February 8, 2007
The last Danssa, Conejo eruv fiasco blamed on Jews
The article written by Karla Blume about her family business was poignant, warm, loving ("Silence Replaces Music at Folk Dancing Mecca," Feb. 2). I wish I could have visited Cafe Danssa. Although I am a ballroom dancer, I mourn the loss of any dance venue.
To add a footnote to Karla Blume's history of Cafe Danssa, Mario Casetta should be remembered ("Silence Replaces Music at Folk Dancing Mecca," Feb. 2). He also played an important role there, teaching international folk dancing every Sunday on Family Night. Many (now formerly) young folk dancers got their start with Mario. After leaving Cafe Danssa, Mario had a folk music program on KPFK-FM until his death in 1996.
First Amendment Defender
Many of us who have been privileged to know and work with the indomitable Harry Schwartzbart on the critical issue of separation of church and state are convinced that Harry was first inspired by his close personal friendship with Thomas Jefferson ("Harry Schwartzbart -- First Amendment Defender," Feb. 2).
Everyone who cares about the First Amendment owes Harry so much for his tireless efforts to keep government out of religion and religion out of government.
Stephen F. Rohde
Programs for Seniors
We were very disappointed in your article about programs for seniors in the L.A. area when you omitted Emeritus College in Santa Monica ("Programs Give Seniors Way to Fulfill Postponed Dreams," Feb. 2).
This is also a free program with a catalog of more than 100 classes in which anyone could find something in which to interest themselves. Plus, there are two Yiddish programs taught by that wonderful teacher, Archie Barkin. You don't have to live in Santa Monica to avail yourself of these wonderful programs.
Paul and Ruth Mittleman
I found your article on Jewish Renewal and those recently ordained by Ohalah very interesting ("Renewal Seeks Consistency in Its Rabbinical Training," Jan. 26).
The appeal of Jewish Renewal is difficult to explain. Author Sue Fishkoff notes that it is not a denomination but "an attempt to revitalize Jewish practice by emphasizing its spiritual depths."
The rabbis at Makom Ohr Shalom, our Jewish Renewal synagogue in Tarzana, have included those ordained by Chabad (Chasidic), Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Reform), Academy for Jewish Religion (independent) and the Jewish Theological Seminary (Conservative). I was able to relate to Fishkoff's phrase, "egalitarian neo-Chasidic."
The founder of Jewish Renewal mentioned in your article, Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi, has joined our Rabbi Debra Orenstein and Rabbi/Cantor Monty Turner to lead High Holiday services at Makom Ohr Shalom for the last 13 years. His wisdom has guided the Dali Lama and brought tens of thousands of Jews back to Judaism. We are privileged to have him at Makom Ohr Shalom for the Days of Awe.
If everyone could experience the way Renewal makes Judaism supremely relevant and meaningful, our synagogues would be full on High Holidays and throughout the year.
Project Chicken Soup
Project Chicken Soup was delighted and grateful to be mentioned in Sharon Estroff's article as one of the nonprofit organizations that could be a beneficiary of bar/bat mitzvah student donations ("At Party Time: Candy Is Dandy - Charity Is Sweeter," Jan. 12).
At Project Chicken Soup, we strongly agree with Estroff's idea to help create a deeper meaning for a child's bar/bat mitzvah by incorporating the theme into a charitable donation.
We often have students participate in mitzvah projects. This might include donating centerpieces filled with food for our clients, sponsoring a cooking, coming with family and friends to volunteer at cookings before or after their bar/bat mitzvah, organizing a food drive and asking friends and family to make donations in their honor.
One of the best ways to help children understand the importance of philanthropy is by participating in it with them. Project Chicken Soup is always willing to work with the bar/bat mitzvah family to plan a mitzvah project that fits everyone's needs.
Lion in Waiting
Why didn't you ask Mr. Barak whether his extensive military experience and high IQ amounted to anything since he was the one who directed the abrupt withdrawl from Lebanon when he was prime minister? And further you could have asked him whether that abrupt withdrawl was the direct cause for the recent war in Lebanon ("The Lion in Waiting," Feb. 2). No wonder he spoke about Napoleon when asked about the incompetence of the Israeli leadership during the war with Hezbollah.
A political leader who would cede the Temple Mount, the most meaningful and holy site in all of Judaism and be quite flippant about it, should not be considered an alternative to the corrupt incompetant politicians currently running the Israeli government.
Your coverage tiptoes around the real issue regarding the Conejo eruv: a real hatred of traditional Jewish observance, much of it coming from secular Jews.
Clearly it appears that most of the aesthetic and environmental objections to the eruv are overblown and a cover for anti-Orthodox sentiment. Some of the statements made by Jewish "community" members, both in your article and in the Daily News (Jan. 29) including the memorable "the eruv is against all life" and "while you are making stuff up, make it a little less obtrusive" would make Ahmadinejad proud.
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