May 10, 2001
My children were both at the JCC during the shooting ("JCC Subject of Lawsuit," May 4). My daughter watched the incident happen and my son, according to counselors, was the next one to walk through the door into that hallway before a very smart counselor picked him up and threw him on a bus. My daughter, after watching her counselor and another little boy come running into the room after both being shot, was taken out from behind by yet another counselor and brought to the convalescent center. If this isn't staff members using an emergency plan and being prepared under the circumstances, then I don't know what is.
We all relive this incident on a daily basis. We can't go anywhere if there is a loud bang or gun shots going off without my children going into complete frenzies, and we still go for "help." I thought camp was supposed to be a fun time for our children. If we have to worry about locked doors, security and alarms all the time, then we might as well keep our children at home under lock and key. The incident happened. I am very fortunate that my children didn't get hurt physically, but we are now better aware and prepared. I feel that the JCC did the best they could during this situation. They didn't want anyone to get hurt, and they couldn't stop what happened. They have lived this with all of us who were involved.
Name and address withheld
Melissa Minkin introduces a number of the critical elements related to the nature of Jewish giving ("Jewish Giving Is Still Looking Good," May 4). In research that has been conducted by the Irwin Daniels School of Jewish Communal Service at Hebrew Union College (HUC) and by the Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy at the University of Southern California, several other factors are key to the current levels of charitable giving. The postwar generation is in the process of transferring the greatest amount of wealth in history from one generation to another, with a significant portion of these funds being directed to the nonprofit sector; as much as $12 trillion will be transferred by Jewish families and individuals as part of this movement of resources.
At HUC and elsewhere, research on patterns of affiliation and giving have become increasingly important as a means of advising community leaders, assisting institutions in their planning and stimulating new research comparing Jewish organizational patterns with other ethnic communities.
Steven F. Windmueller, Ph.D. Director, Irwin Daniels School of Jewish Communal Service Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles
The last time I checked, "They're Heeeeere" refers to demonic spirits who overran a nice suburban family in the movie "Poltergeist." While I applaud Rob Eshman's May 4 editorial about the the need to find a common and peaceful dialogue amongst Jews and the quickly increasing Muslim population in the United States, don't you think his headline is glaringly contradictory to the spirit of his editorial?
Jaynee Beckman, Beverly Hills
Only a talented writer like Gina Nahai is capable of setting on paper such sad words and making them sound like poetry in the very touching piece about a special child and his mother ("Chinese Box," April 27). Nahai reaches a level of sensitivity with a heart-wrenching crescendo as she is telling this story.
It is important to note that The Journal is focusing more and more on well-written articles about autism and other children with disabilities. Thank you.
Margaret Marketa Novak, Beverly Hills
I wanted to write to tell you how much I enjoy J.D. Smith's writing in general and his delightful recent article ("Bum Knees," April 20). It's so full of meaningful and painfully true imagery and references.
He has made a great addition to The Jewish Journal. As an aspiring writer but committed reader, I will continue to read his column happily.
Barbara Sternberg, Venice
Universal Studios Ad
Jews will never agree on what constitutes proper religious practice. But surely any Jew who believes that Judaism is a religion, not just a cultural movement, would agree that Jewish customs and ceremonies should have some level of religious meaning. That's why I was annoyed to see that The Jewish Journal would run an advertisement from Universal Studios beseeching parents to stage their next bar mitzvah at its amusement park (May 4).
Not one of their "13 reasons to have a Bar Mitzvah at Universal Studios Hollywood" has anything to do with religious practices or spiritual enlightenment. I don't fault Universal; American companies have long shown that they're great at co-opting and exploiting any cultural practice in order to earn a buck and raise their stock price. I do, however, fault The Jewish Journal for being complicit in this practice and running this advertisement.
Eric Taub, Westlake Village
On The Jewish Journal's Web site (www.jewishjournal.com) there is a link titled, "Breaking News." The news seems to emanate from Reuters, a news service which is known for a somewhat anti-Israel reporting bias. One just has to read their stories and compare to the Israel reporting sources. The factual discrepancies and characterizations are apparent.
Would it not be more effective and a greater service to your readers if The Jewish Journal used an Israeli newspaper for its "Breaking News" link? Certainly Ha'aretz or the Jerusalem Post, both with Internet and news capabilities, might be reviewed and used in this context.
Steven Fishbein, Santa Monica
Editor's Note: The Jewish Journal's "Breaking News" link connects to Yahoo! Middle East News, which contains a variety of links, including Ha'aretz and the Jerusalem Post. We believe it's best for our readers to read their Middle East news from as many sources as possible.
Rabbi David Wolpe
I take issue with the comparison of Rabbi Wolpe's statements on the Exodus to Holocaust denial in an ad and a letter in The Journal (April 27). When our learned rabbis speak Torah, they know of what they speak, but they know all too little about Holocaust denial, which is not only false, but pernicious and most often motivated by venom. Rabbi Wolpe's sermon invites engagement and dialogue, perhaps even convincing refutation. Learned persons can disagree, historians can dissent, believers and nonbelievers can take issue, but to compare his remarks to Holocaust denial is to resort to name calling. It indicates such a fundamental ignorance of the subject as to belie whatever other points my colleagues wanted to make.
Michael Berenbaum, Los Angeles
Editor's Note: Michael Berenbaum is past president and CEO of Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation and past director of the Research Institute of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The Passover issue is "freedom" and not whether the Exodus story is correct in its detail, or even if it ever occurred. The burning issue of our day is the enslavement in which millions of people throughout the world, including our own United States and the State of Israel, find themselves. Perhaps the time has come to update the traditional haggadah. Many concerned Jews already are writing their own haggadot.
Rabbi Edward Zerin, via e-mail
According to Genesis 7:17, "the flood was 40 days upon the earth." In Genesis 7:19 we learn that "all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered." In his book, "Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences," John Allen Paulos calculates that at least 20,000 feet of water over the surface of the earth would be required to cover the high mountains. In order for this much water to fall over 40 days and nights, the rain would have fallen at a rate of at least 15 feet per hour, enough to sink any aircraft carrier, much less an ark filled with animals. Does this observation detract from the validity of the story of Noah? Of course not, any more than the absence of archaeological confirmation of the story of Exodus detracts from its significance. There is certainly room in this evolving world for the efforts of science and the teachings of religion.
Avrum Bluming, Encino