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Jewish Journal

School naming ceremony honors Stanley Mosk

by  Tom Tugend

November 2, 2010 | 9:24 am

Scientists glory in Nobel Prizes, soldiers proudly display their medals, but for the descendants of Stanley Mosk no honor is more meaningful than having a school named for the late California Supreme Court justice.

On Friday (Nov. 5) , a Canoga Park school, now bearing the prosaic name of Valley Region Elementary School No. 10, will be officially renamed the Stanley Mosk Elementary School.

The naming ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at 7335 Luboa Ave. in Canoga Park. The public is invited.

Stanley Mosk was a native Texan, who in 1947 was instrumental in breaking the Los Angeles color barrier in restricted housing for blacks, at a time when Jews and Latinos suffered from the same kind of discrimination.

In his decision striking down restrictive covenants, the then 34-year old judge declared ringingly, “We read columns in the press each day about un-American activities. The court feels there is no more reprehensible un-American activity than to attempt to deprive persons of their own homes on a ‘master race’ theory.”

Mosk was a protégé of Democratic Gov. Culbert Olsen, but resigned his judgeship when he joined the army during World War II.

Olsen lost the next election to his bitter political rival, Republican Earl Warren, who held the seat open until Mosk returned and then reappointed him to his old post.

In the present political climate, such a generous gesture would be almost unthinkable, Mosk’s son, Richard M. Mosk, noted in the legal newspaper, The Daily Journal.

Despite his busy career as top aide to Olsen, then state attorney general and judge, Stanley Mosk was intensely involved in the Jewish community, serving as president of the then Jewish Federation Council, and lay leader of Vista del Mar, Bet Tzedek and the Anti-Defamation League.

The younger Mosk, now an associate justice of the California Court of Appeal, has been going through some of his father’s papers and discovered an intriguing footnote relating to Britain’s post World War II policy toward Palestine.

On Oct. 3, 1945, Mosk, then a Superior Court judge, penned a letter to Harold J. Laski, then the influential chairman of the British Labour (ok) party, which had just triumphed over Churchill’s Conservatives.

Mosk wrote in part, “No people on earth have endured the suffering of the Jews of Europe. It should be obvious to statesmen, as it is to other thoughtful people throughout the world, that only a national homeland in Palestine holds forth any hope for the displaced Jews. They have the right to expect entry there, if not historically, then by virtue of the Balfour Declaration.”

Laski did not take the criticism kindly and responded in part:

“In Palestine, it would certainly make the task of the British Government easier if the Americans would offer to share in the difficult responsibility of our mandate, instead of merely offering us advice by resolution. 5,000 American troops in Palestine are worth 100 resolutions from the United States Senate,”

Mosk sent this correspondence on to President Truman, who almost immediately replied with a thank-you note.

For additional background on Stanley Mosk, see the City Voice article by Bill Boyarsky.

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