President Bush Has A Liberal Jewish Friend In Pico-Robertson: Attorney Donald Etra

Rebecca Spence writes for the Forward:

CHUMMY: George and Laura Bush with Donald and Paula Etra at Camp David.

What is particularly striking about Etra’s long friendship with Bush, and his reputation as one of the president’s closest Jewish associates, is the rather less publicized fact that Etra is, by his own description, a liberal Democrat.

As the Bush administration winds down, Etra spoke with the Forward about everything from the president’s take on Purim to why Etra remains fiercely loyal to Bush despite their political differences. A member of two Modern Orthodox synagogues in L.A.’s Pico-Robertson district, Young Israel of Century City and Beth Jacob Congregation, Etra boasts a star-studded client list that includes the likes of rapper Snoop Dogg and actress Fran Drescher. He recently represented the Spinka rebbe, a Brooklyn Hasidic leader, at a bail hearing related to charges that the rabbi defrauded the government of millions in tax dollars.

Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, Hillel executive director at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a former client of Etra’s, described Etra as “a liberal Orthodox Jew with a very rational worldview.”

“My sense is that he’s a type of careful liberal, an-old style Democratic liberal,” Seidler-Feller said. “Meaning that on social issues, on abortion and so on, he follows the line, and he’s careful — meaning, he has limits.”

Seidler-Feller noted, however, that Etra is careful to keep a low profile on political matters. “He plays things close to the chest,” Seidler-Feller said. “He’s not out there.”

About Luke Ford

Raised a Seventh-Day Adventist at Avondale College in Australia, Luke Ford moved to California in 1977. He graduated from Placer High School in 1984, reported the news at KAHI/KHYL radio for three years, attended Sierra College and UCLA, was largely bedridden by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for six years, and converted to Judaism in 1993. From 1997-2007, Luke made his living from blogging. Living by Beverly Hills (, he now teaches the Alexander Technique (moving the way the body likes to move). Lessons cost $100 each and last about 45 minutes. In 2011, Luke completed a three-year teaching course at the Alexander Training Institute of Los Angeles. His personal Alexander Technique website is Luke is the author of five books, including: » The Producers: Profiles in Frustration » Yesterday’s News Tomorrow: Inside American Jewish Journalism
This entry was posted in Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.