In an effort to increase the number of property owners participating in the County’s rental assistance programs, the Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA) has launched a new business model which provides an enhanced customer service experience for property owners.

Open Doors, a collaborative effort between the LACDA and Los Angeles County, is designed to provide property owners with an increased level of customer service.  The business model is a win-win-win solution, intended to benefit property owners financially and provide enhanced customer services, in an effort to increase the number of rental units available to subsidized families.

Property owners are an essential partner in the County’s fight to end homelessness. According to the University of Southern California’s Center for Real Estate, Los Angeles County currently maintains a vacancy rate below 4%.  As homelessness in Los Angeles County increases and property owner participation in rental assistance programs decreases, thousands of families and individuals, including many military veterans, struggle to find opportunities to use their vouchers in the County’s competitive rental market, contributing to the broader homelessness crisis.  Open Doors is meant to encourage more owners to participate in its rental assistance programs in order to increase the number of families who are able to utilize their vouchers.  

Open Doors provides monetary and non-monetary assurances to property owners who rent their available units to subsidized families, including:

    A Sign-On Bonus for property owners upon execution of their contract;
    Vacancy Loss Payment, totaling one month’s rent, if the family vacates the unit without proper notice, or is evicted for good cause;
    Damage Mitigation for unit repairs. Up to $2,000 not covered by the security deposit to repair the rental unit following the departure of a subsidized family;
    A team of dedicated specialists, trained to assist property owners with all aspects of the LACDA’s rental assistance programs; and
    Reliable Rental Payments deposited directly to the property owner’s bank account.

The agency has also reconfigured its lobby to offer a more inviting setting for property owners to conduct business with the agency. Open Doors provides a one-stop shop where property owners can address their questions or concerns with the LACDA, without the need to speak with several different employees.  The program also provides property owners with the latest news regarding the agency’s rental assistance programs, answer all rental assistance related questions, address any payment disputes, and check on the status of any pending actions related to a specific property owner and their rental unit(s).

Property owners can receive Open Doors assistance by visiting the LACDA’s Alhambra or Palmdale offices,




A British lawyer is accusing the German government of violating the country's constitution by refusing to restore the citizenship of thousands of people descended from victims of the Nazis. He argues that the law began to be misapplied under the lingering influence of former Nazis in the 1950s and 60s, and that it's still being misapplied today.

James Strauss has lived all his life in New York but in the 1930s his family ran an inn and butcher's business in the town of Gunzenhausen, south of Nuremberg. It was here that an event known as the Bloody Palm Sunday pogrom took place in March 1934, with the inn at its epicentre. As Nazis rioted in the town, two Jews were murdered and Julius Strauss, James's father, was beaten unconscious and locked up in the town's jail.

The pogrom is recognized by historians as one of the worst anti-Semitic incidents in Germany prior to the Kristallnacht attacks in November 1938. The ringleader, Kurt Baer, a member of a Nazi paramilitary force known as the SA, was tried and jailed - but soon released by a Nazi-sympathizing judge. He then returned to the inn to take revenge, shooting and seriously wounding the 27-year-old Julius and murdering his father Simon. (Baer was later sentenced to life imprisonment, but pardoned after four years.)

As soon as he was able to, Julius fled Germany in fear of his life and settled in New York, where he met and married another German Jewish refugee. But he never fully recovered from the attack as the lead bullets could not be removed from his body, and he died as a result of his injuries in 1956, on his son James's ninth birthday.

Almost 60 years later, in 2015, James Strauss decided to make a trip to Gunzenhausen. "There I met lovely young people from the junior high school and local officials who had worked hard to commemorate this terrible incident," he says. "I was blown away by their knowledge."

Strauss returned to the USA with "good feelings" about modern Germany and decided that "in honour of his father and the positive work that had been done in Gunzenhausen," he would claim his right to have the family's German citizenship restored.

He thought he had a watertight case when he made his application in 2017. "But when I arrived with the papers at the New York consulate, I was advised there was a problem," he says. Strauss was told he was not eligible because his father became an American in 1940 - before he had been officially stripped of his German nationality.

While legislation was passed as early as 1933 allowing for German Jews to be stripped of their citizenship - simply by publishing their names in a newspaper - in many cases it only happened in the mass denaturalisation of all Jews who had fled the country, in November 1941.

Article 116 of Germany's post-war constitution says descendants of people deprived of their citizenship during the Nazi era "shall on application have their citizenship restored", but the German authorities are refusing the descendants of people like Julius Strauss on the grounds that they left "voluntarily". It's an argument that flies in the face of historical realities. Had Julius Strauss stayed in Germany he would have perished in the Dachau concentration camp, along with the other Jewish residents of Gunzenhausen.

Strauss is furious and is determined to challenge the rejection. "This is a betrayal of not only my family but the new Germany and the school kids who have worked so hard," he says.


                  23-29 Tevet, 5780                                       Jan. 20-26, 2020 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES --  630th Web Ed.



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                                                                         RABBI'S CORNER                                      

                                       THE LAST & THE LOST?


Many years have passed since Jacob and Joseph saw each other last. A lengthy period has separated them.

Finally comes the news that Jacob hardly dreamed of hearing, "Od Yosef chai" – "Joseph is still alive".

The question is what Jacob means by the word "alive".

In a physical sense it obviously indicates that Joseph is not dead. He walks, he stands, he speaks. More than this, he has a high position in the Egyptian government and has made a success of his life.

But there is another dimension to Jacob’s joy. The old father rejoices because Joseph is alive – as a Jew.

He has not dropped his Jewish practices. He has not abandoned his Jewish beliefs. Nothing has succeeded in making a pagan out of him. He remains part of Jewish destiny.

When you read the story you want to weep for Jacob. This is true Jewish joy. But you also know that it could easily have gone the other way. Egyptian civilization was alluring and tempting but Joseph found the strength to resist and remain himself.

It all happened of course in ancient history, but it is a question for every generation, our generation too.

Shall we all, you and I, be blessed to echo the words of Jacob – or are we scared that we will be the last Jewish generation and our children the lost generation?


Jacob's life is taking a turn for the better. After years of grief at the disappearance of his beloved Joseph, he learns that his son is indeed alive and is a high official in the Egyptian government.

The father yearns to see his son; the son yearns to see his father. But Joseph cannot leave his post, and for an old man like Jacob the thought of a difficult journey can hardly be contemplated. Only when G[-]d promises to go down to Egypt with him and to come up again does he agree to the journey and to believe that he will survive the difficulties (Gen. 46:4).

Reading the story so many centuries later we know how often a person is full of trepidation at a journey or great undertaking. The thought that G[-]d will be with us is an immense support.

Here, however, we wonder why the Almighty uses the phrase, "I will go down with you". He is not likely to be talking geography. Though parts of Eretz Yisra’el are hilly, the physical difference between the geographical structures of the two countries is hardly going to be the problem, either for Jacob or for G[-]d.

The choice of words has more to do with spirituality than geography. For G[-]d, for Judaism, for Jacob, for any Jew, going to Israel is to go up ("Aliyah"); leaving Israel is to go down ("Yeridah").

We can criticize Israel as much as we like, though at times such as these when the United Nations, the media and the public are so antagonistic, Jews should not give the critics any comfort. Edmond Fleg, in a notable book which deserves re-publication, called Israel, "The Land Where G[-]d Dwells".  Israel is indeed the land which has the Divine blessing above all other lands.

It is the site of millennia of communion with the Divine. It is there that the prophets lived, dreamed, wrote and spoke. It is there that the Jewish people were formed, where they concentrated their hopes, prayers, tears and laughter.

The land has a spirit of "chessed" -- lovingkindness -- that is unique and inspiring. The Torah literally comes out of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Especially in the Holy City, even the supposed secularist has a religious heart.


Themes repeat themselves in every generation of the patriarchs, especially the estrangement and reconciliation of brothers. Today’s reading is an example. Its opening words are “Then Judah came near to him (to Joseph)” (Gen. 44:18).

Why had the brothers fallen out? More importantly, what had changed to make the coming together possible?

If constant human experience is a guide, after a while people who are at odds hardly remember what it was that separated them. What brings them together again is often a family crisis.

No longer can they pretend that the other does not exist. No longer can they pass each other by like strangers. They suddenly discover that it is possible to be on speaking terms again.

The hard part is the first moment, the moment of turning to see each other.  Judah and Joseph could do it. The Torah tells the story in order to tell later generations that they too can cross the bridge.

The Torah does not make “Face one another!” into an official commandment. It does not need to. Everything in our tradition commends the message.

As a postscript let us ask why it was Judah who spearheaded the approach to Joseph.

Chapter 44 verse 32 provides the answer. Jacob had allowed the youngest son Benjamin to go to Egypt only because Judah had undertaken to be responsible for him.

The other brothers would feel guilty if Benjamin were detained in Egypt, but only Judah would be totally unable to face his father. He would live with the guilt “for ever”, which Rashi says means in this world and in the next.

Rabbi Raymond Apple, Jerusalem, Israel