Why counting counts: Who knows who L.A.’s Jews are?

Susan Goldberg, rabbi of Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock, grew up in nearby Echo Park.

“There were no Jewish families around when I was growing up,” Goldberg, 38, said. Now that these neighborhoods are being gentrified, and a young, creative crowd is moving in, the Jews are coming, too.

Some five years ago, Temple Beth Israel, a nearly 90-year-old congregation, counted 30 individual members. Today, she said, “We’re bursting at the seams with young families, parents in their 30s and 40s who are living here, in Mount Washington, in Highland Park, in Eagle Rock,” Goldberg said.

But for all the anecdotal evidence that Jews are moving eastward, no one knows exactly how many Jews comprise this trend.

“We know they’re out there, because when we have events, they come,” Goldberg said. “But it would be so, so tremendously helpful to know where they are, who they are, how many there are.”

Los Angeles hasn’t done a Jewish community survey since 1997, and with nothing concrete in the works, organizations are “flying blind,” in the words of one demographer.

“No other large Jewish community has been without a study for such a long period of time,” said Jacob Ukeles, president of Ukeles Associates Inc., a firm that helped conduct New York’s recently released survey.

And that can have serious implications for how effectively a community responds to needs.

“We need to know who lives where, what they do Jewishly, what diversity exists among Jews, what needs they have, what resources they have and what they think on a variety of issues,” said Sarah Bunin Benor, associate professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Los Angeles. “That’s my take on it, from the perspective of somebody who wants to help Jews have a better life.”

Jay Sanderson, president and CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, said conducting such a study is “rising to the top of our agenda.”

“We really need to do it. We know we need to do it, and I believe we will do it. We have to figure out the resources and how we’re going to pay for it,” Sanderson said in an interview.

A study of Los Angeles’ Jews, who are believed to number between 500,000 and 600,000, would likely cost somewhere around $1 million. In most cities with large and medium-sized Jewish populations, Federation pays for a survey once a decade. Los Angeles conducted community surveys in 1950, 1958, 1968, 1979 and 1997.

When Sanderson took office in 2010, no study was in the pipeline, and he said he had initially hoped to launch one quickly. But as the impact of the recession became more severe, Sanderson said, funds continued to be redirected to such programs as the Emergency Cash Grants, which has provided more than $2.6 million in relief to 5,350 recipients since 2009.

“Now, with everything we’re doing, we’re still trying to put a survey on the front burner,” Sanderson said.

Federation hopes to launch the process in the next year, Sanderson said — if he can figure out where the money will come from.

But the more time that goes by without a survey, the less efficiently the community is spending its dollars, demographers say.

“If you have a Federation that says they are the planning body of the community, where are they getting their information?” asked Pini Herman, a principal at Phillips and Herman Demographic Research. Herman was the L.A. Federation’s research coordinator for the 1997 survey; he has also worked on surveys in San Francisco, Houston and Seattle.

“The longer you don’t have a survey, the more you have to guess, and basically you’re snatching ideas and data out of thin air. And without any community study, there is no way to confirm or refute what they say,” Herman said.

Community leaders say they are eager to have current data.

“Synagogues call all the time, wanting to know where the Jews are moving. Are they moving into our area? Out of our area? Are we losing members because Jews are leaving this area, or for some other reason?” said Bruce Phillips, a principal, with Pini Herman, at Phillips and Herman Demographic Research and a professor of sociology and Jewish communal studies at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles. Phillips has conducted or published research on more than 20 Jewish community surveys.

Other questions in Los Angeles also need answering. How many Iranian Jews live here, and what is there economic profile? Their Jewish identity? Their integration patterns?

What areas are people moving to and away from? Are nearby cities that are experiencing growth, such as San Francisco, Phoenix and Las Vegas, doing so at the expense of Los Angeles, or along with Los Angeles? How many French and Latin American Jews have moved into the area, and are they being served? Has the Orthodox population increased, and if so, in what sectors?

Anecdotal evidence about subpopulations can be deceiving, Phillips said, as it’s easier to count visible Jews who are frequent users of community resources — for instance, the Orthodox, or immigrant populations. The unaffiliated are more likely to go undetected if you rely on visibility or data from Jewish organizations.

A topic open to debate is how many Israelis are in Los Angeles. While some estimate there are hundreds of thousands of Israelis in Los Angeles, Herman says his own research points to a number closer to a maximum of 25,000, a figure corroborated by the official Israeli count of how many people have left their country.

The Los Angeles Jewish population, once concentrated on the Westside and in the San Fernando Valley, is migrating toward the East Side and north to areas such as the Conejo, Santa Clarita and Simi Valleys.

Several organizations are investing both money and resources in the East Side, including Federation, which has funded a new staff person at East Side Jews, a nondenominational Jewish community that has attracted hundreds of young, hip Jews to its irreverent monthly holiday celebrations and social events. East Side Jews recently became part of the Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center, an organization that is on a short list to receive significant Federation funding for a renovation and expansion project.

At the same time, Temple Beth Israel’s Goldberg said, Jews in the area remain underserved. When she needs to refer people for social services, she is often told that Jewish agencies don’t extend out to her part of town. In addition to leading Temple Beth Israel, Goldberg serves as rabbi-in-residence for East Side Jews, a position co-supported by Wilshire Boulevard Temple, which is also interested in being part of the East Side Jewish renaissance.

Indeed, Wilshire Boulevard Temple is in the middle of a $150 million project to restore and revitalize its historic sanctuary and campus in Koreatown. Before embarking on that project, the congregation commissioned its own demographic study of the area — roughly from West Hollywood on the west to Eagle Rock and Pasadena on the East, stretching from Adams Boulevard on the South up to Studio City and Glendale.

“I intuitively felt that young Jews were moving eastward, but intuition is not always right,” Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s Rabbi Steven Leder said.

Their study, which cost them about $25,000, found around 30 percent growth in the area over the last 10 years, with the most significant increases in the population of childbearing and -rearing age. That information convinced the synagogue’s leadership to buy up the rest of their square block to make room for more parking, an expanded day school, religious school and social service center.

Having data has also made it easier to approach donors, Leder said.

“It’s important to know that there is hard data to support your assumptions when you’re trying to raise money,” he said.

Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s study was based on Jewish surnames in voter registration listings — a method that may have left out Jews who have a non-Jewish parent or who are married to non-Jews, a population that, anecdotally at least, accounts for much of the growth on the East Side.

New study finds 1 million more Jews in U.S.

A new study gives fairly concrete evidence that the American Jewish population could be more than 1 million people larger than believed — but if so, it means efforts to engage them may have been less successful than the community realized.

The United Jewish Communities’ (UJC) National Jewish Population Survey 2000-01 (NJPS) was widely viewed as flawed. Still, the Jewish community held to the survey’s estimate that there were 5.2 million American Jews.

But even using the same criteria as UJC did to define who is Jewish, it’s more likely that there are 6 million to 6.4 million American Jews, according to a The whole megillah: Ten reasons to love Purim

There’s More to Us

All this week there’s been some strange goings-on at the intersection of Us and Them.

Pop diva Whitney Houston spent a few days in Israel among the black Hebrews. “It’s home,” she said about Israel. “It’s a friendship I’ve never had with any other country.”

Meanwhile, Madonna donated $6 million to buy a building in London that will become the new West End headquarters of the Kaballah Center.

Closer to home, “The Producers” opened at the Pantages Theatre, deservedly regaling crowds with the adventures of Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, two Jews who lie, cheat and backstab and yet somehow emerge lovable and heroic (see p. 25).

At the same time, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) was in town last week accepting the endorsement of Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamente. He’s finding that he is gaining support as a result of being an observant Jew.

All this is happening in the real world, which is why I am having an increasingly difficult time following the hand-wringing and oy-veying of the unreal world, which I will call, the Jewish community.

In that world, experts, professors, bureaucrats and rabbis are bemoaning the imminent demise of the Jewish people. They marshal statistics, most recently from the 2000 National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS), to support their predictions that American Jews, like bluefin tuna and North Atlantic cod, are disappearing. Intermarriage is at 51 percent. Jewish women in their childbearing years are having only 1.8 children, while the replacement level to ensure population growth is 2.1 children. More Jews are dying than are being born, and unless we go out and have another .3 children, the Tribe is toast. As Leo Bloom moans in Act Two, “No way out, no way out, no way out.”

In the face of these numbers, the Jewish professional world has put forth a variety of sometimes useful and often very expensive programs designed to encourage Jewish identity.

But none of these solutions, undertaken as a response to the 1990 NJPS, has drastically improved the numbers of the 2000 survey. And I suspect that if we invest in similar programs and solutions starting now, the 2010 survey will look even worse.

So why is it that Jewish influence is expanding in popular culture while our actual numbers seem doomed to decline? Are we, like the burst of a summer firework, burning brightest the instant before our descent?

Or are these solutions bound to fail because we have, all along, wrongly defined the problem?

We are worried that there are too few Jews, instead of worrying that too few people are Jewish. The former is a problem. The latter is an opportunity.

Judaism has insights into the most profound questions we humans ask: What is the meaning of life? How can I be happy? Why do the innocent suffer? How do I raise good kids?

Judaism has commandments, laws and rituals that provide the discipline and tools we need to act upon these insights: to make the world a better place, to offer hope and comfort, to bring peace.

Judaism has much to recommend it. When was the last time you recommended it to someone? My guess is, never. Because the truth is, too many Jews can’t make a convincing argument for being Jewish even to their children, much less to strangers.

This week as we celebrate Shavuot, we read the story of Ruth, who, drawn to the faith of her mother-in-law, becomes Jewish. It is a story we should take to heart. Some forward-thinking mainstream rabbis are doing the same, like Harold Schulweis at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino. He realized long ago that Jews should actively engage intermarried couples and share the wisdom and beauty of Judaism with non-Jews. Call it marketing. Call it proselytizing. Call it good sense. As Ulla, the blonde bombshell in “The Producers,” sings, “If you got it, flaunt it.”

Judaism has got it, but we don’t flaunt it. “Rarely has there been a moment when the Jewish world view was so widely needed,” wrote Dr. Lawrence J. Epstein recently. “There is a genuine desire to learn about Judaism.”

There are currently about 200,000 converts to Judaism in the United States. Our first task is to make sure these Jews feel as welcome in our hearts and homes as your favorite uncle or aunt. We must also support rabbis and organizations who conduct responsible outreach to intermarried families, non-Jews and, of course, marginally affiliated Jews.

Rabbi Irwin Kula’s new public television program, “SimpleWisdom,” is one attempt to bring Jewish teachings into the public marketplace ina serious yet accessible way. “Judaism is used to make Jews more Jewish,” Kulatold The Forward about his program, which is produced by the L.A.-based JewishTelevision Network. “But what if that’s a too narrow definition for a3,500-year-old tradition? When Judaism is not about making Jews Jewish but aJewish response to human questions, what do you say?” One thing I say is, callNancy Rishagen, senior vice president for development at KCET, and urge her toair “Simple Wisdom” in a popular time slot: (323) 953-5300 or nrishagen@kcet.org .

The historian Salo Baron wrote in “Encyclopaedia Judaica” that from 586 B.C.E. to 100 C.E., the Jews grew from 150,000 to more than 8 million, mostly through unforced conversion. I’m sure the community experts weren’t bemoaning the Jewish Population Survey of 100 C.E. Our future, too, can be one of growth and strength. “There’s more to me than just me,” Leo Bloom says in “The Producers.” And there can be more to us than just us.

Jewish Survey Missing Data

Much-anticipated parts of the National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) will not be released as expected next week because some of the data has been lost.

The United Jewish Communities (UJC), which is funding the $6 million study, is canceling all events pertaining to the 2000-01 NJPS at the Philadelphia gathering of its General Assembly, which begins next Wednesday.

And the UJC, the umbrella of the North American federation system, is launching an independent investigation into the lost data, JTA has learned.

“It is true we are delaying the release of the study,” Stephen Hoffman, UJC’s president and chief executive officer, said on Wednesday. “The reason is there have been some questions raised that I don’t believe we have adequate time to get answers to.”

The revelations could cast doubt on the entire NJPS, the most extensive and costliest demographic study ever conducted of the American Jewish community. The lost data apparently concerned methodological details about who was surveyed, rather than their responses to survey questions.

“Some people with serious reputations believe the study is sound and it could have gone forward and will stand up to the test of time,” Hoffman said. “That could be the case — but I didn’t feel comfortable with these questions to go forward [with releasing further NJPS data next week as planned].”

Last month, the UJC released initial findings from the NJPS, showing the American Jewish population declined 5 percent to 5.2 million since the last study in 1990, and that birth rates were dropping and the community was aging.

Hoffman said that had he known of the missing data before the release of that information, he would not have approved the release of those initial conclusions.

“There may be aspects of it [that are inaccurate],” he said, referring to the initial data released. “I don’t know.”

Hoffman said he only learned of the missing data Tuesday, one week before the information from the NJPS about Jewish identity and intermarriage was due to get released at the annual UJC gathering, which brings together much of the organized American Jewish world.

“I feel it would be irresponsible to go ahead and release the study while these questions are still unresolved,” Hoffman said.

“There will be some people who will be disappointed,” Hoffman said of the implications for the General Assembly. “I’m personally disappointed.”

But there “are other things in Jewish life,” he said that delegates will focus on.

At the heart of the mystery was that Hoffman only learned Tuesday that the firm conducting research for the NJPS, Roper Audits & Surveys Worldwide, lost some data for the study two years ago during initial telephone calls.

Meanwhile, “other issues like that have been coming up in recent days,” he added, though he declined to elaborate.

One source familiar with the NJPS said the missing data concerned lists of those people telephoned for the survey, their phone numbers and how often they were called.

Two-thirds of that data was lost, according to the source.

But the source maintained that while this information was important in determining the accuracy of the survey’s methodology, he did not think that it would undermine the ultimate conclusions, specifically those relating to Jews and Jewish identity.

“I don’t know how much has been lost,” Hoffman said. “The issue is 29 hours old. All I’ve had time to do is make the decision to not have the data be released.”

However, Hoffman said that Jim Schwartz, UJC’s director of research for NJPS, “was aware” of the missing data at some earlier point, though Hoffman said he hadn’t spoken directly with Schwartz yet about the matter. There were no plans affecting Schwartz’s position at this point, he added.

“It would be unfair to jump to conclusions about anybody’s particular role,” he said. “I’m not casting any aspersions at the moment.”

Schwartz could not be reached Wednesday for comment, despite several attempts.

After the General Assembly, the UJC will secure “an outsider” who is “totally objective” to launch an investigation into the missing information. The investigative team might include UJC staffers as well, Hoffman said. Such a probe would presumably attempt to learn exactly what information is missing, how it got lost, how significant it is, who knew about the missing information and why they did not inform senior UJC officials.

“I want to know if there are any other issues they haven’t told me about, either from staff or the technical team” or Roper researchers, Hoffman said.

June Wallach, a spokeswoman for Roper, said the company would have no comment at this time.

Hoffman said he had no idea whether the UJC would take action against Roper, which apparently lost the information from its computer system.

Several lead members of the National Technical Advisory Committee of demographers and social scientists that consulted with UJC’s staffers working on the NJPS said they were participating in a conference call Wednesday about the survey, though they declined to comment further.

Hoffman said he did not know if the co-chairs of the advisory panel, Vivian Klaff of the University of Delaware and Frank Mott of Ohio State University, knew about the missing data. Reached Wednesday, Klaff would only say he would be joining the conference call on the NJPS. Mott did not return calls.

Egon Mayer, director of the North American Jewish Data Bank at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, said he had heard about the delay this week though he didn’t know the reasons for it.

“I think some very important conclusions were reached by the UJC management that led them to this decision, which I’m sure they reached very reluctantly,” he said.

Stephen Bayme, national director of contemporary Jewish life for the American Jewish Committee, said he had heard of the delay but preferred waiting until the UJC got to the bottom of the issue.

“I’d rather not have the data than have data that is mistaken,” Bayme said.

Surveying ‘America’s Jewish Freshmen’

When Adam Bergman researched colleges toward the end of his senior year at Milken High School, he looked very closely at the quality of their soccer teams and not so closely at the size of their Jewish populations.

"I don’t consider myself religious at all. I have never chosen a faith," said Bergman, the son of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. As he approaches his freshman year on the soccer team at UC Santa Cruz, Bergman is not looking to have a Jewish experience.

Bergman, however, is not alone in his religious neutrality. "America’s Jewish Freshmen," a survey recently released by the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute, reveals a surprisingly low level of Jewish identification among students raised in interreligious families. The study, which asked incoming college freshmen to identify their religious preference, found that 40.2 percent of students raised in families where only the mother was Jewish identified their religion as "none," and 40 percent raised in families where only the father was Jewish identified their religion as "none." Of the students who were raised by two Jewish parents, only 6.2 percent claimed "none" as their religious preference.

"America’s Jewish Freshmen" profiles this rapidly growing segment of the student population who, like Bergman, have never chosen a faith, but have at least one Jewish parent. The study labels this category of students NR/JP (no religious preference/at least one Jewish parent), and compares them to self-identified Jewish students in areas such as their academic and family backgrounds, degree and career aspirations, and leisure activities. The study also compares Jewish and non-Jewish students in the same categories.

Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life sponsored "America’s Jewish Freshmen," in hopes of assisting Jewish educators to address student needs.

The study was conducted by Linda J. Sax, director of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) at UCLA, and is based on data from CIRP’s Freshmen Survey, which has tracked more than 10 million students at more than 1,600 baccalaureate institutions for the past three decades. "America’s Jewish Freshmen" represents the first analysis of the CIRP survey’s Jewish sample, both by analyzing the 1999 CIRP Freshmen Survey and comparing it to the past 30 years of data.

"There’s a lot of stereotypes about Jewish students, but I wanted to see in reality how they compare," Sax said.

The study compares the responses of 8,000 Jewish students, 232,000 non-Jewish students, and 2,000 NR/JP students. It gives insight into one finding of the CIRP Freshmen Survey, which shows that while 5.4 percent of the student population identified themselves as Jewish in 1970, the figure dropped to 2.6 percent in 2001.

Among other things, "America’s Jewish Freshmen" found that NR/JP students were more often raised in homes where their parents were divorced or separated, compared to Jewish students. NR/JP students were also more likely to earn B averages in high school and less likely to earn A averages. They were more likely to aspire toward doctorate or masters in education degrees, but were less likely to aspire toward medical degrees.

"This is one category that Hillel will try to engage on campus," said Jay Rubin, executive vice president of Hillel. Rubin emphasized the importance of Jewish Campus Service Corps fellows reaching out to this group of students in particular, rather than waiting for them to come to Hillel. The survey notes that "although NR/JP claim to have no religious affiliation, Hillel looks to engage them in Jewish campus life because they have at least one Jewish parent and have not affiliated with any other religion." Additionally, despite differences, NR/JP students typically resembled Jewish students more than they resembled non-Jews.

"These students lack a traditional Jewish home life. We have an important opportunity, maybe an obligation, to provide them with the Jewish experiences that they failed to get at home and to provide them with a warm environment that will inspire them Jewishly…. We have to create programming with that in mind," said Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, director of UCLA Hillel.

"We’re at the beginning stages of learning what the research tells us," Rubin said. He does, however, offer several suggestions for program implementation based on some of the statistics, which he derives mainly from the part of the survey comparing Jewish and non-Jewish students. For instance, Jewish students have a stronger intention to participate in community service while in college. Rubin suggests "alternative spring breaks," such as one where students from USC Hillel helped build health clinics in Uruguay and Buenos Aires.

Additionally, the study found that Jews are more likely than non-Jews to be interested in business, medicine, law and the arts. Rubin suggests Hillel internship and mentor programs and highlights several arts programs, including an a capella choir.

While the survey will undoubtedly be a valuable tool in aiding efforts of Jewish educators, Sax emphasizes that the data does not represent college students, but rather students who are about to enter college. She hopes that the study is a steppingstone to follow-up studies. "The ultimate goal is to see how they [Jewish students] develop throughout college," Sax said.

Flawed Methodology

No one seems to believe what Pini Herman does. While all observers – particularly outside of the Orthodox community – take for granted the phenomenal growth of the Orthodox, he continues to stand behind the seriously flawed methods he used in the Los Angeles Jewish Population Survey of 1997. That’s the one that no one can believe, the one that claims that Orthodox numbers have actually declined in L.A. When his office stonewalled several requests from the Orthodox community to examine the raw data, a little skullduggery on our part turned up what really happened. The L.A. survey was not a census, but a survey of a smaller number of households, whose results are then extrapolated statistically. For that to work, you have to sample the community according to its actual composition. If 30 percent of your respondents call themselves Conservative, then you assume that the larger population also has 30 percent Conservative Jews. If your sample is off, so are your results.

That is precisely what happened. Those who made the calls got their phone numbers from two sources: random-number calls and the Federation list.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see why the Orthodox were seriously undercounted. Neither of the two methods used by the census-takers accurately measures Orthodox demographics. The first fails because the Orthodox are not uniformly spread throughout Jewish Los Angeles. They are heavily concentrated in a handful of neighborhoods. Taking a random sample from all neighborhoods seriously undercounts us.

The second sampling list – drawn from Federation sources – is even more problematic. Orthodox Jews give charitably to scores of recipient agencies, far beyond the per capita giving of other parts of the Jewish population. But Federation is not one of their favorite causes, for a variety of reasons. Using any Federation list for a general census, then, is a guarantee for undercounting the Orthodox community. And the sample takers reported that there was much greater responsiveness to their questions from members of the Federation list than the other!

Additionally, the phone method relies on the willingness of people to answer a series of questions over the phone. Ask yourself who is more willing to answer those questions on a Friday afternoon – a member of a Reform household with 1.4 children, or a mother of eight, frantically trying to finish her Shabbat preparations?

If the U.S. Census Bureau employed methods as unscientific to downgrade African American strength, there would be a congressional inquiry. Luckily for Pini Herman, it’s only Federation money he’s using.

Up Front


Counting Jews


By 2003, Israel will finally have fulfilled thedreams of its founders when it overtakes the United States to becomehome to the largest number of Jews in the world.

This, according to the Institute of the WorldJewish Congress, which is to publish the new Jewish populationstatistics in its updated “Jewish Communities of the World.”

Since the last survey, published two years ago,the United States’ Jewish population has decreased by 200,000, whileIsrael’s has grown by 300,000. Today, according to the institute,there are around 700,000 more Jews living in the United States thanin Israel.

The WJC institute puts today’s world Jewishpopulation at 13.8 million. Fifty years ago, after the Holocaust,that number was estimated at 11 million.

The following eight countries have Jewishpopulations in excess of 200,000. Together, they total 92 percent ofthe world’s 13.8 million Jews:



United States 5,600,000

Israel 4,900,000

France 600,000

Russia 450,000

Canada 360,000

Ukraine 310,000

England 300,000

Argentina 230,000

50 Years of Aliyah: Countries Yielding the Most,1948-1998

Soviet Union (and successor states) 915,713

Romania 274,572

Morocco 268,093

Iran 76,915

United States 75,075

Turkey 61,505

Tunisia 53,289

Yemen 51,168

Ethiopia 51,136

Information from JTA

Graph by Carvin Knowles

Great Digs

If you missed the first two parts of the SkirballCultural Center’s excellent series “Archaeology of Ancient Lands,”you won’t won’t to miss the last two. On Feb. 19, Dr. Bruce Zuckermanwill discuss how high-tech methods have unlocked hidden meanings inthe Dead Sea Scrolls (see 7 Days in the Arts for more). On Feb. 26,Dr. Giora Solar, Getty Center conservationist, will discuss effortsto preserve the great remnants of the past. Call (310) 440-4500 formore information.

Making the Grade

Bad news comes with a bang, good news with awhimper. So it was last December, when KCBS news reported withfanfare and portent that Canter’s Deli received low marks from countyhealth inspectors.

So where was KCBS when that venerable Los Angelesinstitution, whose south exterior wall displays an expansive mural ofthe history of Jewish Los Angeles, recently received the highestgrade possible from the health police? On Feb. 3, Canter’s got an”A.” The restaurant also hired an independent health auditor andprovides ongoing classes in Spanish and English, taught by afood-safety expert, to all food handlers. For more information, callCanter’s at (213) 651-2030.

Does Israel Matter?

Amid the hoopla and whoopee surrounding Israel’s50th birthday, you might be relieved to know that somebody, somewhereis using the milestone as an opportunity for serious reflection.”Israel at 50: A Nation Like All Other Nations” is the title of anupcoming lecture series at UCLA Hillel, featuring leading analystsand rabbis. First up, on Feb. 18, is Dr. David Hartman, who discusses”Israel: State of the Jews or a Jewish State.” Hartman, who will beprofiled in The Jewish Journal this month, is one of Israel’s mostinfluential and outspoken thinkers. On Feb. 25, Stuart Schoffman,associate editor of the Jerusalem Report and occasional JewishJournal contributor, will speak on “Which Promised Land? The NewRelationship Between Israel and the Diaspora.” On March 4, RabbisShlomo Riskin, Elliot Dorff and Richard Levy will discuss “Pluralismin Judaism: What Unites Us, What Divides Us.” All lectures take placeat 7:30 p.m. at UCLA Hillel, 900 Hilgard Ave., Westwood. Call (310)208-3081 for tickets and information.