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Los Angeles

Jewish Leaders Make Powerful Plea for Funds for Victims in Israel

June 03, 2002|STEPHANIE STASSEL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

About 350 Jews who gathered Sunday at a North Hollywood temple were urged in a series of passionate speeches to provide Israel with moral and financial support and to speak out about the violence in the Jewish homeland.

The noon rally at Adat Ari El was part of a broad fund-raising campaign by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, which hopes to collect $10 million in aid for Israel.

The funds will support grief counseling and trauma centers, as well as provide financial assistance to victims of terror and their families.

Rabbi Moshe Rothblum said that Jews should not "ease up on talking about the situation in Israel" because it reminds him of the late 1930s, when American politicians told politically connected rabbis not to worry, and that the situation in Germany would be handled.

"In the everlasting guilt of American Jewry, that view prevailed and we were silenced," said Rothblum, the spiritual leader of the Conservative congregation. "American Jewry will not be silenced again."

Geula Brodutch, director of Tel Aviv's information center for senior services, told how part of her job includes helping to arrange funeral services for victims of terrorism. Brodutch spoke of a young couple who were killed in a Palestinian attack before their wedding day. The woman's mother carried her daughter's wedding dress to the funeral and the man and woman were buried beside each other.

"Today, it's dangerous to just walk in the streets, to use the bus, to sit in the cafes," Brodutch said.

Actor Larry Miller made the financial pitch, saying Israeli Jews need bulletproof vests, blood and ambulances.

"Your job is to talk to your friends and say, 'You're not my friend anymore if you're not involved trying to save your people.'" said Miller, who played the hairdresser in "The Princess Diaries." "Do you want to meet God and say, 'I was scared?'

"Do you want to meet God and say, 'I put tiles in the pool that summer, so I couldn't give any money'?"

As members of the congregation filled out pledge cards, Miller urged people to give 10 times more than they initially considered giving. A tally of the donations made Sunday was unavailable.

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