November 25, 2004
Letters to the Editor
For and Against
What kinda mishegoss is that – "in place of the Torah Portion ("Behold, You Are Fair," Nov. 19)? Who died and left you guys in charge of God's work?
I realize that you're the editor of this here newspaper, and I realize that machers like Ed Feinstein, 'scuse me – rabbi machers like Ed Feinstein – and you can really push we poor readers around, but believe me Buster, you and the good rebbe have screwed up my Shabbat to a fair-thee-well.
It was my practice in my home on Shabbat to look up the Torah Portion in The Journal, conduct a brief service, read that portion in the Scriptures and then read the visiting rabbi's thoughts on what I had read. I would then have had the very best of all liturgies, in my opinion.
Now the "Holy See" cancels the Torah Portion –the Torah Portion, mind you – and in its place adopts a book club.
While I must admit it is a worthy undertaking, why didn't you place the new column, My Jewish Library, in your www [Web site] archives and leave the Torah Portion where it has been for years and where it damned well should be in my humble opinion.
A plague on all your houses.
Monroe Karl Deutsch
Thank you for expanding your commitment to literature
With some volume, the best books can naturally rise to the top, and I might finally find what I'm looking for – our Graham Greene.
I noted with interest the article on the pressing need for more funding to meet the growing needs of day schools in our community ("The $45 Million Question," Nov. 19). There is no doubt this is an important priority and hopefully the goals can be met.
However, I did find disconcerting the previous week's article about plans for a new $5 million Holocaust museum in Los Angeles ("Millions More for Shoah Museum," Nov. 12), unrelated to the Museum of Tolerance, which hosts hundreds of school groups each year. The article noted that the founders feel the new museum will be necessary to educate the younger generation.
Wouldn't the funds be better directed to the day schools, where the students receive an education in living Judaism, as well as our history, rather than a Holocaust museum that students might visit at most once a year? In a community with limited resources, we must choose our priorities carefully.
I read with much sadness the article "Millions More for Shoah Museum." I learned from this article about the Bel Air fundraiser, which is planning to raise and spend $5 million to build a Holocaust museum in the Fairfax District .
Surely, I am very sensitive to the millions who perished, my flesh and blood among them. But I also believe that we have already erected so many monuments to the past that I think the millions to be spent for yet another memorial could better be spent to assure the future of our faith and to invest these millions in building Jewish people.
How many day school scholarships could be provided to Jewish families with the millions of dollars that will be spent on bricks and mortar? Would it not be more advantageous for the survival of Judaism if we made it possible for thousands of our children to attend day schools who are now prevented from attending because of high tuition costs?
Rabbi Harry A. Roth
Demographic projections based on assumptions of the type that pediatrician Dr. Robert C. Hamilton engaged in, where the Democrats joined the ever-dying Jewish people, should be carefully examined (Letters, Nov. ,19).
First Hamilton assumes that a high birthrate among Orthodox Jews assures greater number of Orthodox Jewish adults. Most Jewish demographic studies show what the 1997 L.A. Jewish Population Study did, that four out of five Jewish adults raised in Orthodox Jewish households are not currently Orthodox.
Hamilton would do well to observe the growing phenomenon in Jerusalem of runaway and thrown-out preteen and teen children of Orthodox households, where apparently not every child is a wanted child.
The second assumption about the use of abortion by liberal Jews is also faulty. The low birthrate among non-Orthodox Jews is directly attributable to later age of marriage and high levels of contraceptive use by unmarried Jews. If Hamilton were a fertility specialist, he would no doubt meet in his practice mostly non-Orthodox Jews who are willing to pay large sums to have a child or another child that they very much want.
Having a family before establishing a career is often associated with lower income and poverty for Orthodox Jews and non-Jews alike. If a lower income level is indicative of whether one tends to vote Democrat, then one could argue that Orthodox Jews will be supplying the Democratic Party with voters well into the future.
Phillips & Herman Demographic Research
If one wants to understand the electoral failure of the Democratic Party, one need go no further than the contrasting attitudes displayed by H. David Nahai ("A Question of Morality," Nov. 19), a supporter of Sen. John Kerry, and Sam Kermanian (Letters, Nov. 12), who served as co-vice chair of the Bush Cheney '04 California campaign.
Both are activists in the Iranian American Jewish community. But while Kermanian calls for the Jewish community to set aside partisanship and return to working "shoulder to shoulder, with the utmost in respect and security," Nahai opts for continuing to promote divisiveness.
Nahai dismisses fully 23 percent of the American electorate (a number far exceeding the total Jewish population of the United States, much less the number of Jewish voters for Kerry) as the "religious far right." He accuses "Bush emissaries" of "shamelessly denigrating" Kerry's support for Israel, when even liberal stalwarts, such as Martin Peretz, publisher of The New Republic, expressed grave concern for the impact on Israel of Kerry's foreign policy positions.
As a lifelong Democrat who voted to re-elect the president, I can personally testify that the hysterical and dismissive discourse of partisans such as Mr. Nahai will continue to drive Democrats out of the party.
Ralph B. Kostant
We were dismayed to read Steven Windmueller's comments about the closing of the Jewish Community Center in Los Feliz in Gaby Wenig's article ("Wilshire Boulevard Gambles on Future," Nov. 12). Reports of the death of the Los Feliz (now Silverlake Independent) Jewish Community Center (SIJCC)are premature. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
The SIJCC has more than 90 kids enrolled in early childhood programs; we have two Parent & Me classes; our Shabbat celebration includes a five-piece band and is timed for parent participation; we have an exercise program; we have a book club; we have enrichment classes like ballet, yoga for children and karate; we have major Jewish holiday celebrations; and special events and fundraising like our winter fair, silent auction and more.
We invite everyone at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple to visit our center and help support the SIJCC.
Thank you for your article ("Support Still Lags for Special Needs," Nov. 12). I want to make sure your readers also know that for almost three decades, support for Jewish adults over the age of 18 with special needs has been provided by Chaverim.
Special needs children spend more of their lives being adults than children, and through the Jewish Family Service Chaverim program, they can enjoy Jewish activities, including Shabbat dinners, Passover seders, adult b'nai mitzvah and an annual Brandeis-Bardin Shabbaton.
Services to Chaverim members and their families are enhanced by collaboration with other parts of the Jewish community through an annual HUC-JIR [Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion] rabbinic intern and by the smooth integration into Chaverim of graduates of the Valley Beth Shalom Shaare Tikvah religious school
Cuba Travel Ad
I'm disappointed that The Jewish Journal is accepting advertising promoting travel to Cuba. Visit Cuba and experience the remnants of the Jewish community there. Stay in a luxury hotel; enjoy the wonderful beach, etc. (Nov. 5).
The Cuban people are not allowed to stay in these hotels or visit the beach, of course. Not for their pleasure. Some, of course, work at the hotels and beach concessions or as prostitutes, selling themselves for as much as a dollar. If they complain, they get to visit jail.
Most of the Cuban Jewish community is in exile, having fled Castro's murderous regime. The Journal should adhere to Jewish values. A visit to Cuba benefits only Fidel Castro who I am sure is currently mourning the loss of his good friend, Yasser Arafat.
The Journal should be better than this.
I am not sure where the statement, "Gay marriage doesn't matter if you are dead. Islamists kill gays. Bush doesn't," is coming from or why it is emphasized (Letters, Nov. 12).
Should I be glad Bush is president (albeit under shady circumstances), because he is not actually killing gays but is only conspiring to get our Constitution amended to discriminate against gay taxpayers and citizens?
Bush is in lockstep with Christian fundamentalists, such as [Jerry] Falwell and [Pat] Robertson who are every bit as intolerant and fanatical as any fundamentalists, regardless of their religion. The continuous gay-bashing by the media preachers and by many Republican members of our government has nothing to do with values (other than the value of money) but everything to do with money, control and power.
Perhaps it is time for citizens who actually understand what values are to tell the religious right to stop using their religion to do deliberate harm to a class of their fellow citizens. Or perhaps that would be too much to ask.