09/02/2013 08:00 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Couple Of LA Councilmen Will Take Off To Celebrate Rosh Hashana, Jewish New Year


Los Angeles City Hall is expected to have fewer leaders on deck this week.

With the Jewish New Year beginning at sundown Wednesday, and because several of the city's top elected executives are Jewish, some key offices will be temporarily empty.

New City Controller Ron Galperin, who will take off Thursday and Friday for the holiday, will be celebrating Rosh Hashana with his husband, Rabbi Zachary Shapiro, as well as with his own mother and father, a retired rabbi and Holocaust survivor.

"My husband is a rabbi at Temple Akiba in Culver City -- I'm always there," said Galperin, who was a cantor for more than 20 years at Temple B'Nai Emet in Montebello and still sings at synagogues "here and there for the fun of it."

While Temple Akiba has its own full-time cantor, Galperin said he was looking forward to chanting a few pieces at Temple Akiba during this year's Rosh Hashanah services.

"I know the whole liturgy from having done it for many, many years, so I'm really comfortable with it," Galperin, 50, said.

Besides attending services at Temple Akiba, Galperin said he plans to visit Temple Beth El in San Pedro and Temple Isaiah in West Los Angeles, which has its synagogue on Pico Boulevard but will be conducting its Rosh Hashana services at UCLA's Royce Hall.

"It's a great way to not just celebrate the New Year but to connect with people all over the city," he said.

For Galperin, the New Year is a time for reflection and renewal, a time to be thankful for the many blessings he's been given. He plans on reflecting not only on his life but on the city and how "I can do right by the people of the city of Los Angeles who have given me this opportunity."

New City Attorney Mike Feuer, who will be taking off Thursday for the holiday, said he plans on spending a quiet dinner with his wife, Gail, on Wednesday, attending services that night and on Thursday at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, where the family have been members for at least two decades. Feuer, who along with Galperin was elected in May, also plans to have dinner with his parents and his wife's parents on Thursday night.

Feuer, 55, said he most enjoys the cultural imperative to stop and reflect in one's very busy life. The Jewish New Year, he said, is a chance to examine not only how he can make the city a better place but how he can become a better person as well.

"That involves thinking about ways we can be more compassionate, be more loving to other people, listen better, be less quick to anger and quicker to see the best in everyone," said Feuer, who served as executive director of Bet Tzedek Legal Services, which provides free legal help to the indigent as well as to Holocaust survivors seeking restitution. "We all aspire to be these things -- we all fall short, and we can all do better."

While away, Feuer's chief of staff, Leela Kapur, and Chief Deputy Jim Clark will be manning the city attorney's office, he said.

"The office will undoubtedly be much more effective on Rosh Hashana than on every other day of the year," Feuer joked.

Galperin, however, admitted that even when he's out of the office for the Jewish holidays, he's "in touch all the time."

"We have a number of deputy controllers, but besides that I'm on my email, my texts, my phone," Galperin said. "You're not supposed to do those things on the holiday, but -- wink, wink -- I do."

A spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, the first elected Jewish mayor of Los Angeles, said the city's new leader plans to spend the holiday "reflecting on the past year and making plans to improve over the next year." Nevertheless, "he will be working."

Garcetti is still finalizing plans as to where he will attend services, Director of Communications Yusef Robb said by email Sunday. ___



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