Theo for Jews in Poland, Italian seder, HIBM awareness


Theodore Bikel Plugs Jewish Life in Poland

Passionately devoted to the resurgence of Jewish life in Poland, entertainer Theodore Bikel, accompanied by Tamara Brooks, performed an hour-long private concert of Yiddish, English and Hebrew songs to benefit the nonprofit Friends of Jewish Renewal in Poland.

More than 70 people attended the fundraiser, held in the Brentwood home of art collectors Elyse and Stanley Grinstein. They included Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev and Barbara Yaroslavsky; Rabbi Mark Diamond, executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California; professor David Myers, director of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies; Polish Consul General Paulina Kapuscinska; and Jewish Federation COO Ken Krug and Andrea Scharf.

Hosting the event was Severyn Ashkenazy, Friends of Jewish Renewal board member and co-founder of Beit Warszawa, Warsaw’s first progressive synagogue since World War II, headed by American Reform rabbi Burt Schuman and assisted by Russian-born Israeli Reform rabbi Tanya Segal.

“Don’t let anybody tell you Poland is a graveyard,” Bikel said. “It’s a place of living, breathing Jews today.”

— Jane Ulman, Contributing Editor

Italian Seder Sizzles at Skirball

Traditional Passover seders are on their way out, and specialized seders are this year’s hot ticket. April is loaded with various options, including intercultural, interfaith, alternative and sober seders, where ancient traditions meet modern sensibilities.

Recalling the fare of Jewish ghettos in ancient Rome, the Skirball Cultural Center kicked off the seder season with its delizioso Italian Seder, a tribute to the history of Jewish Italian cuisine.

The idea may sound puzzling, given the Italians’ overwhelming penchant for pork meatballs and shellfish, but chef Sean Sheridan placated the discriminating palate with a six-course feast: Charoset Italiano with figs, dates and oranges; branzino grilled with leeks, parsely and lemon; sfoglietti with chicken soup and herbs; and osso buco of veal with gremolata and garlic spinach.

But the meal was not enough to distract the table from delving into divisive political conversation, and by dessert, improptu Democratic debates overshadowed the sweetness of the kosher wine.

ARM-ing for a Cure


ARM emcee Cara Yar Khan and ARM volunteer Mansour Pouretehad. Photo by Karmel Melamed

Medical researchers were honored for their work by the Advancement of Research for Myopathies (ARM) at a gala event on March 16 held at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott.

Nearly 600 guests from various countries and backgrounds gathered to help raise funds for additional research on a cure for hereditary inclusion body myopathy (HIBM), a progressive and debilitating genetic muscle disease. While it’s possible to inherit the disease from parents of Asian or European ancestry, HIBM primarily affects Jews of Middle Eastern ancestry, including some Iranian Jews.

One of the organization’s founders, Dr. Babak Darvish said over the years ARM has battled to remove the stigma the Iranian Jewish community has feared in publicly acknowledging family members with HIBM.

“My brother and I are both physicians, we were both affected by this disease — so we felt we had to take action and we founded ARM in 1997 in our living room,” Darvish said.


ARM co-founder and president Dr. Babak Darvish.Photo by Karmel Melamed

“Now the organization has gone international to help everyone, not just Iranian Jews, with this disease.”

While the genetic variation for HIBM has been located, an effective treatment for the disease has not been created, Darvish pointed out.

For more photos from this event, visit the Iranian American Jews Blog at http://jewishjournal.com/iranianamericanjews/

— Karmel Melamed, Contributing Writer

Interfaith dialogue continues locally despite Hathout brouhaha; Sukkot huts inspires home building


Interfaith dialogue continues locally despite Hathout brouhaha
 
After the brouhaha surrounding Maher Hathout, the Muslim spokesman who received a human relations prize last month amid protests by some Jewish groups, the state of interfaith relations in Los Angeles may appear to be at a low point.
 
But in fact, that is not the case, as evidenced last week, when Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Bahá’í­s and more gathered at Sinai Temple for a dinner honoring Rabbi Paul Dubin, one of the founders of the Interreligious Council of Southern California.Interfaith dialogue is “at a high point,” said Dubin, 81, seated at a small, round table during the evening’s cocktail hour. “Fifty years ago, interfaith relations really consisted of (conversations between) Christians and Jews. Today, we have more than 10 faith groups in this Interreligious Council,” said Dubin, who helped create the council nearly 40 years ago.
 
Nearby, two Hindu monks wrapped in orange cloth, representing “the fire of the spirit,” huddled together. A Catholic priest, dressed in black with the traditional white collar, greeted a Buddhist in a brown robe and jade prayer beads.
 
A Sikh wearing a white gown and turban surveyed the room with satisfaction. “People need to see us like this more — doing things together,” she said.
 
During dinner, Jihad Turk, vice president of the Interreligious Council, sat beside a Holocaust survivor, discussing ways to deal with extremist elements within religious communities. “My father is Palestinian, and my name is Jihad,” Turk said. Nevertheless, he has come to realize that “Islam and Judiasm share so much in common. We truly are close kin.”

At another table, in between bites of salmon, sweet potato and asparagus, an Episcopal priest was talking about a trip he had taken to Israel with Jews, Christians and Muslims. Across from him, the Rev. Albert Cohen, a delegate to the council who represents Protestant churches, explained why the board decided to honor Dubin.
 
“We wanted to have a dinner, and we wanted to build it around the person we loved the most,” Cohen said. “Rabbi Dubin relates to everybody.”
 
“In our religion,” chimed in Dr. Jerome Lipin, a Jewish pediatrician, “we’d call him a mensch.”
 
As dessert arrived, Rabbi Elliot Dorff, rector of the University of Judaism, gave the keynote address.
 
“If we believe each of our religions is true, then how is it that all the other religions aren’t false?” he asked.
 
Dorff suggested a few ways we might believe in our own religion without negating others.
 
Humans are not omniscient, so we can recognize that our own knowledge is limited, he said. Also, if we all were intended to have the same views, then we would have been created the same. The fact that each of us is unique suggests that every one of us has an element of the sacred within.
 
Next, Dubin took the spotlight.
 
“I want to tell you why I have felt so strongly about participating in interfaith meetings and dialogues,” Dubin said. “It can be summed up in one word: pluralism. By pluralism, I mean not the toleration of another faith — I hate that word, ‘toleration’ — I mean respect and acceptance.”
 
After a standing ovation, the Rev. Gwynne Guibord, president of the Interreligious Council, announced, “Our time has ended. Go in peace.”
 
The guests dispersed into the halls of the temple. Some visitors peeked into rooms, hoping to get a glimpse of the main sanctuary.

“This is quite the place,” one said on his way out into the chilly night.
 
— Sarah Price Brown, Contributing Writer
 
Sukkot huts inspires home building for homeless
 
While many Los Angeles Jews commemorated the second day of Sukkot by eating outside in their temporary dwelling created just for the holiday, Wilshire Boulevard Temple members took the edict of the holiday even further.
 
On Oct. 8, some 300 members — adults and children — at the temple’s two locations partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles to help build real dwellings for low-income families.
 
Adults helped build housing frames, which will be used in the homes of “partner” or low-income families. The children sewed 400 pillows and made 400 welcome home signs. The congregants put together 800 outreach kits for PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) and they fed 140 families at the temple’s food pantry.
 
“The Festival of Sukkot commemorates the temporary shelter Jewish ancestors lived in during their years of wandering in the desert and represents the building of shelter,” said Rabbi Stephen Julius Stein of Wilshire Boulevard Temple in a press release. This first-time partnership between Wilshire Boulevard Temple and Habitat “helps to raise awareness and support of the need for affordable housing for local families.”
 
Habitat strives to eliminate poverty housing through advocacy, education and partnership with families in need to build simple, decent, affordable housing. Since 1990, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles has built more than 180 homes, transforming the lives of hundreds of individuals. In the fall of 2007, the organization will host the Jimmy Carter Work Project, Habitat for Humanity International’s preeminent event. The project will bring Carter, his wife, Rosalynn, and thousands of volunteers from around the world to Los Angeles to help build or renovate 100 homes.
 
“It was a very productive day as regards to Tikkun Olam at Wilshire Boulevard Temple,” Stein said.
 
For more information, visit www.habitatla.org.
 
— Amy Klein, Religion Editor

Shop for a breast cancer cure
 
With Breast Cancer Awareness Month in full swing, M”&”Ms, KitchenAid appliances and Coach key chains have consumers seeing pink. Mattel has launched a new Pink Ribbon Barbie as a way for adults to talk with kids about the disease. Dyson is featuring a limited-edition pink vacuum cleaner and Seagate has jumped on the Susan G. Komen Foundation bandwagon with a pink external 6 gigabyte hard drive.
 
Locally, the newly opened Nordstrom at Westfield Topanga will feature Fit for the Cure, a special bra-fitting event on Oct. 21. Wacoal will donate $2 every time someone gets fit for a bra, as well as an additional $2 for each Wacoal, DKNY Underwear or Donna Karan Intimates bra purchased during the event. Also, Vons and Pavilions stores are hoping to help generate $6 million as part of Safeway’s fifth annual Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, with proceeds from sales of pink ribbon pins and pink wristbands at checkstands going to services for patients and research. The grocers will also donate funds from purchases of specially marked products, and are making a free download of Melissa Etheridge’s song, “I Run for Life,” available to its customers.
 
Other retailers running special sales promotions include Aveda, Lady Foot Locker, Payless ShoeSource, Target and Bed Bath & Beyond.
 
— Adam Wills, Associate Editor

Mid East



Video Caption Goes Here
Photos: Mayor, Local Officials Carry Torahs to Beith David’s New Shul
Iranians Adopt Plan to Avoid Future Agunot
Greater Los Angeles Community News Briefs
World News Briefs from JTA

Community Briefs


Reclaimed Art to Be Shown at LACMA

Five paintings by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt will be exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) from April 4 to June 30, following a seven-year battle to return the Nazi-looted art to its legal owner, Maria Altmann, a Cheviot Hills resident.

Among the works exhibited will be the most famous of the paintings, a gold-flecked portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, a Viennese Jewish beauty painted by Klimt in 1907. The “Golden Adele” alone is valued at about $125 million.

Altmann, the 90-year-old niece of Bloch-Bauer, and her attorney E. Randol Schoenberg, engaged in a tenacious legal and diplomatic struggle with the Austrian government to transfer ownership to Altmann.

Altmann said she decided on the location of the first American exhibit of the five paintings “in gratitude to the City and County of Los Angeles. [They] provided me a home when I fled the Nazis, and their courts enabled me to recover my family paintings at long last.

“I am very pleased that these wonderful paintings will be seen at LACMA. It was always the wish of my uncle and aunt to make their collection available to the public.”

The Klimt paintings epitomize the height of the Viennese Jugendstil and also include a second portrait of Bloch-Bauer and three landscapes, “Beachwood,” “Apple Tree I” and “Houses in Unterach on Lake Atter.”

Until the recent court and arbitration decisions in favor of Altmann’s ownership, the Klimt paintings hung in the Austrian Gallery in Vienna’s Belvedere Castle. They were the gallery’s most popular tourist attraction and were considered a national treasure.

The total value of the paintings is estimated at $300 million, and the Austrian government declared that it does not have the funds to purchase them from Altmann and keep them in Vienna.

Altmann has not made a decision on the future permanent location of the collection, but hopeful speculation continues.

Stephanie Barron, LACMA senior curator of modern art, said that “should there be some way to make this exhibition something that would be forever available, that would be extraordinary.”

But Austria hasn’t given up entirely. Klaus Pokorny, spokesman for the Austrian Gallery, expressed the hope that the “Golden Adele,” at least, would find its way back to Vienna if enough generous private donors step forward to buy the portrait and donate it to the gallery. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

A Razed Jewish Building’s Postmortem

Concerned city, federal and private construction officials are planning an open meeting for Boyle Heights residents and Jewish preservationists on plans for a new Social Security office building to be built on the site of the former Eastside Jewish Community Center.

The meeting comes in response to numerous complaints following a report in The Journal that the old JCC building, which was of both historical and architectural significance, had been razed without public notice or issuance of a demolition permit.

Architect Raphael Soriano, who helped pioneer the mid-century architectural style known as California Modernism, designed the demolished building, which was dedicated in 1939 as the Soto-Michigan JCC.

In 1958, as the Jewish population of Boyle Heights dwindled, the JCC transferred the building to serve as a community and sports center for the growing Latino population.

Because it is a federal entity, no demolition permit was required for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which signed the lease for construction of the new Social Security building. The GSA also was not obligated to obey city regulations.

However, local civic organizations and such groups as the Los Angeles Conservancy and Jewish Historical Society, were outraged at the failure to give any public notice of the planned razing.

Among those caught unaware when the building was demolished was the district’s newly elected city councilman, Jose Huizar, who scheduled a press conference this week to demand an investigation of the transaction by city and federal officials.

Steven Doctor, project manager for the private developer who acquired the site and will erect the new building, said that prior to starting work he checked with the appropriate city departments, including the district’s then councilman (and now mayor) Antonio Villaraigosa.

Doctor said he was told that no demolition permit and notice to neighbors were necessary.

Among those expecting to attend the community meeting is Peter Zepeda, GSA’s Los Angeles branch chief of real estate.

In a phone call to The Journal, Zepeda expressed his and the government’s deep regret at the lack of communication with the community. He indicated that steps will be taken to avoid such mishaps in the future and to assure consideration of the historical provenance of existing structures.

Zepeda welcomed a suggestion to affix a historical marker citing the site’s Jewish roots at the new Social Security building.

Historians and conservancy groups have long protested the continuing destruction of cultural and historic monuments in Los Angeles, and the Jewish community seems as negligent in preventing such actions as the rest of the population, said renowned architectural photographer Julius Shulman. Shulman, now 95, was instrumental in bringing together architect Soriano and the Soto-Michigan JCC building committee in the 1930s.

Not enough programs are in place to officially identify such buildings as historic monuments. A study by the Getty Conservation Institute found that although a municipal Cultural Heritage Ordinance went into effect in 1962, only 15 percent of Los Angeles real estate had been surveyed by 2001.

In a 2003 update, the Getty institute reported that “many historical properties and districts are unrecognized, underutilized and frequently threatened.”

However, alert community groups can intervene and even score some victories.

Stephen Sass, president of the regional Jewish Historical Society, said that his all-volunteer group, working with the L.A. Conservancy, Jewish Labor Committee and the Boyle Heights Historical Society, were able to save the facade of the former Workmen’s Circle Shule on St. Louis Street in Boyle Heights, which was threatened with destruction.

Another rescue operation saved the Joseph Young mural on the history of Boyle Heights currently in the lobby of the Hollenbeck police station; when the station is torn down, the mural will be moved to another site, perhaps to the nearby Breed Street Shul. — TT

L.A. Federation Names New Board Chair

Over the past 30 years, Michael Koss, 59, has held a variety of top positions in The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, including real estate construction division chair, general chair of the annual campaign and board vice chair. Now, Koss, who heads a commercial real estate financing group, has been named L.A. Federation board chair.

Koss succeeds Harriet Hochman and will serve a two-year term. He comes in with goals for boosting the organization’s bottom line and its ability to touch people’s lives. Koss says The Federation needs to develop an extensive list of affluent area Jews who have yet to give and to find ways to reach them. He also believes the organization should continue to do more than simply raise and distribute money, including developing programming to “raise consciousness” and promote community.

“I want The Federation to feel inclusive, like it’s open to everyone and accessible to everyone,” he said.

Koss has the passion, commitment and perseverance to succeed, said Steve Bram, a Federation executive committee member and mortgage broker who has known Koss through the Federation for more than 15 years.

“I would say Michael is one of the few people I know who calls Federation supporters every day to enhance their support,” Bram said. “I think Federation is in his blood.”

As head of the Real Estate Division in the late 1980s, Koss said he wrote a manual about how to operate and manage the business of professional divisions, including the importance of mentoring. He also established networking programs for younger members of the division, where they received solicitation training. In 2004, Koss was honored for his efforts by The Federation’s Real Estate Division.

In addition to his work on behalf of The Federation, Koss served as chairman of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Los Angeles chapter, in 1991, and four times as chairman of the Brentwood Country Club UJF campaign. He currently serves as the club’s UJF co-campaign chair. — Marc Ballon, Senior Writer

LAPD Officers Study Security in Israel

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) sent two senior-level officers last week to Jerusalem for an Israeli conference on homeland security; LAPD Chief William Bratton did not make the trip.

The March 19-23 conference was hosted by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and attended by about 130 officials from homeland security units from local and state police departments in the U.S., according to the foreign ministry. Representing the LAPD was a sergeant from Bratton’s personal staff and Cmdr. Mike Downing, the South Bureau assistant commanding officer who later this spring will become second-in-command at the department’s counterterrorism bureau.

An LAPD spokesman told The Jewish Journal that Bratton had planned to attend the Jerusalem conference but canceled his trip due to, “pressing local matters.” The spokesman said Bratton’s decision was unrelated to a recent Los Angeles Times article about the police chief’s travel, which reported that he spent 125 days away from L.A. last year on personal or department-related trips. — David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

 

Briefs


Rabbis Against Reserves

Fifty Israeli rabbis opposed to the planned Gaza Strip pullout called on army reservists not to turn up for duty.

“The criminal expulsion mission, which the Israeli government has imposed on the army, makes any service in aid of this crime a serious sin,” the rabbis, most of whom are West Bank and Gaza Strip settlers, said in an edict published during the weekend before Shavuot. Israel plans to enlist thousands of reservists to replace conscripts to conduct the evacuation of Gaza’s 21 settlements and another four from the West Bank beginning in August. Sounding a contrary opinion, former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu last week called for Israeli troops to obey the evacuation orders.

Settlers Sue Soldiers

Anti-pullout activists sued two Israeli army commanders over the evacuation of an illegal West Bank settler outpost. In an unprecedented move, the activists traveled to the homes of deputy IDF Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinski and Samaria’s commander, Col. Yuval Bazak, last week to serve them with a civil suit demanding $70,000 in damages. Israeli media reports on Sunday said that the suit rejected by the officers accused them of wantonly destroying the Givat Shalhevet outpost outside Nablus in January. The incident highlighted fears that opponents of the Gaza withdrawal could personally attack Israeli officials. Also, two settlers were detained after a struggle on Friday at the Tapuah checkpoint in which the pair fought with soldiers who had ordered them to stop putting up anti-pullout banners on security barriers, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Disarmament Demand Flouted

A Palestinian Authority minister said terrorists in the West Bank and Gaza will not be disarmed before Israel withdraws.

“The disarming of armed factions is not on the table because weapons are legal as long as the occupation exists,” Nasser al-Kidwa said in a Palestinian television interview, according to a transcript released Saturday. “Possession of weapons is a strategic issue as long as there is occupation.”

Israel condemned the declaration as flouting a demand in the U.S.-led peace “road map” for terrorist groups to be disarmed and dismantled as a prerequisite for talks on Palestinian statehood.

“We should make clear that there will be no talks on a Palestinian state unless the terrorists are disarmed,” Deputy Defense Minister Ze’ev Boim told Israel Radio on Sunday.

Ukraine, Jews Discuss Restitution

Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko met with Jewish groups to explore setting up a process for the restitution of Jewish communal properties confiscated during the Soviet era. A formal process, either via a commission or law, will speed the return of properties more than case-by-case discussions, said Mark Levin, executive director of NCSJ: Advocates on Behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia. During the meeting last Friday, which included the U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine and Josef Zissels, head of the Va’ad of Ukraine, an umbrella group, Yuschenko reiterated his call for support in getting the 1974 Jackson-Vanik Agreement by the U.S. Congress lifted. The Jewish groups voiced a willingness to help Ukraine “graduate” from the agreement, which links trade restrictions to Ukraine’s treatment of Jews, once progress is made on restitution.

Fridman Gets Medal Back

An Israeli Olympic champion retrieved his stolen gold medal. Gal Fridman, a windsurfer who triumphed at the 2004 Athens Games, had his medal stolen from his parents’ home last week. He was told by police Saturday that the medal had been found in a forest in central Israel. He told Israeli media that the culprit probably decided to abandon the medal after realizing they could not sell it, given the public outcry over its theft. There was no sign of the rest of the booty from the burglary, including jewelry belonging to Fridman’s mother and a handgun belonging to his father.

‘Sir Jonathan’ Leads UK Jewry

Queen Elizabeth, marking her 79th birthday, bestowed the vaunted “Sir” title on Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s chief rabbi, on Saturday in recognition of his services to the Jewish community and interfaith relations.

“This is an honor not just for me but for the Jewish community and its contributions to British life, as well as for the continuing inspiration of Jewish teachings,” Sacks, who has served as chief rabbi since 1991, said in a statement. “I hope it encourages further progress in good relations between the faiths.”

Also knighted was Iqbal Sacranie, head of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Orthodox Site Becomes Orange

A Chabad-Lubavitch news site has adopted an orange color scheme to protest the Israeli government’s Gaza withdrawal plan.

“I’m sitting here in Brooklyn, N.Y.,” Shmais.com’s CEO and founder, Levi Hodakov, told JTA, “and I’m really feeling for the Jews in Gaza here.”

Hodakov said the initiative aims to send a message to his readers to oppose the withdrawal and to inspire them to pray and learn on the Gaza Jews’ behalf.

“Every little bit counts,” he said.

Beatification of Priest Delayed

The beatification of a French priest has been postponed due to concerns over his anti-Semitic writings. The beatification of Leon Dehon was signed off on by the late Pope John Paul II, but his successor, Benedict XVI, is having Dehon’s file re-examined. Dehon, who died in 1925, was the founder of the order of priests of Sacre C’ur. Among Dehon’s anti-Semitic statements: Jews should wear a “special garment” identifying them as Jews and be “consigned to the ghettos.” According to Dehon, “anti-Semitism is a sign of hope.” French historian Jean-Dominique Durand alerted the French episcopate to the writings in February. The interruption of a beatification is extremely rare; halting the process for Dehon at this stage might be unique in Catholic history, because once a candidate’s “miracles” have been recognized, only the death of a pope can stop the process.

Tree Grows After 2,000 Years

Using a seed found in the Masada fortress, Israeli scientists have sprouted an ancient date palm tree. The date palm, which is praised in Jewish and Islamic writing, once grew throughout Israel but disappeared over the centuries. The date palms in modern Israeli agriculture are descendants of a different line of trees from other parts of the Mideast. Dr. Elaine Solowey, of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, grew the plant, which a New York Times article says dates back approximately 1,990 years, according to DNA testing.

 

Briefs


PETA Apologizes for Shoah Comparison

The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has apologized for its eyebrow-raising, 2-year-old “Holocaust on Your Plate” campaign, with PETA’s leader stating, “it was never our goal to humiliate the victims” of the Shoah.

“We know that we have caused pain,” wrote Ingrid Newkirk in a statement sent out to Jewish news media on May 5, Holocaust Remembrance Day. “This was never our intention, and we are deeply sorry.”

PETA’s contrition did not impress Simon Wiesenthal associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper. “Did they know the impact this campaign would have when they started it two years ago? Absolutely,” Cooper said. “They leveraged the victims of the Shoah to promote their issue. The victims of the Shoah should not be leveraged to gain copy in a newspaper or airtime on TV.”

The “Plate” campaign began in February 2003. When asked why it has taken more than two years to re-evaluate the campaign, PETA spokesman Matt Prescott said, “We’ve apologized because we’ve had two years to reflect on it. We’ve been everywhere in the world on it [the ‘Plate’ campaign]. I actually did it myself in Warsaw, and the people in Warsaw loved it.”

The “Holocaust on Your Plate” campaign included a Sept. 16, 2003, protest in Los Angeles at the Museum of Tolerance, complete with posters comparing genocide to food manufacturing. Prescott was among 10 demonstrators, and he said Newkirk’s broad “Plate” apology includes regret over that event.

“It encompasses everything that we did with that campaign, the Web site and that protest included,” Prescott said.

Copper said it was unnecessary to use Holocaust imagery to provoke discussion about the treatment of animals.

“The whole question of meat or non-meat — these are historical, societal issues worthy of serious debate,” he said. We don’t need to be convinced that this is a legitimate issue.” — David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

Neil Diamond Instead of Avinu Malkenu

When Cantor Sam Radwine lifts his arms to conduct his 32-member choir on June 5, it won’t be for “Avinu Malkenu,” but for “Cabaret” and “I Could Have Danced All Night,” the music of Jewish American songwriters and composers such as Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Kander and Ebb, Neil Diamond and others.

Culminating the celebration of 350 years of Jews in America, Congregation Ner Tamid and Radwine have produced “Coming to America: Jewish Composers and the American Scene.”

Radwine’s community choir boasts singers from three different South Bay Synagogues: Congregation Ner Tamid, Temple Menorah in Redondo Beach and Temple Beth El in San Pedro. In addition to the choir, the concert will feature soloists and a five-piece live band conducted by Ner Tamid musical director Brent Reynolds. This salute to Jewish American composers of “popular” music will include Broadway hits, movie themes, pop, rock ‘n’ roll, and more.

“We’re very excited,” Radwine said. “Our choir will have an opportunity to perform some very different music that we don’t ordinarily hear in the synagogue. Their talent with the popular songs we’ve selected is phenomenal, and our soloists are extraordinary.”

The program contains brief biographies of more than 100 Jewish composers and songwriters from the 18th century through today. A dessert reception follows the 90 minute concert. The Ner Tamid Museum 350 exhibit, which highlights the remarkable history of Jews in America, will be open for viewing throughout the evening.

Sunday, June 5, 7:30 pm. $18 (adults), $12 (children under 12); $25 (at the door). Congregation Ner Tamid, 5721 Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes. For tickets, call (310) 377-6986. — Julie M. Brown, Contributing Writer

Community Briefs


 

Prepare to Be Redistricted

Welcome to the political New Year in California, where the partisan warfare begins as soon as the champagne runs out. Most of the aggravation at the moment is revolving around Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s broken promise to public schools – but there’s a far deeper political debate brewing, as well.

The issue is redistricting, included as one of the Republican governor’s four main points of reform in his recent State of the State address. Essentially, the question is whether to take away the power of politicians to strike deals with each other on how their own districts are drawn. For Jewish Los Angeles and its familiar political faces, that could mean landing in a new Assembly, state Senate or congressional district with a new representative.

Schwarzenegger points to the fact that not a single congressional seat changed parties in the 2004 elections because both parties colluded to carve out safe regions for themselves to mutual advantage.

Redistricting is only supposed to happen once a decade after each census, but Schwarzenegger can’t wait that long to fight for the people, so he’s backing a state constitutional amendment introduced by Bakersfield Republican Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy. The amendment would put redistricting in the hands of a commission of retired judges.

Some Democrats, like Westside state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, are accusing Schwarzenegger of trying to pull a Tom DeLay-style Texas power grab, where midcensus Republican redistricting netted the GOP four extra House of Representative seats in 2004.

But California is not Texas, and some local Jewish Democrats are not worried.

“I waiver between indifference and welcoming it,” Rep. Howard Berman (D-North Hollywood) told The Journal.

Berman’s two criteria for supporting redistricting by a committee of judges are that they do not take into consideration any political data on citizens when drawing the maps, and that they do not try to achieve any partisan result.

“There may be some inconveniences for existing Democratic incumbents, but in the end a fair and legal redistricting is going to more likely help my party than hurt it,” Berman said.

With Democrats firmly in control of California (Arnie excepted), Berman said redistricting would be far more dangerous to GOP incumbents.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) agrees, saying that there are senior Republican congressmen who could be in electoral trouble if their districts are redrawn: “This is chiefly a Democratic state.”

Sherman estimated that if every district were a microcosm of the state as a whole, Democrats would win all 53, “with the exception of those where Republicans could recruit a candidate with 22-inch biceps.”

Sherman’s major concern on the issue is the sheer cost of re-educating the public about who their representatives are.

And as for Los Angeles’ Jewish communities, Berman said that they can rest assured that whichever district and representatives they end up with will “be quite responsive” to their needs, whether or not they are Jewish.

Mayoral Debate: Different Place, Same Themes

On Jan. 13, a snarling traffic jam surrounded Temple Beth Am on the Westside. Inside, the five major L.A. mayoral candidates debated public policy just out of earshot of furious commuters.

All of the substantive questions that night were provided by the Jewish audience on tiny slips of paper read by the moderator (who, not incidentally, was late because she got stuck in traffic).

Familiar themes repeated themselves: Mayor James Hahn emphasizing decreasing violent crime, Councilman Bernard Parks accusing Hahn of corruption, state Sen. Richard Alarcon promoting his government ethics initiative, former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg preaching innovation in government and Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa riding his wave of optimism.

The candidates were discouraged from addressing each other directly because there was no opportunity for rebuttal. This was a forum for the people.

On the particularly apropos issue of mediating L.A. traffic, Hahn uninspiringly told the crowd that “we all have to recognize there’s no magic bullet…. There’s a lot of little things.”

Villaraigosa spoke of extending mass transit rail to the ocean, though the MTA reports that just reaching to Culver City will take until 2010.

Hertzberg seemed to have the most thoughtful traffic plan in his Commuter’s Bill of Rights, which focuses on putting L.A. commerce and industry on a more dispersed schedule rather than the usual sunrise-sunset gridlock. Whether he could actually enact those provisions as mayor, such as keeping heavy trucks off the road during rush hour, is another question.

On the issue of the local economy, Parks blasted Hahn’s administration for failing to attract more large business headquarters. He said Los Angeles, which has none, pales in comparison to Atlanta, which boasts 30. Alarcon took the opposite tack, saying, “We cannot acquiesce to multinational corporations,” but rather ensure that the L.A. working class has decent wages.

The widest diversity of opinion came on the topic of crime. Parks, a former police chief, said the LAPD enjoys too many perks for too little work, Hahn said the LAPD needs more money and Hertzberg accused the mayor of wastefulness in asking for more funds when only 3 percent of all new city income since 2001 was spent on police.

New Math for Population Growth

A huge and growing Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza, popularized in Israel as the “demographic bomb,” reinforces the notion that much of the territories are untenable for Israel to retain.

But now, even as disengagement proceeds, Los Angeles businessman Bennett Zimmerman and a team of researchers are claiming that only 2.4 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and Gaza combined – about 1 million fewer than leading Israeli demographers had projected and 1.4 million fewer than the Palestinians claim.

Bennett’s report is making the rounds at Republican bastions like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.

The new study focuses on several supposed mistakes in the previous data. Among the differences in the new study: It prefers Palestinian Ministry of Health birth records over statistical projections, it claims to find a high level of emigration from the territories and it found a case of double counting, where 210,000 Jerusalem Arabs who were already counted in Israel’s population survey were included in the P.A. survey.

“If you look at the reports of [demographers] Arnon Soffer or Sergio Della Pergola, they use numbers issued by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics [PBS] in their forecasts,” Zimmerman said. “We say that the projection from the PBS didn’t come to be.”

The study has not gone unnoticed by other researchers in the field. Demographer Della Pergola spoke to The Journal from Israel: “I gladly acknowledge that the effects of international migration should be computed, but there are very limited possibilities for absorption of Palestinians abroad.”

The main discussion is about fertility, said Della Pergola. He questioned the quality of the Ministry of Health records, which point to fewer births.

“The U.N. has shown that it is much better to prefer a [statistical] model when actual data collection is totally inadequate,” he said.

He noted there has been a long tradition of underreporting “vital events” like births by the Palestinians.

And as for the fertility rate, Della Pergola said that Zimmerman’s team used Jordan as a model (which has low average birthrate) for the Palestinians, rather than the Israeli Arab model (which is much higher).

Zimmerman said his team was simply trying to audit the existing data.

“Ours was a question of verification,” he said.

Della Pergola isn’t buying it: “I find here an attempt to fit the data to their preconceptions. It is based on total ignorance of the scientific literature.”

 

Briefs


 

FBI Inquiry Into Expert’s Death

The FBI is investigating the death of an American Jewish terrorism expert. Jason Korsower, 29, died in his sleep in his Washington apartment Nov. 26. An autopsy has proven inconclusive, his family said, and the FBI is looking into his death. Citing policy, the FBI refused to confirm or deny that it was investigating the death of the Atlanta native. Korsower worked for the Investigative Project, which is run by Steve Emerson, an expert on Islamist terrorism who has received death threats.

British Academics Launch Boycott

A university in London hosted a conference to launch a fresh academic boycott of Israel. The event, titled “Resisting Israeli Apartheid: Strategies and Principles,” was held at the School of African and Oriental Studies on Sunday. Organized by the college’s Palestinian society, the meeting saw protests by Jewish and Israeli groups, which organized a counter-event calling for dialogue instead of sanctions. But conference organizers insisted that the new group, the British Committee for the Universities in Palestine, needed to take harsh measures to make a difference.

“We want people to think about the depth of the moral challenge of the boycott,” said the campaign coordinator, professor Hilary Rose, who along with her husband Steven began the boycott calls in a letter to the Guardian newspaper two years ago.

“It’s not an easy matter for any academic to do this, it’s a measure of our despair at the government’s inability to take the situation seriously and work for a just peace,” she added.

Kudos to Israel!

Israel received two awards in The Wall Street Journal’s 2004 Technology Innovation Awards competition: The Silver award went to Given Imaging Ltd. of Yoqneam, Israel for “PillCam,” a tiny camera that patients swallow so that doctors can see their digestive tract. And the Bronze award went to InSightec Image Guided Treatment Ltd. of Tirat Carmel, Israel for “ExAblate 2000,” a nonsurgical way to destroy tumors by focusing ultrasound waves on them.

Mubarak Pushes Peace

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is reportedly brokering peace among Israel, the Palestinians and the wider Arab world. The official Egyptian news agency MENA said this week that Mubarak had brought Israeli and Palestinian officials close to a cease-fire agreement that would pave the way for implementing the U.S.-led “road map” for peace. Jerusalem sources confirmed the report Wednesday, saying it was in line with Israel’s demand that the Palestinian Authority crack down on terrorism so the Jewish state can scale down its military countermeasures in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Mubarak also flew to Kuwait on Tuesday for what Ha’aretz said would be an effort to push Gulf states into normalizing ties with Israel. Cairo and Jerusalem did not comment, but the report appeared to be consistent with recent assertions by Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom that, following the rapprochement with Egypt, as many as 10 Arab states could open diplomatic missions in Israel.

Shooting of Palestinian Probed

Israeli top brass are investigating whether shots fired accidentally by troops in the Gaza Strip killed a Palestinian youth. The probe was announced Wednesday after testimony surfaced linking the slaying last summer of a 15-year-old outside the Morag settlement to soldiers who were on a hike. The Palestinian’s father said the boy was hit seven times in the head by deliberate Israeli gunfire. Reports from inside the ranks indicated that one or more of the soldiers may have fired the shots for fun, and accidentally hit the youth.

Amir Fiancee Defends Her Man

Yigal Amir’s fiancee used an Internet blog to defend his assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

“For Yigal, the religious and rational reasons were equally important,” Larissa Trimbobbler said Wednesday in a blog written in her native Russian. The Prisons Service has refused to allow conjugal visits for Amir, who is serving a life sentence in isolation for shooting Rabin dead during a 1995 rally celebrating the Oslo peace accords.

For Amir, “it was also important that most of the nation did not accept the Oslo accord which was ratified in the Knesset on the strength of Arab votes,” Trimbobbler wrote.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

 

Membership Briefs


Humanistic High Holidays

Three secular humanist groups — Adat Chaverim, Society for Humanistic Judaism and The Sholem Community — will hold High Holidays services in the Los Angeles area.

Adat Chaverim, whose “celebrations” have been led by a madrich, or trained lay leader, since its founding four years ago, will welcome an ordained humanist rabbi, Miriam Jerris, for the first time at its Yom Kippur service.

In another first, the services will be held at the Valley Cities Jewish Community Center in Sherman Oaks, instead of the Methodist church, which has housed Adat Chaverim until now.

“It’s nice for our 65 members and their guests to come together at a Jewish venue,” co-founder Joe Steinberg said.

The Society for Humanistic Judaism will meet in West Los Angeles, and The Sholem Community in Culver City and Rancho Park.

For more information, contact: Adat Chaverim, (818) 623-7363, www.vchj.net; Society for Humanistic Judaism, (213) 891-4303, www.shjla.org; and Sholem Community, (818) 760-6625, www.sholem.org. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Biblical Meets Digital

An Israeli company has come up with a unique way of helping people search through the myriad Jewish religious texts that have accumulated since the Torah was given on Sinai 5,000 years ago. DBS International has put more than 500 texts, including the entire text of the Tanach and the Talmud, onto two CD-ROMs called Torah Treasures.

“It’s like the Concordance but much more efficient,” said Rabbi Yoseph Gubits, the director of the American office for DBS International, referring to the classic Jewish reference texts that lists the sources for any mention of a name or place in the Tanach and Talmud. “You type in a word, and then in a few seconds you receive a list of all the places that word is mentioned. If you click on [the listing] you get the whole page, and then if you click on it again you get the commentaries on that page. And you can search through any or all of the books.”

DBS sells two versions of Torah Treasures. Version nine has 512 books on it and costs $310; version 10 has 562 books and costs $420.

Gubits thinks that the CD-ROMs will be indispensable to rabbis and teachers who need to prepares talks and classes.

Currently, the texts on the CD-ROMs are only available in Hebrew.

For more information, visit www.dbsus.com or call (718) 437-7337. — Gaby Wenig, Staff Writer

Synaplex Revives Synagogues

This September, two Los Angeles-area temples will be among five new synagogues that will begin participating in the Synaplex Initiative, a program of STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal), which is designed to boost synagogue attendance.

Synaplex (a combination of synagogue and multiplex, as in movie theatres) is already in place at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, University Synagogue in Irvine and at nine other synagogues across the country.

Synaplex supplements the traditional Friday night prayer service with a range of options — anything from Torah-based yoga to a family-friendly pizza party, a community service project to a guest lecturer — to get people excited about Shabbat. Any or all of the activities could be going on in a Synaplex synagogue at the same time.

On average, Synaplex synagogues have seen their attendance increase by 78 percent on Friday evenings. Temple Emmanuel in Beverly Hills has increased its average attendance on Synaplex Shabbats by 940 percent.

“Synaplex is an expression of how the Sabbath can be celebrated in a way that speaks to modern individuals and families and restores the synagogue to its traditional position as a communal and spiritual center,” said Rabbi Hayim Herring, executive director of STAR.

For more information, visit www.starsynagogue.org . –GW

Community Briefs


Casino Wins License

The California Gambling Control Commission voted 3-0 to grant Dr. Irving Moskowitz a permanent license for his Hawaiian Gardens Casino card club, ending a long battle by peace activists opposed to Moskowitz’s funding of West Bank settlers.

The retired Long Beach doctor’s casino-style card club in small, poor Hawaiian Gardens in southeast Los Angeles County had been operating with a temporary license for a number of years. The commission’s Aug. 19 vote in Sacramento had one commissioner abstaining over still-unresolved concerns about casino management. The commission’s approval included the condition that Moskowitz create an independent audit committee and other internal casino reforms.

“It was long overdue,” said former Moskowitz attorney Beryl Weiner, who has handled the license application for the past nine years and was the main public face of Moskowitz, who uses part of his gambling proceeds to purchase land for Jewish settlers.

The commission’s vote dealt a serious blow to Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak and his Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem, which enlisted actor Ed Asner to speak out against the license.

“I think that Jews should worry when government regulatory bodies don’t work,” Beliak told The Journal.

It is unusual for a state commission’s decision to be reviewed by the courts, especially if much of the opposition stems from activities outside a state court’s jurisdiction, in this case Israel.

“We’re thinking,” Beliak said, when asked what his group’s next move would be. “We’re talking to our lawyers.”

Unlike the commission’s Los Angeles hearings in December and January, the Moskowitz issue did not dominate its late February meeting, and the Aug. 19 hearing in Sacramento did not attract as much interest.

Three weeks before the hearing, Moskowitz cut ties with Weiner. It is not clear who now represents the reclusive casino owner, who has retired to Florida and does not attend hearings or speak to the media.

“I’m no longer representing Dr. Moskowitz,” Weiner said of his former client of 31 years. “It was an amicable split. I have no regrets. Everything that was done [for the casino license], all the foundation and all the spade work, was done during the period of time that I represented him.” — David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

Professor Convicted in Hate-CrimeHoax

A psychology professor accused of perpetrating a hate-crime hoax by vandalizing her own car with racist and anti-Semitic graffiti was convicted by a jury on Aug. 19 of filing a false police report and attempted insurance fraud.

Kerri Dunn, who was tried in a Los Angeles County Superior Court in Pomona, could receive up to three and a half years in prison for the crimes. Her sentencing is set for Sept. 17. When the apparent hate crime at Claremont McKenna College was initially reported on March 9, the campus and Jewish communities reacted with outrage, staging daylong sit-ins, teach-ins, forums and rallies.

Dunn, then an assistant visiting professor at Claremont McKenna, reported that her 1990 Honda Civic had been vandalized after she had given a lecture on racism. The car’s tires had been slashed, windows broken and “kike whore,” “nigger lover,” “bitch,” “shut up” and a half-finished swastika spray painted on the vehicle.

Dunn also told police that $1,700 worth of personal property had been taken from the car.

In initial news stories, Dunn, a 39-year-old Caucasian woman, was said to be converting from Catholicism to Judaism. As time went on, this aspect became increasingly vague, changing from “undergoing conversion” to “considering conversion” to “a possibility of conversion.”

“No one seems to have any firsthand knowledge of this matter,” said education professor Jack Schuster, a faculty leader on the campus Hillel Council.

The day following the incident, classes were canceled for anti-racism and pro-diversity demonstrations on campus and at the other six private colleges and universities that make up the Claremont Colleges consortium.

The regional chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) contacted college officials and the Jewish campus community to offer counseling and assistance.

Rabbi Leslie Bergson, Hillel Council director, reported that many hitherto indifferent Jewish students showed up at Hillel, and that the near-dormant Jewish Student Union was planning new activities.

One week later, during a campus vacation break, another bombshell occurred. Claremont police announced that two witnesses had “positively identified the victim as vandalizing her own vehicle. Additionally, interviews with the alleged victim revealed inconsistencies in her statements regarding the incident.”

The FBI and district attorney’s office entered the case. Dunn consistently denied the police charges.

During the trial, the jury was not asked to decided whether Dunn had vandalized her own car, but rather if she had filed false reports with the police and her insurance company.

After the guilty verdict, Gary Lincenberg, Dunn’s attorney, said that he intended to appeal the verdict, because the judge had barred crucial evidence.

As student president of the Hillel Council, D’ror Chankin-Gould, 20, had been one of the organizers of the early anti-racism protests. Dunn’s conviction, he said, “doesn’t change the fact that we did the right thing. We responded vigorously to an anti-Semitic slur, and we can be proud of that.”

Amanda Susskind, regional ADL director, noted that “fake hate crimes undercut what we do; they represent a kind of secondary victimization. We did get some letters saying, ‘You Jews made it all up.'”

“But did we over-react? No, we had to react,” Susskind continued. “And we are pleased that law enforcement took this very seriously, first after the incident, itself, and then in prosecuting Dunn.” — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Community Briefs


Hollywood Welcomes Israel Foreign Minister

Israel Foreign Affairs Minister Silvan Shalom met with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and a bevy of high-powered Hollywood stars, an achievement granted few foreign dignitaries, during a three-day visit to Los Angeles.

During the 45-minute meeting in his Santa Monica office on Friday, Schwarzenegger spoke with Shalom about trade, the rising global tide of intolerance and the governor’s trip to Israel for the May 2 groundbreaking for the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Center for Human Dignity-Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem.

On Saturday evening, producer Arnon Milchan hosted a private party at his home for Shalom, his wife, Judy, and some Hollywood friends.

Joining in the five-hour party, which lasted late into the night, were the likes of power couples Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, Warren Beatty and Annette Benning and Danny DeVito and Rhea Pearlman, as well as Denzel Washington, Kevin Costner, Angelina Jolie and Naomi Campbell.

Sharon Stone was there, as was director Oliver Stone (no relation), who has not been known hitherto for his pro-Israel sympathies.

The press was not invited, but Moshe Debby, Shalom’s spokesman, reported that the dialogue between the Hollywood contingent and the foreign minister was lively and ranged across the spectrum of Middle East and Israeli-Palestinian problems.

Shalom also met with some 150 community leaders at the headquarters of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

When Shalom mentioned that his office has only a very modest budget for hasbarah, or international information and public relations outreach, community activist Guilford Glazer rose and announced that he was giving $1 million in support of Israel’s hasbarah effort.

"I hope that other American Jews will join in this important cause," said Glazer, a retired commercial real estate developer.

During a Friday visit to the Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance, Shalom warned of growing anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe and the Muslim countries.

"Like terrorism, anti-Semitism is not only threatening Jews, but the whole world," he said.

Shalom announced that he was convening a high-level international conference in June at a Jerusalem venue on anti-Semitism and the danger it represents. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

AJC Takes L.A. Consulars on Whirlwind Tour

About 20 Los Angeles-based diplomats spent six hours on a bus March 16 to absorb Jewish Los Angeles in the first consular corps tour sponsored by the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

Southern California’s 600,000 Jews seem, "well-organized, very strong, very accommodating, interactive," said Ethiopian Consul General Taye Atske Selassie, who toured several Westside Jewish institutions with colleagues from Argentina, Austria, Belize, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Romania, Sweden and Switzerland.

The AJC tour stopped at the Wilshire Boulevard offices of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, which that same day was hosting Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom (see story above). The diplomats did not meet Shalom and instead toured The Federation’s Zimmer Children’s Museum and heard presentations from several Federation-funded agencies.

On the bus, tour guide lecturers included Young Israel of Century City Rabbi Elazar Muskin, Jewish Journal Editor-in-Chief Rob Eshman and Jewish Historical Society President Steve Sass. — David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

Community Briefs


Cooper Visits Sudan, DiscussesSlavery

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, spent an eventful 21 hours in Sudan in mid-February when he met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to discuss the country’s ongoing slave trade and a peace treaty with Sudanese rebel.

“The whole notion of enslavement in the 20th and 21st century really has sparked concern and anger in many, many corners,” Cooper told The Journal.

That could change through negotiations to end two horrific decades of civil war between the Muslim-dominated government in Sudan’s north and Christian rebels in the south. At the Sudanese presidential palace in Khartoum, Bashir listened to Cooper’s recommendation to allow anti-slavery activists free reign in traveling across Sudan, seeking to help end slavery.

“Whatever can be done to speed that along,” he said.

Mohammed Khan, a second-generation Pakistani American in Los Angeles and adviser to the American Sudanese Council, traveled with Cooper.

“The Sudanese government is making it very clear that they have nothing to hide,” Khan said.

Decades of civil war mean that “the Sudan was viewed by the U.S. as a kind out outpost and welcome mat for terrorists,” Cooper said. “With all of the bloodshed and everything else that’s taken place, number one, the terrorists are gone.”

The rabbi said he felt comfortable walking around war-torn Khartoum.

“It’s been a long, long time since the people over there have seen any Jews,” he said — David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

JFS to Give More to Russian Outreach

Following complaints from elderly ex-Soviet Jews, JFS Family Service (JFS) has scaled back its planned shutdown of a decade-long Santa Monica program of entertainment, social services and twice-monthly meetings for about 150 Russian and Baltic Jewish senior citizens.

JFS instead is allocating more money to the Russian Outreach Program, but the program coordinator has quit because JFS cut her weekly hours from 15 to four.

“I will not work four hours a week and I don’t know who can,” Lina Haimsky said. “There is no possible way anyone can run the program working four hours a week.”

JFS Executive Director Paul Castro said that following a Feb. 16 meeting with concerned senior citizens, JFS decided to cut Haimsky’s hours, but increase the Russian Senior Program’s annual activity fund budget from $1,500 to $2,000 and increase JFS case management for program participants.

“This essentially reinstates the program, but at a smaller level, a lower level,” Castro said.

Retiree Rachel Flaum, who lobbied JFS to save the outreach program, said, “On the one hand, it’s very good because they gave us more money for our activity. But on the other hand, they cut the salary for the coordinator, so she quit. For a short time, we will try to do something without a coordinator, just to keep the people together.” — DF

Social Services Battle SacramentoCuts

Jewish social service agency leaders are planning a spring Sacramento pilgrimage to seek mercy from state legislators planning extensive cuts in health and welfare budgets.

“This is a pretty tough year in Sacramento; there aren’t too many people who are really speaking for the poor and the underrepresented,” said Coby King, association director of the Jewish Public Affairs Committee (JPAC). The statewide coalition of mostly Federation-based groups led a Feb. 11 delegation to Sacramento and is a planning a similar May 10-11 lobbying trip, King said, “to try to lessen some of the damage that’s being done up there.”

Paul Castro, executive director of Jewish Family Service, said JPAC’s Feb. 11 trip had Jewish agency leaders meeting with state Assemblyman Keith Richman (R-Northridge), plus senior staff from state senators and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office to discuss medical service cuts.

“Everybody’s sympathetic. I don’t think there’s any clear solution,” Castro said. “There’s a little bit of guarded optimism [about Schwarzenegger]. I guess there’s a sense that he’s not tied into one place or another.”

H. Eric Schockman, executive director of the West Los Angeles-based MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, did not attend the Feb. 11 trip but is monitoring proposed budget cuts in the food stamp and child-care programs.

“Cuts into child care force families to spend more on food resources,” Schockman said. “These all have rippling effects in both our economy and our social fabric. Food is a basic building block for everything else.”

For information about JPAC’s May 10-11 Sacramentolobbying trip, contact Coby King at (310) 489-2820 or visit www.jpac-cal.org . — DF

Community Briefs


ADL Sponsors “Safe Community” Program inEncino

Earlier this year, a string of arson attacks on five houses of worship rocked the interfaith community. Earlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sponsored an interfaith forum to prepare the community in case such events should reoccur.

“The series of attacks served as a wake-up call that we must remain vigilant,” ADL Pacific Southwest Regional Director Amanda Susskind said.

The First Presbyterian Church of Encino, which suffered $75,000-$100,000 in damages after it was firebombed on April 26, held the June 2 program, “Making Your Community and Religious Institution Safe,” featuring a panel of security experts and city officials, including Cmdr. Mark Leap of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Counter Terrorism Bureau; Chief Bill Bamattre and Assistant Chief Dean Cathey of the Los Angeles Fire Department; Col. Yoni Fighel, director of the educational program at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel; City Councilman Jack Weiss; and L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

Each panelist stressed the importance of community involvement.

“We would not have identified that suspect if it were not for a few people in the community that actually stepped forward…. I encourage you to form alliances in your community,” Leap told the audience. “Certainly [form] interfaith alliances, so that if we do have a situation like we did a month ago, there are already those built in lines of communication so that you can get the word out.”

Yaroslavsky reminded participants to put acts of hate into perspective, but to also respond with total vigilance.

“We need to celebrate one another,” he said. “To walk a mile in each other’s shoes. We need to understand what makes each other tick. Because when we do that, we find out that our differences are far outweighed by our commonalties. We have the same ambitions, we have the same aspirations, we have the same frustrations, we have the same fears.”

Participants also received a copy of the ADL’s security handbook, “Keeping Your Jewish Institution Safe.”

To order a copy of “Keeping Your Jewish InstitutionSafe,” call (310) 446-8000 or visit www.adl.org . — Rachel Brand, Contributing Writer

Camp Valley Chai Returns to GranadaHills

Camp Valley Chai, the only Jewish day camp in the north side of the Valley, is back after a one-year hiatus. The camp, which will continue to operate out of the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, is returning for a ninth summer.

“We want everyone to know that we’re back, we’re reopening and we’re bigger and better than before,” said Amy Grofsky, the camp’s director, who is returning to the position she’s held for six years after being away last summer.

The Jewish day camp is available to children from kindergarten through eighth grade and will offer the usual camp fare, in addition to swimming, karate, gymnastics, Shabbat services on Fridays and an Israeli cultural experience.

Camp begins June 30. For more information, call (818) 366-0907. — Sharon Schatz Rosenthal, Education Writer

Heschel West Holds Hearing on NewComplex

Like the plight of most Angelenos, Abraham Joshua Heschel West School’s biggest obstacle in obtaining permission to build its new campus is all about traffic. The Heschel West School Board had its second hearing before the Los Angeles County Planning Commission on May 7 in an effort to obtain a conditional-use permit to build a nine-building school on a 70-acre site near Chesboro Road in Old Agoura in the Conejo Valley.

The hearing focused on the property’s Environmental Impact Report. In addition to concerns like noise and destruction of the area’s rustic charm, the opposition is currently focused on the expected influx of traffic.

“They haven’t begun to satisfy traffic access. Their stated access is unacceptable,” said Jess Thomas, president of the Old Agoura Homeowners Association.

Representatives for Heschel West say its current site, near the Liberty Canyon exit of the 101 Freeway, is inadequate for the growing student body.

Brian Greenberg, president of Heschel West, said the school’s board will respond to the traffic concerns and was clearly not thrown by the prospect of additional hearings.

“This is the process, and we knew ahead of time that it’s long and complicated process,” Greenberg said. “I personally don’t see any surprises.”

A third hearing is set for Sept. 10. — SSR

Community Briefs


Making Little Lobbyists

Call it the “Mini-Me” Mission. When dozens of Jewish activists from the Jewish Public Affairs Committee (JPAC) of California descended on Sacramento last week to lobby state officials, their retinue included a handful of young observers — very young observers.

The first Sacramento Jewish Family Mission brought five parents and their children to the state capital in a pilot program to introduce children to the workings of state government. The children, who ranged in age from 7 to 13, were given a personal tour of the capitol building by lobbyist Monica Norton Miller, had a personal visit with Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood), met with lobbyists and (adult) Jewish activists at a JPAC reception and visited the Governor’s Mansion.

Deborah Kattler Kupetz, the mission’s originator, said she wanted to introduce children to the idea that they could affect changes and have an impact on the world around them. Most adults aren’t aware of what goes on in Sacramento, she said, much less their children.

Rather than lobby, the children learned. They powwowed with activist Barbara Yaroslavsky; Esther Netter, director of the Zimmer Children Discovery Museum; and Michael Hirschfeld, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Committee, which supported the Family Mission.

The children heard how laws are established, what legislators and lobbyists do and what children can do to influence the process. Parents and presenters groped for age-appropriate metaphors.

“If your mother wants liver for dinner, and you don’t like liver, what do you do?” asked Yaroslavsky, eliciting a chorus of suggestions from the budding lobbyists.

Koretz explained how he recently pressed a bill outlawing the declawing of cats in the state. In an office decorated with hand-drawn thank yous from cat-loving children, he also explained how legislators and the governor must make difficult choices when there isn’t enough money to run the state. Koretz then took the group on to the floor of the Assembly and Senate.

The mission participants were Helen Zukin and her daughter, Julia, 8; Kattler Kupetz and her daughters, Rachel and Ariella, both 9; Roshi Rashtian and her daughter, Chantal, 11; Rebekah Farber and her daughter, Hanna, 13; and Rob Eshman and his son, Adi, 9. Kattler Kupetz said she hopes to turn the Family Mission into an annual event. — Staff Report

Survivor Named First Member of Tolerance Task Force

Dr. Samuel Goetz has been appointed as the first member of the newly created California Task Force on Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights and Tolerance Education. The task force’s assignment is to prepare a comprehensive curriculum and study program for training the state’s teachers in the areas listed in its title.

Goetz, a Los Angeles optometrist, was put in a concentration camp as a 14-year old boy in Poland and liberated three years later. His parents and most of his relatives perished in the Holocaust. A past president of the “1939” Club, he was instrumental in establishing the survivor organization’s chair on Holocaust studies at UCLA. His autobiography, “I Never Saw My Face,” was published Rutledge Books in 2001.

Goetz was appointed by Herb J. Wesson Jr., speaker of the California State Assembly. Other appointments to the 12-member panel will be made by Gov. Gray Davis and John Burton, president pro tem of the California Senate, under the bill introduced by Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood).

The task force will work in tandem with the Center on Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights and Tolerance Education, now being organized on the Cal State Chico campus, under the direction of professor Sam Edelman.

“We anticipate training some 40,000 teachers of history and the social sciences, and another 40,000 teachers of language and literature studies,” Edelman said. Classes in Holocaust education are mandatory in California public schools.

he training program will consist of a combination of campus workshops, online professional development courses, and extensive Web site resources. Edelman anticipates that the first training sessions will be held this summer in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas.

Working with the task force and center will be the California Department of Education, Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

For additional information, contact the Center on Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights and Tolerance Education, CSU Chico, Chico, CA 95929-0502, or e-mail sedelman@csuchico.edu. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

World/Mideast Briefs


Jewish relief agencies and the government of Israel are mobilizing to send rescue missions and humanitarian aid to Turkey, in the wake of a devastating earthquake that, at press time, may have claimed more than 4,000 lives.

The Israel Defense Force sent a 200-member rescue team to Turkey to help dig through the rubble for survivors.

Israel is planning to send three planes of emergency aid and personnel to help victims of Tuesday’s powerful earthquake. Among those expected to travel to Turkey were members of the IDF disaster unit, which specializes in locating and extracting survivors from collapsed structures. Israeli President Ezer Weizman phoned Turkish President Suleyman Demirel to express his condolences.

The American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in conjunction with the United Jewish Communities (UJC) is accepting donations for earthquake relief. Donations will be used for non-sectarian earthquake relief. (Those who want their donations used solely for Turkey’s Jewish community should note this on the memo line of their check and on the envelope).

No Turkish Jews appear to have been killed or injured in the disaster, and none of the country’s Jewish institutions has been damaged, said Leon Levy, president of the New York-based American Sephardi Federation.

“Most of the damage was not where Jews normally live,” said Levy, who is of Turkish descent and in frequent contact with the Jewish community there. Later reports, however, indicated some damage to Jewish community buildings in Istanbul, including synagogues.

Ten Israeli tourists vacationing in the Turkish hills are still missing after the quake.

Sallai Meridor, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, was quoted in the daily Ha’aretz as saying that while none of Turkey’s 23,000 Jews was hurt in the quake, many are hesitant to return to their homes in Istanbul for fear of more houses collapsing.

In recent years, Turkey — a short plane ride from Tel Aviv and a strategic ally of Israel — has become a popular tourist destination for Israelis.

Donations can be sent to the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, 5700 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 2702; Los Angeles, CA 90036 and earmarked for Turkish Earthquake Relief. They will be immediately forwarded to the JDC.

Barak to Congress: Cool It

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has explicitly asked members of Congress to stop trying to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“We do not want to give the Palestinians any pretext for delaying the peace talks or postponing them,” Barak told Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., and Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., on Wednesday in Jerusalem, according to sources who were briefed on the meeting. Barak specifically asked the lawmakers to wait at least six months before taking up any new initiatives on the embassy.

Barak’s move to stop congressional initiatives on Jerusalem could slow the rush of candidates who have staked out positions on the issue in recent weeks.

Last week, Republican front-runner Texas Gov. George W. Bush and former Sen. Bill Bradley, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, both expressed support for moving the embassy. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has launched an all-but-announced Senate bid from New York, has also endorsed the move. — Matthew Dorf, JTA

Community


A Second Chance

By Rob Eshman, Managing Editor

After emotional appeals, a unanimous L.A. City Council vote may finally save the landmark Breed Street Shul from ruin.

The massive structure is a contractor’s dream. It will need a complete seismic retrofit, new plumbing, new electricity, a new roof, graffiti removal and water-damage repair.

Photo by Peter Halmagyi

By a unanimous vote of 14-0, the Los Angeles City Council decided Tuesday morning to take over ownership of the historic Breed Street Shul in Boyle Heights. The decision clears the way for the city to turn the grand synagogue, once the very heart of Los Angeles Jewish life, over to the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California.

While the future of the decaying structure is still much in doubt, a coalition of Jewish communal leaders, lay activists and Latino residents of the Boyle Heights neighborhood, where the Shul sits, cheered the decision. “This is going to be a long-term project,” said JHSSC President Stephen S. Sass, “but at least now we can start.”

The long campaign to rescue the shul began 10 years ago, when the JHSSC worked to have the shul designated as an historic landmark.

The shul, located just off Cesar Chavez Boulevard at 247 North Breed St., had decayed considerably since its Orthodox membership in the once-heavily Jewish area had died off or moved away. The congregation’s last acting rabbi, Mordechai Ganzweig, claimed ownership of the property since then, but had allowed it to deteriorate considerably. Ganzweig resisted all overtures on the part of preservationists to buy or otherwise protect the sanctuary.

Meanwhile, the grand shul decayed. Vandals, crack users and prostitutes regularly entered the property, lighting fires and leaving behind food scraps, pornographic magazines, trash, urine, condoms and used needles. The shul’s windows were smashed, its pews and altars heavily scarred with graffiti and many of its precious fittings stolen or missing.

Nature also took its toll. Rainwater soaked through holy books, and successive earthquakes threatened to collapse the unreinforced masonry building.

In 1996, the City Council voted to have the Board of Public Works secure the building with plywood boarding and additional fencing. An assessment for the cost of the process, about $90,000, was placed against the property. When Ganzweig neglected to pay that amount, Councilmen Richard Alatorre, in whose 14th District the structure stands, and Hal Bernson, who at 13 celebrated his bar mitzvah at the shul, sponsored Tuesday’s resolution to declare the assessment delinquent.

At the council meeting, Sass and Ken Bernstein, from the Los Angeles Conservancy, spoke of the building’s important historic role for Los Angeles Jewry. Built in 1923 by Congregation Talmud Torah, the shul was the center of Jewish life in the city for two decades. It served as the spiritual home for a new and dynamic wave of Jewish immigrants, who went on to found many of the city’s leading businesses, synagogues and charitable organizations. Thousands gathered there to pray on the High Holidays, hearing many of the world’s best cantors. According to some film historians, the Kol Nidre scene of “The Jazz Singer,” the first talkie, was filmed inside the shul. Later, huge crowds surrounded the building to hear the announcement that a Jewish state had been declared in Palestine.

Under the council’s decision, the building’s putative owners have 20 days to pay the assessment plus additional costs and fines. Speaking on behalf of the Ganzweigs at the hearing, Steven Stone urged the council to postpone its decision, pending a determination by the state attorney general on the proper disbursement of the assets of the “defunct congregation.” Council members evidently were not persuaded by his arguments.

If the owners fail, as expected, to pay the assessed costs, the board will sell the property to the city. After a mandatory one-year waiting period, the city is expected to donate the shul to the historical society.

That, say many activists, is when the real difficulties could begin.

The massive structure is a contractor’s dream. It will need a complete seismic retrofit, new plumbing, new electricity, a new roof, graffiti removal and water-damage repair.

And beyond the issues of physical rehabilitation lay potentially divisive questions about the structure’s future use. Suggestions thus far range from converting the shul into a museum of local history to opening it up as a community service center for the largely Latino population around it. Sass has said that he envisions a combination of both ideas, along with retaining a part of the sanctuary for use as a synagogue.

No one knows who will pay for any of this. The JHSSC has established committees to determine the building’s immediate needs and future use. Sass hopes to begin fund raising soon. (Those who want to get involved can call the society at 213-761-8950.)

The JHSSC will work with the city to conduct a needs assessment of the property and with local residents to develop ideas that will meet neighborhood needs. Latino-Jewish relations, strained recently following the close state Assembly race in the San Fernando Valley between Richard Katz and Richard Alarcon, may be an unintended beneficiary of the shul’s renaissance. A large group of Latino activists from the East Los Angeles Community Corporation and the Los Angeles Fair Housing Corporation showed their support of the council motion with applause and a show of raised hands.

“The shul can be an important symbol of healing and cooperation between the Latino and Jewish communities,” said Councilwoman Laura Chick.

The Breed Street Shul today.


Jewish Genealogy Seminar Hits L.A.

By Ruth Stroud, Staff Writer

More than 600 people from all over the world are expected to attend the event, according to seminar chair Steve Abrams. The chance to network with other genealogists is one of the star attract-ions, Abrams says. “You never know who you may discover.”

“The Ellis Island of the West” is how the new Los Angeles population study refers to Jewish Los Angeles. Since the majority of Jews here only have to look back one or two generations to discover immigrant relatives, it isn’t surprising that the 18th Annual Seminar on Jewish Genealogy, from July 12 through July 17, is likely to be a popular and lively event.

The international gathering, to be held at the Century Plaza Hotel, will feature 75 lectures by more than 60 speakers. Arthur Kurzweil, whose 1980 book, “From Generation to Generation,” was instrumental in popularizing Jewish genealogy in the United States, will deliver the keynote address on Sunday, July 12.

Among the other speakers: Dr. Michael Berenbaum, president of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation; Samuel J. Gruber of the Jewish Heritage Research Center; Zachary Baker of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research; Karen Franklin of the Leo Baeck Institute; and Dr. Stanford J. Shaw of UCLA. Several genealogists and archivists from other countries will also give talks, including Vitalija Gircyte, the chief archivist of the Kaunas State Archives in Kaunas, Lithuania; Dr. Ladislau Gyemant, professor of Jewish history at the University of Cluj-Napoca in Romania; and Yale Reisner of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland. Other noted authors and genealogists will deliver lectures, including Victor Perera, author of “The Cross and the Pear Tree”; Dr. Neil Rosenstein, who wrote “The Unbroken Chain”; and Miriam Weiner, author of the just-released “Jewish Roots in Poland.” For beginning genealogists, a workshop will be offered from 1 to 5 p.m. on July 12.

More than 600 people from all over the world are expected to attend the event, according to seminar chair Steve Abrams. The chance to network with other genealogists is one of the star attractions, Abrams says. “You never know who you may discover.”

For further information, contact Abrams at (818) 343-8643, by e-mail at SAbramsCPA@aol.com, or by mail at P.O. Box 55443, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413. Details on seminar registration and the program schedule are available from the seminar web site at www1.jewish gen.org/jgsla/seminar.htm, or from registration chairman, Scott Groll, (818) 786-3239 or via e-mail at sgroll@ix.netcom.com. Registration is $140 for the entire seminar or $35 per day.


Funding Our Future

By Ruth Stroud, Staff Writer

The Federation board approves the allocation of $500,000.

Just about everyone at the Jewish Federation agrees that providing a Jewish education to Jewish children is a top priority. But where should limited funds be spent? On day schools? On afternoon and Sunday religious schools? On programs designed to reach the unaffiliated?

A Los Angeles Federation task force committee charged with deciding how to spend the second half of a $1 million increase in Federation money earmarked for education has picked the first two — with the emphasis on day schools. The Task Force for Support of Jewish Education, chaired by Mark Lainer and operating under the auspices of the Federation’s Planning and Allocations Committee, recommended spending the money on day-school scholarships, supplementary education in middle- and high-school grades and two day schools with ambitious expansion plans: Milken Community High School and Heschel West. The Federation’s board of directors recently approved the recommendations, which are as follows:

* Milken and Heschel will each receive $100,000.

* Needy day school students will be awarded a total of $190,000 in scholarships — 130 scholarships of $1,000 each to children in kindergarten through eighth grades; 40 scholarships of $1,500 each for youngsters in grades 9 through 12.

* Supplemental schools catering to seventh- through 12th-graders will receive $95,000 for Jewish identity-building programs, such as retreats, and for teacher-training programs in those grades.

* The remaining $15,000 will be spent on marketing and administrative costs.

With fewer than 10,000 children in day schools, a disproportionate amount of money is being spent on these schools, grumbled one board member at the meeting. “Are we satisfied that the Federation is giving sufficient support to those not in day schools?”

“Anytime you spend money on X, you can say why aren’t you doing it for Y,” said Lainer, president of Jewish Education Service of North America, a national organization that promotes support for Jewish education within Federations. “We had a choice. We could give to all schools by allocation, or do something with an impact.”

The Federation chose to make a statement with its support of two high-profile schools.

Abraham Joshua Heschel West Day School in Agoura is the fast-growing 4-year-old financially independent branch of the Heschel Northridge campus and caters to the burgeoning Jewish population in the Conejo Valley. About 150 children from pre-K through fifth will attend in the fall, but the school has purchased 70 acres in Agoura with the view of eventually expanding to about 750 students and including a middle school.

“I think the Federation recognizes that there are 38,000 Jews here. We were the largest community without a Jewish day school, and we had no way to address this need,” said Gary Polson, one of Heschel West’s founding parents and a school board member.

Dr. Bruce Powell, president of Milken Community High School of Stephen S. Wise Temple said the $100,000 would prove invaluable in raising the final portion of the $32 million needed to fund the first phase of its three-building expansion, which will be dedicated this fall. Aside from the donation itself, the donor — the Federation — will help lend credibility to Milken’s campaign, Powell added. The school, which will have an enrollment of 632 students in grades 7 through 12 this fall, is the largest non-Orthodox Jewish high school in America, Powell said.

Dr. Gil Graff, executive director of the Bureau of Jewish Education, praised the task force for exercising “great wisdom” in allocating scarce resources to pressing needs. “It recognized that both day and supplementary schools are important arenas of educational activity, and students that attend both these types of educational institutions deserve and require community financial support.” The decision on how to allocate the money was not done according to a fixed formula, Graff added, and would likely change annually, along with community needs.

The Federation’s board of directors approved a $1 million increase for Jewish education in January. The first half of the money was added to an existing Financial Aid to Schools allocation.


Setting the Agenda for LA Jewry’s Future

By Ruth Stroud, Staff Writer

Federation President Lionel Bell (left) with outgoing President Herb Gelfand

Herb Gelfand handed his successor, Lionel Bell, an oversized gavel, a crowbar and a pair of hedge clippers as he stepped down from the presidency of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation Sunday. These were tools he predicted Bell would need to keep order, coax money from reluctant donors and cut red tape during the next two years, Gelfand joked. Bell, in turn, met the challenge of the moment by briefly describing his agenda as president and quoting the famous maxim of Rabbi Hillel about it not being enough to be only for oneself.

“These words have taken on a very personal meaning,” said Bell, his voice breaking, as he addressed the audience of about 200 at the Federation’s annual meeting at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica. “Thank you for allowing me to serve as your president. I hope I prove worthy.”

“We could not have a better president-elect,” said Rabbi Harvey Fields, noting that Bell had once served as president of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, where Fields is senior rabbi. Bell’s wife, Terry, was also president of the Federation previously, and both are longtime members of Wilshire Boulevard Temple and close friends of Fields. “He is probably one of the best organized lay people I have ever worked with,” Fields said.

During an interview in his 33rd-floor, corner office at Bear, Stearns & Co. in Century City several days before his installation as president, Bell talked about his goals. Silver-haired and soft-spoken, Bell, who is in his early 70s, is a managing director of Bear, Stearns & Co., where the news of market ups and downs blinks steadily from a computer screen atop his neat desk. He tends to look away when the news is bad, he admits, but is quick to assert, like a true veteran of his profession, that “for a young person, there is no investment as sound as the stock market.” And, he might just as soon add, there is no better charitable investment than the Jewish Federation’s United Jewish Fund. His primary aim as president, he says, is to support the UJF campaign. But providing services, not money-raising per se, is the object, he stresses.

“Without campaign, there is no Federation,” Bell said, just as, quoting a favorite saying, “without Torah, there is no bread, and without bread, there is no Torah.” Torah, in this instance, “is the services we provide.” The campaign goal of raising $50 million in 1998 to coincide with Israel’s 50th anniversary is definitely ambitious, he admits, “but our reach should exceed our grasp.”

Some of the other goals Bell pledges to pursue include:

*Supporting pluralism in Israel. The Federation has lent financial support and applied some persuasive tactics in trying to foster pluralism in the Jewish state, particularly in its vocal opposition to the controversial conversion bill. The plan is to continue efforts to promote greater religious pluralism and tolerance within the country, Bell said. One idea is to bring more Knesset members to the United States to learn firsthand about non-Orthodox Judaism in America since it’s relatively unknown in Israel.

*Creating an endowment fund to ensure that the Israel Experience program, which helps send high school and college students to Israel, has a constant stream of support.

*Continuing to build the partnership between Los Angeles and Tel Aviv into a productive and important relationship that yields significant benefits for Jews in both cities in education, the arts, human services and general person-to-person relationships.

*Deciding on a permanent location for the Jewish Federation. At the moment, it has only two more years and an option on another three at its current location at 5700 Wilshire Blvd. But after two years, the lease on the building will rise to the going market rate, which will likely be exorbitant. A decision should come in the next two months on whether to move to a location farther west or renovate the old, quake-damaged quarters at 6505 Wilshire Blvd.

*Continuing support for educational programs that promote Jewish continuity, including day school, Hebrew school, summer camps and Israel Experience. This year, the Federation is contributing an additional $1 million to Jewish education. Bell supports the increase, but with a mild caveat. “I believe in a day school education, but not at the expense of public education.”

*Increasing the Federation’s outreach to synagogues and to young people through the ACCESS young adult group

*Fostering the Jewish Community Foundation. Its endowment fund is the single largest contributor to the annual campaign — about $1.4 million in 1998. When donors die, quite often, their gifts die with them, Bell said. By endowing a gift, they realize tax benefits during their lives and their donation continues helping others once they’re gone.

*Putting some policies and programs in place based on the findings of the Federation’s newly released demographic survey.

In general, Bell said, his style is to build consensus rather than seek confrontation. “I’m not a fighter, I’m a lover,” he said, jokingly. His wife, Terry, who preceded him in both as general campaign chair and as Federation president will play “a major, major role” in supporting Bell’s leadership, he said. The pair met during Bell’s senior year at UCLA, and have two children, Nancy and Ralph, and two grandchildren. Terry announced her husband’s installation “with love, with pride and with great delight.” Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, in pronouncing the benediction, compared the incoming Federation president to Moses. “God beseeched him to be leader, and Moses shunned the role,” Seidler-Feller said. “Lionel is Mosaic because he is humble.” But the rabbi called on Bell to lead the Federation in embracing debate within the Jewish community about the important issues of the day. “I think we could only gain if our rabbis discussed their differences,” he said.

Incoming 1998-99 officers were also installed at the meeting Sunday. They include: Dr. Beryl Geber, Herbert Glaser, Meyer “Mike” Hersch, Arthur Jablon, Ron Leibow, Todd Morgan, Edward Robin, Margy Rosenbluth, Annette Shapiro, Howard Welinsky, David Gill and Newton Becker.

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