This letter is being written on behalf of Yavneh Hebrew Academy in Los Angeles. We are writing to set the record straight regarding the facts of our recent unfortunate experience at Yavneh and the subsequent response by officials from the City of Los Angeles (as reported HERE on YW).
On Friday night, Leil Kol Nidrei, 2 inspectors from a division of the Department of Building and Safety for the City of Los Angeles appeared on our premises at approximately 8:05 pm and told one of our mispalelim that since our conditional use permit only allowed us to be in our facility on Friday nights until 8 pm, and that it was now past that time, we needed to immediately disband our services and vacate the premises.
This action was clearly outrageous. Our community has been working diligently in its outreach efforts to reconcile with all of the different elements within the neighborhood and time after time the response has been a slap on the hand. It is sad that our neighborhood has come to this where a neighbor in our community would stoop to the low point of using City officials to desecrate and disrupt our holiest of days.
We have since discovered that somewhere along the way there was a breakdown in the communication and chain of command between the heads of Building and Safety and the lower-level inspectors who took it upon themselves to authorize this action. Furthermore, it appears that these inspectors had been responding to the numerous phone calls of one very influential private citizen in our neighborhood.
This evening – Sunday, 11 Tishrei, the day after Yom Kippur – the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, had his chief of staff convene a meeting at City Hall to have a formal apology issued by the General Manager of Building and Safety, who is himself a religious
person of a different faith. This individual profusely apologized and took full responsibility for this terrible behavior. He expressed his pain by stating that he had fled a country where he had been a victim of religious persecution and was therefore particularly embarrassed that this had taken place under his watch.
The mayor has also personally committed to perform a thorough investigation of the matter and correct the grievous behavior that was committed on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. The mayor’s office also plans to issue a statement deploring what happened Kol Nidrei night.
At the meeting, Jack Weiss, city councilman from another district, and Renee Weitzer, chief of staff for Councilman LaBonge within whose council district Yavneh falls, were also present, and they too decried what happened on Leil Yom Kippur.
We are encouraged by the tremendous outcry of our leading city officials – the mayor, the city council, and the head of Building and Safety – who indicated to us their resolve that a travesty such as this will never be allowed to occur again in the City of Los Angeles.
To that end, they have assured us that they will be conducting an immediate and thorough investigation.
We hope we can work on repairing the breaches in our neighborhood, using this unfortunate incident as a springboard to reject those elements among our neighbors who instigated such a dishonorable act.
As Yom Kippur is the time of being mekadesh Shem Shamayim, we hope that this will be the ultimate result when all the dust has settled.
Rabbi Moshe Dear, Headmaster of Yeshivas Yavneh
Rabbi N. Doniel Korobkin, Rosh Kehilla
David Rubin, Chairman of the Board of Yeshivas Yavneh
on behalf of the Board