December 7, 2006
Attention, menschen! CAIR; Michael Richards; Shoah survivors
In 2005, The Journal profiled 10 "Mensches of the Year " and it became one of our most popular and widely appreciated cover stories. We plan to make this an annual feature ... and we'd love your help.
If you know someone whose great work on behalf of others goes unsung, who doesn't get paid for what he or she does (or doesn't get paid near enough), whose life is the embodiment of the values of tzedakah -- please pass their name and contact info to us with a very brief sentence or two describing why they should be featured as one of our 10 mensches of 2006.
Your publication of the inflammatory rhetoric of CAIR-L.A.'s Executive Director Hussam Ayloush as if it were a reliable source of fact or reasonable opinion makes one question your editorial judgment ("Letters, Nov. 17).
It is very peculiar that Ayloush and his organization, who claim to promote "dialogue, mutual respect and trust and cooperation," would resort to ad-hominem attacks against Steven Emerson, actually calling him "America's most vicious Islamophobe." Moreover, incitement and provocation are not constructive tactics. If CAIR is truly serious about promoting mutual understanding, Ayloush would not have written a letter that clearly defeats CAIR's stated objectives. Furthermore, the letter serves as a form of psychological warfare, which attempts to erode the credibility, trust and reputation of Emerson with your readers and the general public.
Based on Ayloush's unfair characterization of Emerson, it appears that he and CAIR have one primary objective, which is to discredit and silence anyone who dares to identify terrorists who happen to be connected to a radical Islamist network. This should be of great concern to the entire community, Christian, Muslim and Jewish alike.
"The Forgotten Survivors" (Nov. 24) raises some crucial issues for the Jewish community, which must decide if it will make a concerted effort to endow the last days of these victims of Nazism with a greater measure of dignity and peace.
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) established the Holocaust Survivor Services program of the Jewish Family Service (JFS) of Los Angeles more than a decade ago. Last year, the Claims Conference allocated approximately $1.5 million to JFS, from various sources of Holocaust restitution funding. This financial support is absolutely critical to the work of JFS in assisting and supporting needy Jewish victims of Nazism. However, the Claims Conference needs partners in this endeavor. It is important for the larger Jewish community to recognize the need and to respond.
Director of Communications
Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany
Thank you for remembering "The Forgotten Survivors" in this week's cover story. We at New Community Jewish High School (NCJHS) agree that it is our responsibility to offer support and companionship to impoverished Holocaust survivors, both locally and worldwide.
We have recently joined in a collaborative effort with a local organization called The Survivor Mitzvah Project, which sends money and letters to survivors living in Eastern Europe. This project is both educational and philanthropic, offering a unique exchange between the American Jewish community, and Jewish individuals living in their original Eastern European hometowns. Their stories give us singular insight into the vast changes of Jewish life in Eastern Europe before, during and after World War II.
Students in Russian and Yiddish classes at NCJHS are volunteering their time to translate letters to and from the survivors in Eastern Europe, enabling international Jewish friendships to form. We are incredibly proud of these young people and encourage the community to get involved with the Survivor Mitzvah Project, as well as the local organizations listed in the original article, through firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 905-6160. Hannah Pollin
Head of World Languages
New Community Jewish High School
I estimate that in Los Angeles 47 percent of Holocaust survivors, or more than 4,000 survivors, are currently living in poverty. During the past eight years, the L.A. community has experienced a significant increase in the proportion of Holocaust survivors in poverty from the 32 percent in poverty found in my 1997 research, that was cited in the cover story by The Jewish Federation, to 45 percent of L.A. holocaust survivors in poverty, as compared to 35 percent of Holocaust survivors in poverty nationally in 2005.
An additional $1,000 a year allocated to each impoverished Holocaust survivor in our community would cost $4 million, and during the next 10 years progressively less, as the median age of Holocaust survivors is 81. [For a Federation] that raises $55 million dollars a year and boasts more than $600 million in its Jewish Community Foundation, this would be a good initial gesture of concern for this regrettable situation where the most traumatized and weakest among us grow poorer as they grow older.
Phillips & Herman
Thank you for your Nov. 24 cover story "The Forgotten Survivors," which recognized the vital work of Jewish Family Service (JFS) and others in assisting the aging and impoverished Holocaust survivors in our community.
We are deeply grateful to The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany for its generous and crucial support of our JFS/Holocaust Survivor Services program. In our last fiscal year, the Claims Conference provided $1.5 million to help us meet the needs of survivors living in Los Angeles. We are also appreciative of the ongoing support by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and The Morgan Aging with Dignity Fund that helps us maintain and sustain our work with survivors of the Holocaust.
We encourage the entire community to continue to support us in this important mission. Susie Forer-Dehrey,
Associate Executive Director
Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles
I read The Jewish Journal every week online from Tucson. And, I look forward to reading the humor, news and wisdom in Rob Eshman's weekly column. This week's column, however, almost makes me weep ("Michael Richards, Still Not a Jew," Dec. 1).
Eshman's agenda included jumping on Jesse Jackson for who he is and Gloria Allred for who she is instead of addressing Michael Richards' message, a very offensive message. It is not that the N-word was used or is used publicly by other blacks. The entire message was a mean-spirited, prancing, onstage rage. Most offensive was the rest of what Richards said. To paraphrase: 50 years ago, if you dare to stand up to me, I would get my boys and stick a pitch fork up your ass. Come now, Rob. What if some one had used the K-word and ranted about what he could do to us 60 years ago in Europe? So what if the K-word is thrown around in public, perhaps(?) by a Jew. Self-hating is a word that would describe such action.
Michael Richards apparently enjoyed a certain amount of success with the "Seinfeld" series. Now, perhaps his future is somewhat in question. He has done one failed TV show since "Seinfeld." To launch into a years-old classic racist rant to compensate for personal problems is not acceptable and sad, very sad.
In The Journal's phone conversation with Howard Rubenstein, did he happen to mention when and where his client, Michael Richards, would be addressing the Jewish community -- on the same worldwide basis -- to issue a mea culpa for his recent (but not videorecorded) anti-Semitic tirade at another L.A. comedy club?
Lydia B. Bruck
Kudos All Around
In the Dec. 1, 2006 issue of The Jewish Journal there is so much that I am enjoying for separate reasons. I love David Suissa's "The Pinto Miracle" because of the history and the "miracle" of the shul, and because it gives us a tam, a taste of the Moroccan Pinto Center. I have not been to Burning Man to experience it, and enjoyed reading the Wandering Jew's "Hot Shabbat" to learn about the Jewish aspect. This is good if Burning Man can bring people to their Judaism, even in the hot, dusty desert, especially when all else has failed. Thank you Scott Einbinder for a tam of this Shabbat that would not be found in the "Hood."
Thank you for including the "tzedek" quote from my favorite Jerusalem e-mail teacher in this week's Letters (Sara Kirschbaum) on the Venice eruv. I love learning from the daily teachings of Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen from Hazon.
Davening at Aishhhhhh
It was most gratifying to read David Suissa's article in The Journal a few weeks ago extolling the virtue of our talk free shul, or to put it as our sign at the entrance of the sanctuary states:
"Please refrain from talking to anyone else during services - signed the Almighty" ("Davening at Aishhhhhh," Nov. 17).
However to allay any misconception that people who daven at Aish HaTorah have taken an absolute vow of silence, I would like it to be known that there is a very Hamish Kiddush held after services at which members are only too happy to talk to and welcome anyone in attendance!
R' Moshe Cohen
Aish Los Angeles
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