Jewish Journal


February 7, 2002

The Circuit


Executives Decision

On Feb. 7 at the Warner Center Marriott, The Executives, a support group for the Jewish Home for the Aging, held a spirited debate between Democratic candidates Andrei Cherny and Lloyd Levine, who are seeking the seat of state Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg when his term ends. The debate was moderated by Mike Isler.

Israeli Festival Formalized

Israel's 54th Independence Day Festival -- aka the Israeli Festival -- will be held on April 21 at Woodley Park, 6350 Woodley Ave. in Van Nuys from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call (818) 757-0123 or visit www.israelfestival.com .


Remembering the Past, Building a Better Future

Imagine an occasion where German Americans and Jewish Americans came together to celebrate each other's cultural attributes. Well, such an evening took place at the University of Judaism (UJ)'s Gindi Auditorium, courtesy of Tel Aviv-Los Angeles Partnership, a department of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Dubbed "Sounds of Healing, Voices of Reconciliation," the evening's centerpieces were appearances by Israel's premiere stage personality, Orna Porat, and co-founder-president of the German American Cultural Society, actor Eric Braeden, who portrays Victor Newman on the long-running soap opera "The Young and the Restless."

At the reception preceding the night of musical celebration, emceed by radio personality Frank Mottek, one commonality of both cultures was very prevalent: the staccato, guttural nature of their respective languages. Both German and Hebrew were heard among the 200-plus throng at the event.

Members of the Israeli consulate in attendance included Consul-General Yuval Rotem, who introduced the program from the podium. Co-host for the event was Dr. Hans-Jurgen Wendler, consul-general for Los Angeles' German consulate.

Braeden delivered a thoughtful, eloquent speech about his life growing up in poverty in Germany, then learning about wartime atrocities, while he was a young man starting out in Hollywood at a screening of the Holocaust documentary "Mein Kampf." He recalled the shock of seeing the footage of "American soldiers liberating walking skeletons from camps. It was then that I lost my innocence."

Born Irena Klein, Porat changed her name upon arriving in Israel and became such a part of the culture, that upon its recent 25th anniversary, the National Theater of Israel redubbed itself in her name. Porat, a child of German Protestant parents, spent her formative years in Nazi Germany.

"It was too rigid, too formal and too according to the rules," she said. "I knew I couldn't possibly stay in Germany after the war was over."

In fact, a mere three days after World War II ended, Porat fell in love with a Jewish British soldier, and together they decided to immigrate to Palestine. Although Porat, an ardent socialist, had her concerns.

"When he told me about joining a kibbutz," Porat said from the stage, "that sounded socialist enough for me."

Porat's mother didn't initially take to the idea.

Recalled Porat: "She asked me, 'What's wrong with Switzerland?'"

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