Students remind General Assembly they’ve got a lot to give, too

In 1969, a group of college students staged a protest at the premiere gathering of the organized Jewish community, demanding more say and more attention to issues that mattered to them — such as Soviet Jewry, Jewish identity and culture. They also wanted a younger voice to be heard within Jewish power structures.
The demonstrations and vocal disruptions at the Boston General Assembly — an annual gathering of federation and other communal leaders — lead to the formation of the North American Jewish Students Appeal, which was funded by federations until 1995.
Ever since then, students have been a part of the GA, which this year is taking place at the Los Angeles Convention Center Nov. 12-15.
As it has for many years, Hillel — the international student organization that is supported in part by federations — will host 300 student delegates, many of them leaders on their campuses.
The students, who registered at a reduced rate, will participate in regular conference sessions and a Monday night program of film and interactive activities that will expose students to new approaches to building Jewish communities.
But Hillel is trying something new to expose even more students to the organized Jewish community — and to demonstrate to the community that students care.
On Sunday, Nov. 12, 1,000 college students from Southern California schools and from universities across the country, including GA participants, will be deployed across Los Angeles to do social justice work. They will lend a hand at more than 20 community service projects, such as the Beit T’Shuvah rehab residence, the Venice Family Clinic, the Midnight Mission and Heal the Bay. The program, called “Just for a Day,” will end with an exclusive concert by GUSTER and the LeeVees at the Henry Fonda Theater.

“We know that community service and social justice are the best ways of engaging students, so by doing that in conjunction with the GA we are letting the students know about the larger Jewish community,” said David Levy, director of the Los Angeles Hillel Council.

About 30 students are also participating through a journalism track called Do the Write Thing, sponsored by World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Press Association.

Student journalists get access to high-level politicians, publishers and editors, and this year will focus on Israel’s image in the media.
Many of the issues that faced students in 1969 still linger today — how to make the established community understand the desire for culture and identity, for spirituality, to get the oldsters to listen to the younger generation’s concerns.

And with today’s wired movers communicating and connecting in entirely different ways, cross-generational interface becomes even more challenging.

“This is a qualitatively different generation,” Levy said. “The whole way we organize is not the way they organize, and the pressures that used to be on students are not the same as they are now.”

Student identity has become more complex, as a generation raised by multitaskers comes of age.
“Students have multiple identities and multiple parts of their identities — like windows open on a computer screen. They have multiple windows open at one time — Israel, spirituality, social justice, being a sorority member. We need to give them an opportunity to connect through whichever window happens to be open at that moment, and working within one window can lead to others and strengthens them all,” Levy said.
That multipronged identity, and the desire for real-life community, carries through to college graduates as well, as young 20- and 30-somethings try to integrate into the Jewish community.
“The age of wine and cheese is over,” said Rhoda Weisman, director of Professional Leadership Project, which inspires and mentors young people for work in the Jewish community. “They are looking for a deep connection to the Jewish people — a meaningful connection. There is a search for spiritual depth and intellectual depth, and a very great need for community among them.”
About 100 competitively selected leaders in their 20s and 30s are part of Weisman’s Live Network, which every few weeks brings participants together at five regional hubs for seminars in leadership skills, Jewish content, case studies and personal development. The first cohort will soon begin year two, which will entail working with each other and experienced mentors to develop and follow through on a project.

At the GA, 10 participants in the Professional Leadership Project will be teamed up with seasoned Jewish communal leaders.
“The purpose is for them is to shadow some of the influential leaders, professional and volunteer, to learn about the inside workings of the Jewish community and to make connections for the future,” Weisman said.

The young leaders will also be filming a documentary, interviewing people of all ages at the GA about how the next generation of leaders can affect the community, and what sort of changes they can or should make. The film will be posted on the Web.

Mostly, Weisman hopes their presence will have an impact — both by allowing established leaders to dialogue with the up-and-comings, and by helping participants learn about existing organizations and structures to see where they can contribute.
“You can’t change things unless you already know what is happening,” Weisman said.
At the same time, she encourages the young leaders to integrate themselves into the existing community.
“Whether it’s by working with an established organization or creating a new one, you have to be connected to the greater Jewish community,” Weisman said.

For information, go to, or

L.A. gets ready to be the center of Jewish universe

In just three weeks, more than 3,000 leaders of the international Jewish community, including the prime minister of Israel, are coming to Los Angeles.

What, you hadn’t heard?

This season’s best-kept secret among L.A. Jews seems to be that the 75th annual General Assembly (GA) of the United Jewish Communities is being held in Los Angeles — the first time in 26 years this city will host one of the largest annual gatherings of Jews in North America.

“This is a great opportunity for Los Angeles to participate in this national convention, where we don’t always have a critical mass participating,” said John Fishel, president of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. “More importantly, we have some extraordinarily talented Jewish human resources and some extraordinarily creative programming in L.A., and this will be an opportunity for us to highlight those individuals and programs.”

But while some locals have already signed up, and hundreds have volunteered, a mention of the GA is more likely to elicit a blank stare than an excited nod in most Jewish circles.

“Never heard of it,” said Marlene Kahan, a teacher who lives in Beverlywood. “But it sounds interesting. I’d love to read about it and find out what happens there.”

The GA is one of the largest Jewish events on the North American calendar (the Reform movement’s biennial conference surpasses the GA, with about 5,000 attendees), with thousands of lay and professional leaders from hundreds of communities gathering to explore the state of the Jewish world, and to set a vision for the year to come.

The United Jewish Communities represents 155 Federations and 400 independent communities, and the four-day conference, Nov. 12-15 at the Los Angeles Convention Center downtown, brings together Federation machers as well as other organizations and activists from around the world. Anyone who wants to be a player in the Jewish community is at the GA.

The powerful bloc of participants attracts an impressive roster of leaders, scholars and experts to run daily plenaries and a menu of hundreds of sessions on topics from global anti-Zionism to new trends in Jewish education to savvy solicitation techniques.

Anyone can register as a delegate. Southern Californians are offered a local’s discounted rate of $275 (non-residents pay $525), and people who have volunteered to help out for a few hours can attend the conference on that day (volunteer slots have been filled). All events — including a concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on Monday, Nov. 13 — are open to registered delegates and volunteers only.

But word has been slow to trickle out to the far-flung L.A. Jewish community.

While a call for volunteers went out to synagogues and organizations months ago, full-page ads have only shown up in the last few weeks, and the UJC Web site didn’t post program details — such as speakers and session topics — until early October.
There are currently 425 local delegates signed up, along with about 300 to 400 student delegates, some of them at Southern Californian schools, signed up through Hillel. About 750 Angelenos have also volunteered to staff the convention, which is estimated to attract 3,000 delegates and an additional 1,000 exhibitors, organizers and staff, according to Judy Fischer, who is the Los Angeles Federation staff GA director. Fischer is working with lay host community chair Terri Smooke to organize the event.

Organizers admit publicity has been slow because the program was revamped following the war in Israel.

“The focus was transformed in light of what happened over the summer, and particularly in light of the implications of the war for Israel and for the Jewish people in our communities and across the world,” said Michael Kotzin, executive vice president of the Chicago Federation, and head of programming for the GA. “There is a strong sense of connection with Israel, and recognition that as much as this means as a single war, it wasn’t just that. It has a deeper meaning.”

The theme chosen over the summer was “On the Frontlines Together: One People, One Destiny,” meant to encompass the war’s implications regarding the Israel-Diaspora connection, global Jewish security, Israel’s identity, its military, its leadership and how that reverberates out to Jewish communities across the world.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is scheduled to deliver the keynote on Tuesday evening (though in the past prime ministers have often ended up canceling or speaking through video feed). A record four Knesset ministers are also scheduled to address the group, including foreign minister Tzipi Livni, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s ministers of education and tourism.

During and following the war, federations from across the country funneled $330 million dollars to Israel through UJC.
“In some ways this was kind of a breakthrough in the recognition of the centrality and significance of the UJC Federation system,” Kotzin said. “The prime minister wants to be able to come and participate to express his appreciation and to advance ties between Israel and the North American Jewish Community. The GA exists at a moment where we can really keep up with what is going on and move things forward.”

Other speakers include Canadian Parliament Member Dr. Irwin Cotler; Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International; and French philosopher Bernard Henri-Levi.

A plenary on “The Jewish Future” will feature a panel with Norman Cohen, provost of the Reform Hebrew Union College-Jewish Insitiute of Religion; Arnie Eisen, chancellor-elect at the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary; and Richard Joel, president of the Orthodox Yeshiva University.

But all other conference-wide sessions will focus on Israel, as will more than half of the smaller sessions.
It is a shift that not everyone is thrilled with.

“As someone who lives in Israel and is a Zionist, I think it is unfortunate and actually speaks to the lack of an overarching vision for the future of the Jewish people,” said Yossi Abramowitz, founder of Jewish Family and Life, who now blogs daily at

Abramowitz has attended around 20 GAs, and moved to Israel this summer.

Names to Watch on Way Up, Down in ’06

Here are a handful of people to watch in the coming 12 months — some on the way up; some on the way down.

Jack Abramoff: The once-high-flying Republican lobbyist, Jewish benefactor and GOP best buddy has become the most radioactive man in Washington, thanks to controversial deals with Native American gaming interests and his cozy links with top legislators, especially the golf aficionados.

Now that he may be about to cut a deal with prosecutors, the scandal could affect some of the biggest names in politics, starting with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). And that could have an impact on the 2006 midterm congressional elections.

Ariel Sharon: The prime minister’s daring political gamble in leaving Likud and creating the centrist Kadima Party, his rumored plans for new West Bank withdrawals and his uncertain health make him the most intriguing figure in the Middle East. Many American Jewish right-wingers revile the man they once idolized, but centrist Jews here, once distrustful, are poised to support his next peace moves.

But what, exactly, will they be? And how will a fragmented Palestinian leadership react to new unilateral Israeli peace initiatives?

Sharon’s fortunes are inextricably linked to those of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who may soon find out if his decision to co-opt rather than confront Hamas will pay off — or sink his already leaking ship of state.

Benjamin Netanyahu: The former prime minister and finance minister, now leading a Sharon-less Likud Party, is at another juncture in his mercurial career. A move to the right could marginalize his party still further, but Bibi could get a boost from any resumption of widespread terrorism against Israel. Another unknown for both Netanyahu and Sharon: whether Amir Peretz, the new Labor Party leader, will be able to help right that rudderless ship.

Condoleezza Rice: Will the secretary of state, whose recent shuttle diplomacy won an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on border crossings, now take a more active role in jump starting the stalled “road map” for Palestinian statehood? And how will her possible presidential aspirations affect her diplomacy in the region? Already, “Rice ’08” bumper stickers have appeared on Washington highways.

Howard Kohr: Despite this year’s indictment of two former top American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) officials, AIPAC had a banner 2005.

But Kohr, the group’s executive director, will face huge new challenges as the case against Steve Rosen, former policy director, and Keith Weissman, an Iran analyst, goes to court. If it turns out badly for the defendants, there will be questions about how their improper activity could have taken place on Kohr’s watch. If they are acquitted, he will come under criticism from their supporters for firing them.

Most analysts say that so far, Kohr has kept AIPAC focused on its core mission, despite all the controversy — and even exploited the scandal to boost fundraising. But that task could get significantly harder in 2006.

Abe Foxman: Are Jewish relations with the Christian right at a turning point? The Anti-Defamation League director thinks so. His November blast against groups he says use public policy to “Christianize” the nation set off aftershocks that will reverberate into 2006.

Will a still-liberal Jewish community follow the outspoken Foxman, and will he get help from those Jewish leaders who agree with him on the substance of his charges but worry about alienating evangelicals who support Israel and who wield enormous power in Congress and the White House?

Leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA): Will they continue to pursue divestment against Israel while making nice with Hezbollah? That threatens a major rupture with a Jewish community that has traditionally worked closely with the Presbyterians on major domestic issues. Other mainline churches have backed off divestment. If the Presbyterians don’t, they will render themselves irrelevant in the quest for Mideast peace.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.): Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the House, has enjoyed a spectacular rise up the GOP leadership ladder, now serving as chief deputy whip in only his third term.

Cantor could help the party recover from a scandal-filled year in advance of the 2006 midterm elections and in the process boost his own hopes for becoming the first Jewish speaker of the House. But he could be tainted by his reputation as a DeLay loyalist, if the former majority leader goes down in flames.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.): Is the nation ready for a Jewish presidential candidate from the Dairy State? Feingold — who was in the news in December for his staunch opposition to the Patriot Act and his angry response to new revelations of government spying — thinks it is.

The quirky Feingold is a longshot, but some analysts say that if public anger about the Iraq War continues to mount and revelations about inappropriate government activity continue to wash across front pages, he could be in a position to challenge the putative front-runner for the Democratic nomination: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), now recast as a centrist who refuses to criticize the administration’s Iraq policies.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): The maverick Arizona Republican forced the administration to back down on legislation banning the torture of U.S. detainees. Political pros say McCain’s reputation for integrity and his independence could make him an attractive choice for the growing number of Jewish independents, despite his arch conservatism on domestic issues. And he could be the antidote for a party that goes into the 2006 congressional midterms wracked by scandals.

Look for McCain to dramatically increase his outreach to the Jewish community in 2006 as he cranks up his campaign machine.


The Circuit

Hope and Faith

Childrens Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) honored L.A. resident Doron Kochavi, for his participation in the Bristol-Myers Squibb Tour of Hope across America, headed by Lance Armstrong.

Patients in the Childrens Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases at CHLA sent off Kochavi with well wishes as he left to join a team of 24 cancer survivors, advocates, caregivers, physicians and researchers selected to ride 3,300 miles from San Diego to Washington, D.C.

The team of avid cyclists began their trip Sept. 29 — to share their experiences and inspire those they met along the way to learn more about cancer research.

Seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong led the team at the kickoff in San Diego and into Washington, D.C., as well as during other points along the route.

Kochavi’s son, Ari, is alive today because of the treatment for a brain tumor he received at CHLA. When asked about the significance of the holidays and what is he reflecting on Kochavi said prior to leaving, “The Jewish holiday is for laymen. It is a message of hope. You hope that the new year will bring all the good you hope for … health, family, a good life…. This year I will spend the new year on the road. I have the opportunity to send a message of hope across the country. We will be riding everywhere … there will be no religious boundaries and touch everyone north to south … rich to poor….. I get the chance to talk to millions of people through television, newspapers, etc. and deliver a message of hope for tomorrow.”

For more information, visit

Simply Remarkable

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles will award four new Jewish day school scholarships as a tribute to Mark Lainer, its chair from 2001 through 2004. The Mark Lainer Scholarships will provide assistance during the 2005 academic year to a deserving student with financial need at four local Jewish educational institutions where Lainer has played major leadership roles. These include Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School, Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School West and New Community Jewish High School, along with one recipient selected by the Bureau of Jewish Education.

The Foundation announced the scholarships at a gala dinner at the Regent Beverly Wilshire on Sept. 22 saluting Lainer’s dedication to The Foundation and the community.

“Mark’s energy and commitment are exemplary,” said foundation President and CEO Marvin I. Schotland. “We’re proud to honor him for both his outstanding guidance as immediate past chair of the foundation and for his passionate, dedicated service to the entire community.”

A leader in philanthropy and education, Lainer was also founding president of the Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School and has played important leadership roles in the Bureau of Jewish Education, The Jewish Federation, University of Judaism, Valley Beth Shalom, United Jewish Communities, Jewish Education Service of North America and The Jewish Journal.


The Circuit

Gift of Life

When the spring mission of the Men’s Division for Israel Bonds went to Israel in June they made a pit stop at Magen David Adom (MDA)’s Blood Center in Ramat Gan so that all the mission participants could donate blood. That stop is now going to become a permanent part of Israel Bonds’ missions to Israel.

MDA is Israel’s Red Cross, but the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent Societies do not accept Israel’s MDA as a member. Therefore, MDA needs to find all the blood-pumping resources themselves.

MDA supplies 100 percent of the blood to all the hospitals in Israel, as well as 100 percent of the blood to the Israeli armed forces. They also maintain 93 emergency stations and ambulance services equipped with intensive coronary units able to initiate cardiac protocol en route to the hospital.

Now American Women for MDA in Los Angeles is raising funds to add two stories to the Ramat Gan Center.

“It is my greatest hope that all of the Jewish organizations will work together to help ARMDI [the support arm of MDA in the United State] maintain their services to the Jewish people of Israel,” said Gabriella Bashner, founding chair of American Women for MDA.

For more information visit .

Tikes on Trikes

Yeshivat Yavneh’s early childhood students decided to do their part to help the wider community by participating in the Cycles for Smiles Marathon this past June. The students raised money from sponsors and then got on their tricycles and did laps around the playground. The students raised $4,100 for Beit Issie Shapiro, a therapeutic educational organization that provides services for mentally and physically challenged children in Raanana, Israel.

Election Day

It’s election season once again, and Jewish organizations all over Los Angeles have been welcoming their new leadership.

At Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills, one of the largest centrist Orthodox synagogues in the country, Martin Shandling was elected president of the new board of directors in July.

Temple Ner Tamid of Downey held its annual installation of officers of the board of directors in June. The new officers are: David Saltzman, president; Miriam Brookfield, Cheryl Brownstein and Sandy Dickinson, executive vice presidents; Laura Bornstein, secretary; Howard Brookfield, treasurer; Jane Hansen, financial secretary; Gloria Katz, Sheba Levine, Ruth Greenberg, Libby Lazarus, Lynette Austin and Michael Barsky, trustees; and Gerald Altman, Jean Franklin, Jim Hansen and Virginia Isenberg, members at large.

The Encino-Tarzana chapter of Women’s American ORT re-elected Charlotte Gussin-Root as president for her second term. The chapter installed their new officers at a special luncheon at Odyssey Restaurant in June. At the luncheon, Mariam Perlmutter received special thanks as she retired from 14 years of devoted work as treasurer, and Robert Franenberg, the classical bassist of the Rotterdam Philharmonic and son of longtime ORT member Jackie Franenberg treated the members and guests to a mini-concert.

Happy Birthday Bais!

More than 300 people helped Congregation Bais Naftoli in Hancock Park celebrate its 12th birthday in July with a dinner at the shul, which honored Dr. Maurice Levy, Rabbi David Thumin and Chaim Wizenfeld.

Silver Service

Temple Beth Ohr of La Mirada honored Rabbi Lawrence and Carol Goldmark for 25 years of service to the temple with a festive reception on June 18 that followed Friday night services.

Goldmark has been the spiritual leader of the congregation since 1979, and is a past president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California and executive vice-president of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis. He is also the Jewish chaplain at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton.

Carol Kredenser Goldmark is an adjunct art professor at Fullerton College and is known for her rich realistic paintings.

Sol Bojarsky

Sol Bojarsky passed away peacefully at home on June 27. A native of Los Angeles, born in Boyle Heights, Oct. 1, 1919, bar mitzvah at the Breed Street Shul, Bojarsky was a graduate of Hollywood High School and UCLA. From a pioneer L.A. Zionist family, Sol was a prominent insurance agent in the L.A. Jewish community for over 50 years, having taken over the business started by his mother Rose. He was an early and dedicated Jewish community leader, honored by the Jewish Centers Association and Jewish National Fund, as well as The Jewish Federation Insurance Division.

He served on the board of Brandeis-Bardin Institute for over four decades, as well as a leader of Temple of Israel of Hollywood for an equal amount of time. He was a proud community leader, a gentleman known for his big smile, love of life and warm heart. He will be profoundly missed.

He is survived by his wife, Celina; daughter, Donna (Jonathan); grandson, Joshua; and brother, Eli Boyer.

How to Win Leaders and Influence People

Melina Gimal has been a Jewish community professional for most of her life. As a young girl she worked at Jewish Community Centers in Argentina, and later at Hillels in Washington and Miami. But most of her peers aren’t doing the same.

“They just have it in their minds that they are going to work for a bank or in real estate,” said Gimal, 26. “But they have so much to give to the Jewish community and it is a pity that we are losing them and they don’t want to get involved.”

The question of why the Jewish community isn’t recruiting and retaining more young Jewish leaders is one that the 20-Something Think Tank summit wants to answer.

The summit of 150 Jewish 20-somethings from all over America who will gather here in August to address what organizers consider the “recruitment crisis” of young Jewish leadership. Funded by the Michael Steinhardt/Jewish Life Network, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and William M. Davidson, the summit hopes to address issues of Jewish leadership, recruitment and retention. It aims to find ways to make Jewish leadership positions more attractive to young people choosing a career path.

“Our assumption is that we have enough in this field [of Jewish leadership] to offer and that there are enough people who are sharp and bright who will want to chose this sector if we make it appealing to them salary wise and benefit wise,” said Rhoda Weisman, executive director of the Professional Leader Project (PLP), the sponsoring organization of the summit.

“The goal of the conference is not to push them into [leadership], but to expose them to it,” she said. “Most of them don’t even know about the different possibilities [for communal careers], such as being editors, running endowments or strategic planning.”

The PLP is currently receiving about 10 applications per day for participation in the three-day summit. It is choosing participants from among college and graduate students, newly inaugurated Jewish professionals and those working in the mainstream marketplace. After the Think Tank, 20 of the participants will have the opportunity for Career Break — three days when they will shadow top Jewish professional leaders for insights into the career arena.

The summit is the last part of a three-piece research project funded by those philanthropists who examined Jewish leadership development across America. The first two parts of the project were national studies conducted by The Institute for Jewish and Community Research (IJCR) in San Francisco, and the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies (CMJS) at Brandeis University, respectively. The studies found that that the community wasn’t doing enough to recruit and retain young leaders.

“We found a vigorous and healthy preservice picture; there are a lot of choices around the country for places to go to acquire this preprofessional training [to work in the Jewish community], but our concern was in-service training,” said Steve Dobbs, a senior fellow at the IJCR and one of the authors of the study, “Professional Development in the Jewish Community.” The study based its research on interviews with 60 Jewish professionals and it will be published later this month.

Dobbs also said that they found there was a persistent undersupply of well-trained Jewish educators and professionals at mid- and entry-level positions, because people were repelled by the low status, low remuneration, heavy workload and absence of professional development involved in Jewish communal life.

“We found people leaving their careers early because of a lack of professional development opportunities, people leaving because of communal politics and the complicated dynamics between the lay and staff professionals at the agencies,” he said.

“The really critical piece is to figure out how to support people who work in the Jewish community and how to help them have lifelong careers that pay sufficiently and have sufficient reinforcements,” said Leonard Saxe, director of CMJS and one of the authors of the study, “The Recruitment and Retention of Jewish Professionals,” a survey of Jewish professional life in six communities that will be published in August.

And as for what makes a good leader, Gimal says that it takes an ability to listen.

“You really have to have the capacity to listen to the people and really care and understand their needs,” she said. “And, of course, you need to like what you are doing and have a passion for it.”

For more information on the 20-Something Think Tank,
visit .

Eulogies:Ira Yellin

Ira Yellin, recognized throughout Los Angeles as an urban pioneer for his tireless efforts to rebuild the city’s historic core, and most recently a principal of real estate development company Urban Partners LLC, died Sept. 10 at his home in Los Angeles from lung cancer. He was 62.

Yellin, the son of the founding rabbi of Temple Mishkon Tephilo in Venice, was a major philanthropist and activist on behalf of Jewish causes.

When few developers and entrepreneurs cared about downtown Los Angeles’ historic and urban landmarks, Yellin was the exception. From the restoration of the legendary Bradbury Building to the renovations of Union Station and the dilapidated Grand Central Market, Yellin’s vision of Los Angeles helped transform the city during his 27 years of urban development.

“Los Angeles owes him a debt of gratitude,” said California State Librarian Kevin Starr. Yellin is “unique for what he wants for the city, and what he has helped build.”

Although born in Springfield, Mass., Yellin developed a deep love for Los Angeles, when his father, the late Rabbi Isaac Yellin, moved his family here in 1948.

Yellin’s contributions to the city of Los Angeles included running the international design competition to pick the architect for the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, one of the city’s new cultural centers.

As a community leader, his commitment to the city of Los Angeles extended to include significant cultural, religious and philanthropic involvement. Yellin served on the board of trustees of the J. Paul Getty Trust; the board of trustees of the California Institute of the Arts; the board of governors and former president of the American Jewish Committee; the board of directors of the Los Angeles Police Foundation; the executive committee of the Central City Association; the board of advisers of the Rand Institute of Education and Training; and the board of advisers of the WATTS Health Charities. He was also active on behalf of Bet Tzedek Legal Services.

Yellin graduated with a degree in history from Princeton University in 1962 and received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1965. After completing his master’s degree in law at UC Berkeley in 1966, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, returning to Los Angeles in 1967 as a partner at the law firm of Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman. In 1985, he started The Yellin Co., overseeing some of the best-known development projects in Los Angeles. From 1996 to 1999, he served as senior vice president of Catellus Development, focusing on complex, mixed-use projects with a community and urban significance.

Yellin founded Urban Partners with real estate professionals Paul Keller and Daniel Rosenfeld. Their current projects include the Del Mar Station in Pasadena, the Los Angeles County Hall of Justice, the California Department of Transportation District 7 Headquarters, the Herald-Examiner Building, the University Gateway, the Wilshire/Vermont Station and the Ambassador Hotel site.

In a 1994 interview with The Jewish Journal, Yellin summarized his motivation to help others and the city he loved as, “an obligation to give back and begin the endless process of healing the world. I believe that more than I believe in anything.”

He is survived by his wife, Adele; daughter, Jessica; son, Seth; mother, Dorothy; and brothers, Dr. Albert and Dr. Marc.

The Yellin family asks that donations be made in his name to the American Jewish Committee: Western Region, 9911 W. Pico Blvd., Suite 1602 Los Angeles, CA 90035, (310) 282-8080.

World Briefs

Palestinian Leader in Israeli Court

Palestinian militia leader Marwan Barghouti was charged with murder Wednesday in a Tel Aviv court. The indictment sheet described the West Bank chief of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement as an “arch-terrorist whose hands are bloodied by dozens of terrorist actions.”

After shouting the “uprising will be victorious” as he was led into court, Barghouti later said during the hearing that he was a peaceful man, “trying to do everything for peace between the two peoples. I believe the best solution is two states for two peoples.” Barghouti was arrested in mid-April during an Israeli anti-terror operation in the West Bank. Meanwhile, A senior Hamas member was killed in an Israeli military operationwednesday near Nablus. Nasser Jerar helped recruit suicide bombers and had planned a major terror attack to bring down a high-rise building in Israel, Israeli officials said.

Cabinet Approves Security Fence

Israel’s Security Cabinet on Wednesday approved part of the route of a planned fence separating Israel from the West Bank. At the recommendation of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, the route of the nearly 70-mile section will place several Jewish settlements including Elkana, Alfei Menashe and Shaked on the “Israel side” of the barrier. The section is expected to be completed within a year. Sharon promised to convene the Cabinet next week to discuss construction of a security barrier around Jerusalem, Israel Radio reported.

According to the report, Cabinet Minister Dan Meridor was the sole minister to vote against the barrier, saying the route should also have encompassed Jewish settlement enclaves that former Prime Minister Ehud Barak envisioned being annexed to Israel under a future political agreement with the Palestinians.

Fatah Focuses on West Bank and Gaza

The Fatah movement has decided to halt attacks inside Israel, a political leader of the group said Tuesday. West Bank Fatah leader Hussein Sheik said he expected the group’s military wing, the Al-Aksa Brigade, to adopt the decision, despite a leaflet issued to the contrary, Israel Radio reported. Sheik said the Fatah leadership instead plans to focus its struggle in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. However, a Hamas leader said the organization would continue attacks inside Israel.

Meanwhile, the Hebrew University attack claimed its ninth victim, Revital Barashi, who died Monday night of head injuries. Barashi, 30, was a university employee.

Prague Synagogue Threatened by

Volunteers from Prague’s Jewish community are working frantically to erect barriers around key Jewish sites Tuesday as the city prepares for its worst flooding in more than a century. The Old-New Synagogue and the Jewish Town Hall are among buildings threatened as the Vltava River is expected to burst its banks and engulf parts of the Old Town. Torah scrolls and religious artifacts have been removed from synagogues and taken to secure sites.

Bush Blocks Portion of Aid to

President Bush is blocking a portion of a spending bill that includes $200 million in aid to Israel. The $5.1 billion recently approved by Congress as part of a supplemental appropriations bill for combating terrorism also includes $50 million in aid for the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Officials say the president’s decision is unrelated to the Middle East spending, but because of concerns regarding congressional overspending.

Official: Arafat Assets Worth $1.3

Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat has assets estimated at $1.3 billion, according to the head of Israeli military intelligence. Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze’evi made the comment during an appearance before a Knesset committee. He also said Arafat is facing growing dissatisfaction among the Palestinian populace, but that the Palestinian leader is still the person who “pulls the strings” in the Palestinian Authority, according to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz.

Statement: Don’t Target Jews for

Jewish and Catholic officials issued a joint statement affirming that Jews should not be targeted for conversion. “While the Catholic Church regards the saving act of Christ as central to the process of human salvation for all, it also acknowledges that Jews already dwell in a saving covenant with God,” the statement says. “Jews are also called by God to prepare the world for God’s kingdom.”

The statement was issued by the National Council of Synagogues and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

Haifa Mayor Seeks Labor Leadership

Haifa’s mayor announced he will seek the leadership of Israel’s Labor Party. Amram Mitzna is a former general who supports dismantling some Jewish settlements as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians. Announcing his candidacy at a news conference Tuesday, Mitzna said he supports an immediate and unconditional resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians, regardless of who their leader is.

Weekend polls suggested that Mitzna would easily defeat the two other candidates to lead Labor, Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and legislator Haim Ramon, in party primaries scheduled for Nov. 19.

In a bid to block Mitzna, Ben-Eliezer on Monday asked Ramon to drop out of the race and join him. Ramon refused. Israel’s next national elections are scheduled for October 2003, but Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said he may seek early elections.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Zayde Mitzvah

Every Bar Mitzvah is special, but Al Greenberg’s was special.

As his son Ken said at the ceremony, “Usually at a Bar Mitzvah, we pass our traditions down from the older generation to the younger. But at Gateways Beit T’Shuvah, we do things a little differently.”
On Sat., Dec. 9, in front of friends, family and the addiction recovery center’s residents, 75-year-old Al was called to the Torah.

It started less than a year ago with a bagel delivery. Greenberg had retired from his successful tire business, and he wanted to give back to the community. Through the Marina del Rey B’nai B’rith lodge he had co-founded, he brought a truckload of bagels to the Venice Boulevard addiction recovery center. While there he learned that one of the residents was the son of an old friend. The boy he had once known was now a young man and a recovering addict.

Never a religious person, Greenberg became interested in the work Beit T’Shuvah did, especially the Jewish spiritual component. Rabbi Mark Borovitz, Beit T’Shuvah’s spiritual leader, put Greenberg in touch with Mark Rotenberg, an addiction counselor at the facility with an Orthodox background. The two men began studying Torah together. Eight months later, Rotenberg and Rabbi Borowitz stood on the bimah listening to Greenberg’s Bar Mitzvah speech.

“I was always proud to be Jewish because of what other Jews had done to make me look good,” said Greenberg, who grew up in Los Angeles. “Plus, I met my wife in B’nai B’rith.”

Religion never appealed to Al until he found Gateways. “I became an addict to this place,” he punned, hugging Rotenberg. “I used to be Jewish in my head. Then I was Jewish in my hands. Now, I’m Jewish in my heart, because of some of these crazy people here.”

Ball Mitzvah

Last week, Brandon Kaplan cashed in on a family Bar Mitzvah tradition when he brought a baseball worth $1,800 to the Union Bank of California branch in Encino. In 1976, Brandon’s father, Jerry, received $1,800 for his Bar Mitzvah from his father, but the check was written on a football. This year, the elder Kaplan continued the theme by writing Brandon’s Bar Mitzvah check on a baseball.

“Brandon thought it was a really great idea because he is a big baseball fan,” said Jerry Kaplan. “This will be one of the Bar Mitzvah gifts he will never forget.”

Bat Mitzvah

The photos above show 27 women from Los Angeles and Long Beach in the final stages of preparing for an important milestone in their lives: their Bat Mitzvah ceremony.

Sponsored by Hadassah of Southern California and guided by five able local teachers, the women of diverse ages and backgrounds worked hard to prepare themselves for a special Havdalah service, which was held Saturday, Dec.16, at Adat Ari El in North Hollywood. Co-chairs of the B’not Mitzvah class of 2000 were Bobby Klubeck, Ruth Seeman and Lisa Blank. Rabbi Sally Olins and Cantor Maurice Glick led the service, and Judith Raphael, one of the children saved from the Holocaust by Hadassah’s founder, Henrietta Szold, read a commentary on her life and Torah.

The ceremony. which was open to the public, was followed immediately by a kiddush and later by a dinner for invited guests, with entertainment by Cindy Paley.

A new class will be forming soon for the 2001 Bat Mitzvah Program.

For more information, contact Nasrim Rashti at the Hadassah Southern California office: (310) 470-3200.

Defusing Tension

While violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians have captured the headlines in recent weeks, Jewish and Arab leaders in major American cities are working quietly to forestall confrontations between their communities.

Their efforts are marked by some common guidelines.

Don’t try to solve – or even discuss – the basic issues roiling the Middle East. Acknowledge deeply felt differences and go on from there. Condemn any act of violence by their co-religionists in the United States. Build on the trust established in previous years in joint battles against discrimination.

In Jewish communities, the efforts are spearheaded by both mainstream and liberal organizations and are most fully developed in Detroit, Los Angeles and New York, cities with the largest Arab and Muslim populations.

“We started establishing contacts with the Arab community after the signing of the Oslo accords seven years ago,” says Allan Gale, assistant director of the Jewish Community Council of Metropolitan Detroit. The area holds some 200,000 Arab Americans, twice the number of Jewish residents.

“We have worked on such issues as discriminatory immigration laws, racial stereotyping and ethnic profiling at airports.

“We’ve had some incidents and some vociferous Arab spokesmen, but on the whole relations are good,” add Gale. “The Arab community here is reticent to act in an unlawful manner.”

In Los Angeles, some 10 Jews and five Arabs met Oct. 17 in the sukkah of one participant. Although all were aware of the Mideast tensions, the meeting had been scheduled some time ago as one in a series of monthly meetings by the “Dialogue Group.”

The group was established more than a year ago, when representatives of the two communities signed a code of ethics in a public ceremony.

“We try to keep open our lines of communications open and learn about each other’s culture and faith,” says Elaine Albert, the urban affairs director for the Jewish Community Relations Committee.

The lines of communication do not include anything as dramatic as secure hotlines or red phones in case of threatening confrontations, “but we are constantly in touch with each other via e-mail or phone,” says Albert.

Jewish membership in the dialogue group include the mainstream Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, represented by Albert, and individual members of the Orthodox and Reform communities. Not surprisingly, the group has a strong liberal representation.

One member is attorney Gideon Kracov of the Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA), who says, “We have a joint interest in dealing with hate crimes and maintaining an attitude of mutual respect.”

Douglas Mirell, the PJA president, observes that “we’re in a period when it’s easy to be carried away by emotions and to say things that we may come to regret later. We need to curtail the level of rhetoric here and the level of violence in the Mideast.”

Another liberal activist is Rabbi Allen I. Freehling of University Synagogue in Brentwood, who says, “We will experience more difficult times, but I’m optimistic that we can maintain a relationship of trust and respect with the Arab-American community.”

A leading Arab voice within the dialogue group and on the Los Angeles scene is Salam al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee.

Al-Marayati tends to attract controversy. A year ago, his appointment to the National Commissions on Terrorism was rescinded under pressure from mainline national Jewish organizations, which described him as an apologist for terrorists.

Many Los Angeles Jews who have worked with al-Marayati took issue with this description, and his organization strongly condemned the recent destruction of Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus by rampaging Palestinians.

“Our dialogue with the Jewish community is working,” says al- Marayati. “We are both free communities, and if we can’t talk to each other, how can you expect Palestinians and Israelis to talk to each other? At all times, we must show zero tolerance for violence and hate crimes.”

Phone calls to other leading Arab organizations in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, such as the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Arab-American Institute, went unanswered.

Al-Marayati said that the lack of response did not indicate a reluctance to talk to the Jewish press, but simply that for the past few weeks, Arab spokesmen have been inundated by media calls. “I only get to answer one in 10 requests,” he said.

In New York, Michael S. Miller, executive vice president of the Jewish Community Relations Council, is one of the key figures in the “Coalition of Concerned Arab-Christians, Jews and Muslim New Yorkers.”The coalition will meet next Monday and recently released a statement, noting, “Although the tensions that currently exist in the Middle East can intensify emotions here in New York, we can not allow these events to divide our city.”

In addition, “isolated incidents must not be used as an excuse for scapegoating or reason to condemn entire communities,” the statement noted, adding,” By working cooperatively, this coalition can serve as a model for our children and a shining beacon guiding other groups toward resolving their differences.”

Under Attack

As leaders of the world community try to bring the Middle East back from the brink of war, Prime Minister Ehud Barak is facing a mounting political challenge to get tougher with the Arabs both inside and outside Israel.

Despite the intermittent violence that continued in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it was the deadly Arab-on-Jew and Jew-on-Arab violence within the country that sent shock waves through Israelis as they tuned in to the news after Yom Kippur ended Monday night.

The Cabinet, in emergency session through much of Monday night, issued a somber statement deploring the violence involving the state’s majority Jewish and minority Arab populations.

Barak told the nation at dawn Tuesday that each citizen, Jew and Arab alike, shared responsibility for preserving the delicate Jewish-Arab relationship built up painstakingly over the five decades of the state’s existence.

One of the dangers posed by the street battles is that they may quickly become part of the political contest between Israel’s political right and left. This despite the ongoing rhetoric from both sides calling for unity at this time of national emergency.

The death toll among Israeli Arabs since the unrest began in late September rose to at least 13 over Yom Kippur with the shooting in Nazareth of two Arab men on the eve of the solemn holiday.

Three others were seriously wounded by gunshots fired in the city that has Israel’s largest Arab population.
Israeli Arab leaders blamed police for the shootings, but police said the fatal shots were most likely fired by civilians.

It soon became clear, however, that the violence in Nazareth was not an isolated incident. Instead, it was the worst of a series of events that had Arabs attacking Jewish cars and property and Jewish vigilantes attacking Arabs and Arab property around the country.

One day after Palestinian mobs destroyed the Jewish holy site of Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus, Jewish mobs attacked an old mosque in downtown Tiberias.

The violence continued with arson attacks on synagogues in Jaffa and Ramla and Jewish looting of Arab shops in Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa, Acre and other towns.

Israel’s Army Radio said the scenes of violence Monday night looked like “civil war.”

Sunday night’s rioting in Nazareth was apparently begun by Jewish youths marching toward an Arab residential area, but this is still being disputed.

Given the lack of media coverage, apparently due to Yom Kippur, the exact order of events remains unclear. The lack of clarity has reinforced the Israeli Arab leadership’s demands for a state inquiry into what happened.

While these leaders have stopped short of calling for a general strike, they want to know who is responsible for the mounting number of deaths among Israeli Arabs since turmoil engulfed the region late last month.
Even within Barak’s own coalition, there has been increasingly strident criticism against the police for acting too forcefully against Israeli Arab rioters.

And the violence within Israel’s borders has become the subject of debate among the nation’s politicians.
Salient among the voices calling for unity was that of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Silent through the previous week of crisis, he went on the air Monday night to “offer my support to the prime minister.”

Netanyahu pointedly refused to be drawn into any criticism of Barak’s performance, either on the home front or when dealing with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s measured tone contrasted with the sharp criticism of the prime minister expressed the next day by the leader of the Likud opposition, Ariel Sharon.

On Tuesday, Sharon accused Barak of vacillating when it came to diplomatic efforts and displaying a lack of resolve in military matters.

Some observers put these different stances down to a rivalry within the Likud Party.

They note that, despite all the talk of unity and a unity government, Barak is plainly hesitant to take Sharon into his government. He is, no doubt, at least partly concerned about the effect such a move would have within the Arab world and the wider international community.

In addition, Justice Minister Yossi Beilin is leading a group within Barak’s Labor Party that publicly opposes the idea of Sharon serving as a senior minister in a unity government.

At least to some extent, this group shares the broad international judgment that Sharon’s high-profile visit to the Temple Mount on Sept. 28 was a reckless act that triggered the subsequent crisis.

For his part, Sharon, who has repeatedly denied that his visit there was intended as a provocation, has been stridently defending Alec Ron, the commander of the northern district of Israel’s police force.

Ron has been criticized by the Israeli Arab community and by the left of the political spectrum for his handling of the confrontations involving the Arab community.

Barak, however, said that Ron was acting under orders and that the entire police force deserved the nation’s support at this difficult time.

But the sense of unease over the police force’s performance has been spreading in coalition circles.
Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg called Tuesday for new orders to be issued to the police to prevent them from making an immediate use of firepower.

Barak is, meanwhile, being attacked for several other decisions he has made during the ongoing crisis.
The premier on Tuesday rejected criticism of his decision to extend the 48-hour period he gave the Palestinians to end the rioting.

The premier said his initial ultimatum to Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat to end the rioting by Monday night had prompted a wave of intervention by world leaders, and these efforts must now be given time to bear fruit.

Barak’s standing has also suffered in the wake of the Israeli army’s sudden withdrawal from Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus on Saturday and the Palestinian mob’s subsequent destruction of the Jewish holy site.
The Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) withdrawal came just one day after Barak said that to leave under pressure of violent action would be “to create a precedent” and therefore the army would not abandon the site.

The premier has also been weakened by Saturday’s kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah gunmen. The IDF failed to stop the kidnappers from advancing north, and efforts to rescue the kidnapped soldiers have since shifted to the diplomatic front.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was in the region this week, seeking to mediate the release of the prisoners.

The kidnapping affects Barak’s leadership because as minister of defense, he carries ultimate responsibility for what was apparently a serious lapse of judgment on the part of local IDF commanders.

The incident also cast a pall over what Barak has projected as his most notable success since he assumed office: the IDF withdrawal from southern Lebanon last May.

Rallies for Israel

West Valley Jewish Community Center
Thurs., Oct. 12, 7 p.m., 22622 Vanowen St., West Hills
Sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and other organizations. For information, call (323) 761-8075 or (818) 464-3210

Federal Building
Sun., Oct. 15, 11 a.m., Wilshire Blvd. and Veteran Ave.
Sponsored by the Council of Israel Organizations and others. For information, call (818) 757-0123.

Sinai Temple
Mon., Oct. 16, 7 p.m., 10400 Wilshire Blvd. Sponsored by the Federation and other organizations. For information call, (323) 761-8075.