With Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip scheduled to begin on Aug. 15, escalating right-wing and settler protests threaten to plunge the country into anarchy and could provoke a strong anti-settler backlash.
Protesters last week blocked major highways, poured oil and scattered spikes across a busy road; occupied buildings in Gaza, and threw stones at Palestinians and Israel Defense Forces soldiers. The army and police responded by temporarily declaring the Gaza Strip a closed military zone, ejecting the extremists from occupied buildings and making dozens of arrests.
In an unprecedented spate of interviews and public statements, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon condemned what he called the “hooliganism” of the far right, and vowed that he would not be deterred by it.
However, will authorities be able to maintain law and order in the face of even more extreme protest plans?
Even if they do, Sharon faces other serious challenges. Right-wing soldiers have begun refusing to obey orders, a phenomenon that some fear will spread. There also is talk among rebels in Sharon’s own Likud Party of a move to replace him as prime minister with the more hawkish finance minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. (See related story on Netanyahu’s visit to Los Angeles on page 20.)
On the other hand, there are signs that the settlers and other withdrawal opponents may have gone too far and have seriously undermined their cause. The media is rife with angry anti-settler columns, and the latest polls show a dramatic increase in support for withdrawal.
The last week of June may prove to have been a turning point. The repeated blocking of traffic on major thoroughfares has incensed ordinary Israelis, and the cat-and-mouse games that anti-withdrawal teenagers played with police trying to keep the roads open have exasperated authorities.
But more devastating for the settler cause have been the images of violence: the near-lynching of an 18-year-old Palestinian by right-wing extremists, and an Israeli soldier injured after being hit by a boulder. It was also feared that the oil and spikes on the highways could cause fatal accidents.
Right-wing leader Moshe Feiglin said that the possibility of a few Israelis dying now as a result of the protests pales in significance next to the large numbers of Israelis, he says, “will surely die” if the withdrawal goes ahead.
The oil and spikes prompted outspoken attacks on the protesters in the press. The most vehement came from crime correspondent Boukie Naeh in Yediot Achronot: “If the police don’t break your bones, I will.”
“The Israeli army and the police should kill a few members of your criminal Jewish gangs and stop the anarchy,” Naeh wrote. “Because if they don’t deal with you today, tomorrow you’ll burn down my house just because I don’t agree with you.”
Avi Bettelheim, deputy editor of the rival Ma’ariv newspaper, was more sanguine. He argued that the mayhem of the past few weeks has done much to discredit the settler cause, and said he now believes the withdrawal will go through more smoothly.
A July 1 poll in Yediot Achronot seemed to bear Bettelheim out. After a steady decline to 53 percent at the start of June, the poll showed support for the government’s withdrawal plan climbing back to 62 percent.
However, other observers aren’t convinced police will be able to handle future protests.
Writing in Ha’aretz, Amos Harel asked, “If the police deploy a 6,000-strong force throughout the country but are unable to prevent roads from being blocked, what will happen during the pullout, when a larger number of police will be busy evacuating” the Gaza Strip?
There is another looming threat that could compound the manpower issue: soldiers refusing to carry out evacuation-related orders. Three soldiers already have refused to participate in withdrawal-related operations, and have been sentenced to up to 56 days in jail.
Moreover, Orthodox soldiers, serving according to a special arrangement with their yeshivas, known as hesder yeshivas, are asking to be exempted from having to evacuate settlers.
The army does not intend to make it easy for soldiers who refuse orders. Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, military chief of staff, has warned that if hesder rabbis continue telling students to refuse evacuation-related orders, the IDF may reconsider the whole hesder project, which mixes religious study with army service.
Sharon, clearly disturbed by the threat of anarchy and refusal, gave brief interviews to all the major Hebrew dailies. He told Ha’aretz that “under no circumstances can we allow a lawless gang to take control of life in Israel.”
In Yediot Achronot, Sharon declared, “What we are witnessing is not a struggle over the withdrawal from Gaza, but a battle over the character of the state.”
He told Ma’ariv, “This wild behavior will stop. Period.”
Despite all the opposition, Sharon is determined to go through with the withdrawal.
One thing that could still stop Sharon would be a Likud Party coup to oust him and install Netanyahu in his place. Addressing a major economic conference in Jerusalem, Sharon declared that he was aware of how his opponents “are planning my political ouster.” Although Sharon didn’t mention him by name, everyone knew he meant Netanyahu.
Netanyahu’s moves will be crucial. He is under pressure from the far right to put himself at the head of the Likud rebels and move to topple Sharon. But as a would-be prime minister himself, Netanyahu needs to be careful not to ally himself too closely with the far right.
Netanyahu voted Sunday to delay the withdrawal by three months, although the Cabinet defeated the proposal by an 18-3 vote.
When Rabbi Jason Van Leeuwen sat for interviews this spring with the search committee at Congregation B’nai Tikvah in Westchester, he was struck by the questions. Normally, search committees ask rabbi finalists to, for example, name their three great strengths and three great weaknesses, but such standard human resources probing was of little interest to B’nai Tikvah members.
Van Leeuwen said the committee instead asked him: “‘Tell me what your favorite congregant would tell you in an effort to improve your performance.'”
“And I was really impressed with the question. It had a humanity to it,” said the 39-year-old Van Leeuwen, a married father of two who on Aug. 20 gave his first sermon as the new rabbi of the small, Conservative shul of about 150 families near LAX.
While it is a highly active, small synagogue, B’nai Tikvah has growth issues. Saturday services typically attract 40 to 60 people, and in the past four years, the congregation has gone from 165 to 135 families.
“We had a lot of older members, and they passed away,” said Tony Shaffer, synagogue president. “We had an economic slump, and people got new jobs, and they moved away. There’s not much you can do about that.”
Part of Van Leeuwen’s mandate, Shaffer said, is to be, “somebody that can energize us. Somebody with growth experience.”
This is critical because B’nai Tikvah has made the difficult decision to eventually vacate its Manchester Boulevard location and, after decades, leave the high Westchester bluffs and hopefully find a new home in Playa Vista, the new housing development off of Lincoln Boulevard near Playa del Rey. The new location is expected to attract many young families in the next 10 years.
“The ultimate goal is to go to Playa Vista,” Shaffer said. “We want to become more a regional-based shul.”
For years, B’nai Tikvah has seen members shuttle between services in Westchester and Culver City’s Reform shul, Temple Akiba. It also faces competition for congregants from nearby Chabads, plus Venice’s Congregation Mishkon Tephilo and Manhattan Beach’s Congregation Tifreth Jacob.
In Playa Vista, Shaffer said, “we found that we could be more centrally located down the hill.”
B’nai Tikvah’s 204-seat sanctuary is the northernmost point of the South Bay’s small, self-contained Jewish community. It sits in a part of Los Angeles that makes Westchester neither a South Bay institution, like the Beach cities, nor part of the Westside’s vibrant Jewish culture.
“B’nai Tikvah is definitely not the epicenter of Jewish Los Angeles,” said Van Leeuwen, who has spent the past five years as cantor at the mid-size Temple Ramat Zion in Northridge. “It’s not far from the epicenter. I found a small congregation with a disproportionately high level of involvement. It has a disproportionately large number of programs.”
Synagogue search committee veterans say that finding the right rabbi is not unlike the courtship of marriage: The rabbi must be able both to laugh and weep with congregants, bless their newborns and bury their parents.
“Searching for a rabbi is really searching for yourself as a congregation,” Van Leeuwen said.
After studying at the University of Judaism and then the Jewish Theological Seminary, Van Leeuwen spent three years at a midsize congregation on Long Island and then a year as interim rabbi at Congregation Eilat in Mission Viejo, before switching to cantorial work at Ramat Zion.
B’nai Tikvah’s pulpit application was 32 pages, with a lengthy questionnaire.
“You’re asked to define yourself as a synagogue; not only are you defining yourself but also what kind of rabbi you’re looking for,” Shaffer said. “You had a very clear idea at the end of it of what you’re looking for.”
Roberta Stock, one of seven search committee members, said Van Leeuwen “read our application very closely. He knew who we were. He asked good questions and in return, he appreciated our honesty. It was apparent that he took the time to care about who we were.”
Van Leeuwen had a long-standing friendship with his predecessor, Rabbi Michael Beads, who after seven years in Westchester is now the head rabbi of the larger Congregation Beth Shalom in Wilmington, Del. Beals was not involved in the search committee.
The Israel that Donna Rosenthal depicts in her new book, "The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land" (Free Press) can sound like one very crowded apartment building, filled with interesting, passionate people from many backgrounds, often shouting in the hallways, sitting on the stoop, offering advice out their windows, sharing tragedies. But the tenants don’t know much about those neighbors who aren’t like them.
Rosenthal is a journalist with an eye for the telling anecdote. She presents scores of profiles of Israeli citizens, stories full of complexities, sometimes contradictions and mysteries: Here are Bedouin women watching Oprah, then washing clothes in plastic buckets on the floor; ice-skaters with names like Tatiana and Vadim who practice in an Olympic-sized rink in Metulla and bring home medals for their adopted country; people for whom it has become not uncommon to attend funerals and weddings in a single day.
Among many others, she depicts an ultra-Orthodox father who won’t allow his daughter to keep the "dental hygienist" Barbie doll given to her by a secular friend of the family; an Ethiopian electrical engineer working for Intel who never used electricity or saw a telephone until he was 12; a young man who studied Torah all through school and says that his first spiritual experience was in Goa, India; a Christian Arab social worker doing outreach to gay and lesbian Arabs; a Yemenite psychologist who tried to bleach her skin white as a child.
"Israel is a talkative country," Rosenthal said in a telephone interview from her office in Northern California, when asked how she was able to get so many people to open up their lives. "It’s an easy place to be a journalist."
"The Israelis" was inspired by the comments of an international news producer at CNN who told her that viewers were confused about Israeli identity, noticing that there were Jews who look like Arabs, Arabs who look like Jews, men in 16th century garb and girls in tight pants.
"Who are these people anyway?" he asked.
"I’m trying to smash stereotypes," said Rosenthal, who has lived in Israel on and off since in the 1970s and worked as a producer for Israeli television and as a radio reporter. Although Israel receives a great deal of news coverage, she said, "There’s an amazing amount of ignorance [among reporters]," and added, "Some of the most ignorant reporters have been Jews."
She’s no easier on the American Jewish community.
"I’m appalled at the lack of knowledge among Jews, even those who’ve been to Israel," she said, after speaking about the book at several Jewish book fairs and at synagogues and bookstores.
Her judgments may be harsh, but even those individuals who make a point of staying current with Israel through reading its press and literature, talking frequently with Israelis and visiting are likely to hear voices of Israelis they haven’t previously heard.
This is not a book of politics and politicians but of regular people. Rosenthal’s two criteria for inclusion were Israeli citizenship and not being famous. She made sure to include a large number of women. She said that their stories are frequently left out of books. Her interviews and profiles are woven together with historical background and statistics.
Some of her findings are particularly surprising: That Arab Christians are the most educated and affluent of all Israelis, that Muhammad is the most popular name for an Israeli boy.
She finds pockets of tolerance, like a Turkish-Sephardi grandmother who grew up in Hebron and saw her father murdered by his Arab business partner. But she never lost her faith in God and never hated Arabs. When a bomb goes off, she always says, "Rotten terrorist" — never "Rotten Arabs." Her oft-quoted proverb: "If you live to seek revenge, dig a grave for two."
Avoiding easy generalizations, Rosenthal writes about such themes as mixed marriages (between Ashkenazim and Sephardim), life on the fast track in the world of high tech, the "widening fault line between Jews and Jews" over matters of religion, the daily impact of terrorism, resentment toward new immigrants, differing work ethics, a religious reawakening among non-Orthodox Jews who are studying Jewish texts anew and what one man calls "kippology" — the meaning of different head coverings.
She covers sexuality, writing about army life, customs of the haredim, gay Arabs and Jews, prostitutes and brothels and parents who prefer to have their children sleep with their boyfriends or girlfriends in their own beds at home so that they know they are safe.
In addition, she writes about the various Arab communities, finding on newsstands an Arabic magazine, Lilac, a cross between People, Cosmo and the National Catholic Reporter, with glossy photos and pointed articles about premarital sex, date rape and homosexuality.
Rosenthal’s first book was "Passport Israel," a guide to cross-cultural communications and doing business in Israel. She said that over the years, she has learned to understand the Israeli character. For one thing, she realizes that a "no" may really be a "maybe." When she is turned down for an interview by a leading businessman, she calls right back, asks again, and turns "no" into "yes."
The author, who until this intifada kept a horse in an Arab village on the Mount of Olives, spent about four years writing the book, living first in the center of Jerusalem, then near the beach in Tel Aviv and traveling back and forth to the United States.
Rosenthal’s own politics are nowhere to be seen in this rich and lively book. She’s very much the absent narrator; she offers neither prescriptions nor solutions.
In an interview, too, she revealed little about herself, other than that she comes from a background that’s both Sephardi and Ashkenazi, "a mixed family of Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, non-Orthodox and everything in between. A typical family."
"I’m trying to have no fingerprints," she said, and expressed satisfaction that she has been invited to speak at synagogues across the denominational spectrum and has heard positive comments from Israelis involved in the settlement movement, as well as from members of Peace Now about the way they were covered. "Everyone thinks I’m one of them."
Discussions about "The Israelis" will take place at The Jewish Community Library, Feb. 25, 7 p.m., 6505 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. R.S.V.P., (323) 761-8644; and Stephen S. Wise Temple, March 2, 7:30 p.m., 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive, Los Angeles.
After the American Army liberated them, the surviving prisoners looked like walking skeletons. They had been beaten, starved, humiliated, forced to dig tunnels under inhuman conditions and prodded through a 150-mile death march.
A sad, familiar Holocaust story. Except that these survivors were American GIs, prisoners of war captured in the Battle of the Bulge, who had been segregated as actual or presumed Jews, and then brutalized as slave laborers for the Nazis.
The all-but-unknown story of these men has been memorialized in "Berga: Soldiers of Another War" by famed documentary filmmaker Charles Guggenheim as his last work, completed a few weeks before his death last October.
After they had been captured in December 1944, thousands of American POWs were transported to Stalag 9B. There the German commandant ordered all Jewish soldiers to step forward and identify themselves.
The POWs had elected Hans Friedrich Kasten, an American soldier of German descent, as their camp leader, and he passed down the word that no one was to admit to being Jewish. The GIs, Jewish and non-Jewish, stuck together, but individual Jewish soldiers were still in a quandary.
Some threw away their dogtags, with the tell-tale letter "H" (for Hebrew) designating their religion. Others, like Myron Swack, identified himself. Recalling the moment 55 years later, Swack said, "I was born a Jew and I might as well die a Jew. That’s the way I figured. My parents were born as Jews and they died as Jews."
Not satisfied with the number of "identified" Jews, the Nazis picked out anyone who "looked" Jewish or had a "Jewish-sounding" last name. In the end, only 80 of the 350 "undesirables" sent to Berga, a satellite concentration camp of Buchenwald, were actually Jewish.
Guggenheim, winner of four Oscars, tells the story through interviews with survivors (many of whom had never shared the horror with their families) and eyewitnesses, archival photos and re-enactments.
The filmmaker himself had carried the project in his mind for 50 years. He had been a member of the 106th Infantry Division, some of whose GIs died in Berga. Due to a basic training injury, Guggenheim had stayed behind in the States, and he never got over it.
"They went overseas and I didn’t," he said before his death. "That’s why I had to tell this story."
The 90-minute film airs May 28 at 9:30 p.m. on KCET. &’9;
“President Bush has the best interests of the United Statesand the world at heart … if push comes to shove, I would fight with theAmerican Army,” said Jacob Proud, a 20-year old freshman in bioethics at theUniversity of Judaism (UJ).
“I question the real motives for this war… I want mycountry and Israel to be as just and righteous as possible,” observed MarkGoodman, 26, a second-year student in the UJ’s Ziegler School of RabbinicStudies. The opinions, expressed in separate interviews during the first weekof the war in Iraq, illustrate an obvious and a more subtle point.
For one, not all students think alike, not even in auniversity whose students are, by self-selection, dedicated to Judaism.Secondly, even within the UJ, undergraduates and rabbinical students sitlargely on opposite sides of the fence.
It’s risky to jump to big conclusions from a very smallsample of interviews, and the perspectives might have been different amongstudents at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion or anOrthodox yeshiva, and most certainly at a secular institution like UCLA.
But thanks to the diversity of backgrounds in the UJundergraduate college, which is nondenominational, the viewpoints of itsstudents seem to represent sizable Jewish constituencies.
The Jewish Journal held a roundtable discussion with fourundergraduates. Besides Proud, they were Michael B. Salonius, 29, a senior inJewish philosophy; Samuel Sternberg, 19, a freshman in international business;and Rachel N. Tobin, 21, a senior in political science.
The students’ support for the war, though varying in fervorand rationale, was striking and reflected, they said, the overwhelmingattitudes among UJ’s 124 undergraduates.
Salonius, the oldest, most bearded and most reflective ofthe group, would have liked “a more complex and nuanced explanation [of Bush’sdecision]. But at the core,” he added, “this is a clash of civilizations and Ihope our values will win.”
Sternberg, whose backpack sports a “Anti-Zionism Is Anti-Jewishness”sticker felt that “the situation would fester” if action had been delayed.While acknowledging that his generation had no clear picture what it meant tobe in combat, he would be ready to serve in the armed forces, if drafted.
Rachel Tobin perceived no gender gap in war support betweenmen and women. She said that she would be willing to join a demonstration toback the troops, but worried about “the many unknowns” and admitted to acertain “hypocrisy” in counseling her brother against Army enlistment, if itcame to that.
All four concurred as to their strong personal and emotionalattachment to Israel and expressed deep concern for the fate of the JewishState. On balance, they hoped that the American action would ultimately benefitIsrael. The anti-war peace movement generally earned the undergraduates’contempt.
“The peace movement has been hijacked,” Salonius said.”There is no place for a Jew who supports Israel.”
Rabbinical student Goodman and his first-year schoolmateDanya Ruttenberg, 28, represented a sharp difference in tone and attitude.
“I’m afraid this war will do a lot of damage and might leavethe Middle East in worse shape than before,” Ruttenberg said. “We must hold ourgovernment accountable for its actions and make certain that it sets up aviable structure for life in the area after the war.”
Goodman felt that, “It is easier to be a ‘patriot’ and justback the government … but this war is not necessarily justified and manyother countries are questioning our real motives.”
Both students estimated some two-thirds of the 67 rabbinicalstudents shared their general reservations about the war. The differencesbetween undergraduates and rabbinical students seem to run deeper than justtheir perspectives on the war.
“There’s a lack of support for Israel in the rabbinicalschool,” charged Sternberg, and his viewpoint was seconded in even strongerlanguage by a graduate student in management, whom we encountered at theuniversity library.
Indeed, much of the campus apparently looks at therabbinical students as both leftist and elitist, a perception seen assimplistic by Ruttenberg and Goodman.
“I am strongly pro-Israel, but being critical of itsgovernment is not being anti-Israeli,” Ruttenberg said. “It is not black and white,the world works in shades of gray.”
However, she added with a smile, “This is the left coast andpeople who come to study here tend to be unconventional.”
Goodman, who will leave in the summer for the required yearof study in Israel, emphasized that, “I have a deep love for Israel. I havemany close friends there and I am terribly concerned for their safety.”
Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, dean of the rabbinical school,questioned both the extent and validity of the impressions of his studentscited by others.
“This has been a pro-Zionist school from the beginning,” hesaid.
“Our rabbinical students took the lead in putting up anIsraeli flag on campus. We currently have 13 students in Israel, they’re theones who are putting their bodies on the line.”
As for the perception that the rabbinical students are”elitist,” Artson recalled, “When I was studying at Harvard, the graduatestudents didn’t mingle with the undergraduates.
Â It’s not a matter of looking down at anyone, but there is abig differences in age here and you hang out with the people in your ownprogram.” Â
The radio station plays hits by Jennifer Lopez and Madonna,
and invites listeners to comment on issues such as what they’d do if they
discovered a friend was taking drugs.
It’s the type of fare broadcast to young adults from Malibu
to Miami. Except the disc jockey is speaking Arabic, and the listeners are in
the Middle East.
Welcome to Radio Sawa, the brainchild of Norman J. Pattiz,
founder and chairman of the biggest radio network in the United States. Since
March of last year, Radio Sawa (which means together in Arabic) has been
broadcasting in Arabic around the clock in the Middle East, targeting listeners
under 30 years old, who make up 60 percent of the region’s population.
Radio Sawa broadcasts a mix of Western and Arabic pop music,
interspersed with news updates and analysis, interviews and opinion pieces.
Potentially, millions of listeners can access Radio Sawa via AM, FM and
shortwave frequencies, as well as on the Internet (www.radiosawa.com) and on
digital radio satellite channels.
Pattiz, the founder of Westwood One, helped conceptualize
and launch Radio Sawa as a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).
The BBG oversees the government’s nonmilitary international broadcasting
services, such as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
While serving on a committee charged with reviewing the 61
different languages in which programs are broadcast, “it became obvious that
what we were doing in the Middle East was insignificant at best,” said the
59-year-old Southern California native. Once Pattiz pointed out the deficiency,
he soon found himself chairman of the BBG’s Middle East Committee.
Returning from a fact-finding mission to the region, he told
the U.S. House Committee on International Relations, “We have a vital mission
to counter misinformation and messages of hate regarding the United States by
broadcasting truthful news and information and by faithfully representing our
country’s government and culture.”
Â Polling of young adults in Amman, Jordan, last October
appears to indicate that the audience is listening. Forty-three percent of
respondents tuned in to Radio Sawa, more than any other station, and 25 percent
considered it their top source for news. Both figures were higher than those
received for any other station.
“I don’t know that we ever expected to get to these kinds of
numbers, but we certainly never expected to get to them that quickly,” said
Pattiz, noting that the percentages have increased since the October poll.
Pattiz acknowledged that Radio Sawa’s impact is “less
strong” with lower socio-economic groups than with “the more educated and more
affluent and those who have more of a connection with Western values. But we
have to start someplace,” he said.
Pattiz said that by presenting news objectively, Radio Sawa
more accurately represents the United States and its culture than other
available sources. For example, he noted that Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite TV
station in Qatar, recently aired a two-hour interview of former Ku Klux Klan
leader David Duke.
“This is who they chose to interview as a representative of
the people of the United States of America — David Duke. If that isn’t bone
chilling,” Pattiz said.
Like news regarding the United States, coverage of other
areas, including Israel, is intended to be presented without bias. Radio Sawa’s
news director is Mouafac Harb, a former Washington bureau chief for the
international Arabic daily newspaper, Al Hayat.
According to its Web site, one of Radio Sawa’s guiding
principles is that “the long-range interests of the United States are served by
communicating directly in Arabic with the peoples of the Middle East by radio.”
Pattiz echoes this sentiment.
“We’re certainly better off communicating with a major part
of the world where our efforts have been woefully inadequate,” he said. “If
they’re going to hate us, let them know who they’re hating, rather than just
blindly following a path that’s laid out by their government-controlled media.”
The BBG plans to expand on Sawa’s success on a number of
fronts. Soon, specific regions will receive their own individual programming
streams, with news and features of local interest delivered in regional
A new Farsi-language service, similar to Sawa, started up
last month in Iran. Plans are also underway for an Arabic-language satellite
television station to provide round-the-clock programming.
Pattiz is no stranger to Middle Eastern politics. As a
member of the Israel Policy Forum, an organization that promotes U.S. awareness
and involvement in the Middle East peace process, Pattiz has traveled to the
region to meet with Israeli and Jordanian leaders and has held a reception at
his home for Queen Noor of Jordan.
He also hosts monthly roundtable discussions at which
prominent community members meet with Israeli leaders, media representatives
and others with insights about the region.
Although his Radio Sawa efforts are performed on behalf of
the U.S. government, Pattiz acknowledged that promoting the free flow of
information in the Middle East benefits Israel, as well.
On the state level, Pattiz serves on the UC Board of
Regents. As a member of the board’s Investment Committee, he helps oversee
billions of dollars of university investments.
He expects to be part of a task force formed in response to
a controversial course description published for a UC Berkeley class, The
Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance. Pattiz said the task force will
“examine how this course description was allowed to be printed in the first
place, and look at the larger questions of academic freedom vs.
He also serves on the California Commission on Building for
the 21st Century, which looks at how the state should address future building
and infrastructure needs. Pattiz has served as president of the Broadcast
Education Association, trustee of the Museum of Television and Radio, is on the
the USC Annenberg School for Communication board and on the advisory board of
the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy.
At Westwood One, which he founded in 1974 as a one-room
operation, Pattiz spends much of his time conceptualizing projects and
arranging agreements with artists and recording companies to generate
entertainment programs for broadcast. The company has earned a reputation for
blockbuster entertainment programming, airing concerts by such megastars as
Barbra Streisand, The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen.
His professional, political and philanthropic activities
keep Pattiz busy, and he said he likes it that way.
“I’ve got plenty of things to keep me busy,” he said. “But
they’re all things I find incredibly interesting and enjoyable. I’m not
complaining about any of it.”
Norman J. Pattiz will be the keynote speaker at CommUNITY
Kavod on Tuesday, Jan. 28, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Irvine. For
more information call (714) 755-5555. Â
Julius may have inspired Shakespeare and a pizza chain, but Sid made millions laugh with “Your Show of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour.” Tonight, you’ve got good reason to stay in, as KCET presents “The Sid Caesar Collection.” The documentary includes sketches from both shows and interviews with some of the greats who worked behind the scenes: Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Carl Reiner. You can even order in some pizza! pizza! should you feel so inspired.
7-8:30 p.m. KCET. For more information, go to www.kcet.org.
OK, here’s the dish: the Skirball Cultural Center is calling all foodies. If you like to eat (Hey, you are Jewish, aren’t you?) head over for its Food Festival, celebrating the international cuisine and cultures of Los Angeles. There’s plenty to keep you busy, including food and wine tastings, cooking demonstrations and activities for the kids. If you’re like us, you plan to glutton yourself on all of it. So break out the elastic waistband pants and we’ll see you there!
11 a.m.-4 p.m. $8 (general), $6 (seniors and students), free (members and children under 12). (Additional fees for food and wine tastings.) Bring a can of food for donation and receive $1 off admission. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. For reservations, call (323) 655-8587.
It’s hard to relate personally to news headlines about places so removed from our backyards. But Leora Krygier brings it home in her new novel. Set against the backdrop of the San Fernando Valley, “First the Raven” is the story of Amir, an Israeli ex-paratrooper struggling with life as a veteran of two Middle East wars and the first intifada. Krygier signs her book at Dutton’s Brentwood Bookstore today.
2 p.m. 11975 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles. For more information, call (310) 476-6263.
Poor Danny Simon. He’s always being compared to his more famous younger brother, Neil. And with his play, “The Convertible Girl,” he committed an unfortunate and unforseeable faux pas in his choice of name for his main character. We feel bad that Danny makes us think of Neil, and that his character Ron Goldman makes us think of O.J., especially since “The Convertible Girl” sounds like a darling little play. So cut him a break and check out the show tonight at the Beverly Community Theatre.
7:30 p.m. Runs through Aug. 20. $15 (general), $10 (seniors and students). 241 Marine Drive, Beverly Hills. For reservations, call (310) 551-5100, ext. 8459.
You may have to get over feeling resentful of Ben Gleiberman first, but once you do, you’ll agree the kid is talented. Barely out of college, the Jewish ex-frat boy known fondly as “Gleib,” hosts “Gleib’s College Comedy,” the Laugh Factory’s regularly sold-out Tuesday night show. And hey, don’t hate him because he’s funny. He may just be able to give you a job some day.
9:30 p.m. $10 (plus two-drink minimum). Must be 18+. 8001 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. For reservations, call (323) 848-2800.
The Danube River was a passageway for fleeing Jewish refugees and Bessarabian Germans returning to the fatherland in 1939 and 1940. As a ferryboat operator on the Danube and an amateur filmmaker, Capt. Nándor Andra sovits both witnessed and documented these contrary departures. His films have become the springboard for the Getty Center’s “The Danube Exodus: The Rippling Currents of the River,” an interactive video installation comparing what artist Peter Forgacs calls, “The incomparable duet of the German Jewish exodus.”
10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Sundays and Tuesday-Thursday), 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (Fridays and Saturdays). Runs Aug. 17-Sept. 29. Free. For more information, call (310) 440-7300.
You started out the week with Sid Caesar and spent your Tuesday with Gleib. Now it’s time to school yourself on all those funny Jews who’ve paved the way in between. Tonight, writer and humorist Arie Kaplan discusses, “Wizards of Wit: How Jews Revolutionized Comedy in America.”
7:30 p.m. $10 (general), $5 (students), free (members). Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. For reservations, call (323) 655-8587.
Those of us not of the Catskills generation still remember that, “nobody puts Baby in the corner.” Now Murray Mednick has created a new story about a Jewish resort in the Catskill Mountains, this one set in 1948. And while there’s no dirty dancing in this play, “Fedunn” does promise plenty of nostalgia and family drama.
8 p.m. (Thursday-Saturday), 3 p.m. (Sunday). Runs through Oct. 13. $25. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles. For reservations, call (310) 477-2055.
“In many ways, it was a good world. In many ways, it was a hard world,” observes narrator Elliott Gould in introducing “A Yiddish World Remembered.”
It is not easy to evoke a lost era through television footage, but “Yiddish World” largely overcomes the difficulty.
There are lively interviews with half a dozen elderly men and women who remember the shtetls from their childhoods, vintage photos and some newly discovered archival films, including one showing the bloody aftermath of a 1919 pogrom.
The views of shtetl and city life in the pale of Eastern Europe tend to be more “good” than “hard,” but shade into the sentimental only in the vignettes of childhood life recalled many decades later.
The smells and savors of mama’s heavenly cholent, chicken soup, gefilte fish or even herring and potatoes all but leap off the screen in the ecstatic reminiscences.
“Rockefeller wasn’t as happy as I was on Friday nights when we made ‘Kiddush,'” recalls one former shtetl child.
The vibrant cultural life of the time and place is perhaps familiar , as are the political and religious rivalries among Chasidim, bundists and Zionists. Still, it gives one pause to learn that there were no less than 24 competing Yiddish dailies in Poland at the turn of the century.
In the end, though, it is the language itself that embraces all other aspects of the lost world.
“Yiddish is the soul of the Jewish people, it speaks by itself,” says one old-time immigrant to America. “Sometimes I want to talk in English, but it comes out Yiddish….Even if you don’t know the language — you feel it.”
The one-hour PBS special will premiere Aug. 18 at 5 p.m. on KCET. Formore information, go to