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Jewish Journal

A debate party turned sober

by Ryan Torok

October 10, 2012 | 12:08 pm

“It’s nerve-wracking for me to watch this debate,” said Julie Moss, 26, while watching the first of three U.S. presidential debates, on Oct. 3, on a flat-screen TV above a cocktail bar at Lola’s Restaurant.

Moss was among a crowd of left-leaning young adults at a party to watch President Barack Obama debate Mitt Romney at an event organized by Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, which tackles domestic issues as a progressive and Jewish voice. The event drew more than 50 guests, who packed the West Hollywood restaurant’s bar area.

“I enjoy the debates,” said David Weiner, leaning against a pool table, “almost as much as the martini.”

He wasn’t the only one. Documentary editor Alex MacKenzie, 29, and a friend enjoyed drinks and appetizers in a booth in the rear of the room; Aron Klein, 29, sat drinking an Amaretto sour, alongside other 20-somethings. As the candidates spoke, Bend the Arc CEO Alan van Capelle had a drink in one hand and his phone in the other, as he sent out tweets about the debate.

The bartender tried his hardest to silently take orders so as not to be heard over the sound of the television, but chatter drowned out the candidates’ responses anyway. In fact, the event could have been mistaken for a singles’ event, with all the mixing and mingling.

While many expressed dissatisfaction with the president’s performance, they said Wednesday’s debate would likely not affect their support for Obama.

“I don’t think he is showing how strong of a president that he is and will be,” said Klein, assistant manager at the Jewish Family Service/SOVA Community Food and Resource Center on Pico Boulevard.

Unlike, say, Washington D.C., Los Angeles might not be known as a city filled with politically active young adults, but Capelle said the crowded bar on Wednesday was proof of young L.A. Jews engagement in civic life.

“There’s something happening in Los Angeles that I don’t see when I travel around the rest of the country,” he said, “which is a vibrant, dynamic, engaged, young Jewish population that deeply wants to be involved in civic engagement.”

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