December 20, 2001
The organized Jewish community uses its most needy members to raise money. Elderly, low-income and disabled Jews are featured in ads to attract donations. But it seems that when push comes to shove, these are not the folks whose needs are cared for by the powers that be in the organized Jewish world.
My son is 3 years old and has cerebral palsy. He can't sit up or walk. His only exercise and one of his few joys comes from his weekly swims in the heated pool at the Westside JCC. Our family does not have much money. We could never afford a house with a pool in this area, and locally there are no other heated indoor pools.
There is no question in my mind that there will be another JCC opening in a few years elsewhere in the Westside. I am sure it will be where "more Jews live." Certainly, it will be where more wealthy Jews live. And, if the goals of serving the Jewish community are having adequate naming opportunities for a new building in the area where donors live, these will certainly be met in another ZIP code.
I am not sure what the reasoning is for closing the Westside JCC. What I do know is that this JCC is serving the needs of plenty of those who may or may not be less fortunate in the Jewish community.
To whomever made this decision, shame on you.
Raquel Schnitzer, Los Angeles
I am withholding any further gifts to The Federation and will send my contribution to the Valley Cities JCC (VCJCC) as long as it is extant. I no longer have any faith in The Federation.
I attended the meeting at the VCJCC at which John Fishel and colleagues presented the situation ("Centers in Crisis," Dec. 7). I found it disrespectful of the community's needs, lacking in information regarding the origin of the problem and with little pretense at assistance in finding a solution.
I believe that by this move, many unaffiliated Jews are being turned away from the Jewish community. The JCCs are an indispensable element of the Jewish community throughout the country. My disappointment in the organized Jewish community is profound.
Sylvia Weishaus, Sherman Oaks
UJ Lecture Series
The public lecture series sponsored by the University of Judaism (UJ) could be an excellent service to the community ("The New Face of the UJ," Nov. 30). As a major intellectual center of the community, the UJ should be offering its constituents a variety of conflicting opinions in order to foster a healthy debate within the Jewish community. Unfortunately, all four of the speakers chosen will all give precisely the same views on Middle East politics.
The UJ has abdicated its responsibilities by not including at least one knowledgeable speaker as part of this series who would present the opposing view. There are certainly many qualified public figures who could do this effectively. My understanding is that the UJ believes in pluralism and giving all views a respectful hearing. This series does not reflect that philosophy.
George Lebovitz, Los Angeles
For The Kids
Bravo to Abby Gilad. The "For The Kids" page is one of my favorite sections in The Journal. I especially appreciate her sharing new ways to save energy and money (Dec. 7). Educating the Jewish community at an early age about the connection between environmental stewardship and Jewish life is of extreme importance.
Carol Felixson, Culver City
As a sixth-grade teacher at Valley Beth Shalom Day School, I applaud Rabbi Toba August's attempt to bring the words of Mishna alive for today's children (Nov. 16). Making our rich Jewish heritage relevant to our students is one of the biggest challenges faced by Judaic studies teachers. Kids and adults alike love Harry Potter, and many view him as a role model.
It was with pride that I recently watched as one of my students delivered a speech to the student body in which he connected a piece of Pirkei Avot to the characters in Harry Potter.
Zachary Lasker, Los Angeles