The French now understand that Obama's election will set off a long overdue debate about the status of minority communities within their own nation. Why, people are asking, are there not more minority members of the national legislative bodies?
I have a wish that our eloquent new president will have the audacity to tell the nation that, for most of us, 99 percent of our happiness is in our own hands.
The U'netaneh Tokef prayer says: On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed: Who shall live and who shall die, who shall perish by water and who by fire, who by famine and who by thirst . God's got it on His iPhone, of course.
Within the calendar that constitutes the Jewish cathedral in time, no days are more saturated with the experience of human nature, and with experiments in human change, than the Days of Awe. This is when we are asked, paradoxically, both to steep in our powerlessness to escape our species' fate, and yet also to try out behaviors that can rescue us from our destinies.
For as long as rabbis have been arguing Talmud, their wives have been at home preparing Shabbat dinner. Yet that image, along with expectations for clergy spouses, has evolved. For one, they're no longer all women. They're no longer always hovering in the background. And they're not always different genders.
Photo: Rabbi Brian, Rabbi Deborah and Heshel Schuldenfrei
City of Los Angeles has been ordered to conduct a new environmental impact report (EIR) before implementing the Pico-Olympic traffic plan.
Our communities' leadership has to absorb the reality that the next generation of open-minded young people sees diversity as a plus, not as a burden to be overcome.
The U.S. Campaign for Burma puts together an internet and television campaign, with the hope that their messages will reach not only millions of Americans but also the rank-and-file soldiers in Burma, who may not even realize how closely the world is looking at the atrocities many of them are carrying out.
In defending middle-class neighborhoods, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky is taking on an issue that reaches to the heart of Los Angeles' ethnic, political and class divide
I am disturbed, not by the content, but by the direction, of the entire discussion regarding the relationship between blacks and Jews, and particularly by the discussion about comments supposedly made at a recent awards ceremony here in Los Angeles.
Parshat Tzav (Leviticus 6:1-8:36)
Where shall we leave our precious emotional and spiritual possessions that don't work anymore? Maimonides says this about the ashes of the sacrifice: "Even though removing the ashes is not formally worship, they should not be carried by a person who is ineligible to serve. They should be taken outside ...
The Shah of Iran symbolized, with his youth and his seemingly limitless future, the power and grandeur that, we believed, would one day be his -- he symbolized for us a life of possibilities, such as we hadn't known for centuries.
I am a New Orleans Jew. The values of those identities fuel me like the smooth-yet-caffeinated drink that is the trademark of my hometown. I embrace the changing communal calendars and the rituals for their observances of joy and tragedy. These have taught me what it means to be human and how to extract eternity from the changing seasons.
If your life could change in a moment, what would you want it to be?
The rhetoric on agunot contrasted sharply from that on other topics at the conference, where a sense of confidence bordering on the triumphant prevailed, owing to the substantial progress made in the decade since JOFA's founding.
Times are changing, and the Times, with circulation and advertising dropping, can no longer afford to be so high and mighty. At long last, the paper is going to juice up its Web site, and community input like your synagogue discussion meeting and your opinions and activities may be a big part of it.
Let me state for the record: I am a trendsetter.
This just in, according to no less an authority than The New York Times. Based on their most recent census analysis, more American women are living without a husband than with one.
Sokatch is the founding executive director of Los Angeles-based Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA), a nondenominational group dedicated, in his words, to "connecting Jews to the critical social justice issues facing our city, such as criminal and economic justice and interfaith dialogue."
Moreover, now that Hamas is recognized as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, Hamas' official stance toward Israel has given Western observers a crisp and reliable thermometer to gauge the Palestinian vision of peace, many times more reliable than the ambiguous polls and speeches we have been reading about in the past.
Is it possible for Los Angeles Jews and Muslims to talk to one another, to share peacefully at the table?
This is the question that some leaders of both groups locally are asking themselves.
"I want my children to have a future of hope, a future where they can contribute positively to American society as Muslims," Al-Marayati said. "I don't want a future of prejudice, fear and victimization."
As Israel's top representative in this region, the consul general has always exerted a strong symbolic influence in the Los Angeles Jewish community, and his actual impact has varied according to his own priorities and changing circumstances.
The segment begins with host Jimmy Smits providing a quick overview of a familiar litany of problems besetting Los Angeles. There are traffic-choked interchanges, vast tracts of unchecked development, a trickle of water to slake a thirsty city and brownish air.
"Jews are not cultured people," she complains. The other woman disagrees.
"They are cultured," she insists, "they are just different."
An observant Jew, Bleich provides a Jewish rationale for his commitment. While Judaism teaches that each individual is unique and special, it also emphasizes community, he says.
Israel is now stuck between Iraq and a hard place; those in the administration who most uncritically support Israel don't know what they're doing, and those who have better ideas are more critical of Israel.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni -- all have spoken in Los Angeles recently on the need to confront the Iranian threat immediately and forcefully.
But I'm wary.
Did the Jews do it?
I mean, after killing Jesus, did the Elders of Zion manipulate the government of the United States into invading Babylon as part of a scheme to abet the expansion of greater Israel?
Propelled by curiosity, I asked, "By the way are you Jewish?"
"Not at all," he answered. "I was born Presbyterian, and now I am a Baptist. Maybe one day I will become Jewish. What do you think of that?"
Deciding it would be best not to answer, I acted Jewish and responded with a totally different question: "How do you know so much about Judaism and Chanukah?"
With total seriousness he said, "You can't claim to be a religious Christian without knowing Judaism. All religious wisdom starts with Judaism."
COEJL's Web site describes its three-pronged approach of "engaging the Jewish community in awareness, advocacy and concrete action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy conservation and sustainable legislation," in order to "change how American Jewry responds to ... daunting environmental problems."
Bush launched a weeklong review of the Iraq Study Group's recommendations on Monday, starting with meetings with top State Department officials. Later in the week he was to have met with outside experts, top U.S. diplomats in the region and top military brass.
Depression is a word that has been cheapened. We forget that it is a diagnosis for a bona fide disease. It becomes a catch phrase for the weighty feelings we experience as we come to terms with life's challenges and honor the process of change.
I reached back to cover the asparagus fern I had placed just behind the front seat. (At that time I was told no out-of-state plants were allowed.) The car swerved, ran over the embankment and careened down a ditch at top speed.
Many rabbinic texts detail our long tradition of ecotheology, explicitly supporting the idea that caring for the Earth is a distinctly religious imperative.
The most engaging, hard-hitting liberals in this country right now are Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher. But they're not leaders, they're jesters. They tell funny bedtime stories so that about 2 million New York Times readers can fall asleep believing the world hasn't really gone to hell.
Deciding whether to take your husband's surname.
The New Year is a time at once joyful and solemn for Jews, because it marks a new beginning for each of us. It carries the assurance that we all do get a second chance and urges us to seize hold of it.
A brief rundown of the national synagogue revitalization programs that have arisen since the early 1990s.
Gayle Gale started Kids for Peace after she returned to Los Angeles from a series of trips to Israel as a visiting artist at Ben-Gurion University, Beersheba in 1994 and 1995. With assistance from the local Israeli consulate and a grant obtained with help from the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity from the Jewish Community Foundation, she set out to teach youth about Israel through artistic means. In the years since, Gale has found herself doing much more.
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.
"I have been told not to touch the Torah and to go back to my own religion" she relayed to me matter-of-factly.
"Wasn't there anyone you could confide in?" I asked.
"I could confide in some more than others, but when it came down to it, no one really cared whether I converted or not."
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.
Miriam Prum-Hess, an experienced and admired Federation executive, took on a new role working on behalf of day schools last year, an effort to increase the level of professionalism and efficiency in all nonacademic areas. She has become the central address for day schools looking for expertise on operational issues -- fundraising strategies, legal advice, business decisions, purchasing, and human resources.
Families are feeling the squeeze of the upward crawl of day school tuition over the last several years, which has brought the average tuition for elementary and middle school to about $12,600 and for high school to as much as $20,000. Those numbers are about 30 percent above what a year of schooling cost four years ago and nearly double 10 years ago.
Ten years ago, I interviewed a dozen graduates of the Miller program who had followed through with conversion. Although Rabbi Neal Weinberg, who has long directed the program, tries hard to keep track of alumni, many slip out of his database. He was able to supply me with contact information for 10 Jews-by-Choice I had interviewed when I wrote my previous article.
Stephen Lachter didn't know what to expect when a friend dragged him to a men's club meeting at his Conservative synagogue five years ago.
"My father was in a men's club, and to me, it was guys sitting around playing pinochle and volunteer ushering," he admitted.
Lachter was surprised to see "interesting people having serious discussions," and he "fell into a session on kiruv," or outreach, to intermarried families. "I said to myself, this is something shuls need to be talking about."
"He's the James Brown of the Jewish community, the hardest-working man in L.A. Jewry," Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss said. "I see him everywhere."
Although in some ways, Fishel is everywhere but nowhere. A bearded, slender man with a direct gaze, the shy Fishel seems to prefer keeping his own counsel. He sometimes materializes at events in his well-tailored suits and then slips away after talking to but a handful of folks.
No matter where you are in the menopause transition, it's never too late (or early) to get your health act together to ensure the next 40 or so years are as terrific as or better than the first were. Here are 10 things you can do right now.
As a Muslim and an Arab, playing in the homes of American families, Zade Dirani wanted to bring a message that culture could unite people. At the same time, he also wanted to send a message to his fellow Muslims and Arabs that, "You can be proud of your culture."
Wars, the Holocaust, the creation of the State of Israel and the movement of Jews to countries of freedom and security shaped the first revolution in Jewish communal life. Now, individuals are able to re-invent the idea of "community" on their own terms.
Today, Judaism is undergoing a transformation, as we seek to embody the words of Rav Kook, who said we must make the old new and the new holy. Prayer must be made spiritually meaningful, whereby it becomes what Heschel described as the language of the soul, not just the language of the past.