Monday, April 30, 2018

Query for the Candidates for Sheriff of Los Angeles County on Issues of Jewish Security

            In advance of the upcoming elections for Sheriff of Los Angeles County, I have addressed this request to incumbent Sheriff, James McDonnell, and contending candidates, Commander Robert Lindseyand Lieutenant Alex Villanueva. The replies of the two contenders is posted below. The incumbent has not yet sent in a reply.

Please provide us with a statement as to how you propose to tackle the specific concerns of the Jewish community in Los Angeles county in general, and West Hollywood in particular.
This is the reason for my query:
Our congregation, historic Hollywood Temple Beth El, shares its facility with two other Jewish institutions—the Iranian American Jewish Federation and Touro College. Furthermore, there are two other synagogues in West Hollywood: Kol Ami and Russian Chabad. All our institutions depend on the Sheriff’s Station in West Hollywood for
our security.We have heightened concerns, as Jewish institutions are most prominently targeted by haters out of all other religious institutions. FBI statistics have reported Jews as the target of 54% of hate crimes reported, out of all religious groups, even though we are but 2% of the US population. Their statistics show that perpetrators are of all stripes and backgrounds, not just the “usual suspects” of “Neo-Nazis” or KKK.
            We all await your response.
            Thank you in advance.
Sincerely yours,
Rabbi Norbert Weinberg
Hollywood Temple Beth El
1317 N. Crescent Heights Blvd,
West Hollywood, CA 90046

**********************************************************************************Statement of Lieutenant Alex Villanueva:

Rabbi Weinberg, thank you for communicating with me regarding this matter of utmost concern to all, in particular those of the Jewish faith.  There is so much that needs to be done in order to better serve our communities of faith, and it starts with the resources we currently have in place at West Hollywood station and all patrol stations for that matter.  Plainly stated, we don't have enough deputies on the streets, and the few we do have are working under a cloud of uncertainty due to Sheriff McDonnell's mismanagement.  In order to be successful in the war against terrorism we have to enlist the support of the entire community to work hand in hand with law enforcement, but we are not living up to our end of the bargain. I plan on doubling the amount of time each deputy spends in patrol in a specific community, with the mandate to establish long term relationships with the residents and institutions that reside there.  I also plan on working to increase our staffing level to get back the 1,500 deputies we've lost due to a lackluster recruitment effort and a toxic organizational culture that forces early retirements.

A fully staffed and motivated station, working in conjunction with communities of faith and the Los Angeles Joint Regional Intelligence Center (LAJRIC), will serve as the first line of defense against acts of terror.  Educating community members to report suspicious activity (if you see something say something!) to the JRIC hotline is an important step.  Having properly trained and experienced investigators working in a collaborative environment with other local and federal investigators, sharing tips, leads, and trends, is also part of the overall effort at keeping our community safe.

The most basic think I can do as sheriff to make our community safe is to start valuing the hard work our deputies do in the field, instead of taking them for granted.  The LASD culture ascribes a low value to serving the community in patrol, and it is considered a dead-end job for career advancement.  I intend to change that to become the single most important thing a deputy can do for a healthy career: serve the community.  My platform of Reform, Rebuild, and Restore was developed specifically to create a new LASD, lean, effective, and motivated to serve every community within our jurisdiction.  I look forward to serving you as sheriff and building a strong partnership with the Jewish community for a safer Los Angeles County.

Thank you for reaching out to my campaign.  Please don't hesitate to contact me directly at (562) 754-1242 if you have any questions.


Alex Villanueva


Response of Commander Robert Lindsey

April 26th 2018

Dear Rabbi Weinberg and the Congregants of Temple Beth El,

As the 70th anniversary of the nation of Israel is being heralded across the globe, we celebrate along with you, your loved ones and millions across the globe. However, no matter how proud and joyfully we rejoice this historic moment as ordained success, we sadly know such milestones attract hatred from those who seek to destroy the great faith of the Jewish people.

As anti-Semitism is by far the oldest and most established threat to the Jewish people across the world, I remain in a state of alarm by the resolve of your enemies. From Palestine to the neighborhoods of Los Angeles County hides an evil presence whose obsession with the destruction of the Jewish community cannot be underestimated. This ancient and not-so ­ancient animus cannot be allowed to exist and must be efficiently shaped to extinction.

As your sheriff, I will seek a path to social justice and peace for your communities. I will fight on your behalf and ensure to the best of my ability that peace and security follows each member of your faith. I understand that talk is cheap, but I promise that the evil which stalks the Jewish community in the county of Los Angeles will be dealt a severe blow when I am elected sheriff.

First and foremost, I understand that no matter how many law enforcement tools are available to me, their effectiveness is limited and temporary without a true partnership with the Jewish community. Therefore I promise to begin the effort by establishing a Community Advisory Committee comprised of Jewish community stakeholders who will have direct access to my office, the Office of the Sheriff. These advisory committees will meet with me quarterly to help guide policy, establish proper training for my personnel, and hear the experiences and concerns of Rabbis, doctors, business owners and all good citizens of the Jewish faith.

I will establish a department training curriculum that will be guided by your community. It is imperative that all employees of the sheriff’s department understand the origins and history of the 70-year-old Jewish State, how it relates to the Jewish-American experience and why your community suffers a disproportionate degree of hate crimes.

It is of utmost fundamental necessity that we view hate crimes against the Jewish community as uniquely motivated acts of animus based on ignorance or fear. These are not ‘simply’ crimes of violence and should not be treated as such. This is why I vow to establish and retain a working cooperation between the sheriff’s department and the United States Department of Justice. Through this cooperation between my department and elements of the United States Attorney, we will look past prosecuting hate crimes on a state level and seek Federal prosecutions to send a message to all; hate will not live in our community. When elected sheriff, my department will instill a zero tolerance policy of such crimes motivated by hate and will push hard for swift, aggressive and harsh punishment to deter future crimes. As you know, the Federal sentencing guidelines can be extreme and will send a message that can dramatically deter future crime.

Furthermore it is my vision to stop these crimes before they can even happen. With 8,000 sworn members of the department we are ready to dedicate the necessary resources, implement education and give our men and women the tools to predict, intervene and overcome this continuing threat. These things I commit to you if elected sheriff.

Under the current sheriff, the sheriff’s department has not only diminished its protection of the Jewish community, it is not even a priority. The current sheriff has made deep cuts to deep intelligence gathering
decimated the sophistication of his preventative analysis teams and has eliminated the participation of the Muslim community who for years assisted the department in the fight against ideological hatred. This is frightening.

Events across the nation and across the globe greatly punctuate the amplified danger to your constituency, your worshippers and your dedicated, peace-loving people. As Los Angeles County proudly remains on the world stage for its richness in culture and diversity, we simultaneously understand these American values attract those who hate.

Of particular concern to me is the West Hollywood community which is a society rich with Jewish heritage. As such, there are multiple places of congregation meant to commingle, study, and worship. Landmarks such as Temple Beth El, or at Kol Ami and Chabad are meant to exist in the highest American traditions where freedom of faith is guaranteed. Tragically in today’s society, we must be vigilant and protect these holy sites. I wish for the future where simply practicing one’s Jewish faith is a day without fear, the displaying a Yarmulke does not attract condescension and a feeling of peace will prevail among all people. But today we have work to do toward that goal. With the ntensification of hatred toward those who simply wish to live in peace among others, this is our time for action.

As Sheriff, I intend to deepen security measures and generate hate crime operations to reduce the vulnerability of likely targets. As in Israel, I will contain the threat using preemptive operational tactics akin to Unit 217, (frequently called Duvdevan) to the greatest extent allowed under United States law. I intend to reintroduce resources to your local community that were eliminated under the current sheriff. This will include under-cover activity, the use of confidential informants, the implementation of electronic and live intelligence and the power of community involvement. This will allow the close observation of multiple high risk threats from White supremacy to radical Islamic groups. More overt deterrence is universally required, becoming more open and visible but maintaining an unpredictable presence.

We must be dedicated to forming a coalition of preventative protection councils which would include synagogue security and protection elements integral to other religious facilities, cultural locations and places of worship. These councils can cultivate best practices for building security, alarm and camera monitoring and expertly train constituents in safety and protocol. It will provide valuable updates to clergy in real time so your community can be rapidly informed, better advised and more alert.
In our security lexicon, politics must never drive law enforcement. Rather the rule-of-law and a clear understanding of the dangers must dictate our operational stance. Our immense diversity demands a community approach that has of late been allowed to wither on the vine.

As Sheriff, I will refocus and promulgate the department’s community outreach to address the particular needs of each with the understanding that one-size does not fit all. Regular interaction between the sheriff’s department and all members of the community has been all but lost under the current sheriff and will be reinstituted.

One of the “wonders of the world” that is the State of Israel and her “amalgam of Jews,” is a critical part of the amalgam that is the diversity of Los Angeles and we shall ensure the protection and preservation of all. A sheriff’s department under my command will work hand­in-glove with our national and world-wide partners in counter-terrorism to ensure that locally, our Jewish neighbors singular security needs will be pro-actively met and surpassed.

As the Hebrew saying roughly states: “we are all responsible for each other.” On this you can depend and trust in the future.

In Friendship,
Robert Lindsey
Contact phone: 800-969-4817

Sunday, April 22, 2018

What a busy weekend at HTBE!

We have had a triple -header this weekend at Hollywood Temple Beth El

I. The Sheriff's Election Campaign Forum, Thursday evening, April 19

We had two of the three candidate for the office of Los Angeles County Sheriff attend.The incumbent Sheriff, James McDonnell, was out of town, but the other two candidates showed up, Commander Robert Lindsey and Lieutenant Alex Villanueva. It was a spirited and lively presentation and highlighted for all of us how  critical this Sheriff's Department is, the largest in the entire US and the one responsible for safety at HTBE ( West Hollywood. Station). Two key issues emerged: a rising crime rate in LA County ( as opposed to a dropping rate in the rest of the state) and morale and hiring issues at the Department.  I am asking the three candidates for their suggestions for enhanced security for Jewish institutions in the light of the primacy of our institutions being the #1 target of hate incidents in the US.

 From left of image to right, Dr. Allen Zuckerman, moderator, Commander Lindsey, and Lieutenant Villanueva. From facebook page of Candidate Villanueva

Here are the websites of the candidates, in alphabetical order

II. Israel's 70th Birthday- Saturday, April 21

We had a joint service with our Iranian counterparts. It's good that we can get together, two different historic Jewish traditions, and worhship and celebrate together, as we did. 
We were happy to welcome Roy Stein, Director of Video Production for Stand With Us, together with Rebecca Sacher, who helped coordinate our event. Roy spoke of the work of Stand with Us in combating Antisemitism and anti-Zionism on college campuses today.( See their website for more information:
Our Cantorial Solist, Bryce Emily Megdal, joined us to lead  a round of popular Israeli songs and hora dancing.We don;t have any images from Saturday, but you can enjoy her music at

III. Tree of Life Workshop: A Journey into the Inner World. Sunday. April 22

We held our workshop under the leadership of Gilla Nissan, teacher of Jewish meditation and Yuval Ron. accomplished musician today.
Participants explored the mystical Tree of Life, a system of ten energy centers, which exist in our bodies as well in the world around us. "Attunement of these energy centers may lead to mindful and wholesome way of living, improving health and well-being and will lead to a quick and light yet, deep and transformative, experience."

 This was done with a grant from Jewish Wisdom & Wellness, a biennial Festival of Learning, where Jewish wisdom reveals new perspectives on life’s challenges. Programs continue throughout LA this week.

Enjoy a video clip of "Olam Chesed Yibaneh"
Our presenters, Gilla Nissan, on the floor,left, and Yuval Ron, on the floor, right

Center, a wood carving of the Ten Sefirot of Jewish Mysticism


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Two Great Events at Hollywood Temple Beth El This Weekend- Israel's 70th and Tree of Life Workshop

Celebrate Israel’s 70th Birthday with
Hollywood Temple Beth El and
the Iranian American Jewish Federation
                70 years ago, the impossible happened. A people almost wiped off the face of the earth reestablished an independent state of Israel after 2000 years of foreign colonialism, ethnic cleansing and genocide. On Saturday, April 21, the members of Hollywood Temple Beth El and the Iranian American Jewish Federation will celebrate the State of Israel’s 70th birthday with a joint program at noon, following their Shabbat morning services which begin at 9:45 AM.
            Gary Ratner, Senior Executive of Stand with Us will address the gathering. Stand with Us is an international education organization whose mission is to disseminate the facts about Israel and the Middle East conflict and to counter the misinformation and misconceptions that are prevalent in the general community here and abroad. Stand With Us works on campuses, in high schools, in communities, churches and synagogues. Stand With Us has offices across the United States, Canada, the U.K, Australia, South Africa and Israel. For more information, go to their website: .

                There will be a musical presentation of popular Israeli songs led by Cantorial Soloist, Bryce Emily Megdal.  Megdal is a dynamic and thrilling vocalist and song-leader who  officiates at High Holy Day and other special events for Hollywood Temple Beth El.

                According to Rabbi Norbert Weinberg, “The State of Israel is one of the modern wonders of the world. The State of Israel is now an amalgam of Jews from such diverse regions as the Middle East, Europe, Africa, India, and central Asia. One of the oldest languages of the world, Hebrew, was reborn as a living, common tongue of this reborn people. In its short history, a gathering of impoverished refugees has become the  leading innovator in medicine, science, technology, and  agriculture. “

                The celebration will be held at the main sanctuary at 1317 N Crescent Heights Blvd, West Hollywood. For more information, please call 323-656-3150 of email:

Tree of Life – A Journey into the Inner World

Sunday, April 22 | 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

Join us for a day of workshop combining heart-opening music, guided meditations, sacred movements and chants from ancient texts. 

We will explore the mystical Tree of Life, a system of ten energy centers, which exist in our bodies as well in the world around us. Attunement of these energy centers may lead to mindful and wholesome way of living, improving health and well-being and will lead to a quick and light yet, deep and transformative, experience.

Yuval Ron is an internationally renowned world Music artist, composer, educator, peace activist and record producer. His book Divine Attunement: Music as a path to Wisdom, won the Gold Medal Award for Best Spirituality Book at the Indie Book Awards 2015. For more information visit:

Gilla Nissan is a teacher of spirituality and meditation, a prize winning poet and a captivating speaker. Her forthcoming book is The Hebrew Alphabet-Allow the Magic to Fascinate You a ground-breaking teaching on the Letters. For more information, please visit: or email

Free Admission- Advance registration required. Limit to 50 participants
Bring your own lunch ( dairy, vegetarian or kosher) or get a bite in local eateries
Registration information:…/tree-of-life-a-journe…/
In conjunction with Jewish Wisdom and Wellness: A Festival of Learning, a project of Kalsman Institute/HUC-JIR and Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
Venue: Hollywood Temple Beth El, 1317 N Crescent Heights Blvd. Los Angeles, 90046