Community Briefs

Baca: “Heroes of the World are inIsrael”

Thirty-four chiefs of police and other law enforcementofficials from the United States and Canada arrived in Israel on Sunday toparticipate in a first-of-its-kind four-day seminar on “Police and LawEnforcement in the Era of Global Terror,” Ha’tsofeh, an Israeli newspaper,reported. The seminar, hosted by Israel Police Chief Insp.-Gen. Shlomo Aharonishky,included workshops on identifying terror cells, drawing public support for thefight against terror, and coping with the aftermath of a terrorist attack. Inaddition, the group laid a wreath at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv and toured the Dolphinariumsite, where a Palestinian homicide bomber killed 21 people, and met with one ofthe victims’ mother. On Tuesday evening the group met with Prime Minister ArielSharon. 

According to The Jerusalem Post, Robert Doyle Campbell,chief of homeland security at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, said thevisit stresses that terrorism is a global problem and described it as a soberingexperience. “You go to places like the discotheque that was bombed in Tel Aviv,and come face to face with the damage that terrorism does to a community and toa society as a whole. Up close, it is so different than reading about it in anewspaper or seeing the pictures on television,” he said. His colleague SheriffLeroy D. Baca declared that, “the heroes of the world are here in Israel. Icannot imagine any community as strong and as helpful as the community here in Israel.The help that victims of terror attacks, who have had their bodies torn apartby a terror explosion receive, is an act of heroism of an unprecedented level.”

Among the participants are the police chiefs of Washington, D.C., Portland, Ore. and Chicago. The group also includes the police commissionersof Washington, Boston, Kansas City, Detroit and Philadelphia, and various FBIrepresentatives. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Swastikas Found at Northridge RecCenter

Vandals painted a large swastika and scrawled obscenities ata Northridge recreation center and soccer field last week.

The private facility is owned by two Jewish men and policeare investigating the incident at the Northridge Arena Soccer League as apossible hate crime.

On Wednesday morning Jan. 15, caretakers discovered a 5-footdiameter swastika painted on the soccer field turf, and a smaller one on thewall.

Co-owner Ron Dennis said that one swastika “was donecorrectly, and one was backward. If it was really a hate crime, they would haveknown what they were doing.”

Dennis also noted that “They tore up some of the artificialturf. It weighs a lot, so it would take a few people to do it.”

Damage is estimated at $10,000. Some 40 games are playedweekly on the field by various amateur men, women and youth teams. By the timethe Wednesday evening match began, the offending symbols had been painted over.

Dennis said he had no idea why his facility had beentargeted and police have not identified any suspects. “We’ve had no problems,”he said. “This is a place you go to so you can get away from problems.”   –Tom Tugend,Contributing Editor

German Consulate Honors Trio ofAuthors

German Consul-General Dr. Hans J. Wendler, recently hosted abuffet dinner at his L.A. home to honor Rabbi Andreas Nachama, former presidentof the Berlin Jewish community and now director of the Topography of TerrorFoundation; Julius H. Schoeps, director of the Moses Mendelssohn Center forEuropean-Jewish Studies at the University of Potsdam, near Berlin; and Dr.Hermann Simon, director of the New Synagogue Berlin-Centrum JudaicumFoundation. Wendler’s guests also included the local leadership of the AmericanJewish Committee.

The three Berliners were in town to introduce the Englishtranslation of their joint book, “Jews in Berlin” (Henschel Verlag, Berlin).The richly illustrated book traces the history of the community, from theMiddle Ages to the present, which stood at about 165,000 in the pre-Hitleryears and now numbers about 11,000. During their stay here, the three visitorsalso spoke at the Goethe- Institut and the Villa Aurora European-Americancenter.

Currently Germany is the the world’s third largest market forJewish books, after Israel and the United States. Ironically, of the 300students enrolled in the Jewish studies program at the University of Potsdamsome 95 percent are non-Jewish.

These statistics speak to the fascination of today’s Germanswith Jewish history and life, according to the three leaders of the BerlinJewish community.

At the same time, the Jewish presence in Germany, writtenoff as permanently obliterated in the wake of the Holocaust, has been growingsubstantially due to a large influx of Jews from the former Soviet Union, Nachamasaid.

Hardly any descendants of the pre-Hitler Jewish communityhave remained or returned to Germany, Schoeps jocularly referred to himself andhis two colleagues as the last “real” German Jews.

If the composition of the Berlin Jewish community haschanged, with its present roots more in the Russian than German culturaltradition, so has the outside attitude toward the very fact of its existence.

“When I visited the United States in the 1970s and talkedabout Jewish life in Germany, some people were so angry they walked out,” Schoepssaid. “Now people are more accepting.”

In another generation, Schoeps predicted, the children ofthe Russian immigrants, schooled in Germany and some even serving in the Germanarmy, will become German Jews rather than just Jews living in Germany.

Anti-Semitism of course exists in Germany, Nachamaacknowledged, but it is no more or less virulent than German dislike, say, ofAustrians or Poles.

“The good news is that Germans have shown that they will notelect anti-Semitic politicians,” he said. And while there are some strains inGerman-Israeli relations, Germany remains the Jewish State’s most importantally in Europe.

Now in the works on the academic side is a triangular facultyand student exchange program in Jewish studies between the University of Haifa, University of Potsdam and the California State University system, historyprofessor Michael Meyer of Cal State Northridge told The Journal. — TT