May 1, 2008
Beit T’Shuvah, Jewish/Arab day schools, Charlton Heston
I would like to thank you for printing "Rescuing Jewish Addicts -- A Day in the Life at Beit T'Shuvah" by Roberto Loiederman (April 25).
The article is so well written, and it's so important that our community knows that an agency of our Federation is serving those who need help with addiction struggles.
In addition to services mentioned, Beit T'Shuvah (BTS) also serves the community with a Partners in Prevention program that goes into day schools, camps and synagogues. This outreach program teaches Judaism as a path to promote self-acceptance, self-worth, spiritual values and family harmony.
The residents and alumni of BTS have also joined together in creating an insightful musical performance event called. "Freedom Song," which communicates their common experiences with addiction and the growth they've experienced with the life-giving support of BTS. The group has performed the show locally and throughout the United States, receiving overwhelming support, interest and rave reviews.
As a BTS board member, I'm so proud of the wonderful staff and volunteers and the progress of the residents, and am so grateful that you've brought attention to BTS's efforts toward the healing of Jewish souls.
Punishing victimless drug crimes exceeds the standard for retributive punishment established in the Scriptures ("Addiction Debate: Legalization, Medication or Therapy?" April 25).
Exodus 21:23, "life for life"; 24, "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot"; 25, "burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise."
Punishing the victimless crime of drug use violates the law of God by inflicting injury where there was no injury to another. Drug use murders no one, blinds no one, no teeth have been knocked out and no maiming has occurred, so where's the godly authorization for enforcing drug prohibition.
Nowhere in God's word is there any commandment to ban drug use. Victimless drug convictions often bring more prison time than for armed robbery, beating someone to death in a fight, detonating a bomb in an aircraft or providing weapons to support a foreign terrorist organization. The maximum sentence for all those crimes together is less than the mandatory minimum under sentencing rules for many victimless drug crimes. Drug war punishments clearly violate the eye-for-an-eye principle stated in the law of God.
Upholding a drug crusade that violates God's ordinances is doomed to failure.
I commend you on a well-written and well-thought out piece. What few people realize is that the drug laws were lunacy from the very beginning. Modern people assume that the drug laws were passed for a good reason. They weren't.
Opium smoking was originally outlawed because of the fear that Chinese men were luring white women to have sex in opium dens.
Cocaine was outlawed because of the fear that superhuman Negro cocaine fiends would go on a violent rampage and rape white women and shoot white men.
Caffeine was almost outlawed at the same time for the same reasons. The only reason caffeine escaped prohibition is because it is found in so many common foods.
In the past 100 years, there have been numerous major government commissions around the world that have studied the drug laws and made recommendations for changes. They all concluded that the drug laws were based on ignorance and nonsense and cause more harm than good.
The full text of these reports can be found at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer under Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy.
Schaffer Library of Drug Policy
Jewish/Arab Day Schools
I would like to encourage Rabbi Daniel Gordis to keep an open mind when it comes to educating Israeli Arab and Jewish children together ("Debra Winger Explores Jewish/Arab Day Schools," April 25).
Each of our four award-winning schools is a community of humanitarians dedicated to laying a foundation for a real and lasting peace in Israel.
Our teachers respect and celebrate each child's heritage, and our Jewish students, who because they interact daily with the "other," are forced to develop an even stronger sense of their own identity. Our parents are gratified because they are raising the next generation of leaders who might just be able to do what government officials have been unable to do thus far: find a peaceful way to coexist in Israel.
In addition, I'd ask Gordis to read our groundbreaking curriculum, which is sensitive to educating children from varying religious and ethnic backgrounds. Our curriculum is so successful that it is now in demand from other countries around the world as an innovative model on how to teach conflict resolution to children.
I appreciate Gordis' view that perhaps we should wait until high school or college to teach "competing national narratives," but until there is another viable plan for peace, I -- and many others -- believe as Gandhi did: "If we are to teach real peace in the world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children."
Julie I. Bram
American Friends of Hand in Hand
What is Tom Tugend's basis for stating that Charlton Heston was "reviled by most American Jews" as an arch conservative ("Charlton Heston, Oscar Winner and Advocate, Dies at 84," April 11)?
Even if it is true that most American Jews revile the NRA's policies, to assume that we would also revile the man doesn't give us much credit. I would hope and think that most American Jews, like most other Americans, are fair-minded people who can disagree with someone on an issue, even strongly, and still respect them.
The C.En hydrogen-based transportation invention appears to be little more than another fuel-cell battery (" Israeli Invention Could Pave Way for Hydrogen Cars," April 25). This is not an answer to transportation needs, as it does not solve the essential problems with converting to hydrogen fuel.
The first problem would be that there are no cars that can operate by hydrogen fuel cell, and it would take an entire generation to build such radically different cars. The investment would be a waste, as it is likely that a more practical carbon nanotube battery technology, making much simpler electric motor cars possible, would be developed long before a hydrogen auto fleet could be built.
Second, the writer errs in stating that hydrogen would be "manufactured." Hydrogen exists. It can be obtained, however, from water. In any case, the thermodynamics defeat the proposal.
Obtaining hydrogen, which always exists in a bound state in nature, takes at least four times as much energy as a liberated H2 molecule would yield on combustion. Then there is the issue that large-scale production of hydrogen fuel would be an unacceptably hazardous operation, as it is extremely explosive and hydrogen can leak out of virtually any containment system, including through steel pipes, creating a highly explosive environment.
Until electric cars become feasible, the best solution to our liquid transportation fuel need is actually a methanol-gasoline (85/15) blend, rather than ethanol (gasohol). M85 takes much less energy input to make, and cellulosic material can be converted much more easily to methanol than it can to ethanol, which would also obviate the use of corn or other foodstuffs.
Marginally arable land can be used to grow cellulose crops, rather than the prized farmland needed for ethanol feedstock. Methanol can also be used to make an excellent diesel fuel, obviating the problem of deforestation in order to plant palm oil crops.
In order to achieve this, America simply needs to mandate at the earliest possible date that all cars made and sold in America should be flex fuel, able to burn either gasoline or M85. Currently we have a small number of E85 (alcohol-based) flex fuel cars.
Mass-produced, the cost would be little more than $100 per car, and even existing cars can be retrofitted, though at a higher cost. As a flex fuel fleet enters the system, the fuel manufacturing and transportation to filling stations is relatively easy.
Cellulosic methanol is also carbon negative, meaning it would decrease CO2 from the atmosphere. The benefits to employment, the trade balance, tax revenue intake and diplomatic, political and military security would be enormous.
Unfortunately, our government has made the two worst decisions: ethanol and hydrogen. The first due to the power of the corn lobby; the second due to science naivete. It is a bipartisan failure.
The book to read on the subject is "Energy Victory" by nuclear physicist Robert Zubrin, Ph.D.
Jarrow L. Rogovin
Hillel Opens Doors
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency article, "Hillel Opens Doors to Non-Jews, Campus at Large" (April 4), has led some readers to conclude that Hillel has shifted its central focus away from Jewish students. Let us be very clear: Our raison d'etre is to foster the identity of Jewish students and to strengthen the global Jewish community. As our mission statement says: "Hillel's mission is to enrich the lives of Jewish undergraduate and graduate students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world."
Our strategic plan calls on us to double the number of Jewish students who are involved in Jewish life and who have meaningful Jewish experiences. Our vision remains "to inspire every Jewish student to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life."
Wayne L. Firestone
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
In "Green Endowments Mean Big Returns for Nonprofits" (April 4), Camp Ramah's $36,000 savings from installation of a solar energy system represents a 7.5 percent return not 13.2 percent.
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