Rabbi Ronald Shulman of Congregation Ner Tamid of South Bay wasn't seeking a new challenge when the leadership of Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Baltimore approached him a year ago about applying for a position as senior rabbi of the 1,400-member Conservative shul. Shulman was just coming off a high after being feted at a major celebration that drew 450 people in honor of his 20th anniversary as rabbi of the Rancho Palos Verdes synagogue.
Is anti-Semitism on the rise since Sept. 11? Answers vary, depending on whom you ask.
"We haven't seen a resurgence of anti-Semitism since the Sept. 11 attacks," observed Amy Levy, a spokeswoman for the Anti-Defamation League's Pacific Southwest Region, which encompasses most of Southern California. Others, such as Rabbi Meyer May, executive director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance, have reported increased verbal assaults.
A bus trip to visit two Tijuana synagogues this spring provided an irresistible opportunity to learn about two distinctly different Jewish communities in a bustling border metropolis where Jews number fewer than 1 percent of the city's 1.2 million residents.
By far the more unusual of the two shuls was Congregacion Hebrea de Baja California, made up almost entirely of converted Mexican Catholics, including its leader, a charismatic non-ordained rabbi, whose resume includes a stint as a Methodist minister. Carlos Salas Diaz, an imposing man in a dark suit, who welcomed us warmly into the temple's brightly lit sanctuary, looks like the successful businessman he continues to be and at least two decades younger than his chronological age of close to 70.
Debbie Simmons earns her living as a CPA in Brentwood. But evenings, weekends and every other spare minute during the holidays and many other free moments during the year find Simmons shopping for bargain toys and wrapping paper, scanning the shelves or standing in checkout lines at Toys 'R' Us, Target, the 99 Cents Only store and Party World. She's buying Power Rangers and Barbie dolls a dozen at a time and picking up donated wrapping paper 50 rolls at a clip.
A remarkable event brought together nearly 2,000 Christians and Jews in a night of unity, prayer and remembrance on Thurs., Nov. 9, the 62nd anniversary of Kristallnacht.
Almost 55 years, three children, 10 grandchildren and, in June, one great-grandchild later, Ozzie and Dorothy Goren are progenitors of a philanthropic dynasty that will be honored May 23 at Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles' annual Fammy Awards dinner.
For Italian expatriates Lotte Katz Singer of Beverly Hills and Ann Signett of the San Fernando Valley, life is surprising as well as beautiful.
Next week's reopening of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust at its new location on Museum Row coincides with a string of events that will commemorate Yom HaShoah.
Mordecai Finley is no ordinary rabbi; nor an ordinary man either, for that matter.
The dynamics of the boiler room have levels of exploitation. While it functions as a concerted effort to part suckers from their money, the brokers are often not fully conscious of the complexity of the scam.
Few people look forward to being asked for money. But Super Sunday, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles' largest single day of fund raising each the year, is the exception.
In the annals of party-going, the dinner hosted by USC President Steven Sample and his wife, Kathryn, at their impressive San Marino estate home last week, ranked right up near the top.
Was the United Jewish Fund 1998 campaign up, down or flat? It depends on how you interpret the numbers.
Now that a year of reviewing and celebrating Israel's first half century has passed, it's time to ponder the next 50 years. That's the premise behind a daylong conference taking place on Jan. 24 in West Los Angeles.
Fifty-one years after going door to door and soliciting funds to help the fledgling State of Israel get off the ground, Jake Farber is at it again.
Robert Cumins was working on the staff of his junior high school paper in Fair Lawn, N.J., when he had his first scoop.
In a historic address to the Board of Rabbis of Southern California last week, Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles, called for the elimination of centuries of Catholic and Christian anti-Semitic teaching and a new era of Catholic-Jewish understanding and cooperation.
Artists from places as far afield as Brooklyn, Baltimore and Tal-Shahar, Israel, and as near as Beverly Hills will be exhibiting at the 18th annual Festival of Jewish Artisans at Temple Isaiah on Nov. 21-22. Among the crafts on the display will be sandblasted glass, ceramics, gold and silver jewelry, textiles, calligraphy, papercutting, photography and inlaid wood. Eleven of the 28 artists are new to the festival, but many have been exhibiting in the social hall of the Pico Boulevard synagogue for years.
There's no place like home, but getting people to agree where home should be has not been easy for the Los Angeles Jewish Federation. Last week, the organization's board voted unanimously to return in two years to the 12-story building at 6505 Wilshire Blvd., which has been the Federation's home for 22 of the last 23 years.
For the first time in several elections, there are no state propositions on the November ballot that are clearly rousing Jewish communal organizations. Yet, at an open forum last week at Stephen S. Wise Temple, close to 200 people showed up to listen to experts discuss the initiatives.
Those who grew up in the 1950s and '60s heard little about the Holocaust. Considered a subject too frightening for children, it was seldom discussed or taught. Even now, with almost a glut of literature, films, exhibits and college courses on the subject, it is still a difficult topic for parents and teachers to broach with kids.
Fifteen years ago, when he was 16, Sandra Lanza's son Mark, received his first job through Jewish Vocational Service. Now his mother is following Mark's example and seeking help at JVS as well.
The citywide program was instituted several years ago by the Jewish Federation's Jewish Community Relations Committee at the request of a police officer.
Orel was killed at the start of what was to be the happiest week of her young life.
In a unique effort to redefine the future relations between Israeli and Diaspora Jews, 14 Israeli 10th-graders arrived last week to participate in what may be the first student-exchange program between Israeli schools and a non-Orthodox Los Angeles Jewish day school.
The situation is dire. On its existing funds -- about $40 million a year, most of which comes from the monies collected by Jewish federations across the U.S. -- the organization can just about handle its caseload of 140,000 people.
"Every Israeli citizen has to understand that if he doesn't help protect himself, the police will be ineffective," Kahalani said.
U.S. Border Patrol Agent Alexander Kirpnick, 27, died in the line of duty on June 3, 1998, at the Arizona-Mexico border. Returned to Los Angeles and buried with full military honors next to his grandfather, he was a hero who died doing what he wanted to do, his mother said.
Ruth Neal, coordinator of Ezras Bayis, has seen Orthodox women who have been bitten, shoved, slapped, punched, spit at, scalded with hot chicken soup, threatened with a gun, pushed down a flight of stairs.
The JGSLA will host the 18th annual Seminar on Jewish Genealogy in Los Angeles, which begins this Sunday (July 12) and runs through July 17 at the Century Plaza Hotel.
For most of this century, Los Angeles has been a city of twoelites -- one predominately WASPish, the other predominately Jewish. Although they occasionally collaborated on projects such as the MusicCenter, the two worlds remained largely separate and indifferent toeach other, living in a ruling-class version of institutional apartheid.
Before there was "Ellen," Chastity Bono, Rock Hudson's death from AIDS, or AIDS itself, there was Beth Chayim Chadashim. The year was 1972, and most lesbians and gay men were deep in the closet. For four gay Jews who showed up for a rap session at Metropolitan Community Church in LosAngeles, there was no other place to seek spiritual solace. But, as welcoming as Rev. Troy Perry was, MCC was still a Christian place of worship. Many gay and lesbian Jews felt deeply alienated from thesynagogues in which they had grown up, but there were no shuls where they felt comfortable to be who they were and love who they loved.
An estimated 400 people packed the auditorium atthe Westside Jewish Community Center Tuesday night, prepared to chidethe leaders of the Jewish Community Centers of Los Angeles forseriously considering an Orthodox Jewish high school's offer to buythe center.
Orli is the first to admit that she had everythinggoing for her while growing up in Brentwood: loving parents who tookher around the world, a top-flight Harvard education.
Single and stuck in evening rush-hour traffic onthe 405 Freeway on the last Friday of the month? Instead of leaningon the horn and screaming at the driver in the next lane, you mightconsider pulling over and dropping in at one of nine Reform andConservative synagogues that have joined the new 405 Jewish SinglesShabbat services circuit.
The Westside Jewish Community Center, a recreation and education institution in Los Angeles for more than four decades, may be sold in the next few weeks to Shalhevet High School.
In a move that many see as a turning point for the future of Jewish education in Los Angeles, the Jewish Federation ofGreater Los Angeles board agreed last week to almost double the amount that the Federation gives to Jewish day and Hebrew schools.
The peace process is stalled, pluralism issues remain unresolved and the Netanyahu government is in turmoil. But organizers of a major, star-studded 50th anniversary tribute to Israel later this year are focusing their attention on celebration, not contention. Indeed, a rare in-gathering of major Hollywood celebrities, Jewish communal officials and organizational leaders has come together to mark Israel's first half century.
In Leviticus, male sexual relations are considered an abomination,punishable by death. "A man shall not be with another man as if with a woman. It is an abomination," reads one passage.
On Sunday afternoon, Nov. 30, as he worked on his computer in hisoffice at B'nai Tikvah Congregation in Westchester, Rabbi MichaelBeals saw a man he didn't recognize walking through the synagogueparking lot.
Zigman said that after having watched the news of Rabin's death onTV, he awoke early the next morning with the notes of his openingmovement coursing through his head. He jotted down the music andplayed it for his good friend, artist Peter Max, who encouraged himto expand it into a major piece.
"I know your relatives all think you're crazy, but we're gladyou're here," our tour guide, Zvi Lev-Ran, said as 36 tired Angelenospiled onto a bus after a 13-hour flight aboard a chartered El Al747-400 from Los Angeles. We were part of the largest mission eversponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. More thanhalf of the 430 participants were first-timers, including myself.Having been born almost exactly one year after the birth of Israel,in 1948, it seemed fitting that I participate in this mission, whichwas timed to coincide with festivities launching the Jewish state'sgolden anniversary celebration.
The largest Israeli mission ever launched by the Jewish FederationCouncil of Greater Los Angeles, and the biggest North Americancontingent this year, returned home last week, with organizers in astate bordering on euphoria and participants exhausted but mostlypleased with their experience.
When Sanford Gage was asked to be general chair of the JewishFederation Council of Greater Los Angeles' United Jewish Fund, hewanted to know one thing: Could he make a difference?
"That was the burning question for me," he said during a recentinterview at a restaurant near his law offices in Beverly Hills. "IfI couldn't contribute something of value, why would I do it?"
Mitzvot, acts of loving kindness or just plain charity:Whatever you call them, Jews are commanded to do more than simplypray for good things -- they have to do good themselves in order tohelp repair what is wrong in the world.
It is our Jewish concern for human welfare that takes the rabbis where the needs exist. It is the United Jewish Fund's concern for justice and human need that directs Federation support to the chaplaincy program.
If you're of a certain vintage, the lyrics to "Day by Day," the memorable song from the legendary pop musical "Godspell," come fairly easily to mind -- even 30 years after the show's debut.
What rights would a yarmulke-wearing child have in a public school that decides to prohibit hats on campus? What about a group of Jewish inmates who want to light Chanukah candles when a regulation clearly bans fire of any kind inside a prison? Or a synagogue or church that wishes to build or expand in a restricted area?
In every picture, Melissa Kahn is smiling -- whether covered with mud at the Dead Sea, riding a donkey up Mount Canaan or hiking from the Mediterranean to Lake Kineret. Kahn, 16, a junior at Harvard-Westlake School, mused recently about the eight weeks shes pent in Israel last summer on the Bureau of Jewish Education's Los Angeles Ulpan program.
The Jewish Community Library is used to catering to the literaryneeds of groups of school children, Yiddish scholars and day-schoolteachers. But seldom does it get a call for Talmudic texts to gracethe set of a sitcom. That changed a few weeks ago when librarydirector Abigail Yasgur received a request from the "Seinfeld" artdepartment to borrow a set of the sacred books. The 29-volume redSoncino Talmud filled the bill. The books, borrowed for a week, willappear in an episode scheduled to air next Thursday (Oct. 9) on NBC.
Thousands of Los Angeles-area youngsters participate in hands-on workshops.
T'shuvah, which in Hebrew translates as "repentance, return andresponse," is not only part of the name of Gateways Beit T'Shuvah,the Los Angeles halfway house for recovering Jewish offenders andaddicts. "It's very much a part of what we do here," ExecutiveDirector Harriet Rossetto said during a recent interview.
The 1997 Community Awards, which recognize outstanding achievementin the Jewish community, were given out during a special meeting ofthe Federation's board of directors at Sephardic Temple TiferethIsrael.
Complete with a ketubah signing, champagne, speeches and a few tears, the installation of Rabbi Michael Beals at B'nai Tikvah Congregation in Westchester seemed more like a wedding.
To many American Jews in their 20s, 30s and 40s, Zionism, the ancient dream of a Jewish homeland that spawned a political movement and the birth of Israel almost 50 years ago, is little more than a footnote in a Sunday-school textbook.
Three generations of Grahams. Is there such a thing as a "typical" Jewish grandparent in America? When I thought about this impossibly broad question, I turned to my own extended family for examples. Were they typical? Stereotypical?
It turns out that there are more Jews in the South Bay than many had imagined -- about 45,000, according to a just-released population study by the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles.
If there's an image of the South Bay, it's this sun-drenched vision of perpetual summer and youth. But does this picture contain anyJews? For years, the myth has been that it didn't, or, if there were any, they were passing as something else
It turns out that there are more Jews in the South Bay than many had imagined -- about 45,000, according to a just-released population study by the Jewish Federation Council of Greater LosAngeles.
The Federation had received only four cancellations -- a total of seven people who decided not to go because of the twin blasts -- according to Evy Lutin, mission co-chair. More than 350 people are signed up for the 10-day mission, which celebrates the kickoff of Israel's 50th-anniversary year. About 500 people are expected to make the trip.
Sephardic, Ashkenazic, Mizrachic, or just out for a good time -- whatever their background, Jews poured into the Skirball Cultural Center last Sunday for the first annual Sephardic Arts Festival. The event was a success beyond its organizers' wildest dreams. Attendance, estimated at more than 4,000, was more than double the anticipated turnout, making it the largest audience for any one-day event since the Skirball opened in April 1996. Despite long lines for shuttle buses and food, the mood of participants -- a mix of generations and ethnicities -- was festive and good-humored. Many people bumped into relatives and friends -- often literally -- while searching for seats, program notes or restrooms.
The Pluralism Debate Continued
After Shabbat services at a Conservative temple recently, one Los Angeles fund-raiser for the Jewish Federation Council was confronted by an angry congregant who has long been a generous donor to Israel.
"They're letting the Orthodox dictate," said the man, who, with his wife, annually earmarks large contributions to fund rescue and resettlement efforts in the Jewish state. They were now having second thoughts.
Amid a blizzard of Spanish-language signs for passport photos, discount shoes and wedding gowns, Langer's Delicatessen & Restaurant sits proudly at the corner of Alvarado and 7th streets, the location it has occupied for the past 50 years. The hours are shorter -- 8 to 4, Monday through Saturday, closed Sundays -- and the price for a pastrami on rye is certainly higher -- $7.50, versus a quarter in 1947. The conversation emanating from the brown naugahyde booths is as often in Spanish as in English. And the Ramparts police substation across the street keeps a close watch on the multiethnic parade of humanity that mills about the busy intersection, once the hub of a lively Jewish neighborhood, second only to Boyle Heights.
They are your brother, your cousin, your lawyer, your best friend, or possibly yourself. Yet, while there are as many gays, lesbians and bisexuals in the Jewish community as in any other, they often feel like outcasts in their own faith, afraid that they can't be open about their sexuality and a committed Jew as well.
The ad, which pictures a small child with a worried expression, is one way the UJF is trying to tackle the unfolding "Who is a Jew?" debate in Israel and to limit its impact among American donors to the UJF.
Do the Jewish communities of Los Angeles and Tel Aviv have much in common beyond their religious designation? Can they share ideas and expertise and form a useful partnership in the future? Following a week-long visit to the Southland by a small delegation of Tel Aviv civic leaders, the answers to these questions appear to be "yes," but it will take a lot of work to make it all happen.
Some 40,000 people are expected to converge on the grounds of Pierce College for the June 1 Valley Jewish Festival.
The Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles is expected to make as its new home a modern six-story marble-and-glass building that's a few blocks east of its current headquarters.
As the son of Holocaust survivors, Adi Liberman grew up, as many second-generation children did, with a sense of profound loss. He knew that he had no grandparents, that his mother, a hidden child during the war, had lost her parents at age 5, and that his father's father died before the war and his father's mother in Auschwitz.
If you're a young Jewish leader who would like to know more about Los Angeles civic life, or if you're a young civic leader who wants to be more in step with the Los Angeles Jewish community, the New Leaders Project might have a place for you. NLP, sponsored in Los Angeles by the Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation Council, is currently seeking applications for its fourth class.
It could have been a wedding or a bar mitzvah: A lively klezmer band played as several hundred people munched kosher turkey sandwiches and sipped fruit punch at tables scattered outside a giant white tent. This scene was set against a picturesque landscape of boulder-studded, tree-dotted green hills.