Community Briefs

Kahane Chai Claims BillboardVandalsim

“Jews for Kahane.”

That was the statement greeting the Pico-Robertson area on Sun., Dec. 29 after vandals defaced a Jews for Jesus billboard advertisement, replacing the word “Jesus” with “Kahane,” and covering up a portion of the organization’s 800 number. The billboard features a Jewish Holocaust survivor discussing her faith in Jesus.

Rabbi Nachum “Surfing Rabbi” Shifren, a self-described longtime Kahane activist, sent The Jewish Journal an e-mail claiming responsibility for the act, stating that members of Los Angeles Kahane Chai (Hebrew for “Kahane Lives”) “dealt a blow to missionaries … when they attempted to infiltrate the heart of the Jewish community.”

This is the first time that the right-wing organization, labeled a terrorist organization by the FBI, has made an appearance in Los Angeles.

“It’s a stupid thing to do,” said Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz, founder of Jews for Judaism, a countermissionary organization engaged in opposing the efforts of Jews for Jesus, of the defacement. “It’s against the law. We have to follow the law.”

According to California law, the defacement of the billboard can carry a six-month jail sentence and/or a $1,000 fine.

“People made phone calls to the billboard company to get it removed and that’s the way to do it,” Kravitz said.

Viacom Outdoor confirmed that it has received complains about the Jews for Jesus advertisement, but said that the sign will remain in place for the time being.

“We don’t mean to offend anyone, but it’s a fine line,” said Tim Fox, public affairs director for Viacom Oudoor. “I would hope people in the community would appreciate that.”

Fox said that the company will not discriminate against a client based on religion and that Jews for Jesus’ ad copy wasn’t overtly anti-Semitic and fell “inside industry norms.” Fox added: “If it’s going to incite riots or if it’s hate-filled speech, we’ll reject it.” — Adam Wills, Associate Editor

Israeli Merchants Plan ‘GarageSale’

A garage sale with a different flavor will be held at the Jewish Federation Goldsmith Center on Sunday, Jan. 12, when the Israel Vendors Caravan will display the wares of approximately 30 merchants, shopkeepers and craftsmen from Israel. On sale will be jewelry, ritual and ceremonial objects, toys, books, videos, home furnishings, paintings, Yemenite and other art, clothing, microcalligraphy, tapestries and an array of Judaica items. The caravan is traveling across the United States from West to East, stopping at 45 cities in 75 days. The final stop will be New York City in mid-March.

At the Jan. 5 opening tour stop in Orange County, 4,000 people, more than twice as many as expected, showed up. Approximately 150 volunteers at Irvine’s Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School helped unpack and sell the merchandise.

The project was conceived and organized by Stuart Katz, president of TAL Tours in Valley Stream, N.Y., as a means “of stimulating the struggling Israeli economy and to give Americans a chance to show their support for the Jewish state.” Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., inside and on the roof of the west garage at 6505 Wilshire Blvd. For information, phone (323) 761-8077. After visiting the San Diego area, the caravan will return Jan. 21 to the San Fernando Valley and spend the day at Adat Ari El, 12020 Burbank Blvd., Valley Village. Hours will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For information, phone (818) 766-9426. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Tu B’Shevat Fetes to Bloom inCounty

From Malibu to East L.A., Jews will be able to take part in Tu B’Shevat festivals celebrating and appreciating the environment. On Jan. 12, thousands of Jews are expected to gather at the Shalom Institute: Camp and Conference Center in the Malibu mountains for the fifth annual Community Tu B’Shevat Festival. The event, which is free and open to the community, is co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles’ Shalom Institute and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life of Southern California.

The daylong Jewish Earth Day festival will launch a week of Tu B’Shevat events sponsored and coordinated by the coalition in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

“We hope that we’ll take a better understanding of Judaism and the environment and the connection between the two and to enjoy a great day of Tu B’Shevat celebration,” said Bill Kaplan, Shalom Institute executive director. The festival will offer a full range of outdoor activities for adults and children, including an artists’ fair, environmental expo, concerts, storytelling, hikes, sports, arts and crafts and Shalom Institute tours. Tree planting will take place throughout the day.

In Boyle Heights on Jan. 19, the Breed Street Shul Project of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California (JHS) will hold its own Jewish Arbor Day tree planting. The society is inviting the community to join it — along with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, TreePeople and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy — in planting saplings as part of a neighborhood beautification endeavor. The California Heritage Fund will announce the details of the $150,000 matching grant it is contributing toward stained-glass window restoration.

“We almost have in hand the money that is needed to do the very basic first phase of work to the building,” said society President Stephen Sass, who has headed the effort to renovate and revitalize the deteriorating Breed Street Shul. “This marks our preparing to do construction on the seismic retrofit and put roofs on the building, both of which are badly needed.”

For information on fifth annual Community Tu B’ShevatFestival, call (818) 889-5500, ext. 103; or e-mail For information on the BreedStreet Shul Project event, call (323) 761-8950; e-mail . — Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer