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September 3, 2013

Letters to the Editor: Disney Legend, Prager, Sukkah

http://www.jewishjournal.com/letters_to_the_editor/article/letters_to_the_editor_disney_legend_prager_sukkah

There’s More to Marty Sklar

I have known and been friends with Marty Sklar and his family for about 50 years. I enjoyed the article about Marty’s book and his accomplishments at Disney (“Disney Legend, Mensch,” Aug. 16). However, Marty Sklar is a multidimensional man whose accomplishments beyond Disney were truly exceptional.

I first met Marty when I was on the board of directors of Temple Beth Sholom of Santa Ana. When I became temple president, Marty served on my board, and his counsel was outstanding. He helped me tremendously in doing my job in developing policy for the growth of the temple.

As an educator, Marty was twice elected to the Board of Education of the Anaheim City School District and served two terms as board president. He was also elected to two terms of the Orange County School Board Association and was an Anaheim City Commissioner. Marty and his wife Leah are among the founders of the Ryman Program for Young Artists, a project of the Ryman-Carroll Foundation, for which Sklar serves as president. 

To sum up, Marty Sklar is a Disney creator, a committed Jew, an educator and a great friend. He truly is a mensch.

Norman D. Redlich

Woodland Hills

Sukkah Strategies

A great idea is reborn (“HomelessSukkah.com,” Aug. 16)! During the Manhattan real estate boom-and-bust of the latter half of the 1980s, an interfaith coalition built a sukkah in Strauss Park at 106th Street and Broadway. We covered the sukkah with a mixture of beautiful decorations and posters pleading with real estate developers, city housing officials and others. We provided food and drink and clothing to street people, directed them to shelters in synagogues and churches and demanded that the real estate industry address the growing presence of the homeless. We suggested that the city give the homeless an opportunity to obtain homes through sweat equity — taking decaying brownstones from demolition-status to livability via the hard work of eager volunteers who thought this a better alternative to living on heating grates in front of Broadway businesses. 

I wish you every success in your efforts to raise consciousness. 

Shanah Tovah.

Rabbi Larry Pinsker

via e-mail

Editorial note: For more information on the Homeless Sukkah Project, click here.

Critically Speaking

I wholeheartedly agree with Dennis Prager’s poignant plea to the Orthodox community to “kosher up” on ethics (“Orthodoxy and Ethics,” Aug. 16). Personal experience confirms that some of the most notorious crooks don religious articles and maintain a façade of holiness when their behaviors prove just the opposite.

I take exception to Prager’s assertion that “the Orthodox have important voices … who criticize fellow Jews on ethical grounds” but liberal Jews — Reform, Conservative and secular — do not criticize their own. This is simply not true.

In Los Angeles, Steven Leder, senior rabbi at Wilshire Boulevard Temple (Reform), addressed the Jewish community’s often excessive and inappropriate b’nai mitzvah celebrations to refute the assertion that rabbis avoid discussing over-the-top parties for children that teem with overt materialism, sexuality and alcohol abuse. David Wolpe, senior rabbi at Sinai Temple (Conservative), took the bold step of officiating at same-sex marriages even though he was chastised by members of his own congregation. Secular Jews throughout our city lead by example to strengthen a healthy environment that fosters respect and dignity for those less fortunate. 

Judaism, like structural engineering, demands measured acts of truth and justice to secure a solid foundation for all the inhabitants.

Elisa Wayne

Los Angeles

 

Dennis Prager responds: Elisa Wayne writes that it is simply untrue [that] “liberal Jews — Reform, Conservative and secular do not criticize their own.”

She gives three examples: Rabbi Steven Leder criticizing over-the-top bar mitzvahs, Rabbi David Wolpe taking “the bold step of ‘endorsing same-sex marriage’ and ‘secular Jews’ helping “those less fortunate.”

I think that the first example is a valid one. The third is not an issue of self-criticism. The second is not an example of “bold” self-criticism of Conservative/Reform/secular Jews. On same-sex marriage or any other subject, within Conservative and Reform Judaism today, no position on the left is either bold or self-critical. Rabbi Wolpe was bold and self-critical when he repeatedly admonished Jews who support same-sex marriage to recognize that Jews who continue to believe in the male-female definition of marriage are no less decent or Jewish than Jews who support same-sex marriage. Bold in Conservative and Reform today is publicly taking any conservative position.

I continue to argue that the Orthodox are better at self-criticism. The Orthodox Union invited me to speak on the subject “Why I Am Not Orthodox.” Not one Conservative or Reform congregation, let alone their movement’s convention, has ever invited me to speak on “Why I Am Not a Liberal.”  

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