February 27, 2024

I remember watching the show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader and thinking, “Did I really ever learn this information?” I know I had an excellent education, but some of the information I was taught either a) went right over my head or b) I didn’t think I would ever need the info, so I chose not to remember it.


One subject that many people never really focused on or cared to remember was civics. You know… the class about how our government works. Sadly, the class lectures typically were focused on how the Federal government works, which I recently realized was probably not the most effective way to educate students. The vast majority of political media coverage is focused on national issues. And yet, our everyday lives are far more impacted by state and local government. Based on this, you would understand why I believe much more of our focus should be on what happens in Sacramento versus Washington, DC, let alone what happens in our city and county governments.


I bring this concept up as the Claremont City Council will meet tonight. As you may have read in our last two Israel updates, the Claremont City Council is possibly voting on a resolution this evening calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Tonight’s meeting is not unique since citizens have asked other cities across the state to discuss and take a stand on this issue. Last month, both Pomona and Montebello heard comments from the community and ultimately approved a similar resolution. In each of these instances, our Jewish Federation was either consulted, or I reached out and spoke with city leadership to share the concerns of the Jewish community and provide context and relevant information that I felt was necessary for the city council members to consider.


Since our Jewish Federation launched our campaign last year to combat antisemitism and denounce all forms of hate, I have attended well over 20 city council meetings throughout our community and spoken at each one. It gave me great insight into how city government works and introduced me to many of our community’s elected officials. This has been an invaluable experience that I highly encourage people to do because, after all, as Tip O’Neill (former Speaker of the House) used to say, “All politics is local.”


It is essential to be an active citizen because expressing our voice and opinion with the leaders we elect and making decisions on our behalf need to hear from us. Tonight is one of those opportunities, though if you plan to attend Claremont’s City Council meeting, I would highly encourage you to be prepared for it to be extremely contentious and unlike anything you have ever experienced. To better prepare people, consider re-reading the update our Jewish Federation and the Temple Beth Israel of Pomona leadership put together.


I am hopeful that the Claremont City Council will decide that even after hearing from community members they decide that their focus needs to be the well-being of the City of Claremont and that weighing in on international affairs will carry no weight and won’t bring our community together. I guess we will have to wait and see what happens tonight.