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Shock & Outrage In Los Angeles Jewish Community As Anti-Semitism Continues


The outrageous behavior of Los Angeles officials continues to make headlines around the world. As first reported HERE, HERE, & HERE on Yeshiva World News, the incident has been picked up by the major media markets (NBC, AP, IsraelNN etc.). With Los Angeles officials’ quickly proclaiming ignorance and regret for the incident, it is four days after the incident and no one has been fired. No one has been suspended. No one has been admonished.

This is causing serious questions to be raised in Jewish communities around the world. ‘What is considered hateful to Los Angeles officials?’ ‘Does an apology suffice?’ Surprisingly the Los Angeles City Council is expected today (09/25/07) to approve a settlement in the amount of $1.5 Million dollars to a city firefighter that during an initiation rite was fed a spoonful of dog food. In that instance, numerous fire department command staff were reprimanded, reassigned, suspended and the Fire Chief was fired.

What Jews everywhere are asking themselves; “$1.5 Million Dollars for a spoon of dog food and a 2 page mea culpa for violating the very tenet of what this country was founded upon?” To add insult to injury, City of Los Angeles Dept. of Building and Safety are quoted in today’s LA Times saying “. . . Our intention was to simply go out and make an observation and leave. We had no intention of disrupting a service there.”

As this is being written, a team of lawyers, unassociated with Yavneh or its administration, are gathering written and recorded depositions from witnesses to the actions by official on Yom Kippur Night. In sworn testimony a picture of outrageous intimidation and fear tactics is emerging. “This was NOT ‘to simply go out and make an observation and leave” as falsely claimed by the city. These inspectors stormed their way past armed guards hired by the congregation for high holy-day security.

Members of the Los Angeles community with support by the international Jewish community are expressing a need for an independent investigation. An online petition (Click Here for Online Petition) has collected hundreds of signatures in the last 24 hours. The petition sponsored by a consortium of Jewish organization reads in part “We call upon the Department of Justice Civil Rights Criminal Section to investigate this blatant abuse of power by the City of Los Angeles and trampling on the constitutionally protected rights of its citizens.”

To give our readers a personalized account of the Los Angeles situation we present the comments made by a Los Angeles resident and Yeshiva World News reader (edited for publication):

(Online Moniker: Chesed Shel Emes)

As a Los Angeles resident, I can tell you that this was not an isolated action of one or two individuals or a “miscommunication”. This was a well planned act against the Jewish community.

A little background here.

There has been a 10 year battle between the Hancock Park Homeowners Association and local Jewish institutions. The HPHA, run by local WASPs (with a few self-hating Jews on board) mask their activities of anti-Semitism by saying that they just wish to preserve the integrity of the neighborhood.

Here is the integrity that they wish to preserve. The deed of my house in Hancock Park, dated in 1922, reads that the house cannot be sold to “Negroes, Indians or Jews”. This is the integrity that the HPHA wishes to preserve…a judenrhein neighborhood.

The HPHA is well funded and well connected. Their head is the president of the Los Angeles Planning Commission. They have many wealthy members who have outwardly expressed antagonism towards orthodox Jews.

The local city councilman, Tom LaBonge, is well supported by the HPHA. He has given more grief to local Jewish Institutions than any other city councilmember in Los Angeles history. When the outrage over this incident became apparent, LaBonge self-servingly expressed that he knew nothing about it in advance and (like O.J. Simpson) would find out who was responsible for this action.

The above comments are correct. In any other ethnic setting, this would have been front page news. Heads would be rolling, and so would cameras. But, alas, it’s only about Jews.

It is up to us to make this front page news. I can assure you that in a couple of days, when we are all engrossed in our Sukka Holiday, the city will find a couple of low level scapegoats and declare that the matter is over.

We cannot allow this to happen! LaBonge and his supporters have pulled off events like this in the past. This time it caught up with them. Outrage, in the form of e-mails, phone calls and letters should pour into LaBonge’s office, letting him know that Jews around the country are watching his every move. He will still be an anti-Semite, just a less outspoken one.

Mayor Villaraigosa needs to know that the united Jewish community will not be satisfied with weak apologies. Firm action and future assurances that Jewish institutions may operate without fear are needed.

Furthermore, I would like to set the record straight regarding Councilman Tom LaBonge.

LaBonge is a raging anti-Semite. He has been at the throats of all local Jewish institutions in an attempt to cause them as much grief as he can.

I would not believe one word of his denial that “Neither I nor any member of my staff had any knowledge…”. LaBonge’s main supporters are the Hancock Park Homeowners Association who have fought tooth and nail for years against Yavneh and other instittions. Mayor Villaraigosa has no ax to grind against the Jewish community, and thus has a more sympathetic ear to this issue.

I believe that LaBonge needs to hear from the Jewish community at large in very strong terms. He will certainly not begin to love Jews, but like any anti-Semite, he will tone down his rhetoric once he sees that he stands to lose something by his outspokenness against the local mosdos.

I would recommend strongly worded e-mails and phone calls to his office acknowledging the broader Jewish community’s recognition of his previous anti-Jewish stances on issues. Indeed, I would question his statement that he “knew nothing”. He has known everything about every previous anti-Jewish movement in the neighborhood.

The Los Angeles Jewish community appreciates your support in this matter. We really do. A show of achdus at this time is important. A gut kvittel to all.

Councilman Tom LaBonge: Phone 213-473-7004.
e-mail: [email protected]

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:
Los Angeles City Hall
200 North Spring Street, Room 303
Los Angeles, CA 90012

213/978-0600 (Phone)
213/978-0750 (Fax)

Email: [email protected]

22 Responses

  1. As regrettable and reprehensible as this situation is, it is fixable.

    Never forget, these are polticians. They count votes.

    Blocks of dedicated focused voters get attention.

    Individuals, unless they are heavy contributors, do not.

    Organize various PAC’s (poitical action committees) in the various precincts where an organized JEWISH VOTE can sway an election, and you’ve got your leverage.

    I have seen it happen where 50-100 votes either way in a local election changes who is elected.

    And, you know what else? Even if the numbers are not there to be able to affect the outcome, if the politician is afraid that they could = you’ve won.

    Use the PAC’s to build alternate election choices. You will have to also put your $$ behind your effort, but isn’t it worth it?

    If I can help, let me know.

  2. Does anyone think it would be a good idea to get Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh on the case? If they talk about this on air with their millions of listeners, and perhaps interview someone who was there, I think it would add a lot more pressure on the mayor and city council to make sure this doesn’t happen again. And they do sometimes feature cases of power hungry beaurocrats trampling on the basic rights of the little guy.

    The city of Los Angeles is not Nazi Germany. This was not an unfounded event. A huge chilul hashem was made by Jews breaking the law. The law is the law, we can change it through the democratic channels offered to us, but we cant just break the law and when we face the reprecussions of breaking the law scream anti-semitism!

  4. dont forget — stop work orders against succah’s. these happen all over the usa, even in midtown manhattan, and other jewish communities all over metropolirtan area. and they’re (almost) always due to a neighbor’s complaint, just like this hancock park case.

    luckily, a stop work order says do nothing or take down the offensive construction in ten or so days, so we just take it down after simhat torah.

  5. I strongly object to the language and terminology being used here. Fired, Suspended, Admonished. It is not a Jewish middah to seek the blood of our (non-lethal) enemies. Since when have Jews become like the, ahem, ”minority”’ groups of the ilk of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson that seek to inflict damage on others? That is not the methodology of Jews.

    Protect and fight for our rights. But do not demand someone be ”fired.” We are in golus. Our modus operendi throughout our long and painful exile, has been to quitely take care of things with a bisel gelt — if thats what it takes our enemies to go away — and move on. It usually works, unlike the JDL violence/threats style
    that almost always backfires.

  6. Proud Jew, I agree that everyone should respect the law, but, it seems obvious, that if a church held a late service, you wouldn’t have the authorities banging down the door to stop the service. They should not have stopped the services on Yom Kippur night; a notice of fine mailed to the synagogue after the holiday would have been acceptable, if in fact it were warranted. But to barge into the middle of religious observances over what is basically harmless and a technicality, certainly does have a ring of Nazi Germany to it. I’m not calling them Nazis, but I do understand where these people who call them that are coming from.

  7. Yidel, you are correct that, in Galus, the JDL method is not the appropriate one. The whole response here does seem like an Al Sharpton-type response, but I don’t believe that the daas Torah here is as simple as you make it out to be.

    Why did so many well-respected Rabbonim call for the phone calls to the White House re: freeing Pollard (another product of the fine Zionist loyalty to its own, how the Zionists expelled its agent and citizen, Pollard, from its own embassy to face his fate)?

    Evidently, even though we are in galus, there is an appropriate way to participate in the democratic process, and that may include writing letters to elected officials explaining how horrific and terrible it was to barge into services for far too little cause.

  8. HaKatan- Its actually not a technicality. Its the LAW. The technicallity is allowing them to have services at all, its a school not a shul. This was not the first time this has happened(that services went past their legal time), this was just a time the government knew they would be able to catch them because of the known length of yom kippur services. This is not the only synagouge in the area publically violating building codes, and the neighbors are rightfully upset!

  9. #3 proud idiot,
    When one violates building code or zoning laws, they get a summons in the mail and have to pay a fine after trial if they lose. A building inspector has no right to enter your premises without a search warrant if you refuse him entry. If you allow him in and he finds a violation, he doesn’t say get out of the building until you fix the violation, he gives you a summons. If you have until 8:00 PM to be out, any decent human being understands it takes time to pack up and they’ll give you a few minutes grace. Now tell me, where are you going to find a building inspector on the job at 8:05 PM Friday night?? These guys waited, and it’s possible, (Likely?) they weren’t even on the clock. As soon as 8:00 came, they said “Get out!” That is anti-semitism. The strictest by the book cop would have said “Do, you think you could be finished in 10 or 20 minutes? NOBODY BUT NOBODY say “GET OUT!” from a house of worship. Cops in general do not enter a house of worship without asking permission or being invited in. I witnessed two events, one we called the police because a pushke was pried of the wall and stolen, the second the police chased a guy (a minor incident) into a shul in Boro Park Shabbos during shacharis. The police did not come inside. We invited the one cop in to make the report. Don’t defend anti semites. –כל המרחם על האכזר… סופו להיות

  10. A few more facts:
    1. Yavneh has bent over backwards to try to get along with the neighbors, including accepting outrageous restrictions on the use of a property that has been a school for over 70 years, with no restrictions on previous schools. This is the thanks they have gotten for their spirit of cooperation.

    Example: Yavneh is restricted in the number of people allowed to convene to a hundred or so people. We’re talking about a FOUR ACRE property with multiple buildings.
    2. The public school next door operates under no restrictions. They have a chain link fence with an ugly green schmatta around the yard, and the neighbors fought Yavneh on building a beautiful brick and wrought iron fence, as recommended by the dept of homeland security, and for which the school received a homeland security grant.
    3. There have been multiple instances of people standing outside Yavneh, and the nearby congregation Etz Chaim with video camera.

  11. Matzah- If you check Los Angeles City Municipal code A building inspector does not need a warrant to enter a building, they are not police, they can inspect a building any time a complaint is lodged, which at this point is what the facts point to.
    It also does not appear you disagree that THE SHOULDNT HAVE BEEN DAVENING THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE, they know what the laws are, and they blatantly ignored them.

  12. Thanks for the support. Judaism allows for an open voice, the is not a halachaich issue, its a matter of opinion… Was this an attack on the jewish community or is this enforcement of the law.

  13. Not-so-proud Jew: Disobeying an unjust law is the American way. And it’s the Jewish way. They have no right to restrict the shul in this way, and it was perfectly reasonable for the shul to disobey; what other choice did it have? Start yom kippur an hour early? Not have kol nidrei at all, and make its members buy extra seats at other shuls? Making nice with the neighbours has been tried and doesn’t work, so what else is there to do?

  14. 1. Why is it unjust if The shul agreed to it, it was a compromise that they agreed to, no one forced them to agree to it, but they did. The rabbi of the shul was quoted in the LA Times as saying that they should have let the city know that the prayer services were going to go longer, if he felt it was unjust, then he would ignore it, but he recognized the law as legitimate.
    2. Dont daven there! Go to one of the other 15 shuls in the one mile radius. Its not worth the chillul hashem to prove, “we can daven wherever we want when we want”, thats not the american way, and not the jewish way.

  15. Ad Kan Hakofa Gimmel…

    Rabbosai.. a little background on our blogging friend ‘proudjew’. it took me a few hours but he gave himself away with some of his comments. He’s a successful physician in the community that resents most of his extended family for going black hat big time. Ah teire neshama but a shtikel messed up.

    He lives in a super exclusive area of Hancock Park (homes averging 7 to 10 million – as is).

    Its sad. what can I say.

    L’maaseh since Yavneh and Etz Chaim were founded, property values have increased way beyond anyones imagination. 4 out of every 5 homes sold in the west part of Hancock Park in the last few years were bought by haimishe families. Why you ask? Because we’re paying top dollar for it. Its a beautiful neighborhood – notwithstanding the ‘Heil Hitler’ neighbors.

    They don’t like us walking their streets. They don’t like to see black hats. They absolutley hate shtreimels.

    It’s almost licht bentchen here in LA and I’ll continue after yom tov.

    Bottom line… you guys and gals on yeshiva world; its writers and bloggers brought this issue to the attention of the world and literally brought the city to its knees… for now. But Mi K’Amcha Yisroel and you all know that. Big group hug brothers and sisters. Hey ‘proudjew’ join us too. We still love you and Refuah Shelaima!

    Have a Chag Sameach.

  16. What is unfortunately missing is alot of background information to the story.
    The property that we are talking about was used as a school (law school) for years before it was bought by Yavne. When Yavne bought it, all of a sudden there were restrictions put on them. This has nothing to do with traffic, noise, or out of neighbor character, as they make less noise than the previous school, its on a large commercial block, and shielded from the nearby neighborhood. The oppossition is nothing short of blatant antisemitism.

    At a recent neighborhood council vote, there were people standing with signs saying “no more black hats in our neighborhood”. We are talking about America in the 2007!!!

    Unfortunately, a nearby shul did blatantly ignore zoning laws, and created a very public animosity that makes this fight harder to justify.

    Wether they were or weren’t allowed to be there, it appears there was an organized effort on behalf of the building dept to trap them there. That is illegal and discrimanatory.

  17. It seems to me that this shul/yeshiva should have used all its resources — machers, public outcry, OpEd articles, etc. — to avoid or circumvent the 8 PM restriction. Surely they knew that Ne’ilah would run past 8. What did they do about Selichot?

    Granted, I’m blaming the victim, but sometimes victims don’t have to be victims. I agree there should have been confrontation…BEFORE Yom Kippur.

    Thor from Boca Raton

  18. ok. has every body finished venting??????

    This incident in LA is just the tip of the ice berg as far as anti-semitism goes. it is rampant and growing in freqency and intensity. This kind of incident in LA happens all over. In the US and for sure out. We must meet anti-semitism head on whenever we run in to it and defeat it using every resource at our disoposal.

    We stand the most chance of turning the corner on anti-semitism if we can 1. be united, 2. be strong, 3. operate with Ahavas Yisroel and 4. persist in our efforts. Chessed, Gevurah, Tifferes and Netzach.

    We have to love ourselves before others will love us. If we show chinas chinim to each other we encourage the anti-semites to follow our lead.

    I gave a rational fix to the situation in that section of LA. It can be accomplished with kindness, it will require strength and endurance, netzach, and will untimately change the political climate. Why has no one come foward to offer their help as I have? There are many of us who have political savvy, and PAC building talents, etc to help this community help itself.

    Members of the Hancock Park jewish community, reach out to us, we will help you, but cannot do it for you.

    Each day of the Chag of Sukkos is ruled by a different Seferah: Chessed-Kindness, Gevurah-strength, Tifferes-beauty, Netzach-endurance, Hod-empathy, Yesod-covenant and Malchus-kingship, we, as Yidden have the special ability to tap into the power and attributes of these 7 Seferah and bring them down into this world of action through our thoughts speech and actions.

    Let us apply them to this problem in Hancock Park.

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