Coinciding with the run of the “Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic” exhibition at the Autry National Center — and we hope, continuing well beyond — this issue of the Jewish Journal marks the beginning of a new monthly feature showcasing various aspects of Los Angeles’ Jewish history.
The overly creased and still tender face of Shimon Peres looks like he has always been crying; he seems to carry centuries of Jewish suffering upon his strong shoulders. Still, there is some flicker of hope in the old man’s eyes; a stubbornness and a determination that his life’s work will mean something.
One night back in 1985, businessman Bruce Slovin was walking home from a corporate board meeting with a lawyer named Joe Greenberger when Greenberger asked him about his involvement in the Jewish world.
Last month saw the anniversary of one of the most significant events in Jewish history, perhaps the most significant since the Exodus from Egypt -- Nov. 29, 1947 -- the day the U.N. General Assembly voted 33-13 to partition Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state
Ann Spicer's experience is not unique among the more than 100,000 Holocaust survivors who immigrated to the United States after the war. But she has chosen to share her memories this year in a unique way -- by contributing this photograph to a "Shoah Quilt" project put together by Mount Sinai Memorial Parks in honor of Yom HaShoah
The ancient rabbis were astute psychologists. They reflected on the inner life, not through theories, but through narratives, especially their analyses of and speculations on the narratives in the Torah.
For 40 years, my grandfather`Arthur Cohn held the office of chief rabbi of Basel, a city to which he had come at the age of 23. Although unwavering in his religious principles, which he sought to inculcate and foster in the community, he was exceedingly tolerant toward those of other beliefs.
Throughout Jewish history, it has been necessary, time and again, to fight prejudice and false accusations. To mention just one notorious example, there is the blood libel of Pesach, which accuses the Jews of using the blood of Christian children for the baking of matzot -- a blood libel that is again being disseminated, in our days, in Arab countries and even in Russia.
Professor Yaron Z. Eliav, who recently spoke about Jews and statues at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, co-directs the multidisciplinary Statuary Project at the University of Michigan, which, among other endeavors, peruses classical Jewish texts for references to statues (there are at least 6,000 of them -- many appreciative of the figures' beauty and tolerant of female nudes).
Did Israel attempt to address the problems uncovered by the Jewish condition in the Holocaust? Absolutely and surprisingly successfully. However, it has neither ended Jewish vulnerability nor achieved normalcy for the Jewish people, something that does not surprise religious Jews but astonishes secular ones. At 60, it has not -- or at least not yet -- achieved the status of a fully privileged member of the comity of nations. That will have to be the achievement of the succeeding generation.
Some people cap a career by writing a memoir or an exhaustive magnum opus based on a lifetime of research. But after eight books and 30 years at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York as rabbi and professor, Burton L. Visotzky decided to write a novel. A work of Jewish historical fiction, to be more precise.
Diary of activities at LimmudLA.
Joseph Hollander left the untold story of his life packed up in a suitcase, waiting to be found.
For a certain nostalgic segment of the Jewish community, Chanukah wasn't official until KCRW-FM general manager Ruth Seymour narrated her lively "Philosophers, Fiddlers and Fools" program at this time of the year. This noble tradition has now come to an end, but KCRW (89.9) has come up with a worthy replacement in "Only in America," which will air over five days in one-hour segments, Dec. 3-7 at 2 p.m.
A lot of people have trouble with Chanukah. I did, for years. I'd go to parties and nibble on my latke or sufganiyot while grumbling under my breath about how there was nothing here to celebrate. I'd light my Chanukiyah, but I'd only do the bare minimum needed to fulfill the mitzvah and I'd do my best not to enjoy it. My problem then, and the problem of the people who this year have already informed me that they're all but going to boycott the holiday, is that the history of this particular celebration is, well ... complicated.
There are not enough hours in the day for Zane Buzby.
Throughout our history, my family's descendants have been mistreated, traumatized and deceived (just like me), yet somehow, we always survived. We always insisted, either physically or metaphorically, on "staying in the land and digging wells," despite "the famine." So perhaps our people refer to themselves by the names of my father and son, but their inner character and strength as tough survivors comes from me, Isaac. It is my story -- the story of a survivor -- that is really their story.
The Jewish Journal invited writers who will be featured at Sunday's Festival of Books to answer the simple, essential question that every Jewish writer is often asked: "What Jewish sources -- ideas, writings, traditions -- inspire you, and how do they show up in your work?" The following show that there is no easy answer to what defines a Jewish author, but there is no question that there's much to draw upon within the faith.
The bar and bat mitzvah is traditionally viewed as an entry point into the adult Jewish community, but for many, it's also seen as the door out of both Jewish education and the synagogue. For those who become congregants, Los Angeles synagogues are trying to help b'nai mitzvah students and families understand that the ceremony and its preparation symbolize one point on a continuum of Jewish life and learning. Their goal is to strengthen the communal ties of their marginally committed congregants.
During the San Diego fires, a family rescues one of their synagogue's five Torahs and preserves it during the evacuation.
This past summer, I stepped off the plane and felt my feet touch the ground of our homeland for the first time. I was home. For 12 days in Israel, my family and I explored the land, went to museums and had a chance to connect with our spirituality and Judaism.
Rabbi Dov Fischer responds to Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky's invitation to have a conversation about Jerusalem.
I am not sure how your rabbi would react if you sat in the pews reading T.S. Eliot or William Faulkner, but if you were found poring over the pages of 1966 Nobel Laureate S.Y. Agnon's "Days of Awe," originally published in Hebrew as "Yamim Noraim," I trust most rabbis would happily approve. So would Agnon. In his introduction, Agnon states that he created this book so that one may read it "between prayers," as a way of intensifying one's spiritual experience during the High Holy Days.
The way Jews in the Conejo Valley describe it, Joseph Goebbels would be proud of the propaganda proffered as academic discourse at the Goebel Senior Adult Center last month.
"Now, once again, a group of gifted scholars gather to reinterpret the Jewish project, to reassert its meaning, re-envision its institutions and reimagine its future," asserts the introduction of the new book: "Jews and Judaism in the 21st Century: Human Responsibility, the Presence of God and the Future of the Covenant," edited by Valley Beth Shalom's (VBS) Rabbi Edward Feinstein (Jewish Lights Publishing, $24.99).
When she set out to write the first comprehensive Jewish travel guidebook on the countries of the former Eastern bloc, Ruth Ellen Gruber might as well have been documenting the secret life of a New Guinea tribe of cannibals.
What makes Temecula's development as an exurb of Los Angeles especially interesting is that if you're a Temecula booster, you're also likely a pioneer Jewish history buff. The reason is Louis Wolf.
The New York Post may be the oldest continuously operating daily publication in the United States, but The Forward, which began publication in 1897 during the waves of Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe, was the first paper in this country to have a national readership. In its heyday, the Yiddish- language daily, once known as The Forverts, had a larger circulation than even The New York Times.
It's important during Chanukah to teach children and grandchildren about Jewish traditions and to recall the miracle of the oil, when a one-day supply lasted for eight days, enough time until fresh oil could be made from the olive trees to keep the flame lit in the Holy Temple.
Why We Celebrate Chanukah ... According to ______________________ (YOUR NAME)
Last Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Memorial Day, Walter Essinger did not attend any community vigils or synagogue commemoration services. Instead, the 73-year-old survivor spent that day, April 26, being interrogated by Ventura County detectives. He was then arrested, handcuffed and eventually booked into the Ventura County Jail.
Atop a small hill in a corner of Jerusalem, tropical plants take root. Nearly black orchids stand amid carnivorous plants and other leafy creatures dating to ancient times. While the intense Israel sun bakes the outdoors, this treasured vegetation grows protected in a beautifully constructed greenhouse. A team of experts manages their well-being in this delicately balanced tropical environment. Their home is one of the city's choice retreats from urban mayhem: the dome-covered University Botanical Garden and its Tropical Conservatory.
I am a woman of valor.
But nobody is singing my weekly praises. Oh no, that's saved for the same lucky women who get the
Pottery Barn registry, the rock on their hand and a man in their bed.
According to Jewish tradition, every Shabbat, a husband sings "Eshet Chayil" -- "A Woman of Valor" (WOV) -- to his wife. This Friday night, I listened as my friend, Dan, told his wife, Jen, "Her price is far above rubies ... she's robed in strength and dignity, and cheerfully faces whatever may come." All true.
When Rabbi Rachel Bovitz sat down a few months ago to read the novel, "The Da Vinci Code," she was curious about the buzz surrounding the controversial best-seller. But what she wasn't prepared for was how profoundly disturbing she would find the book.
It's Sunday and I'm rushing over to my local comic book store, Hi De Ho, in Santa Monica to buy issue No. 1 of "The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist."
While Israeli artist Avner Moriah was creating "Haggadat Moriah" (Moriah Haggadah), his wife, Andy, was undergoing chemotherapy treatments for leukemia.
"I sat next to her when the chemicals were dripping in," said the 50-year-old artist, in Los Angeles this week for an exhibit opening of his work at the University of Judaism. "In Israel everyone davens and says 'Tehillim' when someone is sick, but I came up with images for the haggadah. When I started, the images were really small but as she got healthier, they became more colorful and more lively. When I finished [and Andy recovered] I realized that I had painted my own journey from Egypt."
Monty Hall spent 27 years making outrageous deals with anxious contestants on his TV game show, "Let's Make a Deal." But the sweetest deal he ever made with his mishpachah was for a plate of pickled herring if they'd join him for Passover seder.
While studying for rabbinic ordination at Yeshiva University in the late '70s, I was at the main study hall dedication where the late Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik spoke, honoring the great philanthropist, Joseph Gruss, who underwrote the project.
Reichminister Joseph Goebbels delivers a speech to a crowd in Berlin urging Germans to boycott Jewish-owned businesses. He defends the boycott as a legitimate response to the anti-German "atrocity propaganda" being spread abroad by "international Jewry." April 1, 1933.
We call it the Festival of Lights, but Chanukah starts in a very dark place.
The historical foundations of Chanukah are well documented, in the Apocrypha's First and Second Books of the Maccabees and "The Jewish War" and "Jewish Antiquities," written by the Jewish historian, Josephus, in the first century of the common era. As these sources relate, in the year 167 B.C.E. the king of Syria, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, decreed that only pagan gods could be worshiped in the temples, and the practice of Jewish rituals, including circumcision and Sabbath observance, was outlawed under penalty of death. Although many Jews, looking to assimilate into Hellenic society, acceded to Antiochus' decrees, an elderly priest named Mattathias and his five sons (the middle son would become known as Judah Maccabee or "Judah the Hammer") bitterly opposed them and, after raising a rebel army, headed to the hills.
Some five miles outside of Amsterdam, there is a site where a miracle took place during the Holocaust.
Here, in this tiny town with quaint, pretty houses and narrow streets, the Nazis allowed Jewish history to survive. At a time when they were desecrating Jewish burial places all over Europe, they left this one alone.
You've got to feel sorry for Arthur Finkelstein. The legendary Republican campaign consultant, slayer of liberals from North Carolina to New York, seems to have met his match this year, in Israel of all places. And all he wanted to do, he said in a recently published interview, was "be part of Jewish history."
Many modern forms of anti-Semitism, not least the Dreyfus Affair, can be seen as a reaction to the emancipation of the Jews in Western and Central Europe following the French Revolution, according to Dr. Michael Berenbaum.