A Patchwork of Cultures: Exploring the Sephardic-Latino Connection
The LAJS Education Outreach Program, “A Patchwork of Cultures: Exploring the Sephardic-Latino Connection,” annually serves approximately 900 students, grades 4 and 5, in Los Angeles public schools in low-income areas (over 90% are eligible for the free lunch program) with a significant Latino population severely underserved in arts programming; parochial schools, whose students have little or no knowledge of Jewish heritage or traditions; and Jewish day schools.
The project serves as a cultural bridge for these children, whose communities share a common musical and cultural heritage from Spain, and promotes understanding and respect for diversity. Participating teachers have called it “the Ladino-Latino connection.”
What the teachers say about A Patchwork of Cultures:
“For our students, music truly brings all cultures together – they LOVED the experience!”
---Lenore Rukasin, LAJS Board Member and Intervention Teacher, Cohasset Elementary School
“My school was so appreciative and the kids really had their eyes opened to a whole new world of music. It means so much to me because it’s something I didn't get as a child. This is good work that LAJS is doing and I am so proud to be part of it.”
---Axel Oliva, “After School” Arts Program Leader at St. Agnes Parish School and LAJS Audio Support
What the musicians say:
“We draw and move to the music and each child creates an art project reflecting the journey. The program awakens and relates the senses, and inspires artistic and cultural spirit. The children experience the creative process and celebrate life’s ups and downs in their compositions. They find strength and poetry in their lives. Education doesn’t get any better than this!”
---Leslie Lashinsky, LAJS Teaching Artist
“Being a Teaching Artist for the Symphony is one of the most special things I've done with my life. The children are so receptive to everything!”
---Beth Dror, LAJS Teaching Artist
What the volunteers say:
“Some of us have been volunteering from the very first year and what keeps us coming back is the excitement and sparkle we see not only in the children as they participate in all parts of the experience, but also the appreciation from their teachers and the enjoyment of the seniors who also attend. The LAJS has come up with not only a great intercultural program, but one that spans and benefits the generations!”
---Helen Madrid-Worthen, President, Hispanic Jewish Women’s Alliance
“The LA Jewish Symphony program is so awe-inspiring. It’s such an incredible pleasure to see the joy in the children’s faces while they are trying the instruments and when they see their own handiwork on the walls. To see (and not hear a peep) when the orchestra is playing and when the conductor talks about the music and the instruments is so beautiful to behold. And who can help laughing deep from our souls when the kids get up to dance to the Mexican Hat Dance? Working with the kids and other volunteers fills me with such elation – which tends to stay with me for days!”
---Evelyn Perl, Volunteer
What the students say:
Baxter-Northup Music Co., City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Gelson's, Hennings-Fischer Foundation, Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary, Jewish Music Commission of LA, Kashper Family Foundation, Langer Juice Company, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Los Angeles Philanthropic Committee for the Arts, Maurice Amado Foundation, Max Factor Family Foundation, Michael and Lori Milken Family Foundation, Milken Family Foundation, Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, Trader Joes, US Bancorp and Western Bagel.
Transportation assistance generously provided by Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, and City Council members Mitchell Englander, Paul Koretz, Paul Krekorian, Nury Martinez and Monica Rodriguez.