Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was a surprise guest this month at Friday evening’s Shabbat services at Stephen S. Wise Temple, after he had accepted an invitation from Rabbi Elie Herscher to allow the congregation to express its appreciation for the mayor’s unwavering support for Israel.
About 2,000 people packed the sanctuary, who gave Villaraigosa an extended standing ovation. Also in attendance were the Israeli Consul General Yaakov Dayan, Jewish Federation President John Fischel, and four members of the LA city council.
In reporting on his recent visit to Israel, Villaraigosa said that if Hamas would stop the rocket attacks on Israel, Gazans would be able to live in peace, and that if the Arab world would accept Israel’s right to exist there would be peace.
As the mayor left the Temple, he was greeted by more than a hundred first-graders waving Israeli flags and singing songs of peace. One student wrapped a large Israeli flag around the shoulders of the mayor, who held the flag tight and sang along with the young students.