Jewish Journal


August 8, 2012

Letters to the Editor: Wilshire Boulevard Temple, world hunger and editorial cartoons


Beyond the Temple’s Walls

The Wilshire Boulevard Temple expansion is going to have many vital impacts, not only for our Jewish community but for the larger Los Angeles community as well (“History Renewed,” Aug. 3). The project obviously is going to make a profound difference to the temple congregation and enrich the lives of its many families for generations to come. In addition, it will create for the greater community a place to meet, to learn and to build bridges. By way of an open door to all in the neighboring community and beyond, the enlarged temple grounds are poised to bring people together, allow the diverse people of Los Angeles to share opportunities, help each other, and come together not in theory, not through leadership-level convocations, but on the ground, people-to-people, program by program.

It is what Jews do so often and so well. We build bridges between communities through our actions, through our belief that tikkun olam embraces everyone, that it is our Jewish responsibility to treat no one as the “other,” to remember that we ourselves were once strangers in a strange land. Wilshire Boulevard Temple is leading this valiant effort, but it is not alone. 

Bet Tzedek sends its lawyers every day into the diverse communities of our city, representing all who are in need. Jewish Family Services and Jewish Vocational Services do the same. A group at Stephen S. Wise Temple has launched a summer Freedom School branch that gives low-income young people from nearby communities a unique educational opportunity. The Breed Street Shul is turning a historic Boyle Heights temple building into a monument to our past and our future as well as an invaluable community center for a largely Spanish-speaking neighborhood in the Shul’s home community. 

In short, through the not-always simple acts of showing up, being present and opening doors, the Jewish community is quietly building bridges, enriching our finest traditions and reaching into our city’s collective futures to build a lasting tapestry of diverse people that honors us all.

David A. Lash
via e-mail

Addressing the world hunger issue

As a volunteer with the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), I want to express my gratitude toward U.S. Representative Howard Berman for standing up for hungry people worldwide and supporting international food aid reform. By signing on to a recent “Dear Colleague” letter to the House Agriculture Committee Leadership, Rep. Berman’s support for a more flexible, cost-efficient and effective food aid delivery system in the next Farm Bill demonstrated crucial leadership in fighting to improve the lives of millions of people.

International humanitarian aid is a profoundly Jewish issue. According to Jewish law, feeding the hungry is not simply a nice thing to do: we are commanded to “leave the corners of your fields” and the “gleanings of your harvest” for “the poor and the stranger.” (Leviticus 19:10). That is why AJWS has made the reform of international food aid its highest legislative priority this year, as part of its worldwide Reverse Hunger campaign.

The United States is the world’s largest food aid donor, yet we currently employ an outdated model that contributes to an average 14-week delivery delay, wastes more than half of every food aid grain dollar and distorts local markets. Rep. Berman’s signature helped move our country toward a better system, one that would include local procurement and the ability to use cash instead of food to pay for program expenses and thus would allow us to reach up to 17 million more people worldwide without costing taxpayers an additional penny.

Although the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act passed by the House Agriculture Committee last week rejected these important food aid reform provisions, the Senate’s bipartisan farm bill included them: Rep. Berman’s actions demonstrated important support for reform in the House as the bill moves toward a conference committee. I urge him to continue to support programs that will help reach more hungry people worldwide.

Jonathan Zasloff
Professor of Law
UCLA School of Law

Cartoon’s Offensive Stereotype

Steve Greenberg’s disgusting July 20 cartoon portraying Orthodox Jews as bloated, obese, non-working, military exempt, separationist Charedim crushing the weight of the Israeli chair, is deeply offensive and demonstrative of the self-hating-Jewish anti-Orthodox animus that permeates The Jewish Journal. The menacing, black, faceless, grotesque Orthodox behemoth threatening Israel’s existence is reminiscent of anti-Semitic caricatures of Jews in Nazi Germany’s Der Stürmer. If the point of Greenberg’s cartoon was to show how the Orthodox population has increased from 400 to tens of thousands, then he could have drawn the second panel of his cartoon of the increased masses. Instead, he stooped to the gutter, and portrayed Torah scholars as caricatures of evil. It is simply shameful.

Baruch Cohen
Los Angeles

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