It has been a busy week, but for a change I have a breather at lunch to share a little chum with you. Today’s chum is all about things that were saved in some way… and one horrible case where there has been no saving:

  • Burning the Mortgage. In 2001, West Hills-based Shomrei Torah had a problem. The congregation, the product of the merger of Temple Beth Ami, a historic synagogue in Reseda and Congregation Beth Kodesh in Canoga Park, had built a $7 million, 43,000 square-foot complex on Valley Circle Boulevard on 10 acres of a former ranch. But cost overruns, an exodus of members and economic losses incurred by the Northridge earthquake left Shomrei Torah struggling to pay the bills.  Luckily, some generous congregants stepped up to the plate, and this week, Shomrei Torah paid off their mortgage and is having a mortgage burning ceremony.
  • Joining Together. Merging to survive is common in valley congregations. Sometimes they work, as with Shomrei Torah above, as with Kol Tikvah, or with Temple Judea… and occasionally they don’t (as with the merger of Temple Beth Torah and Ahavat Shalom, where a group of TBT people eventually split back out). This week came the report of another merger: Ner Maarav in Encino (itself the product of a merger) is merging with Temple Ramat Zion in Northridge. This is more an absorbtion, as Ner Maarav has sold their land and building, and their professional staff is moving elsewhere. Still, it allows the spirit of Ner Maarav to survive.
  • Best Western. And for a non-Jewish save, the former Best Western DeAnza hotel on former Route 66 on Albuquerque has been saved from demolition. We often forget the role of these hotels in the building of our country in the 1930s through 1960s; further, this was one of the first Best Westerns.

And now for something that, alas, hasn’t been saved. The economy. This opinion piece from the LA Times discusses the loss, and does a nice job of highlighting the blinders many people have in this country: that greed from our corporate leaders is good, and that what is good for big business is good for the average American. If you believe electing Romney will save the economy… you’re wrong. And guess what: if you believe that electing Obama will save the economy… you’re wrong as well. And you Ron Paul folks… wrong as well. The problem is not the President, it is Congress as a whole doing bills that are not in the interest of the people at large, but are in the interest of those who make contributions, the corporate bodies, and the vested special interests that can pay to have a voice.  Fixing that is much harder than just a presidential election.

Music: My Name is Barbra, Two (Barbra Streisand): Where’s That Rainbow?