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April 20, 2012

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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 20, 2012 poln By Lisa Keys NEW YORK (JTA)--Lori Loebelsohn enters other peo- ple's lives at pivotal moments: a marriage, a milestone birth- day, a bar mitzvah. Armed with a pen and a notebook, she discusses intimate details about the inner lives of those she has just met: their pas- sions, their most significant memories, their dreams. She's not a rabbi, nor is she a therapist or a life coach. Loebelsohn is an artist whose specialty is what she calls "life- cycle portraits": personalized works of art that commemo- rate a special day while also reflecting upon an individual's lifetime. Loebelsohn draws upon influences as varied as early American quilts, medieval Jewish papercuts, Celtic imagery and 17th- century ketubahs to create an Courtesy of Lori Loebelsohn Artist Lori Loebelsohn paints what she call 'life- cycle portraits." original work rich in personal symbolism. "I end up having these deep, enlightening discussionswith these people I work for," said Loebelsohn, of Glen Ridge, N.J. "I really feel like I'm a transmitter; I'm trying to transmit what they think is important." Loebelsohn, who has de- cades of experience, recently completed her biggest project: illustrating a 20-page Hagga- dah created by an 85-year-old man with the intent to create a family heirloom. The project presented many challenges, the artist said, including in- terpreting her client's specific ideas in a visual form and keeping a consistentstyle over a series of some 13 images. But the biggest obstacle proved to be the rapidly dete- riorating health of the family patriarch. "This had been on his bucket list for years and years," Loebelsohn said. "It gave him a sense of purpose in his old age." Over the course of their collaboration, which began in March 2011, the elderly man grew increasingly weak. The project became a race against the clock, as Loebelsohn worked tirelessly to finish the illustrations before the man's final hour. He signed off on the final images last November and passed away the following month. Loebelsohn met the ex- tended family for the first time at the funeral. They used the Haggadah the first time this Passover. "There was something very spiritual and deep in that re- lationship," said Loebelsohn, noting the dual purpose of the Haggadah. "It's away of keep- ing the Jewish Passover story alive; it's a way of keeping this man's memory alive." It's an extreme example, to be sure, but Loebelsohn is seasoned at working with families at momentous junc- tures in their lives. In addition to creating custom ketubahs, one of her more popular com- missions is for bar and bat mitzvahs. For a fee starting at $700 for an original painting, she will meet with her young clients (and their parents) and discuss the most meaningful aspects of their lives. Over the course of about six weeks, Loebelsohn creates an original painting. Typically a central image depicts that week's Torah portion, and the painting is adorned with numerous personal symbols. Over the years she has in- corporated images as diverse as musical notes and family pets, and once a Pittsburgh Steelers logo. Looking back on her own life, Loebelsohn, 51, says that art--painting, in par- ticular--was an early passion. Growing up in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, "art was a big thing in my house," she said. Loebelsohn's father, Jo- seph, was a police officer, and her mother, Carol, an artist. (Her twin sister, Alise, is a decorative painter.) Carol worked as an illustrator for high-end fashion magazines and retailers such as Vogue and Bergdorf Goodman. Loe- belsohn recalls that couture evening gowns often were present in their home, even though the family was of modest means. In 1982, Loebelsohn earned a degree in painting at Coo- per Union in New York and embarked on a career as both an art teacher and an artist, working primarily on abstract Painting on page 19A By Eetta Prince-Gibson JERUSALEM (JTA)-- Sports fans aren't the only people lately paying attention to Israeli soccer. A string of ugly incidents has caused Is- raelis to focus on the problems of violence and racism within the sport. In mid-March, thousands of Hapoel Tel Aviv fans rioted on the field after their team lost to Maccabi Tel Aviv. A few days later, two fans of Maccabi Petach Tikvah at- tempted to attack a referee. In late March a Hapoel Haifa player was hospitalized after being headbutted by a Maccabi Petach Tikvah coach and then kicked in the head by a team associate. But the event that drew the most attention had happened a few days earlier, when more than 100 fans of Beitar Jerusa- lem stormed from their home base in Teddy Stadium after a game to the nearby Malha Mall, where they chanted rac- ist slurs and some reportedly beat Arab mall workers. News reports quoted sourc- es decrying the "pogrom" and "lynch" against the Arabs, and some commentators made comparisons with anti- Semitism in Europe and the recent murders at the Jewish school in Toulouse. Some sports writers called for sanctions by international athletic organizations or for dismantling the Beitar Jeru- salem club, whose fans have a longstanding reputation for racism and violence. Israeli police say that the news reports exaggerated the incident, though they have since made arrests. "There was no 'lynch' and no 'pogrom,' " Jerusalem District police spokesman Shmulik Ben-Ruby told JTA. "The incident has been blown out of all proportion." But Dorit Abramowich, coordinator for Shutafut- Sharakah, the Arab-Jewish Coalition for Shared Democ- racy, says the violence at the mall is indicative of a larger problem. "Israel is in the midst of a racism plague, and the events at the real| are part of an intense series of events in which threats, intimidation and humiliation of Arabs is becoming accepted behavior," she said. "I am saddened that the police and the leadership of Beitar Jerusalem are not more concerned and seem not to understand thatwords lead to actions." The story first made head- lines several days after the March 19 incident, when video footage surfaced on the Inter- net showing masses of Beitar Jerusalem fans at the mall chanting "Death to Arabs." Exactly what happened next is unclear. Haaretz reported that some fans harassed a group of Arab women in the mall's food court and were chased away by broomstick- wielding Arab janitors. Ac- cording to Haaretz, the fans returned and attacked the Arab workers. A shopkeeper told the paper that Arab work- ers were thrown against store windows and beaten. "They came looking to have a fight with us," a Palestinian janitor at the mall, who iden- tified himself only as Ahmed, told JTA. "When we tried to defend ourselves, they ran away, but then came back and tried to attack us." Police eventually broke up the melee but did not initially make any arrests because they said no complaints were filed. On April 3, police released some 51 seconds of security Kobi Gideon/FLASH90/JTA Fans of Beitar Jerusalem FC celebrate the winning in the State Cup in Ramat Gan Stadium on May 13, 2008. surveillance footage from the mall that showed three Arab workers wielding sticks at some screaming fans, who fled. Ben-Ruby said that police have arrested some 19 fans, against whom charges will be pressed, while another 20 have been banned from the games for 2 1/2 years. The incident has reinforced Beitar Jerusalem's bad reputa- tion within Israeli sports. "We condemn all physical and verbal violence," Asaf Shaked, a spokesman for Mall on page 19A By Meredith Mandell JERUSALEM (JTA)--She's young, smart and aims to help treat life-threatening diseases. Naama Geva-Zatorsky, 34, is among a growing group of Israeli women scientists who are gaining recognition for -~.K, at exhib~ttni~-~o scien- was perfect," he said, "They immediately got the idea." Founded 50 years ago by the Bronx-born Jewish edu- cator, Seymour Fromer, the Magnes' ambitions always exceeded the realities of be- ing a small Jewish museum. Over the years, Fromer and his wife, Rebecca Camhi Fromer, amassed not only the largest archive of Jewish American Western history, but also a treasure trove of exotic Judaica. Some of the highlights are on view at the Magnes' inaugural exhibit, titled "The Magnes Effect: Five Decades of Collection." There is a 19th-century purple velvet wedding dress from Rhodes; a sword given by the Otto- hac stora over Magnes' budget in Naama Geva-Zatorsky roughly $2 rP~institutebiolo. operate, it wili,~ .... 7~rsk,, under $1 millic:~7-the"~n;er But the chanp0 L,Orea'l. at a price Merg . . " Science. lviagnes with a much and secular, institutioarmore Berkeley was never pa~ntial Fromer's vision. He diea 2009, before the decision waad made. And the merger only highlights the mishaps and difficult choices the Magnes has had to make simply in order to survive. "In an ideal situation, it could have remained bacterial molecule, known as polysaccharide A (PSA), to react this way. "There are 10 times more bacteria than human cells in the body, and I'm learning how do we interact with them and what the impact is on our health," she said in a phone interview from Brookline, Mass., where she has been liv- ing since September with her husband, Amnon Zatorsky, and their two sons, Yonatan, 5, and Uri, 2. Despite the growing popu- larity of probiotics in an array of products--think Kefir, a dairy product made of goat's milk and fermented grains, or the trendy tea-based drink Kombucha--both the U.S. Food and Drug Administra- tion and the European Food Safety Authority say that most claims made about probiotic products are unproven. "There's really a lot more that can be studied," she a said, noting that researchers b~lready know that probiotics than be used to treat inflam- anoe.ory bowel disease and recessite investigatingwhether badly da~cteria can inoculate multiple sclerosis, a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Additionally, Geva-Zator- sky said, certain bacteria can make humans develop more fat cells. Someday, she said, researchers may be able to create a pill to help obese people lose weight. The same bacteria affect emotions, she said, and even- tually may be used to treat depression. Once her postdoctoral work is completed, Naama Geva-Zatorsky plans to return to Israel to set up her own research team to probe how these bacteria can treat a myriad of diseases. Weizmann biophysics pro- fessor Zvi Kam believes Geva- Zatorsky's determination will carry her far. Noting that experiments are tedious and often fail, Kam said in an email that the young scientist "never complained, never was let down, and never gave up! Her optimistic spirit and joy of doing science was never broken by the tough reality." Geva-Zatorsky's success is unusual in Israel given the dearth of women working in the fields of science and engineering. Despite Israel's emphasis on research and development, a 2008 report by the Euro- pean Commission on Gender Equality pointed out Israel's low proportion of female researchers in higher educa- tion-25 percent--compared to the 35 percent average found among EU member countries. Those numbers combined with a highly publicized incident recently involving Channa Maayan, a Hebrew University professor who re- ceived an award butwas told by Israel's acting health minister, who is haredi Orthodox, that a male would have to accept it for her. The incident outraged and re-energized women in the scientific community to speak out about their impor- tant role as researchers. There are glimmers of light, however, for female scientific researchers. Geva-Zatorsky was among 10 women last year receiving a Weizmann Institute of Science Women in Science Award. And she sees momentum at Israeli univer- sities to increase the numbers of women in the field. She hopes that she can pave the way for others. "I encourage women to be brave and ask questions," Geva-Zatorsky said. ~a-Zatorsky also said thaU~ender bias alone is not the~l~ason that women are~ss~Al~clined to do scien- tifi ch. many believe that want to pursue ac~r~ careers should do re~r~ abroad, she said, w~e they can gain skills tllWB.will enable them to be better scientists-at home. Geva-Zatorsky said that's more difficult for women, who are still expected to be the primary child rearers. The women who complete their doctorates are typically older than in other countries, she said, having first com- pleted their military service and then started families. "This is why fellowships Science on page 19A