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Up Front

February 19, 1998 | 6:59 pm

Rabbi MichaelBeals (above) was disturbed by press reports after arson fires at twolocal Orthodox synagogues. Left, a book damaged in the blaze.Photo at left by Peter Halmagyi

Rabbi Michael Beals of B'nai Tikvah Congregation,a Conservative synagogue in Westchester, was disturbed when he read aLos Angeles Times article in late December that described arson firesat two Orthodox synagogues in the Beverly-Fairfax. The storydescribed the damaged shuls, Congregation Kehillas Yaakov andCongregation Shaarei Tefila, as being in a neighborhood that "hasoccasionally been the scene of contentious rivalries between variouscongregations -- including conflicts between Reform, Conservative andOrthodox Jews."

In a letter written last month to Rabbi GershomBess of Congregation Kehillas Yaakov, Beals decried the description,noting that "we are not aware of any conflicts between our movementsin your neighborhood." Reporting such conflicts was "irresponsiblejournalism, suggesting hatred and intolerance that just does notexist within the Jewish community of Los Angeles," wrote Beals, whobecame rabbi at B'nai Tikvah last fall. The rabbi sent contributionsfrom B'nai Tikvah's discretionary fund to both synagogues indenominations of $18, which, in Hebrew, is symbolized by the letters,chet and yud, for chai -- life.

Responding to Beals' letter, Rabbi Alan Kalinsky,the director of the Orthodox Union's West Coast region, wrote Bealsto say B'nai Tikvah was the first synagogue in the city to offer aidto the two damaged houses of worship. He called the gesture a true"Kiddush Ha-Shem" (sanctification of G-d's name).

Kalinsky expressed the hope that Beals' letter,which he also sent to the Los Angeles Times and The Jewish Journal,"will help dispel the notion that Jews of various levels ofobservance can not get along. [Beals'] gesture has helped Los AngelesJewry live up to the motto kol Yisrael arevim zeh la-zeh -- namely,that each Jew is responsible for the other."

As for Beals, he was so gratified by the exchangeof letters that he contacted The Journal to see if we couldn't put alittle good news in our paper to show the "inter-movement cooperationamong L.A. Jewry, despite the bad news coming out of Israel." -- RuthStroud, Staff Writer

Marc Debden Moss

British Swindler

Up Front was recently at the Roybal Federal CourtHouse to witness the sentencing of Marc Debden Moss to eight years inprison for defrauding clients of millions of dollars as a commoditiesbroker.

During a year in Los Angeles as an illegal Britishimmigrant, Moss, now 73, cut a fine figure, with his expensiveItalian suits, luxury cars, well-appointed offices in a SunsetBoulevard high-rise, and rented Beverly Hills mansion.

Prospective clients were even more impressed byhis British upper-class accent and his casual references to hisaristocratic background, his service as a highly decorated officer inthe British army, and his friendship with the Queen.

He used such aliases as Gen. Marc Debenham andCol. Jonathan Hancock, but when we interviewed Moss a year ago at theMetropolitan Detention Center, at the request of a London newspaper,we discovered a third name.

That would be Marcus Moscovitz, his actual birthname as the son of a Jewish immigrant couple in London. Why did hechange his name, we asked.

"There is a lot of anti-Semitism in England,always has been...you don't push [your Jewishness]. There is lots ofhidden prejudice, even today." -- TomTugend, Contributing Editor

Move Over,

C-Span

In the comingweeks, it's a safe bet that the unfolding saga of the president'sintern will remain front and center on most television news programs.Like the Gulf War, this story already has its own logos and thememusic -- proof of our intense interest. Yet even the most addictednews junkies can't live on "Monicagate" alone. Jewish viewers lookingfor a brief respite from the national soap opera now have aninteresting alternative, thanks to the Feb. 17 debut ofJ-Span.

J-Span airs exclusively through the JewishTelevision Network. According to JTN's development director, JonathanSchreiber, J-Span is designed to "get past the sound bites" by airingmore extensive coverage of news events that are of particularinterest to the Jewish community. Along with coverage of the ongoingconflict with Iraq, upcoming episodes will include a speech byJordan's ambassador to the United States, candid talk about the peaceprocess from Israeli Maj. Gen. Oren Shackor, and discussion about theimplications of Chinese arms sales to Iran.

Like C-Span, its much larger predecessor, J-Spanis aiming at an audience that wants more extensive news coverage thanis possible in mainstream formats. Forums, lectures and other eventswill be broadcast in their entirety.

The program is funded, in large part, by LosAngeles' Jewish Community Foundation, and it ties JTN together withfour partnering organizations: the Anti-Defamation League, theAmerican Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress and theFederation's Jewish Community Relations Committee. Each partner hasagreed to make its programming available for J-Span.

If it's a success, a program such as J-Span couldbecome an important news source for Jewish viewers, given the scopeof JTN's potential audience. According to Schreiber, JTN reaches 30million people in 13 million homes. That includes 55 percent of thecountry's Jewish households.

Locally, J-Span's airing schedule will be asfollows: Century Cable, Channel 76, on Tuesdays at 7 p.m.;MediaOneCable, Channel 39, on Tuesdays at 6 p.m.; TCI Cable, Channel15, on Tuesdays at 7 p.m.; and Time-Warner Cable, Channel 39, onTuesdays at 7 p.m. -- Diane ArieffZaga, ArtsEditor


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