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Community Briefs

December 25, 2003 | 7:00 pm

Rose Parade Proselytizing

Two rival teams will square off in Pasadena on New Year's Day. No, not USC vs. Michigan. Get ready for the ultimate grudge match: Jews for Judaism vs. Jews for Jesus.

A year after Jews for Jesus' international witnessing campaign, Behold Your God, hit Southern California, the L.A. chapter is gearing up once again for more "literature distribution," said Director Tuvya Zaretsky. "We encourage people to think about spiritual issues, new beginnings. So we go out and hand out literature as the parade is beginning and afterward."

Jews for Jesus' volunteers are also expected to visit the Rose Bowl after the game ends and Victory Park, where the floats are put on display after the parade. Zaretsky said that the group has had a presence in Pasadena every New Year's Day since 1974.

In keeping with the parade's theme this year, "Music, Music, Music," Jews for Jesus has named their new pamphlet "Happy New Music!"

In response, Jews for Judaism will have a team of its own standing by distributing their own pamphlet, "Truth in Advertising."

"We're nonconfrontational, we keep 10-feet distance. We give them no chance to say they're being stalked," said Jews for Judaism's education director, Rabbi Aaron Parry, who will lead volunteers in counter-leafleting. "We're just looking to have an equal voice." -- Adam Wills, Associate Editor

Deadline Looms for Insurance Claims

Insurance claims for Holocaust-era policies must be filed by Dec. 31 with the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, or claimants risk being unable to collect money owed.

Prior to World War II, Jewish families throughout Europe purchased life insurance. However, many of those records were destroyed. Also, families of murdered Holocaust victims were often unable to meet insurers requirements that they provide a death certificate on behalf of their kin. The Nazis never issued death certificates for those slaughtered in concentration camps.

Claim forms and more information can be obtained by calling the California Department of Insurance's hotline at 1-800-927-4357, or visiting www.icheic.org. -- Marc Ballon, Senior Writer

Hate Crimes Lessen; Jews Still Targets

Hate crimes in Los Angeles County, as in the state and nation, are down from the peaks reported in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, the L.A. County Commission on Human Relations reported last week.

The downward curve in 2002, compared to 2001, also held for crimes motivated by religious hatred, which dropped from 129 to 119, or 8 percent.

However, as in past years, the great majority of religious hate crimes were aimed at Jewish targets, which were victimized in 66 percent of all cases, followed by Protestants (11 percent), and Muslims (9 percent).

Commenting on the anti-Jewish incidents, the commission report noted that "some of these incidents were clearly cases of mistaken identity, but the actual numbers of Jewish victims is unknown because most police reports do not specify the religion of the victims."

More than half (54 percent) of all religion-based crimes consisted of vandalism of homes, businesses and religious institutions, while 20 percent involved violence. Included in the latter category was an attack against an El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport on July 4, 2002, during which an Egyptian immigrant killed two Israeli Americans.

All together, religion-motivated incidents represented only 6 percent of the county's total hate crimes, while nearly 70 percent were based on racial hostility, targeting mostly African Americans.

Countering the overall drop in hate crimes were attacks against gays and lesbians, most of them of a violent nature, which rose 7 percent.

An earlier and separate Anti-Defamation League (ADL) report on anti-Semitic incidents in 2002, which also counted noncriminal acts, found no appreciable rise in Southern California, compared to the previous year. However, on a national basis, similar comparisons showed an 8 percent jump.

Looking at the county figures, regional ADL director Amanda Susskind said that "Any number of hate crimes is too many and we are particularly concerned that African Americans continue to be the most frequent targets of racial hate crime and that sexual orientation-based hate crime is on the increase." -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Federation Gives JCCGLA Dec. 29 Deadline on Loan

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, one of the biggest supporters of the area's JCCs, has formally requested the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles (JCCGLA) come up with a plan to repay the more than $1.6 million it owes -- or else.

After two years of talks, The Federation has given JCCGLA until Dec. 29 to come up with a viable plan to pay off the unsecured loan, Federation President John Fishel said.

Nina Lieberman Giladi, executive vice president of JCCGLA, said her group has put forth three different proposals, each of which The Federation has rejected. One offer would have given The Federation the Bay Cities JCC property; another would have deeded the Silverlake Independent JCC to the philanthropy group. -- M.B.

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