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Jewish Journal

Roberto Loiederman

  • Mining the ‘Golden Age’ of Los Angeles

    July 2, 2014 | 3:32 pm

    Imagine downtown Los Angeles more than 150 years ago: dirt streets, rancheros in town picking up supplies, donkeys carrying sacks of cattle feed. 

    Over there, at the corner of Aliso and Los Angeles streets, in a stretch of two-story adobes known as Bell’s Row, is a dry-goods...

  • Triple threat: ‘Greatest generation’ zionist is veteran of three wars

    April 30, 2014 | 10:24 am

    When Moshe Brodetzky left City College of New York (CCNY) to enter the military as World War II was raging, he ended up in Officer Candidate School (OCS), where he made no secret of his Jewishness.

    “We had to practice calling out to guys at an adjoining hill,” Brodetzky recalled....

  • UCLA conference aims to preserve and revitalize Ladino

    March 19, 2014 | 5:01 pm

    During a keynote lecture at a UCLA conference charting the history of Ladino and the ways in which Judeo-Spanish is being studied in the academic world, Eliezer Papo asked rhetorically: “Is Ladino dead?” 

    As answer, Papo told a joke: “Two friends run into each other on the...

  • Interfaith program joins Muslims and Jews in prayer

    February 26, 2014 | 6:28 pm

    On Feb. 7, at Shabbat services at Temple Beth Hillel (TBH) — a Reform shul in Valley Village — a small, attractive woman sang religious songs she had coauthored. In a sweet, self-assured voice — with undertones of depth and strength — Ani Zonneveld, brimming with heartfelt energy,...

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  • Habonim Dror’s path to engagement

    January 23, 2014 | 3:46 pm

    The Pew Research Center’s study on American Jews, released in early October, triggered much handwringing about the finding that 20 percent — referred to as “Jews of no religion” — see themselves as Jewish because of culture or ancestry, not because of any connection to the...

  • Marty Sklar: Disney legend, mensch

    August 14, 2013 | 2:12 pm

    In 2001, Martin (Marty) Sklar, now 79, was officially recognized as a “Disney Legend” — The Walt Disney Co.’s version of the Hall of Fame. In 2009, another exclusive distinction was bestowed on the low-key leader who had for decades guided Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), the group...

  • An accidental theologist tackles Muhammad bio

    August 7, 2013 | 10:33 am

    In 2010, Lesley Hazleton was asked to give a brief talk about the Quran. 

    “As far as I was concerned, I was talking to those several hundred people in the hall,” Hazleton said in a recent phone interview. “I certainly had no idea that a nine-minute video about reading the Quran...

  • West Hollywood’s tzedakah mayor

    July 24, 2013 | 4:28 pm

    In any town across the country, a city council meeting can feel a lot like ground zero for American democracy: One by one, residents approach the podium and address the decision-makers with suggestions or grievances. With a few changes, a similar scene could have played out in a...

  • Once a shul, now a church that celebrates Judaism

    June 6, 2013 | 6:21 pm

    Some months ago, L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky was “cruising Boyle Heights,” the neighborhood where he grew up and where a large portion of Los Angeles’ Jewish community once lived. Feeling nostalgic, he drove by B’nai Jacob Synagogue — once known as the Fairmont Street...

  • Elul and Jewish pluralism

    May 15, 2013 | 2:14 pm

    A typical study session for Elul, a pluralistic Israel-based beit midrash (house of study), doesn’t confine itself to a discussion of Abraham’s journey in Genesis. It naturally segues into a rabbinical story about the patriarch breaking his father’s idols, followed by a poem by the...

  • Old Jewish men and a place to call home

    February 20, 2013 | 12:40 pm

    "Greetings, you bushy-tailed alter-kackers!"

    The dozens of men at the mid-December breakfast gathering — all of them in their 70s, 80s or older — laughed and applauded, reveling in their alter-kackiness.

    It felt like a sitcom’s idea of how elderly Jewish men behave, but dig a...

  • ‘Sacred Housekeeping’: Reflections of a soul saver

    January 23, 2013 | 12:44 pm

    Sporting a blond wig and slinky dress, Beit T’Shuvah’s whippet-thin Cantor Rachel Goldman Neubauer sat on Harriet Rossetto’s knee and parodied Marilyn Monroe’s famous, breathy “Happy Birthday” crooning to JFK. 

    Then the 250 or so people at Beit T’Shuvah — all of them fans of the...

  • Tu B’Shevat: Netiya sows seeds of social justice

    January 23, 2013 | 11:13 am

    From the front, Devorah Brous’ modest San Fernando Valley home looks much like all the others around it. But go into the backyard, and it’s a different story. There you’ll find an urban farm, where Brous’ 2-year-old daughter, Sela, is holding a meek but healthy black-and-white...

  • Orthodox Rabbi Steven Greenberg talks to Pasadena shul about homosexuality, welcoming the stranger

    November 20, 2012 | 12:40 pm

    When Rabbi Steve Greenberg was a young rabbinical student at an Orthodox Yeshiva near Jerusalem in the mid-1970s, he was attracted to a fellow (male) student. He wanted to talk about his feelings of homosexual desire to a respected old rabbi — but was afraid to. So Greenberg fudged...

  • From Jihad to hasbara

    November 15, 2012 | 1:10 pm

    “Who here is Jewish?” Kasim Hafeez asked the audience. Nearly all of the several hundred raised their hands. “Seven years ago,” he added, “I would have wanted to see all of you dead.”

    The audience knew where this was heading, which didn’t make his words any less startling....

  • ‘Feel the rhythm’ of Jamaica’s Judaism [PHOTOS]

    October 10, 2012 | 12:18 pm

    The first thing you notice at Shaare Shalom Congregation in Kingston, Jamaica is the sand on the floor, softening the sound of your footsteps as you take your seat. You bend down and let the grains, smooth-gritty, run through your fingers. Is there some meaning in it, a reference...

  • Promoting men’s Jewish engagement

    January 4, 2012 | 12:52 pm

    Rabbi Charles Simon, a recent visiting lecturer at American Jewish University (AJU), asked rabbinical students how they would deal with a future intermarriage. One young rabbi-to-be said he’d welcome the couple … then tell them that, unfortunately, he couldn’t marry them....

  • Holy Land interfaith peacemakers offer ‘Jerusalem hug’

    December 14, 2011 | 11:09 am

    The smallish man, an observant Jew named Eliyahu McLean, smiled impishly at the crowd who’d come to listen to his stories of trying to create interfaith peace in the holy land. “We gathered around the walls of the old city, arm in arm, and it just grew,” he said. “Arab...

  • In the land of dreamers

    November 18, 2011 | 3:29 pm

    In early 1945 in Hungary, as the Nazis were being routed out of Budapest by the Soviet army, 8-year-old Nicholas Frank came out of the Red Cross shelter where he, his mother and his older sister had been hiding. He looked at the destroyed city around him and realized that this...

  • Birthdays in Israel, then and now

    March 22, 2011 | 6:06 pm

    Birthdays with a zero have a special purchase on the imagination. Whether one turns 40 or 70, that zero marks a turning point, the end of an old decade and the beginning of a new one, a chance to take stock: what in Hebrew is called cheshbon ha-nefesh — literally, an accounting of...

  • Kirtan Rabbi spins into southern California

    March 1, 2011 | 6:26 pm

    People twirl ecstatically, eyes closed, repeating, in a call-and-response fashion, chants led by Rabbi Andrew Hahn, who plays a harmonium while others play guitars and percussion instruments — repetitive, hypnotic sounds that seductively nudge the crowd, young and old alike, to...

  • Sharing cultures through music

    November 30, 2010 | 7:23 pm

    Elementary schoolchildren, Jews and non-Jews, many of them Latinos, danced the Mexican Hat Dance in the aisles of the main sanctuary at Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) in Encino. Accompanied by the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony (LAJS), Argentine-born cantor Marcelo Gindlin sang a rousing...

  • UCLA’s Dr. Gary Small: Promoting Sharper Memory, Healthy Aging

    November 30, 2010 | 6:35 pm

    In “The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: A Psychiatrist’s Stories of His Most Bizarre Cases” (William Morrow, $25.99), Dr. Gary Small and his wife, Gigi Vorgan, detail therapeutic challenges Small has encountered throughout his career as well as incidents from his personal...

  • Day of Kabbalah

    November 16, 2010 | 10:13 pm

    At the opening class of “Day of Kabbalah,” Rabbi David Sacks of the Happy Minyan talked about the mysteries of the letter aleph, which he called “the Gateway to Infinity.” Sacks’ talk was filled with what those unfamiliar with the subject imagine kabbalah to be: mystical...

  • An inspired donation offers a glamorous cruise for survivors

    November 10, 2010 | 7:33 am

    Walk into Café Europa at Westside Jewish Community Center on Tuesdays, or the Valley version in North Hollywood on Thursdays, and you’ll find dozens of elderly men and women, sometimes as many as 60 or 70 of them. Some are frail, some feisty, many are both. They chat, they snack,...

  • Pain, Joy Translate During Bilingual Services

    August 4, 2010 | 9:32 am

    At a recent Friday night service at Beth Meier (“House of Light”), a small Conservative synagogue in Studio City, a woman and her two grown daughters read, in voices that conveyed controlled fury, a lengthy list of those killed in a horrendous terrorist attack. Many of the...

  • Claremont Project to Train Clergy of Many Faiths

    June 14, 2010 | 12:19 pm

    What if someone could pursue rabbinical studies seated next to another student who aspires to be an imam? What if that Muslim theology student could have classroom discussions about ethics or scripture with a student who expects to become a Protestant pastor?

    This bold...

  • Orthodox Union Champions Focus on Business Ethics

    January 5, 2010 | 5:56 pm

    “This has not been a good year for the Jewish community. It seems like not a day went by without hearing of another scandal involving members of the Orthodox community.” These were the words of welcome offered in an agenda booklet for the Orthodox Union’s (OU) West Coast Torah...

  • It Feels Like Coming Home

    December 3, 2009 | 6:13 pm

    When Katya Aguilar, 27, talks about her journey toward Jewish conversion, she often uses the word congruente — consistent. As she talks, it becomes clear that for her, congruente means more than that. It means integrity. Oneness. Eliminating the gap she once felt between her life...

  • Chanting con Pasión

    December 3, 2009 | 5:05 pm

    Is there something about Buenos Aires that breeds chazzanim? Some cantorial organism lurking in the bulrushes of Rio de la Plata, the river that borders the city? Something in the rhythm of the city — all those taxis and cars and buses, all that street life — that resonates with...

  • Latino Pentecostals, Jews Celebrate Sukkot

    October 14, 2009 | 8:57 pm

    Hundreds of Latino Pentecostal pastors and congregants milled outside Sinai Temple’s sanctuary on Oct. 8, waiting to go inside. They had come from Downey, Cypress Park, Compton and other places far from the Wilshire Corridor, where Sinai Temple is located. They’d also come from...

  • Q & A With Reb Zalman

    October 6, 2009 | 10:28 pm

    Zalman Schachter-Shalomi — “Reb Zalman” to his many friends, students and disciples — is considered the guiding light of Judaism’s Renewal movement. Recently he was in Los Angeles for Makom Ohr Shalom’s Rosh Hashanah services. Because he was so busy during the visit, he...

  • Latino Radio Show Stirs Concern Over Views on Jews

    March 18, 2009 | 5:33 pm

    On a Los Angeles FM radio talk show, the following aired recently:

    A caller identifying himself as Mohammed said, “I believe that so-called Israel should be annihilated totally, wiped off the map ... I hope that Iran has the gall to nuke and exterminate them so they go back to...

  • Reunion Misgivings Give Way to Pride, Inspiration

    January 22, 2009 | 6:08 pm

    The e-mail was short and to the point: Several members of my 1952-1954 class at Garrison Junior High in northwest Baltimore — Class 215 — were holding a reunion. The e-mail asked if I would be willing to come from Southern California.

    The inducement was that our much-admired...

  • Life lessons from the trenches of cancer survival

    September 4, 2008 | 1:36 am

    On my neck there's a large, upside-down L-shaped scar. One leg of the L runs from my right shoulder blade upward to just below my right ear; the other leg takes a 90-degree turn, following the jaw line to my chin. The right side of my neck -- the inside of the L -- looks as if it's...
  • Freshly-ordained Ugandan rabbi gets ball rolling on returning home

    July 17, 2008 | 12:45 am

    Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, the first black sub-Saharan rabbi ordained at an American rabbinical school, has had a very busy time since returning to Uganda in June, after not having lived there for five years. Among other activities, the American Jewish University graduate recently...
  • Shul playground pays tribute to young pilot

    June 19, 2008 | 2:32 pm

    In mid-April about 300 people gathered at Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) for the dedication of Mark Air, a large, eye-catching structure in the nursery school play area. With its colorfully painted slides, tunnels and swings, its portholes and decorative elements, Mark Air is a...
  • Books: Former CIA analyst details failures in agency actions

    May 8, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    "Failure of Intelligence, The Decline and Fall of the CIA" by Melvin A. Goodman (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008).

    In the fall of 1973, Melvin Goodman and some other analysts at the CIA noticed something strange: Intercepted secret communications indicated that the Soviets were removing...

  • One day at a time, one person at a time

    April 24, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    A life-size soft sculpture of a cleaning woman scrubbing the floor marks the entrance to the office of Harriett Rossetto, founder and executive director of Beit T'Shuvah, and serves as a metaphor for Rossetto's vision: to give addicts a chance to scrub their souls and rejoin the...
  • Drug abuse debate: Legalization, medication or therapy?

    April 24, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    On a wall at Beit T'Shuvah's sanctuary there are plaques with the names of those connected with Beit T'Shuvah who have passed away. One of those names is that of Josh Lowenthal, a former resident who died on June 11, 1995.

    The Jewish Journal recently ran a story about "One-Way...

  • House of Repentance: Where no one is beyond redemption

    April 24, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    In the small lobby, a teenage boy with blondish hair sits passively on a couch, staring at the wall, not reacting to the threats thrown his way. His mother, her face puffy from crying, pleads with her husband, the boy's enraged stepfather, who slams in and out of the building,...
  • Anti-Semitism charge colors liquor license fight in City of San Fernando

    April 17, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    Real estate developer Sev Aszkenazy recently settled a lawsuit with the city of San Fernando over a liquor permit he was denied for a planned steak house. He said the denial was due, in part, to anti-Semitic bias.

    City Administrator Jose Pulido confirmed as much, testifying that...

  • Photo exhibit highlights the human cost of our bounty

    March 27, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    In the stark black-and-white photo, two small children play in and around water, as children anywhere might do on a hot day. But there's something odd about the image: it isn't the shore or a recreational pool they're playing in, but a concrete irrigation canal.

    "The children's...

  • Oaxaca is a dreamy stop down Mexico way

    March 7, 2008 | 5:00 pm

    If you're heading down Mexico way, all the way down to Oaxaca, you should know about a bed and breakfast there called Casa Machaya. The name is a sly Jewish reference, a wink at potential clients for the B & B: That's right, it's not meant to be the Spanish "ch," as in "change," but...
  • Master of musical fusion blends klezmer with salsa

    November 22, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    These days, the world is constantly getting smaller, and musical styles don't respect national or traditional boundaries. Matisyahu, for example, has made a name for himself by fusing Eastern European Chasidic strains with Jamaican reggae.

    At the Skirball recently, Chango Spasiuk...

  • Music: A Yiddish celebration with Buenos Aires style

    October 18, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    In the 1950s, a few years after Yiddish culture in Europe had been decimated, there was a bustling metropolis in the Western Hemisphere that still had a thriving Yiddish culture.

    This city had a number of schools in which classes were taught in Yiddish; there was an active...

  • Shul tripping—a nostalgic hippie tours the alternative scene

    October 11, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    October 1967: The "Death of Hippie" celebration. We wheeled an empty, open coffin down San Francisco's Haight Street and thousands of people threw symbolic items into it -- beads, swatches of long hair, patchouli-scented incense, tabs of LSD.

    For me, the burial of the media-created...

  • A wake-up call from the ‘Master Blaster’ rocks retirement home

    September 20, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    "Master Blaster" Michael Chusid got down on his knees so he could face Ida and Shirley, who sat on a couch at Encino Retirement Home. In Chusid's left hand was a shofar, his spiritual/musical instrument and constant companion during the High Holy Days.

    The two elderly women, along...

  • What do men want?

    August 2, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    In April 1994, at a Hillel lecture in Westwood, the topic was: "The Relationship Between Jewish Men & Jewish Women: Love or War?" On the "war" side of that discussion was Dr. Herb Goldberg, a practicing psychologist, professor and writer.

    Goldberg told the 500 or so people in that...

  • Outreach get kids in tune with Sephardic melodies

    April 26, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    Dozens of elementary school children, Jews and non-Jews, a great many of them Latinos, danced in the sanctuary aisles in wild abandon. Accompanied by a live symphony orchestra, a tall, balding Argentine cantor with an operatic voice and arms waving straight out at his sides like a...
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