But it was not until the final days of arguments and in the week after the jury's "not guilty" verdict that specifically Jewish sensitivities came into play.
Jewish passions were engaged, and continue unabated in Los Angeles and elsewhere, by a number of developments:
*The overwhelming grief of the family of murder victim Ronald Lyle Goldman, expressed with particular poignancy and anger during Yom Kippur services at their synagogue.
*The invocation of Hitler and the Holocaust by lead defense attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. in his final appeal to the jury.
*The post-trial attack by Jewish defense lawyer Robert Shapiro on Cochran for playing the "race card."
*Cochran's use of bodyguards from the Nation of Islam.
Speaking to hundreds of fellow congregants from Temple Beth Haverim at a rented hall in Westlake, Fred Goldman grieved for the death of his son Ron.
Cochran "single-handedly, with his `Dream Team,' managed to shove a wedge between the races that's larger than we could ever have imagined," said Goldman.
"We, as a nation, have been turned upside down — gone from being concerned about victims, and their families, to being more concerned about defendants and criminals."
Despite the solemnity of the Yom Kippur service, worshippers leaped to their feet and gave Goldman a standing ovation.
Earlier, Jewish agencies were outraged when Cochran, in his final summation to a jury that included nine African Americans, compared Mark Fuhrman, former Los Angeles Police detective, to Hitler, drawing an analogy between Fuhrman's taped wish to burn all blacks and the Holocaust.
"The metaphor trivializes a profound historical tragedy," said an Anti-Defamation League statement. The ADL said it had been besieged by callers outraged by the "Fuhrman-Fuhrer" analogy.
Also deeply offended was defense lawyer Shapiro, who turned on his colleague Cochran within hours of the verdict.
"To me, the Holocaust stands alone as the most terrible human event in modern civilization," Shapiro said in an ABC television interview with Barbara Walters. "To compare [Hitler] in any way to a rogue cop, in my opinion was wrong."
Shapiro also said the defense, paced by Cochran, not only played the race card, but "we dealt it from the bottom of the deck." Shapiro did not respond to requests for additional comments.
Cochran, in turn, attributed Shapiro's ire to sour grapes at having been replaced as the defense's lead attorney by Cochran.
The other Jewish defense lawyers, Barry Scheck, Peter Neufeld and Alan Dershowitz, did not join in Shapiro's protest.
Citing death threats against himself, Cochran surrounded himself with eight burly bodyguards whenever he left the courtroom during the last week of the trial. At the office building housing Cochran's law firm, other occupants complained that they had to pass through a phalanx of guards to get to their own offices.
The guards were members of the Nation of Islam, led by Louis Farrakhan, which "in past years engaged in crude and vulgar racism and anti-Semitism," said Abraham Foxman, the ADL national director.
By his choice of such bodyguards, Foxman added, Cochran "legitimizes them and their attitudes."
Meanwhile, on his attorneys' advice, O.J. Simpson canceled his interview Wednesday with NBC's Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric.