In 2006, in the wake of Israel's war with Hezbollah, Jewish communities throughout the Diaspora were on edge. A lone gunman had already killed one and wounded five at a Seattle Jewish center, and many were concerned that High Holy Days could make Jews an easy mark.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles responded by granting $1,000 each to nearly 150 small synagogues to be used for High Holy Day security.
This year, The Federation will not be offering those grants.
"This year, we decided we wouldn't do it again," said John Fishel, Federation president. "What we are doing, and will continue to do, is in-depth security analyses with Jewish schools throughout Los Angeles, which is not really focused on getting a guard for the holiday. We think focusing on venues that on a daily basis have children and youth and could be targets is a better use of community resources."
Concern about security at services and how to fund it persists among at least some of the small synagogues, which will now need to reallocate resources or decide to go without.
"It will be extremely difficult to provide security," said Andrew Friedman, president of the 100-member Congregation Bais Naftoli. "I'm not going to say we are not going to for two reasons: (a) we may, and (b) I don't want the terrorist to know we will not provide security. We may -- but it will be a great financial burden."
Though 2008 has been marked by several high-profile anti-Semitic attacks, including the firebombing of The New JCC at Milken, the global threat against Jews seems to have lessened since summer 2006.
Fishel said that in such a noncrisis atmosphere, the security briefing co-sponsored annually by the Anti-Defamation League and L.A. Councilman Jack Weiss is sufficient for improving cautionary measures during holiday season. The briefing, held last Friday at the Skirball Cultural Center, instructed the 80 synagogue and Jewish institutional leaders attending on how to increase security for the High Holy Days and improve it throughout the year. Amanda Susskind, ADL regional director, said all members of the Jewish community bear a responsibility in protecting against threats.
"Everyone who works at a Jewish institution is part security officer," she said.
The ADL offers a manual, "Protecting Your Jewish Institution," on its Web site, www.adl.org/security.
-- Brad A. Greenberg, Senior Writer
Chabad Telethon Raises $8 Million
Los Angeles Lakers star Jordan Farmar shoots 36 baskets in 90 seconds to raise $64,800 for Chabad. Apparel executive Masud Sarshar offered the challenge
Chabad's "To Life" telethon raised more than $8 million Sunday night -- some of it due to amazing basketball shooting by Lakers star Jordan Formar.
Farmar, just back from Israel, shot 36 baskets ('double chai') in 90 seconds to raise over $64K for the organization. Apparel exec Masud Sashar offered to donate $1800 from every basket the UCLA alum shot.
The telethon, which was broadcast nationally on the AmericanLife TV Network, featured Chabad rabbis dancing on stage with high-profile donors such as former Beverly Hills Mayor Jimmy Delshad. The mayor, a Persian Jew, contributed $1,800 and made a plea in his native Farsi for others to donate.
The actor Jon Voight, making his 18th appearance on the Chabad telethon, was given a Lubavitch-style black hat. Voight also made a plug for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
Other celebrities featured on the show included Martin Landau, James Cromwell, Camryn Manheim, Mimi Rogers, JoBeth Williams, Tom Arnold, Kellie Martin and Merrin Dungey. Pre-taped messages of support came from Larry King, Jackie Mason, Howie Mandel and Regis Philbin.
The $8,092,269 raised during the telethon will be used to support, among other large-scale religious and philanthropic projects, the Chabad Residential Drug Treatment Center in Los Angeles, as well as Chabad's Camp Gan Israel, which has been a safe haven for Israeli girls escaping rocket attacks in Sderot.
-- Dennis Wilen, Web Director, with contributions from Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Adat Ari El Completes New Gym
Adat Ari El Day School has completed the installation of a state-of-the-art sports pavilion. The facility includes a covered basketball court and climbing wall, among other features, and enables students to participate in physical activity year round.
Haim Linder, the school's head physical education teacher, said the temperature in the pavilion is about 20 degrees cooler than the outside temperature -- important during the Valley's hot, summer days.
"It's a big milestone for our school," he said.
Linder said the sports facility would also help ensure that students stay focused, because research shows that children who are physically active are better able to concentrate on academics.
Additionally, the facility gives the school's sports teams a place to practice. The pavilion will be named after Mannon Kaplan -- one of the founder's of the school -- and in memory of his wife, Sybil. The Kaplan family funded the project and a dedication and thank you ceremony will be held at the school on Sept. 21.
-- Lilly Fowler, Contributing Writer