LA’s Most Influential Elected Officials And Spiritual Leaders Gather In Unity

“Perhaps it is time that we stop focusing on the most powerful man in the world and start focusing on the most vulnerable individuals,” remarked Los Angeles Mayor, Eric GarcettiUnityAimeeMayor3
In honor of her late husband, (Academy, Emmy and Tony nominee, singer and activist, Theo Bikel), Aimee Ginsburg Bikel, along with Rabbi Neil Comess Daniels (Beit Shir Shalom in Santa monica), and Hazzan Mike Stein (temple Aliyah, woodland hills) “set out to orchestrate a gathering of numerous CA elected officials and spiritual leaders from a cross-section of faiths as well as Veterans and members of numerous police departments gathered on Sunday, March 26th at Mount Sinai Memorial Parks and Mortuaries in a demonstration of unity and mutual respect for each other in the wake of vandalism and other crimes targeting places of worship and other sacred sites around the United States.UnityLAMayorEG4An inter-faith, spiritual gathering of music, prayer, and spoken word; expressing the need for community unity and a pledge of commitment was made by all involved to defend, honor, protect and respect each other as individuals and their sacred sites. The choice of Mount Sinai Memorial Parks and Mortuaries as a venue made a strong statement of solidarity with the Jewish and Muslim communities whose cemeteries and sacred sites were violated AC images, as well as in affirmation and devotion to all communities and their ancestors of any race, religion, orientation, sex or age.Unity11 Unity10RDanielAimeeMikeSClergy and leaders from many faiths including Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Native American, Quaker/Friends and more stood with elected officials, law enforcement, veterans alike signed a Unity Declaration before the press.

Among the elected officials in attendance were: Mayor Garcetti, City Attorney Mike Feuer, controller Ron Gaperin, Council President Herb Wesson, State Senator Anthony Portantino, State senator Ben Allen, Ron Galperin- LA city controller, West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister, Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes, State Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, LA Council member Mitch O’Farrell, and Glendale Mayor Paula Devine.UnityLeaders5

Among the clergy and spiritual leaders in attendance were: Rabbi Ed Feinstein, Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, Rabbi Naomi Levy, Father Alexi (Los Angeles Archdiocese), Pastor Boyd (FAME Church), Swami Mahyogananda (Vedanta Center of Los Angels), Grandmother Gloria Arelledes (Tongva tribe elder), Delegation from the Tibetan Buddhist center, Rev Susan Kein (St Albans Episcopalian), Pandit Vinod Dave (Hindu Chaplain), Ghrathi Angaad Singh (Sikh Chaplain), Mahomed Kahn (King Fahed Mosque), Ani Zonevald (Muslims for Progressive Values), Rabbi Jason Fruithandlrer, Rabbi Zach Shapiro, Rabbi Jonathan Klein, Rabbi Sheldon Pennes, Rabbi Josh Levine Grater and Rabbi Paul KipnesUnityAmieeBikel1

The interfaith included a service of song, prayer and spoken word with rabbis, imams, ministers and pastors, as well as Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh priests, and Native American elders. They all proclaimed Los Angeles’ commitment to unity, love and mutual respect, and that they will stand united against any displays of intolerance or hatred.

Aimee Ginsburg Bikel, the widow of civil-rights activist and musician-actor Theodore Bikel, conceived the idea of an interfaith show of solidarity among religious leaders in Southern California after acts of vandalism and arson against houses of worship, cemeteries and other religious sites in Philadelphia, Tampa, St. Louis and New Orleans, as well as apparent hate crimes against individuals based on perceived religious affiliation. Ginsburg Bikel, a journalist and former foreign correspondent, directs the Theodore Bikel Legacy Project.

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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:  Courtesy of Mount Sinai Memorial Parks and Mortuary
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