Several years ago, as I made my way over to the Barnes and Noble store on the upper West Side, I wondered if anyone else would show up to see the guest author, Elmore Leonard, appearing on such a chilly winter midweek evening.
Maybe I’ll have him all to myself, I thought, anticipating meeting one of my writing heroes, the author of dozens of crime and Western novels – yet someone I thought wasn’t well known enough to the masses to draw a crowd.
There was a time when Yehuda Lev, an outspoken Jewish journalist who died this past weekend at the age of 86, was the talk of the Los Angeles Jewish community. His weekly column, “A Majority Of One,” published in the local Jewish Journal was widely read and hotly debated each week in the 1980s. He often delighted in skewering local machers and people he considered to be religious and political extremists on the right.
Ironically, the victory by the haredi candidates in this week’s election of the two chief rabbis in Israel may, in the long run, lead to a more liberal and open approach to religious life in the Jewish State.
Support faltered, then rebounded, this week for Natan Sharansky’s bold plan to transform the Western Wall into a site for both traditional and alternative prayer, as the Jewish Agency chair held intense discussions with Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s office, seeking to establish a timeline for the project and move it forward.
Ambassador Yehuda Avner is the 84-year-old rock star of Jewish media these days.
His 2010 memoir, “The Prime Ministers,” based on the notes he took as a senior advisor to five Israeli prime ministers in their private meetings with world leaders, is still a best-seller and still in hard cover. A full-length documentary film, based on the book, will have its New York premiere on May 7.
Jill Soloway, a hip Hollywood writer/director/producer (“Six Feet Under,” “The United States of Tara”), has become a Jewish activist in the last several years and is having quite an impact on the L.A. community. And it could go national soon.
She spoke at the international conference of the Jewish Funders Network this week in L.A. of how she helped found East Side Jews, an informal and popular group, particularly among young artist types, that seeks to “reinvent” Jewish life and make it “about joy, not sadness.”