Our phone calls and e-mails and dinner-table conversations echo the larger debate taking place between America and Israel. Is it safe? Does canceling demonstrate a lack of support to family and friends? Do we have the right to take our children to potentially dangerous areas to demonstrate that support?
As the school year comes to a close, The Jewish Journal profiled eight outstanding graduating seniors from a cross section of high schools in Los Angeles. An examination of their dreams, their hopes, their personal and professional goals -- as well as what has shaped them in the past -- proves that the Jewish future is alive and well.
As a Sephardic Jew representing a heritage of tolerance, intellectual honesty and tradition, my perspective on the recent \"Exodus controversy\" -- which is not rooted in anger, name-calling or popular \"marketplace theologies\" which have characterized certain responses in this city -- is that of the classical Sephardic Bible commentators, whose method has been described as \"the persistent demand for logic.\"
Several months before he publicly announced his candidacy, Jim Hahn and I met for lunch. As is typical of our conversations that have spanned the years I have lived and served here, we concentrated on what needs to be done to improve the lives of all our diverse peoples.
The May 21 issue of the Los Angeles Business Journal features the paper\'s annual list of \"The 50 Wealthiest Angelenos.\" More than half the people listed, in fact, close to 60 percent, are Jewish. In a county where Jews number about 520,000, or just 5 percent out of a population of 10 million, that statistic begs examination, if not wonder.
In the opening book of his monumental code of Jewish law, Maimonides declared, \"We are bidden to walk in the middle paths which are the right and proper ways....\" The great medieval sage was articulating the golden mean, the principle that we should avoid extreme behavior, ethical or physical, at all times. The person who succeeds -- indeed, who navigates between indulgence and self-denial -- is, by Maimonides\' standards, the wise one.
It is summer, a long time ago, and I am lying on a terrace overlooking an ancient garden full of rosebushes and fruit trees. The days have been so hot, the asphalt on the sidewalk melts under my feet if I dare step out of the house. At night, the temperature drops. My sisters and I take the hose to the yard and stand there as the day\'s heat rises out of the brick floor in a cloud of white steam. My mother spreads our bed on the terrace, and we crawl into it, hours before we can actually fall asleep. We thrash about in the cool sheets that smell of dust, summer and lavender bleach; listen to the music that drifts up from our grandmother\'s radio downstairs; eat fresh mulberries we have picked from the tree in our own yard.
While the current crisis may have deterred some schools and parents from participating in the exchange programs, Pressman Academy and Milken Community High School of Stephen S. Wise Temple demonstrate that such programs can thrive despite the tense security situation.
According to a recently released Shaw University study, there are now between 6 and 7 million Muslims living in America. The study\'s figures may be a bit inflated, but few doubt their larger meaning: either Muslims now outnumber Jews in America, or they soon will.
Hanan Ashrawi, the Palestinian legislator and spokeswoman, a few weeks ago publicized an open letter from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon informing all Palestinians, \"You are my target; you will be made to suffer, and you shall pay for the original crime of being a Palestinian.\"
So there\'s a fairy-tale wedding: a thousand guests in a flower-filled ballroom, a dozen violins playing Mozart, a grainy-voiced singer belting out an old Persian love song. The bride is 20 years old and ravishing, of course, but she\'s also blessed with charm and charisma, the kind of exuberance that turns heads and drags stares behind her. She\'s been breaking hearts since she was 14 years old and walked into a cousin\'s wedding in a frilly white dress and a wide lace headband. Now she dances on stage, next to the singer with the forlorn music, and the crystal beads on her wedding gown glow like fireflies in the dark.
Scholars will doubtless continue to debate Franklin Roosevelt\'s actions -- and inaction -- regarding the Holocaust. What did he know? When did he know it? Didn\'t he care, or did he really believe that the best and quickest way to help the Jews was, as he repeatedly argued, to win the war?
A time for peace and a time for war. Most talk, for years, has been about peace, but there\'s war talk in Israel now. At least one independent intelligence agency is predicting a regional war this spring, and nobody is offering credible deniability. The Palestinians have been smuggling weapons into the country -- mortars, anti-tank weapons, heavy machine guns, who knows what else. The stuff comes into Gaza through tunnels from Egypt or sneaked past Israeli naval patrols along the coast. It\'s not Jordan they\'re gunning for, at least not to start.
The new U.S. census figures have generated banner headlines this month, though no one seems to have a clue what those numbers portend. The big news, of course, is that America\'s Latino population has ballooned almost 60 percent in the past decade, surpassing 35 million. More than 43 percent of Californians younger than 18 are now Hispanic, compared with about 35 percent a decade ago. In both the city and county of Los Angeles, Latinos have replaced whites as the largest ethnic group.
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