City of Beverly Hills Partners with the State of Israel: The Jewish Home Speaks with Mayor Julian Gold

By

Ruth Judah.

The mayor is the elected head of a city. Our idea of a mayor likely evokes images of the Lord Mayor of London, first elected in 1189 and still an icon of formality and pomp. The Lord Mayor of London is still an important figure and he presents himself in a style of court dress that makes that point. Long abandoned by global officials, he wears a black velvet coat with elegant vest and knee breeches, crisp white shirt with lace cuffs, a black or crimson silk robe trimmed with gold lace and a black beaver three cornered hat.

The Lord Mayor of Westminster visited Beverly Hills in March, where he officially delivered an invitation to The Beverly Hills High School Band, asking them to return to perform at the 2016 London New Year’s Day parade. This Lord Mayor was dressed in a magnificent version of the traditional costume and the attending politicians felt a little under dressed. But then, this is not the way American mayors have to present themselves.

Beverly Hills Mayor Julian Gold remembers the visit with a chuckle, “I was proud to greet the Lord Mayor but I felt somewhat under dressed in my suit. I have many roles to fulfill in this position, but cloaks and gowns are a thing of the past!”

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Mayor Gold, MD is a Doctor of Anesthesiology at Cedars Sinai Hospital. With many years’ experience in government, he brings a deep knowledge and understanding of the needs and goals of the City of Beverly Hills. And how far it has changed since its earliest days. For one thing, in 1907, residents were prohibited from selling homes to Jewish buyers. Now it is the home of approximately 35,000 people, of which approximately 26% are Jewish. Many are Persian, and there is a substantial orthodox community, as well.

There are 88 municipalities in Los Angeles County and Mayor Gold noted, “There have been numerous other Jewish mayors in Beverly Hills and throughout our region, but I was honored to join that roster on March 24th as the City Council elected me to the prestigious and important role.” Mayor Gold proudly told The Jewish Home, “My great grandparents came from Eastern Europe but both my grandparents were born in America!”

A key role of the Mayor is to balance the city budget. A study conducted by MBIA in 2004 was unequivocal in confirming, “There is little doubt that Beverly Hills is one of the wealthiest and most successful cities in the nation: The Beverly Hills economy is close to $20 billion annually. The City’s historical success in attracting and maintaining a large, lucrative economic and tax base distinguishes it.”

Beverly Hills coffers are meaningfully supported by tourism spending, but Mayor Gold and his City Council colleagues spend considerable time deliberating as to how to balance between tourism, the needs of residents, and the business community. Halfway through his term, Mayor Gold was successful in partnering the city with the State of Israel. The unique partnership is an exciting event with many positive repercussions expected for everyone.

The memorable official ceremony for the partnership with the State of Israel will take place at the Beverly Hills arts destination, The Wallis Annenberg Theater for the Performing Arts. Located in prime Beverly Hills and occupying a substantial 70,000 sq. ft. space, Mayor Gold will embellish the event with a presentation to Consul General of Israel David Siegel and to conductor, Zubin Mehta, who will receive a Proclamation on behalf of the city of Beverly Hills in honor of his contribution to classical music.

Mayor Gold explained that Beverly Hills has something unique it can offer to Israel. In past years, the City embraced Herzyliya as a sister City, and fostered youth and cultural exchanges. Now, the city will highlight the fact that they stand strong with the values, culture and politics that makes Israel so successful. Former Mayor MeraLee Goldman worked diligently in developing the relationship back in 1998 and today the new alliance is the result of many years of bonding.

Mayor Gold added, “The City of Beverly Hills will reaffirm to the world that we cherish the state of Israel and everything it stands for. Four years ago, I visited Israel with my wife and it wasn’t my first trip, but I was reminded of something; how amazing are the Israelis! It is very hard to describe the unique nature of the country until you arrive and experience the emotion you find there, which is different from the vibe you feel in other countries. Israel, the birthplace of humanity, is a spiritual place and you remember the feeling long after you return home. I think it’s important that we make a statement of support for that spirit.

The partnership will flow both ways as Israel has expertise, arts, technology, and business prospects to collaborate on through joint ventures. The Mayor emphasized that, “Israel has led the way in water preservation and we want to learn from them in this regard. Beyond that, we have the wonderful new Wallis Theater and we want to work symbiotically with Israeli arts and music. We shall also encourage Israeli businesses to join forces with our unique business community, and we’d love to become the headquarters of businesses who can thrive in our city. Finally, we want to encourage tourism from Israel. We already have huge numbers of global visitors and we want to attract as many as possible. This is not a religious statement. We have a diverse population and we are proud to be inclusive of many communities. Beverly Hills is a version of the world where people can get along just fine. You can walk through our streets and you will find people of all faiths and that’s how it should be.”

As a city whose residents have experienced immigration themselves, the Mayor is following the global immigration crisis with concern. It is difficult to know how Beverly Hills can help. He explained, “You wonder what the impact will be of the enormous number of immigrants who have left a devastating place that was once their home. Jews know this feeling of homelessness and it is impressive that Germany has been altruistic in their response and has recently taken far more refugees than other European cities. Now, they urgently need to develop how this will work. The European Community is holding a crucial meeting on the immigrant situation on Rosh Hashanah which is a most auspicious day. If they do this right and in an orderly fashion, it might not disrupt the host countries and maybe that is a truly positive event we can hope for in 2016. Perhaps Mayor Gold will make an official visit to Israel in his role as Mayor. “That’s a wonderful idea which we have discussed but it will take further planning to make it possible and meaningful. At least I wouldn’t need to borrow the gowns from the Mayor of Westminster!”

Finally, Mayor Gold shared his thoughts on the coming haggim, “As we approach Rosh Hashanah I think we must look at our complicated world and see that challenging times are exactly what makes for a new opportunity. We must aspire to make next year a better one. Year after year after year we need to make the world a better place and more joyous. Let’s make the next twelve months into a story that will make us proud of the way we have acted. It is with this important thought that I wish Jewish Home readers a very sweet new year.”

Sidebar

The Beverly Hills City Council has adopted a joint declaration establishing a formal partnership between the City of Beverly Hills and the State of Israel. The partnership, adopted at the September 1st meeting, will include an exchange of ideas and resources on a broad array of areas including water conservation and management, technology and cyber security, public health, emergency services, disaster preparedness, public safety, counter terrorism, art and culture.

“This partnership will allow us to further strengthen our commitment to Israel,” said Mayor Julian Gold.   “Beverly Hills will greatly benefit from Israel’s leadership in many areas that are of great concern and interest to our community.”

David Siegel, Consul General of Israel, spoke on behalf of the State of Israel, saying, “We look forward to working with the City of Beverly Hills to share best practices, ideas and solutions aimed at increasing water conservation and innovation as we face California’s drought as well as Israel’s water challenges.”

Through this partnership, the City of Beverly Hills and the State of Israel will hold discussions and information exchanges and promote initiatives related to areas of mutual interest.  The Joint Declaration promotes cooperation, understanding and friendship by encouraging task forces, trade delegations and professional exchanges.  The Joint Declaration also encourages the collaboration between educational and cultural institutions, and encourages the strengthening of the Beverly Hills – Herzliya sister city program.

Previous cooperative exchanges with Israel have included the renaming of a street in Beverly Hills near Temple Emanuel to Herzl Way in honor of the revered Zionist Theodor Herzl; participation of children from Herzliya in the City’s Centennial art contest; and the hosting of a free lecture series called, Beverly Hills Forum which included authors from Israel.