Archive for the ‘Randy Fadem’ Category

Passion and compassion characterized UJF Men’s Event

February 1, 2010 Leave a comment

 By Randy Fadem

SAN DIEGO–The United Jewish Federation held its annual Men’s Event at the La Jolla Hyatt Regency of Wednesday January 27, 2010. Over 800 Jewish men attended.

They were treated to a gala evening of presentations by UJF dignitaries, program recipients, and  two featured speakers, Shahar Azani, Consul for Culture  at the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles, and Brigitte Gabriel, one of the leading experts in the world on Islamic global terrorism.

The evening’s opening remarks were delivered by UJF CEO Steven Morris. He said no other organization can do what the Federation does. It takes care of those in need; it can mobilize swiftly both at home and abroad, alone or in conjunction with its overseas partners. He cited the recent earthquake in Haiti as an example of how the Federation puts Jewish values into action.

The Federation raised over $2 million dollars for Haitian relief.. Working alongside the IDF’s field hospital unit, the Federation purchased a neo-natal incubator unit and had it shipped to Haiti. One of the children born in that unit was named Israel by his grateful mother.

Mr. Morris also noted that the work of Jewish Federations throughout the United States hold a very special meaning for him. After his father survived Auschwitz and arrived in the United States, it was Jewish Philanthropy that gave him his life back and enabled him to build a new life and start a family.

Shahar Azani  is the former Ambassador to Kenya. He is also an attorney and a specialist on the Arab press. As an official in the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles, Mr Azani works to bring the resources of Israel to American audiences and improved the image and understanding of Israel and the Israeli people.

A recent visit by Israeli artists to East Los Angeles high schools, left the American kids remarking, “Israel is really cool!”

 In his comments, Azani stated that he firmly believes that a true peaceful solution will only come when the grass roots youth in the neighboring countries understand that Israel will not disappear off the face of this earth.  When they understand this, and accept it, then they will be willing to meet Israel move together into the future.

He reminded the men attending that Israel will not lose this struggle because it cannot afford to. For each obstacle that arises, Israel will struggle to find the next solution. Israel is ready for these crises to come because it has gotten used to them.

With the approach of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Theodor Herzl, it is important to acknowledge the successes of the Zionist dream: Israeli high tech and the life saving knowledge and devices it has given to the world. There has been no better example than Israel’s working alongside the International Red Cross, and especially Norway (known for its antipathies towards Jews and Israel) in the recent Hatian Relief efforts. It was important for the world to see Jewish Values in action. “I love you San Diego. Thank you very much.”

One of the members of the audience enthused afterwards that the Men’s Event had most likely hosted a future prime minister of Israel.

The Vice President for the Annual Campaign, David Geffen presented two of the many successes that the UJF makes possible.

Evan Reed, a student at Patrick Henry High School, recounted that the UJF Teen Trip to Israel changed his life and his perspective. Prior to the trip, being Jewish was not his focus in life. Now it is.  Evan did go out of his way to say about  nourishment in Israel:  “The food is okay.”

Representing the Jewish Big Pal Program was Avi and Michael. Over the years their relationship has actually grown into big brother and little brother, both stated.  One of the significant changes that developed was that now Michael is taller than Avi. This past summer Michael was an honored guest at Avi’s wedding.

When Gabriel concluded her remarks,it seemed as if the carpets had curled from the floor, the paint had peeled off the walls, and the members attending had removed their credit cards and were rewriting their pledges to the Annual Campaign. Her talk was a no holds barred barn burner of a stump speech without any cue cards or teleprompter.

She recounted for the audience the miracle of her life: that her very existence and that of her mother was due to the intervention of the IDF not once but several times. As a Lebanese Christian, she had been born and raised in a village nestling on a hillside directly across from the Israeli city of  Metula. 

The civil war in Lebanon blossomed in full when King Hussein of Jordan evicted Arafat’s Palestinian gunmen from his country.  Taking root in Lebanon, they supported the Islamic jihadist elements to strike out against the balance that had prevailed between Muslim and Christian.

Her life changing experiencing occurred in the emergency room at a Tsfat hospital where she had brought her mother after the latter had been wounded. Lying on the floor side by side and waiting to be treated were Muslim and Christian civilians, South Lebanese militiamen, Palestinian gunmen, and IDF soldiers. She said she couldn’t believe in the Love and Forgiveness that possessed these Jews: that to them saving a life meant just that.

After this experience, she went on to become an anchor for World News Television in Israel. She regularly appears as guest analyst on Fox, CNN, MSNBC, and ABC. She reminded the audience that for over four decades Saudia Arabia has exported propaganda to all the mosques in the United States. It has also funded most of the Middle East Studies Programs at American Universities and thus shaped the points of view of Americans currently working in the arenas of communication and mass media.

There is a war going on between barbarism and civilization. Further, she said, most  Arab children are taught to hate. They are further taught that there will be no peace until Islam reigns supreme.

“The men in this audience, you Jews, offer the world the values of compassion, of forgiveness, even unto loving your enemies. Do not forget this. Send this message to the  world. I love you. Thank you and good night.”

Fadem is a freelance writer based in La Mesa

J*Company’s ‘King and I’ entertains royally

December 5, 2009 1 comment

By Randy Fadem

LA JOLLA, California — Matzah for donuts, dimes for dollars, The King and I is the best show in town.  The performance was mesmerizing.   J* Company captured the power and force of the original play and brought the audience along with them throughout the entire evening.

December 3rd through the 13th The King and I is playing at the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture, the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center at the Jacob’s Family Campus in La Jolla.   It is presented and performed by the J Company Youth Theater.

Before the main curtain rose, the artistic director, Joey Landwehr, came out to face the audience.  He acknowledged the many patrons that helped to make this performance possible and then he made a very special announcement.  The lead actor, Daniel Myers who played the King of Siam, had decided to shave his head, not only for the role, but also to raise awareness and money to help cancer victims at Rady’s Children’s Hospital of San Diego.

He invited Myers to come out from behind the curtain and the two stood facing the audience wearing cloth caps on their heads.  Landwehr stated that he had been so moved by Myers’ desire that he decided to join him and they both doffed their caps and revealed their shaven heads to the audience.

Landwehr then announced that he and Daniel had formed a new singing group; “Two Bald Guys.”  This segued into an introduction to honor  Eileen Wingard who was celebrating her 80th birthday.  They walked over until they stood in front of her and then the “Two Bald Guys” led the audience into singing happy birthday to Wingard, a retired symphony violinist and mother of violinist Myla Wingard, a member of the 16- piece orchestra that provided the overture and accompaniment.

The highlights of the show were the performances by the two leads; Daniel Myers as the King and Ali Viterbi as Lady Anna.  Ali’s poise and British accent successfully captured the often compromised predicament in which her character found herself in the Palace of the King of Siam in 1862.  She filled the role with a robust and full-bodied voice in both her speaking parts and her singing.

Daniel gave a very animated performance of the complex personality of the King.  The latter was an individual torn between his autocratic heritage and his desire to move into the future that Anna and the British represented.  Myers brought this to life with a very expansive use of the stage; his gestures both facially and bodily reached out and engaged the audience.

The performance of the ensemble that represented the King’s two dozen children and the king’s wives were as exciting as the main leads and the various secondary characters.

Within a number of scenes the ensemble was required to change their positions and regroup elsewhere on stage.  They did this with alacrity and fluidity.  Their movements were well choreographed and well rehearsed.  At times they had cameo roles and needed to come forth from the ensemble and interact with one of the main characters.  This they did beautifully.

The ship that brought Anna and her son into Bangkok Harbor, upon docking, miraculously transformed itself into the interior of the Palace replete with books, weapons of war and gorgeous brocade curtains.  These were the initial two scenes and set the tone for the exquisite scenery and imaginative and well designed set changes between scenes.  The entire performance was a visual feast for the eyes.

The show stopping scene occurred shortly into the second act.  This scene, a transcription of a segment from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s  Uncle Tom’s Cabin was staged beautifully by J*Company.  It combined the elements of Greek chorus, symbolic Oriental costuming and mellifluous dance movement which maintained the tension of the scene and had the audience sitting on the edge of their seats.

Perforce with children’s theater there is almost always an actor who steals the show.  This was brought off by Ian Laughbaum who played both the captain and the visiting British delegate.  His exaggerated supercilious British accent for the pompous British delegate brought the house down.  This was a magnificent performance, a captivating play and J*Company has done a tremendous job.

How did J* Company put this performance together?  Surprisingly rehearsals only began October 20th and ended the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  The cast ranged in age from age 7 to age 17.  According to a parent of one of the actresses, Melissa Niegocki, for some of the performers this was their first entry into theater.  She cited Hana Pak who played Tuptim as one example.  In addition she said, “This is my daughter’s first season and only her second show and they have treated the kids very well.”  This cast of over four dozen children and teenagers were managed and led by director  Landwehr, choreographer Deven Brawley, music director Jason Chase and stage manager Jamie Gillcrest.

Randy Fadem is a retired educator who recently relocated to San Diego from Boston. As an undergraduate he studied theatre, attended off-off Broadway productions in Manhattan, and  acted in community theatre.