For the past three weeks, the theme of Rabbi Elazar Muskin's Shabbat sermons at Young Israel of Century City has been the same. Thundering from the podium, he chastises his congregation for not doing enough to support Israel, and he urges them to pray better and give more charity in response to the horrors of the terror attacks.
Like many communities in Los Angeles, Young Israel of Century City has taken upon itself the support of a large number of charities in Israel, specifically those that fall between the lines; causes that are neither affiliated with the large Jewish fundraising bodies such as The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, nor supported by the Israeli government, despite the urgency of the cause.
With the demise of the former Soviet Union and the fall of communism in the early '90s, the story of Soviet Jewry's battle for survival appears to be ancient history. Yet one of the truly remarkable books of our time is the autobiography of one of the famous refuseniks, Yosef Mendelevitch, who struggled valiantly for his right to be Jewish in Communist Russia. Mendelevitch titled his autobiography "Mevzah Hatunah," which translates from Hebrew as "Operation Wedding."
Had Elazar Muskin not locked himself out of his uncle's house while on his honeymoon here 13 years ago, he might not today be rabbi of one of Los Angeles' most vibrant Orthodox shuls.