For Los Angeles Jews, Trump is a rallying cry the community hasn't seen in decades

The rise of President Trump has sparked a new streak of activism in Los Angeles’ Jewish community that many veteran leaders say they haven’t seem in decades.

Jewish leaders in the religious, political and cultural worlds have formed a coalition aimed at denouncing what they perceive to be threats to religious tolerance, democratic values, equal rights and a free press.

Trump’s rhetoric and actions toward Muslim immigrants were the impetus for the coalition, known as Jews United for Democracy and Justice, said Rabbi Ken Chasen.

“There a uniqueness to this moment,” said Chasen, senior rabbi at Leo Baeck Temple in Bel-Air. “Jews understand that an attack on any one of us is an attack on all of us. People who are at risk — particularly immigrants — that is a clarion call to Jews. Our concerns about the treatment of immigrants are not partisan or political, they’re Jewish. The single most frequently repeated command in the Torah is to care for the stranger, because Jews know what it’s like to be the stranger.”

Not since the 1960s, when Jewish leaders embraced the civil rights movement and denounced the Vietnam War, has there been such a galvanizing issue as this one, Chasen said.

Jews United for Democracy and Justice has garnered the support of more than 2,000 Jewish people — including prominent rabbis and elected leaders such as L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Atty. Mike Feuer — who signed the group’s organizing statement.

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Chris Alexakis