L.A.'s New Consul General
Ehud Danoch, chief of staff to Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, has been appointed as the new Israeli consul general in Los Angeles, The Journal has learned.
Danoch will replace popular Ambassador Yuval Rotem, when the latter returns to Israel on Aug. 16.
Shalom used one of the political appointments available to him to name his longtime aide to the Los Angeles post, considered one of the most important assignments in the Israeli diplomatic service.
The appointment will go to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cabinet for final approval, which is considered a formality.
Danoch is a lawyer with a master's degree in business administration and previously served as senior adviser to Shalom when the latter was finance minister. Danoch is said to speak English and Spanish fluently. Shalom also named Uri Palti, who previously served as deputy consul general in Los Angeles, to become the new consul general in Philadelphia.
David Akov, who previously worked as congressional liaison at the Israeli embassy in Washington, has been named to head the consulate general in San Francisco.
There has been some speculation in the Israeli media that if Sharon reshuffles his coalition government to include the Labor Party, elder statesman Shimon Peres might replace Shalom as foreign minister.
Such a possible reshuffle would be an incentive for Shalom to get his own appointments into place quickly. However, a knowledgeable Jerusalem source said that vacant foreign ministry posts are generally filled during the summer months and that Shalom was within his prerogatives to make a political appointment outside the career diplomatic service.
No immediate comment on Danoch's appointment was available from local Jewish community leaders.
In next week's Jewish Journal, Rotem will give his views on the Los Angeles Jewish community and assess his five-year service here. -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
Community Trips to Israel Announced
"We'll show the world that the Jewish community in Los Angeles cares," said Noam Matas, Israel Ministry of Tourism's Western U.S. director, who is coordinating a "Mega-Mission" uniting Orthodox, Conservative and Reform synagogues for a post-Chanukah trip later this year.
The trip is scheduled for Dec. 19-29 and will cost $2,300 per person. It has support from 18 rabbis who are expected to attract between 300 and 500 people, Matas said.
The Jewish Federation is also planning a high-end visit in October.
These missions come after four years of the second intifada and its terror, which has decimated the Israeli tourism industry and its economy. But with fewer terrorist attacks in the last year, anecdotal evidence suggests that tourism is up, although it is far from pre-intifada levels.
Orthodox shuls supporting the Mega-Mission include Young Israel of Century City, B'nai David-Judea Congregation, Venice's Pacific Jewish Center/Shul on the Beach, Chabad of Yorba Linda and Congregation Shaarei Tefila. Conservative synagogues sending congregants include Encino's Valley Beth Shalom, West Los Angeles shuls Adat Shalom and Temple Beth Am, Burbank's Temple Emanu El, Congregation Eilat in Mission Viejo and Santa Monica's Kehillat Ma'arav and Temple Beth El of South Orange County. Reform synagogues participating are Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills and Northridge's Temple Ahavat Shalom. The Mega-Mission has support from the Jewish federations in Orange County, San Gabriel, Long Beach and greater Los Angeles. It has no large marketing budget and is relying on rabbis to spread the word.
Separately, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles is planning an Oct. 17-28 leadership mission to Prague, Budapest and Israel. The trip will be for travelers from The Federation's elite fundraising circle -- people willing to donate $5,000 to its United Jewish Fund (UJF) -- and younger, next-generation donors ready to make a 2005 commitment of $3,600 in UJF donations. About 35 people are expected to participate. By spending three days in Prague and another three days in Budapest, including Shabbat, The Federation's itinerary leaves about four days for policy briefings and political and/or religious visits in Israel.
At the Reform Temple Israel of Hollywood, Rabbi John Rosove is leading an Oct. 9-19, study mission, which will include meetings with Israeli politicians and intellectuals. Temple Israel tour members also will visit and help their sister shul near Jerusalem. The visit will cost $2,900 a person.
Some hope that the increase of low-cost trips and missions is a sign of Israel slowly pulling out of a long tourism downturn.
"They're desperate," said Young Israel of Century City's Rabbi Elazar Muskin, adding that a friend who visited recently noticed, "the sense of emptiness in terms of tourism." -- David Finnigan, Contributing Writer