Rural Shuls Make Do Without Rabbis


There’s been a Jewish community in Muskogee, Okla., since 1867, when furrier Joseph Sonderheim opened his import-export business.

In 1916 the first synagogue was dedicated, Congregation Beth Ahaba, a lay-led Reform congregation that served a tight-knit Jewish community of merchants and professionals.

“As Oklahoma grew and prospered through the 1920s, so did our congregation,” said Nancy Stolper, 77, who moved to Muskogee 50 years ago.

Beth Ahaba reached its height of 75 families in 1929 but dwindled to 40 families during the Depression, as stores shut down and people moved away to find work.

Since then, Beth Ahaba’s fortunes have declined steadily. Its young people, including the Stolpers’ four children, grew up and moved away.

Its last student rabbi left 15 years ago.

“We’re now just a group of frail senior citizens,” said Stolper, noting that only eight to 10 members are still able to get to synagogue.

Three months ago they gave up their monthly Friday night services, and this High Holiday season, she fears, will be their last.

“My children have invited us to spend the holidays with them, but I can’t do that, you understand?” Stolper said, crying quietly. “What will we do with our beautiful little building? And our Torah? We haven’t forced ourselves yet to make those decisions. But we know the inevitable is in sight.”

Beth Ahaba’s story is playing out across America, from the mining towns of upper New York state and Pennsylvania to rust-belt factory towns in Michigan and Illinois, sweeping across old Civil War communities like Vicksburg, Miss., and Jonesboro, Ark., and following the pioneer trail into Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.

As local fortunes headed downward in these towns, so did their Jewish communities.

“It’s very often a function of changing demographics,” explained Rabbi Victor Appell of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). “The vast majority of these places had congregations that have grown smaller over the years.”

Rabbi Lawrence Jackofsky, director of URJ’s Southwest region, relates the story of Ardmore, Okla., a once-booming oil town that now has just two or three Jews left.

“The guy who was running services at the end told me, ‘I looked out one day, saw two Jews and 10 Catholics in the room, and said, it’s time to move on.'”

Some of these historic congregations were able to support rabbis and even cantors in their heyday.

Others like Beth Ahaba never could, but survived from the beginning on the strength of their lay leadership.

“A lot of dying congregations exist simply because they’ve always been there,” said Jay Weiner of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ).

The Reform and Conservative movements, which represent most of the country’s lay-led congregations, try to provide support through a variety of means, including student rabbis, visiting rabbis and lay leadership training courses.

Yvonne Youngberg, a fifth-year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, directs the school’s student-run rabbinical student placement service, which sends students to small Conservative congregations that ask for help. She said about half of the fourth- and fifth-year students have regular pulpits.

“Twice a month is the norm, but it’s increasingly common for students to split a pulpit,” she said.

Youngberg shares her gig in Watertown, N.Y., with a cantorial student, so each of them makes the six-hour drive just once a month.

“It’s better for our schedules, and the congregation gets to hear my services and her davening,” she said.

Many congregations are served by visiting rabbis from the movements’ regional offices.

In his 13 years with the USCJ, Rabbi David Blumenfeld visited more than 170 of the 200 smallest Conservative congregations. He’d show up on Friday, lead services, answer questions, advise them on fundraising and youth work, even coach members suffering burnout.

“In these congregations, you have a core of people who are always doing everything,” he said.

Blumenfeld focused on congregations in the most geographically remote areas. He’s given impromptu sermons in Yiddish to a congregation of Russian-speakers, and he’s mushed through snowstorms outside Reno, Nev.

Everywhere he went, Blumenfeld said, he saw ingenuity and spirit.

He asked one Texas congregation how they got a minyan every week. A member pointed to a nearby street lamp and said when they need another Jew on Fridays, he makes the light blink during the evening rush hour.

At one North Carolina synagogue, the lay leader showing him around couldn’t find his keys to the building.

“He told me, ‘Don’t worry I can get a key from any congregant,'” Blumenfeld recalled. “I said, ‘What, all 40 of them have keys to the synagogue?’ And he said, ‘Why not, it belongs to them.'”

The Conservative and Reform movements both run summer training programs to help lay leaders learn the basics of running a service, read Torah, teach Hebrew school, perform baby-namings, even conduct funerals.

“Everything except officiating at weddings,” said Rabbi Sue Ann Wasserman, director of worship, music and religious living for URJ.

Wasserman said about half of this year’s participants in the Reform movement’s synagogue associate course come from lay-led congregations. The others want to learn skills to help support their clergy.

One Texas congregation sends people every year, she said.

“They have a rabbi but can’t afford a second clergy, so they are building up their lay leadership,” she noted.

But it’s the lay-led congregations who really benefit, she said.

“It’s amazing the difference it makes in their congregational life,” she said.

Last year, Temple Kol Shalom, a Reform congregation with 47 families in Placerville, decided to send Dale Wallerstein, a chiropractor who had been acting as a cantorial soloist for years.

The temple had been hiring visiting rabbis and student rabbis. Finally, Wallerstein said, “we looked at continuity and consistency issues and the cost, and decided it would be good if I learned how to give dvar Torahs,” or interpretations of the Torah, “do funerals and provide pastoral care.”

After completing the two-year course, which meets for two weeks each summer, and attending a winter session on Jewish education, Wallerstein said she is “thrilled” with what she’s learned.

Even more than actual skills, she said the course has “given me confidence, which adds to my credibility,” and showed her “how to access areas I hadn’t know about, so I can direct our adult education to a different place.”

Blumenfeld, now retired from his visiting rabbi days, said larger congregations and their rabbis have a lot to learn from small, lay-led groups.

“Every rabbinic student should spend time in one of these congregations,” he said. “They have such heart.”

 

Open Season


Those who see little distinction between religion and golf might be tempted to daven with their heads pointed northwest, toward Pebble Beach. But the Monterey Peninsula also has plenty of other great golf courses to make you pray for a great short game — and a reservation.

If you’re the kind of person who can network your way into front-row seats at a Knicks-Lakers game, you might want to attempt some string-pulling to play some of Monterey’s great private layouts. Although you’re more likely to garner a spot on the next space shuttle than to land a tee time at Cypress Point, some other local clubs should prove more accessible. At the very least, they’re still worth hearing about.

That’s especially true of the remarkable Santa Lucia Preserve in Carmel Valley, where developers appear to have done everything right. The 20,000-acre property, which encompasses some of the most beautiful California landscape imaginable, will mostly be preserved in its natural state, with only 350 home sites of several to 65 acres being offered for sale at prices between $800,000-$4 million. My advice is to practice hard and raise the dollar amount of your next Nassau. The club will admit only 300 members, so you’ll want to act fast.

Those involved in Santa Lucia are quick to point out that the development is not a golf community: the secluded, ultra-private golf course is merely an amenity for homeowners — possibly the first time anyone’s referred to a Tom Fazio signature work in that way.

Originally routed and designed by local course architect Michael Poellet, developers brought Fazio in to create the greens and bunkering and to put his valuable (read: sales tool) name on a spacious, airy layout that meanders across a piece of land the likes of which may never become available in the region again. The golf course encompasses 350 acres — nearly three times the customary area. Holes wind past redwood forests, waterfalls, natural meadows full of wildflowers, and enough other lovely features to write your own Woody Guthrie song about. They blend wonderfully into the landscape and express subtleties rather than heroics — through swishing orientations, narrow fairways, a mere 50 bunkers, and charming if uneventful greens. Although creeks tinkle across the property, little water comes into play. The longest of four sets of tees will stretch to 7,067 eminently walkable yards, and the club will offer caddies to make that walk even more enjoyable.

A much different kind of development from Santa Lucia, Monterey’s new par-71 Pasadera Country Club, represents Jack Nicklaus’s only design on the peninsula. This extremely strong, well-crafted and accessible layout will be home to 395 members but also remain open to the public every Monday — a generosity that’s great for the game of golf. Nicklaus’s love of strategic nuance is evident course-wide in a risk-reward sort of way, but especially in the greens, which feature more tiers than a Julia Roberts movie. Native fescues will provide contrasts between fairways and, well, non-fairways in different seasons. Although the routing (originally plotted by Robert Muir Graves) is a bit quirky — and even includes two fairways that cross — the variety of holes will delight you as they ramble across 6,800 yards of canyons, sandstone formations, native oak groves and chaparral-covered hills. Bring your altimeter, because no fewer than six holes climb big-time — though whether you do so gradually or all at once is part of the strategic challenge. And remember what they say about what goes up.

To move things along, Nicklaus designed the 505-yard par-five first hole with few hazards, but do not fear — plenty more appear later, especially in the form of sculpted bunkers. Slim landing areas add to the drama, particularly at the stupendous 14th hole, 212 yards, all carry, across a huge ravine to a green that hangs atop a precipice. Never known to be short of words, Nicklaus was apparently speechless when he first laid eyes on this part of the property, then finally just muttered, “Wow.” The other par threes are also memorable.

If you prefer well-aged golf layouts to those just out of the package, one of the best sites in America is occupied by the tony old Monterey Peninsula Country Club, tucked between Cypress Point and Spanish Bay. But these days, even the old is new; Rees Jones recently made over Seth Raynor’s 1926 Dunes Course. Regrettably, Raynor died during construction of the Dunes and never really finished designing it. Seventy-five years later, Jones has completed the job in fabulous style, mostly by adding moundings that sharpen course lines and working hard around the greens, which formerly failed to meet USGA specs. Members are calling the new, hidden tee box on the 14th hole “Rees’ Surprise.” Jones shifted the green here and created a new oceanside tee that requires a long carry over crashing surf, sea otters, lost penguins, daring ball hounds, mermaids and who knows what else.

MPCC’s Shore Course, built for $50,000 back in the 1950s, will soon be redone by Arnold Palmer and should join the Dunes as one of the most outstanding view courses anywhere. The club also owns a piece of oceanfront property that would sell for millions but currently serves as a shag-bag range for members and as a salad bar for a herd of very lucky deer.

Speaking of redesigns, 20 minutes north of Monterey, in Salinas, Coral de Tierra Country Club is about to emerge from a facelift by the skilled hand of the ubiquitous Michael Poellet. The original layout, designed by Bob Baldock Jr., dates to 1959, but Poellet’s renovation — particularly his skillful and sublime bunkering — will bring the course into the era of modern architecture. Poellet actually moved or rebuilt every bunker on the course, added a few new ones and built strategy into the sand complexes by creating doorways through which the greens are best approached. He also put in a lot of work around the greens. One of the outstanding new holes at this 6,600-yard track is number 13, a 492-yard downhill par five with a creek sneaking across the fairway at about 230 yards out. The seductive bunkering invites a heroic second shot to the green or intimidates you to lay up short to the left of the sand. Coral is friendly and unpretentious and offers a breezy round in a verdant bowl surrounded by steep, gorgeous hills. Locals posit that this was the location of Steinbeck’s famous “Pastures of Heaven.” Highly amicable and well-loved longtime pro Jerry Greenfield will go to any lengths to ensure his members’ happiness at Coral, even if it means accidentally maneuvering his new electronic caddie into a lake just for their amusement.

If you prefer to play your golf among the masses — or at least among those masses who can afford $100-$300 green fees — Monterey offers one of the best collections of high-end public/resort layouts anywhere.

We’ll save Pebble Beach Golf Links and the accompanying inn for some other century, when they actually need more press. But the Pebble Beach Company also owns two other stupendous golf courses and a pair of small lodgings that are to hotel rooms what Pebble is to grass-covered dunes.

For my money, The Links at Spanish Bay ranks right up there with the big PB for pure golfing perfection, though it lacks the powerful historic elements. How can you go wrong when Tom Watson, Sandy Tatum and Robert Trent Jones Jr. team up to insinuate a layout among some of the most beautiful linksland this side of Dornoch, but where the ocean’s still warm enough for surfing? As with the best British coastland courses, Spanish Bay invites you to hit normal shots (in this case “normal” may mean into a 40-knot wind), or keep the ball low and bump and roll it onto the greens. Virtually every hole at Spanish Bay involves a surprising journey, and even the shortest holes require laser accuracy. Such as number two, which may elicit nonchalance because of its mere 307-yard distance, but upon closer look will give you a good, sandy fright. Make sure to pick up a yardage guide before playing Spanish Bay; to have even a chance to score well, you’ll need to know what’s out there. Be forewarned that it includes pot bunkers, hummocks, double dog legs, and at least one green that has so many tiers it resembles Southwestern pueblo architecture.

The Inn at Spanish Bay is as warm and fine as the golf course is brisk and challenging. Rooms provide a cozy respite between ocean dunes and pine forests; all contain fireplaces, and the best view across the windswept landscape. Leave your windows open to hear the plaintive notes of the bagpiper who walks the links at dusk as if mourning every golf ball he ever lost. When the concert commences, head down to Roy Yamaguchi’s restaurant, where you might need Cliff’s Notes to get through the extensive Euro-Asian menu.

Just a short dune-buggy ride down the coast, Spyglass Hill Golf Course offers another dandy layout with a more accessible public feel. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1966 and a host course for the AT&T, Spyglass takes its name from Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.” All holes are named for characters in the book. The course features two distinctly different topographies that influence design. The first five holes (and the best five) gambol over dunes, ice plant and nefarious waste areas and call for supreme accuracy or a small shovel. The remaining thirteen holes route beautifully through pine groves and entice with lakes and elevated greens, but they may disappoint some players after their romp in the sand.
Spyglass is rated as one of the toughest golf courses in the world from the back tees (75.9 rating, slope of 148, 6,855 yards), and three holes (6, 8 and 16) rank among the most difficult on the PGA tour. The feloniously fast greens are only part of the challenge. I had such a rough day on the course that they might as well have come out from the pro shop and beat me with a stick.

Since Spyglass doesn’t offer lodging, why not head to Casa Palmero, the spanking-new 24-room inn along the first hole back at Pebble Beach? Designed for high-enders who treasure privacy, intimacy and relaxation (as opposed to those who prefer pressure and mayhem), the secluded Spanish-Mediterranean-style getaway is possibly the best small hotel in the United States. Advertised as being so intimate that most travelers will never know it exists, Casa Palmero puts a premium on unparalleled service. In addition to a spacious, luxurious room with amenities such as a wood-burning fireplace and a Bose wave radio, enjoy the use of the old homestead’s living room, dining room, library, billiard room, and private bar.

Twenty minutes inland from the golf theme park of Pebble Beach, in Carmel, lies four-star, four-diamond Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club, a homey, understated property with a golf course that would deserve marquee status anywhere else. The resort’s 100 rooms are spread across a parkland setting full of lakes and fountains surrounding a main lodge that houses the excellent Covey Restaurant (during my visit, quail was not on the menu), one of the best among many around Carmel and Monterey.

Quail’s golf course, 6,516 yards designed by Robert Muir Graves, also wends through willows, oaks, lakes, and meadows full of lupine and poppies. The course is charming and challenging in a quiet way and requires precise attention to play it well. Three par threes on the front side will hone your short game while back-to-back par fives on the second nine will help keep your fairway woods warm. Known as a particularly woman-friendly venue, Quail has hosted several championships, including the California Women’s Amateur and the USGA Senior Amateur. While not as grand and daunting as the more famous local links courses, Quail still soars.

So if you happen to miss the cut at the Open this year, you’ll be glad to know that the Monterey area’s other courses offer some top-notch consolation rounds.

Cover Story


The recent revelations about the South OrangeCounty Community College District’s desire to offer a course that, inpart, blames the Mossad and the Anti-Defamation League for theassassination of President John F. Kennedy read something like a badclipping from the area’s far-right past.

Even as the county continues to emerge as anincreasingly cosmopolitan, high-tech region, it appears that theregressive gene, with its racist and anti-Semitic characteristics,remains all too embedded in the county’s public policy. Despite thecancellation of the course (due to various outside pressures), theelected head of the board of trustees, Steven T. Frogue, continues tospew out the right-wing conspiratorial line, which, in other parts ofSouthern California, has thankfully receded into history.

Indeed, despite rapid demographic and economicchange, the county still is bedeviled with a significant, highlyvisible group of people whose views seem more in line with the MiddleAges than the Information Age. Of course, such views do not representanything like a majority in Orange County, notes UC Irvine’s MarcBaldassare, the region’s leading pollster. By his estimation, no morethan 20 percent of Orange County residents share the kind of”hard-right” politics that produces leaders such as Frogue. Evenwithin the Republican Party, Baldassare believes, the vast majoritytend more toward a libertarian, fiscally conservative but sociallymoderate philosophy.

“The whole right-wing social agenda, ‘familyvalues’ thing does not play well here,” Baldassare says, noting thatin the 1996 elections, Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole wononly 50 percent of the Orange County vote and moderate DemocratLoretta Sanchez upset far-right (but not anti-Semitic) incumbentCongressman Bob Dornan. “I don’t think there’s a vast undercurrent ofracism or anti-Semitism here at all. That conflicts with theprevailing sense of personal rights and responsibility.”

Rabbi Arnie Rachlis of University Synagogue inIrvine essentially shares these views, suggesting that the region’sJewish community, estimated to be between 70,000 and 100,000 strong,has little to fear from anti-Semitism from its non-Jewishneighbors.

Life in Orange County may be plagued by a kind of”Stepford Wives” suburbanite conformity, but not by rabidanti-Semitism. “People like Frogue are exceptional,” Rachlis says.”When you go out to soccer practice, it’s white, Gentile andconservative, but not a bunch of Birchers and skinheads.”

Perhaps so, but having Frogue entrenched as anelected official still should give pause to Jews in Orange County andthroughout Southern California. For one thing, Frogue’s anti-Semiticpolitics are not a new development on the other side of the OrangeCurtain.

Since the 1920s, racist, anti-Semitic and nativistsentiments have surfaced repeatedly in Orange County politics.Indeed, back in the 1920s and 1930s, the Ku Klux Klan gainedpolitical power in cities such as Anaheim, Fullerton, Brea and LaHabra; the rabidly anti-Semitic group was hardly on the fringe. Asone scholar noted later, most Klansmen were considered “civicallyactive, substantial citizens.”

Nor did the extremist element die with the demiseof the Klan in the 1930s. Although Jews, African-Americans andAsian-Americans were only a tiny proportion of the county’spopulation — itself nearly 75 percent white Protestant — the racistculture continued to exist in Orange County’s fertile soil. Into the1960s, extreme right-wing politicians, such as James B. Utt,represented the southern end of the county, even proposing aconstitutional amendment that called for official recognition of “theauthority and law of Jesus Christ, Savior and Ruler of Nations.” TheJohn Birch Society also found its strongest California base in OrangeCounty.

As the county grew in population and economicpower, far-right anti-Semitic and racist elements still found succorwithin prominent institutions, such as Knott’s Berry Farm. In thiscase, recalls marketing consultant Bob Kelley, it may have been morea matter of indifference and ignorance than outright activeanti-Semitism. Walter Knott, Kelley says, was himself not ananti-Semite and even had Jewish secretaries, but he tolerated afundamentalist-run bookstore that openly sold anti-Jewish tracts.Eventually, Kelley and other advisers persuaded Knott to shut downthe bookstore.

But Kelley, my own longtime personal friend and aprominent adviser to many Orange County high-tech companies, believesthat the region is now at a crossroads between its far-right,intolerant past and a more cosmopolitan future. The bulk of OrangeCounty’s increasingly high-tech and trade-oriented businessleadership remains politically conservative but far from racist orexclusive. Indeed, Kelley points out, some of the county’s leadingbusiness figures — such as Quicksilver Software’s Bill Fisher,Westec’s Michael Kaye and Toshiba Information Systems’ Paul Wexler –are themselves Jews.

“In the high-tech and medical world that I dealwith, it’s pretty Jewish these days,” Kelley says. “In that world, Inever encounter anti-Semitism. But, sometimes, when I was dealingwith car dealers and with insurance brokers, well, some of themclearly came from wherever rednecks are minted.”

In other words, Kelley and other business leaderssuggest, Orange County’s new, and buoyant, economy, increasinglydominated by Asians and Latinos, has no room for bigots — even ifonly in its own self-interest. To compete for educated workers,capital and media attention against Silicon Valley or other high-techregions, Orange County must purge itself as much as possible of itsugly regressive genes. It may be blind optimism to believe this willhappen, but I’m betting that it will.

Joel Kotkin is the John M. Olin Fellow at thePepperdine Institute for Public Policy.


Beyond the Orange Curtain


The recent revelations about the South OrangeCounty Community College District’s desire to offer a course that, inpart, blames the Mossad and the Anti-Defamation League for theassassination of President John F. Kennedy read something like a badclipping from the area’s far-right past.

Even as the county continues to emerge as anincreasingly cosmopolitan, high-tech region, it appears that theregressive gene, with its racist and anti-Semitic characteristics,remains all too embedded in the county’s public policy. Despite thecancellation of the course (due to various outside pressures), theelected head of the board of trustees, Steven T. Frogue, continues tospew out the right-wing conspiratorial line, which, in other parts ofSouthern California, has thankfully receded into history.

Indeed, despite rapid demographic and economicchange, the county still is bedeviled with a significant, highlyvisible group of people whose views seem more in line with the MiddleAges than the Information Age. Of course, such views do not representanything like a majority in Orange County, notes UC Irvine’s MarcBaldassare, the region’s leading pollster. By his estimation, no morethan 20 percent of Orange County residents share the kind of”hard-right” politics that produces leaders such as Frogue. Evenwithin the Republican Party, Baldassare believes, the vast majoritytend more toward a libertarian, fiscally conservative but sociallymoderate philosophy.

“The whole right-wing social agenda, ‘familyvalues’ thing does not play well here,” Baldassare says, noting thatin the 1996 elections, Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole wononly 50 percent of the Orange County vote and moderate DemocratLoretta Sanchez upset far-right (but not anti-Semitic) incumbentCongressman Bob Dornan. “I don’t think there’s a vast undercurrent ofracism or anti-Semitism here at all. That conflicts with theprevailing sense of personal rights and responsibility.”

Rabbi Arnie Rachlis of University Synagogue inIrvine essentially shares these views, suggesting that the region’sJewish community, estimated to be between 70,000 and 100,000 strong,has little to fear from anti-Semitism from its non-Jewishneighbors.

Life in Orange County may be plagued by a kind of”Stepford Wives” suburbanite conformity, but not by rabidanti-Semitism. “People like Frogue are exceptional,” Rachlis says.”When you go out to soccer practice, it’s white, Gentile andconservative, but not a bunch of Birchers and skinheads.”

Perhaps so, but having Frogue entrenched as anelected official still should give pause to Jews in Orange County andthroughout Southern California. For one thing, Frogue’s anti-Semiticpolitics are not a new development on the other side of the OrangeCurtain.

Since the 1920s, racist, anti-Semitic and nativistsentiments have surfaced repeatedly in Orange County politics.Indeed, back in the 1920s and 1930s, the Ku Klux Klan gainedpolitical power in cities such as Anaheim, Fullerton, Brea and LaHabra; the rabidly anti-Semitic group was hardly on the fringe. Asone scholar noted later, most Klansmen were considered “civicallyactive, substantial citizens.”

Nor did the extremist element die with the demiseof the Klan in the 1930s. Although Jews, African-Americans andAsian-Americans were only a tiny proportion of the county’spopulation — itself nearly 75 percent white Protestant — the racistculture continued to exist in Orange County’s fertile soil. Into the1960s, extreme right-wing politicians, such as James B. Utt,represented the southern end of the county, even proposing aconstitutional amendment that called for official recognition of “theauthority and law of Jesus Christ, Savior and Ruler of Nations.” TheJohn Birch Society also found its strongest California base in OrangeCounty.

As the county grew in population and economicpower, far-right anti-Semitic and racist elements still found succorwithin prominent institutions, such as Knott’s Berry Farm. In thiscase, recalls marketing consultant Bob Kelley, it may have been morea matter of indifference and ignorance than outright activeanti-Semitism. Walter Knott, Kelley says, was himself not ananti-Semite and even had Jewish secretaries, but he tolerated afundamentalist-run bookstore that openly sold anti-Jewish tracts.Eventually, Kelley and other advisers persuaded Knott to shut downthe bookstore.

But Kelley, my own longtime personal friend and aprominent adviser to many Orange County high-tech companies, believesthat the region is now at a crossroads between its far-right,intolerant past and a more cosmopolitan future. The bulk of OrangeCounty’s increasingly high-tech and trade-oriented businessleadership remains politically conservative but far from racist orexclusive. Indeed, Kelley points out, some of the county’s leadingbusiness figures — such as Quicksilver Software’s Bill Fisher,Westec’s Michael Kaye and Toshiba Information Systems’ Paul Wexler –are themselves Jews.

“In the high-tech and medical world that I dealwith, it’s pretty Jewish these days,” Kelley says. “In that world, Inever encounter anti-Semitism. But, sometimes, when I was dealingwith car dealers and with insurance brokers, well, some of themclearly came from wherever rednecks are minted.”

In other words, Kelley and other business leaderssuggest, Orange County’s new, and buoyant, economy, increasinglydominated by Asians and Latinos, has no room for bigots — even ifonly in its own self-interest. To compete for educated workers,capital and media attention against Silicon Valley or other high-techregions, Orange County must purge itself as much as possible of itsugly regressive genes. It may be blind optimism to believe this willhappen, but I’m betting that it will.

Joel Kotkin is the John M. Olin Fellow at thePepperdine Institute for Public Policy.