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Mira Berenbaum and Britt Jacobson

Staff Writer and Voices Editor

This past week, Milken’s Performing Arts department premiered Walt McGough’s Advice for Astronauts, the winner of Milken’s Playwriting Prize last year. The performance was accompanied by three other short plays written by McGough: The Penguin Lasts Forever, Exposure, and The Dinosaurs Have a Request. This eclectic grouping of plays could be easily identified as untraditional and unique.

McGough won the Milken Playwriting Prize in 2014, standing out among  over 100 submissions from around the world. McGough won $2,000 cash and had Milken students debut the submission. Based in Boston, he has written over 10 plays now. He loves theater “because it isn’t real.” Everyone is lying about who they are, and the “audience is fine with that”. Most importantly, he believes that with theater one has the opportunity to express themselves and be a little wacky. McGough feels very lucky and honored to have won the Milken Playwriting Prize and see his words come to life.

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The first play of the night was The Penguin Lasts Forever. This play was fairly short, being only a couple minutes long, and definitely surprised the audience with its unorthodox structure. There were five characters playing the role of penguins, and speaking about their role in society. The play was comprised of a burst of short, interrupted speeches rather than a traditional story-based script. The Penguin Lasts Forever’s greatest success was its frank, sarcastic tone that elicited an abundance of laughs from the crowd.

The next play was Exposure staring Raphi Eidelman ’19 and Jenna Fink ‘16. The play was centered around a boy and a bear on an iceberg. They were arguing about whether one character should kill the other, as both characters felt that they were being mistreated. After a long argument back and forth, a fake gunshot was suddenly fired. When asked how she felt about the play, Fink ‘16 replied, “It was cool to play the bear because I usually play the nice girl and the bear is really different. My favorite part is performing it and seeing how the audience reacts because it’s a little different every night. Also the blood; the blood is fun.” The whole dynamic between the polar bear and the boy was wacky just as McGough likes theatre.

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The last of the short plays, The Dinosaurs Have a Request, similar in composition The Penguins Have a Request, consisted of a group of eight dinosaurs presenting their opinion on the way society views them. They attempt to persuade the audience to stop spreading lies about them and their lives. Sarah Markus ‘16 played a slightly less patient dinosaur, who got extremely angry and shockingly started screaming at the audience.

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Finally, it was time for what the whole audience was waiting for: Advice for Astronauts. The distinctive style of this play set it apart from anything we’ve ever seen. Between the tribal drumming to raise the sun and an entire scene made up of the cast yelling and running around with flashlights, this play was one to remember. It started out with everyone living in peace and harmony, but then all the characters were arguing with each other. In the midst of all the chaos, Gisselle Etessami ‘17 stood up and made a declaration, which then caused all the characters to reconsile. When asked about her favorite scene in the play, Sarah Markus ‘16 said, “My favorite scene out of the entire play has to be when I go crazy. I am not just saying this because it happens to be my scene, if someone else did that scene I would still say it is my favorite. That scene happens to be the rawest scene out of the entire play. The scene shows a person who has a lot on her shoulders and when one big thing goes wrong, she just loses it. A lot of people can relate to this.” Markus also said, “I just have to say that my fellow actors in these plays are just great. They are so talented, which helped make the scenes fun to rehearse. When you have a good group of actors rehearsing a scene then you are able to play with it as much as you want; the end results are usually amazing.” Advice for Astronauts was surely a play to remember.

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These plays could not have happened without the work of Director Mr. Robert Menna, Assistant Director Sarah Markus ‘16, Set, Projection, and Prop Designer Ms. Lily Bartenstein, Costume Designer Ms. Allison Dillard, and Lighting Designer and Technical Director Mr. Brian Byrne. Congratulation to the cast, crew, and staff on a job well done!

Danielle Lewis

Staff Writer

The clarinet-playing, sushi-loving, snake-despising Mr. Kaplan joined Milken’s math department this year with the hope of enhancing the high school experiences of his students.

When not teaching his multiple math courses, Kaplan spends his time listening to bluegrass music, especially his favorite song “Tangled Up In Blue” by Bob Dylan. At age 27, he picked up playing the clarinet by attending classes filled with 7 year old novices. Kaplan is also fond of Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and playing soccer.

Raised in Los Angeles, Kaplan attended Brentwood High School. He often reminisces on his senior lock-in, a sleepover at school, and recalls his classic middle school experience of being stuffed in a locker. Kaplan left the nest after attending college at Berkeley and headed to Washington D.C., only expecting to stay there for a year. Kaplan explained, “That was sort of the initial plan and then 6 years passed and so I sort of thought it was time to head on back home.”

“It’s sort of interesting coming back to a place where you grew up and experiencing it as an adult,” Kaplan reflected. By the time he returned to Los Angeles, Kaplan had spent two years teaching at a charter school and four years at a pluralistic Jewish day school.

Milken seemed pleasantly familiar to Kaplan, having many of the same aspects of his previous school. “I love the communal aspect of it, the pluralistic Judaism aspect of it, and the relationships that are forged between students and teachers,” Kaplan explained.

When asked what he would do if he were not a teacher, Mr. Kaplan resorted to saying, “Wishing I were a teacher.” Mr. Kaplan has made teaching his priority. It is clear that he will be a dedicated educator, inspired by his passion to influence and impact future generations of students.

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Michael Schulman

Staff Writer

On Tuesday, November 17th, Milken had the pleasure of hearing The Landfill Harmonic, a Paraguayan orchestra comprised of young adults that have created incredible instruments from trash. The group is from Cateura, Paraguay, which is one of South America’s largest landfills. Using the trash from the landfill they created world class orchestral instruments. These children were born in unfortunate circumstances. However, conductor and music teacher Favio Chavez came up with the idea of the Recycled Orchestra. His idea would eventually teach these children the power of music and that anything is possible They now amaze audiences worldwide with their music and inspiring story.

40% of the children in Cateura do not finish school because their parents need them to work in the landfill. Chavez noticed this when he was researching waste and recycling in Cateura. He  decided an appropriate response would be to use music as a way to get the children out of their imposed circumstances. More and more parents wanted their children to take music lessons form Chavez, however they did not have enough instruments. Chavez came up with the idea of recycling the trash into playable orchestral instruments. The world did not learn of this group until a short video about the Landfill Harmonic was published to YouTube. The video currently has over three million views and the lives of these children have been forever changed. The group had a special on ‘60 Minutes’ and a feature film was made.

Milken students were incredibly impressed with the caliber of music that was able to come from instruments made of trash. The group played the powerful and recognizable piece “O Fortuna”. It was a very interactive performance, as Chavez spoke to students and answered questions. He explained that their violins were created from tin cans and plastic. Our very own Tammy Shine ‘17 got a chance to play violin with the Landfill Harmonic and described the experience as “a chance to interact with such an inspiring and incredible group of people who are the real MVPs when it comes to overcoming adversity and adding beauty to our world.”

Now, the group travels the world sharing their amazing story. Their travels have included North America and the United Kingdom. In Los Angeles they met Venezuelan conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel. They will go on from Los Angeles traveling the country sharing their story and music. All Milken students agree that hearing the Landfill Harmonic was a wonderful cross cultural experience.

Samantha Behar

Co-Spotlight Editor

  1. Falling into a never ending abyss of homework, stress, anxiety, and more homeworktumblr_lznlek5zyL1qdes1mo1_500
  2.  Living on less than 5 hours of sleepno-sleep
  3. Being told your grades matter…


  4. Having to decide between the ACT and the SAT


  5. Not to mention AP classes


  6. Finally having a license and a car, but have no place to park at schooldriving-gif
  7. Not being able to drive around your friends… legally at least..


  8. Being constantly asked “where do you want to go to college?” when you have no idea


  9. And when anyone finds out you’re a Junior they say, “that’s the tough one!”2237701-i-know-and-im-still-crying
  10. Coming to the realization that you’ve taken on too many extracurriculars and leadership roles
  11. anigif_enhanced-23112-1413395667-10

    Generally having no free time


  12. Checking MyMilken more than Instagram and all of your social media accounts combined


  13. Realizing that they weren’t kidding when they told you Freshman year matteredtumblr_nsq9huSc0j1tit364o6_r1_500
  14. Redefining social life to mean lying in your bed, surrounded by empty tubs of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and your AP Pageant textbook, because face it, it’s your only friend” – Britt Jacobson ‘17anigif_fun-fun-fun-29834-1300112565-20
  15. Realizing Junior year isn’t even half over yet


Noah Cohen

Staff Writer

If you say the name “Cohen” at the Milken campus, chances are that many heads, including mine, will turn. But there’s a new Cohen on campus, and his name is Mr. Bill Cohen. Mr. Cohen is a new Jewish studies teacher here at Milken. You may know his wife, longtime Milken teacher Mrs. Cheryl Cohen, his son Jonah ‘17, or his other son Ariel ‘21. I sat down with Mr. Cohen and asked him a few questions about his life, both professionally and personally.

Mr. Cohen was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but has lived in Los Angeles for the past twenty years. He attended Brandeis University where he received a BA in politics and also earned a Masters in Education from the American Jewish University here in Los Angeles.” While originally pursuing a career in real estate, Mr. Cohen says, “I enjoyed selling and renting real estate, however I did not find the career to be fulfilling. It wasn’t soulful, it made good money, but it didn’t matter because I realized that the most important thing is to make a difference.” He says he wanted to become a Jewish Studies teacher because,“While I was growing up, the Judaism that I learned about never really connected to my life. At some point, maybe twenty years ago, I reconnected to Judaism and learned that the most important thing that happens in a Jewish Studies class, is that the students connect what they are learning to their everyday lives.”

Mr. Cohen has worked in a wide range of Jewish learning environments, being the principal and head of administration at two different Jewish day schools. He says that, “coming to a larger institution and being a teacher and coordinator has been a transition of focus and career”. In addition to being a Jewish Studies teacher at Milken, Mr. Cohen continues to teach graduate students at the American Jewish University.

Personally, Mr. Cohen is an avid baseball and football fan. He loves all Boston teams, including the Patriots and the Red Sox. Since moving to Los Angeles, he says that he is also becoming a Dodgers fan. Mr. Cohen says that most of his time outside of school is spent with his wife and three children. When asked what it was like to go to work and have his wife and two of his children here at Milken, Mr. Cohen replied,“Milken is a big enough school that I rarely see Mrs. Cohen or my kids. But it is pleasant when we run past each other. For me, it’s been positive in that it is comforting to be in the same location as your family.”

I ended my conversation with Mr. Cohen asking, “I know you’ve only been here at Milken for a short time, but what is your favorite part about our school so far?” Mr. Cohen replied, “I love the intellectual curiosity and the student’s willingness to engage. Class is not a battle and the students are interested and wanting to engage in class. I also love the organization, and even though it is a big school, I love the way that the different parts communicate and work towards a shared goal. It’s an honor and a joy to be part of the Milken faculty and am looking forward to getting to know more students, and the school, as the months continue.”



Mira Berenbaum

Staff Writer

On Sunday, November 1, Mrs. Stacey Jasper received the Righteous Conversations Award from the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. In this banquet held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Jasper, along with E Randol Schoenberg and Richard B Jones, was honored at the Annual Gala.

Jasper has done a lot of Holocaust education work with Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. She has continued to run the Righteous Conversation Project at Milken over the summer, and now it will be offered as an option for Tiyulim Week in May. Jaspers says, “This gives students who cannot participate over the summer the ability to take part in this incredible program.” She hopes that in the upcoming summer, the program can be offered to all Jewish students in the Los Angeles Area, not just Milken students. She has also started the L’Dough L’Dough club, an after school club where students bake challah while listening to the incredible stories of Holocaust Survivors. She hopes that eventually she can help start a semester long Holocaust elective course.

Jasper along with the two other honorees, and LAMOTH Executive Director Samara Hutman
Jasper along with the two other honorees, and LAMOTH Executive Director Samara Hutman

Jasper was first interested in pursuing Holocaust Education after going on Camp Ramah Poland and Israel Seminar. When she was in Poland, she realized that she got to walk into the gas chamber, and walk out. Because she had the ability to walk out, it was, and still is her duty to make sure no one ever forgets the tragedies of the Holocaust. Later, when she was in graduate school at the American Jewish University, Jasper took several Holocaust courses with Dr. Michael Berenbaum. He furthered Jasper’s need to teach about the Holocaust. She then got involved with the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, and now has a strong partnership with the museum.

When she found out that she was receiving this honor, Jasper was surprised. She says “The real award is working with the Holocaust survivors and hearing their stories.” She loves the work that she does, and the honor is just an added bonus. Jasper looks forward to furthering her partnership with the museum, and Holocaust Education at Milken.

Britt Jacobson

Voices Editor

As American Jewry, Chanukah not only means a delightful indulgence in all things fried, but also 8 WHOLE NIGHTS of presents. These are the things our Maccabean ancestry truly fought for — the freedom to shop online for presents for beloved teachers and faculty, friends and family!

With Chanukah only a month away:

Welcome to the 5775 Ultimate Chanukah Wishlist!

  1. Menorasaurus Rex

    Menorasaurus Rex is a great addition to any collection of menorahs, guaranteed to receive compliments, smiles and in-genuine screams of terror at any Chanukah party!
  2. Dreidel Costume

    How else were you planning on dressing at the SnowGlobe Festival this year?
  3. Drake Holiday Card

    “I celebrate Hanukkah and dated ri-han-u-ka”
  4. Tipsy Elves Sweaters
    Llamakkah or Yamaka?
    Challah at ANYONE cool enough to wear this sweater!

    Tipsy Elves also had this sweater featured in “The Night Before”:


  1. Happy Chanukah Hat

    Mr. McAdamis will be awarding bonus points to any students bold enough to wear this gem 8 days and nights!
  2. Spirited Socks
    You have not one…

    but TWO color options in these cool socks!


  1. Nail Decals
Your nails will be on fleek with these unique decals. See also: Israel Nail Decals
Your nails will be on fleek with these unique decals. See also: Israel Nail Decals
  1. Cookie Cutters

    Christmas cookie decorating move out of the way! Here come Hannukah's themed baked goods! What's next? Ginger-maccabbees?
    Christmas cookie decorating move out of the way! Here come Chanukah’s themed baked goods! What’s next? Ginger-maccabbees?

If you want more ideas, click here for last year’s wishlist.

Mira Berenbaum

Staff Writer

Meet Milken’s newest addition to the Performing Arts Department, Ms. Rebecca Schatz. Schatz is the Performing Arts Department Assistant to  Mr. Kelly Shepard. As a Milken Class of 2006 Alumni, Schatz has a lot to offer the Performing Arts Department.

Schatz was born in Los Angeles, attended Sinai Akiba Academy, and later attended Milken Community High School. After graduation, she went to Indiana University, where she attended the Jacobs School of Music, and received her bachelor’s degree in Choral Music Education and minored in Hebrew. She was able to pursue the three things she enjoyed most at Milken: music, education, and Judaic Studies. Her diverse interests led her to  start the first Jewish a cappella group at Indiana, called Hooshir. She was also a member of the Singing Hoosiers, the number one collegiate show choir group at the time. Throughout all of this, Schatz attended Camp Ramah in California. She started as a camper in 2000, became a counselor in 2005, a unit head in 2010, and the head of education in 2014.

After College, Schatz wanted to pursue education and came back to Los Angeles. She studied at American Jewish University to get a master’s degree in Education. During her studies, she decided that she was going to finish her Education Degree and then go to Rabbinical School. Schatz is currently finishing Rabbinical School at the Ziegler School and is working as a Rabbinic Intern at Temple Beth Am while simultaneously working at Milken.

Schatz originally came to Milken as an intern, eager to get a sense of what it’s like to work in education and administration.. She has always wanted to work with Mr. Shepard, and has had the opportunity to do so as both an intern and now as the department assistant. Her main goal for the Performing Arts Department is to “bring Judaism into a department that isn’t inherently Jewish,” although she feels that department already does an incredible job at doing this.

Outside of school and work, Schatz enjoys spending time with friends and family, as well as singing and taking part in musical experiences. She is extremely excited and honored to be at Milken again, and looks forward to helping the Performing Arts Department continue to excel.

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Alexa Pakravan

Staff Writer

This year, Tiyulim Week is taking place from May 23, 2016 to May 27th.  This is the first time in five years that Tiyulim week is happening at Milken. This is an opportunity to experience and make memories outside of Milken. During this week all classes are cancelled for  9th, 10th, and 11th grade. By Thursday, October 8th, both 10th and 11th graders must pick their top three Tiyul choices. The ninth grade class will be having their normal class trip to Santa Cruz Island. Sadly, students going on Tiferet nor seniors will be able to sign up for Tiyulim week.

        I did a survey asking a variety of students which Tiyulims were on their top three list. The most popular were the following:



1) Rebuilding New Orleans

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(Courtesy of the Milken Resource page)


The Tiyulim “Rebuilding New Orleans” is in many students’ top three lists. 70% of students chose this during the survey. Hurricane Katrina left New Orleans to ruins in 2005. Join the process in rebuilding homes with a local not-for-profit redevelopment organization in the Crescent City. Students will also enjoy many aspects of NOLA’s unique culture, and will receive 20-community service hours for their hard work. So why do students want to go? Students want to go to New Orleans to help the unfortunate. Students will leave feeling like a much happier and accomplished person after donating their time to help others.


2) New York Theatre

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(Courtesy of the Milken Resource page)

Five days in the Big Apple and four musicals! 60% of students chose this Tiyul as their top three choices. Students will experience the history of theatre through a Jewish lens and develop a critical view of each show. Students want to go because it is a great experience to go and see Broadway shows. For those who are interested, this is a great experience to explore musicals with your Milken friends!


3) El Capitan Outdoor Adventure

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(Courtesy of the Milken Resource page)

Enjoy the outdoors? Well, this Tiyul is just for you! 40% of students chose this Tiyul to be a part of their top three choices for the following reasons: There are a variety of activities such as paddle boarding,  rock climbing, kayaking, and so much more. The first day of the trip is spent in Los Angeles while the other two nights are spent in Santa Barbara “glamping” in the El Capitan Cabinets. And don’t worry, all materials will be provided! Don’t miss this opportunity! Students want to go to have fun in the sun in a once in a lifetime experience with their Milken friends. This is an opportunity to share and make so many memories.



If any of you are interested in other possible Tiyulim, you can look for more information on the resource page on MyMilken.


Micah Chasen and Josh Berenbaum

Editor-in-Chief and Sports Editor

On Senior Night, with the whole school watching, it was a sophomore who stole the show. With a touchdown receiving, rushing, and returning, Amitai Afenjar ‘18 left no doubt in the eyes of the fans who the best player on the field was. Granted, Amitai was not alone. Joined by both co-captains, quarterback Jason Goldman ‘16 and tailback Michael Reisman ‘16, the Wildcats overcame a tough first quarter to dominate the Bright Star Charter Eagles by a score of 40-6.

It was truly a well rounded victory. The Wildcats commanded every element of the game. Looking in control on both offense and defense, the Wildcats had their way with the visiting Eagles.

On one possession, Amitai Afenjar ‘18, lost a fumble to the Eagles, but on the ensuing possession, he forced a fumble which was one of many recovered by the Wildcats. On the next offensive play, Afenjar ran for a touchdown from midfield, thanks to excellent blocking by Michael Reisman downfield. The Wildcats never looked back, and went into halftime holding the Eagles scoreless.

One Wildcat that played at an incredibly high level was Kyle Goldman ‘17. He rushed for a touchdown in the second half, and came up with crucial tackles throughout the game that held the Eagles in check. When asked what lead him and the Wildcats to play at such a high level, Kyle said that it “was a result of preparation. [They] worked really hard all week so that [they] could put on a performance to remember for the fans.”

For a team that normally plays in front practically empty stands, there is no question that having the majority of the school cheering them on energized the Wildcats. Jason Goldman ‘16 had this to say about the electricity at Homecoming. “It was great to play in front of the fans. They inspired us to play at the highest possible level and definitely added to the intensity of the game. We really wanted to win for them.”

The Wildcats put together a resounding victory to end the first season of Coach Charls’ Wildcat career. For most Milken students, this was the first time all season they went out to Birmingham High School to watch their team play. In no way did the Wildcats disappoint.