Stages of grief in the search for a permanent peace


Prophecy and predictions of apocalypse are staples of life in Jerusalem. The current outbreak of violence, against the backdrop of biblical landscapes and sacred sites, lends itself to both. Under circumstances like these, it is wise to recall the words of a biblical prophet who walked the land 2,700 years ago: “He who is prudent will keep silent in such a time, for it is an evil time.”

The causes of the current violence are complex. Some are acute, like July’s murder of a Palestinian teen, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, and the war in Gaza. Others are rooted in the daily lives of the city’s 300,000 Palestinians: a population adrift, disenfranchised, cut off physically and politically from their West Bank hinterland, ruled by authorities that are at best apathetic to their needs, and often actively hostile to their interests. Add to the mix the volatile gases of a holy site, the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif, which has become the arena of choice for religious pyromaniacs of every possible persuasion, and there are conditions in Jerusalem for a perfect storm of violence.

The responses of official Israel to the crisis in Jerusalem have followed the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross model of the stages of grief, starting with denial: Don’t acknowledge the violence. Early on, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat urged the press not to report the violence. The second stage was anger: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing to respond with an iron fist. He has been as good as his word, going well beyond the unprecedented, if understandable, massive security response. The starkest example is the demolition of the family homes of the dead terrorists, punishing innocents while every Palestinian in the city bitterly notes that no such step is taken against the families of Jewish terrorists. Other forms of collective punishment are meted out against the entire Palestinian population of East Jerusalem: Neighborhoods and roads sealed with concrete blocks and an Orwellian policy of “enhanced enforcement” designed to break the will of the Palestinian population — mass arrests of youth, lengthy sentences for minor infractions, fining parents for failing to control their children, parking tickets, fines for building violations and vehicle seizures.

In the past, Palestinians in East Jerusalem have not been the vanguard of Palestinian national resistance, nor have they been predisposed to violence. According to official Shin Bet statistics, during the eight years of the Second Intifada, Israel arrested only 270 East Jerusalem Palestinians for terror–related activities — fewer than Israel arrested in the West Bank in any given two-week segment of that period. For now, however, the era of Palestinian East Jerusalemites rejecting violent protest is over. Since July 2 — the day of the Abu Kdheir murder — more than 1,300 Palestinians have been detained, about half of those boys younger than 18. The change is not only quantitative: For the first time since 1967, the murderers who perpetrated the recent vehicular terror attacks and the slaughter at the Har Nof synagogue have become akin to folk heroes in an East Jerusalem that sees itself very much in the grip of a popular revolt against Israeli rule.

Anger, made concrete in Israeli efforts to break the will of the Palestinian population, is clearly prolonging, rather than cutting short, the violence. Based on the Kubler-Ross model, the next response from official Israel should be bargaining. One might expect this to mean promises from Israel to improve the lives of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, if only they behave. Like bargaining over grief, this, too, would  fail. Palestinians in East Jerusalem will not be broken, and years of experience shows they will not be bought. But in any case, under Netanyahu, there has been no bargaining, nor will there likely be. Netanyahu appears to believe that Palestinians in East Jerusalem must be subdued and defeated but never engaged.

In the next stage, depression, violence can be expected to abate, sooner or later. Palestinians tire of fighting; Israelis will tire of worrying. But even after a semblance of calm is restored, there will be no resurrecting the fragile pre-summer 2014 Jerusalem status quo. Palestinians in East Jerusalem have fully absorbed the message sent to them by official Israel these past months: You are an alien, hostile, ever-suspect population; if you fail to accept the docile, domesticated role we have assigned you, we will give you no quarter. In this context, any non-routine event — a provocation at the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif, an act of terror or vigilantism by a Palestinian or an Israeli — can reignite conflict.  

The final stage of grief, according to Kubler-Ross, is acceptance. In the Jerusalem context, acceptance means recognizing this truth: Failing a genuine political process that will address the inherent dysfunctionality of Israeli rule over the Palestinian collective of East Jerusalem, the countdown toward the next round of violence already has begun, even before the flames of the current one have been extinguished.

Daniel Seidemann, a Jerusalem attorney since 1987, is the founder and director of Terrestrial Jerusalem, an Israeli non-governmental organization that promotes the possibility of an Israeli-Palestinian permanent-status peace agreement on the issue of Jerusalem.

Seidemann will present the talk “Getting Real About Jerusalem” at the Professor Gerald B. Bubis Lecture at Valley Beth Shalom, Encino, on Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m. for more information or to RSVP: apnwest@peacenow.org or (323) 934-3480.

Mourning Miriam


Moshe was one of a kind. “None ever rose again like Moshe.”

At the same time, in very powerful ways, Moshe and Miriam were two of a kind.

Their personalities
and passions overlapped generously. And despite being separated over decades during Moshe’s extended sojourn in Midian, their destinies and their souls remained intertwined. When one of them left this world, the other descended into grief-stricken crisis.

It’s not just that Miriam — and Miriam alone — watched over 3-month-old Moshe as he lay among the bulrushes on the Nile. It’s that (as the text and the Midrash co-mingle) Miriam was the first of the two siblings to boldly confront authority, and to fight for the preservation of her people. When, under the boot of Egyptian oppression, her father Amram publicly declared his intention to desist from having any further children, it was Miriam who forcefully objected.

“Father, you are worse than Pharaoh,” she said. “For Pharaoh declared death only upon the Israelite boys who would be born. But you have pronounced sentence upon both the boys and the girls.”

Amram accepted his daughter’s critique, and Moshe was born shortly thereafter. She prophesied that this baby would be the redeemer of Israel. When the baby was left in the water, she stood guard both over him and over the dream of freedom.

The impression that Moshe and Miriam were mirrors of one another is conveyed unmistakably at the very moment that the dream of freedom is realized. With the Egyptian horsemen at the bottom of the sea, Moshe leads the men of Israel in song, as Miriam leads the women. “I will sing to God for He has acted mightily” is the refrain they each inspire.

Later, when Miriam is stricken with tzara’at (often translated as “leprosy”), Aaron pleads with Moshe that he pray for her. According to the standard translation, Aaron pleads, “Let her not be as one who is dead … with half her flesh eaten away.”

But the medieval sage Rashbam (a grandson of Rashi’s), realized that the pronouns in Aaron’s sentence are not necessarily female. In fact, he says, they are male. And Aaron is pleading with Moshe to pray for Miriam’s recovery so that he — Moshe — not be as one half of whose flesh is eaten away. For Aaron saw and understood that Moshe and Miriam were in many ways two halves of a whole, with lives and passions that were overlapping and interlocked. If Miriam dies, Moshe would be half-dead himself.

All of this helps explain the astonishing and tragic turn of events described in today’s parsha. When the well in the desert runs dry, and God instructs Moshe to speak to the rock and elicit its waters, Moshe furiously lashes out against the people for their rebelliousness, strikes the rock with his staff, and incurs the Divine punishment of being barred from the land. What accounts for Moshe’s fury?

Rashi, deeply rooted in the Midrash, points out that the event immediately prior to the water crisis is the death of Miriam. For 40 years a particular rock had traveled with the people and, in Miriam’s merit, miraculously gave forth water. With Miriam’s death, the rock dried up, rolled away and found its place within the anonymity of the thousands of rocks in the desert. God’s command to Moshe that he “speak to the rock” set Moshe off on the seemingly impossible mission to locate that old familiar rock. The people grew weary and said, “What difference does it make from which rock you bring forth water?” Are not all rocks the same for God?

The people were right. But Moshe lost his temper. Not because God couldn’t bring water out of any rock that He wished. Not because the people weren’t legitimately thirsty. But because Moshe was heartbroken over the loss of his sister. And he didn’t want to find just any rock. He wanted to find her rock. To feel her presence, to be comforted over her death. Moshe’s fury wasn’t born of anger. It was born of grief.

We all encounter people who are sometimes angry. Often these angry people are those whom we care about deeply, and we are hurt by their anger. The story of Moshe and Miriam reminds us that anger is often not really anger that we are witnessing, rather an expression of grief over the loss of something important — a relationship, a belief, a hope, a dream. Each of us experiences loss differently. But we all need the same kind of understanding and patience from our friends. Even Moshe needed some.


Yosef Kanefsky is the rabbi of B’nai David-Judea Congregation, a Modern Orthodox congregation in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood.

Six self-help books seek to help you get sealed in the Book of Life


In these days of asking tough questions, taking stock, revisiting memories and trying to do better in 5767, books are essential tools. Several new works from different disciplines and traditions, some of which don’t mention the words Days of Awe, lend new meaning to the holidays — on caring for orphans, baking bread, deepening celebrations, understanding forgiveness, practicing kindness, exploring traditional liturgy and rituals.

 

Needed: Rational Discussion


When David Lauter, the deputy foreign editor of the Los Angeles Times, began speaking to a crowd of about 400 at a Women’s Alliance for Israel program last
week, it was clear that most of the audience was out for his scalp, and not even the yarmulke he was wearing could save him.

Lauter was on a panel discussing news coverage of Israel’s battle against Hezbollah. I was also on the panel, seated next to Lauter, who is a friend and was a longtime colleague when I worked at the Times.

He is a highly intelligent, soft-spoken, logical man who thinks before he speaks. He is also an observant Jew.

That meant nothing to this crowd. Neither did his intelligence and logic. They booed when he tried to explain his paper’s coverage. When they weren’t booing, they talked among themselves, paying no attention to Lauter. To this bunch, the world outside their own community was a vast and hostile conspiracy against them and against Israel.

I’ve spoken to many groups all over Los Angeles during extremely volatile times. I’ve never seen such rudeness, narrow mindedness and just plain boorishness.

Nothing Lauter said warranted such a response. He told how the coverage began, with him and the foreign editor, Marjorie Miller, organizing the Times foreign correspondents the day the conflict began.

The regulars needed help. A couple of the correspondents were already arranging their transportation to Israel. Miller and Lauter dispatched more to deal with the unexpected story.

This crowd wasn’t interested in these details. Nor did they want to know of the courage of these correspondents, who willingly head into danger — and stay there. This crowd probably had no idea of how many correspondents have been killed in Iraq. These deaths are a clear warning that the same thing could happen to some of the reporters in Lebanon or Israel.

The questions were unrelentingly hostile. They weren’t questions, in fact. They were attacks. And when Lauter tried to answer them, there were more boos.
When he sat down, I told him that this bunch was out for blood. Later, he said felt there was a hard core of haters, “but I don’t think they were the majority.”

I don’t know about that. Hostility seemed to extend through the room, back to the far edges where my wife and cousin were seated.

And at the end of the program, Lauter announced to the crowd that he would stick around and answer more questions.

“Several people came up to me and said they appreciated my being there, but they said so quietly, not exposing themselves to the crowd,” Lauter told me later.
Not blessed with Lauter’s patience, I left angry and stayed mad all the next day.

In the first place, the Times’ coverage is excellent. It’s fair. The reporters and editors strive for balance in the writing and editing of stories and the placement of the stories and the powerful pictures.

This does not mean it is perfect. Putting out a daily paper is an imperfect business. Think about putting that thing together every day with deadlines. I did it for years, the last three as city editor of the Times. When I went home at night, I wondered how we did it. In the process, mistakes are made. Reporters get things wrong. Editors make bad choices. Journalists live — or should live — in constant awareness of their fallibility.

But the Women’s Alliance for Israel event illustrates a bigger issue that extends far beyond the reliability and honesty of the Times coverage: Why can’t we have a rational discussion of Israel and the war in Lebanon?

In my modest presentation — I thought it best to bore these people rather than anger them — I noted that never before in history was so much information available in so many forms of media.

In the morning, I read three papers called the Times — the Los Angeles, New York and Financial. When writing, I take breaks to read Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post and the DEBKA Report, all from Israel, plus take a look at the Guardian to check out the anti-Israel thoughts of the British left wing. All that, plus my lifelong support of Israel, shapes my opinions.

With this information overload, sometimes it is hard for me to make up my mind. Sometimes, I actually have to think.

I would have enjoyed a rational discussion of the media, in general, and the Times, specifically. I have talked to many anti-Times audiences. People hear me out, argue and exchange ideas. They concede a point. I concede a point. We all leave the room better informed.

This group did not want to be better informed. They preferred to get their information from e-mails circulated by like-minded friends, interest groups and, of course, by watching Fox. Any mention of this network, by the way, got a lot of applause.

But as this war continues, we’ve got to reach out and talk to people who don’t agree with us. If we won’t listen to fellow Jews, particularly those as well informed as Lauter, how can we convince anyone of the rightness of our cause?

Bill Boyarsky’s monthly column on Jews and civic life returns this week. Until leaving the Los Angeles Times in 2001, Boyarsky worked as a political correspondent, a metro columnist for nine years and as city editor for three years. You can reach him at bw.boyarsky@verizon.net.

Feds Indict Suspect in Prison Murder of JDL’s Krugel


Almost nine months after the brutal prison-yard slaying of Earl Krugel, the longtime No. 2 man in the Jewish Defense League (JDL), federal authorities have indicted an inmate with no apparent ties to Krugel.

The suspect, David Frank Jennings, 30, allegedly attacked Krugel from behind with a piece of concrete hidden in a bag while Krugel was using an exercise machine at a federal prison in Phoenix.

The indictment, issued by a federal grand jury on July 19, offers neither details nor motive, asserting that Jennings “with premeditation and malice aforethought willfully kill[ed] and murder[ed] Earl Leslie Krugel.”

Jennings is the only person charged in the killing, which took place in plain view. Authorities contend that Jennings acted alone.

“He was the only one charged. There was no conspiracy,” said Ann Harwood, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Phoenix,
Authorities would say little else, including anything about the motive of the alleged killer, a small-time repeat offender with nothing in his rap sheet to suggest either this level of violence or any particular animosity toward the 62-year-old Krugel.

Krugel had been transferred to the Federal Corrections Institute (FCI) Phoenix, a medium security prison, just three days before the assault. To date, there is no indication that Krugel and Jennings knew each other.
“My husband was brutally murdered just a few days after he was sent to that prison,” Lola Krugel said. “He wasn’t there long enough to make any deadly enemies.”

At the time of the attack on Krugel, Jennings was serving a 70-month sentence at FCI Phoenix for a 2003 bank robbery in Las Vegas, which netted him $1,040. Because Jennings had threatened the teller during the robbery, authorities eventually extended his plea bargain sentence from 63 months to 70 months.

Jennings, who lived in Oregon before moving to Nevada, has multiple convictions, but court records reviewed by The Journal did not indicate any association with racist or anti-Semitic groups in or out of prison.

In 1993, Jennings was convicted in Oregon on an Assault III charge; a “class C” state felony, which resulted in an 18-month state prison sentence. In 1994 he was arrested and convicted for unauthorized use of a vehicle and sentenced to six months in jail. In 1995, a probation violation cost him another six months.

He had apparently moved to Nevada by 1996. That same year he was arrested and pleaded guilty to state charges of grand larceny and unlawful possession of a credit card, for which he received a sentence of 16 to 72 months in state prison.

Krugel was transferred to the Phoenix facility to serve out the balance of a 20-year sentence, following his negotiated guilty plea to conspiracy, weapons and explosives charges. The high-profile case against Krugel and the JDL involved an abortive bombing plot against possible targets that included a Culver City mosque and the field office of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), an Arab-American of Lebanese descent.

A fitness fanatic, Krugel was using exercise equipment when he was blind-sided between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2005. Details of the assault did not emerge in previous reports; a review of the autopsy depicts a vicious attack.

His main injury was the initial blow to the back of his head, which crushed the left side of his skull and severely damaged his brain and brain stem. But his attacker also delivered multiple blows to Krugel’s skull, face and neck, according to the autopsy, which was performed by the Maricopa County medical examiner and obtained by The Journal. Krugel suffered multiple skull fractures, internal bleeding and multiple lacerations to his head, face and brain. The beating knocked out teeth and also fractured one of his eye sockets.
Krugel was pronounced dead at the scene.

His death marked the violent end, in prison, for both local leaders of an organization that advocated the use of violence, as necessary, in defending the interests of Jews. JDL head Irv Rubin died in 2002, at 57, from injuries he suffered after jumping or falling from a railing inside the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles. Authorities ruled Rubin’s death a suicide, though family members contested that finding. Krugel, a dental technician by trade, was Rubin’s longtime close friend and second-in-command.

Krugel and Rubin were arrested in late 2001. They were accused, in the months following the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes, of plotting violent revenge against Muslims and Arabs. No attack was carried out. Krugel spent four years in federal lock-up in Los Angeles. It was the resolution of his case, with the guilty plea to reduced charges, that landed him in Phoenix.

Lola Krugel said she’s relieved that someone has finally been charged in her husband’s murder. But she and Krugel’s sister, Linda, both expressed frustration and anger over the time it took to make an arrest, as well as the FBI’s unwillingness to share information with the family.

“He did it right there in the open,” said Lola Krugel, referring to the attacker. “There had to be witnesses and cameras. So why did it take so long for them to charge this man?”

The delay was not foot-dragging but a desire to get it right, said Patrick Snyder, assistant U.S. Attorney in charge of the criminal division in the Phoenix office: “Since the murder occurred in prison, we know the assailant is already in custody. So we’re not under the same kind of time pressure to make an arrest that we are when a killer is still at large.”

Lola Krugel filed a wrongful-death claim against the federal government in February, which has since been denied. The family says it’s now preparing to file a civil lawsuit. The rejected claim had asked for $10 million for personal injury and $10 million for Krugel’s wrongful death.

“It’s an ‘outrage figure,'” said family attorney Benjamin Schonbrun, a partner in the Venice-area firm of Schonbrun, DeSimone, Seplow, Harris and Hoffman. “A figure to illustrate the outrage Lola Krugel feels over the murder of her husband, plus the anger she felt over her inability to get any information from the government.”

L.A. Survivors Sue Claims Commission


Three Holocaust survivors in their 70s lead comfortable lives in Los Angeles suburbia, but their anger burns as fiercely as when they were teenagers deported to Nazi forced labor and concentration camps.

Their indignation and frustration are now directed mainly at an international commission, which they believe is fronting for an insurance company that has given them the runaround for nearly 60 years.

During a recent news conference, the three survivors denounced the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC) and its chairman, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger.

Two of the men, Manny Steinberg of West Hills, and Dr. Jack Brauns of Covina, have filed suit against the commission, charging that it is in league with Assicurazioni Generali of Italy, one of Europe’s largest insurance companies, to lower or deny claims by survivors or their heirs.

"I was in Auschwitz and ICHEIC has the same kind of selection process, deciding who will get paid and who won’t," Steinberg, 78, charged. "Eagleburger and Generali act like little gods."

Brauns, 79, complained that "Eagleburger portrayed himself as a man on a white horse, who would help the survivors, but he doesn’t respond to calls and his commission meetings are open to Generali but closed to survivors and the public."

Si Frumkin, 72, is not part of the lawsuit, but has had his own unhappy experiences with ICHEIC.

"This is a totally inefficient operation, in which the insurance company calls the tune," he said.

The demand for Eagleburger’s ouster was joined by California insurance commissioner John Garamendi, a member of the ICHEIC board, who in a separate statement said, "It’s time for him to go…. It seems ICHEIC is more often interested in protecting [insurance] companies than in providing quick and appropriate payment for the survivors."

ICHEIC was formed in 1998 as a private body, incorporated in Switzerland, by representatives of European insurance companies, major American Jewish organizations and the State of Israel, as well as insurance commissioners from California and several other states. Its declared purpose was to speed up the process of insurance claim payments and save survivors the time and expense of lengthy private legal proceedings.

But in congressional testimony in September, Eagleburger acknowledged that in five years ICHEIC had settled only 5 percent of the 54,000 claims submitted. He also conceded that his commission has spent more on its own operations and salaries than in payments to survivors.

However, several Jewish leaders have defended ICHEIC and its chairman, saying that the job was much more complicated than anticipated and that Eagleburger was doing his best under difficult circumstances.

The frustration expressed by Steinberg and Brauns was fueled by decades of fruitless dealings with Generali, and transferred to ICHEIC, which they believe is manipulated by the Italian insurance company.

According to attorney William Shernoff, who filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court under California’s Unfair Business Practices statute, ICHEIC’s operations are underwritten through a $100 million grant from Generali, which apparently includes Eagleburger’s annual salary of $360,000.

"It’s as if I appeared before a judge, knowing that he is paid by the company I’m suing," Frumkin said.

Steinberg, born Hirsch Mendel Sztajnberg in Radom, Poland, was 14 when he was assigned to a munitions factory for forced labor, and later survived a death march, Auschwitz and a Dachau satellite camp. His mother and a brother perished in the Holocaust, while his father and another brother survived.

"I still remember, when I was a young child, the Generali agent coming to my father’s ladies custom tailoring store every two weeks to collect $2 to $3 in insurance premiums," Steinberg said. "And while we were in camp, my father kept reminding me, ‘If we get out, there is a small insurance policy waiting."

Somewhat ironically, Generali was founded by Jewish merchants in Trieste, Poland, in 1831, had thousands of Jewish agents and, according to the lawsuit, wrote some 80 percent of policies held by Jews in prewar Europe.

After decades of stonewalling by Generali, Steinberg said, the insurance company began to refer all claims to ICHEIC. But after five years of correspondence with the commission, Steinberg’s claim is no closer to resolution, said the retired importer and Korean War veteran.

Brauns, a retired surgeon, was born in Lithuania and spent four years in concentration camps, starting at age 16. He was liberated in Dachau in the spring of 1945.

In 1930, his father had taken out a $2,000 policy with Generali for his son’s future education, to be paid out in dollars at the September 1945 maturity date.

Although the Brauns family was one of the very few who had hidden and then recovered their original policy, repeated visits to Generali headquarters in Rome over a 55-year period bore no results.

Finally, three years ago, Brauns received a letter from ICHEIC, to whom Generali had referred all claims, offering to pay $5,000 for the 1930 policy. Counting accrued interest and inflation rates in the intervening years, Shernoff believes that actual worth of the policy is now $100,000.

Frumkin was 10 years old when he and his family were herded into the Kovno Ghetto in Lithuania, and 13 when he was transferred to a forced labor construction project.

"I am one of a hundreds of thousands of cases whose claims have been stonewalled," he said.

He is currently sitting on a committee to distribute $4.2 million paid by Dutch insurance companies among some 3,000 California claimants.

"We are working very hard and making good progress, without asking for a penny in pay," Frumkin said. "I wonder why Eagleburger cannot do the same."

He added that whatever insurance money he may get will go to charity.

Despite the accumulating pressure, Eagleburger has no intention of resigning, his executive assistant, Anais Haase, told The Journal.

Haase defended ICHEIC as the only venue giving survivors the opportunity of pursuing their claims without cost. She warned that if Eagleburger and the commission had to defend themselves against lawsuits, it would divert time and money from processing claims.

Kenneth Bialkin, the New York-based lead attorney for Generali, said recently that the insurance company "couldn’t be more forthcoming" in trying to settle 60-year-old claims and pointed to its $100 million contribution to ICHEIC as proof of Generali’s fairness and good faith.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles), a veteran congressional champion of survivor claims, said that, "I’m not sure that getting rid of Eagleburger would be a magic bullet. He could have been doing a better job, but the problems of ICHEIC are not his fault alone. It is the insurance companies that should be facing consequences for their unfair treatment of claimants."

Other prominent Jewish spokesmen also defended Eagleburger, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Los Angeles Times reported.

Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress, said that ICHEIC’s problems were not due to bad faith but to facing "a mammoth task, which is bigger than we ever thought it was going to be."

Stuart Eizenstat, the Clinton administration’s pointman in Holocaust restitution negotiations, said that "Larry [Eagleburger] has earned every nickel and then some.

He’s had to undergo hell to bring the parties together."

Roman Kent, chairman of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and a member of ICHEIC, said that Eagleburger had done his best under difficult circumstances.

Frumkin expressed his "total puzzlement" and Brauns his skepticism regarding the supportive statements by the Jewish spokesmen.

A Rough-and-Tumble Return


Actress Jessica Lundy was mostly working TV guest starring roles when she landed the part of Roberta in John Patrick Shanley’s "Danny and the Deep Blue Sea" last month. The searing play spotlights two survivors who meet, clash, have sex, reveal secrets and begin to heal one another. Lundy’s character, an incest victim, cajoles and physically tussles with Danny (Matthew Klein).

"Initially, I thought, ‘My God, I don’t know if I can do this; I’m really scared," said the Jewish actress, who played Gloria on the hit sitcom "Hope & Gloria." "I’m not known for theater and the role is much darker than anything I’ve ever done."

Klein, however, thinks Lundy "brings a wonderful, unpredictable quality to the role. She can switch in an instant from one emotional extreme to another."

If the fictional Roberta is a scrappy survivor, so is Lundy. With her Catholic mother and Jewish father, she grew up in a "preppy, WASPy" Avon, Conn., where Jews weren’t allowed to play golf at the country club. Nevertheless, she said, she "always strongly identified with being Jewish…. Jewish survival despite centuries of persecution is inspirational because there’s been no surrender or sense of defeat."

Lundy had an easier journey as a young actress. By 21, she was playing Jackie Mason’s daughter in "Caddyshack II"; in 1991, she landed her first sitcom, "Over My Dead Body."

When the film and TV jobs began dwindling several years ago — partly because of the dearth of roles for women over 30 — she began looking for theater work.

Her career angst helped her to identify with the desperate character of Roberta: "I’ve had moments of despair when I’ve felt ‘This is the end of the road for me,’" she said.

Rehearsing the play has proved intense.

"Every day I’d come home exhausted and dirty because we were crawling on the floor and sweating and battered from the raw, ugly emotions," she said, hoarse from shouting her lines. "Sometimes I find myself thinking like the character offstage: Everything feels more sensitive and irritating and I can’t hold back my anger, frustration or disgust quite as well…. But while this kind of role can strip you bare, it’s also thrilling. When I said I wanted to be an actress as a child, this is what I meant."

The play runs Oct. 7-28 at Stage 52, 5299 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles. For tickets, call (310) 229-5295.

Lecture Stirs Anger


A public lecture by a visiting scholar on the UCLA campususually doesn’t make much of a ripple, but nearly all of the 1,800 seats inRoyce Hall were taken and the atmosphere was electric when professor Edward W.Said stepped up to the lectern.

The sponsoring Burkle Center for International Studies hadbeen forced to move the Feb. 20 event from a smaller venue, and inside RoyceHall, groups of students worked their cell phones in Hebrew and Arabic. At theentrance, Bruins for Israel, StandWithUs, the Spartacus Youth Club and the BlueTriangle Network passed out competing pamphlets.

Said has impeccable academic credentials as a graduate of Princetonand Harvard universities, professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University and the author of 20 scholarly books translated into 35 languages.

Although his reputation as an ardent advocate of Palestinianand Arab causes had preceded the Jerusalem-born scholar, some members of theuniversity community and the public had come hoping for a sober and rationalpresentation on the complexities of the Middle East.

Most were quickly disabused of that hope, none more so thana number of the most dedicated Jewish advocates of reconciliation andco-existence with the Palestinians. After a heated shouting match with Said, soardent a peacenik as Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller of UCLA Hillel subsequentlylabeled the Columbia professor as “a fraud.”

Said, who served as a member of the Palestinian NationalCouncil from 1977-1991, set the tone by declaring that Israel’s treatment ofPalestinians is currently the world’s most visible case of human rights abuses.

“The denial of human rights by Israel cannot be accepted onany grounds,” whether based on divine guidance or past Jewish suffering, hedeclared.

While agreeing that Palestinian suicide bombings were”terrible,” Said quickly put the onus on the Israeli bulldozing of homes,helicopter missile attacks and strip searches of civilians.

Warming to his subject and accompanied by enthusiasticapplause by a good part of the audience, Said said that any human rightsviolations charged to Saddam Hussein were also applicable to Israel.

Describing some of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’spronouncements as “thuggish balderdash,” Said said that Israel, which hadenjoyed a reputation as a progressive society in its early years, “now had theimage of an aggressor.”

Said, acknowledging his own partisanship as a Palestinian,said he saw little chance of a modus vivendi between the Palestinian “David”and the Israeli “Goliath,” at least until Israeli leaders expressed theircontrition for the alleged crimes against the Palestinian people.

“Neither side is blessed with a [Nelson] Mandela or a[former South African president F.W.] de Klerk,” Said said.

Toward the end of his 75-minute talk, Said softened hisrhetoric by citing his friendship with Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim,which has led to the creation of an Arab-Israeli youth orchestra.

The mellower mood vanished with the first question, whichwas posed by Seidler-Feller.

Charging that Said had painted a black- and-white picture ofthe world, Seidler-Feller pointed to a number of misstatements by the speaker,and, amidst raucous catcalls from the audience, challenged Said to sign a jointstatement advocating Israel’s return to the pre-1967 boundaries, a jointcapital in Jerusalem and settlement of the Palestinian refugee problem.

Said would have none of it. He denounced Seidler-Feller’s”tirade of falsehoods,” and as a victim of the propaganda, which, Said claimed,is the only thing sustaining Israel, besides the support of the United States.

Seidler-Feller was still in an angry mood the following day.”Said appears as a sophisticated, urbane, reasonable academic, but he is reallya belligerent naysayer,” Seidler-Feller observed. “That is why he is a fraud.”

“He is so encumbered by memory, that he is stuck,” theHillel rabbi added. “He is totally dependent on his sense of victimhood. WeJews have used this approach at times, too, but in order to reach any kind ofagreement, we must both go beyond that.”

Seidler-Feller also expressed his disappointment that, inhis talk, Said had “created an atmosphere which empowered the audience to behostile.”

Dr. David N. Myers, a UCLA history professor and formerdirector of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies, who has frequently spoken outagainst the Israeli occupation policies, also expressed his disappointment.

Myers described Said as “a tragic figure, a man ofremarkable intelligence, charisma and oratorical skill, who chose to ignore thecomplex dynamics of the conflict and instead recited the stale platitudes ofPalestinian rejectionism.”

Dr. Sam Aroni, another UCLA professor and a longtimeadvocate of a two-state solution, said he left Royce Hall deeply depressed atthe apparent impossibility of dialogue between the Israeli and Palestiniansides.

“Unfortunately, Said used emotional, rather than rationalarguments,” Aroni said.

One exception to the negative reaction among Jewish doveswas that of philanthropist and political activist Stanley Sheinbaum, one of themost veteran and prominent members of the peace movement.

“Said’s points were generally valid, but Israelis andAmerican Jews don’t have the patience or tolerance to deal with them,” he said.

While there may be some disagreements about certain facts,Sheinbaum said, the main point is that “the Palestinians consider themselves underoccupation, and the question is whether Israelis understand that.”

At the request of the Burkle Center, Sheinbaum hosted areception for Said at his home after the talk. Approximately 60-70 guestscontinued to debate the issues, generating ” a little heat,” Sheinbaum said. Hehas since received four to five pieces of hate mail, Sheinbaum added.

Professor Geoffrey Garrett, director of the Burkle Center,announced that the next forum speaker will be Martin Indyk, former U.S.ambassador to Israel, and that he was finalizing plans for the appearance ofKing Abdullah II of Jordan.

The associate director of the Burkle Center, politicalscientist Steven Spiegel, who was unable to attend the Said lecture, said thatSaid’s appearance was in keeping with the UCLA mission of presenting a varietyof views.

“However, by the end of the forum series, the other sidewill be more than amply represented,” Spiegel said.  

Argentina


To visit Argentina today is to see with your own eyes the tragedy these people are facing.

Imagine living in a country where you experience the following:

You have worked hard for years, and every month you add to your savings in a dollar account held at a major international bank (i.e. Citibank or equal). You placed your savings in this dollar account to be safe from currency fluctuations that are so frequent in South American countries. One day, you get a letter from your bank saying that your account has been changed from a dollar account to a peso account — transferred without your permission. You are outraged because you understand that last year the peso was equal to the dollar i.e. one peso equaling $1, yet today, it takes nearly four pesos to equal $1, thus your lifetime savings account has taken a huge hit. Later, another letter arrives that says you can only withdraw a limited amount per month from this peso account.

You appeal to the bank and hear, "Sorry, but this is government policy." You go to the politicians and hear, "Sorry, economic conditions demanded this action." There is such political turmoil that their congress didn’t meet for five straight weeks due to lack of a quorum and four presidents resigned within two weeks. You go to the courts with your dollar agreement in hand and get a total runaround. The net effect is countrywide anger.

Many banks in Buenos Aires have their first two-floor exteriors covered with plywood to ward off flying bricks and other evidence of the seething public rage. The Argentine government owes $135 billion to the IMF and the world bank, with little chance of ever repaying this staggering amount. In addition, over the past 45 years, 15 of the 19 agreements with the IMF have been broken, and thus, Argentina has zero credibility for further borrowings.

The net effect of this economic and political chaos has been the destruction of the middle-class. The official unemployment rate is 21 percent, but the unofficial estimate is 35 percent. Of the 200,000 Jews in the country, 80 percent are small businessmen or professionals and their lives have been devastated. An estimated 40,000 Jews are living below the poverty line and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is serving more than 30,000. The JDC reported that last year 1,000 Jews left for Israel, and this year the number is approaching 6,000, with three times that number seeking refuge wherever in the world they gain admittance.

Heart-wrenching stories are heard everywhere. Rosa and Bernardo are in their 60s, came originally from Eastern Europe and have lived in Buenos Aires for 30 years. Bernardo has a heart problem, cannot walk and requires Rosa’s full-time attention. They were evicted from their residence, unable to pay their rent. JDC pays their rooming-house rent and Rosa comes to the JDC soup kitchen every day and takes the lunch, offered by JDC, to her husband. Bernardo is too ill to emigrate, so they just exist — day by day.

Enrique is a lawyer who came to Buenos Aires in 1940. His wife recently died and his youngest child has Down syndrome and can’t walk. The economic crisis in the past two years forced him to layoff all his employees and he ultimately had to close his practice. He still has to support his youngest daughter, and his friends do what they can to help him with expenses. He has been coming to the soup kitchen for a regular hot lunch paid by JDC, but he refused to have his picture taken — feeling so ashamed of his situation.

Melina Fiszerman is fortunate. She has a secure, responsible position with the JDC in Buenos Aires and is getting an advanced degree in economics. Yet, Melina, 25, is also threatened by the personal and political anguish surrounding her. Argentina is a dangerous place and she lives with the risks of random kidnappings on major streets and frequent, violent civil unrest. When we visited her in November, I asked her why she stays in Argentina.

She responded, "This is my country and my people. I love this country. Buenos Aires is a beautiful city, and this is my home. I am optimistic about the future."

How can Melina be optimistic surrounded by such chaos? She is young, which helps. But much more than her youth is her knowledge and belief in the historic ability of Jews to survive. As American Jews living in our blessed country, it is our privilege and responsibility to help people like Melina and those thousands of Jews in Argentina who are living such painful, difficult lives. We cannot change the politics or economics of Argentina. But we can help by sending our dollars for Argentine relief.


Richard S. Gunther is on the board of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

Missing in Action: The Community


I am not a writer or pretend to be one. This is one of those times that I am writing out of anger and frustration.

There is anger about the terror attack at LAX, and now, anger and frustration at the Los Angeles Jewish community.

On Sunday, I am sure many of you were busy with things like family, soccer or work, or maybe you were gardening in your back yards. I am sure that everybody had a reason why they were not at the memorials held for the victims of the LAX attack.

Last Thursday, July 4, the unimaginable happened in Los Angeles. A lone gunman entered the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX and went directly to the El Al counter. For those of you not familiar with the Bradley International Terminal, let me tell you: you would have to walk by at least four other airline counters in order to get to El Al. In short, this terrorist was targeting Jews.

On Sunday, we all had a chance to show our solidarity with the victims’ families. Los Angeles has one of the largest Jewish communities in the nation. It was a boosha (embarrassment ) to see such few Jews. At the 8:30 a.m. memorial service for Ya’akov Aminov, many Jewish leaders were there, including Rabbi Marvin Hier, Israeli Consul General Yuval Rotem, as well as dignitaries from the state and Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn. We listened to the speakers; we heard the family cry. There wasn’t a dry eye in the parking lot where the memorial was held.

At 2 p.m., I was at a memorial and burial for the other shooting victim, Victoria Hen. What can I say? Another embarrassment! Rotem and Hier were there. Various political leaders, Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles President John Fishel and other Jewish leaders were also there. I saw Hahn for the second time in one day. I don’t care what anyone says; he could have sent an assistant to be there, but he didn’t, he came. In the morning, someone mentioned to me that Hahn was not tough enough in his condemnations in his speech. All I can say is he was there for both memorials, and that counts in my book.

At this funeral, just like at the morning one, there was not a dry eye. How can Israelis endure such suffering? Here I went to two memorials, and it drained me. Israelis live it everyday, with multiple ones at times.

What’s the difference between these victims and the ones in Israel? We go on solidarity missions to Israel and visit with the victims’ families and the injured, but not in our own back yard? Where were the rabbis: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist? The terrorist didn’t check what movement the victims belonged to before he shot them. He shot them because they were Jews.

And where were you?

It wouldn’t have hurt to cancel what you had for that day and attend at least one of the memorials. You could still do your errands to do the following Sunday. These two families can’t do that. Their lives have changed forever, and so the least we could have done is cancel our Sunday plans. Where were all the organizations that go to rallies and so on? Sunday must have been a very busy day in Los Angeles.



Amram Hassan is executive director of B’nai David Judea Congregation.

Dear Deborah


Detail from the cover of “Boy MeetsGirl,” a romance comic book, 1947

Suffocating Sweetheart

Dear Deborah,

I am engaged to a wonderful man whose “littleproblem” has become very, very big during the course of our two-yearcourtship and has grown acute during our engagement. He was always alittle possessive when we dated, but, then, it made me feel loved. Iactually thought it was sort of sweet and sexy, and it made me feelprotected.

His possessiveness has grown into what I feel isan invasion of my privacy that seems, to me, to be not sweet at all.It feels controlling — as if he thinks of me as an incompetentchild. He’ll show up uninvited to a girlfriend-only lunch; he’ll tryto find me a job with a friend of his before I even open theemployment ads; he calls my doctors and asks about test results forme.

When I complain, he says that he is just trying tobe helpful, and asks why I don’t appreciate his love and caring. Ido, but I’m worried about feeling more and more “devoured” by his”caring,” and I’m asking for help in how to deal with it because, atthis point, I feel inclined to hide my whereabouts and activities sothat he cannot butt in so freely — even though I have nothing tohide.

Feels Devoured

Dear Devoured,

“As wolves love lambs, so lovers love theirloves,” wrote Socrates. While you found the wolf at first to becompelling, you are now beginning to feel more like a lamb chop thana lamb. Should you marry him without resolving this now, youundoubtedly will be devoured by his controlling nature.

You must tell him that this issue is seriousenough to cause you to call off the whole deal if it is not resolvedimmediately. Explain in as concrete a manner as possible thebehaviors that are not acceptable to you, and why. Listen to what hesays — whether he is defensive or truly understands you. He may beinsecure and need a little help in some areas, he may have somecharacterological issues that are deeply entrenched, or he may notsee the need to change. If you get nowhere with him, get counselingtogether immediately.

It will take courage to face these issues squarelyand at once, but not to do so will ultimately reduce you from lamb tolamb chop to mucky, little divorce statistic.

Mommie Dearest?

Dear Deborah,

My 7- and 10-year-old sons recently sat me downand told me what I was like when I got angry. They said that Iscreamed a lot, acted like a “monster,” frightened them, and wasentirely different from the “sweet mommy” who usually takes care ofthem. I always knew I had a temper, but I had no idea I was havingsuch an effect. My husband thinks they are just spoiled and don’twant to hear about it when they do wrong.

I am a little confused about how to handlethis.

Chicago Mom

Dear Mom,

The Talmud states that if one person tells youthat you have ass’s ears, pay no attention. But if two tell you,you’d better saddle up.

Whether or not your children are spoiled is notthe issue. Whether or not they don’t like criticism is not the issue(who does?). Rather, the fact that both your children experience yourrage as frightening and deemed it important enough to approach you iswhat counts — that, and your ability to hear them with an openheart.

Yelling is not an effective way to discipline.Either children get scared or feel bad about themselves, and,eventually, they become so inured to yelling that they tune you out.Also, they will learn to be yellers from your example. Learning tomanage anger is the task at hand.

First, when you feel the rage coming on, stop.Notice the buildup of anger. Catch yourself before you hit rage.Collect your thoughts before you speak. Then choose a differentmethod, preferably quieter and with less blame. Use consequencesrather than fear. “You may not go out and play until your rooms areclean.” “No TV until the homework is done.” “Here is ashmatte. Now goclean up what you spilled.” In other words, actions should havelogical consequences that teach children responsibility.

If you lack the necessary self-control to stopyelling, there are anger-management and parenting books and classes.If that fails, there is counseling. The fact that you are taking yourchildren’s feelings to heart is a good prognosis.

Mother-in-Law Blues

Dear Deborah,

My mother-in-law has been in the hospital,recovering from surgery for a week. She is a widow and has alwaysbeen an unpleasant, demanding and self-absorbed woman, but she is myhusband’s mother and children’s grandmother, and because I have noremaining parents, I do want to be a good daughter-in-law.Furthermore, my husband is an only child, so there is no one else totake care of her. He works more than full time, and since my job ispart-time, I feel it is my duty.

I visit her every day, bring her anything she asksfor, and, when she is well, take her shopping and to doctorsappointments. I try. Yet she barrages me with complaints about how noone cares about her, no one visits her, and so forth.

She doesn’t understand that I do work, havechildren (which is another full-time job) and have a life. She thinksthat I am her servant, which would be OK if she showed anyappreciation whatsoever. I am at my wit’s end with her complainingand sometimes want to say what’s on my mind, and yet I never say aword.

At Wit’s End

Dear Wit’s End,

There seems to be a rather fine line between”honor thy parents” and “kick me.” I mean, Martyr of the Year is arotten, low-paying job with no benefits and zero glory.

Have you said anything at all when she complainsabout the dearth of visitors, such as: “What am I? Chopped liver? Ihave visited you every day. It hurts my feelings when you say thingslike that.”

Although you are a true mensch for your efforts, thereis no law against directly and kindly saying how you feel. You neednot be abused to be a dutiful daughter-in-law.

Deborah Berger-Reiss is a West Los Angelespsychotherapist. All letters toDear Deborahrequire a name, address and telephone number for purposes ofverification. Names will, of course, be withheld upon request. Ourreaders should know that when names are used in a letter, they arefictitious.

Dear Deborah welcomes your letters. Responses canbe given only in the newspaper. Send letters to Deborah Berger-Reiss,1800 S. Robertson Blvd., Ste. 927, Los Angeles, CA 90035. You canalso send E-mail: deborahb@primenet.com

 

Easing the Pain


Ethan Gura doesn’t remember his sister. Still, he cannot forgether. He can’t forget that Rebecca Alexandra Gura died in 1991 after afour and a half year battle with leukemia. She was then six yearsold. He was three.

Now, at age 9, Ethan is a veteran of various therapies, alldesigned to help him deal with his anger and sense of loss. We mightwonder why someone who faced bereavement so young would continue todwell on it. But Ethan’s earliest recollections are of his parentsleaving him with a babysitter so they could spend hours by hissister’s hospital bed. Their grief is still fresh in his mind, as isthe fact that “they didn’t have time to spend with me.” And he can’tshake the fear that someone else in the family — his parents,himself — might get sick and die. His anxieties have affected hisschoolwork, as well as his interaction with others.

This past summer, the family rabbi suggested a new possibility forEthan: a support group run through the Children’s Bereavement Programof Jewish Big Brothers of Los Angeles.

The Big Brothers organization, which has been in the L.A. areasince 1915, has traditionally focused on the children of singleparent families. But since 1994, it has been reaching out to Jewishyoungsters who have suffered the death of a loved one. Under thedirection of Julie Gould, a licensed clinical social worker, thesekids come together for eight weeks of intensive sessions in whichthey use art, games, and storytelling to get a handle on theirfeelings.

The groups are limited to Jewish children because a discussion ofJewish burial and mourning customs is part of the mix. The mainthrust of the group is not to endorse the Jewish way in death andmourning (to borrow the title from Rabbi Maurice Lamm’s classic bookon the subject). Rather it is to help children lessen their ownfeeling of isolation by showing them that others, too, are strugglingto cope with similar emotions. Another key goal is to give childrenthe tools to move beyond their loss.

At the end of his eight-week program, Ethan seemed eager to sharewith me what his bereavement group was like. He joined in willingly,because “I had so many feelings I couldn’t get out. I didn’t want tobe sad all the time.” But how did he feel about being grouped withchildren who ranged in age from six to 12? On a school playground,kids of different ages don’t normally mingle in friendly fashion. Butwithin the group Ethan found a common bond: “They all had somethingthat was sad and different about them . . . they had the samesadness.” This despite the fact that their losses were not identical.Two children had lost parents; one was mourning a dead grandfather.Ethan matter-of-factly explained that one girl’s mother had died fromtaking drugs; one boy’s best friend had succumbed to a brain tumor.

Ethan remembers art projects , journal writing, and “coolactivities.” A particular favorite was “jumping on bubble paper toget out our anger.” He also discovered that writing was a therapeuticway to soothe turbulent emotions. At one session, the kids learnedthat death comes in many forms. That day “I drew a picture aboutthings people could die from,” including drugs, guns, and carcrashes, “like Princess Diana.”

A highlight of the eight weeks is the Cloud Trip, which starts aswhat therapists call a “guided imagery exercise.” The kids lie on thefloor, close their eyes, and go on an imaginary journey with theirloved one. They ride in a vehicle of their own choosing (Ethan pickeda motor scooter), and travel through a fantasy environment which maybe their personal interpretation of Heaven. They enjoy one another’scompany in these magical surroundings, then quietly say good-bye.Next the children separate, and on huge sheets of paper, draw thescenarios they’ve envisioned. At length, they re-assemble to sharethe fruits of their imaginings.

When I talked to Ethan, he seemed serene in his acceptance of whathad happened to his sister. He calmly explained how he used to fearthat his mother would suffer Rebecca’s fate, but that now heunderstands better how such things work. He’s planning to tell hisyounger brother about Rebecca, but sagely notes that Alexander, atthree, is still too young to comprehend that death is a part of life.Maybe when he’s four or five. . . .

I doubt (as do Ethan’s parents) that the Jewish Big Brothersprogram will wipe away all of his anxieties. There is, for one thing,no money budgeted to follow up on a child’s progress six months afterhis group has held its celebratory last-session pizza party. But itseems clear that Big Brothers has given Ethan a soothing newperspective on something that (in the words of his father Dennis)”he’ll be processing till he’s an adult.”

Bereavement is very much in the news as I write this, and thebroad consensus is that the stiff-upper-lip approach to loss is nothealthy for anyone. It’s encouraging that the Jewish traditionsanctions the sharing of sorrow: Rabbi Lamm’s “The Jewish Way ofDeath and Mourning” in fact makes clear that Judaism encourages openexpressions of grief, within the context of the ancient rituals. ButLamm’s book, like most others which discuss death from a Jewishperspective, is no help to a child who’s looking for ways to copewith an adult-sized sorrow. I’m glad that Jewish Big Brothers hasstepped forward to help children like Ethan acknowledge their painand move on.

Beverly Gray writes about education from Santa Monica.

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