Shorts: Bay Area

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Urban Outfitters halts ‘anti-war scarf’ sales

Hip clothing and paraphernalia chain Urban Outfitters — which stunned Jews several years ago by marketing a shirt with the text “Everyone Loves a Jewish Girl” emblazoned with dollar signs and shopping bags — made news again by recently marketing a Palestinian kaffiyeh but labeling it an “anti-war scarf.”

The black-and-white checkered scarf, a symbol of Palestinian solidarity, is a frequent accoutrement among the anti-Israel crowd. Whether the clothing company was naïve about the meaning of the kaffiyeh or knew full well what the scarves symbolized and were attempting to capitalize on naïve shoppers is uncertain.

What is certain is a flood of complaints, many from within the Jewish community, prompted Urban Outfitters to drop the item earlier this month.

“Due to the sensitive nature of this item, we will no longer offer it for sale. We apologize if we offended anyone, this was by no means our intention,” read a notice on the company’s Web site.

How well the item would have sold anyway is questionable, especially when real kaffiyehs are readily available (and almost certainly at lower prices).

Noted the Jewish blogger Mobius, “In hipster enclaves such as Berlin and Brooklyn, the kaffiyeh is so ubiquitous it’s already passe [and] as a fashion item it is viewed by many in the Palestinian solidarity movement as a trivialization of the Palestinian struggle. … Well, the kaffiyeh just got 10 TIMES MORE PASSE and 10 TIMES MORE TRIVIALIZED, thanks to Urban Outfitters.”

Want to help at-risk teens?

YaYa California, an East Bay interfaith organization helping homeless and at-risk teens, is now being formed and is actively seeking Jewish volunteers and board members.

Many area synagogues already have expressed interest in participating, including members of Oakland’s Temple Sinai, but more help is needed.

For its pilot program, YaYa California will team with young people from the Berkeley Technology Academy, Berkeley High art department and others to launch a 10-week arts/furniture painting intensive, scheduled for June 2007 and expected to help dozens of at-risk East Bay teens.

YaYa California is currently staffing a board of directors, and plans to hold meetings beginning in June. The organization seeks board members with business and marketing backgrounds.

For more information on YaYa California or joining the board, please contact Sally Hindman at (510) 704-0689 or write to her at [email protected].

Bay Area Hillels, director capture top honors

The Hillels at both Berkeley and Stanford were honored at Hillel International’s annual staff conference recently, as was Bay Area Hillel fixture Paul Cohen.

Berkeley Hillel received the “Great Place to Work” award at the December conference, and Hillel at Stanford took home the “University and Community Partnerships” award for its tight relationship with the university.

Cohen, the Northern California director of campus advancement for the past eight years, was one of just eight Hillel professionals worldwide honored for his dedication and competence.

Sephardic evening slated in San Francisco

The Commonwealth Club will host “A Sephardic Evening and My Trip to Israel” on Wednesday, Jan. 31, as part of its Middle East Forum.

Rivka Amado will speak about Sephardic history and perform Ladino songs, accompanied by Joel Siegel on guitar.

Reception with Sephardic snacks will begin at 5:30 p.m., and the program will begin at 6. The Commonwealth Club is located at 595 Market St., 2nd floor, S.F. Admission is free for members, and $15 for the public. Visit www.commonwealthclub.org.

Yavneh continuing tuition grant program

Yavneh Day School in Los Gatos will continue its “need-blind” grant program for the upcoming school year.

The school for a second year will give sixth-graders a $2,000 discount, seventh-graders a $1,000 discount and eighth-graders a $500 discount. All middle school students are eligible and no means test or provision of income statement is required.

The school hopes that the grant program will encourage families in the public school system to consider a Jewish day school education for their child during middle school, which is a critical time in a their development, school officials said. The grant also aims to lower tuition costs so that price is not a barrier to enrollment.

For more information about Yavneh Day School or the middle school pioneer grant program, contact Shelley Leveson at (408) 984-6700 or [email protected].