Seventy elementary, high school and middle school teachers, principals, counselors and psychologists gathered Jan. 18 at the Museum of the Holocaust for the first of four sessions in the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) 18th Annual Teacher-Training Workshop on the Holocaust, titled "Women in the Holocaust: Resisters to Perpetrators."
A conference on genetic diseases held by the Cultural Foundation of Habib Levy in November led The Journal to examine the Jewish community's reduced state of awareness about genetic testing for prospective parents. During the past 30 years, large-scale genetic screening of Ashkenazi Jews in the U.S., Israel and other countries has reduced the number of babies born with Tay-Sachs, the most widely known Jewish genetic disease, by 90 percent. Yet today, younger Jews are less conscious of Tay-Sachs and even less aware of testing made available during the past five years for a newer array of genetic diseases. Geneticists and physicians confirmed that many people are not adequately informed about their genetic testing options. Regardless of their educational background, few individuals know if they fall into a high-risk category for genetically transmitted diseases. Experts interviewed maintain there has been a relaxation in vigilance about carrier screening and a consequential rise in danger signals for American Jews of Ashkenazi descent.
Dr. Scott Braunstein sits in a hospital room with Sam Bottleman, 91, on the Sunday of Chanukah. Bottleman has a neck brace and a deep wound on his head after falling down 12 steps in his apartment building the day before. Braunstein, 27, a resident in internal medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, holds Bottleman's hand and asks questions that elicit an entire history.
The families of children with Canavan disease are suing the researchers who found the gene responsible for the illness, using blood and tissue from two children in Chicago and other children who died of the disease.
"Julian Dixon was not soft-spoken because he had nothing to say. He had plenty to say, and he had plenty of impact on how things got done."
There's enough work to go around for everyone in teaching tolerance and diversity to law enforcement in California, according to the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Rabbi Alan Lachtman began Shabbat services at Temple Beth David in Temple City on Dec. 8 by having the children's choir sing "Light One Candle," a song by Peter, Paul and Mary. The song had symbolic meanings, both positive and destructive, for the congregation. Twenty years ago, on Dec. 6, 1980, the fifth day of Chanukah, two neo-Nazis broke into the synagogue, poured gasoline on the pulpit, and set the synagogue on fire. The sanctuary was gutted, the cabinet containing the Torah scrolls was singed and two Torah scrolls -- one of which had been rescued from the Holocaust from a temple that had burned years ago -- were damaged.
Alexander James Curtis thought he was one of the smartest racists around, smarter than the police and the federal government.
Politicos and machers who had given heart and soul (and a lot of cash, in some cases) to their respective candidates saw conspiracy, fraud or betrayal in the ballot crisis in Florida this week. Feeling ran strong, but no one was willing to predict whether Bush or Gore would turn out to be president.
These are tense days for the Los Angeles parents of Jewish students studying at Israeli universities and yeshivas. Their sons and daughters are among some 4,000 Americans studying in Israel this year in a wide range of programs. Major universities, yeshivas, kibbutzim, the Israel Defense Force are just a few of the institutions that offer American students programs in Israel. According to the Israel Aliyah Center, there are l00 students from Los Angeles currently studying in Israel.
Carlanna is a young woman who was paralyzed in a car accident in high school. She is now a producer with the "Judge Judy" show. Alex is a qualified doctor from the Ukraine who cannot work in his profession here. He is now a highly successful radiology technician. Irene was a newly divorced mother on welfare in the depths of despair. She is now a fundraiser working on the corporate level and providing services and support to single mothers.
Gil Garcetti is down but not out, at least among his Jewish supporters. With the district attorney race between Garcetti and Steve Cooley heating up, Jewish community activists are still strongly behind him, even as he faces what polls and pundits are calling a fight to the finish.
"It's almost magical," said Jon Friedman, a Democratic activist, of the effective coalition politics waged by the 47th Assembly District Committee. The committee, which covers a wide rectangular area including Culver City and the South Fairfax and Beverlywood neighborhoods, and extending east as far as central city areas north of the Inglewood city line, is comprised mainly of Black and Jewish members who have formed a bond of closeness and trust. The ages ranges from 20's to 70's. Members are civil servants, teachers, lawyers, show business folk, small business people, health care technicians.
"There is a greater recognition today that we need people of all faiths, all races, and that all the faiths and all the races have good people. So to me that's the key. And I think the more that percolates throughout the society, the better society we're going to be," said Dianne Feinstein.
These days, doing the right thing as an entertainment industry player is heavy with political overtones, as Republican and Democratic candidates have made campaign fodder out of the industry's product.
Leading Jewish Hollywood executives and directors responded with a sense of shame this week to the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) report criticizing the marketing of media violence to minors. Reached by phone, they spoke with The Jewish Journal about how they struggled to reconcile their sense of social and moral responsibility with the demands of the marketplace. Many felt the challenge of balancing the task of self-regulation from within the industry against the evil of censorship from the outside. Others spoke of a more personal balance, played out against a highly charged political atmosphere: deciding how much of the entertainment industry's product their own children can watch.
Cold, hot, lukewarm - two months shy of the November election, local Jewish Republicans are still conflicted about the man at the head of their party's ticket. A sampling of attitudes indicates a wide range of attitudes toward Gov. George W. Bush.
"I feel that Dianne Feinstein has done a far better job in terms of serving the needs of the pro-Israel community," says Jonathan Mitchell. "Just look at her voting record, and you'll see that it's vastly superior to that of Tom Campbell."
Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
David Margolick, writer of books and articles on legal issues for The New York Times and Vanity Fair, has hit a raw nerve with his haunting book, "Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday, Cafe Society, and an Early Cry for Civil Rights" (Running Press). The book is an account of the scalding impact of one song - a song about a lynching - on scores of Ameri-can activists, writers, musicians, artists and intellectuals.
What a difference a day makes. When Al Gore chose Joe Lieberman as his running mate on Monday morning, he transformed the Jewish community's attitude toward him from one of bemusement and perplexity to a clear affirmation. Gore had seemed distant and abstract. Overnight he changed that perception with a concrete, courageous and historic act.
They are a grass-roots activist, a lawyer, a professional Democratic Party leader, and a grandmother who got her law degree at 62. They are all going to the Democratic National Convention.
Debrah Constance is the director of A Place Called Home (APCH), a community center and safe house for inner-city kids in South Central.
3:45 a.m. I am walking down a very dark, silent alleyway in Oakwood, a two-square-mile, mostly low-income community in Venice, behind police officer Robert Eisenhart. A 16-year-old boy, a member of the Venice Shoreline Crips gang, has been shot in the shoulder and in the middle of his back by a member of the same gang. Eisenhart is looking for the shooter, who may be at a party in a nearby darkened house. The silence is almost surreal. I am afraid of what may appear, or explode, out of the darkness. We arrived at the scene minutes before, and I see the boy wheeled out on the stretcher and placed in the ambulance as his brother, his sister and other gang members watch without overt emotion, in dazed silence. I am surprised at the dewy youth of the gang members, and by their glazed faces and darting eyes. The scene has the hopeless, listless feel of the ghetto: some lawns with piled-up rusted machinery, nails, weeds, tubs, broken bicycles, old porcelain, busted mattress springs. An old mattress is stuffed into the window of one house to keep out the cold and prying strangers.
Frank Nikbakht dates his decision to speak out about the realities of Jewish life in Iran to 1998.