Of all the 128 millionaire signatories on the “tax us” Patriotic Millionaires letter Jews constitute about two-fifths of the signers. None of the Jewish millionaire signers are from Los Angeles. Only one millionaire signer, Brady Brim-Deforest, probably not Jewish, is from Los Angeles.
It’s estimated only 375,000 Americans have yearly incomes of over $1,000,000, resulting in an estimated twenty-three hundred American Jewish high earners. The Los Angeles Jewish millionaire share should be at least two hundred and fifty Jewish people earning over $1,000,000 a year.
While most of the Jewish millionaires signatories are from the East Coast, there were nine Jewish millionaires in California, most from the Bay Area and and one from Santa Barbara and one from San Diego. Our Los Angeles Jewish millionaires were missing.
Is our Jewish community not raising our millionaires right? Are our Jewish millionaires not under the influence of their Jewish roots of communal responsibility? Maybe our LA millionaires aren’t listening to their rabbi’s sermons on social justice or they are choosing rabbis who don’t raise social justice issues often.
Our Jewish millionaires may be missing not only in the general civic sphere as represented by the “tax us” Patriotic Millionaires, but also in the self-taxation sphere of local Jewish communal life.
Its not surprising that Los Angeles may have one of the lowest per capita contributions to a major metro Jewish Federation in the country.
With the billions of dollars in cuts in areas where many Jews find employment and public services heavily used by the Jewish community such as services to the elderly, general education, special education and developmental services, universities and Medi-Cal funded health services, the organized Jewish community in Los Angeles is poorly situated financially to soften the blows.
To this point, public Jewish leadership from Los Angeles is hardly seen from among those who have the resources to enable the self-help that Jewish communities in the U.S. American Jews have been consistently known for.
American Jews have been taking care of our own and others since 1654 in Peter Stuyvesant’s New Amsterdam. The American Jewish model of civic responsibility has served as a template for the larger American community throughout American history. Why are is our LA Jewish community not up to par?
Pini Herman, PhD. has been an adjunct Research Professor at the USC Dept. of Geography, Research Director at the Jewish Federation of Greater LA following Bruce Phillips, PhD. in that position and is immediate past President of the Movable Minyan a lay-lead independent congregation in the 3rd Street area. Currently he is a principal at and is a principal at Phillips and Herman Demographic Research. To email Pini: firstname.lastname@example.org