Jerusalem timelapse of iconic landmarks

For 10 days, my USC graduate journalism class reported from Israel on a whirlwind schedule.  The fast-paced experience within this historical land inspired me to make this video using timelapse photography and sound collected in Jerusalem’s old city.

Habush Wrapped Life in L.A. History

Jerry Freedman Habush led excursions through historic Jewish Los Angeles as vice president of tours at the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California (JHS) for more than 20 years. In recent months, Habush’s commitment slowed, but not from a waning passion. He was receiving chemotherapy for cancer that spread through his pancreas, liver and lungs. Habush died on July 29 at age 60.

In June, Habush told The Journal, "People are astonished to learn that there were once eight synagogues south of the 10 freeway and east of Vermont [Avenue]."

It was Habush’s passion to know such facts — but not his job. Habush, a veteran educator and community and media relations executive, served with the local Jewish culture conservator on a volunteer basis.

Before his illness, Habush never tired of taking tourists to Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s third site in Koreatown and "watching people’s jaws drop because it’s so overwhelmingly huge and beautiful."

His tours included such landmarks as the original downtown site of Wilshire Boulevard Temple (originally Congregation B’nai Brith), "the oldest shul, built in 1862," Breed Street Shul and the Presbyterian church occupying the old Sinai Temple site.

Boyle Heights, location of the latter two destinations, was once home to "the panoply of different kinds of Jews" that included immigrants, gangsters, Zionists and communists, and gave birth to institutions such as Union Bank, City of Hope, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Jewish Home for the Aging and the original Canter’s deli.

"Boyle Heights is an attraction out of nostalgia," Habush said, "even if they didn’t come from there, their parents came from there."

Originally from Chicago, Habush moved to Los Angeles as a youth, where he grew up in North Hollywood and went to Grant High School. A 1966 graduate of UC Berkeley, Habush received his master’s degree in U.S. history from UCLA in 1968.

"That’s all I ever intended to do was to teach U.S. history," said Habush, who in addition to teaching history at UCLA, taught part-time at Los Angeles Valley College

He also worked for two years as a Hillel director at L.A. City College — the last non-rabbi to do so — and served as a youth worker while living in Los Feliz.

Habush, who once spent four months living on a kibbutz with his Valley-bred wife, Audrey, divided his career between working in education and public relations. He worked as associate executive director for the National Conference of Christians and Jews and as a public affairs consultant, specializing in community and media relations, for clients such as the Jewish Community Relations Committee of The Jewish Federation, the University of Judaism, and Stephen S. Wise Temple for more than a decade.

"I always put a lot on intergroup relations," Habush said. "My main professional goal was intercommunity, interethnic, interreligious."

Habush began his association with the JHS 14 years ago — about the same time Stephen Sass, now JHS president, came aboard.

"We were the only ones under 60 on the board," he recalled. "Little by little, we’ve brought in younger people."

Habush gave Sass the lion’s share of the credit for not only keeping the JHS relevant, but keeping it going.

"It would’ve collapsed without him," Habush said.

Habush honed some unwritten philosophies while training JHS docents.

"It’s got to be something that you love or you’ll never do a good job," Habush said. "If you get to feel that you’re going to work on a Sunday, you shouldn’t be doing it."

A big prerequisite: one must really revel in imparting Jewish history.

Habush really enjoyed "helping people understand and appreciate their history; to appreciate that Jews lived in South Central, East L.A."

"L.A. is the most colorful place in the world," Habush continued. "And the diversity within the L.A. Jewish community mirrors the diversity of L.A."

"Besides Jerry’s concern for his family’s welfare, his greatest wish was that the JHS tour program, which he nurtured for so long, continue to flourish," Sass wrote in a July 29 letter informing the community of Habush’s passing. "In accordance with Jerry’s wishes, the Freedman Habush Fund [established in 2003 by JHS] will support the ongoing recruitment and training of future generations of tour leaders, the development of educational materials and outreach to children, teens and young adults."

"May Jerry’s memory be for a blessing," ended Sass’s statement.

Funeral services were held on July 31 at Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary. Habush is survived by wife, Audrey; daughters, Gabriela and Rachel; and sister, Ferne.

For information on the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California, call (323) 761-8950.

Eulogies:Ira Yellin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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