October 31, 2002
Not That Easy Being Gifted
"It's Not That Easy Being Gifted" (Oct. 25) badly distorts reality. I wish that your reporter had taken the time to visit Sinai Akiba Academy. Had she done so, she would have written a different article.
Instead, she chose to contrast what we are supposedly not doing in Judaic studies with what our sister schools are doing in general studies. Our teachers have been trained in a wide variety of active learning strategies. Coupled with various groupings and enrichment projects, these enable our teachers to differentiate instruction. The result is that we meet the needs of a surprisingly diverse student population, including many gifted children and many with identified learning problems.
We're proud of that. And we would be glad to show it to your reporter in person.
Laurence Scheindlin , Headmaster Sinai Akiba Academy
With reference to "It's Not That Easy Being Gifted" (Oct.25), I wish to advise that it was not my intention to discredit the name of Sinai Akiba Academy. The author failed to highlight the positive attributes of the school.
Jenny Gelb, Beverlywood Hebrew School Horror Stories
I could not decide what was worse: the horrendous tastelessness of your front cover or the distortions in the article "Hebrew School Horror Stories" (Oct. 25).
The truth is that the 1950s were the heyday of Jewish education. I am a child of the 1950s who attended Los Angeles Hebrew High School, the excellent afternoon Hebrew High School run by the Conservative movement. We were the most blessed of generations. We had luminaries such as David Lieber and Eliezer Slomovic as our frontline teachers. Competence in Hebrew conversation, reading comprehension, composition, spelling and grammar were gifts given us, which we graciously accepted. In the senior high division, even our history courses were taught in Hebrew. Proof lies in our success: 80 percent of the class of 1961 went on to higher Jewish education to become rabbis, cantors, educators and leaders of the Jewish community. Each denomination had such successes.
Rabbi Louis J. Feldman, Van Nuys
Dennis Prager is naive with his adoration of "VeggieTales" ("Proselytizing Through 'Veggies,'" Oct. 25). Last Purim, I purchased their video of "Esther." My children (then 4 and 6) had just learned the story of Esther in Hebrew school. After watching only part of the video, they were confused and upset. The stories were so different that they did not know whom to believe -- their teachers or the video. Nondenominational? Definitely not. With this company, Scott Hillman is correct. "VeggieTales" are biblical morality interpreted in light of Christian scriptures. Jewish parents should beware.
Alexander Werner, Studio City
Thank you for yet another article alerting us to the ever-present danger of evil Christians trying to convert us. Why is it that while Muslims around the world are referring to us as swine, accusing us of using children's blood to make matzah and calling for our death, The Jewish Journal is more preoccupied with inventing a threat from evangelical Christians?
I love "VeggieTales" and so do my children. If it is an effort to proselytize us, it is laughably weak. The messages in the videos are those of moral values shared by all civilized people. Given that our children are barraged by sex and violence, I welcome the wholesome entertainment that "VeggieTales" provides.
Cindy Jacobs, Rosemead
When I'm 44
While reading David Wolpe's column "When I'm 44" (Oct. 25), I was reminded of a story about the great leader of the previous generation, Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky. Once, while he was flying home from Israel, seated next to him was Yerucham Meshel, the secretary-general of the powerful Israeli labor union, Histadrut. Meshel noticed, as the flight progressed, that Kamenetsky was solicitously being attended to by two passengers. Upon inquiring, he was amazed to learn that the two were Kamenetsky's own son and granddaughter. Meshel confided that he almost never saw his own grandchildren. Kamenetsky explained to him that the differences between them and their offspring reflected their differing views of creation.
"We revere our forebears, for we believe that we descend from the actual handiwork of G-d, as well as from a generation of 3 million people who God actually spoke to. But you and your children, believe in Darwinism and random selection. As far as your children are concerned, you are one generation closer to apes than they are. So why honor you?"
This story illustrates that advancing in years, and concomitantly raising generations of children, grandchildren and students is a fantastic privilege. The older one gets, the more the opportunity one has to teach, to inspire, and to strengthen the next link to Sinai. I think that much more important than waxing poetically on different views of time passages, instead we need to daily consider the wonderful blessings we have been given. We need to realize and inspire others to realize that we are never trapped! We always are given choices to make.
Yehuda Frischman, Los Angeles
In the article, "Israel or Bust for Determined Teens" (Oct. 25), Yael Kessler is a student at Shalhevet High School and Sophie Fellman is Israel's emissary for the USY Far West region.
The last paragraph of "Hebrew School Horror Stories" (Oct. 25) attributed a statement to Raif Cogen. Cogen never made the statement nor any statement like it. We regret the misattribution.