Joseph Stalin is reputed to have said, "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything." I think he had it half right.
Parshat Shelach Lecha (Numbers 13:1-15:41)
Why is there so much disillusionment, fear and unsettling behavior in this parsha? And what can we learn from the chaos?
While acknowledging that the massacres were a genocide, the ADL and its national director, Abraham Foxman, continue to refuse to support the congressional resolution (HR 106) that officially recognizes the Armenian genocide.
So even if my rabbi's bar mitzvah talk engendered embarrassment and guilt in me, I now want to thank him for challenging me in the way he did that day.
It took eight decades, but at last I know what is meant by "second childhood."
Many rabbinic texts detail our long tradition of ecotheology, explicitly supporting the idea that caring for the Earth is a distinctly religious imperative.
We are donors to universities, museums, orchestras and hospitals, but when it comes to Jewish philanthropy, we fall short. Today, perhaps 20 percent or less of Jewish giving goes to Jewish causes.
A variety of officials from nonprofits operating in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip discussed the challenges of operating in Hamas-run territory at a conference last week on nonprofits, human rights and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Fighting between small groups of Hamas and Fatah members on the streets of Gaza shows signs of intensifying. Both sides have mobilized large forces in Gaza and the West Bank, and some Palestinian observers are predicting civil war.
Hila Plitmann is building a career based largely on new music by composers like David Del Tredici, John Corigliano, Roger Reynolds and Esa-Pekka Salonen, the latter the longtime music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and something of a Plitmann champion.
Arnold Eisen is a distinguished scholar of modern Jewish thought and an insightful student of the American Jewish community. His work, "The Jew Within," written jointly with Steven Cohen, explores the identity of marginally affiliated contemporary Jews and illustrates the crisis that institutional liberal Judaism has in maintaining the allegiance of a new generation of American Jews.
Something new for the holiday, use the charoset ingredients to make a Passover Fruit Cake filled with nuts and dried fruit that offers a tasty and a crunchy treat. It is similar to the Italian delicacy known as Panforte that originated in Sienna. The mixture is tossed together in a large bowl, spooned into parchment-lined baking pans, and baked for an hour and a half. The good news is that these loaves will easily keep for the eight days of the holiday.
While there are only four questions posed in the haggadah, most seders struggle with the unasked fifth question, "When are we going to eat?" It is asked, not only by hungry children, but also by adults who feel disconnected to the rituals of their ancestors.
In the last two decades, most Israelis have arrived at two conclusions: 1) territory and security are separate issues, and 2) the Palestinians are politically dysfunctional; not only can't they be trusted to keep a peace agreement, they can't be coerced into keeping one, either.
"Looking at what's happening locally and nationally, we've found that fewer teen boys enroll in informal Jewish activities than they did in previous years," said Lori Harrison Port, senior associate director for planning and allocations at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
hen it comes to marketing Judaism, especially to young adults, it is hard to imagine a program, innovation and --dare I say it -- gimmick that has not been tried. I would like to suggest one. Let's make Judaism harder.
After schlepping 40 years in the desert, it's hard to imagine a CD to exercise by coming from a people who have harbored a subconscious distrust of walking. But with my daughter's upcoming nuptials, my unending kvetch about fitting into the dress won out over my skepticism.
"Real Zionism is to encourage all to move to the Negev and the Galilee," said Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit, adding that the key to developing the peripheries lies in improving transportation to the center of the country. Efficient transportation, he said, will change the periphery into suburbia.
If there's one thing in marketing that piques interest, it's the element of surprise. For synagogues, however, this is easier said than done, because so much of a prayer service is based on repetition. And repetition itself has an emotional benefit: It makes us feel safe and comfortable.
Teaching your brain new tricks is like a workout for the mind. It's never too early to start, and you don't have to ante up tuition to start your brain fitness program
Following the public criticism, 14 commissioners voted last Friday against adopting the Oxford materials, and one commissioner abstained. Their rejection came as a surprise, because a special review committee had recommended its adoption to the commission.
Coming to terms with someone else's anguish is one subject of "Call Waiting," a new film about the bedridden daughter of Holocaust survivors. The film stars Caroline Aaron, who recreates her successful turn from the stage version. Aaron can relate to the material, both because she is Jewish and because her family has its own significant pain.
"What interested me about the story was not the Holocaust," Nancy Keystone said. "It was in what we did by bringing these people into the country and later by kicking them out. We whitewashed Rudolph's record when we decided he was important for national security. But when the game is over, can you really change the rules and is that justice?"
On the telephone, Anders speaks exactly like the book she's written. Candid, passionate and prone to interspersing the conversation with hysterical impersonations of her mother's Cuban-accented English, Anders also emphasized that she "fiercely loves" her parents, now in their 70s.
Much of John Paul's teachings about the Jews have been promulgated as church doctrine, and thus, technically are official church policy. But even before John Paul II died, there were indications that his policies had not been accepted unanimously among church leaders -- or that they had trickled down to the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.
Four months after he was elected president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas is fighting for his political life -- and possibly for the survival of the peace process.
What is the touchstone that unites a 26.2-mile marathon with a Siyum Hashas celebration of completing the 7.5-year page-a-day Talmud cycle?
The sanctuary of Congregation Beth Knesset Bamidbar in Lancaster evokes the mood of the Mojave Desert, which reaches far to the north, west and south of the small synagogue.
Growing up, I always stood out as a Jew in my predominantly WASP community.
Bruin fans call him the Jewish Jordan. The Freshman Phenom. The Future of UCLA Basketball. Those are high expectations to place on an 18-year-old curly haired kid from the Valley; but the kid doesn't think so.
For most L.A. City Council members, the March municipal election is less a race than a stroll in the park. Mayor Jim Hahn faces four serious challengers, but just before the December filing deadline, it seemed that the only serious council race was in the Westside's 11th District, where newbies Flora Krisiloff and Bill Rosendahl are squared off to replace Cindy Miscikowski, who has been forced out by term limits.
With Sunday's elections, the Bush administration got something it demanded from the Palestinians: the beginnings of a democracy. Whether that produces a real, functional democracy remains to be seen -- and as that drama plays out, the administration faces some tough decisions and some big policy snares.
There is little doubt that the first film version of William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" will find its detractors.
Maybe the answer isn't Jewish day school, a bar or bat mitzvah, a Jewish summer camp, a Birthright Israel trip or a subscription to Heeb magazine. Maybe the answer is as simple as this: unmemorable Chanukah presents.
OK, so if you're rejected, perhaps your self-esteem takes a little hit. If you're rejected a lot, perhaps it gets bruised. And if you experience nothing but rejection, maybe your self-esteem ends up in the trauma ward of Love General Hospital. But enough about my pain.
Both brides were beautiful and the dress was a focal point each time, thanks to the loving restoration work by dressmaker Camila Sigelmann, who made it possible for Amee Huppin Sherer to be married in Grandma Marian Huppin's 1925 wedding gown.
Overlooking bruised thumbs, sore muscles and sunburns, by week's end the construction crew will bubble excitedly over their measurable progress that began with a bare foundation, said Thayne Smith, construction director for Orange County's Habitat for Humanity.
The leadership of our mainstream political parties meanwhile vowed that in the future, they would prevent the hijacking of their congressional nominations by extremists. For a quarter of a century, they were mostly able to keep that vow -- up until now.
It is a job that demands a great deal of patience with parents as well as kids. Everything depends on: a) the cranial size of the student, and b) the size of the bribes offered by the parents to the kid.
The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has given the Islamic republic of Iran a firm warning to cooperate on its nuclear issue or face trouble.
To avoid being branded as a collaborator, most Palestinians would not admit to accepting aid from Israel. Samera bravely told her story to A-Sinara, the largest Arabic-language newspaper in the region. Her experience "was diametrically opposed to everything she'd been told," Larry Rich said.
In fact, CAIR's sponsorship of the tour, which occurred last month, had nothing to do with improving dialogue or facilitating understanding -- just the opposite.
What does it mean to "resist history"? What is "historicism," and why would there be "discontents" toward historicism in German Jewish thought, or in any intellectual society?
Despite continuing legal challenges, members of Etz Chaim this month prayed for the first few Shabbats in their new home, a house converted for use as a shul on the corner of Highland Avenue and Third Street in Hancock Park.
"I wanted to capture the fact that we're not your typical city," said Larry Brownstein, and with that inspiration, he began his photo book of Los Angeles. Filled with vivid images, the book captures all things reminiscent of the city's vibe -- colorful people, bold architecture and, of course, its laid-back energy.
Last May, Dr. Michael A. Friedman took the helm of City of Hope as its CEO. A federally designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, the 112-acre biomedical research and treatment center in Duarte got its start in 1914 when members of the Jewish Consumptive Relief Association set up two tents as a haven for those stricken with
Friedman, an oncologist and clinical researcher, also has experience in public policy and commercial drug development. He served as the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under President Bill Clinton and as associate director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). He got his start as a clinical oncologist and professor at UC San Francisco Medical Center and most recently worked in the pharmaceutical industry.
The Jewish Journal spoke with Friedman as City of Hope celebrates its 90th anniversary, Friedman marks his first year with the institution and a state-of-the-art Helford Clinical Research Hospital, scheduled to open this fall, nears completion:
Limmud, which means learning in Hebrew, is a name that for many in the Jewish and non-Jewish educational world has become synonymous with an inclusive, bottom-up approach to education.
The radical outsiders in Sacramento are the moderates and pragmatists, a strange truth that was brought home dramatically this month, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature compromised on a ballot measure to refinance the state's huge debt and hem in future
spending excesses by the Legislature.
This month, as I started my work with the American Jewish Committee (AJC), my wife's father, Sol, celebrated his 90th birthday with his friends at Leisure World of Laguna Woods. Like many of us, Sol is a transplant to Orange County from Brooklyn, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and finally reaching this day at Leisure World.
We are a people that move as life changes. For Sol, this has been a fortunate journey, and he has his community to support him. For the rest of us, finding our place in a community of transplants can be a challenge.
The Los Angeles campus of California State University hardly seems fertile ground to introduce studies on Jewish culture and history.
The forced retirement of Gov. Gray Davis, and the shattering of the Democratic one-party government in California, marks a major turning point in the political evolution of the state's Jews.
So what is Ron Wolfson's opinion when it comes to those $100 and $150 price tags on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur seats? Are the charges really necessary? Is the cost too high?
Just shy of 3 percent of California's population, Jews represent an estimated 5 percent of the state's registered voters. In a race that analysts predict will hinge on a minority of votes, a minority's voting bloc will be crucial.
The Pacific Jewish Center (PJC) has been a Venice beach landmark for the past 60 years. Always a Traditional or Orthodox congregation, PJC has been on the fringes of the larger Orthodox centers in Pico-Robertson and Hancock Park -- and a few miles too far west for some.
Korah forces us to examine the motives of those who are either appointed or elected officials. Furthermore, we're encouraged to probe the reasons why some people attempt to become self-appointed leaders.
For the Kids
Coming after conferences on anti-Semitism in New York, Amsterdam, Paris and Vienna, the book, "A New Anti-Semitism? Debating Judeophobia in 21st-Century Britain," is something of a symposium unto itself.
Next week's vote for mayor of Jerusalem will be unprecedented: For the first time since the reunification of the city in 1967, no major national figure is running.