Cantor’s Column – April 2017

Extending Our Love Beyond Our Walls

Cantor Ilan Davidson

Throughout my time serving our community, it has always been clear that my service started at home, at Beth El, and extended beyond into our San Pedro Community. Over a decade ago I began serving our extended religious communities through my work with the South Coast Interfaith Council. I was honored for a year to serve as their President. Then I once again spread my wings to assist global causes through the good work of Kindred SPIRITS, a world humanitarian organization, for which I was proud to be the founder and creator. Throughout all of my service, I have been honored to call many interfaith clergy, celebrities, humanitarians, and politicians my friends and partners. We shared common goals to illuminate the divine in others, to bring about positive change, and to demonstrate the power of one, the great power that each of us has to make change.

While I sat at a coffee shop across from the State Capitol during the last weekend of my sabbatical, my phone rang from a familiar number. The caller ID read Janice Hahn. Of course, I wondered what my friend, the new Supervisor, might want, so I answered expecting to get together for coffee of something like that. What a surprise, when a man’s voice replied to me on the other end. Nick Epolito, Supervisor Hahn’s Chief of Staff, was calling to ask me to consider a very gracious and humbling offer. “The Supervisor would like to know if you would consider an appointment, as a County Commissioner. She has many to appoint, and when we got to the Commission on Human Relations, she immediately asked me to call you.” I hardly knew how to respond, except to humbly accept this honor, after clarifying responsibilities, expectations, and time commitments…and asking, why me?

At the end of February, the County Board of Supervisors appointed me to this wonderful commission, which is “dedicated to promoting positive race and human relations in an increasingly complex and multicultural county. The Commission works to develop programs that proactively address racism, homophobia, religious prejudice, linguistic bias, anti-immigrant sentiment, and other divisive attitudes that can lead to inter-cultural tension, hate crimes and related violence.” As an LA County Commissioner, I look forward to being guided by our Jewish values, to promote tzedek—justice, and tikkun olam—repairing our world, by listening to citizens and county service providers alike to better the lives for all who live in this wonderful place we all call home.