Community Briefs

Menorah at Work

Menorah Housing Foundation, a beneficiary agency of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, celebrated the grand opening of its Echo Park Senior Housing — 41 units of affordable accommodations earmarked for the elderly — at 1727 Morton Ave., just north of Sunset Boulevard at Echo Park Avenue. Special guests at the opening included Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Dist. 30), Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg (D-Dist. 45) and L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti.

The Echo Park complex will house tenants 62 years of age and older, who earn certified annual incomes no greater than 50 percent of the area median income. Rent equals approximately one-third of a tenant’s income.

“Thirty-three tenants have already moved in,” said Anne Friedrich Menorah Housing president. Each of the one-bedroom independent-living apartments is handicapped-adaptable, and five of the units are handicapped-accessible. All units are equipped with an emergency call system.

The housing is financed primarily by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the City of Los Angeles Housing Department. HUD subsidizes the portion of rent that exceeds 30 percent of a tenant’s income. With that HUD subsidy, the tenant rent portion averages less than $200 per month per unit. Menorah Housing also obtained grants from the California Community Foundation, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, and the Jewish Community Foundation for the Echo Park site.

Friedrich said that the complex, which took about six years from idea to completion, comes at a crucial time.

“The rents in Echo Park/Silver Lake have gone up about 42 percent in the past year. There’s a huge demand,” she said.

The Echo Park opening follows the inauguration of a 62-unit Santa Monica location earlier this year on Feb. 19. Established in 1969, Menorah Housing manages more than 950 senior apartments in 14 buildings citywide, with other locations in West Adams, South-Central, Beverly Hills, Culver City, Hollywood, Mid-Wilshire, Pico-Robertson, Reseda, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys and West Hollywood. — Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer

Saluting the Shoah Foundation

It was a grand night under a huge tent on the Universal Studios backlot on Dec. 5, when celebrities and commoners paid unstinting tribute to the work of the Shoah Foundation and praised the vision of its founder, filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

The sunny mood was marred only briefly, during an impromptu discussion with The Jewish Journal, when Spielberg was asked to respond to Israeli criticism that he and other big Jewish names in Hollywood were not speaking up for, or even better, visiting, the embattled country.

Spielberg initially responded that Hollywood’s creative community, Jewish or otherwise, was made up of individuals with widely divergent opinions, and it would be presumptuous of him to assume the role of its spokesman.

He characterized the situation in Israel as “a human tragedy” for which “most of the world is weeping.”

When pressed for his personal views, a slightly annoyed Spielberg said that “I have visited Israel in the past and will visit it again, and my family goes there quite often.”

“I don’t understand why there should be any question or assumption that the maker of ‘Schindler’s List,’ and a bar mitzvah boy, should have anything but a very positive attitude toward Israel,” he continued. “My work and my art speak for how I feel.”

The conversation became more cheerful when Spielberg praised the evening’s three Ambassadors for Humanity — Gerald Breslauer, Bruce Ramer and Mickey Rutman — whom he introduced as “the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion.” He lauded the three men for holding up the tent that shielded the Shoah Foundation during its inception and early struggles.

In the past eight years, the foundation has videotaped the testimonies of close to 52,000 Holocaust survivors and witnesses.

Once the dinner party, produced with customary flair by June Beallor, got underway, some 450 guests reveled in a combination of encomiums and serious reminders of the Shoah Foundation’s work and mission. The evening yielded some $600,000 in support of the Shoah Foundation. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor