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LA county’s district attorney launches interfaith advisory board

Participants include five California-based rabbis from across the gamut.

An LAPD helicopter over Los Angeles. Photo by Biker x days/Shutterstock.
An LAPD helicopter over Los Angeles. Photo by Biker x days/Shutterstock.

The office of LA County District Attorney George Gascón announced on March 14 the formation of its first Interfaith Advisory Board, which includes five rabbis.

The participants include Rabbi Sharon Brous, senior and founding rabbi at IKAR in Mid-Wilshire; Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, professor of rabbinic literature at American Jewish University’s Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies; Rabbi Susan Goldberg, founder of progressive spiritual community Nefes; Rabbi Heather Miller, founder of Keeping It Sacred; and Rabbi Sarah Hronsky, senior rabbi at Temple Beth Hillel in North Hollywood, Calif.

“I strongly believe that the voice of the faith community is essential when discussing issues of justice,” Cohen told JNS. “As a rabbi, I will try to bring the perspective of teshuvah, ‘repentance,’ in the sense of restorative and transformative justice as opposed to purely punitive justice.”

He told JNS that he regards hate crimes as “one of the areas in which restorative justice can work best.”

The professor noted that “there are tons of statistics and studies that show that imprisonment is not a deterrence in general, so why would we think that it would be in the case of hate crimes?”

He went on to say that “the process of restorative justice centers the harm to the victim, and it is a process in which the victim articulates what is needed to make them whole again—or as whole as possible. This is what is especially necessary in the case of hate crimes.”

Gascón told JNS the development came “at a time when religious racism, discrimination and hate crimes are still prevalent throughout our communities and the nation.”

He said the new board “will serve as a bridge connecting the criminal justice system and our diverse spiritual communities, and advise my office on policies and practices that promote fairness, inclusivity and cultural competency.”

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