Hezi Sheli and the Israeli Martial Arts Academy—Equipping the Conejo Valley to Persevere

Honor, sacrifice, courage, and perseverance perhaps sound like admirable virtues exclusive to the military or to those of another era. However, Hezi Sheli and the staff at the Israeli Martial Arts Academy (IMAA) are instilling these virtues in the next generation through their world-class training in Krav Maga and mixed martial arts.  Hezi Sheli is one of the highest ranked and experienced Israeli Self Defense instructors in the U.S. His gym, the Israeli Martial Arts Academy, teaches martial arts and self-defense classes, including Krav Maga. Krav Maga, literally “contact combat,”…

A West Coast Deli with East Coast Charm

Those who grew up on the East Coast know the art and charm of the neighborhood deli. Much more than a food stop, the deli operates like a community center, a multigenerational gathering place where the owners know their customers personally, even extended family members. Ernie Zoumot has brought the charm of the East Coast deli to the Conejo Valley in Dos Vientos with the Village Trader Market and Deli. The Village Trader Market is Ernie’s “labor of love.” After working in the corporate world for more than 25 years,…

Governor Newsom shuts down schools

On July 17, Governor Newsom announced that public and private schools in 32 counties, including Ventura county, on California’s “watch list” are mandated to go completely online for fall 2020. According to Newsom, COVID-19 poses too great a safety threat to justify a return to school unless the county stays off this list for fourteen consecutive days. According to the California Department of Public Health, July 16, there has been no COVID death for ages 0 to 17 years old.  While Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) had already announced…

Father Junipero Serra’s statue to be removed

On July 16, the Ventura City Council unanimously voted to remove the long-standing statue of Father Junipero Serra in front of Ventura City Hall. After a five-hour meeting that included Ventura citizens, Catholic scholars, and Black Lives Matter protesters, the City Council determined that the statue is “not a historical landmark” and called for its immediate removal due to Serra’s alleged atrocities against the Chumash community.  As city council member Sofia Rubalcava, who has a BLM frame displayed on her Facebook profile picture, said that the decision to remove the…

Buyamba—How Love Can Knit Two Nations Together

Buyamba Uganda, a non-profit based here in Westlake Village, has linked thousands of individuals across the Conejo Valley to Kampala, Uganda. Those fortunate enough to know this organization know Buyamba’s story is one of unshakable hope in the power of love and the belief that changing a nation begins with loving a single person, a child, one at a time.  Buyamba, which means “help” in Luganda, the native language of Uganda, started in the living room of Buyamba’s founders, Pastor Bethuel and Florence Dongo, where they mentored and taught orphaned…

Old Oaks Cigar and Liquor Co.

If you have ever driven on Thousand Oaks Blvd., you have probably driven past Old Oaks on the corner of Hampshire Rd. It has been a Thousand Oaks staple since 2001, and if you have ever had the pleasure of being a customer, you know why. Walking inside instantly transports you back to a different era, reminiscent partly of a Wild West cantina and partly of an old-time pub with assorted memorabilia hanging on the walls, from flags to figurines to pictures of long-time customers. However, Old Oaks also takes…

Small businesses — the new speakeasies of the COVID world

Perhaps this sounds familiar—contacting your hairstylist for an in-home color treatment on your grown-out roots, coming in through the back door at your nail salon to fix your acrylics, or visiting your personal trainer for an off-the-record appointment. Small businesses are the new speakeasies of our COVID world, and like prohibition, our current COVID-related legislation has forced businesses to choose between compliance and their livelihood, putting them between a rock and a hard place.   After enduring months of lockdown and plummeting revenue, beauty parlors, gyms, restaurants, and salons were finally…