The faint of heart should not apply for this job: Needed, a sensitive but thick-skinned person who can get along with a combative mixture
of Los Angeles' Jews, blacks, whites, Asians, Latinos, Catholics, Baptists, Muslims, students, retired people, lawyers, doctors, homeless and many, many more.
On a particular stretch of Wilshire Boulevard near Westwood at 6 p.m., right-lane traffic is hopelessly stalled. A stream of cars crowds the intersection, trying to squeeze into the nearby parking lot of a well-known synagogue.
It's a familiar sight: With most people heading home from work, L.A.'s Jewish community is swimming against the current, driving to services in some of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the city.
HeimishHome.com, a new Web site that wants to be the one-stop shop for researching Jewish neighborhoods. Heimishhome has listings from realtors in different neighborhoods around America with special features that allow the users to check how close the house is to the nearest shul, school, kosher restaurant or mikvah. There are also editorials on the site that offer thumbnail descriptions of the different communities.
David Grunwald is agitated. The chief executive of L.A. Family Housing Corp. grows ever more upset as he details the indifference many Angelenos feel toward the population his nonprofit group serves: the homeless and those one or two paychecks away from being on the streets. From liberal Brentwood to conservative Pasadena, most Southern California residents don't want homeless shelters in their neighborhoods and oppose the construction of high-density, affordable housing that could help thousands of families. NIMBY is alive and well here.
Businessman Allen Gochnour is a regular at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on La Cienega Boulevard, and like many of the people who wait in the line that often stretches out the door, he's not just there to grab a cup of java and run.
Every Jewish community has its own sorrows to bear, but perhaps none quite so poignant as the Jews of Iraq. The life of the oldest continuous Jewish community in all the world has now come to an end, and has done so in the saddest possible way: in silence and without marker.
"What on earth is that?" asks Jordan, a 27-year-old actor in Los Feliz.
He is staring at a dancing rabbi on a flatbed truck that is inching its way down Vermont Avenue, one of the main boulevards in Los Feliz.