March 6, 2003
Professor David Myers showed his true colors in his reply to StandWithUs when he wrote that the "Palestinians" are not entirely to blame for the conflict (Letters, Feb. 28). He reminds me of the familiar grade-school educator who never noticed bullying, but always berated the victim for striking back; and when answered with, "But he...," would say, "Now, now it takes two to make a fight."
Of course it does: one bully and one victim! But only one of them decides on conflict or peace: the bully.
Louis Richter, Encino
As a student, I can attest to the overwhelming abundance of one-sided, hawkish information being disseminated by groups such as StandWithUs and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Rather than providing a balanced perspective on the Middle East conflict, these groups capitalize on students' fear of anti-Semitism and overemphasize Jewish victimhood.
Unfortunately, this type of manipulation also permeated a Jewish Forum on Public Policy. The conference's discussions on Israel promoted the most militant perspective and appallingly demonized Muslim and Arab students. I would expect a Jewish forum on public policy to provide a more diverse sampling of political perspectives with regard to Israel.
I fear the atmosphere in the Jewish community has provided an environment for students that is both intellectually stifling and unreflective. As a result, we are losing sight of the complexities of the conflict and the careful nature with which it must be handled. One-sided propaganda needs to be replaced with informed debate both within our community and others. It is time to substitute purely defensive advocacy with the pursuit of positive solutions to the conflict.
Jaime Rapaport ,Los Angeles
I read Rob Eshman's column ("This Week," Feb. 28) and was disheartened, not only by his description of the anti-Israel and anti-America demonstrations he encountered, but by the fact that he chose to go to Italy rather than Israel on his "brief vacation." I'm sorry that he didn't have a pleasant visit.
By contrast, my husband and I chose to spend our vacation last November working as volunteers on an Israel Defense Forces base, along with many other volunteers from all around the world. We worked side by side with young soldiers doing whatever tasks were needed, wearing the same uniform, eating the same food, sleeping on the same cots that these young Israelis are provided during their army service. They asked, "Why are you here? Why would you spend so much money on airfare to come and work?"
The answer is simple: We came to Israel to work with them, to let them know that we support them with our presence, not just financially. It seemed to raise the morale of these young people: to make them feel not quite so alone in their tiny country. It counteracts the condemnation and bashing of the rest of the world.
Ruth Giden , Sherman Oaks
When David Bianco wrote about homosexual relations described in the Torah as referring to a "specific kind of male-male sexual intercourse" ("Gay Halacha," Jan. 17) it was misunderstood by Rabbi Daniel Korobkin in his letter to the editor (Letters, Jan. 31). Korobkin had understood it to mean what Rabbi Bradley Artson had presented in the Jan. 17 issue as a Conservative movement interpretation of the biblical prohibition, limiting it to promiscuous, multipartner homosexuality. Korobkin's objection should have been directed specifically to Artson's interpretation, but not to Bianco's, which is in line with the traditional view that prohibits all male-male sexual intercourse involving penetration.
We now both realize that we are on the same page in disagreeing with Artson's speculative interpretation.
Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, David Bianco
A Wish Is Granted
Appreciation to Marc Ballon for his piece on Jewish Family Service's (JFS) recent success with the Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) grant from the federal government ("A Wish Is Granted," Feb. 28). An even larger "thank you" to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) who carried this request on behalf of JFS and The Federation's Jewish Community Relations Committee, which orchestrated the advocacy around this proposal. The NORC will be the precedent-setting model for the care of the elderly for decades to come. We at JFS are proud and delighted to be the first such site in California.
Paul Castro , Executive Director Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles
Thank you very much for Amy Klein's article, "A Single Problem" (Feb. 14). For years, I have noticed that the focus in synagogues and temples is on married couples with children, even while singles are often charged as much as two-thirds of what an entire family is charged for membership.
For singles, childless people and even adults without college degrees, the No. 1 criterion for joining a synagogue or temple is how well they are accepted as complete and worthwhile contributing members of the Jewish community. Most synagogues and temples do a great job of making them feel inferior, which they really aren't.
Rose Rosenberg, Los Angeles
I am a 63-year-old man who doesn't belong to a synagogue because I feel that I don't fit in.
You hit the nail on the head when you write that many of the events for singles "often lack content." I hope that your article makes some difference with a Jewish organization and that a group of singles might be created with substance and purpose.
Raphael Confortes, Los Angeles
Who Should Pay?
On my trips to Los Angeles, it is quite evident that the Jewish community is a fairly well-to-do one ("Who Should Pay?" Jan. 31). The finances are there, as I'm sure they are in most North American Jewish communities, to make Hebrew education not only available to people committed to Judaism, but attractive to families who may not have a strong Jewish grounding but are looking for a quality Jewish education for the children.
The American Jewish community should get its priorities straight. Jewish education is the bedrock of the Jewish culture and survival and has to be made affordable and available to all. By not subsidizing Hebrew day schools more heavily and making them financially accessible to the general Jewish population, the American Jewish community is unfortunately contributing to assimilation and intermarriage, and is losing young people.
Gerald Wexler, Quebec, Canada
A Culinary Surprise
I read the recipe for Vietnam bagels ("A Culinary Surprise," Feb. 21) to my 85-year-old father who has been in the bagel business for more than 60 years. His comment was, "That's not a bagel, it's cake." A real bagel does not have milk or butter. And honey in the water? I guess it's a pleasant surprise to find any bagel in Vietnam, and this one should definitely keep the name "Vietnam" bagel.
Seymour and Richard Friedman, Brooklyn Bagel Bakery Los Angeles
I never thought of The Jewish Journal as an especially humorous publication, but the Feb. 28 issue proved me wrong. The superb spoof by Arthur Waskow ("Iraq War Not Just Means to Just End," Feb. 28) -- that American Jews should support a pre-war Marshall Plan for Iraq, urge a worldwide treaty to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction and insist on all-Arab peace treaties with Israel -- is worthy of Dante and Balzac. Rob Eshman's notation of a Parisian newspaper's description of Jacques Chirac as a "Warrior for Peace" is equally clever. I commend The Journal for its satirical brilliance.
Chaim Sisman, Los Angeles
I am writing with concern to the article "'JAM'-packed Campus Outreach" (Feb. 28). The article gives a detailed report on the Jewish life on campus at UCLA.
I was glad to read of the wonderful work carried out by Hillel and JAM on campus and it is amazing to see how many students have been involved with these organizations.
However, it was very surprising to see no mention of any of the good work done by Chabad. I was personally approached by Rabbi Mendy on the Bruin Walk, who invited me to come over for Shabbat dinner. I was welcomed personally by both rabbis and I enjoyed a wonderful meal as well as having the opportunity to meet more than 100 other Jewish students. I enjoyed myself immensely and I plan to join the rest of my friends to attend Chabad social and educational activities.
Jewish life on campus is thriving and between Hillel, Chabad and JAM things are going on all the time. I was especially happy last week to see all the three rabbis dancing together during the Moshav Band concert put on by Hillel. It is for this reason that it seems bizarre to have left out Chabad.
I am sure this was not done on purpose, and I hope that Jewish life on campus will continue to flourish with all the organizations continuing to work together.
Name Withheld Upon Request, Los Angeles
The Feb. 28 Circuit about the Jewish Community Foundation omitted mention of the Foundation's College Campus Initiative Project, which involves Los Angeles Hillel Council, the Jewish Community Relations Committee and the Shalom Nature Center. The coalition works in partnership with Jewish Campus Service Corps fellows on individual campuses throughout Los Angeles to engage Jewish students and combat anti-Israel sentiment.