Israeli understudy takes Carmen role on opening night at Masada

An Israeli understudy for the role of Carmen, in the opera being performed at the foot of Masada, was thrust on stage opening night after the star lost her voice in the dry desert air.

Na’ama Goldman, 27, took over for international opera soloist Nancy Fabiola Herrera for the second act of opening night on June 8. The second Carmen, Italian Anna Malavesi, who was scheduled to perform in rotation with Herrera in the Israel Opera production, had been injured during an earlier rehearsal and was not ready to go on stage.

Goldman serves as the cover, or understudy, who stands in for the lead international soloists in rehearsals until they arrive from overseas for the dress rehearsals and performances.

Two days earlier, she had been called on at the last minute to take over for Malavesi during the dress rehearsal, the first time she had ever performed on the stage itself.

This is the third year that the Israel Opera has staged a performance at Masada.

Israeli author booted from Marseilles panel

An Israeli author was kicked off a panel discussion in Marseilles at the request of the Palestinian poet Najwan Darwish.

Moshe Sakal, the author of “Yoland,” which was shortlisted for the 2011 Sapir Prize for literature, was removed Monday from a discussion of the Arab spring at a conference of Mediterranean writers, Haaretz reported.

French-Jewish author Pierre Assouline, the director of the conference, said Sakal’s participation in the panel “was not crucial.”

Darwish had apparently said that he would participate in the conference as long as he did not have to sit with any Israelis at roundtable discussions.

Describing the reaction to Sakal’s dismissial, Assouline said, “Half of the crowd got very angry, and the other half was thrilled.”

“I entered the hall just as [Moroccan poet] Tahar Ben Jelloun was speaking forcefully against this type of boycott,” Sakal said to Ha’aretz. “He said that there are many Israeli authors who are supportive [of the Palestinian cause] and one should speak to them even if one doesn’t approve of current Israeli politics.”

“There were hundreds of people there and there were a lot of hecklers,” Sakal said. “People were very upset.”

Can a Palestinian story prompt dialogue for Middle East peace?

Julian Schnabel must have known that screening a film about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the United Nations General Assembly would be scene-stealing. To set the town talking, the event would unite all the trappings — provocative subject matter, prestigious venue, Hollywood glamour.

In fact, the March 14 screening of “Miral” in New York drew a crowd of movie stars, diplomats, artists and intellectuals — Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Vanessa Redgrave,  Ambassadors Jean Kennedy Smith and Qazi Shaukut Fareed, and Dan Rather, among them – raising the profile of an event that openly merged artistic prominence and political power. But when mixed, art and politics — while not exactly strange bedfellows — can stir into a complicated brew. And, sure enough, Schnabel’s screening spawned a flurry of protest from some of the most powerful and prominent voices in the Jewish establishment, who accused the film of being “one-sided” and “anti-Israel.”

The next day, a Los Angeles Times headline declared:  “Screening of ‘Miral’ at the United Nations draws protests from Jewish groups.”

The wave of controversy that ensued called into question whether a high-profile film written by a Palestinian and sympathetic to “the other side” was simply too much for some Jews to handle. That the filmmaker, Julian Schnabel, is Jewish and presenting a perspective counter to the dominant Jewish paradigm was considered a tribal and national betrayal. That the film’s distributor, Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is a New York Jew, and a vocal supporter of Israel, was even more unsettling. Haven’t the Jews and their State of Israel had it hard enough?

First to object was David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, who, the night before the screening, sent out an open letter to United Nations General Assembly President Joseph Deiss. “The film has a clear political message which portrays Israel in a highly negative light,” Harris wrote. “Permit me to ask why the President of the General Assembly would wish to associate himself — and the prestige of his office — with such a blatantly one-sided event.”

Next, Simon Wiesenthal Center founder Rabbi Marvin Hier sounded off: “Last night, when the General Assembly Hall was used for the first time to screen a pro-Palestinian film, marked another sad day in the 63-year-old history of the U.N.’s bias against the State of Israel,” he said in a widely released statement. “It’s bad enough that the 55 Moslem countries in the General Assembly have a virtual lock on the political resolutions there. Now the U.N. wants to extend that anti-Israel bias to the cultural and arts world as well.”

That the screening became cause for Jewish opprobrium seems to reflect deeper issues. Was this a protest of the film itself? Neither Harris nor Hier had yet seen it. Was it, rather, a legitimate complaint about bias against Israel at the world’s preeminent political assembly? Or was it, perhaps, a knee-jerk reaction from the old Jewish guard to anything sympathetic to the Palestinian perspective? Whatever the answers, the conversation surrounding “Miral” is raising serious and important questions about the Jewish response to Palestinian narratives — and, perhaps ironically, perhaps not — that’s exactly what the filmmakers want.

Rabbi Irwin Kula, one member of the post-screening panel discussion at the U.N., suggested that “Miral” offers an important opportunity to approach the conflict with new eyes.

“Everybody should go see it,” Kula, president of Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, said in a phone interview a few days later, from his New York office. “If you’re a Jew and anything about Israel and Palestinians touches you in any way, you should see this film.”

For Kula and the filmmakers, the hope is that the film will provide rare insight into the Palestinian point of view and inspire dialogue.

“After 63 years of conventional diplomacy, we are now further from a two-state solution than ever before,” Kula said. “We need new forms of peacemaking. Let’s recover personal, intimate human stories, which have been completely clouded out by the political and power narratives.”

Films like “Miral,” he said, offer alternatives to Jewish understanding of the conflict, humanizing individuals on the other side and offering openings for empathy. “Either we live in a moment of pikuach nefesh [“saving a life”], which makes marginalizing and vilifying those with whom one disagrees permissible, or [the reactions are a] projection of repressed, disassociated, split-off guilt about what is happening in Israel that is simply too painful to bear.”

If the early ire of mainstream Jewish groups is any indication, American Jews may not be ready to empathize with Palestinians. For older generations, the historic and seemingly endless suffering of Jews has given rise to the indelible notion that the world is against us. “We all construct narratives to help us get through life, so for a post-Holocaust generation to construct a narrative in which everyone is seen as a Nazi out to destroy us is not crazy,” Kula said. “What trauma does is close down the capacity to trust the other, and we have a traumatized group of senior leadership in American Jewish life.”

For some, that trauma is especially real at a place like the U.N., where an Arab bloc of 55 Muslim countries is outspokenly anti-Israel. The U.N. Human Rights Council, for example, has passed numerous resolutions condemning Israel, while countries with far worse human-rights track records, such as Sudan, get by relatively unscathed. So while the filmmakers saw the U.N. as a powerful forum for dialogue, Harris and Hier saw the potential for an echo chamber of diatribes. And while making movies is an art, and not meant to be objective or balanced, using the U.N. backdrop implies a certain seal of approval for a narrative that is discomfiting for many Jews.

“The moment I hear the words ‘U.N. General Assembly Hall’ — it stinks, because it’s never been open for Jews,” Hier said during a phone interview. “Where’s the film telling Israel’s story? Did they ever show ‘Exodus’ there?”

Moshe Salem: Giving a Voice to Israelis


There’s a worn American flag hanging in the second-story window of Moshe Salem’s stately Valley Village home.

Which is strange if you think about it, since much of Salem’s existence is centered around Israel. He’s Israeli, his wife is Israeli, as are their four kids. Most of his friends in the Valley are Israeli, and for the last three years, he’s been volunteering as the president of the Council of Israeli Communities (CIC), a small organization that wants to serve as the central representation of Israelis in Los Angeles — an endeavor that has not quite come to fruition just yet.

There’s more of Israel inside these huge mahogany oak doors, which open onto a marble floor and thick, ivory columns: The walls flanking the entryway are decorated with dozens of colorful hamsas, hand-shaped amulets that ostensibly protect against evil; in the corner of the two story-high living room is a tarnished silver Middle Eastern tea set and several hookahs, and, of course, there’s Moshe himself, the 45-year-old advocate for Israel and for Israelis in America.

Although the organization originally began in 2001 as a pro-Israel advocacy group, when other organizations like StandWithUs began to effectively fill that role, the CIC changed direction to try to foster a relationship between Israelis and Israel, its culture and values.

After he became president of the CIC in 2002 — a term that ends in February — Salem began working three to four hours a day on CIC projects, such as hosting speakers, sing-alongs, holiday activities; working with The Federation and Jewish Agency; organizing events like the recent Rabin memorial at the University of Judaism; or inviting Israeli soldiers to talk about Israel’s care in the execution of missions.

“There is a great need for one central Israeli organization,” says Gal Shor, editor-in-chief of Shalom L.A., a Hebrew newspaper here. Shor does not believe the CIC has fulfilled that role yet, due to a membership of 5,000 out of the estimated 200,000 Israelis in Los Angeles and a lack of funding, but he says Salem has been tireless in his work.

“One good thing about him is that he’s trying. He does give his time and effort,” Shor says.

When he’s not at the CIC, Salem runs his diamond business, which he started a few years after he came to California in 1981. Like many Israelis here, Salem originally came to America to make some money, never intending to stay. But after a wife, four children and years of what he calls “living on the fence” — about whether to return to Israel or not — Salem has come to terms with the fact that they’re probably not going back to Bat Yam. Which makes it all the more important for him to try to forge a connection between Israelis and Israel.

“People ask me, ‘Why are you doing this, giving your time, your money?’ (Time away from work is money),” he said. “You have more substance in your life rather than just getting up in the morning, going to parties, going to the movies,” he said.

On a personal level, he said, he does it for his children, too: “I think my kids observe a lot. When they see an article in the Israeli papers, or when we have a gathering at the house, it enriches their life. I think, I hope, I pray that I’m embedding in them Jewish Israeli values that way.”

On a more global level, he said that somebody has to do the work that he is doing.

“If everybody says, ‘I can’t do it, I’m too busy,’ then who would do this? If nobody would do these things, then what you’re doing is emptying the community life from any cultural or spiritual values,” he said. “A community that does not have spiritual and cultural values is a doomed community.”

Moshe Salem


Avi Leibovic: Guardian Angel of the Streets

Jack and Katy Saror: Help Knows No Age

Joyce Rabinowitz: A Type Like No Other

Saul Kroll: Healing Hand at Cedars-Sinai

Jennifer Chadorchi: The Hunger to Help

Karen Gilman: What Makes Her Run?

Steven Firestein: Making Magic for Children

Yaelle and Nouriel Cohen: Kindness Starts at Home

David Karp: A Guide for Unity in Scouting

Arafat,the Anti-Icon

Leaders of the world have called him irrelevant, and indeed he has been largely replaced in world affairs. But in an exhibit at Tel Aviv’s Dvir Gallery, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is as relevant as ever as the foil for a young art curator’s homage to Israeli culture.

Consisting of about 20 illustrations and photographs, "Guess Who Died" aspires to be a mirror of Israeli society and its relationship with the Palestinian leader who has served as the culture’s ultimate anti-icon for the last three decades.

In a digital photo montage titled, "Death Row," Arafat’s head has been crudely pasted onto the body of late rapper Tupac Shakur as he walks alongside Marion "Suge" Knight, founder of the hip-hop record label Death Row Records, surrounded by bodyguards. It’s the Palestinian Authority à la gangsta rappers.

The curator, 24-year-old writer and art critic Ory Dessau, calls the exhibition a post-traumatic shock reaction to the Palestinian uprising. Though in grappling with Israel’s view of personification of Palestinian nationalism, "Guess Who Died" includes pieces that date from the 1970s, when Arafat first burst into the national consciousness.

"My starting point is that Arafat is an Israeli cultural construct," he said. "I want to take the entire Israeli debate about Arafat, reproduce it and take ownership."

Dessau explained that the exhibit’s title refers to a "hierarchy" of death that’s part of the conflict. In both Israeli and Palestinian societies, the significance of a killing varies depending on whether the victim is a child civilian, a soldier, a settler or a potential suicide bomber.

"We’re in a situation where there’s no distinction between civil life and military life," he said. "This is our life, there’s no difference between the front line and the homefront."

A self-described Israeli leftist, Dessau supports a two-state solution. But he says that unlike other exhibitions in Israel that have been organized to criticize Israel’s military occupation or support for coexistence, his has no agenda. Instead he calls it "an objective reflection of the state of bloodbath" that comes with a sense of humor.

Adam Rabinovich, the Israeli artist who put Arafat’s head onto the body of the rapper, said the montage is meant as a humoristic parallel between the way Israelis look at Palestinians and racial tensions in the United States.

"To be Israeli and not deal with Arafat is impossible," Rabinovich said. "It just comes out."

Arab-Israeli Tension, Love Focus of Fest

The 19th annual Israel Film Festival will showcase 33 movie features, television films, documentaries and student shorts from the Jewish State from May 28 through June 8.

CNN talk show host Larry King, Hollywood producer Laura Ziskin (“Spider-Man”) and Israeli director Erez Laufer will be honored during the May 28 gala opening night at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills.

The featured film of the evening will be “All I’ve Got,” part of the festival’s “Reflections of Women” series.

A dozen Israeli producers, directors and actors will attend the festival and participate in panel discussions and symposia.

Originally scheduled for early April, the festival opening was postponed because of the war in Iraq. The film fest originated in Los Angeles but now also plays in New York, Chicago and Miami.

Meir Fenigstein, founder and executive director of the festival, estimates that some 500,000 Americans have gotten a close-up of Israeli life and culture through the festivals’ 500 theatrical and TV films over the past 19 years.

Of special interest, in light of the hostilities and brutalities engendered by the long-running intifada, are a number of films focusing on relations between Israel’s Jews and Arabs.

Where, in times of terrorism and warfare, Hollywood might produce a series of super-patriotic, John Wayne-like action movies, Israeli filmmakers have opted for sympathetic, even romantic, depictions of relations between two peoples, generally seen as antagonistic in news stories.

In “A Trumpet in the Wadi,” a Russian Jewish immigrant musician and an Arab woman slowly fall in love.

Genders and nationalities are reversed in “2 Minutes From Faradis,” when a rebellious Jewish teenage girl and an Arab boy start romancing each other.

“In the 9th Month,” by Arab director Ali Nassar, tells a darker story of Arab-Jewish suspicions through a folk tale dating back to the days of the Ottoman Empire.

“Dugit Over Troubled Water” is a documentary on a business partnership between Jewish and Arab fishermen in the Gaza Strip, ultimately split apart by the intifada.

The TV film “Two Minutes From Faradis” is of much fluffier stuff, but shows another little-seen aspect of Israel — the life of the upper class. At the center of the film is Yuli, a 17-year-old girl, who feels it’s her teenage duty to rebel against her parents. The trouble is that her psychologist mother, spouting the clichés of her profession, and her wild-haired, pot-smoking father are so laid back and permissive that nothing she does can shock them.

Then Yuli encounters Amir, the handsome son of the family’s Arab maid, and the girl figures that romancing him will finally shake up her parents. The ploy works, but is Amir actually a terrorist using Yuli to smuggle explosives past a checkpoint? Stay tuned.

“A Trumpet in the Wadi” is one of the most sensitive and accomplished films to come out of Israel in a long time. Updated from the novel by Sami Michael, familiar to every Israeli high school student, the film is directed with a sure touch by Russian-born Lina and Sava Chaplin.

The protagonists are Alex (Alexander Senderovich), a newly arrived Russian trumpet player, and Hooda (Khawiah Hag Debsy), a 30-year-old Arab woman, working in a Jewish-owned travel agency. Both live in the Wadi Nisnas section of Haifa, but despite their wildly disparate backgrounds — and the fact that Alex is short and homely and Hooda is stately and beautiful — the two share an offbeat sense of humor and gradually fall in love.

What is striking at a time when Israeli Arabs are usually pictured as hassled second-class citizens is that Hooda’s extended family lives a quite normal, middle-class life.

Hooda’s mother kvetches constantly about the pickiness of her two unmarried daughters, brings in unsuitable suitors and cooks up a storm — in other words, like the stereotypical Jewish mother.

Not all is sweet harmony — Hooda’s family explodes in anger against the Jews when a cousin is killed during a demonstration, and there’s a bitter scene between the lovers when Alex reports for reserve duty — but one leaves the theater with a slightly more hopeful outlook.

“Wadi” opened the recently concluded Chicago leg of the festival circuit. Despite earlier concerns that the Israeli-Arab romance theme might upset some American Jewish viewers, Fenigstein said that the film was received enthusiastically.

Fenigstein has no answer why, precisely at this time, Israeli filmmakers are creating works that center on the common humanity, rather than the antagonisms, of the two people.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s an augur of better times to come, he ventures hopefully.

One tip for history buffs: The documentary “Moledet” (Homeland) resurrects footage of Jewish and Arab life in Palestine, shot between 1927 and 1934 by the country’s first movie company, happily named Moledet. The film becomes a bit repetitive, but it’s a cheerful antidote to those who picture the early yishuv (the Jewish community of the time) consisting solely of sweating pioneers constantly tilling the soil or draining swamps.

From the documentary’s evidence, the Jewish population rarely missed a chance to stage a lively parade, Purim or otherwise. Interspersed are commercials of the era shown in movie theaters, and hard as it is to fathom, they were even more terrible then than now.

After the opening night, all screenings will be at theLaemmle Fairfax Theatres, 7907 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles (corner of BeverlyBoulevard and Fairfax Avenue), and at the Laemmle Town Center 5, 17200 VenturaBlvd., Encino. For information and ticket reservations for all events, call(877) 966-5566, or visit .

Unchosen Actor, ‘Chosen’ Director

Years before he directed the play version of "The Chosen" — now at the Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica — David Ellenstein was up for the starring role in the 1981 film of Chaim Potok’s classic novel.

"So I began reading the book as a chore," said Ellenstein, whose staging is a co-production of his own Los Angeles Repertory Company and the West Coast Jewish Theatre. But then the secular Jewish actor was riveted by the tale of two boys — one Chasidic, the other a Conservative Zionist — who forge an unlikely friendship in 1940s Brooklyn. "I didn’t previously know there was a rift between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews," he said. "I wasn’t aware that some Jews did not favor the creation of the state of Israel. For me, the novel brought a whole Jewish world to life."

So it’s fitting that Ellenstein — who eventually lost the film role to actor Robby Benson — has helped bring another version of "The Chosen" to life. It began when he attended a Jewish theater conference in 2001 and was invited to direct "The Chosen" for the Arizona Jewish Theatre. His 2001 staging of the adaptation, by Potok and Aaron Posner, earned rave reviews and the attention of Naomi Karz Jacobs, founder of the West Coast Jewish Theatre. She told Ellenstein her Los Angeles-based group had staged 35 readings since 1993 but aspired to produce its first fully-staged drama. Eventually, Jacobs convinced her group to put up half the $45,000 budget while artistic director Ellenstein persuaded the Los Angeles Repertory Company to do the same.

"The rep is devoted to great literature, and the Jewish Theatre aims to promote Jewish culture," he said. "This play absolutely does both."

The collaboration is part of an encouraging trend for Jewish theater in Los Angeles. While 20 other cities in the United States and Canada have sustained long-standing Jewish troupes, Los Angeles hasn’t, said Susan Merson of the now-defunct Los Angeles Streisand Festival for New Jewish Plays. "The problem is that this is a film town, so in general people aren’t interested in the theater," she said. So while mainstream companies routinely woo the large Jewish theater audience with Jewish fare (example: Charles Busch’s "The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife" recently at the Ahmanson Theatre), Jewish groups haven’t come up with the money to sustain a lasting Jewish theater.

In recent years, however, some tenacious individuals have helped to make a difference. Efforts include The Jewish Women’s Theatre Project, founded by Karen Rushfeld and Jan Lewis, which earned rave reviews for its first fully-staged show, "Hair Pieces," in 2001. The L.A. Jewish Theater often produces plays written by Jorge Albertella, its artistic director. Alexandra More produces and directs celebrity staged readings at the Westside Jewish Community Center.

Now, "The Chosen" is earning good reviews at the 150-seat Miles Playhouse; it’s perhaps the first production under the auspices of a Jewish group to undertake the higher cost of an Actors’ Equity agreement (instead of a sub-100-seat contract). "We want to raise the stakes for Jewish theater in Los Angeles," Ellenstein said.

To prepare, the director and his five actors studied books on the Israeli War of Independence and spoke to a rabbi who had known Potok when he taught at the University of Judaism. Actor Robert Grossman drew on memories of his Yiddish-speaking immigrant grandfather to create his role of the Chasidic Reb Saunders. Ellenstein, meanwhile, focused on the directing challenges.

"The play has a narrator — one of the boys grown up — who isn’t in the novel," he said by way of example. "The narrator is a theater device that can become hackneyed, so my advice to the actor was to remember he’s invited the audience to share a message: that there’s more than one way to get to God."

"The Chosen’s" co-adapter, Posner, said he was moved to tears during the play’s 1999 debut in Philadelphia. Though the esteemed novelist was ill, he agreed to attend the West Coast premiere in Santa Monica. Then, during the first week of rehearsal, the director and his cast received shocking news: Potok had died on July 18 at age 73. "We didn’t even know he had cancer," Ellenstein said.

The cast subsequently decided to dedicate the show to Potok’s memory — and to the play’s message, which resonates even more after the anniversary of the Sept. 11 tragedy. "It’s about accepting the validity of points of view that are very different from your own," Ellenstein said.

“The Chosen” is playing thru Oct. 13 at the Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica. For tickets and more information, call (800) 595-4849.

Israel History 101

How much do American Jews know about Israel? Not enough to fight the battle taking place on college campuses over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As petitions against the Jewish state circulate in academia, and media outlets run stories on racism in Syrian and Palestinian textbooks, the Jewish Literacy Foundation (JLF) wants to remedy that by launching an outreach campaign to educate North American Jews about Israel.

The new program will provide at least 1,000 North American Jews with copies of the book "Israel in a Nutshell" over the next six months, and will continue distributing other books from the "Judaism in a Nutshell" series over the next six years.

"Palestinians are funding tremendous resources" on college campuses in a "campaign on future decision makers," said Shimon Apisdorf, author of the Nutshell series and educational director and co-founder of JLF.

Formed in 1999, the foundation publishes a variety of books designed to spark an interest in Jewish community and culture. Its books vary from those on Israeli history to a "High Holiday Survival Kit" to help people get the most out of the Jewish New Year.

The foundation is targeting unaffiliated North American Jews, many of whom are on college campuses, so that "people can at least have a framework to understand the news," Apisdorf said.

"For all the young people on campus, or the vast majority, events like the founding of Israel and Israel’s struggle to survive is a mush of ancient history," he said. "This generation didn’t grow up with Israel fighting for its existence." Apisdorf believes that even unaffiliated North American Jews at least hold a "gut-level commitment" to "see Israel survive."

"In their heart of hearts, they don’t want to believe Israel is a colonizer, conqueror and usurper. But they don’t know," he said.

Some 41 percent of Jews do not feel that being Jewish is important, according to an American Jewish Committee survey from 2000. This statistic is a focal point for JLF’s mission. As Apisdorf explains, "What you don’t know, you can’t love or be committed to." — Max Heuer, Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Is France Anti-Semitic?

It has become something of a cliché among Jews here in America, and in Israel as well, that Europe is now experiencing a virulent new wave of anti-Semitism. The Europeans are certainly well-practiced at the art of Jew-hating and the overly anti-Israel tilt of the Continent’s political elites and media — as well as some in Great Britain — lead credence to the idea of a growing anti-Semitic tide.

Nowhere is the concern about the new anti-Semitism more acute than in France, home to Europe’s largest Jewish population and, for generations, one of the primary linchpins of Jewish culture worldwide. Yet before we begin to cancel our trips to France and dump its fine wines into sewers on Fairfax Avenue, we might do well to look more carefully at the realities there, and what they might well mean for the future of Jewry here.

Seeking an answer to the question of resurgent anti-Semitism in France, my girlfriend Mandy, herself the daughter of a French Holocaust survivor, went to visit a man who should know — Serge Klarsfeld. As we traveled up the wrought-iron elevator to his offices a few minutes walk from the Champs d’Elysee, we both expected to hear Klarsfeld, the identifier of Klaus Barbie and numerous French Nazi collaborators, telling us of a horrific déjà vu.

Yet for all his concern, Klarsfeld, a self-possessed fireball of energy, did not see anything like the wave of anti-Semitism that gripped Europe during the first half of the 20th century. The anti-Israel tone of the French government and media troubled him, as did the rise of attacks on synagogues and other Jewish institutions.

But the early 2000s are not the 1930s, he insists. Even the surprising showing of Jean Marie Le Pen, the leader of the National Front who shocked the world by making it into the presidential runoff this spring against center-right leader Jacques Chirac, did not strike Klarsfeld as an epochal event.

Immigrants, mostly Arabs, were the primary target of Le Pen’s campaign, Klarsfeld suggests, not the country’s highly assimilated Jewish population. "Le Pen is anti-Semitic but his campaign was not anti-Jewish," Klarsfeld suggests. "And the people who voted for him were less anti-Semitic than he was. People voted for him for other reasons. They wanted to protest crime and other things."

Indeed, despite the near hysteria that surrounded Le Pen’s strong showing, Klarsfeld believes the kind of historical anti-Semitism represented by Le Pen is dying out, not only in France but throughout Europe. "Le Penism," he believes, "will not survive Le Pen."

But if the traditional sources of anti-Semitism are weakening, Klarsfeld is more concerned about a new form, one which draws from different political and social streams. It stems from opposition not to Jews as religious heretics — the source of the Inquisition — or as master manipulators of capitalism, as asserted by the Nazis and many of 20th century anti-Semites, but as defenders of the embattled Jewish state.

Among non-Muslim Frenchmen, this form of anti-Semitism rarely adopts the rhetoric of overt Jew-hatred, but instead turns a blind eye to its expression within the Arab world or among Arabs who live in France. Its aim is not to put to death Europe’s Jews, but clearly would tolerate the end of the inconvenient state the Jews have established in the Middle East. Much of this is based on just old-fashioned European realpolitik, the desire to pander to oil interests and, whenever possible, push a thumb in the eye of America.

"The problem," Klarsfeld says, "is that there are 1.5 billion Muslims, 1.5 billion Christians and 16 million Jews. The problem is one of numbers."

A similar demographic logic works increasingly at home, too. In France itself there are now upwards of 6 million to 8 million Muslims and only 600,000 Jews. In parts of France, such as Paris or Marseilles, Muslims make up as many as one-third to one-half the people in their teens and 20s. Today the Muslims lack strong organization — indeed their leaders speak of hoping to follow the Jewish model of communalism — but they have growing numbers that can not be ignored. They are emerging as a key "swing" vote in French elections and politicians inevitably will pander to them.

As in Germany, Holland, Spain and other European countries, there are elements in Muslim France, including those born there and holding French citizenship, who are sympathetic and even participants in the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish, anti-American terror networks. The best known of these is Zacarias Moussaoui, who has been accused of a direct role in the Sept. 11 plot. "There was certainly some pro-Bin Laden sentiment," asserts Charlotte Rotman, who covers immigration for the left-wing newspaper Liberation, "and many felt the U.S. had it coming."

Although most Muslims assuredly do not participate or even support such horrific acts, sympathy for the Palestinians, hatred for Israel and America are not unusual at all. Virtually none have condemned terrorism, before or after Sept. 11. Rotman suggests that former Premier Lionel Jospin lost many Arab votes when he called Hezbollah a "terrorist organization." Defection of Arabs, and left-wing voters, is what doomed Jospin in the first round, handing the then-ruling socialists a humiliating defeat.

This clearly creates a difficult context for pro-Israel advocacy. Although the French public tends to be anti-Arab in its sentiments, elite Frenchmen across a broad spectrum — including the current center-right government — see integrating the Arabs as a priority; the Jews, largely economically successful and culturally integrated, are not seen as worrying overmuch about. "We want to prove to them [the French Arabs] that democracy is the way," explained one top bureaucrat. "We need to give the Arabs here a job and chance."

Another major change has been the shift of anti-Israel, and to some extent anti-Semitic, sentiments to the left. Traditionally, the left was friendly to Israel and was the political home of many Jews. Leon Blum, the first Jewish premier of France back in the 1930s, was also a socialist. Anti-Semitism was largely the province of the right and defending Jews part of the mythology of "red" France.

Now this has changed, even among some Jews, including Mandy’s filmmaker cousin. Over a delightful lunch along the Seine, this well-heeled, well-educated and utterly assimilated 30-something producer blamed both Israel and French Jews for exacerbating bloodshed in the Middle East and needlessly offending French Muslims. To him, the kippah-wearing defenders of Israel were not too far from National Front bully boys.

The views of this cousin, ironically himself the grandchild of survivors, are not likely shared by a majority of French Jews. But they are widespread on the left, where sympathy for the Arab minority in many ways resembles traditional American leftist identification with African Americans and other "people of color." The growing anti-American, anti-globalization movement in France is now also increasingly anti-Israel as well. To participate in "progressive" circles, you often have to take the whole package.

Indeed, among French Jews there now seems to be a sharp divide between the most assimilated, who largely either oppose Israel or, more often, simply avoid involvement, and those, increasingly Orthodox, who strongly identify with the current Israel government. The seeming dominance of Israel by Likud and its ultranationalist, even racist, religious allies can only drive the assimilated Jews, particularly on the left, away from both Zionism and communal involvement.

Does any of this have relevance here in America? More than we may like to think. As the Israeli government, under the pressure of constant terrorist attacks, grows increasingly right-wing, it will become harder for liberal and even centrist Jews to identify with it. The strong support for Israel on the American political right, particularly among Christians, is further confounding leftist Jews, who seem horrified to see the Jewish state so strongly defended by religious conservatives.

Many liberal Jews, particularly in the older generation, also need to recognize that the global left-wing embrace of the Palestinian cause will have an enormous impact on the next generation of "progressives" now being indoctrinated by the ’60s retreads who dominate the social science and humanities programs at many schools. We already see well-funded leftists, at major universities and in organizations like the Bus Riders Union, openly advocating positions that are clearly anti-Israel.

It would also be foolhardy to ignore the long-term impact of America’s own growing Muslim population, one which will soon or which may have already passed that of the Jews in this country. Although less heavily Arab than their French counterparts, this population, including a large number of African Americans, is largely anti-Israel and, in a few districts at least, a potentially important political force.

Of course, America is not yet close to France or Europe as a whole in supporting the new anti-Semitism. But it may not take long for it to come to fruition — particularly if Jews here refuse to see where the threat is coming from, which is largely on the left and increasingly inside our own society. In France, the process is probably too far gone to stop fervent anti-Israel sentiment from hardening, but here, we can still take steps, on the campuses, the political parties and the foundation boards to fight the new anti-Semitism and prevent Israel’s only reliable ally from following the example of Europe.

Georgian Life

What is the meaning of courage?

In Hollywood, it is often the brave, handsome soldier who risks his life, or the enterprising businesswoman who succeeds against all odds. The triumph of the individual: that’s the American Way.

But not all cultures glorify that path, and when faced with a character that chooses a different path, we may be hard-pressed to deem that choice "courageous."

But that’s exactly what Israeli writer-director Dover Kosashvili says of Zaza, the main character in his film "Late Marriage," the winner of nine Israeli academy awards and other world festival awards, which will be shown at the Israel film festival here this week.

Zaza (Lior Loui Ashkenazi) is a 31-year-old Tel Avivian bachelor who humors his parents as they fix him up with "suitable" girls. Zaza is handsome, intelligent and successful, so why are they are so worried about him? They’re Georgian.

Sometimes we forget that the term Israelis includes as great a variety of people and cultures as exists in America. There are the oldtimeAshkenazim and the Sephardim, the religious, the secular, the settlers, then there are also the new immigrants: the Ethiopians, the Russians — and each have their own subculture and traditions. In Hebrew and Georgian, "Marriage," Kosashvili’s first feature film, portrays one of those subcultures, the Georgian community — though certainly not at its best.

Zaza’s parents — his mother is actually played by the director’s mother ("I couldn’t find an actress who could do a convincing Georgian accent," he says) — live across the street from their prized son, and ship him on many interviews of other young Georgian woman of good families. (Ashkenazi studied for five months with the director to learn the language.) But Zaza doesn’t take their concerns seriously, because he is in love with Judith, a divorced mother who is more typically "Tel Avivian."

Zaza’s entire extended family gets involved and forces Zaza to make a choice, one they themselves once had to make, and their fathers before them. But how he chooses isn’t exactly the point; for a foreign audience (and probably most audiences seeing this French-Israeli co-production will be outsiders) it’s the otherworldly values inherent in the relationships in the movie: family loyalty, respect, tradition, community.

Kosashvili, 35, views the world and his film philosophically. "I don’t believe that Zaza even has a choice," he told The Journal in Hebrew from his home in Israel. A Georgian immigrant himself who came to Israel at age 6, Kosashvili says the characters are a composite of his community, though the story is something he heard from a friend. "On the whole, I don’t believe in choice. The freedom to choose is nonexistent in this world," he said. Kosashvili’s worldview is definitely not an American one of manifest destiny.

"Zaza is not seeking the moment when he is supposed to decide. He is searching for the point to which he is suppose to arrive," the director said, noting that his character is not a coward, but one who acts within his own constraints.

But what about love conquering all?

"Zaza is investigating the nature of his great love," Kosashvili explains. "He discovers that his great love is for his parents."

Islam Is the Answer

I was visiting a dear Palestinian Muslim friend in Jerusalem some years ago during the first intifada. I had noticed that he was becoming more religiously observant at the time. His wife had begun covering her hair, and he was more punctilious in his prayers and in what he ate and drank. His cousin and business partner had made the Hajj pilgrimage, and he was also making plans to do so.

During one of our many conversations, he lamented the failure of the world to help the Palestinians create a future for themselves. The West had failed them, as had the communist world. The pan-Arabism of Egypt’s Nasser had failed, as well as had other expressions of secular nationalism. It was clear that he was seeking a political, as well as an existential, answer in his return to religious tradition. Islam had become a vehicle for his own personal and communal quest, and he was relieved and comforted by his increased observance.

I also noticed during that visit that many children were running around within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem with a T-shirt that said in Arabic, “Islam Is the Answer.” No question appeared on the T-shirt.

Back in the United States today, the public debate is beginning to slow over whether Islam is to blame for the horrific events of Sept. 11 and the great increase in terrorism by Muslims during the past few decades. It is slowing, in part, because Americans are gaining more insight into the complexities of the contemporary Middle East, thanks to the sudden surfeit of articles in the print media and on the Internet.

While much of the material out there is still shallow, partisan or simply full of errors, some excellent essays have been produced that have clearly raised the level of discussion. The debate seems to be concluding with a consensus forming around the position that Islam is not the cause of this terrorism. Rather, the cause is rooted in a complex bundle of factors.

These factors include the failure of the Middle East to compete with the West economically, politically and militarily in the modern era; and more than a century of Western colonialism, imperialism and now globalism that have successfully exploited Middle Eastern resources cheaply and caused great hardship and resentment among the local populace.

Other contributing factors are bad Middle-Eastern governments run by brutal and selfish leaders who have no desire to share the national wealth with their citizens, plus a narrowing of the direction of anger since America has emerged in the last decade as the greatest and most visible world power.

On the other hand, despite our growing realization that Islam is not the cause of this conflict, we have learned that — at least to those terrorists who justify their violence according to what they interpret as Islamic values — this is a religious war. We have not taken the bait. In fact, our refusal to target Islam, despite the religious rhetoric of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, has been exemplary.

It is true that the politics of this war require that we remain careful not to alienate Muslim countries and friends on whom we must rely today. But we have, as a whole, also demonstrated moral and intellectual integrity when we refuse to wage a war against Islam.

There are good Muslims and bad Muslims, just as there are good Christians and bad Christians. We have been careful to separate Islam and terrorism. But many of us still feel uneasy. If there are lots of good Muslims out there, as we suspect, why aren’t they standing up en masse and condemning the likes of Osama, Hamas and Islamic Jihad?

This is very troubling. If Islam is not the cause, then why aren’t Muslims doing more to separate themselves from the radicals? We just aren’t getting what we really want from the “good Muslims” we know are out there. We want them to show us that they are just like us, that they are civilized like we are, that they share our American values of pluralism, universalism and individual autonomy and freedom.

It’s not going to happen. Not now and not soon. Oh, there are clearly some Westernized Muslims who have assimilated our core American values, and there are other moderates here and abroad who struggle with the difficult and problematic religious teachings of Islam, just as we do with our own religious teachings. However, modern Islam is different in fundamental ways from modern Christianity and Judaism. We need to know more about this, as well.

While Islam is clearly not the cause of the increase in terrorism, it has been used successfully as a powerful vehicle for it. Islam’s holy scriptures and traditions, its laws and its customs, its very self-concept as portrayed in its classic sources provide Muslim believers with a set of assumptions and principles that can easily be understood to justify violence against non-Muslims, and especially non-Muslims who are perceived as threatening Islam or its adherents.

Of course, one could say the same thing about Judaism and Christianity. The Christian Inquisition and Crusades killed tens or hundreds of thousands of people who either weren’t Christian or who weren’t Christian enough. And although Jews have lacked the political and military power to wage war on non-Jews for thousands of years until only recently, the forced conversions of the Idumeans in the first century BCE and today’s vigilante killings of Palestinians by Orthodox Jewish settlers clearly demonstrate that Judaism may also have been recruited in order to justify the persecution and slaying of the Other.

The Hebrew Bible has many passages that call for war against the opponents of ancient Israel. The biblical worldview establishes a universe divided into two social groupings: Israel and everybody else. And the everybody else, the Other, is almost always considered the enemy.

Israel needed to carve out a safe haven for itself, where its unique monotheistic theology could be put into ritual and moral practice, and the political environment was such that it had to do so through military means. God is even depicted in the Bible as fighting on behalf of Israel so that it would succeed. Some verses even call for the complete destruction of certain peoples living in the Holy Land who were obstructing Israel’s entry, an act that today would be universally condemned as genocide.

Biblical laws and stories clearly depict a historical context in which warring was common and in which violence was a normal part of life. In fact, it seems that it was because of the violent nature of the world in which ancient Israel lived that it longed for a future when violence would cease entirely, even to the extent that a lion and a lamb could lie together in the same field without fear.

The Bible depicts a violent reality, and the religious system of the Bible incorporated that reality into its own ethos. But today, there are no people who practice the religion and mores of the Hebrew Bible. There are no more Israelites. Only Jews and Christians.

Although both Judaism and Christianity accept the divine sanctity of the Hebrew Bible, both religions emerged after the biblical period, during the period of Late Antiquity when the Roman Empire controlled Palestine and much of the Middle East. It is common knowledge that Christianity is different from the religion of the Old Testament, but some are still unaware that Judaism (sometimes referred to as Rabbinic Judaism, as opposed to the religion or the Judaism practiced during biblical times) is a different religion from that of the Hebrew Bible.

What is different about it? Nearly everything: its liturgy, its forms of worship, its codes of laws and its theologies.

Both Christianity and Judaism emerged as weak religious expressions under the yoke of a very powerful and businesslike Roman Empire. This is not to suggest that, in contrast to the Biblical Period, the era of the Roman Empire was not rife with violence as well. It was, although the nature of its violence was different and tended to be directed downward from the top, in contrast to the biblical situation, in which all the actors tended to play on a common field.

The point is that neither Christians nor Jews found that violent actions against the pagan Romans brought it success. The rare times violence was attempted resulted in disaster.

Therefore, although both Judaism and Christianity inherited the violent traditions of the Bible, they buried or ignored the old exhortations to violence as best they could in their newly emerging post-biblical religious literatures. One cannot find a god of war in the religious literatures of emerging Christianity or Rabbinic Judaism, no divine call for war or conquest. Both religious civilizations had to be content with a kind of religion that would no longer be anchored to a land or a polity, as had biblical religion. These vital aspects of biblical religion simply dropped out of the religious expressions of its heirs.

It was always theoretically possible, of course, to make an end run around Jewish or Christian tradition in order to go directly to the ancient texts of the Bible, still held sacred by both new religions. Some Jews and Christians occasionally did so during the long ages from Late Antiquity to Modernity in their attempt to revive certain pre-Christian and pre-Rabbinic ideas. However, it was always a great effort, because it meant countering the new foundation texts of Christianity and Judaism, and it often failed. When Christianity found itself a political and military power as well as a religious system, it was forced to combine Caesar’s and God’s jurisdictions, and many of its leaders had no problem doing so.

But it was forced to develop a new and innovative system to justify warring. It was not part of the foundation texts of Christianity. Some Jews in Israel now find that they need religious, as well as nationalist, reasons to justify their taking up arms, but they are forced like their Christian compatriots centuries earlier, to develop a justification that ignores much of the foundational messages of Rabbinic Judaism.

Exegesis is powerful. Where there is a will, there is often a way to locate the right sacred texts and then find a way to read them so that they can be understood to support a broad array of beliefs and behaviors. But in Judaism and Christianity, engaging in such activity in relation to warring was an effort and sometimes required real interpretive pyrotechnics. The basic religions themselves and their formative sacred texts did not offer much support.

This is not the case for Islam. Islam emerged out of seventh century Arabia, a place and a time of much physical fighting and aggression. Pre-Islamic Arabia consisted largely of tribes in perpetual war against one another.

Fighting was built into the culture in a complex and integral way, because it served to keep down the natural growth in human population in an extremely harsh physical environment that could support only small numbers relative to area. Warring would distribute and redistribute limited resources (from raiding and plundering) and ensure survival of the fittest.

Raiding between tribes was such a part of the universal culture that three or four months of the year were designated as “time-out” periods, when no fighting was allowed. This was necessary in order to allow trade between tribes that were constantly battling, and to promote mixing of the gene pool between tribes otherwise always separated and in a state of war. Raiding and battling was so deeply imbedded into the pre-Islamic Arabian ethos that the great British scholar of Islam, W. Montgomery Watt, referred to it as the old Arabian “national sport.”

Islam emerged out of this environment, which resembled far more the environment of the Hebrew Bible than that of the Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. And Islam had to fight to survive. It was opposed by powerful individuals and tribes, and it had to defend itself for its own survival. As it evolved into a religious system, that system began to resemble the organization of the tribes of Arabia.

The early Muslim community referred to itself as the Umma, a term that has the meaning of nation, religion and tribe (from the word umm or mother). Muhammad the Prophet was rejected from his own tribe of Quraysh and banished from the community of his birth.

He created a new concept for Arabia in the umma (religious tribe) when he settled in Medina. He found that his religious tribe, like the kinship tribes throughout the rest of the Arabian Peninsula, was in constant conflict with the other tribes in the area. It was only natural and only to be expected that in order for his followers to survive in such a harsh economic and political environment, they would have to fight their way to establishment.

The Koran, the divine revelation sent down by God to Muhammad through the intermediacy of the angel Gabriel, confirmed the need for fighting. In some verses it gives permission to the early Muslims to fight in defense; in others it encourages the Muslims to go out and initiate the fighting.

In fact, many verses urge the early Muslims to go to war when they didn’t seem to want to: “Fighting is commanded of you even though it is hateful to you; but it may well be that you hate something that is good for you, and it may well be that you love something that is bad for you; God knows, but you do not” (2:16). Dozens of koranic verses promote fighting against unbelievers — that is, those Arabs in the vicinity that were organized around kinship tribes rather than the new religious tribe-community of Islam.

The second most sacred religious literature in Islam, the Hadith, comprising the sunna (words and behavior of the Prophet Muhammad), also has a great deal to say about warring. Entire books of sunna, with such titles as The Book of Jihad or The Book of [military] Campaigns, contain the record of anything Muhammad said or did in relation to war. In the later legal literatures, this material was systematized and formed the basis of treatises and law codes about war and fighting.

Warring thus became deeply integrated into the Muslim self-concept, and this occurred quite early on in the emergence of the religious civilization of Islam. As is well-known, the early Muslim community became extremely successful at fighting, and within a generation after the death of Muhammad, succeeded in conquering the great Persian Empire and pushing the Byzantine Empire off most of its Middle Eastern holdings.

This incredible and quick success also became integrated into the Islamic worldview. Muslims, like Christians before them when the Roman Empire converted to Christianity, saw history as proof that God loved the religion of the victors. The astonishing success of the conquest demonstrated the truth of Islam. Islam was held up by its followers as the perfect religion, the best expression of monotheism.

As in the case of biblical religion, Islam soon saw the world in the binary terms of believer/non-believer, but because it had become a great world power, it established this worldview in relation to a much larger piece of world geography.

The binary nature of the Islamic worldview is best- expressed by the two terms, Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb. The former is the world of Islam, in which Islam is the hegemonic religio-political system, where Islamic law obtains and where Muslims and non-Muslims live under Islamic rule.

The Dar al-Harb is the world of war. This is the rest of the world not yet under Islamic rule. Muslims have interpreted the meaning of world of war in two basic ways: it can refer to an uncivilized world where lack of good government and religion cannot avoid constant warring among its own peoples, or a world in which Islam is in a state of constant war. This binary worldview is deeply ingrained in the religious civilization of Islam.

As the scholar Majid Khadduri, put it in his opus on war and peace in Islam, “The Islamic state, whose principal function was to put God’s law into practice, sought to establish Islam as the dominant reigning ideology over the entire world.” But like all empires, the caliphate could not expand ad infinitum, and it eventually weakened and disappeared.

The religion was forced to come to terms with the failure of the universal state. It did so in a variety of ways, but it never severed itself from the combativeness of the Koran and Hadith, as did Judaism and Christianity from the martial worldview of the Bible.

No New Testament or Talmud mitigates the militancy of the foundation texts of Islam. It is still there and largely unchallenged, and it still infuses the worldview and self-concept of Islam.

Neither did the discourse of modernity enter Islam as it did Christianity and Judaism. Islam had its reformist movements during the first part of the last century, to be sure, but they have become largely discredited because of their close association with the West and the activities of first colonialism and then imperialism. Muslims may choose to ignore or moderate the militant nature of classical Islam and its binary division of the world, but this takes some effort and must be a conscious act.

Such an approach is much more likely when Muslims are living in a pluralistic Western society than when they are living in the Dar al-Islam. It is easy and natural for Muslims in the Islamic world who are unhappy with their lot to observe the West as a world of infidels who, indeed, had a part in bringing on their suffering. It also is easy and natural for Muslims in the Islamic world to long for the good old days when the Islamic state provided adequately for the physical and spiritual needs of its citizens.

Islam, like all world religions, is an extremely complex phenomenon. It has its ascetics and mystics, as well as its militants, moderates and radicals. Most Muslims are neither ascetic nor militant. They are simply people who try as best they can to live out their lives fully and happily within the framework of a deep and wise religious civilization. Like most people, they abhor the death of the innocent, they believe in fair play, and they long for compassion as well as justice.

But with all this, Muslims who have grown up within the framework of Islamic civilization tend to see the world in certain ways that are fundamentally different from most Westerners. Especially among the angry and disillusioned, Islam has become the answer. The problem is that there are just not enough questions.

Dr. Reuven Firestone will be teaching “Introduction to Islamic Civilization,” beginning this January. For information, call (213) 749-3424 ext. 4242.

Reuven Firestone is professor of medieval Islam and Judaism at Hebrew Union
College in Los Angeles. He has authored “Jihad: the Origin of Holy War in
Islam” (Oxford University Press, 1999), “Journeys in Holy Lands: The
Abraham-Ishmael Legends in Islamic Exegesis” (State University of New York
Press, 1990), “Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Judaism for Muslims”
(Ktav, 2001) and dozens of articles on Islam and its relations with Judaism
and Christianity.

A Nice Not-Jewish Boy

"Everyone thinks I’m Jewish," says actor Jason Biggs.

The 23-year-old star of "American Pie," "Loser" and "American Pie 2" is actually an Italian Catholic from New Jersey. But he looks like the kind of nice Jewish boy you had a crush on in Hebrew school. Which is why he keeps getting cast as Jews, he says.

His big break, at age 13, was playing Judd Hirsch’s son in the Broadway run of "Conversations With My Father." In 1997, TV mogul Steven Bochco cast him as Robby Rosenfeld in the series "Total Security."

In "American Pie 2," Biggs’ character, Jim, gets a Jewish surname, Levenstein. "Yet again, I am playing a Jew," quips Biggs, who comes across as exuberant and personable.

If the misconception lingers, it doesn’t help that Biggs has a Jewish girlfriend, a 24-year-old writer, his first serious relationship since high school. In the year and a half that they’ve been dating, he has celebrated Shabbat and Rosh Hashana at her parents’ Los Angeles home.

When she flew off to Israel in June to visit her brother, a Hebrew University of Jerusalem exchange student, Biggs tagged along. "I was definitely concerned about the political situation," he confides, "but I’ve always wanted to see Israel."

Hours after he flew into Lod airport, Biggs was walking in Tel Aviv when he heard a loud explosion. "When we got to our restaurant, all the Israelis were on their cell phones, and suddenly they were clearing out of the place," he recalls. "Then our waiter told us there had been a suicide bombing at a discotheque less than half a mile away. It was as if the headlines had come to life."

When the shaken actor walked past the disco two days later, there was still blood on the sidewalk. "But the Israelis were getting on with their lives, so we felt, ‘We must get on with our vacation,’" says Biggs, who was often approached for autographs.

"They were impressed that we would show solidarity and come at a time like this to see their country."

He spent the rest of his 12-day trip doing touristy things like snorkeling in Eilat, visiting Hebrew University and learning a smattering of Hebrew. He was amused to learn that the Israeli Domino’s Pizza was giving away promotional copies of the Hebrew-language "American Pie" video.

Back in Los Angeles just before the release of "Pie 2," Biggs was wearing his Hebrew University T-shirt and recalling the day he made pop culture history with a pastry.

"Pie got everywhere," he recalls. "It was pretty slimy."

The actor was hesitant to do the sequel, however. "I thought so highly of the original that I didn’t want to mess with it," he says.

But he was swayed by the funny script, in which Jim comes home from college and at one point visits "band camp" — the almost-mythical place that was obnoxiously touted by his prom date, Michelle, in the original movie. He’s seeking sex-ed from the experienced Michelle, who begins every other sentence with the annoying phrase, "This one time, at band camp…."

In real life, the sequel’s band camp sequences were filmed at Camp Shalom in Malibu.

"At the end of the second day of filming, my girlfriend asked me which camp it was, and I was like, ‘Oh, it’s Camp Shalom,’ and she goes, ‘No way, I went there for four summers!’" Biggs says. "I was just relieved that at no point has she ever said, ‘This one time, at Camp Shalom….’"

7 Days In Arts


Middle-aged, mild-mannered Barney Cashman craves excitement in the form of an extramarital affair. Neil Simon’s “Last of the Red Hot Lovers” follows this bumbling protagonist as he attempts to seduce three women, including his wife’s best friend, in his mother’s apartment. $18 (general admission); $15 (industry guild members); $12 (students and seniors). Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m. Through Sept. 2. Knightsbridge Theatre, 35 S. Raymond Blvd., Old Town, Pasadena. For reservations or more information, call (626) 440-0821.


On Aug. 12, 1952, Stalin ordered the execution of 24 prominent Yiddish writers and intellectuals in Moscow’s Lubyanka Prison. Today, a program titled “Remembering the Enduring Legacy of Soviet Yiddish Writers” commemorates the notable works of 14 writers who perished that day. Poetry in English and Yiddish will be read, accompanied by the Lomir Ale Zinger Chorus and conducted by Ruth Judkowitz. Light refreshments will be served. Free admission. 2 p.m. Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. For more information, call (310) 552-2007.


Tonight, Galerie Yoramgil debuts “From the Treasure Chest III,” a group exhibition featuring new acquisitions from more than 25 of the gallery’s artists. David Aronson, the Lithuanian-born son of a rabbi and founder of Boston University’s School of Art, draws inspiration from his Jewish heritage; Dalit Tayar, a compulsive sculptor who specializes in bronze casting, studied art in Los Angeles and now lives and works in Israel; Israeli multimedia artist Uri Dushi draws from the clutter of urban culture; while Moti Cohen’s sculptures and paintings depict characters from the Talmud and kabbalah. Mon., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; and Sun., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Through Sept. 5. 319 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 275-8130.


This “Sleeping With the Enemy” doesn’t star “America’s Sweethearts” star Julia Roberts; rather, it documents the struggle to find compromise between Israelis and Palestinians. The PBS-sponsored documentary focuses on 20 leaders from each side who attended a summit in Tokyo, held last year by the Japanese government. Far from the war zone, the group discovers ways to respect and understand each other. The newfound friendship between Benny, an Israeli police officer and Adnan, a Palestinian activist, exhibits the extent of the peace agreement between the representatives from each country. 9:45 p.m.-11 p.m. KCET (Check local listings for channel).


Dani fears letting go of her wild-and-crazy secular past when her husband-to-be converts to Judaism in “The Move,” a play written and performed by Dani Klein. As his religious observance becomes increasingly zealous, she finds herself swearing off shrimp, buying challah and lighting candles on Shabbat. The trouble is, she likes it. $15 (general admission). Tuesdays and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Through Sept. 12. Stages Theatre Center, 1540 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood. For reservations or more information, call (323) 465-1010.


The August Sunset Concert Series continues tonight with The California Guitar Trio, accompanied by bassist Tony Levin, performing a combination of jazz, country, blues and surf music, and blending such works as Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony” and Dick Dale’s “Miserlou.” The band’s members include rock guitarist Paul Richards, classical guitarist Bert Lam and surf guitarist Hideyo Moriya. $5 (parking). 7:30 p.m. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. For more information, call (310) 440-4500.


Diane Keaton originally played the odd ESL teacher in the 1976 Israel Horovitz comedy “The Primary English Class.” Now Dana Rosenbaum is trying to teach English to five recent immigrants as she takes on the role with the L.A. Jewish Theatre. $18 (general admission); $16 (students and seniors). Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. Through Sep. 9. The A! Theatre, 1528 Gordon St., Hollywood. For reservations or more information, call (310) 967-1352.

Mime Time

The lobby of Cal State L.A.’s Luckman Fine Arts Theater was stocked with pamphlets on Israel and its culture, both in English and in Spanish, on Jan. 16. Inside the theater, as singer Pini Cohen and mime Hanoch Rosen waited in the wings, a small crowd of invited guests chatted, some in Hebrew, some in English and some in Spanish. In the front row sat Yuval Rotem and José Luis Bernal, consuls general in Los Angeles from Israel and Mexico, respectively.

For the past eight months, the Israeli and Mexican consulates have worked together to bring their two communities together in Los Angeles.

“We represent two of the largest communities in Los Angeles. Even as foreign governments, we can do something positive for the city by bringing people together,” said Bernal.

“The best way to do that is through sharing our cultures,” Rotem added.

An evening of Mexican culture is planned later this year, for an invited Israeli audience.

When Pini Cohen took the stage, he got the audience clapping along to his danceable Hebrew tunes. The crowd, largely invited by the Mexican consulate, really came alive when he launched into his Spanish number, “Quiero Volver.” After a short intermission, it was time for the mime.

Rosen’s clowning needed no translation. Mexican, Israeli and American guests screamed with laughter as the equal-opportunity crowd pleaser pantomimed an unlucky traveler at airport security, and pulled audience members to the stage (using an invisible rope) to help him create a silent Wild West melodrama. When Rosen spoke to the audience, in English, he credited the “international language of pantomime” with bringing the audience together.

After the show, Rotem said, “When we heard Hanoch Rosen would be in town, we knew this would be the show to share with our Mexican friends. Everyone laughs together. Language does not matter here.”

Emotional Barriers

Rabbi David Eliezrie is right. It is very frustrating when your point of view is not heard and it seems as if you are invisible. However, Eliezrie’s irritation captures a crucial element of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Each contender feels that the other has not acknowledged its perspective and needs. Neither has addressed the fears that underlie its position.

He is also correct that, if given their druthers, the Palestinians would like to have the entire Land of Israel for their own possession. But then, if given their way, so would the Israelis. Taking the whole pie is the only way that each side can ensure that their worst nightmares will not become reality. Israelis and Jews are concerned about their physical survival. In a post-Holocaust environment, there is no way this could be otherwise. The Palestinians worry about the possibility of their cultural destruction.

It is difficult for Jews to understand this Palestinian concern because Jews do not need to worry that Judaism or Jewish culture will disappear if the State of Israel has smaller or larger boundaries. With the destruction of the Second Temple and the rise of rabbinic Judaism, Jews learned how to ensure Judaism’s survival without the need for a territorial base. Of course, Jewish life is enhanced in every way through the
State of Israel. And Jews worldwide are concerned about Israel’s welfare.

But the Palestinians cannot be as sanguine about their cultural survival if they are not living on their land. As in most of the non-Western world, their culture remains directly related to their land. From their perspective, if they lose their land, they worry that they will lose their identity. The Palestinians’ fears are as much psychological as political.

It is equally difficult for the Palestinians to understand Jewish concerns with obliteration, for these too are as much psychological as political. They cannot fathom that Jews around the world, even those who did not personally experience the Holocaust, including those who were born after it, fear that Jews will be annihilated. From the Palestinian perspective, indeed, from much of the world’s perspective, this fear is absurd. The Israelis are by far the strongest power in the region. They also have the backing of the strongest power in the world. For Jews, this fear is part of the psychological reality. But it is not part of the Palestinian psyche.

Part of the intractability of this problem stems from the fact that each side’s policies continually reinforce their opponents’ worst fears. Every Israeli settlement and settler convinces the Palestinians that Israel is not serious about wanting peace and that Israel wants to control, if not all the territory, certainly more of what they view as their land. The Palestinians conclude that they will never have sovereignty over any land. This encourages them to maintain a hard line. From their perspective, force is the only thing that gets the Israelis’ attention.

From a Jewish perspective, every act of violence against Israel convinces Jews that the Palestinians are not peace-loving and will never accept the sovereign State of Israel. We point to the continuing violence, their intransigent demands, and their unwillingness to change their textbooks and their rhetoric. We view the Palestinians’ continuing insistence that the refugees from 1948 are entitled to resettle within the borders of pre-1967 Israel as evidence that they do not really accept the reality of the Jewish state.

Both sides believe that their tactics and strategies are the only ways they have to make their points and to protect themselves. Their fears for their own survival, either physical or cultural, prevent them from moving forward. Unfortunately, Eliezrie’s article is indicative of the problem.

Is a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute possible? I don’t know. And neither does anyone else. But I certainly hope so. If there is no solution, the Israelis are doomed to live with increasing violence, growing splits within the Jewish community both here and in Israel, a declining economy and growing alienation on the part of the majority of the Jewish community.

But one thing is certain. There is no easy solution to this problem. And just screaming about the other side’s faults does not move the dispute any closer to being resolved. It merely increases the lack of trust that is already hindering the process.

Instead, we need to acknowledge the power of each side’s basic fears. Only then will we be able to find solutions that will ameliorate these fears enough so that a new political agreement can be reached. Alas, much as their hearts are in the right place, Eliezrie and those who agree with him are not increasing Israel’s chances for living in peace.

Fredelle Z. Spiegel is a member of the Jewish Studies faculty at UCLA and a psychoanalyst in private practice. Her e-mail address is

A Place of Their Own

Reuben Dahan lives just down the block from his nearest synagogue. Yet every Shabbat, for the past seven years, Dahan, an Israeli immigrant who grew up in Petach Tikvah, has gone the extra mile, literally, to worship at a place he calls his spiritual home.

“I live near Chabad,” he says, “but I walk 20 minutes.”

Dahan is a member of Yad Avraham.

A small Sephardic congregation that has been meeting for the past 10 years in a converted storefront on Burbank Boulevard, Yad Avraham has built a loyal following among its members and a reputation for its warmth. Yad Avraham has attracted foreign-born Jews who have turned to the synagogue as a way of retaining their native culture.

The congregation is predominantly Israeli, and many believe their sabra roots form the unifying bond within the synagogue.

“This synagogue helps us keep our culture,” says Shmuel Nouriel.

“We like to have an Israeli place,” adds Avi Edry.

Others say it is the very welcoming and family-like atmosphere of the synagogue that keeps them coming back.

“This synagogue is unique. It is a big family,” says Nouriel, who has attended Yad Avraham since its inception in 1987.

“It is very warm,” says Ramah Palmari. “If you come from the outside, they make you feel at home.”
According to Palmari, who joined the synagogue two years ago, recent immigrants “are thirsty for like-minded people. Here, you are never alone.”

The synagogue has a Shabbat hosting program that helps new attendees meet other members of the congregation.

Although predominantly Israeli, many of the members’ parents immigrated to Israel from various countries including Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Morocco and Syria.

Unlike many Sephardic congregations in the neighborhood that pray according to Moroccan tradition, or nusach, Yad Avraham uses a more generic Sephardic style, according to Rabbi David Adatto.
“The point was to make everyone feel comfortable,” he says.

However, at communal Shabbat lunches, various culinary heritages meet.

“We share cultures,” says Edry, the synagogue producer. “We mix all the foods. One week we all eat couscous, the next week we’ll eat kubeh.”

Most members of Yad Avraham were secular and became ba’al tshuvah (returned to Judaism) after joining the congregation.

According to Adatto, many were first drawn to the synagogue solely for cultural reasons. “Secular Israelis in America want something Israeli,” he says. “Before you knew it, they were part of the community.”
Joshua Assis believes his commitment to Orthodoxy is an outgrowth of his work with the synagogue.
“I was here from the beginning,” says Assis, the synagogue treasurer. “It is like raising a baby. It becomes part of you, your blood.”

Besides weekly services, the synagogue holds weekly classes for men and women on Jewish studies or issues relating to upcoming holidays. Rabbis from nearby synagogues, including Ashkenazic ones, lecture at Yad Avraham.

Sun., Sept. 24, after spending the past decade renting space, Yad Avraham finally broke ground on a permanent home.

The new building, scheduled to be completed in time for next Rosh Hashanah, will be located on Chandler Boulevard near Whitsett Avenue.

“It will be a place that we can truly call our own,” Adatto says. “It will enable us to increase our base. From there we will be able to expand, grow and reach out to the community”

Along with a synagogue, Yad Avraham also plans on opening the Jerusalem Israeli Community Cultural Center within the new facility.

“We want to build an Israeli culture center to teach the children,” says Edry.

Members of Yad Avraham say the center will also cater to the social needs of immigrants, especially to the thousands of Israelis who have moved to the Valley during the 1990s.

Along with social programs, members of Yad Avraham believe that the center will be a window on the their little slice of Israel in North Hollywood.

“We want to show the outside the love and joy we get from our community,” says Edry.

Post-Zionist Headache

Changing the way a nation and a people think about themselves is not an easy job. But Yoram Hazony and his Jerusalem and Washington, D.C.-based Shalem Center is attempting to do just that for Israel and the Jews.

Hazony’s arrival on the Jewish intellectual scene is a signal that the backlash against post-Zionism has begun. So here’s the question: Is it too late for the proponents of mainstream Zionism to reverse a trend that has called into question the morality of having a Jewish state?Given the fact that this week we celebrate only the 52nd anniversary of Israel’s rebirth as a sovereign Jewish state, that is a remarkable question to be asking. But for Hazony, a 30-something Israeli who was raised and educated in the United States, the most important questions for Israel are not about how much territory to exchange for a peace treaty, but how Jewish and Zionist are the people who will be living in the country, no matter its size.Hazony, who worked as an aide to Benjaman Netanyahu in the early 1990s, before Bibi’s election to the premiership, left politics in 1994 to found the Shalem Center. The point of this nonpartisan think tank is “to prepare a reasonable alternative” to the post-Zionist view of Israel. He’s set out his views on this problem in a book that has just been published this month by Basic Books, “The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel’s Soul.” I had a chance to sit down with Hazony and discuss his book and his views on the state of Israeli society recently while the author was visiting the United States.Hazony’s work represents the most comprehensive account yet written about the phenomenon of post-Zionism, along with its origins and how it conflicts with the basic ideology of the people who created Zionism and brought Israel to life: Theodor Herzl and David Ben-Gurion.What is post-Zionism? It is the transformation of Israeli society into a culture whose primary values are not specifically Jewish. Post-Zionism is the process by which Israel ceases to be the Jewish state and becomes merely the state of its inhabitants.For many people here, the phrase “post-Zionism” is associated primarily with the politics of the Israeli left and what the Jewish state might look like in the aftermath of a comprehensive peace.

Israelis forget why they are fighting.

Hazony sees Israel’s problems as going much deeper. The issue is not that Israelis are weary of war and unwilling to go on struggling. As tired of the conflict as most of them certainly are, they are not reluctant to fight for their survival. Rather, he says, the problem is that increasingly large numbers of young Israelis no longer “understand why they should do so.”In discussions with men he served with while on Israeli Army reserve duty, this cross-section of Israeli society revealed to him that most had no idea of the value of the Jewish people, its contributions and struggle, or why there should be a Jewish state at all. The gap between the generation of the founders and the generations that have followed is truly troubling. The consensus that a Jewish state was a moral imperative has eroded. Is Hazony exaggerating? A quick look at recent cultural and political developments inside Israel confirms his concerns.The change in Israel’s secondary-school history textbooks is only the most well-known example. As reported in a front-page story last summer in The New York Times, the new book drops the traditional Zionist view of the War of Independence and subsequent struggles, looking at them instead from a “universalist” frame of reference. The real question is whether or not Israelis believe that the struggle for the Jewish state itself was justified.

The switch here is not from a Likud to a Labor point of view. Hazony explains that post-Zionist ideology is, in fact, an abandonment of the Labor Zionist values promoted by Ben-Gurion. Rather than being a modernist fad, post-Zionist thought can be traced directly back to intellectual trends that were prominent in the Jewish world prior to World War II and the Holocaust.Indeed, Hazony devotes considerable space to the leftist critics of both Herzl and Ben-Gurion, especially the famous intellectuals who worked at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, such as the famed philosopher Martin Buber. These critics opposed the idea of a Jewish state and pushed for a binational state of Arabs and Jews.Hazony sees this non-Zionist school of thought as dominating Israel’s intellectual and cultural worlds. If a nation’s leading intellects all believe that the only obstacle to peace has always been “right-wing militant Zionist nuts” like Ben-Gurion, says Hazony, a process of self-delegitimization of Zionist values can snowball. Recent decisions of Israel’s Supreme Court that have undermined the legal basis of Zionism give credence to Hazony’s fears.Hazony argues that “the Israeli man in the street still has a strong Jewish identity and believes in Zionism as a just cause,” but the abandonment of Zionism in Israeli education, films, theater, literature and law is taking a terrible toll on Israeli society.”How long can a country survive if its intellectuals are working to debunk the basic culture the country is built on?” Hazony asks.

Preparing for a comeback of Zionist thought.

His response is to use the Shalem Center to create a different way in Israeli intellectual life. Shalem promotes not just Zionism but the basic works of liberal democratic thinking, such as the writing of John Locke, as well as the opponents of socialism, such as Frederick Hayek. His group is promoting student programs, publishing a journal called Azure, and commissioning the first Hebrew translations of works like “The Federalist Papers.” The goal is to promote democratic behavior and belief in the rule of law, as well as Zionism.Given that the post-Zionists have control of most of Israel’s institutions of higher learning and culture, the odds are heavily stacked against Hazony. But before the politics of post-Zionism can be reversed, the way must be prepared by intellectuals dedicated to a revival of Zionist values.Yet as Israel celebrates its 52nd birthday, one need only reflect on the fact that 100 years ago, few believed that there would ever be a Jewish state, let alone a drift to post-Zionism. In this age of Jewish miracles that Zionism produced, it would be foolish to bet against Yoram Hazony. n

Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia. He can be reached via e-mail at Yoram Hazony, president of the Jerusalem-based Shalem Center and a former adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, will present “The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel’s Soul.”


One of my pet peeves is people who make generalconclusions from rather sketchy specific facts. Such is the column ofCharles Marowitz wherein he comments about Los Angeles’ “unfailingability to turn crocks of manure into crocks of gold” (“Looking forthe Genius in ‘Picasso at the Lapin Agile’,”Jan. 30).

He does this based upon the fact that someproducer has once again decided to present “Picasso at the LapinAgile.” In proving his case he uses several examples including theplay “Shear Madness” in Boston and “Abie’s Irish Rose” on Broadway.He names a couple of others which he degrades as having run for alengthy time in Los Angeles, and to prove his point then states that”The Drunkard,” “a crude melodrama” ran for many years here in LosAngeles.

Mr. Marowitz sounds a lot like so many others whohave chosen to live here, but don’t want to admit that it’s really apretty neat place.

But my beef with him particularly is in regard to”The Drunkard.” It didn’t pretend to be anything other than a lot offun. It was a corny melodrama followed by Olio acts and communitysinging, but there was dinner and beer thrown in.

I have a feeling Mr. Marowitz might have evenenjoyed it.

Irwin D. Goldring

Los Angeles

Right Voice

I was troubled by the lack of ahavas Yisroel or love of Jews,shown by Mr. Elyakim Haetzni when he echoed statements made by theIsraeli government that we may have to send troops into Gaza and theother PLO autonomous areas (“A Voice from the Right,” Feb. 6).

This is a defeatist attitude. We should not makethe same mistakes of the 1982 Lebanon War. My first and only concernis the safety and well-being of our own soldiers.

The false piety of Elyakim Haetzni and thedefeatist attitude of the Israeli government would be the cause ofJews having to pay the butchers bill. We should seek to destroyrather than to conquer.

Max Kessler

Los Angeles

More on Monica

I concur with the letters that lambasted yourtreatment of the Monica Lewinsky story in a vain and irrelevantattempt to develop a Jewish connection.

The environment that creates a Monica Lewinsky isa story of greater magnitude. Can we assume that she is a product ofthe disparity of wealth in our economy which diminishes familyvalues? Or, as she grew up, was she victimized by the media whichtrivializes sex, crime and corruption? If so, we are losing ourchildren to a culture that transcends ethnicity and religiousbackground.

Leonard Stone

Beverly Hills


According to your Jan. 30 cover story on MonicaLewinsky, we are involved in pimping and prostitution; Bibi, likeClinton, has zipper problems ; Marlene Marks just discovered that ourdaughters and sons are not perfect (neither are their parents, by theway); rabbis, doubling up as sexuality experts, interpreted the finelines between oral sex, intercourse and adultery (that article wasreally hilarious, move over Seinfeld).

Some of your readers were almost raving mad. I, onthe other hand, thought that this issue was one of the finest, mostdiversified, most hard-hitting in a long, long time. We are beginningto accept the previously unthinkable concept that among us walk thegood, the bad and the indifferent. “To be normal, that is my goal formy people,” said Rabin, shortly before he was assassinated. We arecertainly making giant strides in that direction.

As to Gene Lichtenstein’s melodramatic plea forJewish unity behind Monica Lewinsky, please “include me out”: I cansee her parents giving her unconditional love and support; I, though,have enough problems with my own children, trying to keep my rockyboat afloat.

Maurice Kornberg

Los Angeles

Insulting to Orthodox

Adam Gilad’s opening paragraph reeks of resentmentand hate (“Where the Action Is,” Jan. 30). It is a diatribe againstevery Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem, insulting in its message andrevoting in its tone.

The purpose of a community newspaper is to providenews and opinion. As surely as we ought not restrict the former, weshould insist on responsibility in the latter. While everyone isentitled to an opinion, a community supported paper cannot be thepodium for every disgruntled voice looking to let off steam. Shouldnot someone bother to ask whether an opinion expressed in such aderogatory manner is worth the attention of the public? Had theauthor of the piece been some noted thinker or public figure, thedecision to publish might have been justified.

A community paper should help solve the problemsof our Jewish community, not contribute to them. At very least, weshould see lip service paid to the cause of civility.

Irwin Lowi

Los Angeles

‘Morning Star’

Thank you to fellow reader Helen Bruck for herhead’s up on “Morning Star,” the play currently playing at the ColonyTheater (“Great Play,” Jan. 23). At her recommendation, I went to seeit and enjoyed it very much. It’s a charming and moving play thatseems to dramatize similar experiences of my immigrantgreat-grandparents.

I apparently can get better entertainment tipsfrom Jewish Journal readers than from the Los Angeles Times’ leadtheater critic who found “Morning Star” too “clichéd” and”sentimental.” Also, artist David Rose’s paintings in the lobby weretruly inspiring.

All in all, my money was well spent. I didn’t comeaway feeling cheated or angry, but emotionally fulfilled andthoroughly entertained – not to mention proud of my heritage.

David Feldstein


Westside JCC

I was dismayed by the news that the WestsideJewish Community Center may be sold to a private religious highschool (“Westside JCC May Be Sold to Shalhevet,” Feb. 6).

The center has been a focus of my family’s lifefor 35 years. We sent our children to its wonderful nursery school,used its fine athletic facilities and participated in its many dailyand camp programs. Now our grandchildren go to the same (stillwonderful) nursery school, and swim in the pool there.

The population served by WJCC — young familiesand the elderly — will be left without recourse if the centercloses, and its services scattered into different facilities. Thecultural continuity provided by WJCC is as important as Jewisheducation, which can be accomplished in many venues.

I hope a chorus of others who have benefitted fromthe WJCC will join me in attempting to save our precious center forthe community at large.

Robert J. Wunsch

Los Angeles

Upcoming Lecture

People who acknowledge the lack of quality in ourfoods today will be happy to know there are measures they can take toprotect their health. Most of us try to eat well, but due tooverprocessing as well as harvesting fruits and vegetables beforethey are ripe, many of the nutrients our bodies need are no longeravailable. As a result of these deficiencies, people are experiencinghealth problems in increasing numbers. This deterioration innutritional value is a product of the 20th century in that it is duelargely to increased population, depleted farmlands and the economicsof our fast-paced society.

On Saturday, Feb. 28, Dr. Stephen Nugent willdiscuss how nutritional deficiencies and environmental toxins areimpacting health worldwide. He will tell us what we can do to protectour bodies and preserve and improve our health. Dr. Nugent has awealth of experience in medical practice, research and education. Hehas authored books and audio tapes on this subject, and lecturesinternationally to tens of thousands of people.

The lecture will be held at UCLA’s Ackerman GrandBallroom, and it is open to the public (seating is limited and isexpected to sell out). I know this lecture will be of considerableinterest to your readers.

Steve Hirsh

Los Angeles


The Anti-Defamation League did not protest outsideTemple Kol Tikvah during Rev. Jesse Jackson’s visit there, as wereported (“Jackson Shares His Dream,” Feb. 13). The protesters weremembers of the Jewish Defense League. We regret the error.

THE JEWISH JOURNAL welcomes letters from all readers. Letters shouldbe no more than 250 words and we reserve the right to edit for space.All letters must include a signature, valid address and phone number.Pseudonyms and initials will not be used, but names will be withheldon request. Unsolicited manuscripts and other materials shouldinclude a self-addressed, stamped envelope in order to bereturned.
Publisher, Stanley Hirsh

THE JEWISH JOURNAL welcomes letters from allreaders. Letters should be no more than 250 words and we reserve theright to edit for space. All letters must include a signature, validaddress and phone number. Pseudonyms and initials will not be used,but names will be withheld on request. Unsolicited manuscripts andother materials should include a self-addressed, stamped envelope inorder to be returned.Publisher, Stanley Hirsh

Editor-in chief,Gene Lichtenstein

Managing editor, Robert Eshman

Assistant editor, Stig Jantz

Calendar and copy editor, William Yelles

Senior writer, NaomiPfefferman

Staff writer, RuthStroud

Production coordinator and

online editor, SaraEve Roseman

Community editor,Michael Aushenker

Arts editor, DianeArieff Zaga

Senior Columnist, Marlene Adler Marks

National Correspondent, J. J. Goldberg

Contributing writers, James David Besser (Washington), Larry Derfner (Tel Aviv),Rabbi Ed Feinstein, Linda Feldman, Beverly Gray, Joel Kotkin, RabbiSteven Leder, Yehuda Lev, Deborah Berger-Reiss, Eric Silver(Jerusalem), Teresa Strasser

Contributing editor, Tom Tugend

Art director,Shelley Adler

Photo/Graphics, Carvin Knowles

Advertising art director, Lionel Ochoa

Members of the corporation,

Ed Brennglass (1919-1997), Willard Chotiner, IrwinDaniels, Irwin Field, David Finegood, Herbert Gelfand, Osias Goren,Richard Gunther, Stanley Hirsh, Marvin Kristan, Mark Lainer

Legal counsel/ accountants, Leon Katz of Tyre, Kamins, Katz and Granoff; JonathanKirsch of Kirsch and Mitchell/Gerald Block of Block, Plant andEisner

THE JEWISH JOURNAL (ISSN 0888-0468) USPS 468530 ispublished weekly, every Thursday for $23.50 (out of state add $12.50)by Los Angeles Jewish Publications Inc., a community nonprofitcorporation, 3660 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 204, Los Angeles,California 90010. Address all mail to: Jewish Journal, 3660 WilshireBoulevard, Suite 204, Los Angeles, California 90010. Phone213-368-1661, Fax 213-368-1684. E-mail at Los Angeles Freenet,

© 1998 Los Angeles Jewish PublicationsInc.

All rights reserved.

Periodicals Postage Paid at Los Angeles,California.

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to THE JEWISHJOURNAL, 3660 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 204, Los Angeles, California90010. THE JEWISH JOURNAL is not responsible for unsolicitedmanuscripts or photographs. They will not be returned unless senderenclosed return postage.

THE JEWISH JOURNAL does not endorse the goods andservices advertised in its pages, and it makes no representation asto the kashrut of food products and services in suchadvertising.


The Jewish Journal is printed

on 100% recycled paper.