My 72 hours started on the afternoon of Nov. 8, when I wrote my bimonthly email: “Thank G-d for the Jewish Federation.” This was said to me by a woman at one of the National Solidarity Shabbats, organized by our federation and The Jewish Federations of North America in response to the horrific attack on the Tree of Life synagogue. It detailed the work of our Community Security Initiative (CSI), as we ensure the safety, security and vibrancy of our Jewish community. It covered the hours after the attack and calls I received from our mayor, chief of police and sheriff.
Soon after, I received word about the start of the Woolsey Fire. CSI immediately began monitoring the fires and sending updates to Jewish organizations in the affected areas. I woke up in the middle of the night, saw that the fire was already impacting the Jewish community, and began plans to convene our staff the next morning.
On Nov. 9, our Chief Program Officer Becky Sobelman-Stern turned her program staff retreat into a crisis response session. We reached out to every organizational leader and rabbi in the area. We set up a hotline — (323) 761-8100 — staffed by a professional from our Caring for Jews in Need strategic initiative. The platforms we have in place, CSI and the Ezra Network, provided the infrastructure to do what was needed. I rewrote my e-mail to let the community know that we were directing our full attention and staff resources to address the immediate and long-term impact of the fires. I began to contact political leaders. Numerous calls offering help and support poured in from many national colleagues.
We immediately created our L.A. Wildfire Relief Campaign to raise funds for impacted individuals and organizations.
Rabbi Jon Hanish invited me to speak at Kol Tikvah’s Friday night services, shared with another impacted congregation, Valley Outreach Synagogue. I expressed our readiness to help in any and every way possible.
The night of Nov. 9 I kept waking up to add items to my to-do list and monitor the fires. Very early on the morning of Nov. 10, it became clear that the fire was moving toward three of our cherished summer camps: the Wilshire Boulevard Camps Hilltop, Hess Kramer and Camp JCA Shalom/Shalom Institute. I couldn’t go back to sleep.
On the morning of Nov. 10, I received another flurry of emails from Israel, detailing a barrage of rockets from Gaza hitting southern Israel. I contacted partners and colleagues there to ask how we could help. Our partners at the Israel Trauma Coalition said they were already engaged, thanks to work we did together in 2012 and 2014.
“A man came up to me and said the words that made all of our work worthwhile: ‘Thank you and the federation.’”
At 8 a.m., I began a series of in-person meetings with representatives from the organizations most impacted by the fires. I spent the rest of the day and night on conference and individual calls with the leaders in the impacted areas.
After another sleepless night, it became clear that the three camps had been destroyed by the fires.
At 8 a.m. on Nov. 11, I began a series of meetings with people from Jewish organizations. I spent hours supporting and strategizing with Camp JCA/Shalom Institute’s Rabbi Bill Kaplan and his staff. I joined a now daily conference call with rabbis, leaders of organizations and individuals.
At 1 p.m., I attended the memorial service our federation organized for the family of Bernice and Sylvan Simon, the couple murdered at the Pittsburgh synagogue. I spoke about how their lives truly were a blessing. Afterward, I offered support to Rabbi Steve Leder of Wilshire Boulevard Temple. The federation then created a crisis center at our offices in Tarzana and offered space to any organization or synagogue that needed a place to call home.
At 7 p.m., I addressed more than 500 campers and alumni of Camp JCA Shalom at de Toledo High School in West Hills. I shared our commitment to rebuild what was lost and told them what I truly believed: The power of camp and our community was in that room.
As I left, a man came up to me and said the words that made all of our work worthwhile: “Thank you and the federation.”
He then gave me just what I needed after everything I’d experienced in those 72 hours — a hug.
Jay Sanderson is CEO and president of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
Netanyahu’s support for the settlement enterprise, is believed to have been reigned by former democratic US president Barack Obama who was in office from January 2009 to January 2017.
A man photographs a woman as she stands next to a mural depicting U.S. President Donald Trump and Is
Spending on West Bank settlements spiked by 39% in 2017, the first year US President Donald Trump was in office, the left-wing group Peace Now reported on Tuesday.
Weekend work permits for Eurovision complicate Netanyahu’s coalition bargaining with ultra-Orthodox parties
Israeli singer and past Eurovision winner Dana International at the Orange Carpet event in Tel Aviv, May 13, 2019.
Israeli singer and past Eurovision winner Dana International at the Orange Carpet event in Tel Aviv, May 13, 2019.Tomer Appelbaum
Seeking to quell ultra-Orthodox anger over holding the Eurovision Song Contest’s final in Tel Aviv on Saturday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday it was an “individual international event” not sponsored by the state, and that the government doesn’t want to violate the Sabbath.
French Holocaust denier Alain Soral. Photo: Egalite et Réconciliation.
The mayor of one of southern France’s most picturesque towns expressed fury on Tuesday after learning that a group of right-wing activists and conspiracy theorists — including convicted Holocaust denier Alain Soral — were planning to hold a “summer school” there at the end of August.
“I say it clearly, Soral is not welcome here,” Alexandre Reynal — mayor of the town of Amelie-les-Bain in the spectacular Pyrénées-Orientales region — told a local news outlet on Tuesday.
I urge all visitors to join me in a conspiracy to violate the UN Security Council Resolution…Obama, himself, engineered the Resolution. He pushed it through the Security Council despite some reservations by other members, including Egypt, which believed that the Resolution itself could become a barrier to a negotiated two-state solution. After all, if Israel’s control over Judaism’s holiest site is deemed illegal, then Israel would have to negotiate its legality with the Palestinians.
The ruling Law and Justice Party views Poland as a victim of World War II, and that therefore Poland should not be required to pay damages to other victims.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki reacts after receiving his nomination during a government s
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki reacts after receiving his nomination during a government swearing-in ceremony in Warsaw, Poland, December 11, 2017..
Only three-quarters of a century after Der Stürmer incentivized the mass murder of Jews by dehumanizing them, we see a revival of such bigoted caricatures.
I do not believe in free speech for me, but not for thee. But I do believe in condemning those who hide behind the First Amendment to express anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, homophobic, sexist or racist views.
One of the most influential newspapers in the world, the Jewish-owned New York Times decided to present the Jews with a gift in honor of the last day of Passover – a major Jewish holiday – an antisemitic caricature. The controversial cartoon shows US President Donald Trump as a blind man with a skullcap on his head, being led by a dog that looks like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And to make sure the reader knows it is indeed the Israeli premier, the dog has a Star of David dangling from its collar.
Last week, Jared Kushner, one of the administration’s point men on the Middle East, dispensed with the term “two-state solution” in its impending peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. “The two-state solution has failed,” he said.
The “two-state solution” does not appear in the 1993 Oslo Accords, which called only for “interim self-government” for the Palestinians. The goal was a negotiated final status agreement, in which independence was not specified.
Religious fervor always picks up before the Jewish holidays. Not surprisingly, Israeli undercover police arrested Jewish activists from the Hozrim L’Har (Returning to the Mount) organization early Friday afternoon, just before the onset of the Passover holiday, after an apparent attempt to bring a young goat on to the Temple Mount for a self-proclaimed sacrificial rite. Indeed, this drama plays itself out every year, but according to Jerusalem police, this year a record of at least twelve members of the organization were arrested throughout the course of the day on counts of disturbing the peace.
Every year when Passover eve arrives, I do my best not to think about that night; to allow the joy of cherished rituals meant to renew our family’s tribal history and faith envelop us in its warm glow as whoever among the kids and grandkids it’s our turn to host partake of the matzoh, bitter herbs, and wine. Often – actually most often – I succeed.