January 19, 2011

German Neo-Nazi parties merge amid protests

Berlin Jews joined hundreds of demonstrators to protest a meeting marking the merger of two neo-Nazi parties. Police estimated that fewer than 80 right-wing extremists showed up to the Jan. 15 meeting in which the National Democratic Party (NPD) of Germany and the German People’s Union (DVU) formally announced their merger. Meanwhile, nearly 100 times that number demonstrated on the streets outside the public school where the party meeting was held, in the Berlin district of Lichtenberg.\n

Oregon panel coaxed to table resolution slamming Israel

Jews in Eugene, Ore., persuaded the local human rights commission to suspend for now a resolution condemning Israel for its flotilla raid last year. More than 70 members of the local Jewish community, including officials of the local federation and community relations council, attended the commission\’s meeting Tuesday evening. \”When you act without listening to the other side, you do not act in good faith,\” Rae LaMarche, the president of the Lane County federation, told the meeting, according to the Eugene Register-Guard.

The Castaway

Sometimes, for the sake of my marriage, I try to look at myself through my wife’s eyes. Early this month, for instance, my wife came home one day to see me crouched by our fireplace in the living room. My hands were black. Next to me, hot flames were licking at a hunk of beef. There was a dark smear — soot? charcoal? mascara? — beneath my right eye. The house smelled good — fire, smoke, meat — but it was not a normal smell. It was like a campfire, but inside the house. “What are you doing?” she asked.

At 100, Federation’s goal is $100 million

The existence of a State of Israel or the notion of raising $100 million would have boggled the minds of the founders of the Federation of Jewish Charities in 1911. But as the 100th anniversary celebrations of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles launched this month, Israel is not only a fact, but also a draw for a proposed 1,000-person trip to Israel, and the founding of a $100 million community endowment seems imminent. Federation president Jay Sanderson, who just completed his first year on the job, sees the centennial as an opportunity to help the community understand Federation’s evolving role. “The idea is to use this not only to celebrate 100 years and raise a whole lot of money, but to bring the whole community together,” Sanderson said.

Santa Monica Shabbat service advocates for gun control

Politics and religion were intermingled during Friday night Shabbat services in Santa Monica on Jan. 14. In the wake of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., which also left six dead and 13 others wounded, clergy and congregants at the Reform synagogue Beth Shir Shalom addressed the need for gun control. The service also commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day and mourned performer and composer Debbie Friedman, who died on Jan. 9 at the age of 59. Yet the Tucson shooting remained the focus of the Santa Monica service, which approximately 200 people attended. Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels spoke fervently, saying, “I can’t tolerate a country that doesn’t take weaponry off the street.”

Interfaith volunteers feed homeless on MLK Day

Volunteers from Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) in Encino and Family of Faith Christian Center (FFCC) in Carson fed 150 homeless people from the Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission in North Hollywood in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the National Day of Service on Jan. 17. This is the second year the church and synagogue have come together to feed the homeless on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a tradition they plan to continue. “Our tradition is as much about action as belief,” VBS Rabbi Noah Zvi Farkas said.

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More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.