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Counting on the Jewish Vote in Los Angeles

In the race to become the next mayor, candidates play up their Jewish cred

Alexander Aciman
January 29, 2013
Los Angeles.(Shutterstock)
Los Angeles.(Shutterstock)

This recent presidential election should have—in theory—made a few things clear to politicians about what to avoid doing in public appearances. They should all know by now that pretending to be something might land them more YouTube hits than votes. Paul Ryan scrubbed a clean pot to show he was just as working class as the rest of America. Romney allegedly wore bronzer to seem Hispanic when he appeared on Univision. And they all pretended to be Jewish when they addressed the Republican Jewish Coalition—Michelle tried to say Shalom, Mitt misquoted Seinfeld. It was almost like an episode of Benny Hill.

It turns out that the upcoming Los Angeles mayoral election will require candidates to play the proverbial Jew card once again. A recent debate was held in a synagogue, and the upcoming primary debate will be at Sinai Temple, suggesting that the Jewish vote may have a significant role in deciding which candidate will succeed Antonio Villaraigosa.

Because several of the candidates are actually Jewish, the debate became a contest of who is most Jewish, with one candidate, Eric Garcetti, using his family’s history in pogroms as a credential, and another, Jan Perry, citing the fact that she is black, bilingual, and a convert to Judaism. Candidate Wendy Greuel is not Jewish, but still felt like she needed to talk about her stance on Israel, which of course is terribly relevant because historically, along with the President and his cabinet, the Mayor of Los Angeles has always helped make a lot of the decisions concerning Israel.

Alexander Aciman is a writer living in New York. His work has appeared in, among other publications, The New York Times, Vox, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic.