Monday , March 8 2021

Los Angeles fires cross the heart of the Jewish community

View of Ilan Ramon Day School in Agoura, California, by fire. (Kindly Yuri Hronsku)

LOS ANGELES (WTA) – The Woolsey fire, which began last year and covered the huge California Southern Valley, has killed at least two people, burned nearly 100,000 acres and devastated hundreds of structures, including several Jewish lives in this city.

Three historic Jewish secret camps and Jewish retreat centers in the Malibu mountains were spent. The Jewish community day lost three buildings, and in several synagogues there was a smoke disruption. Many families, including the new rabbi in the Malibu Jewish community and the synagogue, lost their homes and almost all their belongings.

Here are some stories about what's gone and what's left.

"Where do I build my way as a Jewish man"

Tens of thousands of Jewish youth, covering three generations, traveled to Camp Hess Kramer's summer camp and Gindling Hilltop's smallest nursing camp. By the end of Saturday, near the mouth of the Malibu mountains near the campgrounds, over 200 current and former campers, together with their families, gathered at the Immortal Havdalah service to celebrate the end of the Sabbath.

"Although we did not know about the extent of the damage, we knew that we had suffered – and we knew that the community needed some healing process," said Ari Kaplan, Assistant Director of the Camp, both of which are linked to the Wilshire Boulevard Temple Reform.

The service, which took place at the Temple of Rome in the campus of Los Angeles University, and about 13,000 people was watching live, "it was mostly singing, people were keeping each other – we went through the tissue box," Kaplan said. "People wanted to share what they meant."

Since then, the amount of damage has become clear: it's catastrophic. The fire burned about 90 percent of the campgrounds, killing everyone, except for the two cabins where Kaplan said. It is possible that the restoration will last for many years, but the camp has already investigated temporary sites the following summer.

It is also Shalom Institute, a popular Jewish retreat center and 67-year-old JCA Shalom summer camp. The basics were all but broken up in the fire.

"We are moving fast and hope to make a statement [about a venue] before Thanksgiving, "said Rabbi Bill Kaplan, Executive Director of the Institute." It's godly, but we are camp people – we do it. "

Meanwhile, the institute has created a store of office space provided by the Greater Los Angeles Jewish Federation. The federation has organized daily talks with influential Jewish organizations and helpdesk services providing traumatic legal advice.

Michelle Rosenbloom-Quirsfeld, who participated in Hess Kramer in 1980 and later became an advisor, said that the destruction of Malibu's campsite is devastating.

She said that it was a great loss, noting Hess Kramer, where she first learned to sing and pray as a Jew, "to follow Shabatas" and to perform traditional Israeli folk dances.

"It's not a loss of life, but it's part of losing my identity," said Rosenbloom-Quirsfeld, now 46, and a North California school teacher. "This is where I make my way as a Jewish person."

"How to kibut"

Yuri Hronskis was watching local news on Friday when the cameras were exposed to fires that burned at the school's Agana Hills Day at Ilan Ramon.

"It's as powerless as you can feel," Hronskis, who has been conducting a day school in the Jewish community since 2010, said he was visiting the city's flames.

Hronsk and members of the board of directors questioned losses on Tuesday. Three Ilan Ramon buildings have been destroyed – housing administrations, computer labs and bathrooms. Classes remain intact, but most of their content will need to be cleaned by smoke.

"There was a huge sadness," he said, "and a huge thank-you."

A sad school community whose members will have to endure destruction and displacement. The sadness of what was missing, including the Hornsky 18-year school memorabilia. And thanks for the firefighters who kept the flames from dipping the whole town. Even pet animals of the class – rabbits, birds and turtles – survived the torment.

Nate Akiva, member of the board, told Ilan Ramon, a school formerly known as Heschel West, and since the time he was renamed the late Israeli astronauts, "is like a kite," a small and closely related, place where everyone feels how to participate in each other's well-being. When some school families were forced to evacuate, others took it.

Akiva said he was released that the damage was not wider and confident that the school would restore what was lost. His daughter, the first-time school, needed more confidence.

"She was very nervous that her art projects had passed, that her school supplies had gone, that they had no place to go," he said.

If they go now, it's not clear yet that Ilan Ramon has offered a number of offers from synagogues and other schools that offer space while being cleaned and rebuilt in their town. To that end, the school launched the GoFundMe campaign and sold IRDS Strong T-shirts to help offset all the costs associated with the creation and operation of the university pocket.

Hronsk said that the school hopes to open again in a temporary place as soon as it is Friday, "so we can spend Sabbath together."

Lodmer's family house Malibu is completely burnt out. (Ludmers family civility)

"Everyone is so informed about what matters"

Lodmer's family seders are like no other. One is always the theme – "Star Wars" is one Passover day, "Harry Potter" – another. "Jeopardy!" "Oz Wizard". "The Name That Tune". In the evening, guests wear costumes, read from the exclusive Haggades, which mixes the more contemporary theme of the evening with the story of the old Jewish emigration.

These epic sledges will be held annually at Emile and Sheldon Lodmer's home. The couple has grown up in the coastal city of Malibu, California, more than four decades ago, when the property was still quite acceptable. At that time, they raised their children, Abby and Zack, and congratulated grandchildren. This is where the family and friends and friends' friends gathered on weekends.

Last weekend, a house on the ground was burnt down.

"I still think I'm thinking of little things," 38-year-old Zacks Lodmer, who works at the Los Angeles Jewish Federation, and founded Omshalomi, who offers a Jewish Yoga program. "Parking on the driveway, how the grass is felt on my feet, how the sun came into the mirrors, how books were placed on the shelf – a vigorous family life round."

When the roads are opened again, the family plans to travel together to stay away from their home.

"I think this is when it really affects us, but it will also be a powerful interplay," said 42-year-old comedian Seattle Abby Lodmers. "We have seen pictures. But we have not seen the remnants of our childhood, my parents of the elderly created from my parents have not been erected from anything."

Lodmers has at least 13 families at the Malibu Jewish Center and in the Synagogue, whose houses were destroyed. Rabbi Michael Schwarz stayed at his congregants – even when his house got into a fire. Exit from the brilliant city, Schwartz, who has been pouring out of control since the February Synchos in his Toyota Camry Congregation's five Torah. The fire, 20 feet from the synagogue, was 20 feet from the synagogue, but the building was not destroyed.

"One member told me:" Now we really understand what is Sukkot, to feel the reality that everything is fragile and transient, that we should be grateful, and to list our blessings, "Schwartz reminded, referring to the harvest festival, when the Jews formed Temporary outdoor shelter. "Everyone is so well informed about what matters."

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