October 2, 2003
Synagogues Vandalized Over Rosh Hashanah
Synagogues and buildings in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood were hit with strange graffiti over Rosh Hashanah.
At least five buildings on Pico Boulevard, and the Kabbalah Centre on Robertson Boulevard were vandalized with spray paint sometime between 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, and 6:30 AM on Sunday, Sept. 28.
On some buildings the graffiti was anti-Semitic, on others it was anti-Bush, and on others it suggested that the vandal had some knowledge of the Jewish community and Jewish communal practices. For example, on the B'nai David-Judea Congregation on Pico near Livonia Avenue, the vandal wrote in loopy script "Bush, U are going down & all your family." Further up the road, the Aish HaTorah Center on the corner of Pico and Doheny, was defaced with the message "Lachen Ara (sic) will kill you," probably referring to lashon harah, the prohibition against gossiping.
The graffiti occurred the same night that 15 other stores and homes were attacked in Beverly Hills, also with anti-Bush and anti-Semitic messages.
Police are still investigating the matter and are considering classifying the graffiti as a hate crime; they are also exploring the possibility that the graffiti was done by more than one person.
"It had to have been someone who knew something about Judaism," said a representative from one of the defaced buildings who did not want to be named.
A synagogue representative, who also did not want to be named, called the vandal "a nutcase missing a few important screws."
"We constantly get anti-Bush stuff written everywhere -- people do that all the time, and stars get stuff written [about them] all the time too," said senior lead officer Phillip Embody of the Los Angeles Police Department. "This was strange that it happened on the High Holidays and that one of them talked about the 613 laws." -- Gaby Wenig, Staff Writer
Freedom for the New Year
Three Los Angeles participants in the Immigrant Worker Freedom Ride, a national mobilization effort in which hundreds of immigrants and their community allies are traveling across the country in 18 buses to mobilize support for immigrant rights, disembarked from Dallas, Texas, this past weekend to celebrate Rosh Hashanah.
The stop was made possible by the Oakland-based organization, Jews for Equal Rights for Immigrant Communities (JERICO), which sent 11 people on the ride and organized members of the Dallas Jewish community to host the Jewish riders during the holiday.
"JERICO made it possible for Jews to do this ride and still celebrate Rosh Hashanah," said Jaime Rapaport, co-director of the organization and a recent graduate of UCLA.
While in Dallas the riders lived with various Jewish families, attended services and spoke to the community about JERICO's mission. Emily Kane, a senior at UCLA, blew a shofar, which was given to the participants by a Bay Area congregation to accompany them on the ride.
"The shofar means a call for the community to congeal -- to come together as one," Kane said. "Also, the rabbis say that the blowing of the shofar is supposed to open your heart so that you can concentrate and listen to what it is that you would like to change, and I couldn't think of a more pertinent symbol."
Rapaport told The Journal that she was originally concerned that Rosh Hashanah would interfere with the ride, but later found that the holiday enhanced its mission.
"Rosh Hashanah is not taking away from the ride, but it is very much in essence of what we're doing because it's all about renewal and looking at what was wrong with what preceded and looking to change it in the coming year," said Rapaport, adding that the four points of the Freedom Ride are a clearer and better path for immigrants to citizenship, family reunification, equal rights for immigrants in the workplace regardless of status, and civil rights and civil liberties for all.
Following their Dallas stop, the JERICO riders will continue on to Washington, D.C., where they will unite with riders from across the country to lobby and rally for equal rights for immigrants. Then they will proceed to New York to participate in a shabbaton at NYU Hillel.