San Francisco to put circumcision ban on the ballot


A measure seeking to ban male circumcision will appear on the November ballot in San Francisco.

More than 7,700 signatures from city residents on a petition in support of the measure were approved as valid by city officials on Wednesday. At least 7,168 signatures were required, and more than 12,000 were submitted.

The measure, which would apply only in the city of San Francisco, would make it a misdemeanor crime to circumcise a boy before he is 18 years old. The maximum penalty would be a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Circumcisions would be permitted only for medical reasons, with no religious exemptions.

Even if the measure passes in November, it likely would be challenged as a constitutional violation of freedom of religion.

“This is a tradition not only practiced by Jews, but by Muslims and members of secular society,” Rabbi Yosef Langer, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of San Francisco, said. “The Jewish people and spiritually conscious people all over the world will certainly—and have always—risen to the occasion so that justice, and the will of the Almighty, will prevail.”

The Anti-Defamation League and the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council have come out against the proposal.

Jewish boys traditionally are circumcised at eight days of age and Muslims at some time during boyhood.

San Francisco circumcision ban likely for November ballot


A proposal to ban circumcision in San Francisco looks likely for the November ballot.

A group opposed to male circumcision told Reuters that it had collected more than enough signatures on petitions to qualify their proposal for the Nov. 8 vote this fall.

The measure, which would apply only in the city of San Francisco, would make it a misdemeanor crime to circumcise a boy before he is 18 years old. The maximum penalty would be a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Circumcisions would be permitted only for medical reasons.

On Tuesday, the group submitted 12,000 signatures for verification to the city’s elections department. If 7,200 of them are valid, the proposal goes on the ballot.

Legal experts told reporters that even if the measure passes in November, it would be challenged as a constitutional violation of freedom of religion. Both the Anti-Defamation League and the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council have come out against the proposal. Abby Michaelson-Porth, associate director of the JCRC, told reporters that if the proposal makes it to the ballot, “there will be an organized campaign against it.”

Jewish boys traditionally are circumcised at eight days of age and Muslims at some time during boyhood.

Obituaries


Leo Bach died Nov. 4 at 79. He is survived by his wife, Evelyn; daughter, Gloria Ann (Donald) Bach-Koch; and son, Julian. Mount Sinai

Geraldine Beerman died Nov. 1 at 86. She is survived by her daughter, Dianne (Bob) Cruff; son, David; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Florence Benetar died Oct. 23 at 85. She is survived by her daughter, Carol Silverberg; son, Martin Stanley; and six grandchildren. Hillside

Shirley Roth Blecher died Nov. 4 at 75. She is survived by her daughters, Marcia (Jeffrey) Slater and Terry (Logan Palmer); sons, Robert (Nancy) and Kenneth; three grandchildren; sister, Marilyn (Bernie) Aronson; and brother, David Roth. Malinow and Silverman

Morris Borison died Nov. 7 at 84. He is survived by his daughters, Linda (Barney) Reitner, Carrie (Jim) Stutte and Rho Jenkins; five grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and sisters, Margaret Gutman, and Gussie Schrut. Mount Sinai

Jeanette Helen Brent died Oct. 27 at 89. She is survived by her sister, Bernice (Harry) Lansing; brother, Earl Goldberg; grandchildren; and great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Alfred Cohen died on Nov. 4 at 83. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn; son, Jeffrey (Margo); daughter, Mindy (Bradley) Caplow; five grandchildren; sister, Harriet (Gerald) Gould; and nephew, Sandy Gould. Mount Sinai

Lili Deutsch died Nov. 1 at 93. She is survived by her sons, Dan and Gabriel; three grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter. Mount Sinai

Goldye Dorfman died Oct. 29 at 93. She is survived by her daughter, Sandra Lokman; son, Edwin (Kay); four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

James Alan Epstein died Oct. 28 at 62. He is survived by his wife, Sharon; sisters, Joan Franklin and Barbara Haugan; and nephew, Stephen Franklin.Beatrice Fox died Oct. 31 at 87. She is survived by her husband, Leslie; daughter, Beri Soroko; son, Mitchell; and four grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Nathaniel Fried died Oct. 29 at 85. he is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Batia Galfni died Nov. 1 at 86. She is survived by her children; grandchildren; great-grandchildren; and siblings. Hillside

Sally Sara Gilbert died Nov. 1 at 90. She is survived by her daughter, Risha Paz Soldan; and four grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Ronald Alan “Ron” Gittelson died Nov. 1 at 55. He is survived by his parents, Arnold and Pat; brothers, Michael (Tina) and Robert; and nephew, Max. Mount Sinai

Ruth Glaser died Nov. 5 at the age of 70. She is survived by her son, Michael (Yocheved); daughter, Gabriella (Daniel) Sopher;and stepdaugher, Sandra (Robert Sobol) King. Mount Sinai

Samuel Goldenberg died Oct. 30 at 76. He is survived by his daughters, Meg (Michael) Marion and Marcy Goldenberg; sister, Marcia Solomon; and one grandson. Malinow and Silverman

Frieda Grad died Oct. 28 at 87. She is survived by her son, Paul. Mount SinaiDaniel Greene died Oct. 28 at 62. He is survived by his wife, Debbie; and siblings, Rowie (David) Leonard and Stanton (Bev). Hillside

Peggy Gutman died Nov. 3 at 56. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Harvey; parents, Seymour and Donelda Morrow; brother, Paul (Nadine) Morrow; and sisters, Joan (Loc) Harbison and Jenny (Charley) Howenstine. Mount Sinai

Mary Louise Hollander died Nov. 1 at 91. She is survived by her sons, Nicholas (Tania) and Lorin (Tara); five grandchildren; two step-granddaughters; nieces, Hazel (Robert) Siegel and Rhoda Gelman; and grandniece, Alexandra (Michael) Shuman. Mount Sinai

Dorothy Jackson died Nov. 4 at 96. She is survived by her daughter, Carol Schwartz; three grandchildren; and great- grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Fahimeh Moayed Khakshoorian died Oct. 28. She is survived by her children, Hooshang (Mansoureh) Khakshoorian, Eraj Khakshoorian, Shahla (Hooshang) Barzideh, and Nazy (Manouchehr) Benjy; nine grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; brother, Sooroush (Shahin) Moayed and sister Eshrat Samipur.

Bessie Koren-Krohn died Oct. 21 at 91. She is survived by her daughter, Carol Zelden; son, Bruce Koren; three grandchidlren; four great-grandchildren; sister, Celia Ziff. Hillside

Evelyn Leve died Oct. 30 at 84. She is survived by her husband, George; daughters, Annette (Michael) Schiffer and Harriet (Richard) Kolb; son, Robert; and four grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Ilya Levinson died Oct. 30 at 80. He is survived by his wife, Anyuta Rekechinskaya; children, Lyudmila (Ananiy) Burshteyn; Boris (Lyudmila) Levinson; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Evelyn Lowe died Oct. 31 at 91. She is survived by her sons, Barton and Howard (JoAnn); and three grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Klara Metz died Nov. 9 at 79. She is survived by her husband, Leon; son, Dennis (Cassandra); daughter, Lisa (Kirk) Hardy; granddaughters, Nicole and Jennifer Hardy; sister, Agnes Berkovitz; and aunt, Elizabeth Meyers. Mount Sinai

Melinda Miller died Oct. 23 at 54. She is survived by her husband, Jim; mother, Juliet; sisters, Carol Goldsmith, Wendy Sheinkopf and Lynn Weisman; brother, Dr. Russell (Elizabeth) Sheinkopf; nieces; and nephews. Hillside

Charlotte Neuman died Oct. 30 at 88. She is survived by her husband, Ernest; daughters, Judith Perlman and Sherry (Craig) Zacuto; sister, Zipora Peri; five grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter. Malinow and Silverman

Eva Newmeyer died Nov. 8 at 97. She Survived by her sons, Howard (Renee), Conrad (Barbara), Neil (Nancy) and Stuart (Laurie); daughter, Sunny (David) Turkin; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Farhad Partiali died Oct. 30 at 37. He is survived by his parents, Sara and Habib; sisters; brothers; nieces; and nephews. Malinow and Silverman

Adele Pollock died Oct. 30 at 75. She is survived by her son, Mark (Sharon); daughter, Beth (Jan) Goren; six grandchildren; sister, Pearl (Leon) Sklar. Mount Sinai

Steven Allen Perlberg died Oct. 26 at 50. He is survived by his sister, Helen Brookstein. Malinow and Silverman

Zvi Regev died Nov. 3 at 61. He is survived by his wife, Ronit; daughter, Miri; son, Alon (Michele); and sisters, Mina (Dani) Fiat and Zipi (Yoram) Bing. Mount Sinai

Morton Riff died Nov. 2 at 71. He is survived by his son, Ian; and granddaughter, Carolyn Lawson. Mount Sinai

For the Kids


November Madness

In Old English, the month of November was called "blood month." It was a month of animal sacrifices that took place to prepare for the long winter. But what is the etymology of the word "November?"

Here’s a hint: The Roman calendar began in March (similar to the Jewish calendar, which begins in Nissan, around Passover). Send in the answer for a prize.

Autumn Arrives

Joshua Goldberg, 12, wrote this poem for his history class at A.J. Heschel Day School:

I peer out of my window to gaze at the autumn sky.

The wind whispers

through the trees.

A scent of roses fills my nose.

Leaves fall on to my windowsill — how I long to feel their smoothness.

It starts to drizzle and I can taste the little droplets on my tongue.

The feeling of autumn surrounds me, now it’s time to embrace it’s presence…

Abridged Book Fair


Where have all the readers gone?

Each year during November — designated as Jewish Book Month — Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles (JCCGLA) holds its annual Jewish Book Festival in a city with 600,000 Jews. While book fairs sponsored by JCCs in other cities with substantially smaller Jewish populations continue to flourish, JCCGLA endeavor does not appear to be on the same page.

Take last year’s JCCGLA festival. The 2000 installment featured 10 authors, including hot newcomer Myla Goldberg ("Bee Season"), Nomi Eve ("The Family Orchard") and Rich Cohen ("The Avengers"). This year, with only three authors scheduled — Rochelle Krich ("Shadows of Sin"), Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins, (co-author of "Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul"), and Yossi Klein Halevi ("At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden") — the 2001 event sounds more like a book signing than a festival.

"We lose money," Jonathan Fass told The Journal last year. "But the goal of Jewish education is not to turn a profit. It’s to help Jews grow Jewishly."

For the past two years, Fass, the director of Jewish Life and Learning at JCCGLA, which is a beneficiary agency of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, has coordinated Los Angeles’ Jewish Book Festival, created by Seville Porush in 1997 to promote Jewish authors and/or books with Jewish themes.

This year, Fass told The Journal, "Internally, we felt that the community’s dollars were best-used in other places. We repositioned those community dollars in other programming. The nation’s mind is on other things."

This year’s L.A. Book Festival cost about $3,000, as compared to last year’s $10,000 program, which was three times larger. The festivals are underwritten by community grants, and the amount of funds sought is dependent on the size and scale of festival programming that year.

With grants from the California Council for the Humanities, Milken Family Foundation and Charles I. Brown Foundation, the L.A. Jewish Book Festival will continue this year, although on a smaller scale.

Regarding available talent, Fass said, "This year, the pool was a little smaller," adding that at least one author dropped out due to travel concerns related to Sept. 11. The festival, which does not charge admission, foots the travel and lodging expenses for its guest authors, who do not charge for their appearances.

Attendance here might also be a problem. Last year, about 650 Angelenos attended JCCGLA’s Jewish Book festival. Compare this to the book festival sponsored by JCC of Metropolitan Detroit: held over 10 days at West Bloomfield and Oak Park, Mich., Detroit’s festival attracted 15,000 people last year.

This month, Detroit’s Jewish Book Festival boasted a litany of big names, including Rabbi Harold Kushner ("When Bad Things Happen to Good People"), New York Times’ Frank Rich and Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

So why the dramatic difference in a city with far fewer Jews than Los Angeles?

Detroit’s fair is "the oldest and the largest," Elaine Schonberger, director of the Detroit book fair, told The Journal. "This book fair started in 1952 and has been the model for all of the others. It’s very prestigious and prominent."

Detroit isn’t the only metropolis where the JCC Book Festival has a bigger following. Wendy Wasserstein’s lecture this month in West Hartford, Conn., sponsored by the Greater Hartford JCC’s Jewish Book Fair, sold out quickly. And more than 20,000 people attended the St. Louis counterpart, which celebrates its 23rd year this month. (That’s the numerical equivalent of one-third of the city’s Jewish population.)

However, in St. Louis, Jews aren’t the only ones attending, since there is no general book festival in St. Louis, said Marcia Levy, director of the St. Louis fair. "Each year, we get more and more people from the general community."

It’s the caliber of book industry stars that has undeniably brought this event to the mainstream. More than 600 people attended last year’s appearance of "Enchanted Love" author Marianne Williamson.

"Most people didn’t even know she was Jewish," Levy said.

The St. Louis JCC book fair charges admission for each event. The authors appear gratis at the festival. However, St. Louis JCC does pay its keynote speaker (this year Alan Dershowitz).

Fass believes that Los Angeles’ book fair is the victim of an abundance of riches — an eternal stream of bookstore signings, college lectures, and local TV show appearances.

"L.A. is on the media tour for every major author. They have offices here," Fass said. "A lot of the other book fairs take place in cities with [fewer] Jewish events. Some of the smaller cities, it’s part of their larger programming."

Not so, say festival organizers from Detroit and St. Louis.

"The book fest is not our only event," said Levy, noting that several happenings staged in her community last year drew big crowds and big stars, such as Jay Leno and Mandy Patinkin.

Perhaps Los Angeles shouldn’t feel inadequate. New York City, the publishing world’s Mecca, doesn’t even have a Jewish book festival.

"In New York City, you don’t need it. But once you get west of the Hudson…" said Carolyn Starman Hessel, director of Jewish Book Council, which coordinates talent for 70 affiliates, including Fass.

Hessel believes that the book festival is a case where size doesn’t matter. Meanwhile, Fass will continue to pragmatically explore ways of catering the JCC’s book festival to the appetite of our city, but not at the expense of community dollars.

"We’ve been learning what works and what doesn’t in a huge city like L.A.," Fass said.

Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins appears at the West Valley JCC Bernard Milken Community Campus on Nov. 27 at 7 p.m.; Rochelle Krich appears at the Westside JCC on Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. and at West Valley JCC on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.; Yossi Klein Halevy appears at the Westside JCC on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. For more information on Westside appearances call (323) 938-2531, ext. 2207. For West Valley appearances, call (818) 464-3300.