Wednesday, January 20, 2021



Redefining Beauty

\"Why don\'t we f--- this audition and I\'ll play you right now for the part?\" she said. \"If I lose, you\'ll never see me again. But if I win, I walk out of here with the script.\"

To Go or Not to Go?

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?

Seniors 2001: Our Future

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.

The Big Win

Rabbi David H. Ellenson was named president of Hebrew Union College--Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). This, as they say, is huge: for Ellenson, for Reform Jewry, for Los Angeles.

Exodus: A Sephardic Response

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.\"

Why I’m Supporting Hahn

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.

Hindu Jews

\"Hindus should not look like Muslims, for their own protection, so that they are not bothered by the religious police,\" a Taliban spokesman told The Washington Post.

Why I Support Villaraigosa

Having personally witnessed him in action, many times displaying courage and a passion for outstanding public policy, I know Antonio Villaraigosa has the capacity to be a great mayor.

Everyone Loves a Wandering Jew

Rebuilding the Temple? Could the Times be coming around? Then I read the editorial and everything fell into place.

Making the List

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.

Not for Keeps

There are lots of things wrong with awards, aside from the fact that I so rarely win one.

Can We Find the Golden Mean?

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.

Childhood’s Sweet Sharp Imprint

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.

Westside Renewal

Believe in the Exodus story or not, believe in the Oslo peace process or not, but you have to believe in Jewish Community Centers.

Peace of Mind

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.

They’re Heeeeere

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.

Sticks, Stones and Incendiary Words

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.\"

Chinese Box

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.

Happy 53

Some birthdays are better than others, and number 53 is especially tough for Israel.

Peace and Processing

On a recent Tuesday even-ing, 24 hours before the arrival of Yom HaShoah, I attended a symposium in Jerusalem on a subject both intriguing and urgent: "To Acknowledge the Suffering of the \'Other\': Religious Obligation, Psychological Challenge."

Wolpe’s Hurricane

Reality bites. So thousands of people in the Los Angeles Jewish community learned last week after Rabbi David Wolpe got up on his pulpit, opened his mouth and unleashed a storm.

FDR’s Holocaust of Inaction

FDR died on April 12, 1945. I was 11 years old and heard the news on the radio in the bird store, where I was buying seed for my little canary.

Was FDR to Blame?

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?

The Jewish Tax

Every April 15, we are reminded that many of the things we hold dear literally don\'t come cheap. Democracy demands its pound of flesh, or its 30 percent, and on Tax Day the bill comes due.

Draining the Swamps

It is a truth nearly universally acknowledged in Israel and the United States that we offered the Palestinians peace, and they chose bloodshed. More Jews and Arabs are killed almost daily. Clearly this situation is untenable. How to end it?

Preparing for 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.

Is Demography Destiny?

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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