February 17, 2005
Letters to the Editor
Let's look 20 years into the future. Who will be our community leaders ("What's Next for Shalhevet?" Feb. 4)? They will, by and large, be students from schools like Shalhevet High School and Middle School, because there they learn that when a community paper prints a four-letter word supposedly spoken about them by some misguided, anonymous person, the students are to work with their school's external relations committee to address the problem.
They learn through weekly town hall meetings that having a voice means taking responsibility and leading a group can be hard work.
Their school is constantly under attack by misguided community members that occupy themselves with how to destroy another's vision, rather than building for the future.
These students are in training for adulthood, and they will thank Jerry Friedman for creating a positive environment that nurtures their growth.
Had there been such schools in Europe 80 years ago, there may have been many more survivors. Sure, the school has challenges, as does every institution, and the administration is actively working through them.
But the editors who reviewed this article also have problems. They have no idea that there are educational consequences to repeating cruel words about young adults in print.
Your recent article was a real eye-opener. Since when are unattributed quotes, name calling and gossip allowed into print? As a journalist, my editor requires I only quote sources willing to share their name. Doing any less is irresponsible to the reader and potentially slanderous to the topic.
It was amazing that the wrongdoing purportedly done by another school was put into print, let alone anonymous parents quoted. In my opinion, an apology should be printed.
As parents of two current Shalhevet students, we were disappointed with the lack of balance in Julie Gruenbaum Fax's article. She implied that all families she had spoken to believed that despite Shalhevet's wonderful vision, the school's problems forced families to leave.
That certainly is not the case with us, nor with most other families we know. Yes the school has weaknesses. Name one that doesn't.
But the school's values and dedicated and gifted teachers easily outweigh whatever problems are present. Our children not only are learning at a high level, they are participating in such enriching activities as Model U.N., high-end drama, playwriting and film studies. Unlike other Orthodox high schools, Shalhevet encourages seniors to join with the broader Jewish community in going on the March of the Living.
We love the school; our kids love the school, and your article implies that families like us simply don't exist. We do, and we refuse to be marginalized or forgotten.
Fran and Joel Grossman
This is my 11th year as a teacher at Shalhevet. I am appalled by your article, "What's Next for Shalhevet?" Ever since I came here, I have been amazed at the supposedly religious people who commit such lashon harah against our school.
I vociferiously protest that you printed a third party's hurtful slander on our wonderful girls. Despite a nine-and-a-half hour school day, our girls perform hours of community service in synagogues and other organizations.
Recently, two girls started a committee to aid people in Darfur. In town meeting, they made a presentation that emphasized that as Jews, we cannot [ignore] others who are persecuted. Shalhevet girls are bright, articulate and concerned with the world around them. I cherish them all.
Your writer's heavy dependence on anonymous sources is unprofessional and biased. Who is the "prominent community leader" quoted at such length? What is this person afraid of? The implication that there would be some sort of reprisal is another form of lashon harah.
In over 25 years of teaching, I have never worked with a better faculty, staff or student body than those at Shalhevet. I am honored to work here.
As a single Jewish woman over 40 years old, I want to express my frustration, concern and disgust regarding the lack of outreach support on the part of Rabbi David Wolpe, The Los Angeles Jewish Federation, the University of Judaism, etc., in helping singles over 40 years old find spouses ("The Mating Game: What Is the Jewish Community Doing About the Singles Problem?" Feb. 11).
I began to experience this discrimination in my late 30s, when the Los Angeles singles events cut off at age 42. The problem with the arbitrary age limit is that a 45-year-old guy wants to meet women in their 20s to 40s but can't if you cut off the age limit. A woman in her late 30s wants to meet men in their late 30s to 50s but can't if you cut off the age limit. And a single woman in her 40s is open to meeting men in their 30s to 50s but can't if you cut off the age limit.
Organizations such as Stephen S. Wise offer singles programs for 40s-60s. But why would a single 42-year-old woman or man want to attend? There won't be any people in their early or mid-40s at the event.
You are all unknowingly contributing to the abundance of Jewish singles in Los Angeles, and it's not right. Other cities don't discriminate. Who are you to decide what age range is right for us? All singles organization should have activities for the 30-55-year-old age range.
I liked your article on the "L.A. Lonely Hearts Club" ("The Mating Game: What Is the Jewish Community Doing About the Singles Problem?").
What about single people who are in their 50s and 60s?
Besides myself, a single female who is 61 years old, I know of several others who are around 60 who can't seem to meet anybody.
I did the Friday night services thing and found mainly families at the services (and nobody seems to want to associate with single people); went to singles (Jewish) dances, etc. and finally gave up even dating.
It's been quite a few years since I have gone out on a date. I live by myself, have never married, don't have many friends, don't go to places at night since I don't like going out at night by myself and I will not drive freeways (I live in the San Fernando Valley).
Where are the singles groups that have people who are about 60 years old? I am not an old person or think old or even look 61.
A few years ago, I even signed up through The Jewish Journal and put an ad in the singles section of the newspaper. I met two men; both turned out to be not what they said in their ads.
At this point, I am completely out of the loop for meeting any decent, single and sincere men who are really interested in dating.
Rabbi ReuvenFirestone is correct when he points out that Muslim groups have condemned acts of violence ("Rabbis, Imams Find Common Ground," Feb. 4). Many Muslim-American groups have done so (cair-net.org/html/911statements.html).
In addition, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Web site contains a petition (Not in the Name of Islam) vigorously condemning terrorism and violence. So far, more than 687,000 Muslims have signed the petition.
Stephen Krashen Malibu Is France Hopeless?
Two recent books argue that France is not our ally ("Is France Hopeless?" Feb. 4). "The French Betrayal of America" and "Our Oldest Enemy" both explain that France sees itself as a neutral third pole (at best) between radical Islamism and the USA.
Fortunately, Jacques Chirac is now being confidently challenged as pathetic by Britain's Tony Blair and as a failed anti-American by likely electoral challenger Nicolas Sarkozy.
Choose carefully, France. French citizens did once inspire and donate to the Statue of Liberty. They were the kind of liberty-loving fans of the United States whose ideological heirs today disdain and emigrate from a declining French nation of socialists and anti-Semites.
Rob Eshman's article is a fairly comprehensive report on the situation in France. However it leaves out many salient points about what certain American Jewish organizations have done and continue to do to alleviate the situation.
It was the American Jewish Congress (AJCongress) call for a boycott of the Cannes Film Festival to protest the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in May 2002 that really concerned the French government and initiated a change in their policies.
Even before the election which brought a new conservative government to power, President Chirac called Ariel Sharon to enlist his efforts to get the AJCongress to back off their pressure. Interesting twist where Israelis are used to pressure American Jews – the opposite of what normally happens.
Eshman is right when he reports that disaffected and nonintegrated Muslim youths have used the streets of France to play out the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Union des Patrons et Professionnels Juifs de France has made contacts with moderate Muslims, especially the Kabils, non-Arab Muslims who number more than 1 million in France who are integrated and resist violence and radical Islam.
He also is right that it is questionable whether Jews will ever be fully welcome in France. However, it is through efforts and initiatives such as the AJCongress has undertaken that will make it more possible.
Gary P. Ratner
Overall, Rob Eshman's column, "Is France Hopeless," was quite informative. Irrespective of the premise of the article, I did disagree with the labeling of Barghouti as an activist, when in fact, he was proven guilty of multiple murders in an Israeli court of law.
In the feature by Kelly Hartog ("Project's Tunes Hit Multicultural Notes," Feb. 11), the article incorrectly states that Idan Raichel was of Ethiopian descent.