October 5, 2006
The Pearls’ bittersweet symphonies; Who shall die; An evangelical Yom Kippur
...and the continuing saga of Democrats vs. Republicans, plus 'you won't print this one!'
The Pearls' bittersweet symphonies
Dear Friends and Family of Daniel Pearl, I wanted to say, how touched and inspired I am by Daniel Pearl and his family: Judea, Ruth and Maryanne ("Bittersweet Symphonies," Sept. 29). His legacy will live on and be a shining light to the world.
Grand Junction, Colo.
And the dove called
Your Yom Kippur issue had many great articles, but the one that moved me to tears was Anne Brener's beautiful description of going back to her flooded hometown to be of service, alongside her poem urging all of us to keep our hearts open to form circles of witness and consolation wherever we might be ("...And the Dove Called," Sept. 29). She is a national treasure and I hope if anyone didn't get a chance to read her poem/prayer "Unatana Tokef," please go back to read it and carry it with you each year. It is one of the finest expressions of Jewish strength and compassion I've ever seen.
West Los Angeles
I have been a member of a conservative synagogue all my life. In the mid-'60s, I lived in the Midwest and was the president of my USY chapter. In my community, my rabbi was the first clergyman to speak against the Vietnam War. In fact, the rabbinate took a lead role in protesting that horrible conflict.
Now I live in the San Fernando Valley. At our High Holiday services this year we heard words about anti-Semitism in the world and genocide in Darfur but, unfortunately, the white elephant in the room was entirely ignored. I believe the white elephant is being ignored as a conscious choice.
The moral issues of our time are not only our country's continuous presence in Iraq but issues emanating from that conflict.
For the most part, synagogues throughout the country (and their leadership) have been silent on these monumental issues.
Why? This disappoints me greatly. If my religion does not speak up now then I question its value altogether.
Martin H. Kodish
Who shall die?
I can't read those Sunday L.A. Times military obits without choking up ("And Who Shall Die," Sept 22). One a few months ago about a good-natured, gentle 19-year-old kid from Huntington Beach who loved to surf Trestles and Swamis with his high school pals stuck with me. Every time I drive down Highway 1 past Swamis in Encinitas and look out at all the wet suited surfers I think "He should still be surfing, not dead in an unjustified war."
If even one more person starts reading those obits because of your column, you'll have done a major mitzvah.
Sharon Rosen Leib
An evangelical Yom Kippur
I write to clarify a quote from last week's article on the Rev. Kevin Dieckilman ("Pastor Stages Yom Kippur Service for Evangelicals," Sept. 29). I find Dieckilman's use of Jewish rituals and symbols on Yom Kippur historically significant insofar as he is not seeking to convert Jews. That would indeed be a novelty. If in fact the goal is conversion, then I fear that we are witnessing an old and unfortunate supersessionist tack.
David N. Myers
UCLA Center for Jewish Studies
Unlike many readers of The Jewish Journal I am pleased to see the ads from the Republican Jewish Coalition. It's high time we Jews aligned ourselves with the party that is actively fighting Islamic extremism and correctly supports Israel's right to defend itself.
I can't help wondering whether those opposed to the ads have bothered to take inventory of the company they keep. More often than not, those against American foreign policy are Pro-Palestinian, left-leaning apologists for Islamo-Fascism. The charge that Republicans are fear-mongering or trading off imagined threats is beyond the pale. Would these same charges be leveled against the Israeli government? Are their fears not justified? Is the terror they face not real?
It's more than a little disappointing that two generations removed fromthe Holocaust there remains an alarming number of Jews who do not recognize the enemy and who will not fight the enemy.
I am not one of them.
Left-wing intolerance and personal attacks continue to characterize the anti-Republicans. They throw mud, and then complain about dirty politics.
The level of hysteria and irrationality expressed in the letters criticizing the recent ads sponsored by Republican Jewish Coalition is really over the top. The ads are factual. The quotes from former President Carter are exactly that -- verbatim quotes.
Whether or not the war in Iraq was a good idea or well-executed is no longer the issue -- at this point in time, an anti-war, isolationist-motivated pullback from the Middle East would be disastrous for the United States and the state of Israel, which is exactly the direction that Democratic Party is headed and is why they tossed Lieberman out. Maybe the future of Israel or whether Iran is allowed to develop nuclear weapons is less important to some readers than other issues, such as abortion or school choice, but you can't always get everything you want in politics. I know where my priorities are.
Richard A. Horvitz
Mayfield Heights, Ohio
So the Jewish left is upset that the RJC points out how Democrats have broken the bipartisan consensus in support of Israel. Well, they are all just following their leaders. Democratic party chair Howard Dean pronounced moral equivalence as our Middle East policy, and Bill and Hillary Clinton frequently hosted and even embraced Yasser Arafat and his wife.
The truth hurts, Democrats!
Enough from leftist Jews who remain uninterested in the truth about anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
First, when AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee] and the RJC [Republican Jewish Coalition] and the mainstream Jewish community supported congressional legislation to oppose U.S. funding of Hamas, Americans for Peace Now and other groups whose policies have long been discredited, lobbied for funding Hamas, confusing lawmakers.
Next, while The Jewish Federation and American Jewish Committee and StandWithUs and a host of Jewish activists opposed the L.A. County Human Relations Commission Award to Dr. Maher Hathout, who has labeled Israel an apartheid state full of butchers, the Progressive Jewish Alliance supported this disgrace. Finally, we cannot open up The Jewish Journal without reading letters bashing Christians. We know all about the Inquisition and Crusades of centuries ago in Europe. We also know America's Christians today are a tremendous supporter in keeping Israel safe from Radical Islam, European boycott, the nefarious International Court of Justice, and a hate filled United Nations General Assembly.
Our non-Jewish neighbors shake their head in disbelief at the stubborn attitudes of aging Jewish liberals.
Each week The Jewish Journal is straddled with letters on which of the two "old line" parties represents the best interests of American Jewry. May I offer the obvious thought that neither of them, Democrats or Republicans, are anything to "write home about" and we'd all do well to be rid of both corporate parties! Neither party has done much of anything to provide meaningful health insurance for all Americans, turn around the terrible state of affairs whereby less than 30 percent of innercity African American males even bother to graduate high school these days, or reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil.
If we really want the United States to be strong enough to continue to be the one true friend the Jewish State can count on American Jews would abandon the both the Democrats and Republicans and work for a real alignment in U.S. politics.
David L. Blatt
Let me see if I have this correct:
The Democrats litigate an election (2000), filibuster and demagogue quite decent judicial nominations (Justices Roberts and Alito), obstruct any reform and electioneer by fear (social security), lie about the budget deficit and threaten impeachment if they take the House.
Democrats also call the president a loser (Sen. Harry Reid), Republicans a party of white Christians who do not work for a living (Chairman Harry Dean), Iraq a mistake (ask Israelis if they are glad Saddam is gone) and refuse to co-sponsor the vote for Israel at war (Rep. Nancy Pelosi).
Then, when the Republican Jewish Coalition raises concerns about the declining support on issues important to Jews and Israel by the Democrat party, which hosted Arafat at the White House 23 times (President Clinton), they call the GOP partisan.
The Jewish Journal then prints mean-spirited letters attacking the RJC. I wonder if you will dare print mine.
Your Sept. 22 book review noted that during the late 1940s, my uncle, boxing champion Barney Ross, "ran guns to Israel and tried to set up a Jewish-American brigade to fight in the Middle East at the time of Israel's War of Independence" ("In the Ring, at the Front, Boxer Barney Ross Packed a Punch").
But that was not all that Barney did for the Jewish people. Thanks to research by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, we know that several years earlier, during the Holocaust, Uncle Barney was active in the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, also known as the Bergson group. These activists used full-page newspaper ads, public rallies, and Capitol Hill lobbying to pressure the Roosevelt administration to rescue Jews from Hitler.
In fact, one of the first things Barney did after returning to the U.S. from his military service (where he was decorated with the Silver Star for rescuing wounded comrades from the battlefield at Guadalcanal) was to donate his mustering-out pay to purchase tickets for 150 U.S. soldiers to attend a fundraising event that the Emergency Committee held at Madison Square Garden in early 1944.
My uncle's accomplishments outside the ring were as important as the boxing skills that won him the junior welterweight, welterweight, and lightweight championships in the 1930s.
Barney Ross fought the good fight, inside and outside the ring. He fought for America in World War II, and he fought for the Jewish people in his efforts on behalf of Holocaust rescue and Jewish statehood. That is a powerful and inspiring example for today's Jewish athletes to follow.
Holocaust Community Services
Cost of Judaism
Being a Jew, not spiritually rather monetarily, is costly! The Jewish religion dictates that not one should ever be turned down or sent away if one arrives to the "House of God" to say a prayer.
However, during High Holidays, most of the "prestigious" synagogues turn down and send away Jews who come to say High Holiday prayer but do not hold a ticket. Not everyone can afford having a membership in a synagogue or the least a ticket to High Holiday services.
Since when did God demand one must buy a ticket to allow one to participate in a prayer at his home?
I do not know any church that will turn a believer coming to pray on Christmas Day. Do you?
We all understand that the upkeep of a synagogue is high. However, did any rabbi or Jewish leader ever give a moment of thought that the more people they turn down or send away on High Holidays, the more risk they take in losing more Jews who simply try to belong? And we complain about assimilation?
The Jewish leaders, and the bureaucrats who manage synagogues, are the cause for our diminishing numbers.
Time has come to make a change in approach. Keep the synagogue doors open to everyone whether they hold a "membership ticket"or not. Allow everyone the few hours of prayer no matter what! Or our numbers will become far less!
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