Rabbi Mark S. Diamond
The prophet Isaiah asks: \"What is the house which you would build for Me, and what is the place of My rest?\" (Isaiah 66:1). In the days following the Easter and Passover holidays, 41 Angelenos traveled to the Gulf Coast to translate their faith into action. We were rabbis and pastors, African Americans and Jewish Americans, high school seniors and senior adults, synagogue and church members from 12 Los Angeles congregations who rebuilt homes in Gulfport, Miss.
Thanks to Valerie, two best friends were reunited after more than three decades apart. More importantly, Glenn and Val had found each other. Their love was intoxicating, with family and friends commenting how happy each was to have found his/her soul mate.
Most Jewish people I know have never set foot in L.A. County jails or a California state prison. Were they to do so, they would discover dangerous overcrowding in most penal institutions. They would see tens of thousands of inmates struggling to survive the daily routines of prison life. And they would discover their fellow Jews behind bars -- men and women who face enormous additional challenges. Too often, these inmates encounter virulent anti-Semitism at the hands of prisoners and guards. Strident missionaries from inside and outside the prison walls harass them. Jails and prisons test the resolve of those who choose to identify as Jews. They are too few in number to stand up to gangs and other hostile forces.
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