Community Briefs

Valley Beth Shalom Tackles MedicalEthics

Valley Beth Shalom will assemble a group of doctors, therapists, scholars, lawyers and rabbis for a “Medical Ethics Beit Din.” The panel discussions will be held on three consecutive Thursdays — Nov. 14, Nov. 21, and Dec. 5 — and will address beginning of life details; the changing role of the doctor; and end of life issues, respectively. Valley Beth Shalom’s Rabbi Edward Feinstein, who coordinated the panels, observed that as medical science becomes more advanced and accessible, “Torah-relevant issues become part of people’s daily lives.” Topics to be covered include extending medical care; responding to emergencies; life and death issues; and infertility and the manipulation of the process. “These issues of medical ethics were once abstract, but now families deal with them all the time,” Feinstein said. “I wanted to create a program where people in the community can learn how to make such decisions.” For more information, contact Ilana Zimmerman at (818) 788-6000. — Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer

New Consul for Communications TakesOffice

Yariv Ovadia has joined the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles here as Consul for Communications and Public Affairs. Ovadia, 30, is a Jerusalem native, whose parents arrived as children in Israel, his father from Iraq and mother from Morocco. Accompanying him are his wife Daphna — to whom he proposed at India’s Taj Mahal — and their 4-month-old daughter, Romi.

As a high school student, Ovadia aimed for a career as computer scientist, but changed his mind after serving three years with an infantry unit in Gaza.

“I wanted to learn more about the roots of the conflict between us and the Arabs and study their language, history and religion,” he said, sitting in his Wilshire Boulevard office with a view of the Hollywood Hills.

He enrolled at Hebrew University, focusing on studies of the Middle East, Islam and sociology, and after graduation, joined the diplomatic corps in 1999.

For the past two years, Ovadia served as second secretary at the Israeli embassy in New Delhi, India. As part of his responsibilities, he headed the embassy’s cultural and scientific affairs department.

Ovadia said that he is eager to meet with the Jewish and general communities in Los Angeles and throughout six Southwestern states. In the meanwhile, he urges people to take five to 10 minutes a day to do something to help Israel, for instance, “call or write an editor or organize a group to hear a speaker from the consulate.” — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Muslim Journalist Calls Islam Founder Source ofAnti-Semitism

Recently in Los Angeles, as the guest of the Council of Iranian American Jewish Organizations, Muslim journalist Dr. Mohammad Amiri spoke to a large audience at Sinai Temple and at the Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills and visited the Museum of Tolerance.

Amiri was named by his parents in Iran for the Prophet Muhammad, but today, he considers the founder of Islam as the source of modern anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism in the Middle East.

The Jews of the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century C.E. “sinned” against Muhammad by rejecting his teachings, according to Amiri, and he retaliated by demanding the Jews’ property and killing many of them. Since then, anti-Semitism in Islam, as in Christianity, has found racial and political expression, but the wellspring remains the original religious bias, Amiri said.

By an unlikely route, Amiri has become an expert on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. Born in the Kurdish region of Iran 57 years ago, he followed “the dream of all you young Iranian men to go to Europe,” and received his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees in philosophy at the University of Cologne.

For his doctoral thesis, he analyzed the philosophy of the Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt (“Origins of Totalitarianism”) and from there, embarked on lifelong studies of the tensions between freedom and religion, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.

He is now a reporter and analyst for German radio, broadcasts for the Farsi-language service of Israel’s Kol Yisrael and is a research fellow at the Institute for Culture and Philosophy in Cologne.

While in Los Angeles, Amiri also participated in three talk show programs on local Farsi radio stations, which serves the Southern California Iranian community.

Looking at conditions in his native land, Amiri said that a certain sympathy for Israel, based mainly on the traditional Iranian dislike of Arabs, has been overridden by the even more pronounced religious hatred of Jews by Muslim fundamentalists. — TT