BCC Groups and Member/Staff News

Tzedakah Council Responds to Recent Hurricanes, Floods, and Fires

Jim Potter

The fall and winter of 2017 brought what felt like unprecedented natural disasters, including hurricanes, flooding, and fires. At sites across the globe, homes were lost, livelihoods destroyed, and people killed. So much help is still needed: food, medical supplies, shelter, supplies and labor for rebuilding, support for rescue personnel and caregivers, and more. In response, many of us as individuals have stepped up our giving to provide what help we can, even from a distance.

BCC, as a community, has done the same. In our fall tzedakah collection drive, BCC members brought in more than $1,000. The Tzedakah Council has two annual pushke collection drives: one at the High Holidays and one at Passover. (Of course we encourage you to bring your pushke—tzedakah can—to the BCC office whenever it is convenient.) The BCC community should be proud: even though the Tzedakah Council has been rather quiet lately, the pushkes keep rolling in. The new $1,000 has been added to the $2,000 already in BCC’s tzedakah account.

The Tzedakah Council has decided to distribute $500 each to four organizations responding to this fall’s disasters and reserve $1,000 for the Passover donation cycle or for future emergencies. As with each donation cycle, some of the recipient charities are local and some are international. We wanted to provide assistance not only to flooding victims in the United States, but also those in South Asia. It is also our practice to donate to a mix of Jewish and non-Jewish charities. This cycle, we are donating to three charities providing flood relief: the Jewish Federations of North America, working in the United States; the Hispanic Federation, helping in Puerto Rico; and Global Giving, providing support in South Asia; and also to Direct Relief, to assist victims of the recent Southern California fires.

Here’s a little bit more about each of the charities. As always, we provide the mailing address for each organization to help BCC members make additional contributions if they wish.

The Jewish Federations of North America is the central body for the Jewish community and serves the needs of the entire community. When something happens in the Jewish world, this organization is the place where money is given and distributed to help make the greatest impact, whether locally or globally. The Federation is the entity that makes sure funds in the Jewish community are helping synagogues that were harmed during the storms and also helps families that need resources to get back on their feet.

The Jewish Federations of North America
Wall Street Station
PO Box 157
New York, NY. 10268

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria destroyed much of the island of Puerto Rico, leaving a great majority of residents without power, water, communications, or access to food. In response, Hispanic Federation, located in New York City, gathered government, community, and philanthropic institutions to create the UNIDOS Disaster Relief and Recovery Program. UNIDOS has helped coordinate hundreds of donation drives in the US mainland, distributing millions of pounds of food, water, and necessities, and delivering emergency relief aid to more than forty hard-hit municipalities.

Checks should be made payable to: Hispanic Federation; in the memo line, write “Hurricane Relief Fund.”

Unidos Disaster Relief Fund
c/o Hispanic Federation
55 Exchange Place, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10005

Global Giving donates to local charities throughout the world, thereby providing immediate relief and helping impacted areas build or rebuild their own institutions. More than 40 million people have been affected by severe flooding in Northern India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Donations to Global Giving’s South Asia Flood Relief Fund will support recovery and relief efforts for flooding in South Asia, both short-term and long-term.

Global Giving
1110 Vermont Ave. NW, Ste. 550
Washington, DC 20005

Direct Relief provides assistance to people and communities in need without regard to politics, religious beliefs, or ethnic identities. Its assistance programs focus on maternal and child health, the prevention and treatment of disease, and emergency preparedness and response, and are tailored to the particular circumstances and needs of the world’s most vulnerable and at-risk populations. In response to the recent California fires, Direct Relief is providing respiratory and other medical care to victims.

Direct Relief
Southern California Wildfires
27 S. La Patera Lane
Santa Barbara, CA 93117

The Tzedakah Council is open to all BCC members. We also welcome any suggestions.


BCC Books and Bagels

Larry Nathenson

 BCC’s Book Group (Books and Bagels) has been meeting continuously since January 1995. The group meets monthly in members’ homes for a bagel brunch and discussion of a book selected by the group. We read a variety of books: fiction and non-fiction, American and Israeli, historical and contemporary.  The only requirement is some Jewish content (LGBT content is a plus, but not required). Our next two meetings are as follows.

Sunday, January 28, 10:00 am
Inside of Time: My Journey from Alaska to Israel, by Ruth Gruber.  

A memoir by a prominent American journalist who was an eyewitness to much of the history of the mid-20th century, highlighting the friendships she developed with famous figures ranging from Eleanor Roosevelt to Golda Meir.

Sunday, February 25, 10:00 am
The Angel: The Egyptian Spy who Saved Israel, by Uri Bar-Joseph

The remarkable and thrilling story (according to reviews) of Nasser’s son-in-law and Sadat’s aide who secretly spied for Israel and helped avert disaster in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, plus how he was eventually discovered and killed by the Egyptian government.

The group is open to BCC members and non-members, and you are welcome to join us for a particular book that may interest you. RSVP is required for location and to ensure enough food. For more information, contact Larry Nathenson at Larrynath@aol.com.


Need a Morale Boost? Try BCC’s Life Transitions Support Group


If you could use some help dealing with the stress of relationships, careers, economics, social life, family life, health or bereavement, you might want to give the BCC Life Transitions Group a try.  The goal of the BCC Life Transitions Group is to enhance participants’ spiritual and emotional growth.

Participants have the opportunity to share their experiences, give and receive mutual support, and exchange coping skills with one another in a confidential atmosphere.  Everyone is welcome – members and non-members.  The group meets twice a month on the first and third Wednesdays from 7:00 – 9:00 pm.

This support group is facilitated by Shirley Hirschberg, Social Worker.  Shirley is also available for individual sessions. For more information, please call the BCC office at (323) 931-7023, ext. 205.

News from our Clergy, Staff, and Members:

Rabbi Lisa Edwards is a contributor to this newly published book from CCAR Press.

New York, NY – November 20, 2017 – The CCAR Press, a division of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, has announced the release of its newest publication, A Life of Meaning: Embracing Reform Judaism’s Sacred Path, edited by Rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan, PhD. The book is an anthology of essays by rabbis, scholars, and community leaders who explore the varied interpretations in the Reform Movement on religious practice, experience, and belief.

Reform Judaism is a dynamic, constantly evolving movement whose leaders are passionate, forward thinking, and diverse,” said Rabbi Hara Person, publisher of the CCAR Press. “That’s why I’m so pleased to publish this collection of essays that expresses the variety of viewpoints and expression seen in Reform Judaism today.”

Topics of discussion in the book range from our beliefs in God, the values we hold most dear, how we practice, how we express our spirituality, and why we make the choices we do to an exploration of our interfaith and multiracial communities, economic and environmental justice, and the importance of the Reform Movement to the Jewish future. A Life of Meaning includes more than 50 contributors whose thoughts and beliefs represent a diverse collection of perspectives within the Reform Movement, such as Rabbi Gilad Kariv, PhD, Michael A. Meyer, PhD, Rabbi Rachel S. Mikva, PhD, Rabbi Rachel Timoner, and Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, among many others.

“We thought the best approach would be to bring together a large number of writers to address the question of what is important about Reform Judaism for people today,” said Rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan, editor of A Life of Meaning. “Coming from a variety of perspectives, our writers consider the most important parts of progressive Judaism, to help us all embrace a distinctively Jewish way of life.”

About CCAR Press: CCAR Press is the official publisher of the Reform Movement and a division of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Since 1889, the Central Conference of American Rabbis has been a center for lifelong rabbinic learning, professional development, and publishing for the 2,300 rabbis who serve more 1.5 million Reform Jews throughout North America, Israel and the world. CCAR Press publishes liturgical resources and texts on Jewish practice that serve its member rabbis, the Reform movement, and the Jewish community as a whole. CCAR Press, through its trade imprint Reform Jewish Publishing (RJP), is the steward of the Reform movement’s sacred texts, including its Torah Commentaries and prayer books. In addition to books, CCAR Press publishes CCAR Journal: The Reform Jewish Quarterly, and a wide-range of electronic resources, including e-books, apps, and Visual T’filah.


BCC Office Administrator Victoria Delgadillo is one of the “cultural workers” featured in an upcoming event of the Pacific Standard Time Festival known as Live Art LA/LA.

Raul Baltazar invites Los Angeles cultural workers, friends, family and neighbors to unite at Ascot Hills Park in El Sereno for two Sundays of processions, picnics and performances. Mi Sereno is a pair of ritual events honoring many generations of cultural workers, as they come together to form a larger body on these two special days. Baltazar sets a tone that is relaxed, playful, and introspective, with ephemera, games, picnic blankets, ritual trail hikes and group portraits observing the visual commons of the LA cultural worker. You are encouraged to wear all Red or Blue outfits (comfortable walking/hiking attire), and bring water, picnic blankets and food to share with others. All are welcome.

January 14 and 21, 11 am-2 pm
Ascot Hills Park
4371 Multnomah St, Los Angeles, 90032

For more information, click on this link


BCC member Elizabeth Savage recently received a proclamation on her retirement from the City of West Hollywood.

BCC member Jessica Donath is a contributing writer to the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles. Her recent article on Rabbi Heather Miller’s participation in the L.A. County Sheriff’s Oversight Panel was published in the December 1-7, 2017 issue.



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