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August 31, 2014 / 5 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

Longtime Congressman Henry Waxman to Retire

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, the dean of Jewish lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives, said Thursday he will retire, and Republicans immediately jumped on the announcement as a sign of weakness in the Democratic party.

He was first elected to Congress from a Los Angeles-area district in 1974, and his resignation will take effect next Jan 2, when his present term of office expires.

“I am grateful for my supporters and allies, who have worked side-by-side with me to fight for issues we care about: health, environmental protection, women’s and gay rights, and strengthening the ties between the United States and our most important ally, the State of Israel,” he said in a statement.

Waxman, 74,  was perhaps most prominent as the chairman of the Oversight Committee during the last two years of the George W. Bush administration, convening hearings about the conduct of the Iraq War.

The longest serving Jewish House member, he has taken a lead on pro-Israel issues, most recently in joining with Energy Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) to advance a bill that would increase cooperation with Israel in energy research.

Waxman stated Thursday, “House Republicans have no compelling vision for the future,” he said. “The public understands this, and I am confident that the Democrats can regain control of the House.

However, Politico reported this week that when Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was asked if her party would retake the House, she limited her optimism by saying only that the Democrats will gain some seats. She added, “I’m not going to confidently predict that Democrats will take the House back.”

Earlier this month, veteran  Democratic legislators Jim Moran and George Miller both said they are quitting.

One talkback comment on an American news site stated, “Waxman’s retirement was just announced in the House GOP conference room — and the conference enthusiastically applauded.”

House Republicans, who were at a retreat on Thursday when they heard the news of Waxman’s retirement, reportedly were happy.

JTA contributed to this report.

Kill the Quest for ‘Chill’

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Single frum male seeks female who is chill. That’s the description that plagues a particular stack of resumes found in the homes of matchmakers throughout every Jewish community. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about Flatbush, Crown Heights, Williamsburg, the Upper West Side, Toronto, Miami, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Israel, etc. This desire to find a “chill” girl is everywhere.

When examined, this seemingly vague description can really be a code for many things. Unfortunately, these things are primarily irrelevant and some are just completely unrealistic. More importantly, if this is you, then you need to take a step back and put on your safety goggles because I am about to burst your bubble. Here goes. No female, young or old, is “chill” after marriage. Final answer.

Ouch – did that snippet of reality sting? Are you in disbelief? Now, I will say that many women are clever and can easily appear to be “chill.” Why? We can multitask – it’s our superhero power. We get things done and we handle our responsibilities. Hence, we begin to grow into our own unique manifestation of our husband’s Aishes Chayil.

What kills the chill? Some married men may believe that they married someone who began as very chill. So, what killed the chill? For new wives, the post-marriage non-chill mode may stem from the self-imposed pressure to perfect their ability to prepare their husbands shabbos favorites while learning how to coordinate an open home for regular visitors and random guests.

What originally seems like fun can quickly turn into a buzz kill. Hence, there is nothing glamorous about coping with the responsibility of balancing everything that one takes on in marriage: maintaining a home, dealing with in-laws and navigating your community as a couple. Scheduling conflicts for new couples can be tricky as well.

For the slightly post newlywed couple, this “non-chill” trigger can mean kids. You, BH, iy”H, have them but then you have to balance them. Then when you, iy”H, have more of them you must strive to somehow keep your world together while doing everything else (work, cooking, cleaning – oh, yea and actually talking to your spouse). Then as the years of your relationship goes on, more pressure is added.

So, again, let me say – basing your search for a partner on their ability to be “chill,” is definitely wrong. Warning: This may be you or it may be the hang-up of your otherwise perfect-catch that keeps their status set to single. Searching for a “no pressure” mate is something that may seem to make sense until you actually examine the thought process behind it and what you would really get if you accomplished such a task.

What’s behind the chill? “Chill,” that’s the word. That’s the term that acts as a crutch. It’s an easy was to say I want to be married but I need to find someone who will put no pressure on me.

What’s the big problem here? There are many big problems here. What is one big problem? The feeling of “pressure.” This feeling, like all feelings is a person’s own reaction to a situation. In life, Hashem gave us a big blessing. He gave us free will. In this case, it means that we get to choose our own reactions. This includes the feeling of pressure. You feel it, because you perceive a situation in a particular way. However, your perception is an opinion and not a fact. And, as we all know, opinions can be changed. If you can’t escape the feeling of pressure then embrace it as the blessing it is.

Former Followers of ‘Kabbalah Centre’ Sue for Fraud

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

The controversial Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre is being sued for over $1 million by former followers in two lawsuits alleging fraud and misuse of funds.

Both suits were filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court and claim that the Centre pressured the plaintiffs “to give money until it hurts,” in order to receive “the light” from its leaders, Karen Berg and her adult sons Yehuda and Michael.

Carolyn Cohen, a San Diego real estate broker, said that she and one of her companies lost some $810,000 to the Centre, which, she claimed, “engages in a pattern and practice of raising funds … for the purpose of enriching itself.”

San Diego business owners Randi and Charles Wax, the other plaintiffs, alleged losses of $326,000.

In both cases, the plaintiffs said they were told that the donations were earmarked for a new Kabbalah Centre building in San Diego and for a children’s charity, but they said the new Centre was never built and the charity abruptly ceased operation.

The late Rabbi Phillip Berg established the initial Kabbalah facility in Jerusalem and the first American operation in New York in 1965. Since 1984, the Centre’s worldwide operations, with 50 branches, have been headquartered in Los Angeles.

The Berg family has received worldwide publicity by attracting such Hollywood followers as Madonna, Britney Spears, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.

Over the past years, the Centre also has attracted numerous lawsuits in the United States and Britain, and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service launched a tax evasion investigation in 2010. The outcome is still pending.

Traditional rabbinical authorities repeatedly have denounced the Centre’s teachings and methods as a perversion of the Kabbalah’s profound mysticism. In Israel, one synagogue told The Jewish Press that after a Christian Zionist organization donated a set of Berg’s version of the Zohar, the local rabbi ordered that the books be buried so that they would never be read.

They were not burned despite his suspect interpretations because the set includes original text of the holy Zohar.

Paula Abdul to Celebrate Bat Mitzvah at Age 51 at Western Wall

Monday, October 28th, 2013

American singer, multi-platinum recording artist, choreographer, dancer, television personality, Grammy and two-time Emmy Award-winner Paula Abdul arrived on her first visit to Israel this week and plans to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah at the Western Wall, 39 years late.

She also will meet with President Shimon Peres on Tuesday.

Abdul was born in Los Angeles to Jewish parents. She once said, “My father is a Syrian Jew whose family immigrated to Brazil. My mother is Canadian with Jewish roots. My dream is to go to Israel for a real holiday.”

Israel’s Tourist Minister in 2006, Yitzchak Herzog, invited her to visit, which she said would be a “dream come true” but did not happen until this week. The visit may be a prelude to a singing performance next year, the Boycott Israel movement notwithstanding.

Abdul plans to visit major tourist sites in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Galilee and will explore Israel’s fashion, dance, culinary and music scene.

She began her  dancing career at the age of eight and became a sought-after choreographer before she began to compose music and sing. Abdul starred in the hit reality show about her life “Hey Paula” and, in recent years, has served as a judge on the popular American talent shows “American Idol” and “X-Factor.”

Mazel Tov, Paula.

L.A. Gala Brings In $20 Million for Friends of IDF

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Simon Cowell, celebrity judge of the “X Factor” and formerly “American Idol,” and Grammy Award-winning musician Lionel Richie were among those who attended The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Western Region gala Wednesday, which raised $20 million.

Cowell contributed $150,000, and Richie performed for a crowd that included the CEOs of several prominent technology companies, the organization said. Individual multimillion-dollar donations included $4.5 million from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews led by founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.

The organization aims to provide well-being and educational programs for soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces, including the Lone Soldier program, which supports Israeli soldiers who are immigrants or otherwise separated from their families.

‘Rain on Entebbe’ Producer Daniel Blatt Dies at Age 76 in LA

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Daniel Blatt, who produced “Raid on Entebbe” as well as a cult horror film and an epic science fiction movie, has died of cancer in Los Angeles at the age of 76.

Blatt was born in Rockland County, New York and practiced law after he earned his law degree, but he later switched to Hollywood, where he eventually was nominated for an Emmy Award for co-producing the “Raid on Entebbe” film that was aired on NBC in 1976.

He also produced the cult horror film ”The Howling” and the sci-fi mini-series “V: The Final Battle.”

In an interview with Luke Ford several years ago, Blatt revealed that his favorite work was Entebbe because “it represented the Jews reacting to victimhood in a positive way.

“I grew up in a very Jewish house,” he said. “Then after I was Bar Mitvahed, I said ‘enough of this’ and I moved away from it. And then suddenly to be brought back into this thing was almost like a gift, a circle that I’d completed…. It was coming back to my roots.”

His parents had fled the Nazis in 1934 after his father, a doctor at a Jewish hospital, noticed regulations for Jewish doctors after the Nazis took over the medical facility.

He told the interviewer, “I grew up in a household where persecution of the Jews was drilled into my soul overtly and inovertly.”

Asked if he started observing the Sabbath, Blatt replied, “Let’s not go that far,” but he said he visited Israel “a couple of times.”

He also produced “Common Ground,” about desegregation in Boston in the 1970s,  “Kissinger and Nixon,” I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977) and “The Boost.”

Blatt produced episodes of the CBS crime drama The New Mike Hammer and concluded his film career this year with the Lifetime telefilm “Twist of Faith.”

Why I am important

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

On Friday, I signed a contract to buy an apartment in Israel. I will be returning to live here again after 25 years. I am very happy about it for various reasons, including the fact that as an Israeli Jew I will be a member of a tiny minority of huge importance to the rest of the world.

We flew to Israel from Los Angeles. At the gate we were met by several buses which took us to a remote terminal where we boarded the plane. The buses were escorted by two airport police cars and an El Al security car, which also followed the plane as it taxied from the terminal to the runway from which it took off.

As far as I know, no other airline gets this special treatment. In a way, it is flattering to know that I am so important that many people want to kill me.

Israel is special at the UN, too, where the Human Rights Commission and the General Assembly devote so much time, effort and (mostly Western) cash to condemning it and pretending that the ‘Palestinians’ are a nation in any sense other than as a negation of the Jewish nation. They pretend that the Palestinian Arabs are important, but everybody knows that it’s all about us, especially the Palestinians themselves (this is one of the reasons that they are so angry and frustrated all the time).

There is also the special treatment we get from Europe. Did you know that one thousand legal scholars and jurists recently delivered a petition to EU foreign policy head Catherine Ashton explaining that contrary to the EU position, Jewish settlements across the Green Line are legal under international law?  The EU doesn’t boycott, for example, Turkish ‘settlers’ in northern Cyprus, but we are more important, so a special policy is implemented for us.

Then there is the clever US State Department which prefers ‘illegitimate’ to ‘illegal’. Somehow this is supposed to be a meaningful distinction in this context, but all I can think of is that someone’s parents were unmarried. They include Israel’s capital, which has been the seat of its government since the founding of the state in the illegitimate part. No other nation is so honored!

I am even more proud of the fact that the great United States finds it necessary to spit on us by forcing Israel’s government to release more than a hundred terrorists, all of whom were either convicted of murder (sometimes multiple murders) or of crimes related to murders. Some of these murders were remarkably evil and gruesome, and it’s unimaginable that the US would do something similar in its own homeland. But we are really important and special, so we are required to accept this.

I understand also that the US and EU were ‘furious’ that Israel’s Prime Minister recently announced that perhaps a thousand new homes for Jews would be built someday in places that they consider illegal or illegitimate. The argument is that this construction would create facts on the ground that would prejudice a future peace agreement. Of course, not a peep was heard a few months ago when Israel announced that it would build housing for Arabs in the same area. What else does this prove except that Jews are more important than Arabs?

Speaking of Arabs, Israel’s neighbors Egypt and Syria are presently displaying their truly shocking barbarism by engaging in vicious religious/ethnic civil wars, bombing, gassing, shooting and raping each other with abandon. The status quo in Israel is peaceful, and the economy — both of Israel and the Palestinian Authority — is excellent. So you would think that the focus would be elsewhere rather than Israel.

Nope — our importance is illustrated by the fact that the ‘international community’, led by President Obama, thinks it’s worthwhile to destabilize us also!

Visit Fresno Zionism.

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