It's easy to be a Jew on the Westside or in the West Valley. The nonobservant or even the alienated can be part of the Jewish ambience, especially in places like Pico-Robertson or parts of Ventura Boulevard.
It's different in the Southland's far suburbs. Elections aren't swung by the Jewish vote nor are hotel banquet rooms full of Jewish political contributors. There is a scarcity of Jewish religious, educational and cultural institutions and even delis.
Since losing her husband unexpectedly two years ago, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have been painful for Liz Safirstein Leshin, 42.
"For me, the High Holidays and a lot of things like birthdays are very fraught," the Westside resident said. "I haven't been able to feel enthusiastic about much of anything spiritual."