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Briefs: Pearl Family menorah illuminates White House; Asians and Jews celebrate Chanukah together

December 13, 2007 | 7:00 pm


Judea and Ruth Pearl light a menorah belonging to the great-grandfather of their son, Daniel, the slain Wall Street Journal reporter, during White House Chanukah festivities on Dec. 10
President Bush lit a menorah that belonged to the great-grandfather of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Bush was joined Monday in the grand foyer of the White House by Jewish leaders and Pearl's parents, Ruth and Judea Pearl, who lit the menorah and recited the blessings for the seventh night of Chanukah. That was followed by a performance by the Zamir Chorale of Boston.

"By honoring Daniel, we are given the opportunity to bring forth hope from the darkness of tragedy, and that is a miracle worth celebrating during the Festival of Lights," the president said.

Bush also recognized Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and his family, who were in attendance during the speech.

"As we light the Chanukah candles this year, we pray for those who still live under the shadow of tyranny," Bush said. "This afternoon, I met with a group of Jewish immigrants to mark International Human Rights Day. Many of these men and women fled from religious oppression in countries like Iran and Syria and the Soviet Union.

"They came to America because our nation is a beacon of freedom," he continued. "And they see a day of hope on the horizon when people all across the world will worship in freedom. The forces of intolerance can suppress the menorah, but they can never extinguish its light."

-- Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Sen. Feingold Speaks at USC

Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin knows a few things about the Jewish role in American life. The son of immigrants from Russia and Galicia, with 25 years of service in Congress and the Wisconsin state house, Feingold is best known for his progressive politics -- the campaign-finance reform law bearing his name and that of Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the sole dissenting vote in the Senate against the Patriot Act and introducing a resolution to censure President Bush last year in the wake of reports of illegal wiretapping.

"But," said U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Van Nuys), introducing Feingold at USC Sunday, "he is a reminder of how great -- not perfect -- but really great America has been as a safe haven and incubator of its Jewish citizens."

Feingold, who had been invited to deliver the ninth annual Carmen and Louis Warschaw Distinguished Lecture at the Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life, began by discussing his childhood in Janesville, where there were only a handful of Jewish families in the Wisconsin town, and how the Feingolds would drive into Madison for Hebrew school.

"At religious school, we would hear very well taught the litany of Jewish history: expulsions, inquisitions, pogroms and the Holocaust," Feingold said. "But then we would return to Janesville, where I experienced essentially no anti-Semitic remarks throughout my entire upbringing. I did not feel the sting of anti-Semitism. At a personal level, I felt that we were honored as different but not strangers in any way."

His feeling of acceptance as a Jew and his understanding of what Judaism teaches about how one should treat a stranger, Feingold said, motivated him to promote better treatment of groups that he said are at times strangers in the United States: African Americans, Latinos, Arab Americans, Muslim Americans and Southeast Asians.

"The Jewish community has a unique role to play in healing these riffs," he said. "Every time we reach out to those who are made to feel like outsiders in our society, we strengthen support for our community here in the United States and for Jews around the world, as well."

-- Brad A. Greenberg, Senior Writer

Asians, Jews Celebrate Chanukah Together

On the second night of Chanukah, members of Los Angeles' Asian and Jewish communities gathered downtown to discuss their historical bonds and differences.

"Konnichi wa, Annyong ha Shimnikka, Shalom," Israeli Deputy Consul General Yaron Gamburg, who was joined by the consuls general of Japan and Korea, said, saying hello in Japanese, Korean and Hebrew.

"Chanukah symbolizes victory of light over darkness," Gamburg said. "I believe today's event brings the light of friendship to our communities and to the city of Los Angeles."

The Dec. 5 meeting at the Japanese American National Museum was the second organized by the Anti-Defamation League since its Asian Jewish Initiative began in June. Built on the model of the Latino Jewish Roundtable and working with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Korean American Coalition and Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, the effort aims to mitigate stereotypes and build bridges between Asian and Jewish Angelenos.

Leading a Chanukah candlelighting service, Faith Cookler, the initiative's chair, said the story of Jewish persecution and the Maccabee revolt is one that resonates with all minorities.

-- BG

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