Tuesday, September 29, 2020


Marlene Adler Marks


Red String

I wear a piece of red string around my right wrist, a talisman for healing.

JCC Mission

Forster\'s Rules for Meeting a Fundraising Challenge are important to review now, as the institution that once symbolized a thriving American Jewish community struggles for breath.

Relying on Miracles

Before the last Chanukah candle is lit, I\'d like to say a word about miracles.

Light One Candle

By rights, this should be a one-candle Chanukah.

Entering the New World

Brave New World, here we come.

Saying Thanks

I say a prayer of thanksgiving first thing every morning.

Ready for Battle

Bad news on the cancer front. My CT scans, which had been 99 percent tumor-free for almost six months, show a few tiny lesions. A few tiny lesions in non-small-cell lung cancer is not a good thing. My oncologist nearly cried. What I would give not to have to write about this. I hate lung cancer. I hate the tumors. I hate the failed miracle of the clinical trial with its snazzy new anti-cancer drug that had been working so well. It was wonderful taking those two tiny pills day after day. I felt like a bride renewing her vows every morning, wedded to another day of health. I pledged my loyalty to one treatment alone.

Breaking Ground

Two months after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, small acts take on a magnified historic context, and large acts are dwarfed by human peril. Freedom and courage seem exceedingly dear, and both are measurable in personal sacrifices and acts of public largesse. And so it was impossible to take a spade of dirt from a garden-variety synagogue groundbreaking last Sunday and not think in grand, if not grandiose, terms about the role of our American Jewish community in dangerous times. Perhaps it always takes guts to act for the future -- to believe in a future -- acknowledging that a threat is always rising beyond the next hill.

End the Silence

Only three weeks ago it was possible to speak in optimistic terms about a united front against terrorism. History seemed to be blowing at our back, pushing the forces of civilization onward and upward to victory against the scourge of modern times. Writing in this space in early October, I quoted with admiration the prediction made by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak; that the nations of the world would now join together against terrorism much as the nations of the post-Napoleonic period had defeated piracy. For a brief heady moment, it looked like we American Jews could sit back in the warm protection of our nation acting out of grief and righteous revenge.

Take 12 Steps

It would be hard to exaggerate the significance of The Jewish Federation\'s Addiction Conference held Monday at the Skirball Cultural Center. But to compare, think back to the Shechinah Conference held 20 years ago at Hebrew Union College, which helped consolidate and shape Jewish feminism. In its willingness to creatively address perhaps the biggest social issue of our time, the Skirball program is that big a deal.

Confused and Tangled Times

My favorite words of Torah are the very first: \"In the beginning.\" They beg us to ask, what was there before the Creation that made God want to do more? And the answer provided in the text is especially fitting for our own warring time: tohu va\'vohu, which Rabbi Samson Hirsch, the sensitive linguist, translates as: \"confused and tangled, and darkness was over the turmoil,\" just as we are now.

Despair vs. Joy

That\'s what it means these days, to be a Jew in post-Sept. 11 America. We must live in two worlds at once, the personal and the communal: shepping nachas over the achievements of our children and our parents, and joining with our nation in collective grief.

“We” Judaism

NOW THAT THE HIGH HOLY days are over, we can begin to appreciate how the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington may alter American Jewish life.

17 Years Ago: Echoes of History

Ecclesiastes was right: Even in a world clouded by international terrorism, there\'s nothing new under the sun.


A day before I left for a vacation cruise to Alaska, I looked in the mirror and spied, atop my clean, bald head -- Hair! There wasn\'t much of it, standing less than one-sixteenth of an inch tall. But when I ran my hand over my crown, I felt the delicious tickle of stubble. \"It\'s back!\" I cried to my friend Susan, who was lending me a gown for the cruise\'s formal night. We jumped up and down the way we did in high school when the latest \"he\" called. I\'ve been a cue ball since Day 12 of my first round of chemo. All my hair is gone, including eyebrows and lashes. The only really bad part, aside from looking like a Conehead, is the way drafts of cold air make my forehead feel glacial. In Alaska, I spent time looking for bald eagles, seeking to join their minyan.

And Many More

There\'s nothing like completing chemotherapy to spice up a birthday party. Last weekend, 40 of my dearest friends performed a commemorative Havdalah ceremony to mark a really great CT scan and year 53. My \"re-birthday\" celebration was just the ticket, restorative not only for me but also for the extended community that has seen me through my struggle with lung cancer.


It\'s seven months since my lung cancer diagnosis. Am I a survivor yet?

Beyond Stem Cells

Were you queasy last week, when U.S. senators quoted the Bible in their effort to stop potentially life-saving stem cell research?

The Strongest Link

No matter how well things go in chemotherapy, the truth is, cancer always makes new demands on you. You can\'t afford to be a k\'nocker, pretending you know what you\'re doing or what you\'re ready for. It\'s not as if you are in charge.

The Mosk Seat

Does Stanley Mosk\'s California Supreme Court seat naturally go to a Jew? In the political jockeying left by the death at 88 of California\'s longest-serving justice, the debate begins again: Is there a special \"Jewish seat\" that deserves to be enshrined on the high court? In filling the seat Mosk occupied for 37 years, here are some names being mentioned: former L.A. City Attorney Burt Pines and former Rep. Lynn Schenk, both close aides to Gov. Gray Davis; Arthur Gilbert, presiding justice of the Court of Appeal in Ventura (and a jazz pianist); Appellate Justice Norman Epstein and U.S. District Judge Nora Manella. Personally I\'m for Pines (though I hear he eschews it). The Manella name has a certain poetic impact; her father\'s firm, Irell & Manella, was among the early \"Jewish firms\" in Los Angeles, responding to discrimination against Jews among old-line law offices.

Visiting the Sick

How dare I have fun during chemotherapy? It\'s not that I look forward to seven hours of treatment. But with four of six rounds behind me, I no longer feel I\'m heading into an abyss.

Election Twist

A week after the L.A. mayoral election, believe me, I too would rather be discussing the Lakers vs. the 76ers than the meaning of the Jewish vote.

New Directions

Who\'s the big winner in Tuesday\'s Los Angeles mayoral election? My bet is real estate developer Steve Soboroff. James Kenneth Hahn may be an old-line Democrat, but he benefited mightily from the silence maintained by the wealthy Republican businessman, who had come in third in the April primary.

The Comfort Zone

Those of us with a sense of Los Angeles history approach the June 5 election with trepidation. No one wants a repeat of the first Sam Yorty/Tom Bradley race in 1969, with its bitter overlay of race-baiting. That\'s one reason why throughout most of the campaign the candidates have wisely lowered their rhetoric, stressing their similarities rather than differences. As Los Angelenos consider picking the first Latino mayor in the modern era, Tuesday\'s election, pitting former Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa against City Attorney James Hahn, already has, if anything, too much historic significance.

A Jewish ‘Sopranos’?

In my house last Sunday evening Tony Soprano easily defeated Anne Frank as \"must-see TV.\" Yes, even in the home of committed Jews, the rancid affairs of a New Jersey Mafia family beat out the young girl of the Holocaust. The question is, why?

Talking With Zev

With the mayoral election less than three weeks away, the Jewish vote is ready for its closeup.

Jewish Big Time

A month after Passover, the winds have not yet died down from the \"Wolpe Hurricane.\" Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Westwood caused a stir when he asserted, in earshot of a Los Angeles Times reporter, that the Exodus story can still inspire us even if, as some archaeologists assert, the story of the liberation from Egypt is not true. Rabbi Wolpe\'s remarks ended up on the Times\' front page during Passover and became grist for sermons and Torah study all over town.

Lieberman’s Next Story

I thought I saw Arthur Goldberg the other night at USC. The late Supreme Court justice died in 1990, but his ghost surely hung over the Trojan campus Wednesday during Sen. Joseph Lieberman\'s speech at the Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life.

Head Trip

Jim Wayne has cut my hair for more than 20 years. He created first the wedge look and now the clipped curly style of my professional photos.

How Jewish Voters Still Count

Tuesday\'s election results assert that the Jewish \"customer\" still counts, now more than ever, in the even playing field that is L.A. politics.

Latest news

AOC Withdraws From Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Event Following Pro-Palestinian Criticism

The event will be held in October by Americans for Peace Now.

Report Highlights Anti-Semitism in Qatari Textbooks

One textbook called Zionism "a radical racist political movement."

Friend of Anne Frank Lays First Stone of Amsterdam’s Newest Holocaust Monument

"I’m satisfied that it’s finally happening," she said.

Abbas Criticizes Peace Deals, Calls for U.N. to Resolve Israel-Palestinian Conflict

“The only way to a comprehensive and just peace is the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders.”