rattling and mudslinging?”  If you’d like to read the entire piece, click here.

So what has changed on the campus since June?  The faces have changed.  A few have graduated, a group has been technically suspended but the jury is still out. Will se really see change on the campus?  Stay tuned.


September 30, 2010 Posted by | Muslim Student Union, UC Irvine | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Young Jewish Adult Interest in Israel is Up

According to something I read on eJewish Philanthropy today, demand among young Jewish adults in the Diaspora to participate in Taglit-Birthright Israel’s trips to Israel rose by 12%, according to the latest registration figures from North American applicants.

Taglit-Birthright Israel received 23,623 eligible applications for 9,576 places on its winter trips, which will take place between December and March 2011. Registration closed after just seven days. This compares to 21,093 applicants at the same time last winter when registration closed after 10 days.

If you do not know about Taglit-Birthright, here is a Cliff Notes version: Taglit-Birthright Israel provides the gift of first time, peer group, educational trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18 to 26. Taglit-Birthright Israel’s founders created this program to send thousands of young Jewish adults from all over the world to Israel as a gift in order to diminish the growing division between Israel and Jewish communities around the world; to strengthen the sense of solidarity among world Jewry; and to strengthen participants’ personal Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish people.

The gift of the 10-day trip is being provided by partners including: private philanthropists through The Birthright Israel Foundation; the people of Israel through the Government of Israel; and Jewish communities around the world (North American Jewish Federations, Keren Hayesod and the Jewish Agency for Israel).

September 28, 2010 Posted by | Israel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Festival Jewish Experience

As I was preparing for the recent holidays, I came across a printed brochure at the OC Kosher supermarket.  The four-color glossy is promoting the 8th Annual Pacific Jewish Film Festival (October 10 – November 4) as well as the 13th Annual Festival of Jewish Books (November 10 – December 5).

Based on our current state of media overload, you may not have heard about these kind of OC based events, so I wanted to take today’s blog to let you know about a two festivals scheduled next month in Orange County.

The Pacific Jewish Film Festival showcases intriguing films with Jewish themes from around the world.  Jewish films strengthen Jewish identity and the community by expressing the jewish experience and shared memories.

I have attended this festival in the past and there have been some excellent movies to see.

Here is a list of the movies scheduled to be shown.  I also found a few of the trailers on YouTube for you to preview, which are shown below each title.

Nora’s Will

The Gift to Stalin

Saviors of the Night

Jews and Baseball

Inside Hana’s Suitcase


The cost is $9 for Jewish Community Center members, $12 for the public.  There is also a festival film pass which ranges from $48 – $66.  The brochure directs interested parties who want more information to www.jccoc.org

As soon as the film festival finishes, the 13th Annual Festival of Books takes over from November 10th  to December 15th.

Events include:  A Hidden Affair, A Jew Grows Up in Brooklyn, Crossing Mandlebaum Gate, Fance Nancy Beauty Day and more.

For an entire listing of this festival, click here.

September 20, 2010 Posted by | Community Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UCI Students Coming Back to Campus

Just beyond Yom Kippur services this weekend, college students begin returning to UCI and their undergraduate and graduate studies as the official Welcome Week (Sept. 20-24) festivities are about to begin.

After a quiet summer and final decision by the UCI upholding the suspension of the Muslim student Union, a quieter fall quarter should be enjoyed by students and community members.

Orange County Hillel has developed a week-long program for incoming and returning Jewish students to the UCI campus.

You can find a Hillel table at Aldrich Park on Monday of Welcome Week from 9a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Tuesday‘s event is an Open House evening affair from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 which I am told also includes free food.

If you have a sweet tooth then Wednesday‘s Ice Cream Sundae Social may be for you.  A table will be set up on ring road from noon to 1:00 p.m.

You can return to the same table the next morning for free coffee and bagels starting Thursday at 8:00 a.m.  One caveat though, is a disclaimer to come early or supplies may run out if you are come too late.

To finish the week, Hillel is teaming with Chabad on campus for the first Shabbat dinner of the year on Friday.  Services are at 7:00 p.m. with dinner, I am told beginning at 7:30 p.m.

So, now you know.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year, and an easy fast this weekend.

September 16, 2010 Posted by | Community Events, UC Irvine | Leave a comment

UCI Reduces Muslim Student Union Suspension

This announcement was just released by Jewish Federation & Family Services, Orange County.  The final decision is in and the following is what the organization released

UC Irvine has rejected the Muslim Student Union’s appeal, and has followed through with UCI’s initial decision to suspend the MSU.

Ultimately, the precedent-setting suspension was upheld.  The UCI document obtained by Jewish Federation & Family Services, Orange County stated that “the MSU violated the following policies:  Obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures or other university activities.”  The student judicial review process worked.

While we are disappointed that the length of the suspension was shortened, it is not our place to determine the length nor the severity of the punishment.
The only way we will know that this decision has been effective is if there is a systemic change in the actions and conduct by the MSU and a turn to more thoughtful dialogue that befits a university campus.
Related Story Links
OC Register
LA Times
KPCC Radio
Fox LA

September 3, 2010 Posted by | Muslim Student Union, UC Irvine, Uncategorized | , , , , | 3 Comments