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Dear Friends,
At Bet Tzedek, we are celebrating Women’s History Month and continuing to shine a light on our historic milestone this year: 50 Years of Justice for All. This month, we are spotlighting Bet Tzedek and Los Angeles in the 1980s, as well as the many diverse and influential women who had an impact during that decade. Our first spotlight will be on our very own tenured staff member, Veronica Leichter, who has been with Bet Tzedek since March of 1986 — an astonishing 38 years!
Veronica currently serves as a Litigation Secretary with Bet Tzedek’s Caregiver team. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Veronica received the Jack H. Skirball Community Justice Award at the 2020 Bet Tzedek Gala as an acknowledgement of her dedication, hard work, and mission-driven mindset. We are beyond grateful for Veronica’s decades of service and commitment to helping others. Read more about her here.
Veronica’s work with us began during a decade marked by stagflation and rising property values. The poverty rate in L.A. County grew from 8% in 1969 to 14% by 1987, nearly doubling in under 20 years. At the same time, property values continued to grow and unemployment rates rose; unemployment for all L.A. city residents grew from 6.8% to 8.4% during the ‘80s, as reported by The Washington Post. However, there was also a rise in racially diverse political power, immigration and cultural diversity, and women in leadership positions and newfound occupations.
Follow along on our social media accounts, found at the bottom of this page, to learn more about impactful women like Lily Lee Chen, elected Mayor of Monterey Park in 1983, making her the first Chinese American woman mayor; the social, economic, and political climate of L.A. in the ‘80s; and Bet Tzedek’s historic milestones during this decade.
Bet Tzedek Making Vital Changes in 1980s Los Angeles
Amid the vast changes in L.A. during the ‘80s, both positive and negative for marginalized communities, Bet Tzedek was there to make a difference. Here are some of our milestones during the decade:
  • 1981: With a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Aging, Bet Tzedek launches the City LAWS Program to send attorneys to senior centers to help with their legal needs.
  • 1984: Bet Tzedek hits the 10 Year mark with a landmark win! The 9th Circuit rules in favor of Bet Tzedek’s client and childhood survivor, Felicia Grunfeder, who was denied disability benefits because she received a small reparations payment. After multiple appeals, the federal courts ruled that reparations payments cannot preclude disability payments. This victory helped thousands of needy Holocaust survivors.
  • 1987: After four years of litigation, Bet Tzedek negotiates a settlement that guarantees elderly, long-time residents the right to remain in a refurbished Cadillac Hotel on the Venice boardwalk for the rest of their lives at their current low rent and without fear of further threats of eviction.
  • 1989: Bet Tzedek forms a Home Equity Task Force to address a rising epidemic of con artists stealing homes from elderly owners.
Honoring the Prestigious Angel City Football Club at our 2024 Gala!
Image courtesy of HBO
We’re honoring Angel City FC at the Bet Tzedek 2024 Gala in May with the Rose L. Schiff Commitment to Justice Award! Angel City FC was founded in 2020 and, in just three years, has built an incredible legacy both on and off the pitch. In addition to reaching the National Women’s Soccer League playoffs during the team’s second season, the team has had an indelible impact on Los Angeles through its philanthropic efforts focused on education, food security, sports equity, LGBTQ+ and gender equality, and more.
We are thrilled to acknowledge this inspiring group of women athletes led by captain Ali Riley whose dedication to their craft and whose positive influence will impact generations of young women and girls. We are deeply grateful for owners like Kara Nortman, Natalie Portman, and Julie Uhrman (pictured above) who understand the importance of gender equity in professional sports, and who share and support Bet Tzedek’s mission to fight for justice for all. As your 3rd season kicks off, we’ll be in the stands rooting for you! 
“Legacy Matters” Symposium Emphasizes Importance of Estate Planning 
The Rebecca Nichols Symposium, which took place earlier this month, was a huge success! The “Legacy Matters” symposium — held at Zócalo Public Square, ASU California Center — was moderated by Frank Stoltze from LAist, and featured speakers Terrence Franklin from Sacks, Glazier, Franklin & Lodise LLP; Anna Darr from Bet Tzedek; and Rafael Carbajal from County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs.
Each speaker gave their take on major issues facing Angelenos as it relates to estate planning. Terrence noted that BT is the only organization working in this vital space; Rafael shared how losing the generational wealth that comes from passing down a family home affects access to affordable housing; and Anna discussed how estate planning is an "inherited trait” and spoke about how a family that paid off their house generations ago would have to go through three levels of probate court to actually own their home, which is a challenge.
Two major points to take away from this event: 1. Have designated beneficiaries on your bank accounts. 2. Have advance health directives: if you do not have this critical document in place, we offer our guide on how to do so.
Watch the entire symposium below:
Media Alert: Two BT Staff Members in the News!
Kim Selfon, Bet Tzedek's IHSS & Medi-Cal Policy Specialist, was featured in the L.A. Times! Bet Tzedek, under Kim’s guidance, supported legislation to eliminate Medi-Cal asset limits, testified at hearings, and worked with the state to ensure its implementation. Read the article here.
Yvonne Medrano, Bet Tzedek Employment Rights Project (ERP) attorney, appeared on Radio Bilingüe to discuss the proposition that would eliminate the Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) and how the initiative’s passage could negatively impact workers. Listen to the segment (in Spanish) here.
Join the Fight to Save Small Businesses in Underserved Communities by Supporting SB 1103
Bet Tzedek is co-sponsoring a bill, SB 1103, authored by Senator Caroline Menjivar's office. Day in and day out, Bet Tzedek provides free legal aid to keep small businesses in their neighborhoods, protecting them against displacement. In light of the fact that commercial tenants have fewer protections than residential tenants, these small business owners and nonprofits are much more susceptible to eviction as they are subjected to sometimes capricious higher rents and fees. This hurts the business owners’ livelihoods and their families’ and communities’ financial health. This bill presents an opportunity to fight against small business and nonprofit displacement and to strengthen the economic base of our communities.
Join us in the campaign toward fair and equitable treatment of our favorite local shops! Sign up here.
URGENT Pro Bono Call: Help a Senior with Cancer Stay in Her Home
Case Description: Ms. S is a senior who has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy treatments. She has been living in her apartment since 2004 and pays $987.11 a month for rent. Ms. S is facing eviction due to falling behind on her rent payments. She recently got a call from the ULA notifying her that she was approved to receive rental assistance at the end of January, and that they would reach out to her landlord to arrange the payment of back rent, which would end the lawsuit. Ms. S already answered the lawsuit and filed a Demand for Jury Trial. A conference date is set for March 27 at 1:30 p.m. and a Jury trial date is set for April 2nd at 8:30 a.m. Bet Tzedek will co-counsel this matter and attend all hearings with pro bono counsel.
Work Required & Deadlines: Settlement Negotiations and Full Scope Representation of Unlawful Detainer Case. Because of the ongoing delays in disbursing the ULA rental assistance program, the Los Angeles City Council has enacted Ordinance number 188109. The ordinance provides eviction protections for tenants awaiting disbursement of ULA ERAP Rental assistance payments. In conjunction with Bet Tzedek, the Pro Bono Attorney will negotiate with opposing counsel to dismiss this case or file a pretrial motion to dismiss the case.
If interested, contact Director of Pro Bono Programs, Sara Levine, at
Join the Bet Tzedek Team!
Have a passion for helping underserved residents in the community? Want to work alongside dedicated staff and volunteers who help up to 100,000 people per year?
Here are some critical positions we need to fill, plus more (see button below):
Apply to Work with Us Here
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