Community Briefs

Farrakhan for Free?

A City Council decision to waive event fees for a February Nation of Islam convention drew protests from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Nearly $30,000 in Convention Center rental fees and costs were waived by the council, which determined the event served a public purpose. Following the ADL’s protest, that decision is under review.

The World Saviours’ Day Convention and Expo, scheduled for Feb. 13-17, will feature both a keynote address and a violin concert by Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam’s controversial leader. Farrakhan has repeatedly expressed anti-Semitic and other racist views.

A letter to the Los Angeles City Council, signed by Aaron Levinson, ADL interim regional director, and Tamar Galatzan, Western states associate council, expressed outrage at the fee waivers and noted “the council’s own policy for granting fee waivers … appears to have been violated in several ways.” Councilmembers Jack Weiss and Eric Garcetti have called for a review of the fee waiver policy, and asked the city attorney to investigate the Nation of Islam decision. — Mike Levy, Staff Writer

Meeting of the Mayors

Jerusalem’s Mayor Ehud Omert met with Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn on Tuesday to discuss transportation issues. The visit was part of Olmert’s brief Southern California tour, which also included stops in Riverside County, to examine the SR-91 project, and San Diego, to discuss congestion on Interstate 15 and toll booth pricing with Mayor Dick Murphy.

The reason for Omert’s tour: to gather information that will help Jerusalem with a much-discussed light-rail system, which has been underway for five years and is scheduled for completion in 2006. At $2 billion, Omert called the venture “the biggest public transportation undertaking in the history of the state of Israel.” Mass transit and highway congestion are the areas which Jerusalem hopes to learn about from California.

After their meeting, Hahn likened to Los Angeles’ relationship with Tel Aviv, via The Jewish Federation’s Tel Aviv-Los Angeles Partnership.

“Certainly we are making a number of strides in improving transportation here,” Hahn told The Journal. He added that an exchange of security ideas was not discussed, however, “I did have a briefing with the American Jewish Committee for security, which we can learn more from Israel than they can learn from us.” — Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer

Encino Endeavor

Valley Beth Shalom in Encino sponsored an Israel solidarity rally on Jan. 6. More than 700 people, including hundreds of United Synagogue Youth children from all over the West — including Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Tucson and many California cities — gathered to show allegiance to Israel. Rabbi Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom spoke on growing up Jewish in America and the importance of staying connected to Israel; Rep. Brad Sherman spoke about responding to media bias against Israel. Valley Beth Shalom’s Rabbi Harold Schulweis and Rabbi Tracee Rosen, and Deputy Consul General of Israel Zvi Vapni also shared their thoughts from the lectern. The rally included performances by choirs and Israeli dance groups. — MA