Brooklyn signs ask Jewish women to step aside for men

Yiddish signs briefly sprouted on Brooklyn trees asking Jewish women to step aside when a man walks down the sidewalk.

The plastic signs bolted to trees in the Brooklyn neighborhood of South Williamsburg read, in Yiddish, “Precious Jewish Daughters: Please move over to the side when you see a man cross,” the Brooklyn Paper reported last week.

Parks maintenance workers removed 16 of the signs last week because they were nailed to public-owned trees, a violation subject to a $150 fine.

Sources told the Brooklyn Paper that the signs were part of a campaign by a rabbinical group, the Central Rabbinical Congress, that has published other decrees, including one in June forbidding women to wear tank tops.

What to look for, where to find help

As a loving and concerned parent, you may notice that when your daughter enters puberty she will gain weight. Most of this gain is due to her body developing and preparing her to grow taller; the weight usually precedes the growth spurt. A healthy adolescent may gain anywhere from 20 to 50 pounds. Because there is so much focus on weight and body size in our culture, however, adolescents are not given the opportunity to go through these changes with the weight fluctuations that are necessary for normal development. This is the time that most eating disorders start. Over the years, I have heard my clients say that they started their eating disorder between the ages of 11 and 15 years old. Most started with a diet or over-exercising.

It is very hard to tell if your daughter is going through normal changes or has the beginning stages of an eating disorder. Research reports that 50 percent of girls between the ages of 12 and 14 say they are unhappy because they “feel fat,” 45 percent of elementary-school-age children report wanting to be thinner, and 40 to 60 percent of high-school girls in the United States are on a diet.

Here are some eating disorder signs to look for:

• Uses food when upset or stressed.

• Has lost a significant amount of weight in a short period of time.

• Uses laxatives, diuretics and/or appetite suppressants .

• Must exercise or goes to the bathroom during or following meals.

• Has a preoccupation with body, weight, diets and/or food.

You cannot tell if someone has an eating disorder just by looking at them. The eating disorder is used as a way of coping with the stresses of life. It is a way to avoid feelings or some traumatic event that a person does not want to face. Left untreated, the eating disorder can cause disruptions in emotional and physical development, including osteoporosis and infertility later in life.

Many people ask me, “What are the best ways to avoid an eating disorder?” One of the most important factors is role modeling and dieting. We now have generations of women brought up with dieting and not liking their body. A child sees Mom looking in a mirror and being upset about her weight. She sees her going on one diet after another. She thinks Mom is beautiful and wants to be just like her.

Research is showing that 35 percent of “normal dieters” progress to disordered eating that may last a lifetime. Alterations occur in brain chemistry from restricting food then binging. People start using food to feel better. Food uses the same reward system as mind-altering substances. This is one of the reasons for cravings and obsessive thoughts about food. Also, some foods are addictive to some people.

Currently, 11 million people in the United States have eating disorders. Disordered eating is not entirely about what we eat. Most people with disordered eating could write books about nutrition. They know the calories, fat grams and carbohydrate contents of the foods they eat. They know what they should eat and how much; they just cannot put that into practice. The real problem is that food or the compulsive thoughts are being used to avoid some part of our life. Usually they do not know what feelings they are avoiding.

In our treatment center, we see so many people who are not only disconnected from their feelings, but also from their appetite and themselves. When dieting, they may be hungry, but they tell themselves, “I am doing well, because I am sticking to my diet.” They are not listening to their body signals. Over time, they do not even know when they are hungry or full. They search for an external source (the diet) to regulate their food intake. With each failed diet, they lose a little more self-esteem, because they did not stay with their diet. Yo-yo dieting or other forms of external control only work temporarily. The real issues need to be dealt with so that there is no need to use food to shove these issues down. Only an internal shift can produce lifelong changes.

Many people have followed the steps outlined in my book, “Diets Don’t Work” (ReBu, 2009), so that they can once again eat when hungry and stop when full and make healthy choices.

Obviously, there is a continuum of eating disorder behaviors, but if disordered eating is causing a problem in your life, relationships or self-esteem, you should consult a professional who specializes in eating disorders. Eating disorders and disordered eating do not go away on their own; they require professional help. There is no simple cause of eating disorders, nor is there a simple cure.

It is usually a good idea to start treatment with a team of experienced eating disorder professionals. The collaborative approach — including a medical doctor, registered dietitian, exercise physiologist and therapist, along with group therapy — is necessary to facilitate dealing with the core issues and build a solid foundation for long-term recovery. The dialogue among these professionals is indispensable in planning the best treatment for each individual. An eating disorder treatment program will help the person deal with the underlying reasons why he or she has been using the eating disorder, and create the foundation for lasting recovery.

Rebecca Cooper is a licensed therapist, certified eating disorder specialist, the author of “Diets Don’t Work” and the founder of Rebecca’s House Eating Disorders Treatment Program in Laguna Hills.

For more information about Cooper’s work, visit and, or call (800) 711-2062.

The Zodiac and the truth behind astrology

“Astrology is one of the most ancient sciences, held in high esteem of old, by the wise and the great. Formerly, no prince would make war or peace, nor any general fight in battle, in short, no important affair was undertaken without first consulting an astrologer.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Ever so often Astrology is presented with an opportunity to explain herself and thus improve on her wisdom and service to humankind. Such occasions, alas, usually happen when her system of symbolism is under attack, usually from people who have no knowledge of Astrology and who base their dismissive notions on popular culture and misunderstandings instead of serious consideration. 

In the last few days, I received many alarmed emails asking me about the recent internet craze concerning the shattering “new discoveries” that the signs have shifted due to a “wobble” in the Earth’s axis and that there is a new 13th sign called Ophiuchus.

Let me address some of these concerns and assure you that whatever your sign was before 2011 is still the same and if you thought you could get an upgrade to a “nicer” sign, you are out of luck 🙁 

1 – Astrology is based on the seasons and the relationships between the planets (called aspects) and NOT what sign is located behind the Sun when you were born.

The signs of the Zodiac are merely symbols and metaphors that divide the year into 12 different and equal “seasons”. This partition is based on the proportions of day and night or light and darkness experienced throughout the year. Aries always begins on the first day of spring (aka the Spring Equinox), when the day and night are equal and the amount of light is growing. Libra, on the other hand, always begins on the Fall Equinox, when the day and night are also equal, but the amount of light is receding.

Astrology postulates, regardless of what constellation occupies the Equinox, that people born in the spring will exhibit characteristics such as high energy and optimism. They will be the kind of people who spring into action, the same way that nature buds into life after its long winter slumber.

A new study, published by the Nature Neuroscience Journal, found links between the season of birth and personality. It is proven that people born in the winter, i.e. Capricorns, are more at risk to suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), schizophrenia and depression. In Astrology, Capricorn, beginning on the longest night of the year, is associated with suffering, difficulties and pessimism. To quote the author of the paper, Professor Douglas McMahon, “Our biological clocks measure the day’s length and change our behavior according to the seasons.” 

2 – When Astrology was developed by the Babylonians, the constellation of Aries happened to be located right behind the sign Aries during the Spring Equinox.

Astrology was developed in Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, as a cosmic clock, most likely to help early farmers trace the seasons. In fact, the reason why we have seasons to begin with is because of the Earth’s 23 degree tilt, which is also connected to its wobble. The idea is simple: one should plant in Spring, party in Summer, harvest in Fall, and be careful with provisions in Winter.

The first zodiac sign, Aries, begins on March 21st, the Spring Equinox.  Of course there is no real Ram out there in the skies. The ancient wise women and men of the time chose a Ram to symbolize Aries because it is a great metaphor for the initiation of spring, the leader of the flock. When the refuters of Astrology claim that people born in Aries should be called Pisces, they are misunderstanding the symbolism of Astrology. It’s like saying New York City should be called “York” because by now it is hundreds of years old. However, when it was founded it was new, and it symbolized a modern place full of possibilities. Aries was located behind the Equinox, on March 21st 2000-4000 years ago, when Astrology was “founded”. That is why we still call this period of time Aries.   

3 – Astrologers and Astronomers have known about the issues presented in the “Astrology refuting hoax” for thousands of years and CHOSE NOT to include a 13th constellation.

There is nothing new about the 13th constellation or the shift in the signs. The ancient Greeks, who were the first to cast astrological “Natal Charts,” were quite aware of these two issues. In fact, Claudius Ptolemy wrote extensively about the 13th sign and the procession of the equinox in the 2nd century AD. As you can see, there is nothing new under the Sun.

Ophiuchus, the so called 13th sign, was not adopted into Astrology because the Sun barely touches the constellation during its path through the Zodiac. It also doesn’t fit into the Babylonians’ sexagesimal system that is based on 60 and 12. That is why we have 60 minutes in an hour and two sets of 12 hours in a day. That is also the reason behind the decision to have 12 signs in the Zodiac and not 13.

With all due respect, most of the people who rebuke Astrology have little knowledge about the ancient art. Intellectual giants the like of Johannes Kepler (considered by many the father of modern astronomy), Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Carl Jung, Benjamin Franklin and Sir Isaac Newton all knew about these two anomalies in Astrology. However, they continued to practice, study and develop astrological theories that resulted in amazing predictions and insights. (

Astrologers for centuries have incorporated the earth wobble in their understanding of the connection between the heavenly bodies and life on earth. Ever heard about “The Age of Aquarius?” The reason why we have these ages and why they move backward (Age of Aquarius follows the Age of Pisces) is because of the wobble of the earth.  So to claim astrologers had not known about this phenomenon or chose to ignore it is simply ridiculous.

4 – Astrology is a system of symbols and metaphors designed to help us connect to the universe, just like the words and metaphors found in the various spiritual texts from around the world.

Many people claim that Astrology has no scientific backing and therefore cannot provide “real” help to humanity. I was stunned to see that this assertion regarding Astrology, came from the Christian Science Monitor, a news organization owned by a church.

But wait, there is no scientific proof of the resurrection of Christ, and yet the teaching of Jesus can still inspire love and compassion. There is no archeological proof of the Exodus and yet millions live and die by the teaching of Moses. There is no evidence to support Muhammad’s nightly flight on a winged horse from Mecca to Jerusalem. However, the holiest shrine for Islam, the Dome of the Rock, was built to commemorate that event on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Help and healing can be provided by systems that have no scientific proof, and have been for hundreds of years. I am not saying that these events did not happen. I am just noting that there is NO scientific proof that they did. However, the power of these systems of belief is undeniable.
Handled in the right way, Astrology can help guide us to a better future. Over the last 15 years I have personally experienced Astrology prove herself again and again in remarkable ways with clients of all ages, races, nationalities, and genders. I can only hope that she will do for you, what she has done for me and thousands of my clients. 

“Obviously Astrology has much to offer psychology, but what the latter can offer its elder sister is less evident.”
  —C.G Jung

Gahl E. Sasson teaches Astrology, Mythology and Kabbalah worldwide. His books A Wish Can Change Your Life (endorsed by HH the 14th Dalai Lama) and Cosmic Navigator, have been translated worldwide.

The Hebrascope: Signs of the Jewdiac

(April 21-May 20)
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Barbra Streisand

During this birthday period, it makes sense to expect things to be all about you. Sadly, friends and family aren’t so sensitive to your needs. The trick is to divide your expectations in half and you’ll enjoy yourself twice as much. Family and friends aren’t trying to steal your thunder; they’re only human and thus likely to want some attention for themselves. Generally, the stars wouldn’t suggest tucking yourself into a protective cocoon for a little healing and rejuvenating. This week is different. Spend an afternoon in your own world, watching your own lame TV shows, reading magazines, eating popcorn in bed and generally isolating yourself from other people. You will emerge anew, with perhaps a few popcorn kernels in your hair, but otherwise refreshed.

(May 21 — June 20)
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Barry Levinson

Gemini loves to socialize on the job, especially now. The math goes something like this: One hour on a work project, 20 minutes discussing last night’s game in the break room, two hours in a meeting, half an hour debating whether or not the temp has been surgically enhanced. Here’s the thing, in order to ever make headway in terms of your career, you may have to keep your nose to the grindstone for awhile instead of in other people’s business or a particularly fascinating article. Self-employed Geminis should consider holding a social gathering, attending a trade show or throwing a gallery exhibit to expose your work to a wider audience.

(June 21-July 20)
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Sydney Pollack

All those big ideas floating around in your keppe just need a little faith, hope and cash. That’s easy for your horoscope to say, but perhaps hard to muster. The stars say otherwise, but advise you to think things through carefully before investing time and money. A burst of confidence and luck will galvanize your efforts, just be careful to ponder every possible outcome before taking any leaps. It may be tedious, but will certainly be useful. Saturday, a casual lunch with friends or family may reach “My Dinner With Andre” proportions. Expect stimulating conversations and don’t cram too many plans into your day so that you can fully enjoy the interaction without having to check your watch.

(July 21 — August 21)

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Monica Lewinsky

If there’s a burst in the real estate bubble, that doesn’t matter much to Leo right now. An investment in a first home or condo is advised, according to celestial influences. Leos who already own property might think about doing some improvements this week. As for long time homeowners, it’s been years of looking at that monthly mortgage like it’s the boogeyman, scrimping and saving and being conscientious of every little splurge. Finally, the end is in sight as that home may be almost paid off. Look for socializing to ramp up from May 3-29, when Venus (the planet of love) visits impulsive Aries in your ninth house of ideas. You will not only be attracted to new people, but to new ideas.

(August 22-September 22)
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Adam Sandler

Traveling, or even just a rough daily commute, is beginning to wear on you, grinding you down both spiritually and physically. This is a good time to find a workout buddy. You are far less likely to miss that personal training session if it’s also a fun hour of chatting and even good-natured whining about your evil trainer and her evil squats. What’s more, if you’ve pre-paid, the guilt factor will also provide an incentive to get you to the gym, yoga studio or duo Pilates session. Think about it. What better way to counteract the stress of being trapped on planes or in automobiles than by simply moving your body? Strengthen a friendship while you strengthen your muscles and make even better use of your time.

(September 23-October 22)
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Michael Douglas

Partnerships are big for Libra this week. Whether it’s a professional partnership that’s moving ahead, or the announcement of an engagement or even an impending cohabitation, the stars have your back if you are teaming up in any significant way. Collaboration is favored up until May 29. Tuesday, some confusion could arise involving a love affair. It may feel lasting and permanent, but your horoscope says this small romantic blip will be all cleared up by Wednesday.

(October 23-November 22)
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Jonas Salk

People like people who like them. It’s such a simple concept that Dale Carnegie would be rolling his eyes. Still, it’s something we often forget. This week, folks will be looking to you for validation and approval. It doesn’t take much, like the old saying goes, a handful of peanuts and a pat on the back. It costs you nothing to shell out a few compliments to those around you who look up to you, and in the end it creates much good will. A meaningful conversation could mark the end of this week, as could especially poignant interactions with those in your circle who are younger than you are.

(November 23-December 20)
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Harpo Marx

Heads up to the Sagittarius worker: you will be walking into what feels like an ambush at work. Be armed with patience and flexibility. Check all your facts and figures when it comes to paperwork. Employ all of your teamwork skills and be ready to tackle tasks using creativity. By midweek, things will cool off at work just in time for a romantic slump to come to an end, as Venus moves into Aries on Wednesday. Pay special attention to your hygiene, floss, wax, get those roots done, bleach the moustache, trim the bangs and don’t be afraid to splurge on at least one big luxury item. Don’t feel guilty about buying yourself something you’ve been wanting. Your horoscope says it’s OK.

(December 21-January 19)
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Dave Attell

Envy and irritability — they aren’t your friends but they seem to be tagging along everywhere you go this week, leading to feelings of frustration. Instead of plotting your revenge on the people who are annoying you the most, dig down deep for some compassion. At the very least, lay low and avoid any altercations you may regret later. A partner or family member may seem indifferent to practical matters that concern you. Instead of presenting a lecture complete with PowerPoint presentation on all of the flaws in their thinking (or lack thereof), remember that the quality of this relationship is more important to you than being right.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)
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Ted Koppell

It may be tempting to jump into a new relationship, as passion intensifies this week. Try to slow your pace and protect any financial assets. You may not be Trump with a pre-nuptial agreement the size of “War and Peace,” but we can all be taken advantage of when our heart is in charge. Look forward to community celebration midweek. Also, you may feel overwhelmed now just thinking of all your friends and family scattered throughout the world. How do you keep in touch? Dedicate at least an hour this week and roll some calls. Once you get in the habit of keeping in touch, it will seem less daunting and ultimately rewarding.

(February 19-March 20)
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Josh Groban

This week opens like a scene from “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” There may be lots of shouting and betrayal. The whole situations will be high drama with plenty of unnerving interactions. The resolution of this drama could be ruthless, but it will at least be swift, coming to a resolution by midweek, when uplifting astrological patterns are in your favor. Relatives and friends support you, spontaneous outbursts of fun attract you, and you may even be in for a streak of luck. Curious Pisces may wish to dabble in gossip, but you would do better to plan for an overseas trip that will satisfy your curiosity more deeply and with less trash talking.

(March 21-April 20)
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Matthew Broderick

It sounds like a conundrum, but it’s just crazy enough to work. Cooperate with others this week and you will stand out as an individual. Your ability to facilitate teamwork and put your own ego aside will be noticed and appreciated. The only bitter taste in your otherwise sweet week is an outstanding debt — either a credit card or mortgage payment that’s overdue and may cause stress with a partner or family member. Take care of the debt so that extra charges don’t start piling up — and know that financial freedom is on the horizon as an unexpected check is likely to come in just when you need it.

A School or a Shul?

Administrators at Yeshivat Yavneh knew that the “No Trespassing” signs wouldn’t go over well with neighbors, especially the ones who used to run their dogs on the plush green stretch that fronts the Third Street main entrance to the Orthodox day school.

But about two years ago they felt they had no choice.

Neighbors had been seen standing outside of Yavneh on Shabbat videotaping everyone who entered, to see whether Yavneh was violating permit stipulations limiting who can pray there on Saturdays. The videotaping was an affront both to the school’s religious sensibilities and to its sense of security.

To neighbors, the “No Trespassing” signs are yet another indication that the school has no desire to fit in.

Yavneh moved into the Tudor estate, which formerly housed the Whittier Law School, in 1999. The school has about 400 students in preschool through eighth grade, and insists it has worked hard to foster a good relationship with neighbors. But things have soured in the last few years, as Yavneh tests the strict limitations of its conditional-use permit.

One clause in that permit states that Yavneh may hold prayer services for its students as part of their religious education. Yavneh interpreted that to mean that the school could hold Shabbat services, on the weekend, for students and their families.

Neighbors say Yavneh has, in effect, established a full-service congregation — one that serves more than just students and their immediate families.

Yavneh maintains that nearly all of the 100-150 people who attend services on a regular Shabbat are students and their family members. At the same time, however, the school plans to request a permit change also allowing board members, alumni and others associated with Yavneh to daven there, but to cap the total number at 300. The current permit does not stipulate a limit. In addition, Yavneh will ask the Zoning Board to approve an 8-foot perimeter fence for general security in this post-Sept./11 world.

The Hancock Park Homeowners Association has come out against these requests, asking that Yavneh meet the original permit conditions.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, the head of Yavneh, is meeting regularly with neighbors, part of a conciliation effort by both sides.


Opposing Hate at UCLA

This year’s annual Anti-Zionism Week on the UCLA campus saw some of the usual rhetoric: “Zionist oppressors. Israel is an apartheid state. Jewish racism is killing Arabs. Palestinian refugee camps equal Nazi concentration camps.”

It was this last slogan, written on a sign adorned with a swastika, that caused Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, a die-hard peacenik, to confront the protester and rip up the sign.

“I see that analogy as vile incitement,” said Seidler-Feller, director of UCLA Hillel. “The symbol represents such evil, and the purpose is not just to provoke but to justify — if you’re a Nazi, then you have to be eradicated.”

The placard was held during a so-called Human Rights Rally that was part of Anti-Zionism Week at UCLA (May 20-27), sponsored by the Muslim Students Association (MSA), a university-funded group.

The slogans are typical of the level of distortions and invective used to rile up students against not just Israeli occupation, but against Israel itself.

“Their goal is to condemn and denigrate and not to engage in dialogue. They don’t grant Israel legitimacy,” Seidler-Feller said. “They are not our partners and have made it clear that they don’t want to be our partners.”

Seidler-Feller says that is particularly painful, since he believes the most vocal and powerful students in the MSA, as in many campus ethnic organizations, represent a fringe element, drowning out the more moderate voices.

For decades, it has been the radical voices that have defined campus politics, leaving Jewish students to deal with rhetoric that would be unconscionable to the larger multiethnic Los Angeles.

“What occurs on campus in terms of program and speakers is so fringe that we students on campus are dealing with a different Palestinian-Israeli issue than the general community,” said Adam Rosenthal, a graduating senior who served this year as president of Hillel. “It’s much more visceral and painful, and more counterproductive.”

Rosenthal has been involved in the Coalition for Peaceful Coexistence, a group of Muslim and Jewish students that co-sponsors dialogues and programs. Recently, they held a Peace Tent, an open forum for students to discuss the issues, using the premise that both Jews and Palestinians have legitimate claims that need to be reconciled.

Hillel has also sponsored several standing-room-only lectures on the conflict, and Seidler-Feller coordinated a Voices of Peace course, where Muslim and Jewish students heard speakers from both sides.

But for some students, these efforts are drowned out by the much louder voices of the activist students who regularly write op-ed pieces and hold programs that delegitimize Israel’s right to exist.

“This anti-Semitic force is disguised by a mask of condemning Zionism, and the entire UCLA campus buys into this,” said Jennifer Dekel, a second-year student who helped found Bruin PAC, a pro-Israel group on campus.

Rachel Petru, West Coast field organizer for AIPAC, says the activity at UCLA is hardly isolated. Every May sees an onslaught of anti-Israel programming on campuses throughout the region and the country.

“We see it popping up everywhere. It’s the same format and program and ideas,” Petru said. Along with academics to back up accusations, the groups set up publicity stunts like mock graveyards or checkpoints through which students must pass.

Petru says the key is for students to undo the distortions and educate the campus.

AIPAC, along with the Israeli Consulate and some private leaders, were among some of the groups that Dekel turned to when she and other students organized a counter-protest to Anti-Zionism Week.

While the MSA hosted speakers, held rallies and displayed and distributed propaganda material, pro-Israel students stood opposite them handing out fliers and booklets and discussing the issues with students. At the rally, members of Bruin PAC held up a 15-by-8-foot banner that read “Israel wants peace. We have no partner.”

Rosenthal says the counter-protest and educational efforts were welcomed by Jewish students.

“I’d say there is a general fear among Jewish students that we ourselves aren’t educated enough on the issues and that the anti-Israel students know the issues at hand — though what they know is wrong or antiquated or often absurd. But at least they are able to engage in debate, and Jewish students aren’t, out of sheer ignorance,” Rosenthal says.

Seidler-Feller believes this year’s annual anti-Zionist week was not as big as some feared.

“I found it to be one of the weakest efforts in the past 10 or 20 years…. There was not a lot of creative energy,” Seidler-Feller said. On the other hand, he said, “the Jewish students demonstrated in a very powerful and responsive and responsible way and asserted their position loudly and clearly.”

Students were forced to make a similar showing a few weeks before when MSA brought to UCLA’s student government a resolution condemning Israel’s violation of human rights.

After 80 Jewish student packed the meeting, presenting their opposition with intense emotion, the resolution was unanimously voted down.

But a week later, that resolution showed up as an ad in the Daily Bruin, sponsored by MSA and coalition of minority student groups, including the African Students Union, the Latino group and the Asian group.

While this powerful minority coalition also holds considerable sway in student government, Seidler-Feller cautioned against finding too much to be angry about and against letting those who vilify Jews define the agenda.

“Students need to never lose sight of the ultimate goal of the Jewish community on campus — to create an environment where Jews can affirm their Jewishness and not fall into the trap of generalizing from this experience that UCLA is an uncomfortable place for Jewish students or that UCLA is rife with anti-Semitism,” he said. “We need to recognize the importance of constructing celebratory experiences that take precedence over a Jewishness that is driven by fighting against others.”