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Community Briefs

August 22, 2002 | 8:00 pm

Dems Take Breather in Bel Air

Instead of debating the finer points of the Oslo peace accords or discussing the impact of Sept. 11 on Jewish America, Democrats for Israel-Los Angeles (DFI-LA) will focus their attention instead on enjoying some kosher food and congenial conversation at their Summer Garden Party on Aug. 25 from 4-7 p.m. The group's annual event, to be held this year at a private home in Bel Air, will also feature the election of a new executive board and one of the last opportunities to relax before the upcoming election season.

Rep. Brad Sherman and L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky will be among a slate of Jewish Democratic officeholders expected to attend.

DFI-LA is the voice of the Jewish and pro-Israel community in the Democratic Party. And while Democrats hold a variety of stances on Israel, DFI-LA maintains a pro-Israel posture and supports "security-related decisions of the government of Israel, whether left or right," according to Paul Kujawsky, incoming DFI-LA president.

Admission to the Summer Garden Party is $15, but high school and college students, and anyone registering as Democrat at the door, will be given free admission and six-month membership. 11225 Homedale St., Bel Air. For reservations, please call (310) 285-8542. -- Adam Wills, Associate Editor

Aiding and Abetting Recovery

Rabbi Juda Mintz feels that we are a community in denial about our social ills.

"Unfortunately, the vast majority of 12-step groups are held in churches. Very rarely at synagogues," he says. "Either consciously or unconsciously, our community does not think addiction is a Jewish issue."

Mintz, an Orthodox rabbi, hopes to correct that on Aug. 25 with his inaugural 12-Step Jewish Service, where he will combine prayer, song and discussion to combat addiction.

A practicing rabbi for 35 years, Mintz, 60, has dealt with his own "dark, deep and deadly" addiction: Internet pornography. Mintz had served as a pulpit rabbi in Canada, a Jewish chaplain at Emory University and worked at New Jersey's Congregation B'nai Torah for 17 years, where he says he came to terms with his "sexual addiction."

"It potentially can kill one's ability to be intimate with another human being and with God," says Mintz, who for the past five months has been living in Los Angeles at Beit T'Shuvah, the residential rehabilitation campus with a Jewish spiritual component. Executive Director Harriet Rossetto considers Mintz a model resident grappling with "the crack cocaine" of the 21st century. "This is a major problem and it's time to talk about it," she says.

Mintz wants to take what he is learning there and help others.

"I just want people to engage in a service where they can celebrate Judaism and not feel guilty by the addiction they have," Mintz says. "Addiction has nothing to do with the weak-willed. It's an incurable disease. Nonetheless, one could live, in remission, a full productive happy life."

As a group leader, Mintz feels that he has the edge because "the most effective person to deal with an addict is someone whose been there themselves."

Just as the Jewish community may be in denial of its social problems, Rossetto believes that some rabbis fall prey to the emotional hazards of their vocation.

"The stereotypes have to go," Rossetto says. "We project onto our rabbis our needs for perfection. We deify them as people without these kinds of problems, but nobody teaches you in rabbinic training what to do with your own negativity, lust and lashon hara."

Mintz, recently divorced with three grown children, hopes to nurture his program from a daily endeavor to a physical center.

"He wants to take what has been the most difficult thing in his life and use that as his next mission," Rossetto says. "We support him in that."

For now, Mintz's approach to his project is that of a person in recovery -- one step at a time.

"It's turned into a blessing," Mintz says of his problem, "that will allow me to what I hope and pray will bring recovery to a lot of people."

The 12-Step Jewish Service will be held on Aug. 25 at Kenesset Israel Congregation, 2364 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverlywood. Brunch is included. To R.S.V.P., call (310) 922-2605. --Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer

UAHC Opposes Secession

The Executive Committee of the Pacific Southwest Council of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) passed a resolution on Aug. 14 opposing the secession of the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood from the City of Los Angeles.

The resolution rejects secession "because the central argument for secession is a privatistic appeal to narrow self-interest, which is contrary to the Jewish spirit of communal mutual responsibility," the resolution states among one of its reasons.

The Pacific Southwest Council of the UAHC is the first major Jewish organization to publicly oppose secession.

"We feel serious concern about a balkanization of communities which could pit the rich against the poor," says Esther Saritzky, regional UAHC president.

The resolution also expresses concern over the effects of secession on the poor, labor unions, nonprofit organizations and neighborhood councils.

The resolution calls upon Reform congregations in the City of Los Angeles to sponsor educational events to inform their members about this issue.

For further information, contact Rabbi Alan Henkin at (323) 653-9962 or e-mail ahenkin@uahc.org . -- Staff Report

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