Jewish Journal

That neighborhood racket is a bunch of atoning Jews

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 26, 2007 | 12:12 am

The Jewish Journal is getting in the mood of 24/7, and today, instead of waiting until Thursday, uploaded Tom Tugend’s explanation of what went wrong Friday with LA bureaucrats’ Yom Kippur sin.

The scene was a Kol Nidrei service at Yeshivas Yavneh, a Hebrew academy run out of a former Tudor estate in Los Angeles’ pricey Hancock Park neighborhood, not far from the mayor’s official residence. After 8 p.m., two building inspectors showed up and told a congregant that it was closing time, but the 200 Orthodox Jews observing Yom Kippur refused to leave. Then the anger spread.

As word of the strange incident spread through the closely knit Orthodox community in Hancock Park, tempers and outrage rose.

The yeshivaworld.com Web site declared that the incident was “reminiscent of the cowardly sneak attack on Israel during the Yom Kippur War,” and quoted one woman worshipper, a wheelchair-bound Holocaust survivor, “I was frightened. I started crying. I don’t want to go to jail. I want to pray.”

By Sunday evening, top aides to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Councilman Tom LaBonge, joined by Councilman Jack Weiss, met with Orthodox community rabbis and officials of the offending department in City Hall for some hasty damage control.

On Monday evening, the mayor and two councilmen released a statement condemning the “outrageous intrusion” on erev Yom Kippur, “which caused great pain and anguish.”

This is not the first time Jews have clashed with their less-than-welcoming neighbors in the once WASPy Hancock Park. It’s also not the first time LA city officials have shown insensitivity when dealing with religious observance (remember that story I did about the cops allegedly tearing down a mezuzah at a pot pharmacy?).

(Hat tip: LAObserved)

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