An Arrest, a Verdict, a Settlement
FBI agents and U.S. postal inspectors this week arrested a man for allegedly mailing out at least 52 manila envelopes containing syringes to a handful of Jewish residents, a hospital and a congressional office.
Federal agents took Stanley C. Jaroszenski, 64, into custody June 13 at his downtown L.A. Skid Row hotel room. Police had been watching him after a number of large envelopes were mailed out to Jewish institutions and randomly selected home addresses bearing typically Jewish last names. The envelopes had anti-Semitic statements, including, "Die Jews, Die."
A letter to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles prompted an entire floor's evacuation. Another envelope was sent to a field office of Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Lakewood). It contained the phrase, "C.I.A. to Kill Sanchez," according to a 117-count indictment handed down June 9 by a federal grand jury
Fifty-two of the 56 threatening letters contained hypodermic syringes "with needles attached," authorities said. Jaroszenski faces 56 felony counts, one for each letter, plus 61 misdemeanor counts for "mailing injurious articles, in this case the hypodermic needles," said a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Debra Wong Yang.
In a separate case in Ventura County Superior Court, Kevin Bowers, 19, was sentenced June 8 to 36 months of probation for destroying a Chanukah menorah last December in The Oaks shopping mall in Thousand Oaks. Police said Bowers pleaded guilty to the felony charge of "violation of civil rights by damaging property."
Police believe Bowers was part of Conejo Valley's loosely organized white-power culture. A 17-year-old boy arrested with Bowers pled guilty to his part in the vandalism and will be sentenced in July, authorities said.
In a third case involving possible anti-Semitism, the Conejo Valley Unified School District has settled a lawsuit over alleged anti-Semitic slurs directed at a Newbury Park High School student. Samuel Goldstein's parents filed a federal lawsuit last year, alleging their son's baseball/football coach taunted him about being Jewish; after he complained, his teammates allegedly called him "kike" and "dirty Jew."
Police determined that there was no crime committed. The part-time coach no longer works for the school district, which followed up on Anti-Defamation League recommendations for teacher tolerance training. With the help of a mediator, the parties agreed to a confidential out-of-court settlement last month.
Two Conejo school officials confirmed that neither party admitted any wrongdoing, with Conejo Valley School District Supt. Robert Fraisse adding that "the parties are amicable in the settlement." -- David Finnigan, Contributing Writer
For Israeli Bookworms
The intersection of Ventura Boulevard and White Oak Avenue in Encino is evolving into a new shopping and social center for homesick Israeli expats.
Joining the bustling Super Sal Market, the Bazel restaurant and the nearby Aroma coffee shop is the Steimatzky book, music and gift store, which recently moved into the neighborhood. Steimatzky, considered the Barnes & Noble of Israel, was founded in 1925 and has about 150 stores throughout Israel.
The Valley store has a new home, but it's not brand new to Los Angeles. Five years ago, Raanan (Ron) Ben-Naim arrived to set up the first U.S. Steimatzky branch store. He picked the Los Angeles area, partly because he has relatives here and partly to avoid the competition of private Hebrew bookstores in New York.
His first site was in Tarzana, to serve the growing enclave of young Israeli families in the western San Fernando Valley. Three years ago, he opened a second store in Beverly Hills, partly in hopes of attracting an American Jewish clientele. The experiment and the location didn't work out, said Ben-Naim, and he closed the store.
Two months ago, he moved the original Valley store from Tarzana to Encino to take advantage of the expanding Israeli commercial presence on Ventura Boulevard.
Ben-Naim still wants to lure American Jews, but 90 percent of his customers are Israeli, he said. Many of the same customers drop in frequently to browse or just to engage in Hebrew conversation. The rest of his clientele tend to be Americans who have lived in Israel for some time.
The shelves in the new store are filled with Hebrew books, DVDs, CDs, audiocassettes, educational board games, dictionaries and puzzles for children. Cabinets contain mezuzahs, menorahs, necklaces with dangling names in Hebrew letters and a selection of artistic hamsas -- hands to ward off the evil eye.
Ben-Naim also tried to stock some Hebrew video games, but the software didn't mesh well with most American computers.
Though most of his business comes from walk-in customers, he also sells online.