January 3, 2002
Aliyah and Israel
Regarding Amy Klein's cover story ("Anti-Semitism Stirs Aliyah," Dec. 28) one cannot ignore the irony in all of this. The Arabs went through hoops and loops to stem the Jewish emigration from Russia. If there is anything they don't want is more Jews living in Israel. Yet it is Arab anti-Semitism in France that is sending French Jews to Israel. And there is plenty of Arab anti-Semitism in the rest of Europe.
This is exactly why we need Israel. This is our home and it is the Arabs who keep reminding us what Israel is all about.
Batya Dagan, Los Angeles
Teen Tours to Israel
On Dec. 2, I joined 16 other parents, representing 15 United Synagogue Youth (USY) regions in North America, on a plane to Israel. Ours was an intense and serious journey to determine the risks and value of a summer experience in Israel with the backdrop of news emanating from the Middle East.
I am committed to sending my teenage son to Israel during this year's USY Great Summer Escape. After four days of intensive meetings with government and Jewish Agency officials, USY tour guides and educators, I am absolutely confident that I have made the right decision for my son. I am convinced that no organization would send or be allowed to send our children to Israel if they believed that security was, in any way, compromised.
As our children graduate high school and move on to college, they face challenges to their identification as Jews and their commitment to Judaism and to Israel. For generations, study in Israel has been essential preparation to ensure that our children retain their Jewish identity and convey to future generations the gifts that have been given us.
I urge each parent of teenage and young adult children to commit to sending their child to Israel this summer. It is a decision that will affect the future of the Jewish people.
Robert Braun, Los Angeles
Thank you for Ellie Kahn's column ("Till Death Do Us Part," Dec. 28). So many people are either unconcerned or superstitious about preplanning funeral arrangements for themselves or loved ones.
There is no doubt when people make arrangements ahead of time, there is a tremendous sense of peace of mind, knowing that all paperwork is signed and completed. All the decisions have been made in advance, thus avoiding the usual emotional and financial overspending that occurs for the surviving family members at the time of need.
Moe Goldsman, Mortuary Manager, Sholom Chapels Mortuary
I was surprised that the article failed to include the only cemetery in Hollywood, Beth Olam, that has been burying Jews for over 100 years. Recently renovated, Beth Olam doesn't seem to have the same problems with preneed sales that the other Jewish cemeteries in the area have.
In fact, I believe that they have more preneed sales than at-need sales.
Rabbi Israel Hirsch, Los Angeles
Rabbi Dov Fischer claims that I "defend" Muslim Public Affairs Council Executive Director Salam al-Marayati for the foolish and offensive remarks he made on Sept. 11 (Letters, Nov. 30). He also implies that my contention that al-Marayati apologized for his remarks in the New York Times is less than truthful.
Al-Marayati, in the very same New York Times article, said, "I've offered my apologies to the members of our dialogue for my remarks."
Fischer neglects to mention that the article reports that "al-Marayati said he and most other Muslims were willing to accept the state of Israel if it supports an independent Palestinian state."
By deliberately presenting only part of the story, Fischer continues the Zionist Organization of America's long-standing attempts to delegitimize al-Marayati.
Daniel Sokatch, Executive Director, Progressive Jewish Alliance