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April 3, 2003

Community Briefs

http://www.jewishjournal.com/community_briefs/article/community_briefs_20030404

Prager Not Running for Senate

Los Angeles-based national talk radio host Dennis Prager announced on Tuesday, April 1, that he has decided not to run for the U.S. Senate in 2004. However, he did not rule out a possible run in 2010.

The conservative author/commentator, whose syndicated show airs locally on KRLA 870 AM, had been mulling over the possibility of a campaign for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Barbara Boxer, but said he felt he could do more to further his cause by remaining on the airwaves.

Prager said that he had traveled to Washington in March to speak with senators and Republican Party leaders about before reaching his decision.

"I came away assured that I could raise tens of millions of dollars to finance a campaign, and that I had a good chance to win," he said.

Prager admitted that he was wary of Democratic Party smear campaigns, although he insisted that he had no more skeletons in his closet than any "normal, red-blooded American."

"Still, as someone who has been a speaker and writer for 20 years, I have left a paper trail," he said. "It would be very easy for someone to take many of my comments out of context."

He said family matters were also a consideration, in particular his 10-year-old son, who would be nearly a teenager by the time he took office.

"The years between 12 and 18 are the most formative years, especially between a father and his son," Prager told The Journal. "Not being with him for half his life at that time is simply not acceptable to me."

Prager said he will consider a campaign for political office at a future date, but in the meantime, "I realize there are many areas in public life aside from running for office and in addition to the media, and that is what I intend to pursue."

On the radio, Prager thanked his listeners for their outpouring of support and offers to volunteer for his campaign, then issued an appeal.

"I ask you to join me with the same energy in fighting for morality in the civil war that is being waged for the soul of this country." -- Wendy J. Madnick and Buzzy Gordon, Contributing Writers

 

Consular Strike Affects Passports, Visas

For Israelis wanting to renew their passports or American students hoping to obtain visas to study in Israel, these have been frustrating times.

The Israeli consulate in Los Angeles was unable to issue passports, visas and other official documents from March 31 to press time, because of a major strike in Israel. In a nasty labor dispute, members of the Ministry of Foreign Affair's consular section, among other government workers, walked off the job to protest a proposed austerity plan calling for major salary cuts. An estimated 150,000 government workers went on strike.

Locally, up to 30 people a day were unable to receive important services during the strike, said David Douek, spokesman for the Israeli Consulate. However, the consulate was able to process visa and passport applications in emergency situations, he added.

Israel is experiencing a growing budget deficit as the world economy continues to struggle. To stanch the red ink, the government is expected to make painful budget cuts, including a possible 8 percent pay cut for consular workers, Douek said.

For now, it appears the budget knife could bypass the local consulate, which employs about 40.

"The budget cuts are major and will certainly have very real and felt implications at many levels. But whether or not it reached L.A. remains to be seen," Douek said. "I don't think it will get that far, at least I hope not." -- Marc Ballon, Senior Writer

 

ADL Essay Contest Deadline Looms

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is still accepting submissions for its third annual human relations essay contest for college-bound high school seniors in Los Angeles County. Area schools are asked to submit their student's writing on the topic of how students can best recognize and combat racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry among peers. The awards -- one first prize of $1,000 and three honorable mentions of $100 each -- will be applied toward the student's college tuition.

Former ADL President Cecilia "Cec" Katz, whose Cecilia E. & Dr. Alfred D. Katz Educational Scholarship Endowment is funding the contest, said turnout in years past has been disappointing, particularly from Jewish schools. She said she hopes to get more participants this year.

The topic "is more important now than at any other time, with the bigotry we have to combat," Katz said.

The contest is open to all college-eligible seniors attending a public, parochial or private high school in Los Angeles County. Essays should be 500 words or less and are due by April 7. For more information, call (800) 446-2684 or (310) 446-8000 ext. 234. -- WJM

 

RJC Hires New Director, Plans Growth

Michael Wissot took over as Southern California director of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) March 10. Wissot, the 28-year-old Republican who challenged Democrat Fran Pavley for the state Assembly District 41 seat, replaced Scott Gluck, who left to pursue legal and governmental affairs work.

Wissot, a former aide to Sen. John McCain, joins other Jewish Republican notables from the 2002 election who are reinvesting themselves in local RJC efforts to increase the grass-roots organization's visibility in Southland Jewish communities.

"When you're in your growing stages, you're trying to be all things to all people and it becomes challenging," said Wissot, addressing the organization's need for greater efficiency.

RJC Southern California Chair Bruce Bialosky praised the work Gluck did last year and is anxious to see the region flourish again following the organization's sophomore slump during the 2002 election season.

"We were in the process of really growing, but we didn't have the personnel we needed," Bialosky said, referring to people like RJCLA President Dr. Joel Strom, who served as state volunteer chair for gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon, and Vice President Connie Friedman, who ran for Assembly District 40. "Now that the elections are over, we've got people focusing on growing the organization."

Bialosky wants to increase the Los Angeles chapter's membership from 500 to 1,000, bolster the efforts of the Orange County and Riverside chapters and create a San Diego chapter by the end of the year.

RJC is expecting to build on the success of its young professionals mixers at Trader Vic's in Beverly Hills and its slate of upcoming speakers, such as Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and terrorism expert Steve Emerson.

"Over the last few years, we've been creative and courageous in trying new things," Wissot said. "Now it's time to put it all together and figure out what works to make us a successful group."  -- Adam Wills, Associate Editor

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