Rabbi Samuel Levine has a problem -- and it’s echoing throughout the Jewish day school world.
After a recent upsurge in anti-Semitic violence, including the shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in June and a failed bomb plot targeting New York synagogues in May, Los Angeles city officials and community leaders are on alert for the approach of the High Holy Days season. More than 80 people representing Los Angeles synagogues and Jewish institutions attended an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) security briefing on Aug. 19, presented in cooperation with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
Four Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles programs that serve the elderly, disabled and frail may end up casualties of the state budget crisis, which leapt to a new level of urgency Tuesday as California lawmakers failed to pass budget revisions before a July 1 deadline.
The Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Bernard Madoff is the latest in a string of financial blows to Jewish aid programs in the former Soviet Union, wiping out a major foundation that was the primary funder of Jewish higher education in Russia
The new Democratic majority in Congress, backed by some conservative Republicans, is considering reforms that would curtail lawmakers' ability to anonymously insert funding for local projects into spending bills.
I have a picture on the wall of my office. It was taken at about 4 a.m. in 1998. I'm in the picture with a group of Democratic and Republican legislators. We look tired; we've been up late for a number of nights. But there's also a glint of celebration.
That was a happy and proud moment. We had just negotiated Proposition 1A, which put $9.2 billion of school bonds on the ballot. This bipartisan breakthrough opened the way for three successful state school bonds that raised $34 billion for school construction.
I've also supported local school bonds, and the state and local money that voters entrusted to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is being used to build schools all over the city.
I don't take this progress lightly or for granted. But building for seats is not the same as building for reform. To date, L.A. Unified has done the former but only paid lip service to the latter. And I find myself moving to an uncomfortable and unfamiliar position on the question of the school district's bid to pass $3.985 billion in school bonds this November.
President Bush and Congress talk a good game when it comes to homeland security, but the tragic truth is that the country is less able to cope with disasters than before Sept. 11, 2001. The proof is on the flood-ravaged streets of New Orleans, where an unprecedented natural disaster quickly produced violent anarchy and a flaccid government response that multiplied the suffering.
For all the money thrown at preparing for massive terror attacks and other disasters, the new Department of Homeland Security looked more like a Third World bureaucracy, as armed gangs roamed the city and people died for lack of food, water, sanitation and medical supplies.
Since most Americans lose their dental insurance benefits when they retire, the majority of people over 65 pay out of pocket every time they visit a dentist. Medicare does not cover routine dental care (nor does Medicaid in most states) and more than 80 percent of older Americans have no private dental insurance, according to a recent report by nonprofit advocacy group Oral Health America.
Yet, older adults may need dental care more than any other age group.
"Patients age 65 and over will have potentially an increase in cavities or decay on the root surfaces of the teeth," said Dr. Matthew Messina, an American Dental Association consumer adviser and practicing dentist in Cleveland. "And that comes secondary to the medical condition of dry mouth -- a decrease in the amount of production of saliva because of age and certain medications.... We also see periodontal disease in patients of that population."
Messina advises his older patients to see a dentist at least once every six months for an oral cancer screening and recommends an annual visit for denture wearers.
When the Reform movement published its new "Mishkan T'filah" last November, the prayer book looked comfortably familiar to Reform rabbinic students in Los Angeles. It was clear to them that a homemade siddur they had created for their own use had influenced the first official prayer book published by the Union for Reform Judaism since 1975.
Once again, the L.A. branch of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) had made its mark on the Reform movement. The new, official prayer book, like the homemade siddur, includes traditional prayers in Hebrew, as well as new alternative readings and meditations -- changes in keeping with Reform's adoption of more traditional practices.
Southern Californians can travel from Pharaoh's palace to Midwestern wheat fields to a rain forest -- all without leaving Westwood.
While some Jewish film festivals around the country often use older films or films playing at nearby theaters, the Ventura County Jewish Film Festival will show five new films never seen in Ventura County -- as well as host their stars.
The festival starts on March 10 at 7 p.m. with the opening night film, "The Aryan Couple." In the World War II thriller based on a true story, Oscar winner Martin Landau plays a Hungarian businessman who is forced to make a terrible pact with Himmler and Eichmann so he and his family can escape certain death. Landau and director-producer John Daly ("The Last Emperor") will have a Q & A after the screening.
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.
Years ago, Rabbi Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom would run up and down the Hebrew school carpool line handing out cassette tapes of his and Rabbi Harold Schulweis' sermons.
"If you're not going to come inside, at least listen to this," he'd tell parents.
For years, young Jews have voted with their feet after their bar or bat mitzvahs, with about half of those in non-Orthodox synagogues' religious schools leaving before the 12th-grade confirmation.
She arrived in the Jerusalem court of King Solomon with camels weighted by gifts of gold, incense and precious stones. She was armed with questions to test the king's legendary wisdom.
Every Jewish New Year we recite the words, "Repentance, prayer and charity avert the evil decree." It sounds straightforward enough, but trying to navigate myriad charities, especially Jewish charities, is confounding.
Brace yourself. This Sunday night, some angels, a spy, a cynic and a meddling mother-in-law are coming over to break the Fast of Gedaliah. You don't have to feed them, however. They're all part of the 56th annual Emmy Awards on Sept. 19, hosted this year by comedian Garry Shandling.
While federal laws require public buildings to provide access for the handicapped, Jay Kruger still encounters restaurants without ramps, public restrooms with hard-to-open doors that trap him inside and theater seating that is spitting distance from the screen.
Just as it seemed his honeymoon governorship was degenerating into insults and whining, Arnold Schwarzenegger finally signed a $105 billion state budget on July 31, about a month late.
Ezra operates as a sequel to Ramah's Amitzim program, which serves children and teens with special needs. Both programs run under the umbrella program Ramah calls Tikva (Hebrew for "hope"). Kamin said hope is an understatement for what Ezra has done for her son this summer.
"I want to create a place of wonder," said Lindy Lane-Epstein, who spent the summer attempting to animate her vision for a scaled-down preschool and kindergarten for members of Santa Ana's Temple Beth Sholom.
Two local synagogues are offering an opportunity for Jewish scholarship this summer, and a third is offering weekly Hebrew classes at all levels.
She first started worrying about those on the streets in 1980, and now, 24 years later, Tanya Tull is fighting against a real estate boom that prices the low-wage earners out of the housing market and federal aid cuts that exacerbate the problem.
It continues to baffle me why anybody who cares about the future of Jewish communal life in Los Angeles
would seriously contemplate closing the Valley Cities Jewish Community Center (JCC).
Stalemate has become standard operating procedure for Congress in recent years, but this year's legislative gridlock could be headed for the record books.
In Haifa, the smell of frying falafel balls competes with the din of Israelis eating, yelling and slapping each other on the back.
Leaving aside the question of whether it is the government's role to ensure ideological balance in academic settings, the bill unquestionably is a well-intentioned response to a serious problem.
The facility still under construction in Irvine is expansive and includes an infant-care facility, preschool, fitness center and gymnasium large enough to accommodate two basketball games. There are areas designated for workout classes, adult education and massage. When completed, there will be lockers for swimmers, space for an art exhibit, playground and Holocaust memorial.
Bike the Sites, a smart solution to the challenges of sightseeing in heavily trafficked D.C., allows visitors to enjoy Washington's history and architecture in an environmentally friendly way.
Tikkun has, of course, changed since its early magazine years. Its statement of purpose today describes Tikkun as a center for those of all religious and spiritual traditions who seek to integrate spiritual depth with social change. It is no longer in its ambition a voice solely of and for Jews.
There is a country whose Jewish community involves nearly all its young people, elects its leaders by democratic vote on the basis of character rather than wealth and is not driven by political and religious divisions.
President Bush signaled the start of a new battle over faith-based health and social service programs in a State of the Union address that included a firm defense of his war in Iraq, a call to make his controversial tax cuts permanent and not a single mention of the Arab-Israeli conflict or the stalled "road map" for bringing it to an end.
Having read your editorial commentary in this week's issue, I was tempted to turn back to the front page to reassure myself that I was not reading the editorial page of the Los Angeles Times ("Accord Allure," Dec. 5).
Life isn't so easy for Genia Cohen. The 68-year-old widow lives in a low-income apartment in Hollywood. She finds it difficult to get together with her sister, her only living relative in the area, who's also suffering from the aches and pains of age.
The Federation is committed to a strong and vibrant JCRC.
Engaging residents of our community to impact the "urban agenda" is the objective. But the agenda of the organized Jewish community must be redefined in a thoughtful, targeted and strategic way to successfully mobilize human resources beyond the core of active, identified Jews.
Part of the team readying O.C.'s Jewish Community Center for its planned relocation and expansion next year in Irvine is not staying to see the result.
Chabad's annual "L'Chaim -- To Life!" telethon will look a little different this Sept. 14 since two new producers are helming the 23-year-old fundraiser.
Today, Jews are among the most educated and affluent minority groups in the United States. Attitudes toward them have evolved to such an extent that an Orthodox Jew, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), is considered a front-runner for the Democrat Party's presidential nomination.
"We now tax Californians 2.7 cents per capita for all public art support," Paul Minicucci said, noting that in Canada, which has 4 million fewer residents than California, the National Arts Council has a budget of $660 million. He said similar figures for European nations are "simply off the charts."
Craig Taubman has a knack for inventing Jewish pop culture.
What have our military expenditures to do with the state of the states? After all, we are a long way from the guns vs. butter arguments, when we used to show how many new schools or hospitals could be built for the cost of one new aircraft carrier.
The soap opera, argues Shlomo Ben-Zvi, is the most Jewish of all television formats.
"The Palestinian uprising and subsequent Israeli offensive in the West Bank stirred enormous sympathy for the Palestinians throughout the Arab world.... Over the past year, scores of Egypt's top singers have come out with songs about the Palestinian uprising.
State Assemblyman Lloyd E. Levine (D-Van Nuys), 33, sits on the influential Assembly Budget Committee. He recently spoke with The Jewish Journal about the possible impacts of Gov. Gray Davis' proposed 15 percent cut in Medi-Cal reimbursements.
"We want to see each other, discuss our kids, to dance, and we feel like we're 20 years old," Guzman said. "In our homes, we remember; in our hearts, we remember. Here we all want to forget. We have families now. We want to be reminded of the good. What we went through? Que sera sera."
What do the Kurds have to do with Holocaust? More than you might think.
People can hear about the economic crisis that has affected South America in the news.
Rabbi Mike Comins had just completed his rabbinic thesis, was preparing to start his doctorate and, even though he was writing about God, "I felt like my soul had been choked off," he recalled.
NORCs have cropped up around the country, with an estimated 5,000 now dotting the U.S. As the population grays -- an estimated 75 million Americans will be over 55 in 2010 -- the number of NORCs is expected to jump, said Andrew Kochera, senior policy advisor at AARP in Washington.
It may seem an auspicious time to bring Israeli artists over to America, as Israel has been in a virtual state of war since the beginning of the second intifada, and America is on the brink of war as well; but in a way, the timing could not have been better to discover what role museums play amid chaos.
On Sunday, Feb. 23, 800 volunteers from across the Southland will staff the phones from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. to raise money for the Jewish
Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
Before they met five years ago, searching for their besherts kept Lynn and Thad Gerber active in Jewish life: Between singles' dances,
Shabbat dinners and Jewish discussion groups, their dating lives gave way to a sense of belonging and connectedness through Judaism.
During Jewish holidays and festivals, many of us recite the familiar blessings for our loved ones.
In an unprecedented event, 650 of the most successful members of Los Angeles' Russian Jewish community gathered under the banner of
Judaism and Israel.
Roughly 175,000 Jewish elderly in Russia are now served by the 88 Heseds across the former Soviet Union. These centers, run by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), account for about one-half of all Jewish social and welfare organizations in the former Soviet Union.
A lot of the problems and promise of Los Angeles Jewish life were on display last Tuesday evening in Bob and Marcia Gold's living room.