Jewish Journal


May 9, 2002

Community Briefs


Holocaust Museum Struggles

The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust may be forced to close its doors by the end of the year because of severe financial problems. Its already modest budget was slashed to $60,000 this year, and "If we can't raise our rent of $90,000 for next year, we're gone," museum director Rachel Jagoda told The Los Angeles Times. Believed to be the oldest memorial institution of its kind in the United States, the then-Martyrs Memorial and Museum of the Holocaust was founded in 1961 by a group of Holocaust survivors. The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles took over the museum's financial management in 1978, and three years ago the museum moved to larger quarters on the city's Museum Row. However, since the late 1970s, the museum's staid exhibits have been overshadowed by the high-tech and youth-oriented interactive displays at the Simon Wiesenthal Center and its more recent Museum of Tolerance.

In contrast to the well-financed Wiesenthal Center, the Museum of the Holocaust has had to rely on a part-time staff and a corps of volunteers.

John Fishel, president of the Jewish Federation, which is struggling with its own financial shortfall this year, suggested that the museum might consider a move to an outlying area of Los Angeles, like the Valley. "We've suggested moving the museum to the Valley on the Milken Campus," Fishel told The Journal, noting that there is no Holocaust memorial or exhibit in the Valley. "I gotta believe if there's a good gem of an exhibit on the other side of Mulholland, it would have a very dramatic impact."--Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor, Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer

Live, From Jerusalem

Dennis Prager took his show on the road to Israel, broadcasting live from downtown Jerusalem for four days. It was Prager's first visit to Israel in five years. The effect of the visit on Prager was to "solidify my internal bond" with Israel and his desire to help care for those who care about basic values.

It's not politically correct to speak of a "civilizational battle," he muses, but one is going on now nonetheless, with all those committed to "freedom, liberty, the sanctity of human life -- all the deepest values" together on one side and under attack.

Back in Los Angeles, Prager, his telephone lines buzzing with calls about Israel, is mounting a campaign to convince Americans who care about Israel to visit the country. "Americans are afraid of second-hand smoke, so they're afraid to come to Israel -- and Jews more than Christians. But there's a war against the Jews" being fought right now, and "Jews especially have to decide whether to fight back or go AWOL."

While in Israel, Prager also filmed a video, "Israel in the Time of Terror," consisting of answers from ordinary Israelis to such questions as "Why is Israel so alone in the world?" and "Do you hate the Arabs?" (To the latter question, Prager reports a virtually unanimous No.)

Prager's week of broadcasting from Israel was sponsored by The Media Line organization (www.themedialine.org). The Dennis Prager Show, syndicated to more than 50 stations around the country, airs weekdays in Los Angeles on radio station KRLA (870 AM). -- David Margolis, Contributing Writer

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