July 10, 1997
I have just read the article "Bilingual Blues," by Joel Kotkin in the June 20 issue, and agree with him in supporting the initiative "English for Children," provided the assimilationist ideology of the "one nation" concept is deleted from the measure.
I am a credentialed elementary school teacher with the Los Angeles Unified School District, and have substituted in dozens of elementary and secondary schools, including bilingual classes. Although the children in the bilingual classes generally can make themselves understood verbally by the fourth grade, their English literacy is very low. Many children never transition out of the bilingual program, and when they arrive in middle school, they find it very difficult to succeed in classes where they must comprehend textbooks, write, and be tested on the material in English.
What some liberals do not understand about the bilingual program, is that in most schools, it is not truly bilingual. It is monolingual Spanish, with approximately half an hour of English as a Second Language.
One reason the schools are eager to get and keep students in bilingual classes is that schools are subsidized for each child in the program. In addition, the Chicano-rights activists are behind the program in order to provide more teaching positions for Hispanics, many of whom are not credentialed teachers. Yet, as bilingual teachers, they receive an additional $5,000 per year.
I believe multicultural education is necessary to create an understanding environment, where children learn about, appreciate, and respect each other's cultural differences, while having pride in and keeping their own ethnic identity. Therefore, if the "English for CHildren" measure will appear on the ballot in June 1998, without the added homogeneity ideology, I would support it, and urge others to do the same.
Joel Kotkin, in his article "Bilingual Blues," (June 20) writes about the Unz initiative to teach all our children in English.
What both Unz and Kotkin fail to recognize is that it is our horrible lack of teaching the English-speaking children a foreign language. We need "immersion," but an immersion program that teaches Spanish-speaking kids English; and English-speaking kids Spanish or some other language like Russian, Hebrew, Korean, Japanese or French
We are cheating all of our children when they are unable to speak a foreign language as well as English. We should start teaching all of our children a foreign language in kindergarten when they are very receptive to learning a language.
Every one of us should be bilingual. I would hope that in Jewish education, we teach our kids Hebrew as well as English. &'009;
Orthodox Women Rabbis
I can hear the heavens thundering in glorious response to Alexandra Leichter's article ("Orthodox Women Rabbis," May 30). "Yes, yes, yes!" the Holy One, blessed be He, exclaims, "My children are righting the terrible injustice within their community! They finally recognize Me as the Protector of the oppressed! And at last all My daughters can worship me with all their hearts and minds in their study of the holy texts! Well done, My sons and daughters!"
Haviva Ner-David has great courage, and so do you, Ms. Leichter. Yasher koach!
A response to Alexandra Leichter's article about Orthodox rabbis:
Her words are an insult to the many rabbis, living and deceased, who have always decided Jewish law only for the sake of truth and not to promote their gender bias. To imply that a rabbi such as Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, a dean of rabbis worldwide -- a man known for his saintly actions on behalf of men and women, Jew and non-Jew -- would not help any person to the best of his ability within halacha, is the extreme of feminist propaganda. This undermines the entire mesorah, tradition of Jewish law!
Moses was a man. Does that mean our whole Torah is "male warped," God forbid?
My heart (and at times my personal assistance) goes out to women whose husbands have refused to free them. We are living in galut, exile. Therefore, Jewish courts don't have the enforcement powers mandated to them by the Torah which would solve many of these cases.
Attacking our rabbis will not help solve these terrible problems, but just extend our exile.
Rabbi Yehuda Lebovics
Like I'm sure a lot of Jewish people did, I went to the Jewish Festival on June 1. While I really enjoyed seeing everything there was to see at the festival, it really made me sick to see the incredible amount of greed and price gouging that was evident at the festival.
To cite a few examples, let's start with the unbelievable gall of the festival charging $5 per adult and $2 per child. This to me is price gouging at its very finest. Yes, I do realize that it cost money to put on the festival, but there were sponsors (lots of them), and I'm sure the exhibitors kicked in their share. But to gouge the very people that the festival was put on for, is not only wrong but just plain greedy.
Other examples: the festival was charging $1 for soft drinks and bottled water when it probably cost them 30 cents each. These are the prices you expect to see at Disneyland and Universal Studios, not at the Jewish Festival. The festival was also charging $15 for t-shirts that two years ago, were selling for $10, and a few years before that, they were selling for $7.
I think it is really a sad state of affairs that, because of the festival's greed, everybody who attended was gouged. To me, it defeated the purpose of the festival and it really makes me ashamed of being Jewish and living in Los Angeles.
Jonathan Cookler, Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance president, and Dan Shuster, chair of the 1997 Valley Jewish Festival, respond:
"After the many positive responses we've had to the Valley Jewish Festival we were surprised and saddened to learn of Mr. Gould's disappointment. Perhaps some clarification of festival objectives and operations will help to explain how prices were determined.
"The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance's goal, first and foremost, in producing the biennial Valley Jewish Festival was to provide the opportunity for Jews of diverse backgrounds to join together as a community in celebration of our precious heritage and manifold traditions. To this end, some 30,000 people of all ages attended the festival on June 1.
"The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance recognizes its responsibility to the Jewish community to spend communal dollars wisely to provide services to those in need. Therefore, it is our responsibility to make sure that as few of our community dollars as possible are spent in producing the festival. We do everything that we can do to assure ourselves that the festival runs without a deficit.
"The Valley Jewish Festival is made possible thanks to the efforts of more than 300 volunteers drawn from throughout the community. The festival planning committee, in particular, worked for two years to prepare the recent festival, endeavoring to make the event as inclusive as financially feasible without incurring a severe deficit.
"We are deeply grateful to each and every corporate sponsor of the Valley Jewish Festival. Thanks to their support, we were able to put on a high quality festival without running a deficit. But please understand that their contributions cover only a portion of festival costs.
"The Valley Jewish Festival was not a fundraising event. The festival, even with all of the volunteers and sponsors, did not generate additional communal dollars for our community to spend on services to those in need, nor did we have to spend communal dollars in producing it.
"As we begin to formulate plans for the next Valley Jewish Festival in 1999, we are sincere in our invitation to Mr. Gould and everyone else who would like to volunteer their time and energy to create an event of which we can all be proud."
Out of Context
I was very upset about the Jewish Journal's article about the "Distant Friends" video project put on by the Jewish Television Network ("'Distant Friends' Reunion," Apr. 25). The article (and the video) distorted the truth. While I was not misquoted, the context of my answer was not clearly stated. When I answered, "it is hard to keep kosher in social situations," and, "it might be hard to find someone Jewish to marry," I was responding to the question: "What kind of problems do you think a Jewish teenager might encounter in modern day America?" The article made the quotation look like a personal response to a personally directed question, when in truth the question was general.
A subsequent letter to the editor used my statement as an example of what Jewish youth are thinking ("Where is the Future?" June 13). It might make for good press but it is far from the truth. It is a shame, and embarrassing for me and my family, that the Jewish Journal reporter did not record what I told her at the debut screening, where I publicly disputed what I had said in the video. The reporter failed to include my additional statements in her article, therefore distorting my true feelings on these important matters.
For the record, I would like to say that my personal views do not accord those of the quotes.
Ezra Meir Meppen
The wrong phone number for Etta Israel Center was given in last week's article, "No Longer Alone." The correct phone number is (213) 852-3222.