Westwood Rotary at the end of July, the 25th

I had a guest - who insisted that he pay for his own lunch, and thus I couldn't announce him at the appropriate time.  However, he has offered his own 'take' on our Speaker today, and I'll include it when I get to that subject. I enjoyed it - hope you will agree.

PP RALPH WOODWORTH - who is our new Front Page Windmill Editor, note - led the Pledge, and it was well done.  Next up were the duo of PP STEVE DAY and GREGG ELIOTT, with The Battle Hymn of the Republic - and despite some slight threats of continuing beyond the first verse (which didn't happen), that, too went well.  DAVE MATSON started his Invocation by quoting some lines from Only in America, among them Why do banks keep their doors open but their pens chained? (and I noted Mike Gintz furiously making notes!)  DAVE then pointed out some other American exclusives - we have the freedom to pray - or not,  To believe, or not, To participate in a religion, or not.  This in turn led to his conclusion - separation of Church and State started here as a Grand Experiment- and Thank God for that!  Well done, as usual, DAVE.

There were lots of guests, with Visiting Rotarians introduced by PP BOB WESSLING. First up was Hugh Travis, from Santa Monica.  Prexy TED pointed out that Hugh is a top Boy Scout executive in the area, and he has been kind enough to arrange a harbor cruise for our visiting Rotary Exchange Students from Japan, who will be with us next week.

PP DOUG DESCH reintroduced his guest, Clair Mitchell - Clair is the new Associate Minister at Westwood Methodist, and his membership proposal is now circulating. PDG BILL GOODWYN had a Special Guest, Karen Mason, who is a management consultant.  PP GEORGE DEA brought along Janice, and RALPH SMITH had a guest, "Julio…Oh Yeah, Herzer" - and you can imagine the delay between first and last names provided several suggestions as to what his name really was.  RALPH admitted to YOE afterward that these moments of 'blankness' do creep in from time to time - my advice to RALPH being, "Just wait, buddy - it won't get better". BURLEIGH ARNOLD had as his Special Guest, Don La Motta (sp). And a bit later, MARK BLOCK'S wife, Margie, slipped in to join him.  

RALPH BEASOM made a nice, light-hearted presentation to PP GEORGE DEA and Janice - it was a wonderful scrapbook featuring the many highlights of PP GEORGE"S year as President. RALPH added that he had tried to add some Dea Dollars to the Presentation, but when he stopped by the bank, they didn't have any - not to worry, RALPH, you probably just weren't at the right bank!  May I here insert a message from our Auxiliary: Attn. Auxiliary Members - we now have our own email address:  Auxiliary@wvrc.net, OR auxiliary@westwoodrotary.org.

CATHY REZOS was asked to make a presentation in behalf of Angel Flight, an organization in which she has been active for the last ten years.  This is a group of private pilots and volunteers, who provide free air transportation to those from outlying areas who need to visit medical facilities. Angel Flight West covers the eleven western states, within a 1000 mile range of the starting point, and is available to all ages of participants.  The pilots either own or rent their aircraft, and pay for all their own fuel and related costs.  Angel Flight started in 1984 - with just 16 missions - and by 2001, the annual total had grown to 2341 missions!  The group is composed of about 1200 volunteers, of whom 1000 are pilots. A short video was shown, illustrating the services they are able to provide. Your WVRC Board would like us to become involved in this most-worthwhile endeavor, partnering with Angel Flight West, the UCLA Health Care System and Santa Monica Airport - YOE has to add that this is a real win-win for all of us, and we'll be anxious to hear more details as to the many ways we can help.  Thank you, CATHY.

While on the subject of aircraft, it seems that BILL MICHAEL found himself pictured inside a new Lear Jet.  When asked if the photo was indeed of him, BILL replied "I can't see it from here" or some other equally lame dodge. However, when specifically pressed by Prexy TED as to what kind of contraption it really was, BILL had to admit, "Yes, that's what it is"!  This cost him a hundred clams - and YOE opines that BILL got off pretty cheap, really.  Prexy TED continued his excellent self-imposed limitation of just ONE announcement each meeting -and the winner this time was a reminder that the first District Breakfast for this Rotary Year will be this coming Tuesday, July 30th, 0710 at the LAX Marriott.  We have NINE members who will be attending!  These early risers include Prexy TED, PETER MORE, RUDY ALVAREZ, KEN LEVER, PDG BILL GOODWYN, RALPH SMITH, PDG ANDY ANDERSON, PP GEORGE DEA and Rotaract member Karina Quintero.  

Continuing the list of those who are contributing to our Rotary Foundation in memory of PP DAVE MORE, please add Madelyn and WALLY FISCHMANN plus Judy and PP BOB WESSLING.  And a final pre-speaker thought, if I may.  The July 4th letter from Prexy TED, welcoming us all to his Rotary year, makes excellent reading, and provides good food for thought.  Our record of participation at the four recent International Conventions is unsurpassed, and we should recognize the honor we are receiving in the visit of the Rotary International President, Bhichai Rattakul, to our OWN club!  New projects which are planned include expanding polio surgeries to the Philippines, CATHY REZOS Angel Flight program, Emergency Preparedness with Ellis Stanley, head of the City of LA Emergency Preparedness Dept., starting up a WVRC Young Stars basketball team, and last but not least, promoting the wonderful book by MYRON TAYLOR covering the Four Way Test.  Truly, we are just starting a great new year! (Careful, TED - PP JIM SUMNER may be after you for copyright infringement).

PP STEVE DAY introduced his good friend, Rabbi Alan Rabishaw, whose subject was The State of Israel Today.  Rabbi Rabishaw was born in Chicago, graduated with a degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois (and here, PP STEVE SCHERER could plainly be heard chanting "Go Illini") and both the Rabbi and PP BOB WESSLING are Chicago Cub fans. He received his Rabbinate degree from the Hebrew Union College Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, and is now at Stephen S. Wise Temple.  This is right across Sepulveda from the Getty, and, with 3500 families affiliated, is one of the largest Synagogues in the world.  Rabbi Rabishaw is married to Laura, and they have an 8-year-old daughter, Elana, and a son, Jacob, who is 5.

Rabbi Rabishaw has visited Israel six times, starting in 1976 when he was an exchange student staying in Jerusalem. He lived with a family then, and has returned each time to revisit this original home-away-from-home.  The first of what has been called an 'Intifada' occurred in 1987, when organized resistance to the occupation of Palestine began.  This was sporadic, and short-lived.  The present Intifada, called by Israelis "The Situation", began almost two years ago, and of course, still continues.  During his earliest visit, he was asked what the solution to the Israel/Palestine problem was, and he said then, "If I knew, I would be eligible for the Nobel Peace Prize". He feels the same way today.

Yes, just two years ago, Israel was booming - it rivaled the Silicon Valley in its technological sector, and the Israel Government was beginning to urge their many supporters in the U.S. to start shifting their support from Israel itself toward better educating their own children!  Life was indeed good. But this continuing, long-term improvement has now totally stopped, of course. The most recent air strike, on a residential section in Gaza City, did indeed kill the leader of the most militant Hamas suicide bombing planners - along with at least fourteen children plus injuring hundreds of others. As Rabbi Rabishaw said, this broke his heart - but he feels apologies are not appropriate.  Regrets, yes - but a Terrorist was at least eliminated. And yet, just a week before this tragedy, the Israel government had released 45 million dollars of Palestinian funds which had been blocked, plus 7000 Palestinians were once again admitted to resume work within Israel itself. What do these very badly mixed signals mean?  Two weeks before, 55 % of Israelis said they could live with a Palestinian State - certainly that figure has now decreased, but where will it all end?

Rabbi Rabishaw has always been a moderate - that is, neither supporting "Peace Now" or "Biblical Israel for the Israelis".  Probably about a quarter of the people support each position, the Orthodox for Biblical Israel, and the secular for Peace. Historically, there have always been two Jerusalem's.  Fifteen hundred years ago there was an earthly city, similar to the modern city. At the same time, there was also a heavenly Jerusalem, a place of dreams, where music played and angels sang.  Here, prayers would be answered.  Today the reality is much different, and much sadder.  Rabbi Rabishaw spoke of viewing the city from afar, looking toward the Golden Dome.  He feels Love describes this scene.  There is hope, and Israel must continue to fight.

A short Q&A.  RAY ZICKFELD and DAVID MATSON - how is Israel society divided.  Perhaps 75% of her citizens are secular, yet they live in a religious society, controlled by the Orthodox minority. The 'right' leans more to the right all the time, but the other side says, "Let's talk".  Probably 20% of the total will never budge from their positions.  Not too long ago 63% favored living with a Palestinian State alongside - this has decreased to 55% and probably continues to drop.  Likud gets 30 to 40% of the vote, Labor 20 to 30%, and this split continues. Truly, a terrible standoff.

And now, as promised at the start of today's report, from my neighbor, Dr. Harold Goodman -I had the pleasure of attending the Rotary luncheon on the 25th.  It was at the suggestion of Ernie Wolfe.  During Rabbi Rabishaw's talk I saw Ernie taking notes and, as we walked to our cars, I asked why. He is some kind of recording secretary and it is his responsibility to summarize the proceedings including, I hope, the laughs.

Ernie and I run across each other early in the morning.  Our dogs take us for walks.  His Bentley and my Pierre are well acquainted but still somewhat wary of each other.  Why am I telling you this?  In a word, Bentley and Pierre are both canines and the Israelis and Palestinians are all Semites.  We should be hugging each other like members of the same family.  In past centuries the two peoples lived together harmoniously in Arab lands.  Now, with the end of the British mandate, the relationship has fallen apart.

Each side has some valid points.  I, of course, as a Zionist supporter, have a bias.  As the good rabbi said, some compromises may eventually lead to Israelis and Palestinians hugging each other.  It may even be that Bentley and Pierre will become friends.  (end)

One final note - remember the Japanese Exchange Students, along with the five relatives of our own members, will be out guests next Thursday.  It will be fun - be there!

YOE, Ernie Wolfe