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Jewish Journal

Delshad sworn in as B.H. Mayor, free money for offered to first-time campers, Q & A with ex-Chief Justice of Israel

March 29, 2007 | 8:00 pm

Newly elected Beverly Hills Mayor Jimmy Delshad and former Beverly Hills Mayor Steve Webb Wednesday night. Photo by Karmel Melamed.

Newly elected Beverly Hills Mayor Jimmy Delshad and former Beverly Hills Mayor Steve Webb Wednesday night. Photo by Karmel Melamed.

Delshad sworn in as B.H. Mayor More than 500 Beverly Hills residents, civic leaders, and rabbis gathered on Tuesday March 27th outside City Hall for the inauguration of Jimmy Delshad as Mayor of Beverly Hills.

Delshad, who is of Iranian Jewish heritage, made history earlier this month after being re-elected to the city council by a slim margin and becoming next-in-line for the mayoralty.

The post of mayor rotates among city council members according to their seniority in time served on the council.

Rabbi Steven Weil, of Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills, called for unity after the divisive nature of the city elections.

"We are proud of our city but we face a great challenge of bias and intolerance put out by flyers concerning the Farsi language ballots," said Weil. "That's not the best of Beverly Hills but in the next few years, we will move forward to heal".

Other Jewish community leaders on hand included Sinai Temple Rabbi David Wolpe, Israeli Consul General Ehud Danoch, and California State Assembly Member Mike Feuer. -- Karmel Melamed, Contributing Writer

Free money for offered to first-time campers

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles is offering scholarships of up to $1,250 for kids from the Los Angeles area to attend local Jewish overnight camp for the first time. The grants are not need-based and are available to campers who apply for sessions more than two weeks in duration.

The program was funded by a grant from the Foundation for Jewish Camping, a New York-based organization that seeks to increase the number of kids who attend Jewish summer camp and to improve the quality of the Jewish camping experience.

Los Angeles was the subject of a pilot marketing study conducted last year that found Jewish kids are twice as likely to attend nonsectarian camps over Jewish camps, and that 70 percent of Southern California Jewish families with camp-age kids are not familiar with any Jewish camps in the region.

The study also found that families were willing to pay more for nonsectarian camps than for Jewish camps.

Those findings, and others about lower-than-expected camp attendance even among the highly affiliated, encouraged The Federation to embark on a new marketing strategy that includes Camp Alonim, Camp Gan Israel, Camp Gilboa Habonim D'ror, Camp JCA Shalom, Camp Ramah in California, Wilshire Boulevard Temple camps and URJ Newman in Northern California.

The marketing campaign, including a financial incentive, was set to launch in the fall, but recently, a donor from Chicago, affiliated with the Foundation for Jewish Camping, decided to spread his successful campership initiative to other cities for this camping season. Los Angeles agreed to get the program running in just two weeks.

The condensed time-frame doesn't seem to have hurt marketing. As of last week, 200 applications had already been received and were being processed and answered as they came in.

The number of scholarships has not yet been determined, since the final pool of funds is still growing. Results from follow-up evaluation with the campership recipients will help set the marketing campaign for next summer.

"We will look at who are the kids who applied, how happy were they with the experience, how happy were the families with the experience and did they then shift in their engagement practices and in their perceptions about whether Jewish camping is valuable," said Lori Port, senior associate director of planning and allocations at The Jewish Federation.

For full details on eligibility and for an application, e-mail CampGrants@JewishLA.org or call (323) 761-8320. For general information go to www.jewishla.org or www.jewishcamping.org.

-- Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Education Editor

Q & A with ex-Chief Justice of Israel visiting U.S. reveals similar issues in both nations

As a relief from the strident political voices of every nationality, Aharon Barak was in town recently to discuss some of the problems facing democracies in an age of terror. Barak stepped down as chief justice of Israel's Supreme Court last year at 70, the mandatory retirement age. He left behind a legacy one law professor compared to that of John Marshall, arguably the greatest U.S. chief justice.

Born in Lithuania and a survivor of the Holocaust, Barak came as guest of the UCLA Israel Studies Program directed by professor Arnold Band. The Journal caught up with the chief justice during an informal luncheon at the UCLA Hillel Center, with faculty and students. While the discussion focused on Israel, it was obvious that many of the problems, and Barak's plain-spoken answers, applied with equal force to America.

Key points raised in the give-and-take included:

Jewish Journal: Can Israel be both a Jewish state and a democracy?

Aharon Barak: Yes. Our Jewish heritage is the source of human rights. There is no contradiction, but rather harmony, between democracy and Jewishness, and it is the judge's job to find such harmony and correlation.

JJ: Can and should a judge overturn military decisions, as the Israeli Supreme Court has done?

AB: There is no difference between judicial reviews of the actions of military commanders and that of civilian officials. I take defense and security cases very seriously, but military leaders are human beings, and they make mistakes.

JJ: Are there times when a state has to use extraordinary measures for the sake of its security?

AB: There are some means a democracy cannot use, even for desirable ends. A state cannot use torture, because it then becomes a terrorist state. The security argument has been misused many times, as in the detention of Japanese Americans by the United States in World War II.

JJ: When a state is involved in an intense conflict, how can a judge separate his emotions as a citizen from the legal and intellectual aspects of his job?

AB: Almost all judicial decisions are made in an emotional context, and you get used to that. When the framers of the U.S. Constitution decided on the separation of church and state, that was a highly emotional issue at the time. How can you sentence a man to death or separate a child from its mother without feeling emotion?

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