November 30, 2006
Letters to the Editor
In the May 19, 2006, issue of The Jewish Journal, Editor-in-Chief Rob Eshman noted that "of the 50 wealthiest Angelenos, 27 are Jewish" and further went on to say that their total wealth was on the order of $61.8 billion. As an engineer and hence a numbers guy, I figure that's an average of nearly $2.3 billion per billionaire.
We L.A. Jews come from all sorts of backgrounds from virtually every corner of the globe and every affiliation from ultra-Orthodox to nonobservant. But in every Jewish heart and soul there must exist a bond that unites us all. I mention this after reading the dichotomy of the 27 wealthy Jewish Angelenos and the thousands of Holocaust survivors subsisting in Southern California on roughly $1,000 per month in Marc Ballon's "Poverty Stricken" (Nov. 24) I was not personally on the list that Mr. Eshman refers to, and I don't live in an affluent area like Brentwood or Bel Air, but I'd gladly send Ms. Zucker $250 to move. But of course that's not the point. It seems to me that if we, as Jews, are to put any value at all on the principles of tzedakah (charitable giving) and tikkun olam (heal the world), we need to start at home by "never again" seeing articles that describe a wheelchair-bound Holocaust survivor's inability to get $250 to move from Hemet to Palm Springs.
When Mr. Ballon quotes Todd Morgan as saying that philanthropists would gladly give to a Holocaust museum but not to the victims, I have to ask what's wrong with this picture. With the hundreds of billions of dollars shared by L.A.'s affluent Jews, one would hope that some small percentage of this wealth could be earmarked to ensure that not only Southern California's Holocaust victims, but all elderly Jews, can live in dignity for the last 10 or 20 years of their lives.
The article in your issue of Nov. 3 by Josef Avesar, explaining the concept of an Israeli-Palestinian confederation, is a thoughtful, clear, concise yet comprehensive plan for relations between the Palestinian and Israeli states that so many hope to see peacefully coexisting ("Mideast Solution: A Confederation). A great deal of careful, creative and balanced effort has been invested by the IPC to foster an open dialogue on mechanisims by which current and future problems could be resolved. When the time is right, this proposal fully merits close consideration by the parties.
Ambassador Edward L. Peck
Former Chief of Mission in Iraq
The idea of an even loose confederation needs the agreement, and the good will of both sides. Early Arab rejectionism made impossible the overtures of left and liberal Jewish leaders to get along and create a binational state.
This conflict is a burden on both sides and should be put to an end in a reasonable and honorable way. Extremism will not be the solution. Extremes are the only solutions coming from the Arab side.
I received a copy of the article by Josef Avesar on the formation of an Israel-Palestinian confederation ("Mideast Solution: A Confederation," Nov. 3). This is a well written article with detailed proposals. In fact it is similar to the EU, where it functions well. The problem, of course, is to get the two partners to agree, and Mr. Avesar will have to come up with a workable plan to initiate discussions on how to take make this plan a reality.
Bill Boyarsky, like his former bosses at the L.A.Times and apparently the Chicago Tribune, just doesn't get it ("Times Faces Tough Job," Nov. 17). The paper keeps losing readers, and they think it's because they had to cut a few staff members or hadn't changed the front page format for a few years.
Boyarsky speaks about connecting with "the widely dispersed Latino, Chinese American, Korean American, Armenian, Russian, Persian, Pakistani and Indian immigrant communities...." That's because when liberals speak about diversity, they inevitably break people down by pigmentation, sexual orientation or country of origin.
What the Times lacks is diversity of thought and opinion. It's become little more than the mouthpiece for the DNC.
Only a fool would think it's a mere coincidence that in a city that is, say, 40 percent conservative, the paper has lost approximately 40 percent of its circulation over the past six years.
Davening at Aishhhhhh
It's funny how people like David Suissa, with uncontrollable urges to shmooze in synagogues during services, somehow manage to keep quiet when sitting in theaters during movie screenings ("Davening at Aishhhhhh," Nov. 17).
I guess they consider disrupting people's entertainment from Hollywood a greater sin than disrupting their communication with God.
In David Suissa's article, "Davening at Aishhhhhh'" he begins by stating, "It's Shabbat, and you've come to pray." After reading his opinion, I couldn't help wondering what part of pray doesn't Suissa understand. And more importantly, just who does he think he is praying to. The "shhhh" is a friendly reminder to know who he is standing before.
On Shabbat, the shul is quite full. Does Suissa realize that conversations are very distracting to the congregants around him? The next time Suissa comes to Aish Hatorah, there is a 10 a.m. class on prayer, where speaking and questions are encouraged. After the class, he can shmooze with the whole congregation and then get set up with a family for a delectable lunch with song and Torah discussions.
David Suissa responds: I am amazed at how some people are taking my light-hearted ribbing of Aish so seriously, so let me just say this: One of the leaders of Aish told me that they love this kind of stuff, because it spurs them on to constantly upgrade and freshen up what they do (in this case, their davening), no matter how good it already is.Venice's Eruv
I love the Orthodox community. I believe they are doing an important service for all Jews. However, this particular community is asking the government to participate and, in essence, promote an aspect of special religious need ("Carry On! Venice Gets an Eruv," Nov. 24). Putting an "invisible wire" around a few miles of West Los Angeles is a glaring error when it comes to the separation of church and state, or in this case, synagogue and state. The Jewish people have helped make America a great country. But, in most cases, the Jewish people have not asked the government to step in and blur this important First Amendment guarantee, which is the framework to keeping all religions on an equal basis in the United States.
Unless there is an outrageous problem, the government can not be party to promoting internal religious needs, which are not required for the preservation of that religion.
Venice gets an Eruv. Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen teaches us that "tzedek" is the Divine plan that entitles each creature to receive what it needs in order to fulfill its purpose within creation. Those nesting birds, which Tom Tugend mentioned in a dismissive manner, are the endangered least terns, which nest on the beach. Hopefully no bird will die because of the strong fishing wire, metallic streamers or not.
Before making any comment about how easy it was for Sacha Baron Cohen to get Americans to reveal anti-Semitism, there is one important piece of information missing ("Borat, Seriously," Nov. 24).
How many gun dealers, bar patrons and other Americans did Cohen try his deceptions on and fail? He and the producers will probably never reveal this.
The disturbing anti-Semitism in "Borat" ruins any comedic impact ("Borat, Seriously, Nov. 24). It doesn't matter that the writer-star is Jewish.
The "running of the Jew" and the scene with the kind, elderly Jewish couple who show hospitality, among other things, really disgusts anyone with a sense of history. It is sad that the writer's taking advantage of good-hearted people could actually backfire into the anti-Semtism of the "cunning Jew".
Where are we as a society that a film with such awful anti-Semitism breaks all kinds of box-office records? When people say, "It's a farce," they don't realize that comedy always has underlying messages.
The worst thing is that a Jewish actor would do such a terrible disservice to his people with such a sickening, hate-filled film.
Significant B'nai Mitzvah
This is an excellent article from an outstanding communicator. As I was reading, I couldn't help relate to my boys' b'nai mitzvah nearly one year ago ("How Kosher Was Christy's Bat Mitzvah," Nov. 17). As the boys are growing older and wiser, I notice them further sensing the significance of their accomplishment. It has more meaning to them now than ever before. It truly was a pivot point in their lives.
It has been a true blessing having associated with Cantor Ron Li-Paz over this past year and want you to know that we respect and love him as a mentor and friend. All the best to him and his beautiful family!
Scott, Wendy, Ty and Troy Zaslove
Your article begins to put the reality to the MetroCare Plan, which was created by the DHS with minimal to no community stakeholder input ("King/Drew Closing Spotlights Health Care Crisis," Nov. 17). That being said, a critical element in reaching a sustainable health care facility in South Los Angeles must be the creation of a black-Latino coaltion. The efforts by a third party, such as our Jewish brothers and sisters to make this happen and expand it to a larger multiethnic coalition would be highly desirable.
There is strength in a united, diverse ethnic group of health professionals and community stakeholders that will [use] the new foundation for the MLK/Harbor Community Hospital as a starting point. Once in place, then the process to grow from a community hospital to a much needed minority academic medical center can be accomplished and sustained.
I applaud your efforts and those of our Coalition for Health and Justice that works toward finding the right solutions to ensure quality health care for all residents of South Los Angeles.
Dr. Robert A. Beltran
Latino Med Policy Institute
I'm a registered nurse that works at King/Drew Medical Center in pediatrics. This department is closing as I speak. The new MetroCare model that is being implemented dismisses the need for health care for women and children in that area.
It was promised that Harbor and other surrounding hospitals would take up the slack for these departments. This closure of pediatrics is already causing the children to wait many hours in our emergency room, waiting for a bed.
Harbor hospital has refused to take our children for a number of reasons, and these children are being diverted elsewhere. This means that the families will have difficulty seeing their child, because they may not have the transportation to see them. I feel the need to share this with the readers, as there will be no more witnesses to this crisis, as all the pediatric nurses will be assigned to other facilities.
This cascading of patients will soon be felt by all of us as we all scramble for any available patient beds left. It is the responsibility of our Board of Supervisors to maintain the availability of health care for all of the people of Los Angeles as it was originally intended.
They should not close these very needed units with an assumption that others will take up the slack. This hospital was created to fill the need of a community that required a full-service hospital. This is clearly reflected in the most dire of health statistics from this area.
As health care becomes the new agenda, I certainly hope that for sake of all of us, we insist that in the future, that statistics should be the guidelines for maintaining a minimun of health care access for the most neediest of Angelenos. Catherine Lefkowitz
It is a sign of desperation on the part of America's most vicious Islamophobe, Steven Emerson, to resort to deception and defamation to try to undermine CAIR's work. It troubles him to see a growing number of Muslims and Jews working together on issues of social justice, religious tolerance and civil rights. The more we directly talk to each other, the more irrelevant extremists like Emerson are going to be.
CAIR representatives regularly speak at synagogues. Rabbis and people of the Jewish faith continue to be invited to speak at mosques and CAIR events. CAIR spends a great deal of time conversing and exchanging ideas with the Jewish community. Some of most ardent supporters of CAIR and champions of human rights for the Muslim community are Jewish.
For the record, CAIR never did and will never sponsor any event that promotes any form of racism, including anti-Semitism. Specifically, as Emerson was told repeatedly, CAIR has no connection, direct or indirect, to the event he referred to in New York.
If anything, CAIR has repeatedly spoken against those who resort to negative stereotyping in order to comment on the Arab-Israeli conflict, such as when we criticized an Arab newspaper that published excerpts from the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Claiming that CAIR or I are anti-Semitic will be found ridiculous and offensive by CAIR's many Jewish members and donors who include rabbis among them. Information and not misinformation is the first step on the path to dialogue, mutual respect and trust and cooperation. When I needed to learn more about the Jewish community, I went to The Jewish Federation and to my Jewish friends. I did not go to the KKK.
I invite you to learn more about Islam and CAIR by visiting www.cair.com and more about me by visiting my blog at www.hussamayloush.blogspot.com and not from the hate-mongering of Emerson or Pat Robertson.
I know that we are not always going to agree on all issues, including the Middle East conflict. However, dialogue is the only way forward toward a just resolution of the Middle East conflict.
I am confident that most of us would like for our debate and even disagreement to remain within the civil and compassionate boundaries taught to us, respectively, by our great teachings of Judaism and Islam. It is time for all of us to reject the extremists who insist on deciding on our behalf that there is no common ground among us.
CAIR Southern California
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