Jewish Journal


February 27, 2013

Letters to the Editor: Prager, vocational skills, BDS movement, SpaceIL


Prager and Self-Esteem

In a recent article, Dennis Prager wrote an oversimplified and sweeping criticism of self-esteem (“Behavior Matters Most,” Feb. 15). He claims that self-esteem promotes the idea that feelings are more important than actions.

True self-esteem comes from a personal recognition of a job well done, of a life well lived. It brings to the individual constant, reliable internal support when storm clouds arrive. I believe that constructive action generates self-esteem, and this aim of doing good works is the goal and that this positive action generates self-esteem, not as the goal but as a byproduct of doing good works. This is true for adults in their actions and equally true for children whose self-esteem can be boosted by reaching appropriate goals, supported and aided by aware parents, teachers and even peers.

I have known Prager for many years and he has an ample supply of self-esteem. Does he believe that his feelings of self-esteem are more important than his actions? No way.

I agree that a false sense of self-importance can come from an effort to meet unfulfilled needs. But to condemn self-esteem with such a broad brush seems totally inconsistent with Prager’s persistent claims of objectivity.

Richard Gunther
Los Angeles

Editor’s note: For a response to this letter, please read Dennis Prager’s column here.

Bring Back Vocational Training in Jewish Education

This is a very important development for Jewish education (“Empowering Our Children With Vocational Skills,” Feb. 22). Although vocational training was an integral part of Jewish education at the turn of the last century and is still integrated in European Jewish schools, it has dropped out of the North American Jewish day school curriculum. Notwithstanding Zionism’s dignity of labor, we need to address the vocational and manual skills of children as part of a holistic and spiritually creative learning environment.

Michael Shire
via jewishjournal.com

Men of Distinction

Roberto Loiederman’s article captured the essence of the Brandeis Men’s Group (“Old Jewish Men and a Place to Call Home,” Feb. 22). He showed how men who had led useful, active lives are able to continue doing so after they retire. 

Our members range in age from the mid-60s and up. They were judges, doctors, lawyers, salesmen, educators and businessmen. Many were distinguished.  They include Walter Graf, a pioneer of paramedicine in the United States; Harold Savinar, the founder and owner of one of the largest luggage stores west of the Mississippi; and Gerry Sallus, one of the leaders of the General Motors team that built Sunraycer, the vehicle that won the first Australia solar-powered race.

The enthusiasm of our membership for our many activities each month and for helping Brandeis University grow its scholarship program and its scientific research centers makes the Brandeis Men’s Group a great organization.

Thank you for the excellent article.

Richard S. Harmetz, co-chair
Brandeis Men’s Group

Pushing Back Against BDS

Thanks, Jewish Journal and Jonah Lowenfeld, for an update on our Israel bashers from the Boycott-Divest-Sanctions (BDS) movement (“BDS Call Pushes California Pension Funds,” Feb. 22). Readers can Google Anna Baltzer, Estee Chandler and Shakeel Syed, executive director at the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, to see all the local mishegoss. You would be surprised to see what lengths they are going to in order to disparage the Jewish state.

But don’t despair. Find ways to help Jewish students on campus, send Jewish and Muslim students to Israel, and connect Israeli universities with their counterparts here. That’s what’s happening with Orange County Jewish Federation & Family Services under the auspices of their president, Shalom Elcott. Let’s turn a negative into a positive.

Richard Bernstein
Los Angeles

What’s in a (Spacecraft) Name?

I wish the Jewish people and the State of Israel success in embarking upon the exciting but challenging venture to the surface of the moon by 2015 (“One Giant Leap for the Jewish State,” Feb. 22). I think it would be a splendid idea if SpaceIL renamed the craft “Ramon” as its final designation in honor and memory of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who perished in the Columbia shuttle disaster.

Alexander Harold Hersh
via jewishjournal.com

Seeking Memories

Did you go to Louis B. Silver Religious School at Pasadena Jewish Temple & Center in the last 26 years? Our much loved school director, Debby Singer, is retiring. We are looking for letters, photos, and your special memories for a tribute book. Please contact executivedirector@pjtc.net for information.

Stacy Miller
via e-mail

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