Milken Community College

Britt Jacobson

Staff Writer

The good times never end for the Milken alumni at USC. The natural assumption is that after graduation, everyone drifts apart. No more lunch dates, hellos in the hallways, or activities together. You might think that at college you probably won’t be as involved in Jewish life. These college students beg to differ.

For starters, there are a ton of Milken alumni attending USC. “It's not uncommon to introduce yourself to people, tell them you're from Milken, and have them respond, "Isn't everyone here?” commented Leigh Jacobson ‘12. A big percentage of graduates choose to attend USC for a number of reasons, ranging from scholarships, the location, and a school wide acceptance of Israel. There might be another factor influencing this decision, however. The high density of Milken students is a major benefit for some applicants.

“I know that if I ever need anything, I have tons of people that are there to help,” said Deborah Halimi ‘12.

You might think that having all of these people from your old high school might hinder your ability to branch out socially. And while it’s nice to see all of your old friends, wouldn’t you already be sick of them? Noah Cherner ‘12 thinks otherwise. “You're constantly surrounding yourself with new cultures and people... it's nice to have a sense of comfort knowing you're surrounded by people you're used to.”

These students do offer more than just a feeling of familiarity on campus. They also provide a large network, since they are in a wide range of classes, activities, and clubs. Both Noah and Leigh interact constantly with other Milken Alumni through the Greek system. Most students said they do keep in touch with other alumni regularly. “I'm texting with Leigh Jacobson as I write this!” exclaimed Halimi. It is also common to see a large group of alumni getting together for lunch at the campus center. The main occurrence, however, is seeing fellow alumni on campus. “Just a few minutes ago I was walking to my class and bumped into a Milken student on the way," said freshman Emily Kolker ‘13.

Another benefit of having fellow alumni on campus is connecting with the students that you might not have known in high school. “It's almost like there's an unspoken agreement to look out for other Milken kids. Many older Milken alums would reach out to me or greet me enthusiastically,” Jacobson added.

Of course Milken students have a big name around the Jewish community at USC. You can find them at the campus Hillel, Chabad, TAMID Israel investment and consulting club, in Jewish fraternities, Trojans for Israel, and SC Students for Israel. “I am blown away by the amount of Jewish organizations that exist here," said Kolker. There are also Israel rallies and holiday activities constantly going on around campus.

While it is impossible for Milken to extend completely after high school, it is safe to say that the community lives on at USC.


Fifth annual Fashion with Compassion

Jordana Gotlieb

Staff Writer

The tradition continued on November 4, 2012 with Milken’s fifth annual Fashion with Compassion. Starting on a fall Sunday morning and leading into the early hours of the afternoon, the event took place at the Stephen S. Wise Temple’s main sanctuary.

With an attendance of approximately 600 people, this year’s show attracted an audience that exceeded last year’s by 20%, showcasing the ever-growing interest and support of the Milken community. Beit Issie Shapiro, an organization for people with disabilities, is the benefactor of this year’s event.

As always, Fashion with Compassion is completely student run. This year’s chairs were Alexandra Torkan ’13, Jordyn Schiff ’13, Hannah Berookhim ’14 and Yasmine Novian ’13. There were 50 volunteers who worked the event as well as 66 models who showed off different vendors’ clothing.

“I feel so fortunate to have been a part of this and cannot express how glad I am to have such an amazing program at my school allowing me and my peers to get involved and make a difference,” Berookhim said. “I have seen firsthand the potential that a group of students, each with specific talents, can do to fight for a profound cause.”

One of the founders of Fashion with Compassion, alumni Celine Yousefzadeh ’11 came to support this year’s event and to see how their charity drive has progressed through the years.

The placement of advertisement banners throughout the Westfield malls could have contributed to the increased attendance. Sponsorship for this year’s event included Richard Akaway, Centek, Davidson Global Inc, Elite, Genlux, Hydroderm, Janettes, MGA entertainment, OPI, Weathervane, Westfield, and Violent Lips.

Berookhim was given the honor of taking on next year’s Fashion With Compassion event as chair.

“It is a gratifying experience. Watching these students work so hard for four months and then seeing their faces and excitement when they see the outcome. It’s rewarding,” Torkan said.

Beit Issie Shapiro is amongst Israel’s leading organizations furthering the rights, opportunities, and services for people with disabilities. Beit Issie Shapiro’s focus is to provide innovative and high quality therapeutic and educational services, work for social change and advocacy in the community, and engage in development, research and training.

This years Fashion with Compassion yet again continued to show it’s popularity through commitment from the chairs, models and volunteers.

Deborah Halimi '12 and Celine Yousefzadeh '11 pose with this year's chairs Alexandra Torkan '13, Jordyn Schiff '13, Hannah Berookhim '14 and Yasmine Novian '13. Photo taken by Dr. Fuller.



Milken Moment contest ends with five winning submissions

Milken Moment winners

Weil, Simmons, Gross, Vanderhall and Petrasek-Brown (left to right) are the five recipients of the Milken Moment contest. Photos courtesy of milkenschool.org.

Sophie Golub


Before Milken students departed on winter break, Alex Weil '14, Joshua Simmons '12, Rachel Gross '04, Jeremy Vanderhall '99 and Debbi Petrasek Brown, Milken parent, were announced as the winners of the "Milken Moment" contest. Each received an iPad 2 as a reward.

While the contest only intended to have one winner, the judge panel, comprised of upper and middle school parents as well as faculty and administration, received so many submissions they had to extend the deadline and increase the amount of winners.

“[The purpose was] to celebrate our educational community and its accomplishments, create a “narrative” about the school from multiple lenses of the community, create a sense of gratitude for Milken as an institution and to understand more fully what makes Milken such an extraordinary school,” Jason Ablin, head of school, said.

Hundreds of submissions were received, in many different formats. The majority of the submissions, including the winners, illustrated one specific experience that served as a microcosm of their entire Milken experience.

Weil described his surprise when Mr. Roger Kassebaum, director of Mitchell Academy of Science and Technology (MAST), not only listened to the ideas of a freshman, but also immediately put them into action through the MAST program.

"Far too often in our world, people seem content to submit to complacency, to pass their problems on to others because they do not believe that they are capable of something magical," Weil wrote. "If Milken has taught me one thing, it is that they are wrong."

Simmons reflected on his Tiferet Israel Fellowship experience that, similar to Weils, unexpectedly changed him. Questioning a non-native Israeli soldier resulted in Simmons taking a step back and reexamining his passive approach to life.

Unlike many current students who scoff or joke about the idea of a “doubters minyan,” Gross’ experience in this obscure minyan, which required her to step outside of her comfort level and explore Judaism, stuck with her since her 2004 graduation.

After over a decade since Vanderhall roamed Milken halls, Milken’s impact on him still lives on. Lost in the chaos of junior year, Vanderhall was unable to figure out what to do with his future until a new course on Aviation Science opened up. The ability of Milken to offer atypical learning experiences set into motion the ensuing events of his life.

Petrasek-Brown is one of the moms working behind the counter of Milken’s very own Milken Mart. Standing behind that counter week after week, interacting and engaging with the students, Petrasek-Brown shed light on how those encounters mirror the Milken student body as a whole.

“Our kids aren't typical because our school's values aren't typical,” Petrasek-Brown wrote. “Our kids are held to high standards, and boy, do they rise to the occasion.”

To read the winning submissions, click here.


University of Pennsylvania a capella group OffTheBeat performs at Milken

OffTheBeat picture

Ali Kriegsman '09 (far right) is a member of OffTheBeat. Picture by Mr. Kelly Shepard.

Alison Rollman

Staff Writer

On Wednesday, March 9, one of the University of Pennsylvania’s student-led a capella groups, OffTheBeat, visited Milken to sing with Kol Echad and perform during lunch. OffTheBeat also boasts Milken and Kol Echad alum Ali Kriegsman ’09 as a member of their group.

“Coming back to Milken is always such a warm and welcoming experience,” Kriegsman said. “I love seeing my old teachers and strolling through the halls. UPenn is such a huge school and sometimes it is hard to feel like you have a home base. It sounds cliché but Milken will always feel like that home base for me.”

As for current Milken students, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Kol Echad thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working with the more seasoned singers of OffTheBeat and inspiring one another.

“It was really interesting to see another group like us, to see how they are run and how they differ from us even though we share the same creative expression,” Emma Maier ’14, a Kol Echad member, said.

Even non-Kol Echad members enjoyed the group’s lunch performance, remarking that OffTheBeat was both professional and lovely to listen to.

“I think it’s really nice when Milken brings in other groups,” Jodi Marcus ’14 said. “OffTheBeat’s sound was really impressive for a student-led group.”

Kriegsman also noted how her experience with Kol Echad prepared her for singing at UPenn.

“Kol Echad gave me the opportunity to perform in front of large groups of people, which has definitely come in handy when we sing for 1500 people or more at our UPenn concerts.”


Benjy Fox-Rosen trio performs at Milken

Benjy Fox-Rosen trio with Russell Steinberg

The Benjy Fox-Rosen trio with Dr. Russell Steinberg. Photo by Erik Derr.

Michael Kessler

News Editor

On January 13, the Michael Winograd Klezmer Trio performed at Milken for the student body at lunch and for the chamber music ensemble and Modern Jewish Thought class.

The event came to fruition when Benjy Fox-Rosen, a Milken alum and member of the trio, asked Dr. Russell Steinberg, chamber ensemble director, if his trio could perform at the school. The performance became part of the trio’s California tour and also as an addition to Milken’s visiting alumni program.

The trio performed primarily instrumental klezmer tunes, instrumental music of the Jews of Eastern Europe. Fox-Rosen also sang a few Yiddish songs as part of the performance.

“It was a pleasure to perform at Milken, especially seeing some teachers who had been positive influences on me,” Fox-Rosen said.


Milken alumni help fellow alumni through WISE internship program

Sara Tabibzadeh

Staff Writer

The Wise Individualized Senior Experience (WISE) is a program that offers second semester seniors the opportunity to find an internship. Participants are set up with a mentor through the Milken faculty or staff in a field that interests them. Milken was the first out of over 80 independent schools in the country to participate and embrace the WISE program.

WISE gives students a remarkable opportunity to explore areas of personal interest and exposure in a career field. While spending time with their mentor and at their internship, students gain a sense of independence and maturity.

A second semester senior would want to take time out of his or “senioritis” to participate in an internship “to come back to life again and to get rid of the burned-out feeling that can follow a very busy senior first semester,” said Ms. Guth, head of the WISE program at Milken.

Last year, three students worked with Milken alums for their internships. Josh Nozar ’10 was one of these students, and he worked with David Chasin ’00 at his Commercial Real Estate Brokerage Advisory Firm, Pegasus Investments.

Nozar felt that Chasin was willing to give Nozar an internship because of their mutual connection to Milken. Working with Chasin during the program helped Nozar tremendously.

“I learned what real estate really is. Now if I were to listen to him on a phone call I would completely understand what he’s talking about, and I wasn’t always able to before,” Nozar said.

Working at Pegasus Investments for WISE also helped Nozar realize that although he does want to work in the commercial real estate field in the future, he does not want to be a broker.

The mere fact that Nozar interned with a fellow Milken alum made his experience distinctive. In fact, Nozar is still working for Chasin at Pegasus Investments after finishing WISE and graduating from Milken.

“I still learn, but now I think it is more skills of how to keep a job and be responsible. I’m not in the program anymore so he could just kick me out, so I need to communicate well with my boss and co-workers,” said Nozar.

Chasin, who is a USC graduate, will also be writing Nozar’s college recommendation letter for USC. These two Milken alumni have formed a relationship that has evolved because of WISE.

“I hope that our seniors will maintain these relationships throughout college and beyond. Milken alumni are incredibly supportive of our community,” said Guth.


Kol Echad presents and performs in One Voice benefit concert

One Voice 1

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roger Fuller.

Alison Rollman

Staff Writer

On Saturday, January 8, Milken’s a cappella choir, Kol Echad, presented One Voice, a benefit concert for the children of Yemin Orde who lost their homes in the devastating Carmel fire in early December.

Yemin Orde is a youth village home to orphans, new immigrants, and children who come from broken homes all over the country to find support, shelter, and a prestigious education.

A companionship was sparked between Yemin Orde and Kol Echad when Yemin Orde’s youth choir came to sing with Kol Echad two months ago.

"I’m sure that I speak for all of Kol Echad when I say Yemin Orde’s choir truly touched each and every one of us,” Ruthie Rabinovitch ’12, co-chair of the event, said.

Therefore, when Kol Echad found out that the childrens’ home and school had been devastated in the fire, they were overcome with sadness. As a result, the students channeled these emotions into a drive to make a difference.

“My original motives were to collect clothing, school supplies, and house supplies – anything that would provide them with immediate help. However, we were thrilled to find out that Yemin Orde was overflowing with material assistance. So when Kol Echad was informed of this tragedy, everyone came together immediately and decided that we would plan this benefit concert in order to provide them with much-needed monetary support in the span of just a few short weeks,” Rabinovitch said.

After a work-filled winter break, Mr. Kelly Shepard, director of Kol Echad and department chair of performing arts, and the benefit committee emerged with an impressive list of prestigious performers and generous sponsors.

One Voice 2

Jacob Schatz, above, performing for Kol Echad. Photo courtesy of Dr. Roger Fuller.

“It was heartwarming to see what a great response [we received]. People donated as much as they could, and every penny was truly appreciated,” Brigitte Toubia '11, co-chair of the event, said.

Attendants were impressed with the diverse array of performances, the talented voices of our very own Milken students, and most of all, the admirable way that Shepard and the students of Kol Echad rose to the occasion in the face of disaster, raising over $25,000 in the process.

The night began with a performance by Kol Echad with songs fitting the night’s purpose. Four sets of musical performances were held, sprinkled with speeches in between. Guest speakers included Naty Saidoff of the Israeli Leadership Council and Jackie Louk of Friends of Yemin Orde, whose organizations were both generous sponsors of the event. Sammy Amina, a graduate of Yemin Orde, and Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple also spoke.

Mayim Bialik, a well-known actress and pro-Israel advocate kept the night running smoothly as the Master of Ceremonies.

Craig Taubman, Dale Schatz, Red Harmony, and cantors from various Los Angeles synagogues kept the audience entertained throughout the second set of performances. A variety of student singers and musicians performed afterwards.

In the final set of the night, Kol Echad executed vibrant, heartfelt harmonies. Attendees noted that their highlights included a lively rendition of “Somebody to Love” and the soulful “Hold Me, Rock Me.” Shepard surprised the audience with a song of his own, expressing his pride in his students who had determinedly worked countless hours preparing for the night. And for the finale, Milken graduates were invited to the stage for a rendition of “We are the World,” a song that echoes the inspiration and hope that drove the students of Kol Echad to produce this fundraiser for the Yemin Orde Youth Village.

“I was very impressed with the overwhelming Los Angeles community outpouring of monetary donations, attendance, and overall support,” Shepard said. “Milken is a community school and therefore we are able to touch so many diverse communities. I am so proud of the kids of Kol Echad who really reached out and were able to produce such a success.”

Watch live streaming video from milkenlivestream at livestream.com
Watch live streaming video from milkenlivestream at livestream.com

Town meeting turns into senior domination


Seniors get ready to rumble at the Town Meeting on Friday, December 3. Photo by Samantha Simon.

Matthew Novian

Editor in Chief

In what seemed like a scene out of Hasmonean Judea, Milken’s senior class united as one and exemplified spirit, Hannukah-esque nationalism, and most of all, fraternité at town meeting on Friday, December 3. The meeting was inundated with cacophonous, yet spirited chants: “MAX-I-MUS” as well as various Hannukah songs. United in their finest blue, the seniors made a spectacle at the meeting by running down the bleachers onto the basketball court in what was an organized reenactment of the Maccabean protest against the Romans.

Senior class vice president Adam Dehrey ’11, took part in the riotous event.

“Friday was very entertaining partially because it was organized chaos and very spirited. The senior guys decided to come together in the spirit of Hannukah and did something different with the town meeting to make it fun. It was very successful,” Dehrey said.

The camaraderie did not stop at the town meeting. The seniors carried student body president Jacob Schatz ’11, out of the gym and ran towards the amphitheatre for the annual donut eating competition. There, Max Offsay ’11, the three time defending donut eating champion was received by fellow classmates as they kneeled before him and lifted him towards the podium for his attempt at a four-peat. In an effortless fashion, Offsay won the competition. He boldly concluded his legacy by eating his fourth and final donut in one bite (see video below). The seniors rushed the podium and placed a ring, made of tin foil, on the champion’s finger.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8Zk16YOYGQ[/youtube]

Following the competition, Offsay reflected on the vital nature of his victory.

“I was afraid that if I lost, I would be the shame of our class. I feared letting my entire grade down after all the effort they put in while shouting my name during town meeting… I would never show my face again, perhaps not even attend graduation,” Offsay said.

The seniors may have left Friday feeling accomplished and victorious, but color games are yet to begin. Friday served only as a precursor for what seems to unfold as a dynamic and energetic week.

Senior Spirit

Photo courtesy of Talia Myers.


Alumni return for Thanksgiving reunion

Gabe Freeman

Staff Writer

For Milken students, Thanksgiving is a time to feast on turkey and get away from school for a few days.  For the Milken alumni, Thanksgiving is a time to come back to school.

Wednesday, November 24, was the annual Thanksgiving Alumni reunion.

Ms. Samantha Robbins, alumni director, was thrilled with the turnout of about 150 kids.   She was able to contact all the students at college, scattered across the country, using a wide variety of communications.  She sent out emails, newsletters, a Facebook invite, phone calls, and even tweeted.

“I really love this event.  The kids love to see each other and talk to old teachers.  They eat, they hug, they shmooze, and it’s a good time,” Robbins says.

The atmosphere was fun with music, food, and balloons welcoming the kids back.

This year was also special for Robbins as it is only her second year running the program.

“Last year was my first year as director and I was excited to see the students return to Milken.  I feel like I really got to know some of them and it was nice seeing how they have grown.”

The Alumni certainly love returning to Milken as it will always remain a second home for them.  Talia Bender, a 2010 Milken graduate said, “It was so amazing seeing everyone.  It was as if we were just at Milken yesterday and I realized how much I love and missed everyone!”


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