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L.a. Jewish Community Organizes Relief Efforts for Ravaged City

The Jewish community swung into full action Tuesday to rush food and other urgent requirements to the mainly black areas of the city, stricken by last week’s fires and rioting.

Mazon, a private Jewish agency dedicated to fighting hunger, contributed $10,000 to the relief effort and was designated as the Jewish community’s coordinator for feeding the homeless and hungry.

At the same time, philanthropist Mickey Weiss said that his longstanding charitable distribution facility at the city’s wholesale produce market was starting to drop off fresh fruits and vegetables at five large black churches. He expects to provide 1.5 million pounds of free produce by the end of the month.

Mazon has put in a rush order for 20,000 plastic food bags, inscribed “Donated By The Los Angeles Jewish Community.”

The plan for aiding the black, as well as Hispanic and Korean communities was put together Monday morning at an emergency meeting of the city’s Jewish organizations, institutions and synagogues, and is being coordinated by the Jewish Federation Council’s Community Relations Committee.

The CRC has set up a 24-hour information hotline,(213) 852-0500.

The latest reports on the riots’ toll show: 58 dead, 2,383 injured, 5,808 reported fires, 11,656 arrests and damage estimated at $717 million.

About 10 synagogues have become collection points for food and clothing, and many of the congregations are organizing volunteers to help sort, package and distribute food.

Medical supplies and assistance are to be provided through pharmaceutical firms and the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Attorneys working through the Bet Tzedek legal agency have contacted black churches to offer free assistance to small business owners whose shops have been looted or destroyed.

Jewish Family Services is offering counseling to individuals, teachers and community groups.

K’hillat Keshet, an organization of Jews from ethnic minority groups, is advising Jewish organizations in their relations with the black, Hispanic and Asian communities.

A committee has been established for a long-range effort to analyze and alleviate the root causes of the riots.

Jewish agencies are also mobilizing support for passage of a measure to drastically reform the Los Angeles police department, which will be put to the voters June 2.

Involved in all the efforts are the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League and Southern California Board of Rabbis.

Meanwhile, the Orthodox Union West Coast Region confirmed that it had appealed to the authorities for protection during the rioting last week.

“We contacted the (Los Angeles Police Department) Operations West Bureau and Valley Bureau to inform them of our need for additional police protection over the course of Shabbat,” the Orthodox Union reported in a memo to area rabbis and congregational leaders.

The organization provided the police with a detailed map of all its synagogues along with times of Sabbath services. It urged synagogues to start the Sabbath early on May 1 because of the curfew imposed on the city.

It also advised all synagogues to remove all Torah scrolls and silver ornaments from their sanctuaries, except one scroll for Sabbath use.

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