January 15, 1998
Thank you very much for your articles about the state of Beth OlamCemetery. Nobody was aware that it was in danger of being padlocked,abandoned, and subsequently available for vandalism and scavengers.To those many of us who have close relatives interred there and havepaid for graves in advance, this was traumatic news.
It seems that this plight of the cemetery had gone on for a yearand a half but the trustees did not inform anyone. Thanks to yourarticles, my son and I were able to attend a hearing in federalcourt, and since then, we have learned that the cemetery has found aworthy buyer. There is also an effort to have it declared a historiccity site.
Mrs. Richard Maibaum
A Hipper Hadassah
The 23,000 enthusiastic members of Hadassah Southern Californiawere delighted to be recognized ("A Hipper Hadassah," Dec. 26). Ourresurgence and strength among young women results from our ability toenable busy women to participate in our cutting-edge programsaccording to their own timetables.
Here in Southern California, as a result of Voices For Change, thestudy of Jewish women's needs conducted by Hadassah and Brandeis, wehave established the Morning Star Commission, consisting of 30prominent women in the entertainment industry, including Joan Hyler(Hyler Management), Gail Berman ("Buffy the Vampire"), Susan Nanus("Rescuers: Stories of Courage in the Holocaust"), and Claudia Weill("Girlfriends"). These women are examining images of Jewish women intelevision and film. Our members participate by providing informationon female Jewish characters in the television shows and films theysee.
We also offer women the chance to make a difference on a locallevel. In Southern California, we have marched for reproductivechoice and against Proposition 209. We have worked with batteredwomen's shelters, collaborated with the L.A. City Commission on theStatus of Women, conducted bone marrow drives, and brought teddybears to ailing children.
We welcome all women who wish to become part of our "hipperHadassah." They need only call (310) 276-0036 or (818) 783-3488.
Soraya M. Nazarian
Hadassah Southern California Chair
Justice for Pollard
Re: Anne Roiphe's commentary on Jonathan Pollard ("Jewish LeadersMust Extract a Moral Thorn," Jan. 2): Part of Pollard's crime washaving the guts to do what most of us are afraid to do: To be Jewishfirst. When you think in this perspective, many issues may be seen inquite a different light. His allegiance and loyalty to Israel and thecountry of his birth never wavered.
We have failed in giving him recognition for his heroism in savingthousands of lives. Yes, it was heroism -- a quality most of us lack.Perhaps we are cowards as Roiphe points out, by calmly sitting inertlike wooden marionettes -- doing nothing.
Yes, we are ordinary Jews, but we are the Jewish community. So,why are we waiting for organizations to make a move on his behalf?Isn't it about time every temple, every community center, every youthgroup, every school and every single one of us, protest againstPollard's 12 long years in prison? A group of gardeners on a hungerstrike is front page news protesting the city's ban on noisy leafblowers.
Where are our hunger-strikes and our group walks to Washington?How can we live with our conscience knowing that we haven't eventried to help this magnificent loyal human being? We are the ones whoshould express remorse for allowing him to live in the cold darknessof his cell, betrayed by our inaction.
Pollard's situation reeks of anti-Semitism. Why else did CasparWeinberger throw the book at him? A coward trying to hide a few dropsof Jewish blood of his own? Wasn't there a little man with a mustachein Germany with a similar inferiority complex?
To save the life of one Jew is to save a nation, but a lifewithout freedom, does not a life make.
If Nixon was pardoned, why can't Bill do the same for our boychik?
In response to Stephen Meister's letter ("Pollard Paranoia," Jan.9): In contradiction to his claim that Jews have not rallied toPollard's defense, please note that every major Jewish organizationhas spoken out on his behalf. In addition, tens of thousands havesigned petitions asking for his release.
Jonathan Pollard is a political prisoner who has never tried topass any information while in prison. Does anyone think that after 12years in prison, he would still have any relevant information topass?
Meister ignores the fact that Pollard's sentence wasdisproportionate to the crime. He was given given more time than anyother person convicted of passing information to an ally, and evenmore than the sentences given to those convicted of spying for ourenemies.
Pollard has clearly stated that he did wrong, and has exhibitedremorse. He has served a long and painful term in prison and shouldbe released immediately.
Ellen and Bill Levinson
After reading your article on the Kabbalah Center's Chanukahfestivities ("Roseanne's Take on Chanukah," Jan. 2), I was confused.I was expecting an honest, balanced account of what happened at theKabbalah Learning Center on Dec. 28 and what I read was sloppy yellowjournalism at its sleaziest. It was very mean-spirited to describeRoseanne as a "rotund television star." Also, there was no goodreason I can think of to let us know what row Madonna was sitting in.What did that have to do with either the Chanukah play or the debateabout the Kabbalah Center?
This brings me to a couple of questions for your estimablemagazine. Why the prejudicial venom against Jews (such as myself)trying to find their way back home if they don't do so via the"traditional" way (i.e. a temple)? And what's the real agenda goingon here? What is traditional Judaism so afraid of that well-meaningJews would put such energy into splitting Jews off from each other? Ijust don't understand it.
In fact, it was this line of hypocritical thinking I sensed yearsago that caused me to leave behind mainstream Judaism in the firstplace. It's taken me a long time to find my way back and I'm glad theKabbalah Center opened its door to me at the "High Holidays" a coupleof years ago...For absolutely no charge to participate. What aremarkable thing!
Jews and Intermarriage
I read the article concerning American Jews' intermarriage rates,eloquently written by J.J. Goldberg ("U.S. Jews Aren't Vanishing. SoWhat Will We Worry About?" Dec. 19). The information about Jews"converting out" of Judaism was misleading.
The article implied that Jews converting out of Judaism are notconsidered Jewish. The author stated that a 1990 survey which found aJewish intermarriage rate of 52 percent was invalid, because itincluded Jews who declared themselves not to be Jewish. Goldberg inturn considers them non-Jews, dropping the intermarriage rate in hisown estimation to a mere 40 percent.
Jews who avow themselves non-Jews are still considered to be Jews,whether they were born as such or converted. Once a Jew, always aJew.
As a Jewish nation, we need to unite, to care for one another andsolve problems. And if we don't, we need to worry.
Regarding "Ghosts of Christmases Past" by Ed Solomon (Dec. 26):There should have been a warning on the section "1966 - The Marumba":Read in the privacy of your own office.
I was sitting with fellow employees in a quiet lunch room eatingand reading. All of the sudden, I was laughing so hard, I couldn'tstop. I think I gave three people heart attacks.
I shared the column with whomever I could and they enjoyed it asmuch as I did.
Nesha De Angelis
Regarding your article on Chevra Kadisha Mortuary's founder anddirector, Zelman Manela, being sentenced to two years in prison forstealing thousands of dollars from a deceased woman, then forgingdocuments that gave him power of attorney over her estate ("MortuaryTroubles," Jan. 2). Even more loathsome than Manela's crime is thealmost total silence of the organized Orthodox community about theethical aspects of the matter.
Rabbis are worried about the future of the mortuary and about LosAngeles not having a corps of volunteers to perform tahara(ritual care of the dead). Other rabbis defend Manela because hedonated thousands of dollars to charity each year. At his sentencinghearing in Van Nuys, about 60 observant Jews cried, prayed, and readpsalms. Two Rabbis urged the judge to grant Manela probation andcommunity service. A third fasted on the day of the hearing, anddescribed Manela as a "selfless individual" who was quick to take outthe garbage or fix a clogged sink at shul. He added: "There is shameabout what Zelman did, but there is also tremendous pride in who heis." OK, who is he? And what is he?
Memo to the organized Orthodox community: Before condemning therest of us, proclaiming to the world that we Conservative and ReformJews are not "real" Jews, clean up your own house. Or maybe it wouldbe more apropos to say, "Religious physicians, heal thineselves."
David R. Moss
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