Comic actor Larry Miller explained to a Journal reporter his new role on ABC's eye-winking drama, "Desperate Housewives."
When Arden Realty Chairman and CEO Richard Ziman's elderly father was beginning to fade about 10 years ago, the father made a simple request. "'If I begin to lose it, take me there,'" said the father, as recounted by his son. "'I will never be in better hands and with better people who will take better care of me.'" Since 1912, those better hands have been at the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging.
Soulful 'Hatikvah' Ends Wiesenthal Farewell
It was an unscripted, final moment that may have best captured the Monday memorial at the Museum of Tolerance for Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, who died last week at age 96.
The ceremony had been held outside. As long lines of mourners waited amidst rows of folded chairs to return into the museum, an elderly, white-haired man began singing Israel's national anthem, "Hatikvah," in a loud, lone voice. A ripple of applause followed after Gedalia Arditti, a 77-year-old Greek Jew, belted out the song's last word -- "Yer-u-shal-a-yim!"
Jewish community concerns over security have increased in recent months following the arrest and indictment of four men for allegedly planning attacks on local Jewish targets, including a synagogue and the Israeli consulate.
After a catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina, sometimes an aid worker helps by delivering a baby, sometimes the job is just delivering a cheeseburger -- or perhaps a thousand cheeseburgers. And sometimes the simple act of providing a yarmulke to an old man can provide solace.
So it was for Rabbis Chaim Kolodny and Tzemach Rosenfeld of Hatzolah of Los Angeles, an organization of emergency-medical volunteers with particular expertise in assisting members of the Orthodox community. When they decided to embark for the stricken Gulf Coast in the wake of Katrina, they wanted to be available to help Jewish victims who could benefit from their knowledge of religious practice. But they also were prepared and eager to help anyone they could, and they had no trouble locating storm victims and relief workers who needed all sorts of assistance.
Prominent rabbis have been urging their congregations to give generously to Hurricane Katrina relief funds, the most prominent being one set up by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, which had raised more than $500,000 by early this week.
It fit somehow that this recent Saturday service for converts to Judaism took place in a synagogue library. Because this gathering, at Temple Beth Am near Beverly Hills, was both an exercise in worship and in teaching. Maybe it even fit that this was a children's library, because many of the 40 adults who sat in folding chairs are young in relation to their Judaism.
This program, called Judaism by Choice, is "a way of educating the people while they're in the service itself, teaching it while they're doing the service ... the terms of the synagogue, the geography of the service," said Rabbi Neal Weinberg, the program's creator.
Earlier this summer, Shana Leonard gave up her Fairfax District apartment to move to New Orleans and be near her 82-year-old father, legendary jazz photographer Herman Leonard. But late last month, the 33-year-old single mother, who also cares for her wheelchair-bound 10-year-old daughter, India, found the three of them among the thousands racing to escape from New Orleans.
Long before "The Da Vinci Code" dominated bestseller lists, a cluster of Jewish mathematicians were promoting "The Bible Codes," the deeply mathematical interpretations of the five books of Moses which may, vaguely, predict some future events.
And yes conspiracy theorists, the government is involved -- insofar as one of the code's four main proponents worked at the National Security Agency (NSA).
"The evidence is all showing that these codes are real," said Harold Gans, who spent 28 years at the NSA as a senior cryptologic mathematician before retiring in 1996. "The Torah could not be written by any being bound by the laws of nature."
More than 500 demonstrators, mostly Orthodox Jews, gathered in front of the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles last weekend to oppose Israel's planned, upcoming pullout of settlers from Gaza.
A large, striped blue-and-white flag bearing the phrase, "Liberation!" greets visitors at the Museum of Tolerance exhibit, "Liberation! Revealing the Unspeakable," about the Allied soldiers and the starved, dying and dead Jews they discovered while liberating concentration camps.
In a hallway there is a row of photographs of soldiers who became the saviors of survivors. Then, down a set of stairs to the main exhibit area, one gallery wall features a 1945 poem written by an unnamed survivor upon learning of Hitler's death:
I have outlived the fiend
My lifelong wish fulfilled
What more need I achieve
My heart is full of joy
TV comedy writer Rodney Rothman spent six months as the youngest resident of a largely Jewish retirement community in Florida, gaining insight into his own aging process for his book, "Early Bird: A Memoir of Premature Retirement."
This will be Camp JCA Shalom's first summer away from home. For the first time in its 54-year history, the Malibu camp is independent, having broken away from the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles (JCCGLA) in January.
Life after the centers crisis hasn't been easy for The Shalom Institute: Camp and Conference Center, and now officials are learning how to raise the bulk of the camp's $2.3 million budget.
"Everything is great but we need support," said Bill Kaplan, executive director of the Shalom Institute, which runs Camp JCA Shalom.
Between 35,000 and 40,000 people spent Sunday, May 15 at Woodley Park in Van Nuys for the annual Israel Independence Day festival.
The festival's early afternoon main event featuring pro-Israel speeches and politicians lasted exactly one hour; on the last note of "The Star-Spangled Banner" skydivers appeared above. "The coincidence was amazing," festival executive director Yoram Gutman said.
In the late afternoon, more than 7,000 people crowded the festival's main stage to hear Israeli pop superstar Sarit Hadad. Fire marshals had difficulty clearing fans from the aisles.
The high concrete walls of the little-used cafeteria at the Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles hardly spoke to Passover’s concept of freedom found and bondage ended. But this is where a dozen inmates gathered for their seder, in a setting that cried out Egypt rather than the promised land.
Rabbi Yossi Carron, the jail’s Jewish chaplain, held up a sprig of parsley to redefine the bleak surroundings.
“This is a real great symbol for you,” the Reform rabbi said. “I really want you to believe in the green parts of yourself. This symbol is you.”
Christian children wearing their Sunday best for last week's Easter services understandably could forget, amidst their Easter egg hunts, that the Last Supper of Jesus was a Passover seder.
But in this season of Easter and Passover, connections between the holidays has inspired an art exhibit showcasing Christian and Jewish artists motivated by religious themes. The exhibit is housed in downtown Los Angeles at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Its aspirations and the artworks themselves are impressive, though the effort has suffered from uneven presentation of the artwork.
The "Passion/Passover" exhibit could be viewed as a positive response to Jewish-Catholic tensions surrounding last year's "The Passion of the Christ" by filmmaker Mel Gibson. His film was praised by Catholic church officials, though many Jewish leaders said the film unreasonably cast Jews as villains.
Last year The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles raised about $4.5 million at Super Sunday 2004, about $800,000 more than 2003's Super Sunday success. The money will fund agencies such as Jewish Family Service and Jewish Vocational Service, as these two critical-needs agencies join other non-profits in bracing for state and federal cutbacks.
Portland author Anne Marie Oliver has seen suicide bombers and other Palestinian extremists up close, and she says the cultish world of the terrorist group Hamas has "its own momentum and driving force and it has nothing to do with almost anything else."
Samuel Bak's first art exhibit was in the Vilna ghetto when he was 9 years old. While the Nazis killed 75,000 Vilna residents, he and his mother emerged as just two of 200 survivors.
Some of that young boy's artwork, which depicted a culture that once was called "the Jerusalem of Lithuania," has survived the 20th century and can be found in the Lithuanian capital's Jewish museum. But Bak's storied 45-year career in painting also brings more than 40 of his works to Los Angeles for the two-month "Between Worlds" exhibit at the Finegood Gallery at the New Jewish Community Center at Milken in West Hills.
From call girl to Trump girl, actress Lisa Edelstein has played myriad parts on stage and off. Now she's landed a plum role, starring on the Fox TV series "House," an "E.R."-meets-"CSI" drama. The Boston native heads the fictional teaching hospital that houses strangely ill patients.
News in brief from David Finnigan.
When Rabbi Harold Shulweis learned that the DVD of "The Passion of the Christ," which debuted on Aug. 31, would be just a bare-bones, no-frills copy of Mel Gibson's controversial movie, the spiritual leader of Encino's Valley Beth Shalom said, "That's very good. I don't think the Jewish community has to repeat, regurgitate, all the anguish, all the anger."
When Canadian Jewish filmmaker Mark Achbar decided which talking heads would discuss business history in his new, capitalist-critiquing film, "The Corporation," the lineup was a quartet of four Jewish left intellectuals, including Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn.
"And that wasn't done consciously," Achbar told The Journal by telephone from his Vancouver home. "It's just that these happened to be the most articulate spokespersons for this critique."
Brutal heat was the dominant feature of the May 2 Israel Independence Day Festival in Van Nuys, as 99-degree temperatures kept thousands indoors and away from the sprawling Woodley Park celebration.
On an alcohol-free St. Patrick's Day in the tranquil, grassy courtyard of a Westside recovery house for Jewish drug addicts, a former addict displayed his battle scars from 17 years of relentless freebasing, mainlining, snorting, bingeing, shooting up and coming down. The ex-addict's arms are pocked with small, pink mounds of leathery flesh -- reminders, he said, of, "places where I've missed shooting heroin."
For Jewish addicts forever negotiating the psychological and physiological cliffs of recovery, sobriety especially can fulfill Passover's promise of redemption.
Jewish tunes, Grateful Dead-style tie-dyed T-shirts and rows of singing, swaying, arm-in-arm Jews gave a summer camp feel to Valley Beth Shalom's (VBS) "25th Hour" event, which marked the end of the Valentine's Day Shabbat.
Nearly 400 people came to the Conservative Encino synagogue's festive but compact Feb. 14 outreach to the 90 percent of San Fernando Valley Jews not affiliated with a synagogue.
B'nai Tikvah Congregation in Westchester is in the northern tip of the South Bay's small, self-contained Jewish community. Its Manchester Boulevard sanctuary has 204 seats, and as synagogue president Tony Schaffer said, "We bring in a good 40 to 60 people on a Saturday and we will fill the place on bar mitzvah."
If you spend a Saturday afternoon touring Stephen S. Wise Temple with Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin, you will be immersed in the living history of one of Judaism's great, modern temples. Resting atop 18 commanding acres off of Mulholland Drive in Bel Air, the Stephen S. Wise complex houses 11 buildings where once, 40 years ago, there was nothing.
Los Angeles writer Steve Oney's book, "And the Dead Shall Rise" (Pantheon Books, 2003), details two infamous, unsolved crimes: the 1913 murder of non-Jewish preteen Mary Phagan in an Atlanta factory and the arrest, trial, conviction, death sentence commutation and 1915 abduction and lynching by a 25-man mob of Leo Frank, the factory's Jewish, 29-year-old Northern-born supervisor. In 1995, on the 80th yahrtzeit of Frank's death, Temple Kol Emeth in Marietta, Ga., helped place a plaque on the building built on the spot where the tree used to lynch him grew. Oney, a 49-year-old former Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter, whose wife is Jewish, spent 17 years researching the 742-page book.
When Rabbi Kenneth Chasen came to the Leo Baeck Temple for a final interview with the search committee in the spring of 2002, he put together a sample Shabbat service for about 40 people. During the service, congregation president Robin Bernstein closed her eyes and smiled. A feeling of peace came over her and she said that she knew that this was "our rabbi."
NBC's Sunday night drama, "American Dreams," finds the generally non-Jewish saga's second season storylines, about an Irish Catholic family in 1960s Philadelphia, becoming a bit more Jewish.
Israel's Ministry of Tourism, facing a 50 percent drop in tourism since the intifada began three years ago, is making an aggressive push into a fresh territory of potential new tourists: Hispanic Evangelical Christians.
Documentary filmmaker Ruth Broyde-Sharone's latest work, "God and Allah Need To Talk," will make its Los Angeles debut Sunday, Sept. 14, with the 18-minute film being central to a three-hour interfaith celebration highlighting common bonds between Muslims, Christians and Jews.