OC Jewish Experience

The official blog of Jewish Orange County

Weeklong ‘Green’ Seminar at UC Irvine includes Israel

From OC Metro:

UC Irvine has since Monday been hosting “Empowering Sustainability on Earth,” a weeklong seminar that is part of the UC Irvine School of Social Ecology’s and the Newkirk Center for Science and Society’s “Toward a Sustainable 21st Century” event series. The final presentations and lectures will take place tomorrow.

The seminar has featured an assortment of presentations and lectures that have focused on various ideas about sustainability on a global scale. Some of the many topics include human-induced changes to the environment (with a look at the world’s marine and freshwater resources); the effects of globalization and capitalism on sustainability; and the relationship between religion and sustainability.

The seminar has featured some 70 representatives from 20 countries, including China, India, Russia, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Spain, Israel, Norway and South Africa, among others.

“This is an extraordinary event that we hope will be the first of many,” said John Whiteley, UCI professor of social ecology. “Bringing together this impressive group of young leaders from throughout the world to focus on sustainability, globally and in their own countries, has great potential to make a difference in the future of the environment. We are confident that the participants will learn as much from each other as from the formal presentations.”



July 21, 2011 Posted by | Community Events, Israel, Technology, UC Irvine | Leave a comment

Jerusalem Post Reports on the Olive Tree Initiative


Ben Hartman of the Jerusalem Post reported on the Olive Tree Initiative, the University of California, Irvine program that has drawn interest from pro-Israel student leaders at the University and controversy within the Jewish community. Student leaders was quoted in the article, along with Jewish Federation CEO Shalom Elcott and Rose Project Co-Chair Jeff Margolis.

Hartman correctly categorizes the initiative as a balanced and educational program without any specific ideological bent with this quote from Yerushalmi:

Almost half of the speakers are Zionist or pro-Israel, some are in the middle and are not affiliated with the Palestinian or Israeli side, [working] with non-partisan NGOs or organizations. It’s a very balanced itinerary, and we’ve always been open to hearing from people who have ideas and additional perspectives

Not included in the article is some excellent news about past Rose Project participants and members of the Olive Tree Initiative, who have just been accepted to several long-term Israel programs, including the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and Israel Government Fellows Program, Magen David Adom (Israel’s Red Cross), Hasbara Fellowships, MASA and more. We are very proud of our students, and they, like Isaac, are doing a service to the greater Orange County community, the Jewish people, and demonstrate the success of Rose-project supported programs.

June 22, 2011 Posted by | Community Events, Diaspora, Israel, Jewish Federation Orange County, Media, Rose Project, UC Irvine, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Jonathan Adelman comes to UC Irvine

A new pro-Israel student group, SPME (Students for Peace in the Middle East), is having their second event of the quarter at the UCI. They will be hosting Professor Jonathan Adelman, a renowned scholar in the Middle East, Israel, and Global Economics. The Rose Project of the Jewish Federation & Family Services, Orange County is happy to have provided funding for this new student-led and driven organization and program.

Jonathan Adelman at UC Irvine

April 22, 2011 Posted by | Community Events, Israel, Jewish Federation Orange County, Movement for Peace in the Middle East, Rose Project, UC Irvine, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Purim Party for Young Professionals

Now where were events like this for me when I was a bit younger?  This looks like a great time and something that was just sent to me on email over the weekend.  Since Jews in Orange County and the surrounding areas are always looking for fun things to do, I thought I was post this and pass it along.

YDL or the Young Leadership Division of Orange County’s growing Jewish community will be holding a unique Purim party on Saturday, March 19th at Andrei’s, located at 2607 Main St. in Irvine.  The event will kick off with a megillah rap reading with Distract-ION followed by dancing and entertainment.

The OC Purim party is open to young adults, 21+, and will also feature a Hookah Lounge and of course lots of Hamentaschen.

Tickets to this event are available for $25 if you are buying them online or $35 at the door.

If you click on the photo to the right, you will be taken to a webpage that will play you a preview video.

March 14, 2011 Posted by | Community Events | , , | Leave a comment

Jewish Community Helping Tsunami Victims in Japan

As if last week’s Tsunami was not enough, Japanese authorities, according to CNN, presume that multiple nuclear meltdowns are under way.  The government, trying desperately trying to cool down the reactors, have been trying to pump water in the coolant system without success.  Japanese government officials, so far, indicate there have been no public statements yet of hazardous or radioactive material released into the air.

The Jewish Community is taking action and appealing to people to help those affected by this horrific natural disaster.  In an email that was sent out to community members Saturday night, Jewish Federation & Family Services, Orange County, has begun a campaign to accept donations to help the victims and their families.

Our international partners have already begun deploying rescue personnel and emergency medical officers and are assessing the immediate needs in the hardest-hit areas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged Israel’s assistance in the wake of this natural disaster.

Please join us in this critical relief effort.  100% of your donation will be distributed to our network of partners and JFFS will absorb all administrative costs.

Click here to donate to the JFFS Japan Relief Fund.

You can also donate by calling 949-435-3484.  To donate by mail, please make your check payable to JFFS, write Japan in the check memo, and mail to:

Japan Relief Fund
Jewish Federation & Family Services
1 Federation Way, Suite 210
Irvine, CA 92603-0174

The devastation is heartbreaking.  We mourn for the people who have lost their lives.  We pray for the recovery of the injured, and for the safety of everyone in harm’s way, in the hours and days ahead.

Please know: when a crisis arises – in Japan, Haiti, Israel, New Orleans or anywhere in the world – JFFS is here to act on our community’s behalf, and ensure that people in need get immediate help.

Please donate now.

With sincere thanks,

Shalom C. Elcott
President and CEO
Jewish Federation & Family Services

March 12, 2011 Posted by | Community Events | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2011 Israel Expo: A preview

The 2011 Israel Expo, the largest Jewish Community event held in Orange County each year, is in the advanced planning stages. The Expo committee for this year’s event created a unique save the date video and released it on YouTube this week. I have linked the video to the OC Jewish Community blog for your review.  You can file the video under things to do in Orange County for sure.

The Video was produced by Jewish Federation and Family Services, Orange County. You certainly do not have to be Jewish to attend this event, but it doesn’t hurt if you like falafel and other middle eastern food. There is always great music, booths, art Israeli dancing and camel rides for the kids.
Stay tuned — this year’s event is on Sunday, May 22nd.

For now however, enjoy the previews, playing on computer screens everywhere.


More about this year’s event

The Israel Expo is an exciting opportunity to explore and experience the diverse culture of Israel in the largest and most visible event of its kind in Orange County, drawing more than 6,000 attendees of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds, from all over southern California, every year. Participants will experience an afternoon of family-oriented music and great food; exquisite Israeli fine art and Judaica; extraordinary children’s activities and rides, and much more.

March 4, 2011 Posted by | Community Events, Israel, Jewish Federation Orange County | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

OC Events To Note

When it comes to the vibrant Orange County Jewish community, there are endless events held throughout the year.  I do not know why but many of them have been sent to me in various forms of communications over the past day or two.  This includes snail mail (that means the traditional post office) email as well as facebook postings and other means of communication.

Here is a list and links to some of those events, in no particular order.

AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is holding its 2011 membership dinner on Sunday, March 13th.  The dinner will feature the Reverend Dr. DeeDee M. Coleman, a pastor at the Russell Street Missionary Baptist Church with special remarks given by AIPAC’s Western States Director, Elliott Brandt.

Israeli General Doron Almog is a popular figure these days.  We know this because he is being honored in Orange County by two different Jewish groups.  What made it even more ironic is that the postcards for the two different events honoring Almog arrived at in my mailbox on the same day.

The first event is slated for Sunday March 6th at Congregation Beth Meir Hacohen-Chabad in Yorba Linda.  ” A Morning with Major General Doron Almog” an Israeli Hero is being presented in conjunction with the Jewish National Fund.

General Almog returns to the OC for an event that has been rescheduled for June 12 at the St. Regis Hotel in Monarch Beach.  It is the Jewish National Fund’s Tree of Life Gala. Proceeds from the event will benefit Aleh Negev, a residential facility for the most severely disabled.

Let us not forget about the largest annual community event in Orange County.  It’s not until May but certainly worth mentioning now as a save the date note. The 2011 Israeli Expo, which traditional draws thousands of visitors.  This year’s Expo will happen on Sunday, May 22nd.  Stay tuned for more information or click on the link above.

February 24, 2011 Posted by | Community Events, Israel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Letter from UCI Students and Hillel on OTI Event

Hillel also sent the following letter to its mailing list this evening:

Dear Friends of Hillel:

Yesterday I received a disturbing email from Ms. Dee Sterling, accusing Hillel of, among other things,  supporting  George N. Rishmawi, an anti-Israel speaker involved with the International Solidarity Movement. This assertion is untrue.  Emails like this are irresponsible and reprehensible.  While Ms. Sterling’s allegations are not deserving of a response, I do, however, feel it is important to at least set the record straight, especially because Ms. Sterling uses her untrue assertions as a basis to request that the Jewish community withdraw their support of Hillel and Jewish Federation and Family Services.

First, please be advised that, contrary to Ms. Sterling’s assertions, Hillel does not support  George N. Rishmawi  or  ISM, the organization with which  he is affiliated.   As a matter of principle, the values of  ISM are in direct conflict with Hillel’s values and Hillel’s stance on Israel.   Second,  as a factual matter, Ms. Sterlings assertion that  George N. Rishmawi was invited to speak at UCI on November 22, 2010, is untrue, as the person that has been invited  by the Olive Tree Initiative to speak at  UCI on November 22, 2010, is a different  George Rishmawi, whose full name is  George S. Rishmawi, who is the director of Siraj Center and whom we have been told is no longer involved with ISM.  Although this second point is not important, as compared to the first point above, it demonstrates the confusion that Ms. Sterling is disseminating to third parties.

I will be demanding from Ms. Sterling an apology and a retraction of her email.   If you are unfortunate enough to receive this email from Ms. Sterling or other persons, I hope you will give it the attention to which it is entitled (i.e., none).  Also, I am hopeful that you will not allow the basis assertions of Ms. Sterling to affect your ongoing support of Hillel, Jewish Federation and Family Services and the Jewish students.

Please find below a response from student leaders at UC Irvine, co-signed by nearly 100 students.

Jordan Fruchtman
Executive Director
Hillel Foundation of Orange County

Dear Orange County Jewish Community, Friends, Parents and Affiliates,

There is currently an email being circulated that is asking the community to stop supporting  Jewish Federation & Family Services of Orange County and OC Hillel.  This is  regarding the Olive Tree Initiative’s decision to host a Palestinian speaker, Mr. George S. Rishmawi, at UC Irvine on November 22., 2010  Let us be clear that the Jewish Federation and Hillel is, in no way, sponsoring or funding Mr. Rishmawi’s visit to UCI. The Jewish students of the UCI community feel this email, written by Dee Sterling, is not in the best interest of the students on this campus. Her call to remove funding sources from the only Jewish and pro-Israel groups on campus is unfair, unjust, and unwise.

The funding behind the Jewish Federation of Orange County and OC Hillel comes from private donors, individuals such as yourself, that feel the need to have an educated, supported, and thriving Jewish community at UC Irvine. We find it disconcerting that people who claim to represent Jewish interests in the community would ask donors to remove or reduce funding which could result in the elimination of the following programs:

Anteaters for Israel: The biggest pro-Israel group at UC Irvine, which is funded in part by OC Hillel and the Rose Project of the Jewish Federation.

Hillel at UC Irvine: The community of Jewish students at UC Irvine, which has weekly Shabbats and Open Houses that foster a sense of Jewish community at UC Irvine, with hundreds of students in attendance.

MPME at UC Irvine: A pragmatic and anti-BDS organization, that works to show
Arab and Islamic injustice in the world and supports Israel through political means.

American-Israel Alliance: A coalition of AIPAC-trained  pro-Israel advocating   students that approach student leadership to support pro-Israel agendas on and off campus, and pro-actively prevent BDS movements on campus through personal relationships.

Furthermore, Olive Tree Initiative is a diverse group of students, many of whom are proudly pro-Israel and anti-BDS, and who comes from a variety of backgrounds and connections to Judaism and the Middle East.  We respect their choice of the to attend possibly controversial events with speakers from both sides of the conflict in an effort to raise discussion, awareness, and education on the campus.

Such statements as the one made by Dee Sterling are entirely inappropriate, intolerable, hurtful and create a divide amongst the Jewish students and student groups, community, faculty, parents, and friends. At this critical time, we all must band together to fight anti-Israel propaganda and anti-Semitism; rather than send emails out to community without context, without connections to campus, and without the approval of any undergraduate student or organization at UC Irvine. This is completely and entirely unacceptable and the student community will not tolerate it.

There was absolutely no attempt to contact any Jewish student leader or any of the Jewish student organizations at UC Irvine before making this statement, which affects all of us—all of the Jewish students—with such magnitude. We, the students—the Jewish students at UC Irvine—as well as the community and faculty who support us, are open for discussion on any topic at any time, and strongly condemn this email from Dee Sterling.

The following students which are the most involved with Jewish life on campus are against Dee Sterling’s call to boycott UC Irvine Jewish Life, and to sanction the community organizations that are helping us the most. Any divestment from the Jewish Federation of Orange County, Hillel of Orange County – arguably the only two active communities that directly aid and work with the students—would be a travesty.

For more information, please visit https://ocjewishexperience.wordpress.com.

November 19, 2010 Posted by | Community Events, Israel, Rose Project, UC Irvine | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Recap of Rose Project Evening With Mark Yudof

Last night, the Jewish Federation hosted University of California President, Mark G.
Yudof, on his first-ever visit with the Orange County Jewish community. The evening’s program, part of the Rose Project
Distinguished Guest Lecture Series, was made possible by a grant from the Margolis Family Foundation. The event was co-sponsored by the ADL, AJC and Hillel Foundation.

President Yudof delivered a 30-minute speech to an audience of 400 community members, investors and stakeholders, and took questions from the audience.

Jeff Margolis, Co-Chair of the Rose Project, stated in his opening remarks, “This gathering demonstrates that we, as a community, are not
standing idly by as certain individuals and organizations freely wield anti-Zionist rhetoric and perhaps even promote blatant anti-Semitism
on the UCI campus.”

President Yudof covered a wide range of topics during the 90-minute discussion, which included his condemnation of anti-Semitism at UCI
and the Muslim Student Union’s disruption of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. A noted Constitutional scholar, he also spoke about the
issues of hate speech vs. free speech.

He stated, “I do condemn the anti-Israel speech. I condemn the insults to our students—and they are insults. I condemn the unbalanced
programs, and I condemn the disruption of Ambassador Oren’s speech. And I condemn all the anti-Semitic utterances heard on the campuses. I’ve said that before. I’m saying it now. I’ve said it in writing, and
I will do it again.”

President Yudof commended the community’s dedication to the challenges at UCI and the impact made over the years by our organizations,
particularly since the creation of the Rose Project by Jewish Federation & Family Services. He added, “No matter how hard you work,
no matter how many students of goodwill you have, no matter how effective the Jewish community in Orange County, now matter how active
the students, it only take 20 lunatics and bigots on campus to really upset everyone.”

Earlier in the afternoon, President Yudof met privately with a group of 30 UCI Jewish students to learn more about their experieces on

November 5, 2010 Posted by | Community Events | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Deadline Set for Mark Yudof Event: Tonight!

Do not say you were not forewarned.  Just received an email from the Jewish Federation about the following event

scheduled for tomorrow night.  Read carefully as the deadline is tonight!

Reservations close at 11:30pm tonight for the historic visit to OC by University of California President Mark Yudof tomorrow evening, November 4th, at Temple Bat Yahm. This special event is part of the Rose Project Distinguished Guest Lecture Series and is made possible by a grant from the Margolis Family Foundation. In addition to your registration, photo ID is required at the door for security purposes. Suggested donation $18 per person. Remaining seats are limited.Register here by 11:30pm tonight!

I previously wrote about this event and you can read out it by clicking here.

November 3, 2010 Posted by | Community Events | , , , , | Leave a comment