Jews Are Downtown Today

By Sherri W. Morr

Yesterday was a balmy Los Angeles day, and Jews were downtown. It’s not to say Westside & Valley Jews do not go downtown, they do, but this LA Jew tends to stay in her comfort zone, Pico & Jewish (aka Pico/Robertson). There is something comforting about being where its familiar … the people, the stores & shops, even the crazy traffic and the increased homeless lying asleep in cracks & crevices of the Pico & Jewish neighborhood.

I will go downtown for a purpose. Yesterday to see the 69 year old American Photographer Annie Leibovitz exhibit at the Wirth & Hauser Gallery in the so called Arts District of downtown LA. Arty shops and galleries, cool looking people (few kippot and tzitit), delicious eateries and $5 gourmet ice cream. Our outing was arranged by Chai Village LA. A three year old geographic network of seniors from 2 synagogues who are living well and happily independent in a village concept that keeps us engaged, happily associated with terrific friends, rich vibrant programs, and Jewish life. As my husband and I wandered (being hurry up and wait people) for our group I noticed a group of 20 or 30 people in a private garden area having brunch. The sign and directional arrow said ADL. I looked at the people, and the sign, and knew immediately what it was. Being in the fundraising business I knew these were donors being thanked. How perfect. Jews were downtown today.

I loved the idea that a new 3 year old organization and an organization close to 110 years old were in the same physical space and doing what Jews do best-sharing, engaging and thanking with an emphasis on how it all connects back to being Jewish.

I suppose because I do not often go downtown it was especially meaningful to me.

Many years ago when my now young adult sons were younger we were driving on the freeway that surrounds downtown LA. One son said, “Mom what are all those tall buildings?” I responded by saying it was downtown LA. The other son said, “LA has a downtown?”

So today Westside & Valley Jews were out of their comfort zone.

So why am I writing about this observation? To what end?

To show Jews are thanking & engaging? No, not really, but to exhibit our strength and our ability to take care of each other. To show our tenet of being responsible for each other. Especially as we approach Passover. Especially as we watch the numbers grow where nationalists attack senselessly, and words and actions are so tragic. And to remember.

Sherri has spent the last several decades working & consulting in and out of the Jewish community as an expert in nonprofit management. She completed an MA & an Honorary Doctorate at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. She is on the Jewish Women’s Theatre Advisory Council, the board of Yesh Tikva, and a member of the Steering Committee of Chai Village LA.