You are to be commended for initiating the Tribe section ("A Moral Dilemma: 'No Country for Old Men,'" "A Rational Jerusalem"). The two articles printed in the Dec. 7 issue were equal to anything published in The Journal. Both the articles were well reasoned and had superior writing. It is a great page.
I was appalled at the articles regarding the Orthodox justification for murdering innocent animals in the name of some obscure tradition ("Schecting," Dec. 21).
It is amazing to me that in this century, anyone would claim that animals do not feel pain. That was understandable more than 5,000 years ago, when animal sacrifice was practiced. However, we have learned a lot since then about the nature of animals -- that they have emotions and feel pain, fear, terror, as well as love and joy.
Goats and cows and most other animals are sweet, docile and loving, but obviously, the participants in this gruesome, cruel activity have no interest in learning what we now know about the nature of animals but, rather, justify their cruelty by calling it a tradition.
If slitting throats is so painless, why don't we use it when we invoke the death penalty for humans? One can only imagine the furor and outrage that would create.
I think our animal cruelty laws should be enforced, and those participants should not be exempt from punishment.
In describing a kosher slaughter scene, Natalie Rosenstock cites a rabbinical student's deepened belief and "respect for the way Jews do this" and his conviction of the shochet's "holy intentions" ("Watching Ritual Slaughter Generates Strong Emotions").
There is nothing holy about slicing into a sentient being's throat and killing it, all for a moment of crass sensual gratification. Shechita is rife with blood, death and, as some studies suggest, the suffering of the animal.
Jews who pride themselves on practicing the precepts of compassion and mercy have no business deriving pleasure from such a base, barbaric act, no matter what the theological justifications given for it.
Talia A. Shulman
Congratulations to Elaine Sandberg and her new book ("Newest Mah-Jongg Players 'Crak' Stereotypes - Bam!" Dec. 21). Yes, mah-jongg has definitely cracked age and racial barriers. The game has grown in popularity, as Jay Firestone points out in his article in Lifecycles.
Last August, I accompanied my husband who participated and lectured at the International Association of Yiddish Clubs (IAYC) conference held in Cleveland. It was a four-day event, and each day at lunch time (we hurried to finish our meal early) and again often at 10 p.m., four women met in the lobby of the hotel and played "Yiddish Mahj."
One of the women suggested we play using Yiddish in place of English, and so we did. Cracks became "shpaltn," dots became "pinlekh," a red dragon was called royte drakon and the list goes on. My Yiddish-speaking husband, Hale Porter, corrected our pronunciation and vocabulary list, and we had so much fun speaking Yiddish mahj.
Spreading the word and game even further, I am teaching mah-jongg to seniors who reside at Beverly Carmel Assisted Living in West Los Angeles. It's also good for the memory and to help people to use their brain cells.
Thank you to The Jewish Journal, Elaine Sandberg and American Jewish University for spreading the word.
Sydney Turk Porter
H.O.P.E. for Many
This Dec. 26 marked 20 years since my wife died. I have found a new life, although it wasn't easy, having my first life turned upside down. This new life would not have been possible had it not been for the almost two years I spent in the H.O.P.E. Foundation Bereavement Program in 1988 and 1989.
I believe that efforts toward examining each others point of views can only help bring peace and harmony if the reporting is balanced.
When it comes to Muslims, it is to be noted that few people from the Jewish community have made any significant efforts to do deep listening. The whole relationship between the two groups remains overwhelmed by the Arab-Israeli conflict.
With prevailing attitudes of mistrust, suspicion and even downright hostility between the two, only the courageous efforts of people like Rabbi Jacob can give us hope and direction. And yet your report failed to acknowledge his inspiring message.
It is my fervent hope that your esteemed Journal will take into consideration the need to acknowledge any and all efforts that embellish hope and harmony between these locked-in-conflict offspring of Abraham.
Dr. Nazir Khaja
Chairman Islamic Information Service
After reading the article, I had to make sure it was The Jewish Journal -- not a CAIR newsletter ("Muslim Americans Feeling Snubbed in Presidential Race," Dec. 21). Are you an American arm of Hezbollah or Hamas? Just because you are a bunch of leftist Jews, don't think the they will spare you from slaughter.
If you know history, which is questionable, remember the leftist/pacifist Jews that opened the Jerusalem gates to the Arab armies during the '48 war and got their collective heads cut off for their naÃÂ¯vetÃï¿½(c) and stupidity. World War II, how many Jews had to die because of naivete, pacifistic rabbis and cowardice? 6,000,000. It wasn't until the Polish ghetto that some got brave and killed a lot of Nazis.
Now you want to go through that all over again because you never learn that the only thing evil understands is power, not capitulation. There are two entities in a battle -- the victor and the vanquished -- and we are in a battle for civilization, and I certainly don't want to be among the vanquished.
The second article was "Q&A With Rep. Keith Ellison." The Qs were all questions that you would expect from Larry King or Barbara Walters -- not one question of substance.
What is wrong with you people? Are you like lemmings jumping into the sea? Muslims are the enemy of the Jews, and that isn't going to change until they change -- not the Jew.
If you ever read the Quran, which I doubt, Sura 9 says it all: Lie, cheat and eventually convert or kill the infidel. You must confront the fact that you are the infidel.
If an illegitimate Austrian named Adolph Schicklegruber was running as a Democrat for high office, you people would vote for him and make excuses profusely for his, shall we say, eccentricities. That, my friends is a mental illness!
Being a leftist, progressive, Democrat or what ever you want to call yourselves these days is not a political affiliation but rather a severe mental disorder with suicidal ideation. Wake up before you condemn yourselves to the ash heap of civilization and oblivion.
I feel pity for you and yours.
Perhaps you guys don't want to publish unflattering letters anymore. It is unbelievable that you'd handle Keith Ellison with such kid gloves. The man is supported by CAIR (a known supporter of Hamas), and he sat unresponsive while a Nation of Islam leader spewed anti-Semitism.
In your Dec. 7 issue, you put a woman (Madonna) on the cover who said regarding the idea of converting to Judaism: "Don't make me sick." ("Not So Weird"). Are you the self-hating Jewish Journal or maybe just the peace-now, we only see our rosy glass-eyed view of life journal?
Saudis' Support of Terror
May I commend you on the first intelligent commentary I have read anywhere that seems to be on track to understand the problem our world faces related to terrorism and the concomitant issue in the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation ("It's Time to Act on Saudis' Support of Terror," Dec. 21).
As an engineer (semiretired) and a winning poker player, I know that you can only solve a tough problem when you understand the root cause. (Dealing with the effects/symptoms can, at best, only ameliorate the situation, not solve the problem.)
Your bill of particulars neatly sums up the six facts of evidence. I realize that the situation is complicated by issues such as cultural differences and the ability of despots to control the masses in many countries.
Nevertheless, I agree that the rulers of Saudi Arabia must be convinced that it would be right to take positive action and stop playing games with the free world. I agree that it is important to make the Saudis see the light.
Perhaps, we first have to convince our own leaders that your recommendation is vital to solving the terrorist threat problem and so many related problems.
The article "LACMA Gets Contemporary" (Arts in LA, Winter 2007) contained the following errors and omissions: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art's community weekend for the opening of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum is Feb. 16-18. The museum's Pavilion for Japanese Art was the last work by Bruce Goff, not one of the last. Neither donor Eli Broad nor the project's architect, Renzo Piano, chose the name "Transformation" for the masterplan for the museum's reconfiguration, it came from the museum's staff. Richard Riordan's wife is named Nancy Daly Riordan, not Linda Daly. The museum's associate vice president for press relations is Barbara Pflaumer.
THE JEWISH JOURNAL welcomes letters from all readers. Letters should be no more than 200 words and must include a valid name, address and phone number. Letters sent via e-mail must not contain attachments. Pseudonyms and initials will not be used, but names will be withheld on request. We reserve the right to edit all letters. Mail: The Jewish Journal, Letters, 3580 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1510, Los Angeles, CA 90010; e-mail: email@example.com; or fax: (213) 368-1684.