Loss has no closure


I was just listening to the news about, Lane Grave, the 2 year old boy that was dragged away, by an alligator at Disney World in Florida.

The horror happened in front of his parents. As it was reported, the authorities had given up on finding the child alive, but according to the newscaster, they were continuing their search to find the body in order to bring “closure “ to the parents. 

I have heard the word “closure” used countless times over the years, and as a long time psychotherapist specializing in helping victims of crime and trauma, it is my firm opinion that using this word in this context should stop. In my years of working with those who have had their lives torn asunder, there is no closure to the tragic grief that comes with unexpected loss. It is that road which has no end and in the case of the missing toddler, finding this body will not alter or diminish the devastation this family is just beginning to understand. 

People want to believe that many of life’s tragedies can be tidied up, that wounds can be mended, and that peace and order can be restored. As other people’s misfortune reminds us, we too are vulnerable to the vicissitudes of life. We feel threatened when we see how fragile life can be, and to rid ourselves of our anxieties, we make up a story of an ending called “closure” to make us feel better. 

In fact, we do get better. Wounds do improve, but the road back is often long and circuitous. The use of the word closure is an indicator of wishful thinking and it is infuriating to those of us who know the truth and treat those pained people who have been sold this easy ending to tragic circumstances.

My wonderful father was murdered almost eight years and the murderer has never been arrested. It is easy to imagine that if only they could find the bastard, then maybe, I and my family could finally have “closure” and be freed from the profound pain and ache in our hearts. I would love to see this person found and convicted. I would love to see justice on behalf of my father. But, my father is never coming back, nor is this two year old child who lost his life at Disney World. I don’t write this piece in anger, I simply want others to understand the gravity of loss and know that life is often more complicated than trying to simplify it with one word.

Lin Manuel Miranda, the author of the Broadway show Hamilton, wrote the best words I’ve ever heard about loss. The song “It's Quiet Uptown” captures perfectly the pain Alexander and Angelica Hamilton feel after the death of their son Phillip. “There are moments that words don’t reach—There is suffering too terrible to name—you hold your child as tight as you can and push away the unimaginable—The moments when you’re in so deep it feels easier to just swim down” 

Rick Shuman, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist in Los Angeles.

Wind closes synagogues, schools


Gusts that peaked at 97 miles per hour whipped through the Los Angeles area Wednesday night, downing trees and power lines and leaving some synagogues and Jewish schools with minor damage and no power.

Hardest hit was the Pasadena area, where the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys, the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center, B’nai Simcha Community Preschool in Arcadia and the Weizmann Day School all remained closed on Thursday. The mayor of Pasadena declared a state of emergency for the area.

The unusually fierce Santa Ana winds sent a tree crashing through the bedroom of the home of a Mount Washington member of Chabad of Pasadena, but the family was not hurt, according to Rabbi Chaim Hanoka of Chabad of Pasadena. Trees branches and debris were scattered around the Chabad building, but Hanoka did not detect any damage to the building, though he saw danger in live wires that dangled over some streets on Thursday. Many fires were reported in the area.

[Photo by Rabbi Joshua Grater

At Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center (PJTC), large tree limbs and branches littered the grounds, roof shingles had been lifted off, and a chain-link fence came down.  The window in the school principal’s office was blown out, but no structural damage occurred.

The synagogue lost power around 9 p.m. Wednesday night, it leader, Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, said that if power were not restored by Friday morning, he would be forced to cancel Shabbat services.

“We were supposed to have a big Shabbat dinner tomorrow night, but now we have 15 pounds of chicken rotting in the refrigerator,” Grater said.

A 60-foot tree in front of Grater’s home was completely uprooted, he said.

The Weizmann Day School, an independent Jewish elementary school with an enrollment of 67 children that rents space from PJTC, informed parents Wednesday night that the school would likely be closed the next day, according to principal Lisa Feldman. At 6:30 a.m. Thursday, another message – sent via a room-parent phone tree, as well as texts, Twitter, emails and Facebook – confirmed that the school would be closed Thursday. A teacher stood outside the school at drop-off time just in case some without power didn’t get the message, but no parents showed up, Feldman said. Pasadena public schools and about 10 other school districts in the area also were closed Thursday.

Photo by Julie Gruenbaum Fax

Hanoka of Chabad said he had delivered food to several families who were without power and were trapped in their homes by toppled trees.

Around 300,000 Southern California residents were without power as of Thursday afternoon.

In Los Angeles, large trees splayed across several streets in the Pico-Robertson area. Maimonides Academy had a felled tree in its yard, and no power in the half of the school that resides in West Hollywood, while the half of the building on property in the City of Los Angeles had power.

Eitan Trabin, executive director of Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center, said he is grateful that there was no serious damage to the temple and no one was hurt, especially seeing what had occurred around the neighborhood.

Trabin said, however, that he is bracing for more winds forecast through Friday.

“Whatever progress they make now in repairs and cleanup might be set back with the winds tonight,” Trabin said.

Massive 405 Freeway project respects the boundaries of a Jewish tradition


Metro and Caltrans are working with Orthodox Jews to ensure that the upcoming “Carmageddon” will not affect their eruz, latimes.com reports.

Like just about everybody else, Orthodox Jews in Los Angeles have their issues with the 405 Freeway widening project. Unlike most people, however, their primary concern is not necessarily the impending closure of a stretch of the freeway on the July 16-17 weekend.

Their problem is that the 405 construction project keeps messing up their eruv.

Some explanation is probably in order.

An eruv is a ritual enclosure surrounding a neighborhood. It can be a fence, a wall, a piece of string — or a freeway. And it must be unbroken.

Its purpose is legalistic, a loophole, some might say. It allows observant Jews to perform certain actions on the Sabbath — carry a tray of food or push a baby stroller, for example — that Jewish law prohibits in public on that day.

Read more at latimes.com.

Sobibor museum saved from closure


The museum at the Nazi death camp at Sobibor will remain open, after intervention by the Polish government that followed the museum’s announcement it would close due to a shortage of funding.

Poland’s Culture Ministry announced Friday that the museum at Sobibor will remain open and would be administered by the museum at the nearby Majdanek death camp, The German Press Agency reported. In January 2012, the Sobibor museum is to become an independent state museum funded by the Culture Ministry.

The museum had said Thursday that it would close due to a lack of funds from the regional government.

“Holocaust survivors were relieved to learn that Polish authorities have reversed course and have agreed to reopen the Sobibor museum. Its closure was a moral taint and unworthy of Poland which itself suffered so grievously under the Nazi yolk,” Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, said in a statement. “We trust that such precipitous closures will not occur again. The demands of memory have prevailed on this occasion and they should not fall to shortsighted concerns in the future.”

About 20,000 people a year visit Sobibor. Some 250,000 people, mostly Jews, were killed there during the Holocaust.

Briefs: The Milken JCC pool; Valley Cities JCC fundraiser; Iran divestment bill moving forward


Federation Asks Milken JCC to Relinquish Property Rights

With little notice, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles closed the Olympic-sized swimming pool at The New JCC at Milken on April 25, citing possible mold damage but having already been issued a permit on April 11 by the City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety to demolish and fill in the pool.

Now The Federation appears to have more extensive plans for the financially troubled JCC, offering them a one-time supplemental allocation of $350,000 in return for signing a quitclaim deed relinquishing their historic right to be the major tenant on the Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus in West Hills.

After June 30, 2008, the JCC’s space and budget could be greatly diminished as The Federation intends to rent the space to former tenant New Community Jewish High School, giving them a substantial portion of the Milken campus.

In response to that proposal, which was faxed to the JCC on May 22, the JCC board of directors has scheduled a membership meeting on Sunday, June 10, 2 p.m., to present and vote on The Federation’s rescue plan. Prior to that meeting, however, JCC officials are hoping to raise $500,000, giving them the ability to consider other options.

“We have a lot of financial problems and some mismanagement. Nobody’s denying that,” former JCC president Bonnie Rosenthal said. “But we do serve people and it seems that Federation is not interested in the people we serve.”

Those people include 125 preschoolers, many from single-parent, working-parent and immigrant families who depend on the extended daycare hours. Additionally, the JCC serves more than 700 seniors who come for classes, cultural events and fitness programs.

Federation spokeswoman Deborah Dragon said that it is a coincidence that the pool closure happend at the same time as the JCC’s financial distress. She added that The Federation wants to see the best communal use of the property and intends to work with the JCC to continue a downsized version of its early childhood and senior programs.

Dragon and Andrew Cushnir, Federation vice president of planning, said that without signing the quitclaim deed, the JCC will not receive supplemental funding and, like all Federation agencies, must apply for a 2008 allocation, with no guarantee.

“The JCC is losing members in droves because of the pool closure and the lack of information that Federation is giving out,” said Marty Rosenthal, JCC treasurer and past president.

Meanwhile, the pool remains closed with no set demolition date.

— Jane Ulman, Contributing Editor

Valley Cities JCC Holds Fundraiser

In what could be a last hurrah, the Valley Cities Jewish Community Center (JCC) will hold a BBQ social on Sunday, June 10, 2-7 p.m., complete with a bounce house for children, face painting, bands and silent auction. The entrance fee is $10.

The center, which uses property owned by the Jewish Community Centers Development Corp., is facing closure as soon as June 15. The development corporation had agreed in principle to a Burbank philanthropist’s $2.7 million offer to buy the property and turn it over to Valley Cities JCC. But in April everything fell apart.

“We keep making them offers, and they just keep turning their backs on us,” said Michael Brezner, the center’s board chair. “They are not nice people.”

The BBQ is part fundraiser, part public relations initiative.

“We want people to know we are here. We want to stay,” said Lori Brockman, a concerned parent who helped organize the event.

Valley Cities JCC is in Sherman Oaks at 13164 Burbank Blvd. For more information, call (818) 786-6310.

— Brad A. Greenberg, Staff Writer

Iran Divestment Bill Passes Assembly Appropriation Committee

[SACRAMENTO] — A proposed California State Assembly bill that would require state pension funds to divest an estimated $24 billion from more than 280 companies doing business with Iran, took one step closer to become law on May 31 after being approved by the Assembly’s Appropriation Committee.

The bill, also known as AB 221, was first introduced by freshman Assemblyman Joel Anderson (R-El Cajon) and unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee on April 24. Anderson has said the primary goal of the legislation is to secure the California Public Employees Retirement and the State Teachers Retirement pensions with wise investment strategies, since both are valued at nearly $400 billion and funded by taxpayers.

AB 221 has received wide support from 14 national and state Jewish organizations and dozens of Los Angeles-based Iranian Muslim groups opposed to Iran’s regime, as an economic means to bring down the already crippled Iranian economy. The National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a Washington D.C.-based pro-Iran lobby as well as the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers have been the only groups opposing AB 221. The Assembly will have a final vote on the bill in the first week of June and supporters said they expect it to become law by January 2008.

— Karmel Melamed, Contributing Writer

Valley Cities JCC property deal falls through


Since becoming an independent nonprofit in 2004, the 54-year-old Valley Cities Jewish Community Center has enjoyed growing success in the East San Fernando Valley.

An estimated 1,000 people use its mural-adorned building each week. The center’s nursery school has a waiting list for 2-year-olds and its class for 3-year-olds is at capacity. Recent adult programs at Valley Cities have attracted high-profile speakers like Gore Vidal and Arianna Huffington.

So members were stunned last Thursday, when it was announced that a $2.7 million offer from a private philanthropist to buy the Burbank Boulevard property and turn it over to the center was rejected by the building’s current owner, the Jewish Community Centers Development Corp. (JCCDC) — formerly the JCC parent organization Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles.

Valley Cities trustees say the center, which the JCC has occupied since its inception, may be forced to shut its doors as early as June 15 as a result.
“As it stands right now, the negotiations have broken down,” said Ariel Goldstein, a Valley Cities JCC board member. “Unless the nine members of the JCC Development Corp. change their minds, the community center will be sold.”

Valley Cities Board President Michael Brezner said talks began deteriorating over the last few months. “Within two days it went to pieces,” he said.

In 2004, Valley Cities JCC faced closure when the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles went through a severe financial crisis that affected JCCs throughout L.A. County. The Bay Cities and North Valley JCC properties both were sold, and the Conejo JCC was shut down to settle debts incurred by the umbrella agency’s financial mismanagement.

In 2005, the philanthropist Hyman Jebb Levy stepped in with an anonymous offer of $2.7 million to purchase the Valley Cities JCC property at a discounted price from the JCCDC. The JCCDC agreed in principal to accept the offer, with the stipulation that the Valley Cities facility would be renovated or rebuilt. Center organizers involved in the negotiations said the renovations became the ostensible sticking point in contract negotiations with the JCCDC board.

“Unfortunately, the negotiations have led the JCCDC board to conclude that the prospective sale was not in the best interest of the community, or a proper and justified use of community funds,” the JCCDC said in a prepared statement sent to The Journal.

Brezner said he is concerned that rising real estate values may actually be the central issue. He points out that while the property was valued at $2.2 million three years ago, a recent appraisal valued the property at $6.7 million.
“The concern is that there are [other] offers on the table,” he said, although he also said he is not aware of any offers.

Twenty Valley Cities JCC supporters wearing T-shirts that read “Save Valley Cities JCC” circulated petitions at the Israel Independence Day Festival on April 29. While the signatures had yet to be counted, organizers believe the numbers are in the thousands.

At press time on Tuesday, an open town-hall meeting was scheduled for May 2 in the center’s auditorium, to address the concerns of members, preschool parents and teachers, who rejected a strike after severence concerns were raised by the employees’ union AFSCME, District Council 36.

On April 26, parents and longtime members lined Burbank Boulevard, holding up signs that read: “It’s not just a building, it’s our home,” “You can’t put a price on community” and “Don’t let greed destroy our center.”

For members like 81-year-old Lester Paley, who has used the center’s facilities since it opened, the announcement last week was disheartening.

“I’ve said through the difficult period ‘I hope I don’t have to say Kaddish,'” he said, referring to the prayer recited by mourners. “It’s a sad situation to see an institution like this go down the drain.”

The property sits amid a neighboring Jewish population of 30,000 to 40,000 people, including many Persian, Israeli and Russian immigrants, according to a study prepared for the JCC.

The center currently has 28 paid employees and a preschool program with 97 students.

Teacher Mimi Mandel, 42, has worked at the facility for 17 years. She said it’s been like a second home to her, and she calls the rejection of Levy’s offer a travesty.

“I’m still in shock,” she said. “I know one of the board members [of JCCDC]. I’ve had three of her kids. I can’t believe she’s done this.”

Preschool mothers Lana Bushell and Kathy Weiss Squires sat together on a couch near the center’s entrance. The two met through the center and became fast friends. Both were stunned by the prospect that the center might close.
“It’s devastating,” said Bushell, 32.

Weiss Squires is worried about what she’ll do for childcare if the center closes.

“It’s already May, and trying to find a preschool is going to be impossible,” she said.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, which has provided Valley Cities JCC with more than $1 million in early childhood education funding and other center services, issued a statement last Thursday saying it would help preschool parents makes alternate arrangements for their children if needed, or continue to provide funding should the center continue its preschool program beyond June 15.

“If we don’t win, whatever money is made [on the sale of the property] should go to The Federation,” said Marcia Minkin, the Valley Cities JCC’s vice president. “They’ve supported us and made it possible for this to be in existence.”

President Brezner hopes the building will remain a Jewish center and said he wants the JCCDC board members to visit the site before making up their minds. He said they have not visited the property in more than three years.

“This has never been as successful as it is now,” he said.

The center has no contingency plans in place for relocation, because the board entered negotiations with optimism. “We felt like this deal was going to fly,” Brezner said.

At this point Brezner isn’t thinking about what life for the center might be like after June 15. If the JCCDC doesn’t change its stance, he said, any talk of continuing after June 15 could depend on the community’s lobbying.

“It’s inconceivable that this place will close,” Brezner said.

Fairfax Shops Feel the Squeeze


A venerable Jewish business in the Fairfax District has received a short-term stay of execution. Hatikvah Records, an internationally known vendor of both popular and rare Jewish music, will remain open at 436 N. Fairfax Ave. until mid-January, despite earlier reports that its closure was imminent.

A sizeable rent increase had threatened to close the shop by Oct. 15, but Simon Rutberg, who has owned 51-year-old Hatikvah since 1989, said he’s been allowed to pay at his current monthly rate a few months longer.

“The owners did not want me to lose the Chanukah season and were good enough to extend through it,” Rutberg said, adding that Chanukah is when he moves the most merchandise.

Rutberg expects to shutter his storefront soon after and switch to selling via the Internet only.

The fate of Rutberg’s shop could play out all along Faifax Avenue as rising property values and rents threaten to force out traditional merchants who have given the street its Jewish flavor. A string of businesses across the street from Hatikvah are struggling to hold on since their building was sold and their rents raised.

Picanty grocers, run for 18 years by 77-year-old Nori Zbida, is being squeezed by a monthly rent increase of $850, boosting it to $3,771 — a lot for a business that caters to locals looking for kosher groceries and Hebrew-language newspapers. Arnold M. Herr Bookseller will be out early next year; Solomon’s Bookstore is threatened; and the National of Council of Jewish Women has acknowledged a steep rent increase for its shop space.

The building that houses Hatikvah Records changed hands in June. Fairfax Avenue LLC purchased the property with support from lender Harkham Family Enterprises, a company that has been involved in several land purchases on Fairfax, including the property across the street. A precipitous rent raise for Hatikvah was to take effect first in August, then in October — until the latest postponement.

But one way or another time seems to be running out.

“I lament it,” said Stephan Sass, president of the Jewish Historical Society.

He has childhood memories of driving in from the San Fernando Valley with his parents to the Fairfax District and recalls how Hatikvah Records defined the very atmosphere of the area.

“You would hear the music blaring out down the street,” he said. “It was very special.”

 

Conejo JCC Red Ink to Bring Closure


In a reflection of the continued struggles of the area’s Jewish community centers, the Conejo Valley JCC is slated to close its doors forever on June 30, the second announced center closure in recent months.

Meanwhile, the beleaguered Silverlake Independent JCC might survive. The group that operates the center said that keeping it afloat is now a major priority.

Conejo, which serves 57 nursery school students and offers some adult programming, must shut down because of ongoing budget deficits, said Nina Lieberman Giladi, executive director of the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles (JCCGLA), the organization that runs the Southland’s centers. Last year, Conejo posted more than a $100,000 loss. Lieberman Giladi attributed the red ink partly to 20 parents pulling their children out of the Conejo JCC following a series of bomb threats that turned out to be hoaxes. The opening of a new preschool at a nearby synagogue also siphoned off support.

The JCCGLA had hoped to save Conejo’s early childhood education program by transferring control to Heschel West, but negotiations faltered, she said.

"Conejo Valley has really played a very nice role," Lieberman Giladi said of the 8-year-old JCC in Agoura Hills. "But unfortunately, JCCGLA will no longer be in the business of operating centers after June 30, and the resources [to save Conejo] just aren’t there."

As of now, however, the Westside JCC, Shalom Institute in Malibu, Zimmer Children’s Discovery Museum and Camp Valley Chai in Granada Hills remain under JCCGLA control. The West Valley JCC gained its independence last year.

The JCCGLA wants to clean up its finances and has decided to sell JCCs to pay off its debt, including $2.2 million it owes to The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, $450,000 to banks and $1 million to a special agency fund it tapped during its first systemwide crisis two and a half years ago.

The JCCGLA recently announced plans to shut down Valley Cities JCC in Sherman Oaks, which it values at between $3.2 million and $4 million. Center supporters there have so far unsuccessfully sought extra time to raise money to purchase the facility.

The impending closures of Conejo and Valley Cities come just two years after the demise of Bay Cities JCC and reflect the shaky overall health of Los Angeles’ JCC system, experts said. JCCGLA officials said The Federation’s reduced financial support for the organization over the past decade has hurt its bottom line.

The troubles at the Southland’s Jewish centers come at a time when the national JCC movement has shown robust growth. Close to $500 million in construction is planned, under way or has just been completed at JCCs in the United States, the JCC Association of North America reported.

On a brighter note, JCCGLA said it wants to negotiate a deal with Silverlake supporters, who recently offered $2.1 million for the JCC. JCCGLA, which began showing the property to prospective buyers in January, said it has received offers in the $2.4 million range but is committed to keeping the center in the community.

"We want to resolve this, and the offer [from Silverlake supporters] is a good starting point," JCCGLA President Randy Myer said. "It’s always been our hope to encourage and support any community that can successfully have a JCC. It’s not all about the money."

JCCGLA is currently negotiating with The Federation to forgive a portion of the debt it owes the Jewish philanthropic group, Lieberman Giladi said. Such a deal would make it easier for JCCGLA to accept a lower bid from Silverlake supporters, she added. Federation officials could not be reached for comment.

The Silverlake Independent JCC, unlike other centers, has expanded student enrollment in recent years. It has also posted a small surplus, despite receiving no funding from The Federation.

Center supporters have shown a willingness to confront JCCGLA and The Federation to get their way. On March 23, 150 Silverlake preschoolers, parents and concerned community members demonstrated in front of The Federation building at 6505 Wilshire Blvd. The Los Angeles Times, NBC and Fox News covered the protest, which featured Jewish songs and chants such as, "Let my people stay!"

JCCGLA officials, perhaps in reaction to Silverlake executives’ willingness to publicize their grievances, have asked for a nondisclosure agreement as part of the negotiations.

Silverlake supporters are cautiously optimistic about the chances of saving their center, JCC President Janie Schulman said.

"I’m obviously pleased that GLA wants to work with us, negotiate with us and that there are no other competing offers on the table," she said. "But we still don’t have a signed contract. The devil’s in the details."

Valley Cities JCC Slated to Shut Down


For more than 50 years, Valley Cities Jewish Community Center (JCC) has served as a magnet for San Fernando Valley Jews, a one-stop shop that offers a panoply of services, ranging from nursery school for the young to lectures for seniors.

Thousands of Jews have kibitzed, made lifelong friends and gained their first exposure to the community at Valley Cities, which has become nothing less than one of the linchpins of Jewish life in the Southern California.

In a blow to area Jews, Valley Cities is slated to close its doors forever on June 30, a victim of rising deficits, falling enrollment and a nasty fight between The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, its biggest benefactor, and the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles (JCCGLA), the agency charged with running it.

The center’s impending demise follows the closure less than two years ago of Bay Cities JCC and is yet another sign of the shaky overall health of Los Angeles’ JCC system. More casualties, including the Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center and possibly JCCGLA itself could follow.

The problems plaguing L.A.’s community centers come at a time when the national JCC movement has shown robust growth. Close to $500 million in construction is planned, under way or has recently been completed at JCCs around the country, said Alan Mann, executive vice president for JCC and community services at the JCC Association of North America.

The movement has flourished despite a decline over the past decade in federation funding. In the early 1990s, federation dollars accounted for 25 percent to 30 percent of JCCs’ overall budgets but have dropped to about 13 percent, Mann said. To compensate for the reduced funding, JCCs have raised more money from donors, increased membership and expanded program offerings.

News of Valley Cities’ fate has stunned many current and past members who argue that the center is too much a part of the fabric of local Jewish life to be allowed simply to disappear.

Art Verity, a former Valley Cities advisory board member, said both his daughters benefited greatly from attending nursery school there. He partly attributed his 21-year-old daughter Sarah’s active participation at UC Berkeley’s Hillel to the strong Jewish identity she developed at Valley Cities.

"This is a tragic loss," Verity said. "The center is unique, irreplaceable and plays an important role in fostering tzedakah [charity] within the Jewish community. It’s a place where nonaffiliated, secular and other Jews can gather in a Jewish setting, an anchor."

Thirty-seven full- and part-time employees could lose their jobs when Valley Cities closes. The center serves 90 preschool students, about 70 grade-school students through its after-school program and 100 seniors.

Michael Brezner, Valley Cities board president, said he was stunned by JCCGLA’s decision to shut the center and sell the property, especially since JCCGLA had spent more than $100,000 at the center over the past six months for such capital improvements as repainting the auditorium and replacing its 400 chairs. Brezner said JCCGLA officials, in the midst of discussing the 2004 budget with the board, suddenly pulled the plug on the center, saying they needed to sell the property to pay off debts to the L.A. Federation and other lenders.

JCCGLA officials said they told Brezner they could no longer afford to subsidize a money-losing operation. The organization owes The Federation $2.2 million, JCCGLA Executive Vice President Nina Lieberman Giladi said. The agency must still replenish $1 million in its special fund and owes banks $450,000, she said.

The centers’ organization reduced its debt by more than $600,000 last year after paying The Federation that amount from the $4.7 million it netted from the sale of the Bay Cities and North Valley JCC properties. It also paid down the debt on its special fund by $550,000 and paid off $350,000 of its bank debt.

A beleaguered JCCGLA plans to reinvent itself again, just a year after Lieberman Giladi said the organization was set to move out of the business of running centers and into providing them legal, financial and other consulting services. It has yet to map out its future role, although its size will shrink significantly, said Lieberman Giladi, who acknowledged that she might lose her job in any reorganization.

Brezner said he and other Valley Cities supporters hoped to find a benefactor who could help them purchase the center, which he said JCCGLA has valued at about $2.5 million. Other options include rezoning the property and attracting a developer who would allow the center to continue operating at a reduced rent. Valley Cities boosters are planning rallies and fundraisers to save the embattled center, he said.

"We’re not going to just walk away from this," Brezner said. "We want this 50-year treasure to flourish for another 50 years."

Those efforts might fall short, JCCGLA officials said. Valley Cities loses more than $16,000 a month, and its after-school program has seen participation plummet over the past year as nearby public schools have opened competing programs of their own. With little indication the center can right itself financially, JCCGLA has no choice but to sell Valley Cities and other nonperforming properties, especially since its own finances are stretched thin, Lieberman Giladi said.

"The board has decided it wouldn’t incur any more debt, and any plan going forward had to see all outstanding debts paid in full," she said.

Lieberman Giladi said the Westside JCC, Shalom Institute in Malibu and Zimmer Children’s Discovery Museum all have the capacity to become self-sufficient.

JCCGLA executives appear to think that their best hope for reviving the city’s centers lies in helping the Westside JCC raise millions to construct a state-of-the-art facility.

"One fabulous center will beget other fabulous centers," JCCGLA President Randy Myer said at the group’s Feb. 12 annual meeting. "And down the line, I see a Los Angeles dotted with active and thriving JCCs."

Looking back, JCCGLA’s sanguine predictions have sometimes soured.

Little more than one year ago, the association said it wanted to help those centers under its control become independent and strong. The West Valley JCC, with significant funding from The Federation, has achieved those goals.

However, Valley Cities is on its deathbed. North Valley JCC, albeit now independent, is far smaller than at its peak. In the Conejo Valley, JCCGLA is actively working with local Jewish leaders to ensure the continuation of services at the JCC.

In Silverlake, JCCGLA appears less interested in saving the Silverlake Independent JCC than in fetching the highest possible price from selling it, Silverlake executives said. The agency has rejected a $1.8 million bid from Silverlake supporters that would have ensured the center’s survival, they said. Instead, JCCGLA has put the property on the open market.

"Having somebody look at it doesn’t mean that it’s sold tomorrow," JCCGLA President Myer said. "The ball has been in their court" to make another offer.

The Federation has a $550,000 lien on the Silverlake property.

Given the checkered performance of the area’s JCCs, JCCGLA has lost some of its credibility.

"Our [Valley Cities] members stand to lose their jobs, which I think is a real indictment of GLA’s new management," said Jeff Rogers, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Local 800.

JCCGLA leaders said they have done the best they could there and elsewhere, despite a precipitous drop in Federation funding. Also, they inherited a financial mess created by a former JCCGLA chief financial officer who hid ballooning deficits. The group’s one major shortcoming has been its lackluster fundraising record relative to other Federation beneficiaries, Lieberman Giladi said.

Some in the community think The Federation should do more to help the ailing JCCs. Activist Barbara Yaroslavsky wonders why The Federation doesn’t just forgive or restructure JCCGLA’s debt. At the very least, The Federation could have undertaken a special fundraising campaign for the centers as it has done for Israel in times of crisis, she said.

"I don’t know why The Federation hasn’t stepped up to the plate," Yaroslavsky said.

Indeed, federations in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and elsewhere in the country have helped bail out troubled JCCs in the rare instances when difficulties have flared up, said Mann of JCC Association of North America. They have forgiven loans, made emergency cash infusions and hammered out long-term strategic plans with the centers to shore up balance sheets, he said.

Los Angeles Federation President John Fishel said his organization has worked hard over the past decade to ensure the survival of local JCCs, although he acknowledged that his relationship with JCCGLA executives has verged on frosty at times. When JCCGLA experienced its major financial crisis two years ago, The Federation loaned it $1.1 million. (To secure the debt, The Federation put a lien on the Bay Cities and Silverlake properties.)

In the early 1990s, The Federation lent JCCGLA $1 million during a cash-flow crisis. The group later forgave the loan, he said.

The Federation’s commitment to JCCGLA appears to have waned. Fishel said that his organization last year allocated $2.8 million. However, it only disbursed $2.5 million, including $1.3 million to the West Valley JCC, which later went independent. The Federation held back funds because JCCGLA had failed to provide registration, membership and other program information as required, he said.

Lieberman Giladi said she was told their money was withheld because JCCGLA had outstanding debt. She added that her organization gave The Federation all requested information.

The ongoing financial problems of JCCGLA seem to suggest that local centers cannot survive without "extraordinary grants," Fishel said. Given the need to balance local, domestic and international demands, The Federation is not in a position to provide that kind of money, he said.

With many "megashuls" and other Jewish institutions now offering teen services, adult education and other programs similar to those found at community centers, it is unclear how many JCCs Los Angeles can support at the beginning of the 21st century.

"The danger for an organized Jewish community of our size is we try to do everything at the same time and don’t achieve the level of excellence we should," Fishel said. "I think the question might be how do you have less venues providing quality programs with superior staff and market them effectively. I think you start with the premise of creating centers of excellence in a few places."

Fishel wouldn’t say how many centers he thought appropriate for Los Angeles. JCC observers, though, said they thought the West Valley and Westside are the only two centers likely to emerge from the wreckage with strong Federation support.

Got Closure?


I’m 18. I’m flipping through my yearbook, reading over the cursive messages of my friends: “Stay sweet” and “Great sitting next to you in French” and “Have a great summer.”

On the next page, there are a few more notes advising me not to change, to remember that night at the beach drinking wine coolers, to “keep in touch.”

I have a couple days left of high school, but in my mind I’m already gone. I have no idea when I turn the next page that what’s written there will keep me from really leaving for several years.

Across two blank white pages is scrawled, “UR UGLY.”

I snap the yearbook shut. I snap it shut with enough force to make a whooshing sound. I wasn’t sure — perhaps because the forensic humiliation team was off-duty that day — but it looked like each letter had been written by a different person.

I later found out who stole my yearbook and, with his crappy-hearted little buddies, jabbed a ballpoint pen into my paper-thin self-esteem. If you think they owe me an apology, “UR RIGHT.”

That was many Yom Kippurs ago. And what do you know? I’ve never gotten one. While I’m tempted to have you feel sad for that poor, innocent schoolgirl who never got the apology she so richly deserved, I’ve done worse, way worse.

Well, ’tis the season to be sorry. Or at least to think about what sorry is, to whom we owe an apology, to whom we owe forgiveness and, frankly, what good is any of this repentance anyway?

Moses begged God’s forgiveness for 40 days and 40 nights, Kobe Bryant’s going on at least that long plus a $4 million sorry ring. We all have our ways of expressing remorse, but what are we buying with our flowers, phone calls and fine jewelry? Maybe the more observant among us are trying to be “inscribed in the book of life,” to obey strict talmudic laws, but people like me, we just want to feel okay about ourselves. We’d like our names erased from the Book of Guilt.

And here’s where I unearth the “buried lede.” I said a big sorry this year and it changed everything. I was dreading it, I was nauseous when I did it, but it finally became obvious that I was carrying around guilt like rocks in my pockets — my hands were still free but I couldn’t quite get comfortable.

I had to do it; I had to call an ex-boyfriend and hope he’d be big about my saying he was … small. You know what I mean — down there.

If you’re a male reader, or maybe just a member of the human race, you are probably wincing. I still can’t believe I did it. I know it’s not murder or adultery or stealing or any of the big biblical sins, but it’s the most personal kind of attack, a surgical strike designed to go right to a the core of a man’s sense of well-being and blow it to smithereens.

No one ends up dead, but it’s this kind of cruel remark that erodes your confidence until “UR IN THERAPY.”

I could make excuses for why I said it — we were breaking up, I was devastated and hadn’t slept in days, he was so perfect there was no other target but the one below the belt — but those don’t matter. Beyond the fact that it wasn’t true, it was a bell you can’t unring.

“Even if a man only spoke badly about another man, he must appease and beseech until he is forgiven,” said Maimonides, who may not have had this sort of slight in mind, but you never know.

The 12th-century theologian also specified that the only person who can grant forgiveness is the person who was wronged. There was no getting around it, no asking to speak to the supervisor and going right to God. According to Jewish law, I had to repent, had to mean it, had to swing at forgiveness at least three times before giving up.

Years had passed since the day I broke up with that guy, the day I said the bad thing. I talked to him on occasion, his birthday or mine. We made small talk, but never about the “small” talk.

I wondered if he even remembered.

In 12-step programs, there’s a powerful concept very similar to the Jewish High Holidays and their focus on deliverance through atonement. In order to stay sober, one has to “become willing to make amends.” Because more of the people I know practice the 12 steps than traditional Judaism, I’m more familiar with their amends process. It’s methodical, and like Judaism, the focus is not on gaining God’s forgiveness but on making it up to the person you harmed.

Both traditions suggest that the only real redemption comes from being faced with the same situation again and doing it right the next time.

From the Babylonian Talmud: “How is one proved to be a true penitent? Said Rabbi Judah: If the opportunity to commit the same sin presents itself on two occasions, and he does not yield to it.”

Well, the universe has been kind enough to provide me many an ugly breakup and I knew better than to go back to my original sin. By acting better, I was making what 12-steppers would call “living amends.” Still, in the parlance of “recovery,” I hadn’t “cleaned my side of the street.”

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous gives some pointers I found useful, suggesting, “We should be sensible, tactful, considerate and humble without being servile or scraping.”

I could do that. I made the call.

After some chitchat, I slowly lowered my sorry. It went something like this: “When we broke up, I said some very cruel, very personal things. I said things that weren’t true and for that I’m deeply sorry.”

It was as if he’d been sitting by the phone for years just waiting to hear that. He knew exactly what I meant. There was a pause.

“Yes,” he said. “That really hurt. I’m glad you called. Thank you.”

As guys do when faced with intense emotional situations — and when living with their new girlfriends who are probably in the next room — he hustled off the phone right quick. And the deed was done. Or undone.

I’m not being overly dramatic when I tell you I hung up that phone and walked lighter, sat straighter, not weighted down by those rocks. And something unexpected happened. I didn’t miss that guy in the same deep-down way I had for so long, because partially I was tethered to him by a past I couldn’t put away until I took it out for show and tell and made it right. I guess anything that can keep an addict clean and a people together for thousands of years must have some magic in it.

My guy accepted the apology with grace. But what about the yearbook guy? Could I forgive someone who never repented?

To be honest, the yearbook guy is just one portrait in my Gallery of Grudges, an easy example, because it’s far away and time has blurred the anger. It hangs next to “Evil Stepmother in Repose,” “Still Life of Guy Breaking Into My Childhood Home” and “Portrait of a Teacher Who Said I’d Never Amount to Anything.” What about them?

I took the question to a couple of rabbis.

“There is no obligation to forgive someone who has never apologized. There is a benefit, however,” said Sinai Temple’s Rabbi David Wolpe. “Hatred corrodes the soul, while not usually hurting the hated at all. It ties knots inside of us, which can’t really be unraveled by another’s apology as much as by our own willingness to let go.”

Oh, that old “letting go” thing. So much easier said than done. Have you noticed that spiritual teachers in almost every discipline won’t let go of telling us to let go? Dr. Phil practically has it tattooed on his tush.

Rabbi Steven Leder of Wilshire Boulevard Temple agreed, saying, “Forgiving relieves us of the burden of bitterness. It can help take the chip off our shoulder and that is always a good thing.”

Chips off the shoulder, rocks out of the pockets, I think I get it. Let go and the heavy stuff lightens up. Life gets better. We act better.

Leder hit me with perhaps the most persuasive quote I’ve heard all year. From Rabbi Shlomo Carlbach: “If I had two souls, I would devote one to hating. But since I have only one soul, I do not want to waste it on hatred.”

I should talk to rabbis more often.

As for letting go, that happened with yearbook guy when I put it into perspective. Was it all about me? Was he a second-string sadist coming off the bench to impress his friends? Was he an angry kid with problems of his own? More importantly, was I truly ugly? I was no cover model, but I was holding my own. I can see that now. The question is, what was he holding? And is he still holding it?

This is where Leder dropped some more wisdom on me. He said, if possible, we should let someone know that they’ve hurt us, giving them the chance for repentance. If they repent, we forgive.

This seems fair. Fair, but at this moment, utterly impossible for me in most cases. Not to mention the fact that there’s probably a statute of limitations on petty high school hurt feelings crimes. As for the other grudges, I’ll have to think about it. A soul is a terrible thing to waste.

Teresa Strasser will join other Journal Singles
columnists at Friday Night Live on Oct. 10 for “Dating Dos and Don’ts” at Sinai
Temple, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood. Visit Teresa Strasser on the Web at www.teresastrasser.com .

Westside JCC May be Rescued


Of the five doomed Los Angeles area Jewish Community Centers (JCC), at least one center’s membership is not rolling over without a fight. About 100 members showed up for a Sunday morning emergency meeting Dec. 23 at the Westside JCC’s Birch Auditorium, where, in a dramatic turn of events, members raised the lion’s share of the $129,000 needed by Dec. 31 to keep most of the WJCC in operation at least until June 30. At the meeting, Paula Pearlman, Westside JCC advisory board leader, shared with the membership the fiscal breakdown of what it would take to keep the center open in the short and long term.

After Pearlman announced that a Westside family was offering a matching grant of $25,000, members at the meeting spontaneously joined in — in auction house fashion — with pledges of $1,000 apiece. By morning’s end, they had raised $94,000.

“The good news,” Pearlman announced from the lectern, “is that our organizing has kept the center open, and if we have the will, we can keep the center open in limited operation for another six months [if we can raise the remainder of the money].” Westside members still need to raise the remaining $35,000 by Dec. 31 to keep the center open in the short term, and they are asking for donations at the $1,000-$5,000 level. Interested parties can contact Pini Herman at (323) 934-8550 or via e-mail through his Web site, savethejcc.org. – Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer

Disney’s Dangerous Course


Just last month, Walt Disney World appeared to be right in the path of a bona fide hurricane. Hurricane Floyd was headed for Florida’s eastern coast, and Walt Disney World was forced to close its doors for the first time in its 28-year history. But Mickey’s luck held out. Floyd veered north, and Walt Disney World was saved from potential devastation.

But the Walt Disney Company has now found itself right in the eye of a political storm that is stalled smack dab over Orlando. How Disney has chosen to weather this storm may tip the balance of power between political pressure groups and the entire entertainment industry for years to come.

First, the back story: In 1998, Disney invited 24 nations to participate in a millennium celebration at its Orlando-based Epcot Center. Israel was invited to join in this hoopla that celebrated cultural diversity. Israel contributed $1.8 million to the reported $8 million project. In the last several weeks, the media has been reporting that Jerusalem would be depicted in Israel’s exhibit as the capital of the Jewish state. Clearly, Disney was not prepared for the controversy that these stories would bring.

The status of Jerusalem is a highly sensitive issue between three of the world’s major religions — Judaism, Islam and Christianity. In fact, until 1967, the city was divided between Israelis and Arabs. During the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel captured Jerusalem’s eastern portion and declared the entire city to be its eternal, undivided capital. Palestinians have insisted that East Jerusalem be the capital of any future Palestinian state.

Once the Arab world got wind that the exhibit was intended to portray Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, many of its leaders called for a boycott of the entire Walt Disney Company. Unlike other entertainment conglomerates, Disney has been the frequent target of boycotts from several interest groups, including the American Family Association, the Southern Baptist Convention, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the National Federation for the Blind and the Catholic League. In fact, the Arab-American community has protested or boycotted Disney in the past, objecting to the depiction of Arab characters in the Disney films “Aladdin,” “Kazaam” and “Father of the Bride 2.” In most of these instances, Disney has tried to weather these storms and not buckle to the pressure of these interest groups, by issuing brief statements and waiting for the headlines to pass.

Hoping to dodge Hurricane Jerusalem, Disney has taken a different course. Instead of laying low, the company actually ceded to the demands of the Arab community. Bill Warren, a Disney spokesman, recently announced that while Epcot would proceed with the Israeli pavilion, “the exhibit contains no reference to Jerusalem as the capital.” In the final analysis, this decision may prove to torment Disney and other entertainment conglomerates for years to come.

In response to the “Aladdin” flap, Disney altered two lines in a single song at the behest of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination League. Playing on negative stereotypes of any group is wrong, but making these changes did not touch on the political agenda of the Arab community. On the other hand, when Disney officials declared that the Israeli exhibit would not refer to Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state, they inserted the Happy Kingdom into the debate over the fragile Israeli/Arab peace process.

Most distressing, however, is a statement issued by the president of the Walt Disney World Resort upon the Oct. 1 opening of the exhibit. When Al Weiss was asked what changes were made to appease Arab detractors, he responded: “The process we go through to develop entertainment, exhibits, attractions and shows is a process we hold near and dear to our hearts. It is a proprietary process that we go through, so I’m not going to comment on anything as it relates to that competitive advantage.”

This refusal to answer demonstrates that Disney could have adopted their standard strategy — issue a brief statement and wait for the headlines to pass — without declaring under threat of boycott that they would cave to the demands of a political interest group.

Now that a leader in the Hollywood community has acquiesced to political pressure, other interest groups may feel emboldened and take Disney’s action as their cue to pounce. These pressure groups will surely try and manipulate other studios’ creative decisions by waging an all-out media assault against the studio they subjectively believe has offended their sensibilities.

For example, the Parents Television Council recently targeted Fox for broadcasting what it deemed to be the least family-friendly programming during the 8 to 9 p.m. “family hour.” Taking solace from Disney’s recent inability to withstand political heat, this interest group may now intensify its efforts — hoping that Fox will similarly buckle under political pressure.

Whether you support or reject any one interest group’s view of the world, exerting political pressure on the creative community will only hobble those gifted with the ability to make us laugh and cry with the written and spoken word.

While Disney may believe that it has dodged Hurricane Jerusalem, in return, it may have spawned other hurricanes surely to make landfall on the Hollywood coast in seasons to come.


Brad Pomerance is the entertainment and media correspondent for Los Angeles- area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-89.3 FM. The views expressed in this article are solely the author’s. His column, “The Industry,” will appear in this space bimonthly.

AJ Congress’ Surgery


Everyone knows that California is earthquake country, but somehow you’re never fully prepared. Take the Los Angeles chapter of the American Jewish Congress. It has been dislocated by two separate quakes recently. It survived the first one. The second was devastating.

The first was the deadly Northridge quake of January 1994. It destabilized the building that housed AJCongress’ regional offices, eventually forcing the chapter into new quarters last year. It could have been worse. The West Coast outpost ended up a neighbor of Aaron Spelling Productions and E! Entertainment Television. In Los Angeles, that’s considered a step up.

The second quake was the Big One: the naming of New Jersey businessman Jack Rosen last May as American Jewish Congress’ national president. Rosen came in, vowing bold steps to strengthen the cash-starved agency. He’s recruited new donors and hired a consultant to streamline the organization.

But his boldest step yet came last week: shutting down the Los Angeles region.

The shutdown followed an ultimatum to the Los Angeles chapter to improve local fund raising or else. In response, the chapter’s board resigned en masse. [More on this story on page 13.] They’re planning to regroup as an independent organization, to be called the Progressive Jewish Alliance.

On the surface, this is just another clash between a New York-based organization and alienated West Coast members. National AJCongress insists that the only way to save the ailing civil-rights agency is radical surgery. The Californians reply that saving a national organization by abandoning America’s second-largest Jewish community — and closing one of its most active, visible chapters — is loopy. If that’s surgery, it’s the kind physicians perform on themselves: Not advisable.

There are bigger fights just below the surface. This is partly the crisis of a venerable Jewish defense agency that’s struggling to fit in a world where Jews hardly need defending. Partly it’s a struggle over the role of money in Jewish life.

Money is the key. Last fall, Rosen and Executive Director Phil Baum decided to make AJCongress’ 13 regions start paying their own way. “Every other organization requires its regions to raise money to help maintain the national office,” says Baum. But in AJCongress, national subsidizes the regions. “That’s the reason the national office has been so constricted,” Baum says.

Constricted isn’t the word for it. AJCongress is struggling to survive. Its annual budget has been stagnant for a decade at around $6 million. Its national program staff is down to a half-dozen: two staff lawyers, a Washington representative, two publicists and CEO Baum.

Insiders say the problem is that the Jewish community no longer supports the old multi-issue defense agency. Don’t tell the rival American Jewish Committee and Anti-Defamation League. The AJC’s staff of 150 runs a broad program of research, international diplomacy and intergroup coalition building. The ADL’s staff of 270 monitors extremists, teaches tolerance in public schools and trains police to fight terrorists. Support has followed: The AJC’s annual budget is now about $20 million, the ADL’s more than $40 million.

In the past, AJCongress made up for its poverty with energy and moxie. Its lawyers led American Jewry’s post-World War II battle for equal rights and religious freedom. During the 1980s, led by Henry Siegman, it was the loudest American Jewish critic of Israel’s Likud government. Loved or reviled, it was always on the map.

Since Siegman retired in 1993, critics say, the organization has been rudderless. Divided and broke, it was unable to recruit a new chief executive. Instead, the job went to staff veteran Baum, who first came aboard as a lawyer in 1949. He’s turned sharply right on Israel, without presenting a new message.

Californians say their fund raising, which used to cover their $250,000 regional budget, has dropped by half since Siegman left. “People no longer see the American Jewish Congress as standing for important principles or being a catalyst for social change,” says former regional president Doug Mirell. “With a national albatross around your neck, it’s very difficult to get people motivated to go and fund-raise.”

But that’s only half the problem. The other half is the chapter’s culture of baby-boom activism. “We attract a lot of young lawyers who don’t have a lot of money and don’t tend to rub shoulders with people who have a lot of money,” says Steven Kaplan, another former regional president. “And, frankly, we’re not interested in fund raising. We enjoy doing the policy work.”

Their policy work is impressive. Just recently, they led the coalition that passed California’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, played a role in police reform and spearheaded the controversial Los Angeles Jewish Commission on Sweatshops. Their Jewish feminist center wins kudos for programs such as its annual women’s seder and an acclaimed project on urban violence. “They’ve played an important role of conscience for as long as I can remember,” says Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

To Baum, that record makes their poverty all the more unacceptable. “If the programs they have are so valuable,” he says, “there should be people there who are prepared to pay for them.” He says the national office intends to launch a new Los Angeles chapter soon with people who appreciate the importance of fund raising.

Aggravating the tension is the fact that it’s Los Angeles, home to the world’s largest concentration of rich Jewish liberals. Hollywood Jews are a financial mainstay of liberal causes, from the ACLU to the Democratic Party. But little of that money goes to the American Jewish Congress, the leading voice of liberalism in the Jewish community itself. This reportedly infuriates Baum and Rosen. Hence the abrupt dismissal of the chapter.

This may be the greatest irony of all. The American Jewish Congress was created as the poor Jew’s alternative to elitist groups such as the American Jewish Committee. Through the years, it’s stuck to its guns, usually choosing principle over pragmatism.

That philosophy helped to torpedo merger talks between the two AJCs that went nearly 20 years before collapsing in 1992. The American Jewish Committee required a $5,000 “leadership gift” as a prerequisite to joining the board. AJCongress rejected it as undemocratic and elitist. The AJC said there was no other way to keep a Jewish organization solvent.

The American Jewish Committee may be right. Maybe you can’t run a Jewish organization in today’s America without handing the reins to the wealthy. Experience and logic point in that direction.

If there is another way, it’s probably the volunteer activist path that was being forged by the baby boomer lawyers of the American Jewish Congress’ Los Angeles chapter. Whether it works in the long run, though, we may never know.


J.J. Goldberg writes a weekly column for The Jewish Journal.

Beth Olam Cemetery


Beth Olam Cemetery in Hollywood, one of the most venerable and historical Jewish cemeteries in Southern California, is in danger of being abandoned and padlocked.

Beth Olam is the Jewish section of Hollywood Memorial Park at Santa Monica Blvd. and Gower St. It is in bankruptcy and repeated attempts to find a new owner have so far failed, according to David Isenberg, attorney for the bankruptcy trustees.

A motion by the trustees to abandon the property will be heard at 9:30 a.m., Dec. 10, in the U.S. Bankruptcy Courtroom, 1345, located on the 13th floor of the Roybal Federal Building, 255 E. Temple St. in downtown Los Angeles.

Anyone wishing to speak at the Dec. 10 hearing must file written comments with the court no later than Nov. 28. A copy of the trustees’ motion is available to the public in the office of the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court, located at 300 N. Los Angeles St., first floor, in downtown Los Angeles.

City Council member Jackie Goldberg is among those trying to save the cemetery. For information, call her field office at (213) 913-4693. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor