Tag Archives: Mexican Jews

Jew of the Week: Eric Garcetti

Mayor of Los Angeles

Eric Garcetti, mayor of LA (Credit: Emily Shur)

Eric Michael Garcetti (b. 1971) was born in Los Angeles to a Russian-Jewish mother and a Mexican-Italian father. He was always interested in civics and politics, and was a member of Junior State of America, an organization for high school students aiming to cultivate America’s future leaders. Garcetti studied political science at Columbia, then earned his Master’s there in international affairs. He was also a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and worked on his doctorate at the London School of Economics. After returning to the States, Garcetti taught at several colleges and sat on the board of California’s Human Rights Watch. In 2001, he ran for a seat on Los Angeles’ City Council, and won. Between 2006 and 2012, he was president of the council, and implemented important changes including a policy that all constituents must be answered within 24 hours. He led the way in passing new laws to clean up Los Angeles’ waterways, and to make all new buildings environmentally-friendly. During his tenure, graffiti in his district was reduced by 78%, housing got an injection of $100 million in funds, and the Hollywood neighbourhood was revitalized. In 2013, Garcetti won the race for mayor of Los Angeles, making him the city’s first elected Jewish mayor and its youngest mayor ever. He has become one of LA’s most popular figures, and won re-election in 2017 with a whopping 81% of the vote. He has been hailed for improving the city’s budgets, urban development, and immigration policies, as well as for increasing minimum wage and raising more funds for the LAPD and fire department. He has also secured LA as the host city for the 2028 Summer Olympics. Meanwhile, Garcetti is a devoted member of LA’s IKAR Jewish community. He and his wife have one adopted daughter, and have fostered seven other children. Garcetti was also a lieutenant in the US Navy Reserves until 2013, once lived in Thailand, and—together with relatives from his mother’s side of the family—oversees the Roth Family Foundation, which has given out over $6 million in grants and donations. He won the Green Cross Millennium Award for environmental leadership, and was NAACP’s “Person of the Year” in 2014. That same year, Bill Clinton said that Garcetti may be America’s president one day. There were rumours that he would run this year, but he decided to stick with his job as mayor for now. He is currently listed among potential candidates to be Joe Biden’s running mate.

An In-Depth Look at the Custom of Eating Dairy on Shavuot

Words of the Week

Woe to him whom nobody likes, but beware of him whom everybody likes.
– Hasidic proverb

Mayor Garcetti lighting Chanukah candles and putting on tefillin. (Credit: COLlive)

Jew of the Week: Emmanuel Lubezki

The Mexican Jew Who Set an Oscar Record

Emmanuel Lubezki, known to most people as "Chivo", ie. "Goat"

Emmanuel Lubezki, known to most people as Chivo, or “Goat” (Credit: Getty Images)

Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki Morgenstern (b. 1964) was born to a Russian-Jewish family in Mexico City. He initially studied history, then switched to film studies and became a cinematographer. He first worked on a film made with a group of 10 friends who pooled together $7000. It brought in enough money to make a second film, which found more success in Mexico, but no profit. His third film brought an invitation to the Toronto International Film Festival, following which Lubezki started getting calls from Hollywood (yet still barely spoke any English). Among his first major productions was a collaboration with his childhood friend and classmate Alfonso Cuaron. The two went on to make 6 films together, winning a handful of Oscars along the way. Lubezki’s work on the 2006 film Children of Men was critically acclaimed for its new cinematic techniques, and got him a fourth Oscar nomination. He finally won an Academy Award in 2013 for Gravity, another trailblazer in 3D cinematography which some have described as “the most technologically impressive film ever” and “the greatest visual achievement in the history of cinema”. (It took over four years of work for Lubezki’s team to make it happen.) He won yet again the following year for Birdman, and took a third Oscar in a row this year for The Revenant. This set a new record, making Lubezki the first cinematographer to win three Oscars in three consecutive years. Among Lubezki’s other highly-praised works are The Tree of Life (starring Brad Pitt) and Ali (starring Will Smith). Alfonso Cuaron has said of Lubezki: “You go to a concert and you are listening to the music… Chivo’s looking at the light. When you’re having dinner with Chivo, he starts moving everything around – he’ll move a candle over here or a light over there – until suddenly the light is just right.”

Words of the Week

The righteous promise little and do a lot; the wicked promise much and don’t do even a little.
– Talmud, Bava Metzia 87a