OC Jewish Experience

The official blog of Jewish Orange County

Chicago Area Synagogues Target for Terrorists

The news began this morning that possible bombs or bomb related equipment was on a UPS flight that took off from Yemen.

CNN was one of the first news organizations on the story.  By the end of the day, it was revealed that two bombs were part of a terror plot targeting Jewish Synagogues in the Chicago area.

According to an Associated Press story, preliminary tests indicated the packages found on two different airplanes contained the powerful industrial explosive PETN, the same chemical used in the Christmas attack, U.S. officials said.

CBS television posted the following three-minute video that shows U.S. President Barak Obama addressing the credible terror threat.  He confirmed that both packages were found in Dubai and the United Kingdom and originated in Yemen.

Screen shot from CBS Video


October 29, 2010 Posted by | Terrorism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UCI’s Olive Tree Initiative

Last night, I along with two hundreds or so other students, staff, faculty and community members gathers at the UCI student Center to hear about the latest efforts of the Olive Tree Initiative.  The name of the event was titled:  Looking into the Mirror.  Critical reflections on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Since its creation in 2007, the Olive Tree Initiative at UCI has been responding to tension on its campus regarding the Israeli – Palestinian situation by forming a diverse group of students and traveling to Israel and the surrounding areas to gain firsthand experience in the region.

According to UCI information put out about the program, student cross physical and mental borders, engage with ordinary people, academics, politicians, religious authorities, community leaders and others.  The students that went on this trip were made up of Jews, Muslims, Christians, non affiliated members or a religious organization.  it included mostly UCI students with two students each from UCLA, US Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz.

Upon their return, students share their experiences with peers and community members in forms like the one I attended last night.

This caption was taken from UCI's home page this week, promoting the OTI experience

Each student was provided the opportunity to address the audience on an experience or two they had during their 18 day trip.

A few thoughts about the event.

** The most important takeaway I saw as a community member was the opportunity for real dialogue on campus between students of different backgrounds.  That my friends is called hope.

** Instead of reading or using information from news reports, these students saw what was taking place on the ground.

** The chances for improved relations on campus grows if the students can translate the experience in the Middle East to influencing others to join a discussion.

** The idealistic student views were met with the harsh reality from members of the community when questions were taken from the audience after the student presentations.

** The impact of what UCI is doing is now being felt on other campuses.  As a result of this ongoing initiative, it was announced that similar programs are launching at UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz.


October 22, 2010 Posted by | Community Events, Israel, UC Irvine | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UC President Mark Yudof Coming to OC

I am sure quite a few people have been waiting for this visit and now it is official. Mark Yudof, the President of the University of California, will address the Orange County Jewish Community for the first time during a special appearance on Thursday November 4, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at Temple Bat Yahm in Newport Beach.

President Yudof will discuss civil discourse on today’s university campuses as well as current issues facing public education.  Now, I asked a few questions about the event and want to clarify question you may have.  There is a suggested donation of $18 per person for the event.  I asked why and it is clear.  The event will use the proceeds from the special lecture to help offset future events.  Also, Mr. Yudof is NOT being paid for this appearance.
“We are excited to have President Yudof visit Orange County and address our community,” Jewish Federation & Family Services President and CEO Shalom Elcott said in a press release.  “We extended an invitation a few months ago and we are grateful he has been able to accommodate our request this month.  We expect this be a well-attended event.”
The special evening is a program of the Rose Project Distinguished Guest Lecture Series and made possible by a grant from the Margolis Family Foundation.
Advance registration in advance is required to attend this event.
Please visit www.jewishorangecounty.org for additional details or call (949) 435-3484.
Past speakers of this Lecture Series have included Alan Dershowitz and Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren.
Here is background information on The Rose Project:

The Rose Project was developed by Jewish Federation & Family Services,  Orange County, to address the challenging issues at UC Irvine and on other university campuses in Orange County. The purpose of The Rose Project is to ensure that students on Orange County university campuses and community leaders are informed about issues of Jewish life and Israel, that they are deeply educated on the facts and the myths, and that they are fully engaged in positive advocacy for Israel.  For more information, Click Here

October 20, 2010 Posted by | Community Events | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Can Israel Be Jewish and Democratic?

Dr. Menachem Hofnun, Visiting UCI Professor

Presented by Women’s Philanthropy of Jewish Federation & Family Services, visiting Israeli Professor at UCI Dr. Menachem Hofnun will tackle the question:  Can Israel be Jewish and Democratic?

Dr. Hofnung is a professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research covers national security and civil liberties, constitutional politics and comparative political finance. He has taught at UCI, San Francisco State University, the University of Florida at Gainesville, and Moscow State University and was a Research Fellow at the Center for Law and Society at UC Berkeley. Professor Hofnung has published many articles addressing the politics of elections and serves as the referee for several scholarly journals.

This event, scheduled for Wednesday, October 20th, is free and open to the community, but seating is limited.

This will be Professor Hofnung’s first community appearance.  This lecture as well as those schedule later on this holiday season is part of a lecture series aimed to help the Orange County Jewish community become better informed of issues related to Israel and the recent events at the UCI campus.

To register for this event, click here

This is presented by Women’s Philanthropy in partnership with the Israel Center and the Rose Project of Jewish Federation & Family Services.

Additional Background:

Menachem Hofnung is the 2010-11 Schusterman Visiting Israeli Scholar at UC Irvine.  His appointment is part of a national program through the American-Israel Cooperative Enterprise, and is made possible through funding from the Charles & Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the Rose Project of Jewish Federation & Family Services, Orange County.

October 19, 2010 Posted by | Community Events, Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tzedauction Event This Week

If you are looking for a great event this week, then I suggest you make plans to attend Tzedauction, scheduled for October 23rd. This community related fundraising event includes a Live and Silent Auction, live jazz band and Kosher hors d’oeuvres and dessert.  Tickets are $30 each in advance or $40 at the door.

Tzedauction is organized by the Young Leadership Division or Jewish Federation & Family Services and draws over 200 young adults for an evening of live entertainment and rallying to support the community.

This year’s auction items for Tzedauction include experiences for every attendee. Featured live auction items include Two Platinum tickets to the MusicCares Award dinner PLUS entry to Barbara Streisand’s private rehearsal before the performance, sailing and boating excursions, personal fitness and private training sessions, a gourmet dinner for six prepared in your home by LA’s Sicada Executive Chef Suzay, and more.

Even young professionals raise money for local families and individuals in dire financial crisis. All the auction proceeds will support the Chai Fund Last year Tzedauction raised over $20,000 to help people in our community who have lost their homes, cars, health insurance and continue to struggle with job loss and meeting critical needs to survive.  Despite the veneer and perception that everyone in Orange County is wealthy there are 21,000 people who go to bed hungry in The OC every night. Jewish Federation & Family Services works to meet the needs of local Jewish and non-Jewish families and individuals to seek help through our organization and the social services we provide (www.jewishorangecounty.org)

I am told that the following corporate sponsors are helping to support this event:

Fletcher Jones Mercedes Benz

Blueberry Hill Catering

Orange County Jewish Life

Richard Sterling DDS

The Buddy Group

Cornerstone Investment Consulting

October 18, 2010 Posted by | Community Events | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Skin Heads to Orthodox Jews

Over the weekend, I was surfing the internet and discovered a story on CNN.com from Warsaw, Poland. The piece beings with a great quote:
“Who we think we are today, is not necessarily who we will be tomorrow. Human experience is unpredictable.”

This story chronicles a couple’s change from Neo Nazi skin heads into Orthodox Jews in a place where Hitler and the German army almost succeeded in extinguishing Jewish life. This is a documentary about a Neo-Nazi couple who find out they have a Jewish heritage.

Watch This


October 4, 2010 Posted by | Diaspora | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment