March 9, 2006
Without reading a word of the inside article, I write because I am distressed about the depiction on the front page ("An Ugly Day in the Neighborhood," March 3).
I am all too familiar with many issues that cause divisiveness among Jews, secular, religious, somewhat religious, etc. Those issues merit addressing and solving. But the image on the front page of physical violence gives us Jews a face we do not want or deserve.
I grew up in the neighborhood and have always known the problems of the shul on Highland Avenue and the neighbors.... They are serious and need to be solved.
No one I know who is involved is violent and abusive in the manner your cover depicts. We divide ourselves quite well, thank you.... We don't need false images like this to add to the problem.
Your March 3 edition was superb. Many very interesting stories and an excellent in-depth, seemingly unbiased article on "An Ugly Day in the Neighborhood" that even an Orthodox Jew like myself found very informative. Keep on writing more detailed articles.
Time after time we hear and say, "Never again," when referring to World War II and the Holocaust ("French Rally Against Jew's Torture Death," March 3). As the warning signals around the world multiply and Jews continue to leave France in droves, we have reached the breaking point.
What does it mean when Muslims gather around the world, create havoc and receive in-depth media coverage over a newspaper cartoon? We, on the other hand, witness for the first time in decades the cold-blooded, brutal slaying of a Jew in a modern democracy, simply because he is a Jew, and nobody seems to care. Rather chilling, wouldn't you say?
Tyla Hamburg Bohbot
As the associate director of the American Jewish Congress, Western Region, and a former program director of Standwithus.com, none of what is happening in France today regarding anti-Semitism surprises me.
When the burning of the synagogues started more than three years ago in France, I and other members of the community picketed outside of the French consulate. We spoke to the consulate general, who at that time told us "there is no anti-Semitism in France," repeatedly.
Had he or the French government acknowledged our concerns, perhaps Ilan Halimi would still be alive. I only hope that the French government realizes the depth of its problems, addresses them and corrects them immediately.
We can not allow any more of our Jewish family to die burned, tortured and dumped out like garbage. No more excuses; no more blaming "hooligans," and no more capitulation to being politically correct.
Allyson Rowen Taylor
I am writing in response to Erin Aubry Kaplan's article, "A.M.E., Rhythm and Jews" (Feb. 24). I am a member of the Temple Emanuel Choir and participated in the evening in question, where our choir and that of Bryant Temple A.M.E. Church joined to sing in a Shabbat service. I am very glad Kaplan took the time to attend, but I differ from her on several points.
She suggests that the Bryant choir felt awkward about the way "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" was performed. I certainly did not detect that, either in the performance or rehearsal.
She objects when an usher assumes she is with the visiting choir simply because she is black. This is a valid point.
However, it is undermined when she goes on to stereotype what the response should be by a cantor to a powerful gospel number. Apparently for cantors, no physical expression of emotion is allowed.
I am glad to be participating in a dialogue between two congregations and communities in Los Angeles, and I am proud to be part of a choir where the uplifting power of music can be freely expressed. I look forward to being able to welcome Erin Aubry Kaplan to a future event.
A Dying Language
I would like to applaud Hannah Pollin, who is doing a terrific job teaching Yiddish to high school students ("A Dying Language Comes to Life," Feb. 24). I have visited one of her classes at the New Community Jewish High School and was enormously impressed with this remarkable young teacher and her eager, dedicated students.
However, I must point out that The Journal is not doing enough to assist in the revival of Yiddish as the living, vibrant language it should be. I'd like to offer a couple of suggestions.
First, that The Journal periodically list the various locations where groups of people come together regularly just to speak Yiddish. I belong to three such groups, and we all have lots of fun, and our command of the language, which ranges from paltry to fluent, improves steadily.
Also, that it introduce a regular column, written in transliterated Yiddish. I am confident that many Angelenos would like to contribute stories of recollection, either dramatic or hilarious. Other readers would probably like to write notes, commenting on the stories or correcting somebody's grammar or simply adding stories of their own.
The Jewish Journal is an excellent periodical, and here is an opportunity to make it even better. Ich hof az ihr vett meine forschlagen oifnemmen.
As a Chicagoan with L.A. ties (my daughter lives in Hancock Park), I could not help but be disgusted with the anti-Orthodox slanted piece written by Julie Gruenbaum Fax ("Ugly Day in the Neighborhood," March 3).
I call it an anti-Orthodox piece because of not only the digs interspersed throughout the piece ("those Orthodox sure have lousy aesthetic taste") but also because of the seeming equivalency of disparate claims (for example, anti-Semitism, fraudulent organizations created on the day of voting, etc., to "line jumping" and holding parking spaces for allies).
And how the writer praises a particular zoning proponent as being "blunt," "resolute" and "doesn't mince words" and yet leaves unchallenged highly illogical and farfetched explanations of her blunt words, calling the other side "bad guys" and "bogeymen" or disparate treatment of the writer explaining the pain felt by Jews on one side being called anti-Semitic and failing to explore the pain or anger felt by the other side being called bad guys and bogeymen.
However, another major deficiency of the article is its further failure to inform the reader about the genesis of the dispute, as well as of the details of some of the actual disputes themselves.
No explanation is given as to why the Orthodox may feel a shul might be necessary in an area where the nearest shuls are a 20-25-minute walk away. Or what is so terrible about the synagogue's architecture, where just across the street a house sits that looks abandoned or, frankly, how it could not take away from the suburban look of the neighborhood, when both Third Street and Highland Avenue are major vehicular thoroughfares to the extent that children have to be very careful crossing the street, and that it is almost impossible to either park on the street (for fear of being hit by other racing cars) or to back into it.
Or what is the objection to an eight-foot security fence around a parochial school in this age of AMBER alerts, when there is another school on the very next corner that seems to have a 10-15-foot chain-link security fence covered with eyesore green tarpaulin? Or what is the background for Yavneh having a limited-use permit on a site where there has always been a school and where another public school is next door?
Maybe if the writer had spent more time in outlining the source of the problem -- or at least the Orthodox perception to the problem that these questions answer -- then the readers could better understand the dispute.
Are Bushra Jawabri and Michael Bergman that naive as to think a Hamas-run government will be any different than the Hamas terror organization? ("Opportunities Exist in Hamas Victory," Feb. 24)
Hamas is only maintaining its temporary truce with Israel to buy enough time to solidify its power, build and import weapons and ally itself with like-minded neighboring countries. When they feel the time is ripe and Israel has increased its vulnerability by giving away more land, Hamas will drop the truce like a bomb, literally, and will probably be accompanied by the full military force of its allies, Iran and Syria.
Remember, Hitler laid out his intentions in "Mein Kampf" long before he was democratically elected. It took several years after he took office, however, before the Nazis implemented The Final Solution.
Like Hitler, Hamas made their intentions clear early on and have backed them up with deadly actions. Pie-in-the-sky liberals who sang the praises of Oslo, while Yasser Arafat was receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, think they can eliminate evil by offering land, a la Neville Chamberlain.
They need to learn from history and face the grim truth. Truces and land giveaways just delay the inevitable. Evil neither civilizes nor fades away. It must be defeated.
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