March 28, 2002
Chabad of the Marina
I am shocked to hear that Rabbi Shmulik Naparstek of Marina del Rey has been fired by the head of California Chabad ("Rabbi vs. Rabbi," March 22). He and his staff work tirelessly at bringing Torah into the lives and homes of people. The dismissal of a caring, committed rabbi raises many questions that must be answered. The Jewish community in Venice and Marina del Rey deserve an honest explanation and open accounting of what is happening. Now is not the time for Jewish division! Out of love for the Jewish people in such dangerous times, I reach out to Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin and ask for open, fair treatment in this matter.
Dina Fisher, Jerusalem
Our family has been a part of what was recently known as Chabad of the Marina community for more than four years. I'll confess I was a bit apprehensive of coming into, what was for me, a far more Orthodox congregation. My fears proved totally groundless. We were all welcomed so warmly by Rabbi Shmulik Naparstek and the entire staff of Chabad that we immediately felt right at home. Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin should be grateful to have a man like Shmulik carrying the torch of Chabad.
Ed, Terry and Jake Colman, Venice
The current crisis described in your article truly pains many of us who have appreciated what Rabbi Shmulik Naparstek has accomplished in the Marina. It is my hope that Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin comes to realize that the most important thing a teacher can do is to bring people closer to Yiddishkeit, Torah study and observance.
Jeff Marder, Los Angeles
Thank you for your article on what we can do for Israel ("Ask What You Can Do," March 15). The rabbis of the West Valley Rabbinic Task Force also felt the need to do something to strengthen the bonds between American Jews and Israel. Therefore, in cooperation with 39 organizations, synagogues and schools, we are producing "Celebration 54," an Israeli Independence Day Community Event. It will be held Tuesday evening, April 16, at the Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus in West Hills. It is free and open to the public. The one-hour program begins at 7 p.m. Optional picnicking and Israeli dancing are offered prior to and after the program. We invite your readers to join us.
Rabbi Richard Camras Co-chair , West Valley Rabbinic Task Force
On Friday, The Jewish Journal came to our home, with "10 Things You Can Do for Israel" (March 15) on the cover. On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times came to our home, with a picture showing some of the graffiti Israeli soldiers spray-painted on people's homes, acts that can only be described as hate crimes.
When I converted to Judaism, I learned and believed that Israel was great, not only because it was a sovereign homeland for Jews, but also because, as a country of the people of the Torah, it was a special light to the other nations, showing the world how it could be done.
The 10 great things noted in The Journal are good. But we also need to remind our Israeli brethren of their obligation to a higher standard, beyond the base acts some other nations may do.
David Lynn, Tarzana
'Trembling Before G-d'
Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky's decision to show the film, "Trembling Before G-d,"(L.A. Trembles," March 15) and facilitate a discussion of the issues raised by the film, aptly underlines why Kanefsky personifies Jewish leadership at its very best. He consistently shows the community, through word and example, that Jews committed to Torah and halacha cannot in good conscience simply choose to ignore the very real pain and suffering of Jews, or any people, because the issue seems intractable.
Larry Gill, Los Angeles
The Orthodox community of Los Angeles should be proud to include Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of Congregation B'nai David-Judea among its ranks. By screening "Trembling Before G-d" for his synagogue and using the film as a springboard for honest discussion and debate, Kanefsky demonstrates that a Judaism committed to Torah and halacha is only strengthened by confronting difficult challenges.
David Diamond, Los Angeles
Future of the JCCs
In order to function effectively and provide meaningful programming, ("Growing Apart," March 22) the Jewish Community Center's (JCC) boards of directors need to be restored to each center, and each center needs, again, to have its own individual director. This will enable responsible lay leadership with decision-making powers to guide each JCC in effective leadership and programming, resulting in substantial increases in membership and fundraising.
Let us have this vital administrative need restored to the JCCs so that this basic fabric of the Jewish community will remain strong and fiscally responsible.
Herman Gillman Director, Chaim Weizman JCC
The Jews of Hollywood
Gene Lichtenstein's article ("An Affair to Remember: Hollywood and the Jews," March 22) about the history of the Hollywood film industry and the Jewish community's role as the original creative and financial power who essentially invented what became the most popular of popular culture, was a wonderful summary and chronology.
It would be impossible, of course, to include every significant artist in a short article, but I would like to suggest two geniuses deserving mention because they were so successful, inventive, influential and beloved: Charlie Chaplin and the Marx Brothers. Imagine film's evolution absent of their contributions.
Chuck Levin, Los Angeles
Ed. Note: We couldn't agree more about the Marx Brothers. Charlie Chaplin, no slouch himself, was not Jewish.
Jonathan S. Tobin suggests that Steve Emerson cannot be heard on National Public Radio (NPR) ("The Man Who Knew Too Much,"March 22). Emerson was interviewed on NPR's "Morning Edition" on March 22 about raids carried out by law enforcement officers in Virginia and Georgia on Islamic groups and businesses suspected of money-laundering for terrorists.
In all of our coverage, NPR news editors and producers seek the most qualified analysts for a particular story or interview. In the March 22 report, Emerson provided the background necessary for that story.
Bruce Drake,Vice President for News National Public Radio
I was quite impressed with Michael Tolkin ("Faith and Proof," March 22). It takes considerable literary imagination to equate the Kurdish daughter being killed by her father, the wacko nurse drowning her five children, and Jews bringing babies to where they live on the West Bank (so they can be killed by their religion-of-peace Semitic cousins).
Chaim Sisman , Los Angeles
I thought Michael Tolkin's "Faith and Proof" was an extraordinary piece of writing that captured the essence of sacred literature. Thank you for publishing it.
Rick Richman, Los Angeles
Ariel Sharon wants defensible borders, meaning continued West Bank occupation and Jewish settlements ("Sharon Explained," March 22). A so-called defensible border is a 19th-century concept. Suicide bombers, katyushas and car bombs don't recognize territorial borders. Fortified settlements are nothing but liabilities.
If Sharon has his way, in exchange for peace the Arabs will get nothing more than what they already have -- occupation and settlements.
If this is the best we can do, we will have failed a crucial historical test of what we stand for as Jews. Through the centuries we were the beaten and downtrodden. We kept crying out for justice and righteousness. Now, for the first time in 2000 years, we gained the upper hand over a people. And the result? We turn out to be no better than our own oppressors.
What is the answer?
Let's get back to the Taba negotiations, which contrary to Ehud Barak's "spin," were abruptly and irrationally broken off by him, not the Arabs. The truth is that the Arabs had serious counterproposals on the table which should have been explored.
Irwin Grossman, Los Angeles