With many health care programs threatened because of cutbacks in government funding, Jessica Toledano and other members of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles' advocacy arm have redoubled their work on behalf of the elderly, immigrants and other vulnerable groups. In at least three recent instances, those efforts have paid off and saved imperiled programs from debilitating cuts or untimely demises.
They are security guards, schoolteachers, cooks and banquet hall waiters. They are waitresses, agency and museum executives and walkie-talkie-toting synagogue maintenance workers. There are hundreds of non-Jewish support staff at synagogues and other Jewish institutions throughout Southern California, and they are integral to the life of the Jewish community.
"Amazing, amazing people," said Conservative Rabbi Mark Diamond, executive director of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. "I don't think our Jewish institutions could function properly without the efforts of our non-Jewish support staff and even sometimes senior staff."