As Antonio Villaraigosa campaigns for mayor in the Jewish community, he will face the same big question asked by all non-Latino voters: Are you too Mexican?
The question is especially important to Jews, because our community's long-time relationship with Latino and African American Los Angeles has been a powerful force in the city's history.
You don't have to go far to hear complaints about the L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD), the city's beleaguered public school system, nor very far to catch grumbling about Mayor James K. Hahn. But linking the two is a stretch for many, because Los Angeles' mayor has no authority over the city's schools -- none at all.
Yet one challenger in particular, Bob Hertzberg, has made LAUSD the centerpiece of his campaign by pledging, somehow, to break up the nation's second-largest school system. Politically, the strategy isn't off the wall.
The faint of heart should not apply for this job: Needed, a sensitive but thick-skinned person who can get along with a combative mixture
of Los Angeles' Jews, blacks, whites, Asians, Latinos, Catholics, Baptists, Muslims, students, retired people, lawyers, doctors, homeless and many, many more.
Twenty years ago, who could have thought that in 2004, the president of Russia would be attending a meeting of the leaders of industrialized democracies in the United States? Vladimir Putin's presence at the Group of Eight summit on Sea Island, Ga., in June could be seen as a sign of mind-boggling progress. Unfortunately, the rollback of democracy in Russia continues apace with more and more signs of a climate that bears some chilling similarities to that of 20 years ago.
Allowing students to chose what they want to study in religious school is sure to loosen a standardized curriculum. But such an exercise in democracy potentially can also instill commitment by its participants.
If there was a presidential candidate whose father accused "the Jew media" and "Jewish pundits in New York and Los Angeles" of beating the drums for war, and said he had no problem with harassing and punishing the Jews -- but such things shouldn't be done in "a loud clamor" -- would you vote for that candidate?
Last month, seven Los Angeles rabbis and five community leaders traveled to Argentina for a whirlwind 72-hour trip. The mission, organized by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, helped them gain firsthand knowledge of the crisis in Argentina. Upon their return to Los Angeles, the leaders have begun promoting the Federation's Lifeline to Argentina campaign, a $1 million challenge grant matching every dollar raised. Below are some of their thoughts and photos of the trip.
The Democratic Party may be about to experience a battle for its Jewish soul. Less than a year before the first primary, the field for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination has turned into a crowd, but two names have special significance for Jewish voters and the politicians who woo them: Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and the Rev. Al Sharpton -- the cautious, conservative lawmaker and the rhetorical bomb thrower.
As Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) began campaigning for a third term, some pro-Israel activists tried to generate support for his opponent by whispering that the two-term incumbent was insufficiently supportive of Israel. But in almost every respect Wellstone, who died in the crash of his campaign plane in remote northern Minnesota last week en route to a funeral, was more representative of the Jewish political tradition than almost anyone else in political life.
Like so many of us across the United States, I have been giving to the annual campaign of the United Jewish Communities (UJC). Through our annual gifts to our local Jewish Federation, a significant portion of our money goes to the UJC, which then distributes funds in Israel for social services and throughout the world for assistance programs.
After Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated five years ago this month, his wife Leah cast herself as the unforgiving scourge of the Israeli right, which she blamed for fostering the atmosphere in which a Jewish radical, Yigal Amir, pulled the trigger.