4 Palestinians detained by own police after visiting West Bank mayor’s sukkah


10/21/16: Four Palestinians who attended a Sukkot celebration alongside Israelis in the home of a West Bank mayor were arrested by Palestinian security forces.

[UPDATE 10/25/16: The Palestinians have been released]

The celebration took place without incident Wednesday at the home of Oded Revivi, mayor of the Efrat settlement. Revivi had invited several dozen Palestinians living near Efrat to join 30 Israelis in celebrating the Jewish harvest holiday.

But four of the Palestinians who attended were arrested late the next day. The reason for their arrest was not clear, but their relatives suggested it was because they were photographed with prominent Israeli army and police officers, The Washington Post reported.

One relative of the detained men accused Revivi of “tricking” the Palestinians.

“Instead of helping us, he destroyed us,” Asad Abu Hamad told The Washington Post.

Revivi denied the accusations and said he had urged for the four men to be released.

“I understand they are upset. I understand what the relatives are saying,” he said. “But was this a trap? This was no trap.”

Sukkot — the blessings of necessity


It was a recent story about the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and America in the oil industry that made me think about the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, when Jews are called upon to reflect on values such as humility and resourcefulness.

For many decades now, Saudi Arabia has had the luxury of having enormous oil reserves that have kept its economy afloat while funding the lavish lifestyles of its royal family. It’s a little like having a basement in your house filled with unlimited hoards of cash that you could access at any time and spend any way you wish. Who needs to work?

Whenever the Saudi kingdom felt threatened by an oil glut that would cause  prices to tumble, all it had to do was slash production so that prices would rise again —  and presto, the billions would keep floating in.

Over the past few years, though, something changed. The fracking boom in the United States has threatened Saudi Arabia’s oil domination, to the point where in early 2014, the U.S. even surpassed Saudi production at almost 11 million barrels a day. The Saudis thought they could squelch this new threat by keeping production levels high and pushing prices so low that American producers would be forced out of business.

But something else happened — forced by necessity, the American producers learned to cut costs and make their industry more efficient, creating an American oil industry that’s grown stronger, not weaker, as a result of the price slide.  

Meanwhile, as Hudson Institute senior fellow Arthur Herman writes in National Review online, “Far from ruining the U.S. fracking industry, the global oil glut is about to ruin the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It seems that an economic and social system that has developed around oil — indeed, is entirely dependent on it — couldn’t sustain itself at prices this low.”

Because they had built “an enormous welfare state on the back of their oil industry,” the Saudis didn’t have a Plan B to counter the resourceful moves of their American rivals. So, last week, desperate to push oil prices back up, Riyadh “decided to throw in the towel in its two-year war on American energy producers” by announcing it would cut its oil production in half.

If these cuts push prices back up, American producers will be making more money than ever — money, Herman writes, “that can be invested in new energy exploration and development and in new technologies like waterless fracking and laser drilling that will make fracking safer, cleaner, and more efficient than ever.”

What does all of this have to do with the holiday of Sukkot, when Jews have a tradition of building a little hut where they eat for eight days?

Among its many lessons, Sukkot reminds us that what brings out the best in people is not easy abundance or luxury — but the humility of necessity. It is the necessity of building things, often from scratch, that forces us to be resourceful.

Think about Israel. It wasn’t born with a basement full of oil riches. It had to build a country from scratch. Because it was forced to make do, invent on the fly, learn through trial and error and defend itself against all odds, it created a feisty and resilient little country. It wasn’t “cursed” with the unlimited oil reserves of its Saudi neighbors that has made the kingdom so complacent and vulnerable to outside forces.

It was the necessity of a difficult reality that forced Israel to gain its economic independence, just as a tough reality forced the U.S. oil industry to adapt and become more efficient.

The challenge for modern Jewry and for Israel is to ensure that our success and power don’t make us lose our humility and resourcefulness.

Sukkot reminds us of a time when our ancestors had to harness all of their wits and ingenuity to grow and harvest their crops and build their temporary dwellings in the wilderness. If they wanted to survive, they had no choice.

Today, we have a choice. We don’t have to build a hut for shelter. We don’t even have to be that resourceful — modern living is all about ease and convenience.

The ritual of building a sukkah, then, is more than an endearing Jewish tradition. It’s also a reminder that when luxury and comfort surround us, whether we are kings in our own castles or royalty in Saudi Arabia, maintaining our humility is not just a blessing, it’s a necessity.


David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at davids@jewishjournal.com.

Sukkot for two: Building a sukkah for a small patio or balcony


Although Sukkot is a couple of weeks away, once Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are over, it will be time to get the sukkah up. If you live in an apartment with a balcony, or even a home with only a small outdoor patio or yard, your space can be quite limited. And just the idea of building a sukkah can seem intimidating.

The good news is, building a sukkah sized for just one or two people is a breeze. (For proof, watch the time-lapse video at jewishjournal.com of me building a sukkah.) It can go up in minutes, doesn’t require major tools and after the holiday will store compactly, so you can use it again next year.


Rob Eshman is publisher and editor-in-chief of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal. E-mail him at robe@jewishjournal.com. You can follow him on Twitter @foodaism.

Is beauty a Jewish value?


When we talk about Jewish values, we usually refer to things like justice, compassion, generosity, humility, honesty, faith, wisdom and so on. We rarely talk about beauty.

Beauty is vain and superficial, we’re so often told.

And yet, the word “beautiful” is prominent on this week’s cover of the Jewish Journal, which features an unusually beautiful sukkah, created by designer Jonathan Fong.

Normally, our instinct would be to focus on a deeper meaning of the holiday — the sukkah as a metaphor for humility; as a wake-up call to help the homeless; as a physical, palpable link to our ancestors; as a paradox of frailty and strength; or as an eternal symbol of Jewish endurance.

Those angles are all more profound and meaningful than the notion of beauty. So, why would we feature aesthetics on our cover this year?

One answer is that maybe we simply need a break from all the heaviness. Yes, we can overdose even on things like depth and meaning. Let’s face it, especially at this time of year, we’ve all been marinating in one deep sermon after another. Serious, heavy issues are weighing on us — whether about Israel, society’s ills or the need to transform our lives.

So, it’s quite possible that a light, beautiful sukkah might be just the right antidote to holiday heaviness — an ideal opportunity to lighten up and let all this depth sink in.

Or not.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but in Judaism, meaning lurks everywhere — even in something as superficial as beauty.

“Beauty enhances the mitzvot by appealing to the senses,” according to “Gates of the Seasons: A Guide to the Jewish Year” (Central Conference of American Rabbis). “Beautiful sounds and agreeable fragrances, tastes, textures, colors, and artistry contribute to human enjoyment of religious acts, and beauty itself takes on a religious dimension.”

In other words, by adding beauty to what we see, hear, taste and feel, we enhance our spiritual experience of the mitzvah, which brings us closer to the mitzvah itself.

Beauty is also defined, in the Jewish tradition, by the virtues of endurance and permanence.

As Rabbi Joshua Shmidman explains in the magazine Jewish Action: “The Torah requires: ‘And you shall take unto yourselves on the first day (of Sukkot) a fruit of a beautiful tree — pri etz hadar.’ The Talmud (Sukkot 35a) wishes to define what constitutes a beautiful tree by analyzing the Hebrew word for beautiful, hadar.

“The sages conclude that it is the etrog tree, because the word ‘hadar’ is interpreted to be a fruit which ‘dwells continuously all year on the tree’ (ha-dar, literally, ‘that which dwells’). Thus, they understand the word ‘dar’ to mean the opposite of temporary or intermittent residence; rather, it implies permanence, a continuous process through time (similar to the French ‘duree’ or the English ‘endure’).

“The etrog tree fulfills this requirement of constant dwelling, for most other fruits are seasonal, but the etrog grows, blossoms and produces fruit throughout all the seasons: in the heat and the cold, in the wind and in storm — it stubbornly persists! It endures! And in the Jewish view, that is why it is beautiful.”

In addition to its permanence, beauty is also an expression of love. 

As my friend Rabbi Benjamin Blech said to me over lunch last week, adding beauty to a mitzvah — such as making a sukkah beautiful — is an expression of love because it’s a sign that “we are doing the mitzvah not just because we have to, but because we want to.” We glorify God’s presence by going beyond the minimum requirements, by pouring out our love for Him just as we would for those we deeply love.

As the rabbi spoke so beautifully about love, I reflected on another aspect to beauty that is often overlooked — and that is, the beauty of the words we speak.

I don’t care how beautiful we make our sukkahs or holiday tables, if some well-intentioned guest decides to ambush the conversation with a rant against Obama, or Israeli settlers, or the tragic mess in Syria, or any number of incendiary topics best left for another time — all that aesthetic beauty we’ve spent so much time creating will be immediately colored ugly.

If beautiful sounds contribute to the human enjoyment of religious acts, I can’t think of a more beautiful sound than that of pleasant conversation that stimulates the mind and warms our hearts.

In short, by making our sukkahs beautiful and adding meaningful and beautiful conversation, we can honor the enduring value of Jewish beauty, enhance our spiritual experience and deepen our love for the Almighty.

How’s that for superficial?


David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at davids@jewishjournal.com.

Making the sukkah beautiful


I built my first sukkah three years ago. It was your typical sukkah in a kit — a metal pole and tarp structure, stark white and generic. As I decorated it, I realized that no matter how many plastic fruits and vegetables I hung from the sides and ceiling, they seemed to get lost in the space. The big white tarps were just too visually dominant. 

This year, I was honored to decorate a sukkah in an outside plaza adjacent to the new home of the Jewish Journal, as well as the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, and Bet Tzedek Legal Services. All three organizations will share the sukkah throughout the week of Sukkot. Based on my earlier experience, I approached this sukkah with a strategy: to create dramatic, simple and inexpensive decorative elements that would break up all that whiteness. After all, no one has ever sung, “I’m Dreaming of a White Sukkot.”

Even if you don’t incorporate these specific projects in your own sukkah, I hope that the ideas inspire you to get creative. Let’s think outside the big white box.

(For more on the value of beauty in Judaism and on Sukkot, read David Suissa’s column here)

PINGPONG BALL GRAPES 

I started by covering much of the white tarp with curtain panels from IKEA. At $9.99 for two panels, they were a low-cost decorating solution, so I bought seven pairs. For curtain tiebacks, I decided to make my own grapes out of pingpong balls, which are available at the 99 Cents Only store.

Using a hot-glue gun, attach pingpong balls to one another, one at a time. Cluster them into a V shape so they look like a bunch of grapes rather than a science project. I used about 15 pingpong balls per bunch.

After spray painting the grape bunches a burgundy red color, hot-glue a twig to the top of each bunch. The twig actually adds a lot of realism to the grapes, so warn the kids — and spouse – not to eat them.

Tie one or two bunches of the pingpong grapes to each curtain panel with some fishing line or string. Then frame the grapes in some burlap ribbon and silk autumn leaves.

BRANCHES WITH DICTIONARY PAGE ROSES

I love hanging branches over the dining table. They add such drama while staying within the harvest theme. Before hanging the branches from the ceiling, I attached paper roses made from dictionary pages.

Fold two dictionary pages (or any two sheets of paper) lengthwise, so you now have four skinny pages held together by the bottom fold. Then tear each page at 1- to 2-inch intervals, being careful not to tear the page all the way to the fold.

Place a strip of double-stick tape across the bottom at the fold.

Roll the pages loosely while pinching the bottom where the tape is. The double-stick tape will keep the rose together.

Unfurl the petals, which you created when you tore the paper.

Hot-glue several flowers to a tree branch.

Tie some fishing line around the branch, and tie the other end of the fishing line to the bamboo in the ceiling. Secure two ends of the branch for balance and security.

FALLING LEAVES

 

Paper leaves strung together and suspended from the ceiling create a magical effect, and they complement the hanging branches so well. I’ve also used this technique with silk rose petals at various events.

Cut leaves out of paper. You can do this by hand, making simple oval leaf shapes. I actually used a die-cutting machine, so the leaves were more intricate. I then sprayed the leaves with some glimmer mist, which I bought at the crafts store, to give them some color.

Using a needle and thread, create strands of three to five leaves spaced a few inches apart. The more strands you make, the more it will look like leaves are falling from the heavens.

Where the thread meets each leaf, apply a dab of craft glue so that the leaf stays in place. Tie one end of each strand to the bamboo at the top of the ceiling. If the leaves tangle, don’t worry. From a distance, it still looks like the leaves are falling.

LOOP GARLANDS 

To decorate the sukkah, kids often make garlands out of construction paper loops. Here is an idea that takes that simple technique and turbo charges it. These aren’t just garlands — they’re modern art pieces.

Cut poster or construction paper into long strips that are about 2 inches wide.

Create loops with the strips, and hold them together with paper clips. Also, cut other strips to make smaller loops, and attach them to the larger loops with the paper clips. Connect several loops together to form a long garland. By using paper clips, you can keep changing your pattern before committing to the final design.

When you’re happy with how the garland looks, permanently attach loops to each other with a stapler, and remove the paper clips. Hang the garlands on the sukkah wall with some fishing line.

PALM LEAF STARBURSTS 

I found bunches of long palm leaves at IKEA and thought they would make stylish starbursts to accentuate the sukkah entrance. They also would make beautiful room decorations when Sukkot is over. 

Form a starburst pattern with the palm leaves, securing them in the middle with a hot-glue gun.

Tie some string around the spokes of the starburst to make sure the leaves don’t come apart. The string will also be useful later for hanging.

Cover the string with a paper rose like the ones made for the hanging branches. Tie some fishing line to the string to hang it from the metal poles.

Decorating and crafts expert Jonathan Fong hosts the Web series “Style With a Smile” and DisneyFamily.com’s “He Made, She Made.” He also recently designed the new offices of the Jewish Journal. You can find more of his inspirational ideas at jonathanfongstyle.com.

At Sukkot, turning oy into the season of joy


In open opposition to Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), which tells us on Sukkot “there is nothing new under the sun,” I decided to build a solar sukkah this fall. To energize my plan, I went to the 99 Cent Store to buy some solar yard lights to adapt for use on the roof.

However, while driving home and accessing the construction work required for the upcoming holiday, I realized that my sukkah was not the only thing that was low energy.

I had put up our sukkah umpteen years in a row, and this year I was thinking about giving the shack building a rest. The solar idea was nice, but in the end it wasn’t enough — just an artificial way of rekindling my interest in what had become an annual task.

Couldn’t we just manage an invite from a couple of the families we had invited into our sukkah in previous years?

Not an option: Among our friends there was a sukkah shortage. Over time, it seems, people get so used to visiting your sukkah that they lose touch with building their own.

Sukkot is supposed to be “the season of our joy,” but after the chest pounding, shofar blowing and pleading for my life, the joy this year was hard to find. Was there a way to reset my spiritual clock and get my sukkah built?

Psychology tells us that motivation comes in two forms: “intrinsic,” an internal desire to perform a particular task that gives us pleasure, like knowing that putting up a sukkah is a mitzvah, and “extrinsic,” factors external and unrelated to a particular task, but a kind of reward, like praise from friends for putting up a sukkah.

Searching for motivation, I read where a college rabbi at Duke had run a program called “Sex and the Sukkah.” It certainly piqued my interest (though I was confused as to whether the motivation was extrinsic or intrinsic). Apparently sex is part of the mitzvah of dwelling in the sukkah. But we don’t even sleep out there, and my wife wondered nervously about the neighbors.

With our children in their 20s, the motivation of putting up the sukkah for them was missing, too. Balancing on a ladder in our shaky shack just so we could hang the decorations they made in school was no longer a starter.

Hanging signs of their more recent achievements — term papers, pay stubs and renderings (one of them is studying to be an architect) — was an interesting updating of the tradition, but I didn’t think the public display would be appreciated.

Since with each day the pile of weathered boards and rolls of bamboo seemed to be receding farther and farther into the depths of my garage, and wondering if others might be having a similar problem, I sat down to interview a psychologist.

“A lack of motivation and apathy could be a sign of depression,” said Rae Freed, a clinical social worker in private practice in Los Angeles who sees patients of all ages. Depression could show itself through “a lack of energy, fatigue, in difficulty in making a decision or lack of focus.”

As we talked about the social component of the sukkah — inviting over guests — Freed suggested that potential sukkah builders might think the effort requires “too much energy to participate in a social interaction.”

“That sounded about right,” I thought, thinking of the effort it took in past years to call people to negotiate the “right” night.

Freed also spoke about seasonal depression that comes with the shortening of days from a Jewish point of view.

“You build up to the High Holy Days, spending time with family, and afterwards feel the loss,” she said.

“Especially when they live on the other side of the county or have passed away,” I thought.

Over time, “age and strength” become factors as well, Freed said.

“Yeah, that too,” I thought, then asked, “How do you get over it?”

For Freed, simply pretending and putting on a “mask of joy” was not going to cover it. She countered my question with questions: “Ask yourself, how did you feel in the past when you did that? Was it positive?”

“Having guests over did make me feel good,” I thought.

Explaining further, Freed suggested that even if you don’t feel like doing something, it might be motivating to remember the pleasure the activity brought, especially the communal associations.

Recall the “memories of earlier Sukkots,” said Freed, who pleasantly recalled that she had spent her teen years living in an art deco hotel run by her father that catered to vacationing Jews in south Miami Beach, Fla.

I remembered having in several groups of people the previous year. It was kind of like running a sukkah hotel — tons of work, yet they sang, played instruments and filled our evenings with camaraderie.

“People feel alone and isolated if they are not surrounded by family,” Freed said, and suggesting the sukkah is a way of “bringing together a temporary family.”

“A temporary structure for a temporary family,” I thought.

Later, thinking over Freed’s words, my low energy thoughts dissipated. Going into the recesses of my garage, I found what it would take to build my sukkah.

Edmon J. Rodman is a JTA columnist who writes on Jewish life from Los Angeles. Contact him at edmojace@gmail.com.

Buy a sign, build a sukkah


Four Jewish institutions have teamed up to build a sukkah composed entirely of homeless signs. They are asking the public to purchase and donate the signs in time for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

New Community Jewish High School, Milken Community High School, Valley Beth Shalom synagogue and Tribe Media Corp., publisher of the Jewish Journal, will together build the sukkah for the Jewish holiday, which this year begins at sundown on Sept. 18.

The schools and synagogue will use the sukkah throughout the year to teach about homelessness and to encourage political leaders to end homelessness in Los Angeles. Homeless sukkahs have been created in other cities, including Berkeley and New York. Los Angeles’ newly elected Mayor Eric Garcetti has pledged to “eradicate” homelessness, and the organizers of the Homeless Sukkah hope this effort will encourage him to keep his promise. The organizers also hope to expand the effort to more institutions and community members.

Most immediately, organizers say, the sukkah needs signs. Anyone interested in contributing to the project are encouraged to purchase signs from area homeless people and then can drop the signs off at any of the participating institutions. 

To get involved and for more information, visit the Homless Sukkah page on Facebook.

I am buying homeless signs for Sukkot this year


I started building my sukkah in December. To those of you who are sukkah DIYers, you know how ridiculous this sounds.

A sukkah is the ritual hut that Jews build each year on the holiday of Sukkot, which begins this year on the evening of Sept. 18. You set it up after Yom Kippur, you take it down after the eight days of Sukkot are over. Most sukkahs come as easy-to-make pre-fab kits — setting one up takes all of 30 minutes, even for a tool-challenged people.

So why did I start making mine eight months ago?

Because this year, I’m making a sukkah from homeless signs.

I collected my first one on a whim. At the off-ramp of the 10 Freeway at Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica, a man was standing with a crude cardboard sign that said, “50 But Not Dead.” I couldn’t have said it better myself, I thought. When he approached me and asked for some change, I heard myself blurting out, “Five dollars for the sign.”

From there, my lark became a mission. To the next person, a woman at the median strip at Venice and Overland, I gave $3 — it was all I had on me.  Her sign said, “Hungry.”  

I kept going. As a kid, I was obsessed by the famous LIFE magazine photo of a well-dressed man selling apples for a nickel on a Manhattan street corner. I harbored inchoate fears of living in such a world.   

And here we are.

I stopped each time I saw someone with a sign and offered to buy every one I could without causing a traffic accident. On Venice and Sepulveda, Venice and Overland, various off-ramps, in Venice Beach — Los Angeles may be losing its movie productions and manufacturing base, but I bet our great city produces more panhandling signs than any other city in the world.

And what, friends and family asked me, would I do with all of them?

At some point it dawned on me: Build a sukkah.

The booths we are commanded to build on Sukkot are a reminder of the dwellings in which the Children of Israel lived following the Exodus. While the shelter’s walls can be made of any material, the roof must be covered only with organic matter — palm fronds, bamboo — spaced wide enough to let some raindrops through.

[The Homeless Sukkah Project: How you can help]

Why not, I thought, build a sukkah whose walls are made entirely from homeless signs affixed to a bamboo frame?

During Sukkot, we eat our meals and sometimes sleep in the shelter we have created. Its fragility and impermanence is a reminder of our own. The shelter it provides is welcome, but unstable. A sukkah is not a home. 

Neither, my sukkah will remind us, are the streets of Los Angeles. The human suffering that can be found in the shadow of our comfortable homes is shameful. That such homelessness occurs in the midst of enormous wealth is beyond the pale.

Presently, some 58,000 homeless men, women and children live in Los Angeles County, a 16 percent jump over the last two years. The economic downturn is chiefly to blame. But the end of federal stimulus funds for emergency housing, combined with Gov. Jerry Brown’s diversion of some 15,000 low-level felons to L.A. jails and probation services, have added to the numbers. The bright news for many of us — a steady upturn in the housing market — also means more misery for people for whom rents are already a stretch.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has pledged not to just manage homelessness, but to end it. He understands that the word “homeless” is a nearly useless catch-all phrase that hides a variety of causes and conditions, all of which require varying approaches. He has embraced innovative solutions like permanent supportive housing, which combines low-cost shelters with a full array of social services like childcare, job training, substance abuse and mental health counseling.  

Will Garcetti succeed? Other urgent needs may intervene. Political will often lags; money doesn’t materialize; the homeless don’t vote.

At a Jewish community event in his honor in Brentwood recently, Garcetti — the city’s first elected Jewish mayor — said he will use his close ties to the community not just to heed its needs, but to enlist the city’s influential, active Jewish community in helping him forward his own agenda.

One way we can help is to remind the mayor of his promise. A sukkah built entirely of homeless signs will stand as a constant reminder to the mayor, and to all of us, of the work that needs to be done. The entire structure will be not just a symbol of our fragility, but of the fragile existence so many people in this county lead on the streets each day. The sukkah will stand until the mayor meets his promise — simple.

Now, here’s where you come in: As of now, I have enough signs to form just one wall. A sukkah has at least three walls and a roof. This sukkah needs more signs. It needs more builders. It needs a visible, public place to stand. It needs you.

Go to our Web site, homelesssukkah.com, to find out how you can help collect signs, and where you can come help build the Homeless Sukkah next month. If your synagogue or school would like to take on the project, even better.

There are, unfortunately, a lot more signs to buy.


Rob Eshman is publisher and editor-in-chief of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal. E-mail him at robe@jewishjournal.com. You can follow him on Twitter @foodaism.

Shofars blasting, Bend the Arc urges yes on Prop. 30


Bend the Arc is urging Jewish voters in California to rally behind Proposition 30. 

Gov. Jerry Brown’s measure, which will appear on the November ballot, would collect almost $6 billion in additional revenue to support education, public safety and other public services by temporarily raising sales taxes by a quarter-cent on all purchases, while also increasing income taxes for the state’s top earners.

In their effort, the progressive Jewish group has used all manner of Jewish thematic elements. Bend the Arc launched its campaign in support of Proposition 30 in a sukkah on a Santa Monica beach at the end of September, and on Oct. 15 convened about 40 people in the hot sun at Valley College to hear why students, educators and advocates for public education are urging Jews and other Californians to vote yes on 30. 

At a few points during the press conference, a handful of attendees blew shofars; Bend the Arc called the blasts “a clarion call for justice.”

Symbolism aside, Eric Greene, the organization’s Southern California director, made his case by talking about what might happen if voters reject the measure. 

“The kind of cuts that we’re hearing about are absolutely terrifying,” Greene said. “Weeks being cut off of the school year, more layoffs of teachers.”

The situation facing California’s public institutions of higher education is already pretty dire, according to one Valley College student who spoke at the Oct. 15 press conference. 

Nicole Hutchinson had intended to spend just two years at the community college but is now in her third year of studies there because she can’t get into the oversubscribed classes that she needs. 

“I can’t catch up because the summer sessions have been canceled,” Hutchinson said. 

Should Proposition 30 fail at the polls — and one online poll taken earlier this month by a business group showed support for the measure had dipped below 50 percent for the first time — the situation will almost undoubtedly get worse. Los Angeles’ nine community colleges will have to cut $50 million this year if voters don’t approve the tax hike next month. 

Anti-Semitic attacks in France rise 45 percent this year


France has seen a 45 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks reported through August from the corresponding period a year ago.

In one of three recent incidents reported by SPCJ, the security unit of France’s Jewish communities, unidentified assailants near Paris injured a Jewish woman in her sukkah on Oct. 5.

SPCJ has counted 386 of what it calls “anti-Semitic acts” from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31 this year, the organization said in a report Wednesday. In the corresponding period of 2011, SPCJ counted 266 such incidents. SPCJ said the figures correlated to official data by French authorities.

Of the incidents this year,101 were “violent actions,” SPCJ said, including the slaying of four people at a school in Toulouse on March 19 by Mohamed Merah, a Muslim extremist. The attack triggered “an explosion” of anti-Semitic attacks, SPCJ said. Most other incidents documented were cases of intimidation, the report said.

The attack on the sukkah near Paris occurred as 10 members of a Jewish family were eating dinner in their garden in Seine St. Denis, an eastern suburb of Paris. The family ignored a group of men who had shouted obscenities at them from the street, according to the SPCJ report, before the men pelted them with rocks. One of the rocks struck a woman in her back and caused her minor injuries. None of the children present, including an 8-month-old baby, were hurt.

According to the SPCJ report, the assailants shouted at the family in Arabic, as well as in French, saying “Dirty Jews, return home,” “we’ll get you” and “we’ve had enough of you, dirty Jews.” They fled before police reached the scene.

Meanwhile, on Oct. 9, a 19-year-old Jewish male was lightly wounded by a metal ball that was fired at him as he was leaving a Paris synagogue.

Also discovered on  that day in Avignon, a city in the south of France near Marseille, unidentified assailants destroyed a Star of David that was imprinted on the exterior wall of a Jewish cemetery and chiseled off the word “Jewish.”