Netanyahu: ‘Fatal mistake’ to concede sacred sites


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday it would be a “fatal mistake” ever to give up control over Jerusalem’s holy sites.

His remarks, in a parliamentary speech, went a little further than Israel’s longtime policy of viewing Jerusalem, a city at the heart of Middle East conflict, as its “indivisible capital”.

Addressing a debate marking 45 years since Israel captured and annexed the city’s eastern sector, in a move never recognized internationally, Netanyahu said:

“Whoever proposes we take the heart of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, and take it out of our hands, and that this would bring about peace, I say not only is this a mistake but a fatal mistake.”

Netanyahu said that sites holy to Judaism, Islam and Christianity enjoyed a “wonder of inter-religious peace that is maintained thanks to Jerusalem’s unity under Israeli sovereignty.”

“The Temple Mount is in our hands and … it shall remain in our hands,” Netanyahu added.

The Temple Mount, a site in Jerusalem’s old walled city, is revered by Jews as the place where two biblical temples once stood. The area also houses two of Islam’s holiest shrines, the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Palestinians want east Jerusalem as capital of a future state in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, territory Israel also captured in a 1967 war.

Western-sponsored negotiations hit deadlock months ago in a dispute over Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

In a related development, Israel’s parliament passed a law on Monday granting tax incentives to organizations seen as encouraging settlement in Israel and occupied territory, in addition to tax breaks already offered to settlers in the past.

Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

Calendar Girls Picks and Clicks for September 13-18: When Ladino met klezmer, Torah Slam, a lawerlyy


SAT | SEPTEMBER 13

(COMMUNITY FAIR)
The City of Los Angeles and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sponsor an annual emergency preparedness fair as part of the Great Southern California ShakeOut: Are You Prepared? The fair seeks to educate Angelenos on the importance of being prepared for disasters, natural or manmade, such as earthquakes and riots. Activities will include live safety demonstrations, disaster preparedness exhibits and interactive programming for children. Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, 5801 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. Also, Sept. 20 and Sept. 27 (different locations). (213) 978-2222. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.afhu.org.

(LECTURE)
” vspace = 8 hspace = 8 align = left border = 0>is perhaps nothing he enjoys more than writing about religion. Today, Kirsch will discuss his latest book, “The Grand Inquisitor’s Manual: A History of Terror in the Name of God,” which explores persecution and violence in the name of righteousness. Sat. 2 p.m. Free. Barnes & Noble, 1201 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica. (310) 260-9110. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.valleycitiesjcc.org.

(SINGLES)
We live in a city where summer continues well into December and so do the pool parties, picnics and barbecues that the rest of the country bid farewell to after Labor Day. Taking advantage of our unique environs, Jewish Singles Meeting Place, for singles in their 40s and 50s, is inviting you to a Gourmet Western BBQ Party at a home in Sylmar. Be sure to R.S.V.P. before noon on the day of the event. Sat. 8 p.m. $12. Sylmar. (818) 750-0095.

SUN | SEPTEMBER 14

(BENEFIT)
In addition to facing paralyzing fear, families of children with cancer have to deal with financial hardships, emotional and mental strain and the difficulty of keeping a family intact. Larger Than Life offers aid to families in Israel who are struggling through just such a crisis. Larger Than Life’s annual gala in Los Angeles ” target=”_blank”>http://www.largerthanlifela.org.

(MUSIC)
Learn about klezmer and Ladino music, enjoy brunch and receive a free pass to the Autry National Center, all at the “Klezmer-Ladino Convergence.” ” vspace = 8 hspace = 8 align = right>, which was founded by singer, scholar and ” target=”_blank”>http://www.autrynationalcenter.org.

(BOOKS)
The Von der Ahe Library at Loyola Marimount University is hosting a five-part reading and discussion series. In “Let’s Talk About It: Jewish Literature, Identity and Imagination,” theology professor Saba Soomekh, who has written several essays about California’s Persian Jewish community, will lead the book-based discussions on the theme “Neighbors: The World Next Door.” Books discussed will include “Journey to the Millennium” by A.B. Yehoshua, “Red Cavalry” by Isaac Babel and “Mona in the Promised Land” by Jen Gish. Sun. 2 p.m. Through Dec. 7. Free. Collins Faculty Center at Loyola Marymount University, 1 LMU Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 338-4584. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.thirtyyearsafter.org.

(MUSIC)
The man known as the “Yiddish Indiana Jones,” Yale Strom, and his band Hot Pstromi, will ensure that “Angels & Dybbuks: The First L.A. Klez Fest” is an event to remember. Strom delves into all that is Yiddish, whether it’s music, books, film, theater or photography. Strom will also offer workshops on klezmer instruments and history. Sun. Events begin at noon. $20-$80. McCabe’s Guitar Shop, 3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 828-4497. motek11111@yahoo.com.

MON | SEPTEMBER 15

(HEALTH)
A pudgy toddler whose cheeks are delightfully doughy may be cute, but a plump preteen could turn into an obese adult with myriad health problems. Educate yourself about the dangers of pediatric obesity at the Children’s Health Forum, which is sponsored by the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center. Professor Ronald Nagel, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and professor Francis Mimouni, chair of the department of pediatrics, will speak. Kosher lunch will be served. Mon. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. $50 (requested donation). Luxe Hotel, 11461 Sunset Blvd., Brentwood. (310) 229-0915. westernregion@acsz.org.

TUE | SEPTEMBER 16

(TORAH SALON)
Everyone is invited to Los Angeles’ first cross-denominational public Torah study. With the High Holy Days coming up, The Journal decided to get everybody together for a “Torah Slam,” ” vspace = 8 hspace = 8 align = right>a knock-your-socks-off Torah study with five great rabbis: Elazar Muskin (Orthodox), Ed Feinstein (Conservative), Mordecai Finley (Reform/Chasidic), Haim torahslam@jewishjournal.com.

WED | SEPTEMBER 17

(LECTURE)
Jordan Elgrably’s resume reveals that he’s had a prolific career as a Sephardic writer and activist. Tonight he speaks about his personal journey as an American with roots in multicultural Morocco in “The Loquat Tree, or the Art of Being an Arab Jew.” His audiovisual presentation is sure to be moving, funny and insightful. Wed. 6 p.m. Free. Los Angeles Public Library, Robertson Branch, 1719 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 657-5511. ” target=”_blank”>http://levantinecenter.org.

THU | SEPTEMBER 18

(CASINO NIGHT)
Good cause. Unlimited alcohol. Cold, hard cash prizes. So, come get some chips at the fifth annual No-Limit Texas Hold-‘Em Poker Event benefiting Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles’ mentoring programs, which help children reach for their dreams. Thu. 6:30 p.m. (lessons), 7:30 p.m. (tournament). $200 (advance), $230 (door). Hollywood Park Casino, 3883 West Century Blvd., Second Floor, Inglewood. (323) 456-1159. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.gelsons.com/services/CC/index.asp.

(VOLUNTEERING)
Tikkun olam is a monumental Jewish value. Jewish teens can get involved with the Friendship Circle, an organization that supports children and young adults with special needs. The Friendship Circle Teen Volunteer Open House offers a chance to learn about the organization’s many volunteer opportunities. Thu. 8 p.m. Free. Friendship Circle, 9581 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 277-3252.

Sacred Sounds All Over Town


There’s an inescapable irony in vocalist Vanessa Paloma performing Ladino songs at the San Gabriel Mission, which was founded by Spanish Catholics. It was, of course, Spanish Roman Catholics who expelled Ladino-speaking Jews from Spain in 1492. Paloma called the venue “emotionally charged,” but she hopes the music and ambiance will prove to be healing as well as musically appealing.

“Just the fact of sitting in that room and listening to that music will be an interesting experience, and hopefully a powerful one,” she said.

Paloma’s performance at the 200-year-old mission is one highlight of the 2005 World Festival of Sacred Music, which will be spread out among many Los Angeles locations over a two-week period beginning Saturday.

The festival, directed by Judy Mitoma, will show Angelenos how cultures from around the world find spiritual sustenance through music. Jewish cultures of the Iberian peninsula, Eastern Europe and the Middle East are well represented. Here are some of the notable events:

Wed., Sept. 21 — Yuval Ron Ensemble. 7 p.m., Alfred Newman Recital Hall at USC; $20. For tickets, call (213) 740-2167 or visit www.usc.edu/spectrum

Ron, an Israeli composer and record producer, pulls together traditions of Judaism, Islam, and the Armenian Church in music and dance. In this program, Ron’s troupe, which includes artists from Israel, Lebanon, Armenia, Iran, France, and the United States, explore the mystical teachings of different Middle Eastern cultures and the deep connections among them.

Thurs., Sept. 22 — Flor de Serena, with vocalist Vanessa Paloma and guitarist Jordan Charnofsky. Noon, San Fernando Mission, 15151 San Fernando Mission Blvd., Mission Hills; free. For tickets, call (818) 361-0186 or visit www.flordeserena.com.

The ensemble, which includes percussion and bass, will play music composed and performed by Sephardim after arriving in the Americas as well as tunes originating in Spain and Portugal. Historian Arthur Benveniste will narrate the musical journey of Spanish Jews after their expulsion from Iberia in the 1490s.

Paloma, who grew up in Colombia, traces her Sephardic heritage to the north of Spain. She formed Flor de Serena with Charnofsky after a trip to Israel, where she discovered music for many obscure Ladino songs.

Sephardic music, she told The Journal, “integrates the Spanish-speaking and Jewish aspects of my life.”

Charnofsky, who began playing with klezmer bands in the early 1990s, isn’t Sephardic but describes Sephardic music as a natural bridge between his instrument, the guitar, which was developed on the Iberian peninsula, and his growing involvement with Jewish music.

Sun., Sept. 25 — Cantori Domino. 7:30 p.m., John Anson Ford Amphitheater, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood; $25. For tickets, call (323) 461-3673 or visit www.fordamphitheater.org.

This 50-voice choir, will sing Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” accompanied by musicians on harp, timpani and two pianos. The selection of psalms encompass themes of joy, innocence, war, trust, hope and unity.

Conductor Maurita Phillips-Thornburgh, though not Jewish, has been music director for the High Holidays at Stephen S. Wise Temple for 14 years.

“I don’t know of a time when this [work] wouldn’t be timely, but it seems particularly timely now,” she said.

Mon., Sept. 26 — The Psalms of Ra. 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., Alchemy Building, 5209 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles; $25. For tickets: (323) 769-5069 or visit www.psalmsofra.com

Jim Berenholtz, who has traveled widely in the Middle East, uses his “neo-ancient” music to illustrate the creative and spiritual cross-fertilization he says existed between the New Kingdom Egyptians and the Jews who lived in Egypt for centuries. He sets ancient Egyptian and Hebrew texts to contemporary sacred music, according to the billing. Some of his works interweave mystical Hebrew incantations with Egyptian mantras; his settings of Hebrew texts include Psalm 116, which speaks of being lifted up after hitting life’s bottom.

Oct. 1 — World Jewish Music Fest. Noon, 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica; free. Information: (310) 434-3431 or www.smc.edu/madison.

Westsider Stefani Valadez will perform Ladino songs from Spain and North Africa, and Russian clarinetist Leo Chelyapov will appear with his Hollywood Klezmer Trio. The family-oriented afternoon will also feature Israeli dancing.

The Moscow-born Chelyapov, who first heard klezmer music when his grandfather took him to Jewish weddings in Kiev, had made playing it his “calling” by the time he arrived in Los Angeles in 1992.

“It touches my Jewishness, and it feels natural to me,” he told The Journal. Not only is klezmer music historically identified with weddings, which Chelyapov called “a mystical point of life,” but it often employs liturgical texts and, most importantly, he said, “it’s supposed to elevate your spirit.”

For a complete schedule, visit www.festivalofsacredmusic.org or call (310) 825-0507.

 

The Reality of Desert Life


Draped in a deep, earthen-red shukah, adorned with circles of brightly beaded necklaces and head-to-toe with body paint made from ochre and sheep fat, the Masai warrior keeps a silent vigil in the midst of the relentless equatorial heat of East Africa. His life is a mission from his god, Ngai, to protect and care for his herd of cattle and the earth itself.

The Masai live in small, tightly circled villages smack in the midst of the African plains, exposed and vulnerable to the lions, cheetahs, jackals and other predatory animals that roam that forbidding landscape at will. The village has perhaps 50 small huts; the straw woven by the women and then covered in dung and mud by the men. It is built in a tight circle to serve as safe haven for both humans and cattle during the long and threatening nights.

A few days ago, my wife Didi and I were standing in the midst of the Masai in just such a village in Kenya at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro. As we have our Sinai, the Masai have Kilimanjaro — for it is this towering mountain, rising some 19,000 feet above the plain that the Masai believe to be the home of the gods and the source of the commandments for their way of life. The Masai feed entirely off the blood, milk and meat of their cattle; they believe that god forbids any cultivation of the earth. They say the earth is sacred and no one should be so irreverent as to scar it with tools or deface its natural beauty.

As usual, Didi ended up surrounded by children who laughed and giggled in amazement as she entertained them with songs made up of their tongue-twisting names from their native language. It was at the same moment heartwarming and heart-wrenching.

Heartwarming, for perhaps the most beautiful music in the world is that universal sound of children’s laughter that accompanied their eyes wide with wonder as she gave them their own pictures taken with her pocket Polaroid.

Heart-wrenching to feel helpless knowing that even now in the 21st century, these children with smiling faces oblivious to the constant crawling flies and dirt, were facing lives filled with preventable childhood death and diseases and an average life expectancy in the mid-40’s.

They live today as they have lived for hundreds of years, and as seminomads have lived throughout Africa and the Middle East for thousands of years. And I recognized faint echoes of our own ancient Biblical past in their lives.

In Metzorah, the Torah speaks of what the priests and people are supposed to do when a disease is discovered in one of the houses in the camp. The procedures that are outlined in this week’s portion are the result of a natural fear of contamination from one person to another, and one house to the next. In Leviticus 14:45, we are told that when there is a serious disease infecting an entire house, we simply demolish the house itself stone-by-stone, and then rebuild it from scratch.

It startled me into recognizing the reality of desert life when the Masai told me that whenever they discover a serious disease in their village, they destroy the village, move to a new location and simply build a new village from scratch.

Spending a week with the Masai was like going back to an ancient world. It reminded me that we have more in common with the primitive terrors of our ancient ancestors than we are eager to admit. Even in the 21st century, we still share the same dreams and needs and fears that have driven human beings for all time. So when the Masai warriors held their hand out for mine, I took it, and smiled.


Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D. is senior rabbi of Kehillat Israel, the Reconstructionist congregation of Pacific Palisades.