LOS ANGELES (Jan. 27)
Sinai Temple is not adverse to publicity, but the Conservative synagogue in West Los Angeles would just as soon do without the onslaught of media inquiries that have kept its telephones ringing off the hook.
The full-court press on the temple was applied by members of a media desperate for any details even remotely connected to the alleged White House sex scandal after word leaked out that the family of Monica Lewinsky belonged to the upscale shul.
And while the involvement of the Lewinsky family in the Jewish community is apparently limited, Lewinsky’s lawyer referred repeatedly to Jewish issues and Israel in an interview with an Israeli daily, even linking the scandal and the future of the Clinton presidency with Israeli-American relations.
Lewinsky, the 24-year old former White House intern, is at the center of the furor that has become the No. 1 media topic worldwide.
According to the interview her lawyer, William Ginsburg, granted the Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot, Monica’s paternal grandfather left Germany in the 1930s and immigrated to England.
Her father, Dr. Bernard Lewinsky, and her mother, Marcia, joined Sinai Temple in 1976, and Monica and her younger brother, Michael, attended the temple’s religious school.
Bernard Lewinsky, a cancer specialist, divorced his wife, a book author and freelance journalist, about 10 years ago and has remarried, all along keeping his Sinai Temple membership current.
He is apparently not involved in temple activities or in the Jewish community in general, although Ginsburg claimed that Bernard Lewinsky recites the Shema every morning.
There is no evidence that Lewinsky participated in Jewish student activities at either of the two colleges she attended, Santa Monica College in California or Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore. — from which she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1995.
Ginsburg stressed in the interview with Yediot Achronot that Lewinsky is prepared to testify about her relationship with the president in exchange for immunity, but he added that both he and Lewinsky want to keep Clinton in the presidency, in part because of their support for his policies vis-a-vis Israel.
“We are both Clinton fans and respect his positions and his policies regarding Israel,” he said.
“I don’t want the president to step down,” he added. “Who knows who will follow Clinton and how he will relate to Israel?”
When asked if Lewinsky would flee to Israel, which is what Maryland teen-ager Samuel Sheinbein did last year after allegedly committing murder, Ginsburg replied, “It would not be good for Monica’s image. She has to finish her part in the incident. After it’s all over, if Monica wants to go, that could be a great possibility. I’m sure she would be very at ease in Israel.”
Lewinsky grew up in an affluent family that lived in a $1.6 million home and she attended Beverly Hills High School, fictionally portrayed on the TV sitcom “Beverly Hills 90210.”
An insight into the family’s lifestyle is provided in court records of the parents’ divorce proceedings, unearthed by the newspaper the Santa Monica Outlook.
“I and the children have never had to worry about the cost of anything that was reasonably desired,” Marcia Lewinsky testified. She related how the family traveled first class, spent $20,000 a year on vacations, ate at the finest restaurants and housed a new Cadillac and a new Mercedes-Benz in its garage.
In addition, she said, “We have always provided the children with extensive extracurricular lessons and tutoring to satisfy any desires that either they or we may have.”