US elections: Los Angeles synagogue doubles as a polling station

While Los Angeles in general is a heavily Democratic city, the Pico-Robertson neighborhood is home to a large modern Orthodox and Persian community, many of whom are Trump supporters.

Voters wait outside to vote at the B'nai David synagogue in Los Angeles. (photo credit: KEITH BEDFORD/REUTERS)
Voters wait outside to vote at the B'nai David synagogue in Los Angeles.
LOS ANGELES – It was a particularly “California cold” morning in Los Angeles on Election Day, November 3.
Early-morning voters awoke to a light fog blanketing the city and a chilly breeze. And at B’nai David Judea, an Orthodox synagogue in the heavily Jewish Pico-Robertson neighborhood, a slow trickle of people lined up on the street for the opening of the polls at 7 a.m., where they could vote in the synagogue’s lobby, which had been a voting station for the last five days.
The slow trickle continued throughout the morning, with the line never more than four or five people long. Some entered and exited quickly, dropping off their already completed ballots, while others took their time filling in both their choice for president and a slew of local measures inside the voting booths.
Outside the synagogue, a security guard clad in black, gun holstered and a bulletproof vest strapped over his clothes, said all was calm now, but the day was young.
“We’re near Beverly Hills,” he said, referencing the city’s police force, which has said it is prepared for potential unrest. “If things get crazy, those people could be here pretty quickly. They’re just down the road.”
However, the only “crazy” thing that appeared to be happening outside B’nai David’s voting center was several people who placed masks over their faces only as they approached the voting station and quickly removed them once they had voted.
The other was the appearance of an older woman without a mask, Nurit Greenger, who made her way to the polling station decked out in a red jogging suit and a T-shirt emblazoned with the word “Trump” on it.
According to the California Elections Code, electioneering is forbidden, and that includes “the visible display or audible dissemination of information that advocates for or against any candidate or measure on the ballot within 100 feet of a polling place, a vote center, an elections official’s office, or a satellite location.”
By rights, Greenger should have been turned away. However, the two young female poll workers standing outside the entrance told The Jerusalem Post it was simply easier to allow her in to vote because “she wasn’t making a fuss.”
Apparently, none of the poll workers inside turned Greenger away either, because she emerged proudly displaying her ballot and her “I voted” sticker. “I wanted to vote today because it’s important to vote on the day, not before,” she said.
Greenger voted for Donald Trump, she said, “because he’s amazingly good for Israel. He is one of us. He does not talk down to us. He’s trying to make peace [in the Middle East]. He’s a strong man with a strong resolve. He’s profound and funny.”
While Los Angeles in general is a heavily Democratic city, and most of its Jews vote that way, the Pico-Robertson neighborhood is home to a large Modern Orthodox and Persian community, many of whom are Trump supporters.
Natalie Solomon is one of them. She said she voted for Trump because she is an Orthodox Jew and “because we need to show our gratitude to a representative that has [taken] and who takes into consideration the needs of the Jewish community.”
Moshe Eshaghian, wearing a large, gold “Chai” around his neck, also voted.
“I would say that there has never been a more dire time when it’s important to vote on all matters, including foreign affairs,” he said. “I voted based on what was best for our country and what was best for foreign affairs."
But not everybody was a Trump fan. Reva Rose and her son Noel came to the polls together, and both voted for Joe Biden.
“I was voting to get rid of the virus in Washington,” Reva said. “We need a change in leadership.”
Noel said: “We had four years of Trump, and he ran the country into the ground. We voted for change.”
David Roman, 27, was focused on what he said his generation is looking for by voting for Biden.
“I really just voted for change for the future,” he said. “In my opinion, we need to be making a huge difference, especially for people my age. I don’t know any of my friends who are not voting today or who haven’t already. We’re all voting for change.”
Emily Burchinow also voted for Biden. She had hoped to mail in her ballot, but she did not receive it in time, so she came to the polling station to vote in person, together with her husband, who could not vote as he is not yet a US citizen.
“I’m here to vote for a change in the presidency,” she said. “It’s about getting the right president in office and a stable person that can lead this country.”•