OC Jewish Experience

The official blog of Jewish Orange County

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

Irvine 11 In the News Last Week

As we start a new week, I thought it was appropriate to take a look back at how we ended the last week.  On Friday, the “Irvine 11” had an appointment in Orange County court.  The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles reported that the former UC Irvine and UC Riverside students want the Orange County district Attorney removed form the case.  The Orange County Register story generated more than 50 comments while the Reuters story says the 11 could face up to six months in jail.  A brief recap and links are provided below.

There was no significant judgement made yesterday.  The groups will reconvene on the busiest day of the year for many Americans, tax day.  The judge in this case, Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter J. Wilson,  set a new date of April 15 date for the next hearing.

Here are links to stories filed int he last few days relating to the case.  You can clock on the red-face type to read the entire story.

From the Jewish Journal

Attorneys representing the Irvine 11 – Muslim college students who face misdemeanor criminal charges over the disruption of a 2010 speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at UCI – asked a judge to remove the O.C. District Attorney’s office from the case during an arraignment in Santa Ana Superior Court on Friday.

From the Orange County Register

Attorneys for 11 Muslim students facing misdemeanor charges for disrupting the speech of an Israeli diplomat at UCI last year asked a judge Friday to remove the Orange County District Attorney’s Office from the case claiming that prosecutors illegally issued subpoenas and referred to the case internally as the “UCI Muslim Case.”

From an editorial that appeared in the Jerusalem Post on March 10 and tackles the broad picture of free speech.  A UCI recap plays prominently in the story.

The adage “time flies when you’re having fun” might explain why the two full weeks devoted to bashing Israel on college campuses around the world is known as Israeli Apartheid Week as opposed to say Israeli Apartheid Fortnight. And more people than ever are clamoring to join in the festivities.

From the Daily Pilot, who’s headline said:

Protest follows postponement of ‘Irvine 11’ arraignment with a sub-head that proclaimed:  Defense attorneys claim the D.A. is trying the group in the media and illegally obtained evidence.

According to this Reuters story….

The Irvine 11 face up to six months in jail if convicted of criminal misdemeanor charges of disturbing a meeting and conspiring to do so in connection with their February 2010 demonstration.

March 13, 2011 Posted by | Media, Muslim Student Union, UC Irvine | , , , , , , , , | 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

Israel, Technology and Saving Lives

Israel has become known for its technology power. JTA recently posted this video called Israeli robots invade New York. The video shows
includes an explanation of a robot snake which can make its way through battlefields, caves, tunnels and buildings while and recording real-time videos. It comes the from Ben Gurion University’s robotics lab.

If you’d like to subscribe JTA’s Youtube Channel, you can click here.

February 25, 2011 Posted by | Israel, Technology | , , , , , , , , , | 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

Over Coffee: A UCI Graduate’s Perspective

Yesterday I was at one of Orange County’s best shopping destination:  Fashion Island.  I was sitting outside, enjoying lunch when a mom and daughter plopped down next to me with their dog.  I was speaking in Hebrew at my table when the mom noticed and began to speak with us in Hebrew as well.

It turns out the mom is Israeli and the conversation quickly turned to Jews living in Orange County.  The daughter sitting next to us, with her wavy brown hair and big smile, graduated from UCI last year and is currently working on her acting career in Los Angeles.

When I learned she was an Anteater, I had to ask about her experience at UCI and how much her college experience was influenced by events that have played out in the media.

I have met  many of the active Jewish college students and had never had the pleasure of visiting this woman before.  It was only one opinion but I wanted a perspective from a Jewish student not in the middle of the ruckus during the past two years.

This is what she told me.

Yes, she was aware fo the problems with the Muslim Student Union.  During her college days, she had gone to a few events with Anteaters for Israel (AFI) and spoke kindly of recent graduate Isaac Yerushalmi, an active UCI Jewish student.

Her overall experience during her days at UCI was positive.  She was a drama major and focused her energy at school in this area.  She is a proud Jew and overall gave her experiences at UCI a thumbs up.  She was honest, forthcoming and you could see her mom was proud.

Balance.  It is just one perspective, but another positive experience from a young Jewish adult at UCI.

February 22, 2011 Posted by | UC Irvine | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Media Continues to Focus on UC Irvine

The media continues to cover what is going on at UCI on many different fronts.  In case you have missed anything in the last few days.  From the Huffington Post, to the Washington Post to the Daily Pilot….Here are brief descriptions of the stories with links directly to them.


UPDATED: 100 UC Irvine faculty protest criminal charges against Muslim Students

One hundred faculty members at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) have called on Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas to drop criminal charges against 11 current and former students arrested in February 2010 for disrupting a public speech by Michael Oren, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. on the UCI campus.  See the full story here.


How to handle the “Irvine 11”? Litigate or negotiate?

A story by Brad Hirschfield.  Orange County, CA District Attorney, Tony Rackauckas, is pursuing criminal charges against the so-called “Irvine 11,” the 11 students who planned and executed a major disruption of last year’s speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at the UC Irvine Campus. And now some 100 members of the University faculty are publicly calling on Rackauckas to withdraw those charges, something he has no intention of doing. Most people are debating which side is right. Full story is here.


On Free Speech, ‘Anarchy’, and the ‘Irvine 11′

The Israeli ambassador to the U.S. came to UC Irvine last year for a meeting and to give a speech.

A handful of protesters, well, protested. They shouted down the ambassador, Michael Oren, during his speech and were ultimately escorted away by the police.

In response, the school suspended the Muslim Student Union, which denied having planned the protest. It also reprimanded several students.

Read the full story


Simon Wiesenthal Center supports charges against protesters who interrupted Israeli Ambassador

A leading Jewish organization on Tuesday came out in support of the Orange County district attorney’s decision to file criminal charges against 11 students who interrupted a speech last year at UC Irvine by the Israeli ambassador to the United States. Full story here


100 UC Irvine Faculty Call on D.A. to Drop Charges Against Students Who Disrupted Israeli Ambassador’s Talk

Jon Wiener, a professor of history at UCI, penned the story that ran for the first time yesterday. Click here for the full story.


OverKill in Orange County

Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas’ decision to bring criminal conspiracy charges against 11 UC Irvine students smacks of political posturing. Click here for Full Story

February 12, 2011 Posted by | Media, Muslim Student Union, UC Irvine | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


It has been a while since I’ve posted in this space and my return is timed with the following letter that was sent to me by email this today.  It is from Shalom Elcott, President of Jewish Federation & Family Services.

As we informed you last June, the UCI administration suspended the Muslim Student Union (MSU) and took disciplinary action against the students who participated in the organized disruption of Ambassador Oren’s talk at UCI in February 2010. At that time, we wrote that “we commend the University for this judicious decision in support of free speech and civil discourse…”

Last Friday, the Orange County District Attorney announced that the 11 students arrested at the Oren event were charged with conspiring to disrupt the speech.  The students will be arraigned on March 11th on several misdemeanor counts, and if convicted, could be subject to fines, probation through community service or a jail sentence.

“This case is being filed because there was an organized attempt to squelch the speaker, who was invited to speak to a group at UCI,” District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said in a statement. “These defendants meant to stop this speech and stop anyone else from hearing his ideas, and they did so by disrupting a lawful meeting. This is a clear violation of the law and failing to bring charges against this conduct would amount to a failure to uphold the Constitution.”

So, are criminal charges excessive or warranted?

The disposition of this case is a matter outside of the authority of Jewish Federation & Family Services.   The UCI administration took action according to its charter and its regulations.  The Office of the DA has taken action according to its reading of the Constitution and the laws of the State of California.

We believe that the actions of both the UCI administration and the District Attorney send a strong message to this community — indeed to all communities — that civility must be safeguarded.   We recognize that colleges and universities have always been environments in which difficult (and sometimes confrontational) dialogues take place.  Yet we also believe that if planned, rogue disruptions are allowed to continue without consequences, we will have accomplished nothing despite our best efforts.

Consider this:  At no point in this year-long process has the MSU, its students, attorneys or representatives acknowledged any wrongdoing.  In fact, they have continued to deny it.  There have been no statements of apology or contrition.  Not once has there been an effort, on their part, to reach out and say “We’re sorry.  We blew it.  We’ll do it differently next time.  Let’s talk.”

Consider this as well:  What happened at UCI last February is happening around the country as part of an organized “BDS” (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement against the legitimacy of Israel and self-determination of the Jewish people.

We say: let this be a teachable moment for all of us!  While the legal process takes its course, let us think about how we can pursue actions for positive change and an improved campus climate.  How we can bring more partners together – both Jews and people of other faiths – to strengthen and improve the student experience at UCI?

The role we play, as community catalyst and convener, is that of bridge-builder.  We seek to build bridges of interfaith understanding, collaboration and respect, on campus and in the community.  Bridges are built when people of differing viewpoints come together in an atmosphere of mutual respect.  When civility is lacking on one side, the bridge crosses only half the river, and we remain apart.

Shabbat Shalom.

Shalom C. Elcott
President and Chief Executive Officer
Jewish Federation & Family Services

February 11, 2011 Posted by | Jewish Federation Orange County, Muslim Student Union, UC Irvine | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rose Project and Jewish Federation Look Ahead

The Rose Project of Jewish Federation & Family Services, Orange County, will continue to make decisions regarding support of university student-related initiatives such as the Olive Tree Initiative as The Rose leadership council deems appropriate.  In addition to gaining direct input from student leaders and executive leaders of Jewish Orange County campus organizations, programming decisions also include respectful consideration of constructive input from members of the Orange County and broader worldwide Jewish community.  We believe it is ineffective to engage in public debate via mass e-mailings as experience shows that these only serve to confuse or divide our community. We will post perspectives on important topics on the OC Jewish Experience blog.

At present, we believe that building an effective student/community initiative to combat both the BDS movement and the campaign to delegitimize Israel is more important than other topics.  That and continuing to help build a vibrant Jewish life on the OC college campuses is where our efforts will be focused.

December 6, 2010 Posted by | Jewish Federation Orange County, Rose Project | , , , | 6 Comments