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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

Mother and Fighter for Religious Tolerance Quits Beit Shemesh

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Two years ago, Hadassa Margolese became a symbol of resistance to Haredi Orthodox domination after she allowed her 8-year-old daughter to tell an Israeli reporter how religious men had spit on her as she walked to school.

The report made headlines around the world and cast Margolese into the spotlight as a defender of the rights and values of the Modern Orthodox community in Beit Shemesh, a city of approximately 75,000 just off the main highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with a growing Haredi population.

Now Margolese has departed Beit Shemesh — driven out not by the Haredim with whom she once clashed but by members of her own modern Orthodox community.

In May, Margolese published a column on the website of the Israeli daily Maariv detailing the degrading treatment she had endured during her monthly visits to a public mikveh, or ritual bath, a practice required by religious laws on marital intimacy. But rather than rally around her as it did in 2011, some in the modern Orthodox community turned on Margolese, subjecting her to a steady stream of online vitriol.

“I was airing our own dirty laundry as opposed to before, when I was airing another community’s dirty laundry,” she said. “I hear from so many women about their negative experiences [at the mikveh]. I thought people would say, ‘Yes, let’s change this.’ ”

Margolese, 32, is something of a reluctant activist. Unlike many Israeli social reformers, who aggressively seek media attention and speak in confident tones, Margolese is quiet and unassuming, cautious of offending friends and guarded when it comes to her personal life.

She assumed the protest mantle two years ago, she says, mainly out of necessity. And from the time that conflict died down until the mikveh column, she largely retreated into private life, visiting Beit Shemesh’s Haredi neighborhoods only when necessary.

“I really have very mixed feelings about it because I want to make whatever changes I can possibly make, but on the other hand, being a public figure isn’t so simple,” she said. “Really the only way to change things is by being public. If you’re not public, nobody cares what you have to say.”

Born in Los Angeles, Margolese came to Israel at the age of 2. A self-identified feminist, Margolese says inequalities between men and women in Judaism have bothered her since she was a child, when she began to question why Orthodox men bless God each morning for not making them women. She apparently did not know or did not accept modern orthodox explanations that the blessing is not anti-feminist and in fact is an expression of thanks by men that they can perform mitzvahs that women are not required to keep.

Margoles now is living a more tranquil life in a town of secular and modern Orthodox families she prefers not to name. She plans to continue to be active on the mikveh issue, though in a more circumscribed way, conducting low-key meetings with activists and politicians, and confining her writing to her blog.

“I’d like to be a social activist,” she said. “I don’t think I have a thick enough skin to be a politician.”

In her mikveh column, Margolese described the way mikveh supervisors would question her Jewish observance and stare at her as she entered and left the water naked. An attendant would interrogate her about how thoroughly she cleaned herself and demand that she return to the sink for another wash.

“I’m supposed to feel clean after the mikveh,” Margolese wrote, “but instead I feel degraded and dirty.”

Soon after the column was published, Margolese was at a meeting of the Knesset Caucus for the Advancement of Women. She planned to stay afterward to meet politicians sympathetic to her cause, but shaken by a stream of negative comments being posted to her Facebook wall — some of them by friends — she left early.

“The humiliation I felt from these individuals was worse than all of my negative mikveh experiences all put together,” Margolese wrote on her blog. “I knew about the gossip going on around me. I cried for days. I couldn’t breathe. I stopped leaving my house other than to go to work. I decided that it is time to move.”

LA Investment Firm Using Death Camp Photo to Woo Clients

Monday, August 5th, 2013

“We know how to combine theoretical and empirical analyses,” claims the Econ One website. “We not only have the capability to develop sophisticated economic and econometric models, we have the experience and know-how to dig through the data and documents to make sure the facts of the case match the theory of the case.”

And so Econ One, a Los Angeles-based the litigation and business consulting company, is using a photo from the Birkenau death camp to push its services in its advertising.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum have told JTA that they’re consulting with their lawyers after the firm published on its website an image of barbed wire and a guard tower from Birkenau .

Museum employees noticed the image on Friday.

Of course, the first thing the museum attorneys will check to see, is if using the photo violates copyright laws,Bartosz Bartyzel, a museum spokesman, told the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper.

“Using Birkenau is disgusting and immoral,” Bartyzel said.

But breaking copyright laws is serious business…

econone_465

The text under the photo reads:

“Great work is the only kind that’s okay with us. It takes management of the entire work process. Communicating with clients every step of the way. Committing to a budget, then keeping expectations aligned with what’s really happening so there are no surprises. And efficiently staffing each case to keep costs down. Because when it comes to client service, okay… just isn’t. At least not for our clients.”

Hey, who doesn’t want to be represented by a real shark, in business and in the courts? And who’s sharkier than a Nazi camp commandant?

Makes perfect sense.

Econ One has not responded to a JTA request seeking comment on the image. They will, eventually, when the phones from the big guys start ringing. Meanwhile, JTA reminded readers of two other memorable applications of Holocaust imageries to advertising:

A year ago, the Estonian company GasTerm used an image from Auschwitz in an advertisement. GasTerm representatives said at the time that they wanted to show the gas they produced was not poisonous.

And in January 2012, a gym in Dubai used an image from Auschwitz with the tag line “Kiss your calories goodbye.”

kisss calories

LA Jews Convince Firm to Remove Sexually Suggestive Billboard

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Orthodox Jews in Los Angeles have convinced a company to take down a billboard that showed a mostly naked woman promoting an energy drink, the Los Angeles Jewish Journal reported Monday.

A message on a local email stated, “The largest Orthodox Jewish community on the West Coast was horrified to see a completely inappropriate pretzus [sexually improper] photograph posted across a billboard in the center of the Jewish community.”

The ad posted by Wagner Communications promoted the XO energy drink. Yehuda Neurollah, the assistant rabbi of the mostly Sephardic Orthodox Beit Aaron outreach organization told the Journal, “It’s not a model for what we want our kids to see.”

He said that Wagner removed the billboard the day after a complaint was filed. “They were very, very good about it,” Neurollah said. “The Jewish community is very grateful to them.”

He now is considering trying to remove other billboards, such as on advertising the movie “We’re the Millers” and showing which shows four people, with the labels of “Stripper, Virgin, Runaway, and Drug Dealer,” terms that Nourallah said prompted his child and a friend to asked what they mean.

Los Angeles Freeway Project Causes Havoc with ‘Eruv’

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Observant Jews in Los Angeles are bracing for the possibility that they will not be allowed to carry anything or even push a baby stroller on Shabbat due to a freeway project that will knock down the ‘Eruv.” which transforms a public area in to a private space in terms of Jewish law.

The eruv can be formed by hills or fences, but in urban areas, it usually is created by a thin wire that runs along light poles.

A project to widen the 405 Freeway ′s Wilshire Boulevard interchange will require tearing down the poles – and the wires, breaking the eruv and prohibiting observant Jews from walking with anything in their hands or pockets on Shabbat.

“We hope to have a workaround for next week, but the next three weeks will be problematic as the contractor rushes to finish new, and demolish old bridges at Wilshire,” according to Hoard Witkin, who heads the Los Angeles Community Eruv.

LA’s First Jewish Mayor

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Eric Garcetti has just been elected one of Los Angeles’ youngest mayors ever. Eric was a Rhodes scholar in Oxford from about 1993 to 1995. We were close friends and he was a regular at my Oxford University L’Chaim Society. One unforgettable incident defined his character for me in a moment of terrible tragedy for one of our students.

One day in the late afternoon in 1995, I received a phone call from a student who was one of my wife and my closest friends and the President of our student organization. She was crying bitterly. Her name was Jordana and she was almost incoherent with grief. Jordana, who has given me her permission to use her name, was studying in Oxford far away from her home in Canada. She had just received a phone call that her beloved father, with whom she was very close, had died in a terrible accident. She pleaded with me to come around to help her in this moment of agony and incomprehensible pain. I reached her family and we all decided the best thing would be for her to return home as soon as possible. I told them I would drive her to the airport in London.

There was one problem. That night I had already invited Eric over to our home for a private dinner with me and my wife. Given that this was before most students had cell phones, the only effective way of communicating with the students was through the University’s painfully slow “pigeon post” system. I could not tell Eric in time that the dinner was being canceled.

I drove to Jordana’s college where some of her friends were already helping her pack her things. I attempted to comfort her in the tragic news and then brought everything to the car for the trip to the airport. We drove straight to our home where my wife could speak to her and where she could eat something quickly prior to the long night ahead of her. As we walked into the house, there was Eric, smiling and looking happy to be at our home for dinner. He had no idea of the night’s events. I quickly introduced him to Jordana. Her eyes were red and was pale from grief. I said to Eric, “This is Jordana and I’m so sorry that we have to cancel dinner tonight. You see, she has just learned that her father passed away just hours ago.” Moments like this are what show the true character of an individual. Here was Eric, a young, popular Rhodes scholar at Oxford who had simply come to have dinner at his Rabbi’s home. Now, he was being confronted with a total stranger’s grief and tragedy. How would he react?

And here was an interaction that has lingered in my mind and which I will never forget. Eric looked right at Jordana and, in the softest gentlest words, said to her, “I am so sorry for your pain. I’m heartbroken to hear the news. Please tell me if there is anything I can do.” His face was contorted in agony. He spent the next few minutes speaking with her. It was not what he said but the way he said it. He spoke with extreme empathy and understanding. It is quite remarkable that nearly twenty years later I can remember the scene so vividly. What I saw was genuine human compassion for the plight of a complete stranger. I remember thinking to myself that here was a young man with a soft and special heart, that he had the ability to connect genuinely and compassionately with those who were suffering.

Jordana reciprocated the effort. Amid mind-altering loss, she kept her composure and apologized to Eric for having to cancel his dinner. She thanked him for his sympathy and did everything in her power to interact with him on a human level amid her shattered heart. She told him she looked forward to getting to know him better when she returned and under better circumstances. It was a herculean effort at composure.

Eric refused to leave the home until Jordana and I departed. He waited around, told me how he of course understands the need to postpone our dinner, and kept on emphasizing that he wanted to help in any way that he could. About 20 minutes later we departed to London.

Jake Davidson Gets Supermodel Prom Date, Just Not Kate Upton

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Jake Davidson, a Jewish day school student from Los Angeles whose chutzpa is registered with local authorities as a lethal weapon, did get to take a supermodel to his senior prom. But was it a victory or a pity prom? You be the judge.

Back in March, Jake filmed himself asking Kate Upton out to his school prom, and upload the proposition to You Tube. The 21 year old super model tweeted: you can call me Katie if you want! How could I turn down that video! I’ll check my schedule : )

Apparently, he who lives by the You Tube upload dies by the You Tube upload: in April, Supermodel Kate Upton said she would not be going to the prom with Jake after all, presumably because of a busy schedule. : (

But then came prom night, May 23, and Jake Davidson was seen escorted by Danish Sports Illustrated Model Nina Agdal to Milken Community High School in Bel Air, Calif.

“Jake was waiting to hear from Kate and when Nina heard about it, she said ‘If Kate can’t go, I’d like to go’ because she never got to go to her prom,” explained Jake’s mother Cheryl.

If you’re interested, Nina wore a draped halter-top gown in soft green to the prom, which was held at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica, Calif, according to many local reports.

After their prom date, Agdal tweeted: “Had such a great prom night. Thank you jakedavidson23 for being an awesome date!”

LA Elects First Jewish Mayor (Over Pol Married to a Jew)

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

The city of Los Angeles went to the polls on Tuesday, May 21 and were faced with a choice between City Councilman Eric Garcetti, whose mother is Jewish – but not his father – and Wendy Greuel, LA’s City Controller, who would have been its first female Mayor.  Greuel’s husband is Jewish and her son attends Hebrew school.  Also, Greuel’s mother’s first husband was Jewish.  And the third highest vote-getter in LA’s March primary, Jan Perry, converted to Judaism.

Yes, it’s California, where almost everybody is a little bit of everything.

In a tight race that remained tough to call until early Wednesday morning, Garcetti came out on top with 54 percent of the votes and Greuel with 46 percent.

“Thank you Los Angeles–the hard work begins but I am honored to lead this city for the next four years. Let’s make this a great city again,” Garcetti tweeted.

Garcetti’s mother is Jewish, although his father is Latino and was raised Catholic.  Before Jewish audiences, Garcetti has referred to himself as a “kosher burrito.”  His family attended synagogue on High Holy days, but he also attended Jewish summer camp and told the Los Angeles Times that he attended minyan while a graduate student at Oxford University.

Garcetti and Greuel are also both Democrats – LA’s mayoral race is non-partisan.

The winner replaces Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who is barred from running again for mayor after his two terms in office. Villaraigosa did not endorse either candidate in this election.

Villaraigosa, a high-profile Latino politician, chaired the 2012 Democratic National Convention.  One of the most-watched moments of the Convention was the incredibly awkward floor change to the official Democratic Party Platform.

As Convention Chair, Villaraigosa was tasked with polling the delegates to change the Democratic Party Platform to reinsert language strongly supportive of Israel, and affirming God, which had been removed.  To his everlasting embarrassment, Villaraigosa tried three times to achieve a clear two thirds majority voice approval required for the change.  When his efforts failed to produce an obvious win, Villaraigosa nonetheless declared the measure had passed.

That awful moment in American history:

 

 

Yogurtland Launches Kosher Store

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Yogurtland, a leading frozen yogurt chain, is following the lead of Dunkin Donuts, Baskin Robbins and The Coffee Bean and has launched its first kosher store, the Beverly Connection location in Los Angeles.

The store is under the kosher supervision of the Rabbinical Council of California, according to the Kosher Today newsletter.

Yogurtland’s self-serve frozen yogurt shops allow customers to approach a wall of sweet and tart yogurt flavors and a topping bar. Paying by the ounce, consumers can choose among 16 yogurt flavors to create their own frozen treat and top it off their way.

“Certified kosher frozen yogurt from Yogurtland will be a welcomed treat for the kosher community,” said Rabbi Yaakov Vann, Director of Kashrut Services for the Rabbinical Council of California.

All of Yogurtland’s flavors are produced in a kosher-certified facility.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/yogurtland-launches-kosher-store/2013/05/08/

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