Rabbi Simcha Aaron Green: A Man with a Mission in 2020 for 90210
Running for Beverly Hills City Council
Devorah Talia Gordon
On March 3rd, Rabbi Simcha Aaron Green will be running for one of two available seats on the Beverly Hills City Council. If elected, he will be the first shomer Shabbat member of the Council.
Educated at Yeshiva University, Rabbi Green served as a pulpit rabbi for many communities on the East Coast. Fifteen years ago, he and his wife moved west, where Rabbi Green was hired as rabbi of Young Israel of Santa Barbara. Following that position, Rabbi Green traveled up the coast to San Jose, becoming rabbi of a Sephardic synagogue. After that stint, he retired in Berkeley, California.
Four years ago, the Greens moved to L.A., figuring they would settle in Pico-Robertson and join the thriving Orthodox community. However, when the Greens found appropriate housing in Beverly Hills, they took it, and the rest, they say, is history.
While Rabbi Green is quite proud of the work he did in the rabbinate, with this move came a new venture for the dynamic rabbi. Rabbi Green discovered the huge Jewish community in Beverly Hills and was inspired to get involved in the City Council. “What I found out was at least 60% of the 35,000 residents of Beverly Hills are Jewish; that means that, percentage wise, Beverly Hills is the biggest Jewish community in the United States.”
Two years ago, Rabbi Green asked to volunteer as liaison between the Jewish community and the City Council. Given this very strong Jewish population, including nine Orthodox and two Reform synagogues, five kosher restaurants, three “Coffee Beans,” and one day school (Hillel), Rabbi Green began attending City Council meetings and raising the concerns of the Jewish residents.
What are some concerns of the Jewish residents of Beverly Hills? Kosher food availability at public events, for one. Thanks to Rabbi Green’s work, Beverly Hills now has a kosher food truck. At Christmas time, Roxbury Park is offering a kosher option for their holiday luncheon.
While there have been some changes, Green wants to see more. Much more. “The city attorney doesn’t agree with me on the issue of ‘separation of church and state.’” For example, the current mayor, John Mirisch, agreed to host a menorah lighting for the holiday celebration at City Hall this year. The city attorney agreed to it, if there were no prayers and a there was also a Christmas tree. The mayor spoke; however, it was poorly publicized, and Rabbi Green was very disappointed that the mayor went along with the city attorney’s request.
“I decided I could only do anything if I was on the City Council! I want to be mayor as well. Three years from now, we will have interfaith programs with the churches and the synagogues, and when the Muslims come, we will have dialogue with them as well.”
The council has never turned down a request from any synagogue—because no synagogue has ever asked. According to Green, they simply don’t know they can approach the city council. For example, the Federal government provides security for synagogues, and the police will protect those going to worship, but the synagogues have to come and ask. If the city would advertise their events, that would be a huge help to the synagogues. “Each shul has so many great programs,” Rabbi Green said, “including three Chabad shuls, and nine functioning daily minyanim in Beverly Hills, both Sephardic and Ashkenazi.” Further growth is on the horizon, with Chabad of Beverly Hills’ new, highly visible property at the corner of Wilshire and Oakhurst, an area which has the potential to increase the Jewish presence, and even become a tourist attraction, under the direction of Rabbi Yosef Shusterman.
Another issue on Rabbi Green’s agenda is permitting the sale of medical cannabis. Three years ago, the citizens of California voted for Prop 64. Most voters in Beverly Hills were for Prop 64, but the city decided to permit only outside delivery, which comes directly to one’s house. “In the last five years, we’ve seen so many people benefit from medical cannabis, like in Riverdale, New York, where The Jewish Home for Aged has permitted it and many residents have gotten off other meds. The AARP supports medical cannabis,” Rabbi Green explained. Also, if stores opened in Beverly Hills, the city would benefit from revenue and gains in tax dollars.
Beverly Hills Municipal Elections are scheduled for Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Citizens can vote 10 days prior at any L.A. County voting location. Voting by mail is also an option.