JEW BACA God-fearing Sheriff Lee Baca
It's been a busy few days for Lee Baca—aka the Los Angeles sheriff who arranged an early release for Paris Hilton only to get smacked down by a judge. But he somehow found time to drop by a Westwood synagogue over the weekend to lecture the congregation about ethics.
Baca, clad in a prayer shawl and yarmulke, was invited onto the bimah during Saturday services at Sinai Temple by Rabbi David Wolpe, according to Howard Lesner, the synagogue's executive director. "He basically talked about the importance of the community, the Temple Sinai community, and the morals and ethics that are taught each and every day," says Lesner. "And that he, as a leader of the Sheriff's Department, feels that the greatest gift he can be sharing with his trainees and the people around him is to teach them to be the best human beings they can be. Because the power they have can be abused if they don't know how to use it properly."
Of course, some might say it was an abuse of power to spring Hilton from jail, early and against judicial orders, after accepting a campaign donation from her grandfather, as we reported Friday. Lesner says Baca didn't talk about the Paris business "other than his joke when he started: 'This has been an interesting week for me.'" (Baca himself has not returned messages from Radar.)
"The whole thing was really strange," says one worshiper who witnessed Baca's performance. "It was just one long ramble."
It's not the first time Baca has graced Sinai Temple with his presence. Lesner says the lawman has longstanding ties to the shul and is close friends with its president, Tom Flesh.
But his good relations with the Jews of Westwood are by no means exclusive. In fact, it turns out that Baca is at least as cozy with the group that runs the other half of Hollywood—the Scientologists.
UPDATE: The original version of this article incorrectly placed Sinai Temple in Beverly Hills.