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May 24, 2015 / 6 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

‘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.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/las-first-jewish-mayor/2013/05/27/

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