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"We are Not Okay" - Five for Fighting joins Israel's Memorial Day / Independence Day Ceremony at Los Angeles' Temple Valley Beth Shalom

Video-screen collage shows David ben Gurion declaring Israeli Independence on May 14, '48
Approximately 1600 people, including over 700 children, gathered at the (Los Angeles, San Fernando) Valley Beth Shalom to commemorate the sequential holidays, Memorial Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers / Victims of Terror, and then Israel's 76th Independence Day. The event, led by Rabbis Nolan Lebovitz and Ed Feinstein, was predominantly Jewish-American with a complement of Israeli-American ex-pats. Said Rabbi Lebovitz in his opening remarks, "We need to support one another in our time of grief and pain during Yom ha Zikaron (Memorial Day). And hold one another in our appreciation and joy during Yom ha Atzmaut (Independence Day)!"

With a speech from Israeli Consul General Yisrael Bachar, the program demonstrated a strong sense of solidarity and responsibility within the community to defend Zionism during these challenging times. Songwriter John ("Five for Fighting") Ondrasik performed two of his numbers and recounted highlights of his April trip to Israel where he performed in Hostage Square.
UCLA Emeritus Professor Judea Pearl expressed his feelings of belonging to the community and the importance of the relationship between Israeli and American Jews. He also discussed the support Israeli academics have received from their colleagues in American universities during times of crisis, specifically in response to calls for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). Jewish professors in American universities have made an internal decision to provide special support and "affirmative action" to their Israeli colleagues, helping them defy these calls for BDS.

 

 

 



 

  

 


 

 

Rabbi Feinstein and Professor Pearl discuss the turnout and significance of a community event celebrating Israel's Independence Day in the Valley. Approximately 1600 people attended, including over 700 children, making it an impressive gathering for the community. The event was predominantly American Jews and Israelis, with a shift towards more Israeli attendees. Rabbi Feinstein emphasized the sense of solidarity and responsibility among the community to support Israel during challenging times. This was demonstrated through various celebrations, political actions, and open expressions of support. Professor Judea Pearl expressed his feelings of belonging to the community and the importance of the symbiotic relationship between Israeli and American Jews. Despite the changing climate in the United States, he believed that both communities should continue to support each other and protect their shared interests. 

 

Professor Pearl discusses the support Israeli academics have received from their colleagues in American universities during times of crisis, specifically in response to calls for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). He mentions that Jewish professors in American universities have made an internal decision to provide special support and "affirmative action" to their Israeli colleagues, as some universities have succumbed to pressure and made agreements with protesters. The professors aim to help their Israeli colleagues defy these calls for BDS.


Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony strives for normalcy amidst maelstrom of anti-Zionist protests

Rabbi Steve Leder addresses ceremony for
Holocaust Memorial Day at Los Angeles
Holocaust Museum, Pan-Pacific Park
For Holocaust Memorial Day '24 (Hebrew: "Yom ha Shoah') the senior Rabbi of L.A.'s Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Rabbi Steve Leder and Beth Kean, CEO of the Holocaust Museum L.A, come together in a solemn atmosphere to reflect on the importance of faith, hope, and resilience in the face of adversity. This year marks 80-years since the Nazi invasion of Hungary.
 
Rabbi Leder shares his personal connection to the Holocaust, describing how it affected him and his family despite their having been American long before the Holocaust. He emphasizes the ongoing relevance of the Holocaust and the importance of taking a clear moral stance in the face of current threats against the Jewish community. Rabbi Leder also speaks about the power of faith, life, and goodness, drawing parallels from Jewish traditions and historical events. He encourages the Jewish community to come out of their suffering not empty-handed but to use the experience to build a more united and effective community. The event emphasizes the importance of peace and unity.

05:00 In this section, Rabbi Steve Leder of the Los Angeles Wilshire Blvd Temple reflects on the Holocaust and the current threats against the Jewish community. He recalls how Jews were suddenly and brutally murdered during the Holocaust, with 6 million unique lives lost. Leder also mentions recent attacks against Israel and expresses feelings of abandonment and frustration, questioning where allies are in times of need. He acknowledges the moral complexity of the situation and the importance of taking a clear moral stance, distinguishing between murder and necessary defense.

Riot-police guard remnant of pro-Israel families leaving rally at UCLA from IslamoMarxist mob's hostile taunting 28 April '24.



10:00 Rabbi Leder speaks about the pain and heartbreak caused by the ongoing conflict between Israel and terrorist groups. He emphasizes that innocent people are not victims of Israeli aggression but rather of the terrorists' disregard for life. Leder explains that there is power in a broken heart and uses a verse from Jeremiah to illustrate this concept. According to the rabbis, God places words upon our hearts because it is only when our hearts are broken that the words can enter. Leder reflects on the importance of unity and the need for each other during difficult times. He also shares a metaphor about the Torah commanding the eternal light in the temple to be fueled by the purest olive oil, which only gives forth its purest light when crushed. Leder encourages the Jewish community to come out of their suffering not empty-handed and to use the experience to build a more united and effective Jewish community.

15:00 Rabbi Leder speaks about the importance of faith, life, and goodness in the face of adversity. He emphasizes the need to embrace one's faith more fully during difficult times and highlights the Jewish belief in the power of goodness to overcome evil. Rabbi Leder also discusses the significance of celebrating life and the numerous Jewish holidays that commemorate joy and goodness. He shares a joke about Jewish pessimism and optimism and the belief in the power of goodness to prevail. The rabbi also mentions an obscure law in Jewish law that requires a blind person to bless the new moon, emphasizing the importance of affirming what is hidden and difficult to see.

20:00 Rabbi Steve Leder speaks about the importance of hope and peace in the face of adversity, drawing parallels from the 23rd Psalm and historical events such as the Jewish Nation rising after the Holocaust and potential peace with various Middle Eastern countries. He emphasizes that even in the darkest of times, there is always a source of light and that hate is not the end of hope but the beginning of a battle for deeper faith, clarity, and courage. The Rabbi encourages the audience to never allow their dreams and hope to be murdered and to emerge again into the light, emphasizing the importance of being morally clear, strong, and brave. 

25:00 In this final section, he leads the audience in the singing of Ose Shalom, the Hebrew prayer which means May He who brings peace in the heavens also bring it upon us and all the people of Israel. The atmosphere is one of solemnity and unity as they come together.