March 27, 2003
In Harm's Way
Thank you for your article "In Harm's Way" (March 21). We, too, are the parents of a Jewish serviceman: Petty Officer 3rd Class Geoffrey S. Frankel, serving on a nuclear aircraft carrier. Our son was on the first carrier to send aircraft to bomb Afghanistan after Sept. 11. He is currently deployed and, once again, will not be home for Passover. We are well aware of the concerns of parents of Jewish servicemen/women.
In our son's more than four years of service in the Navy, he has experienced no acts of hostility or discrimination. There are jokes bandied about, but the jokes go in all directions. Jewish services, even at High Holidays, are not readily available, but the chaplaincy has been responsive to requests that even lay Jews be made available to conduct services should the serviceperson come forward to request them. Being an extreme minority, we realize that Jews in the service must be somewhat flexible and recognize that life on shipboard will be geared to the majority of its occupants. But they are still free to be observant Jews to the extent their consciences and the rules of military conduct permit.
Our son, too, indicates "undeclared" on his dogtags. While we were initially upset that he did that, we now realize that such a designation may someday save his life. We are certain that God would approve.
We hope you can convey to Rabbi Alan Henkin our prayers for his son, Michael. We continue to pray for all of our servicemen/women, both Jewish and [non-Jewish].
God bless America and God protect our troops.
Jeff and Susan Frankel, West Hills
Rabbis for Rent
If the Jewish community, particularly the Los Angeles Jewish community, didn't make the cost of synagogue membership and Torah study so prohibitive ("Rabbis for Rent," March 7), there certainly wouldn't be a need for this type of service offered. As a single parent with a single income, finding a synagogue willing to teach my son Hebrew, let alone let him become a bar mitzvah there, was mind-boggling. A sample of answers I received when my income was revealed: "I'm sorry, everyone has to pay; we even have people on public assistance who have to pay" and "We are not a bar mitzvah factory, either you become a member or we can't accept you."
If I did not find someone who does travel, teaches quickly and doesn't cost a full year's salary, my son would not be called to the Torah this year. These so-called "Rabbis for Rent" are a godsend, and are definitely doing God's work without putting a price tag on it, as it should be.
Miriam Garber, Los Angeles
The Fear Factor
I enjoyed Jane Ulman's piece on Purim ("The Fear Factor," March 14). However, I do take question at her statement "... to discuss the problems of assimilation, intermarriage and the great sacrifice that Esther made."
What was the "problem" of intermarriage in this story? From my understanding, because of intermarriage, Esther was in the right place at the right time. Thank God she did intermarry or the story could have had a very different ending.
I wonder when the Jewish community will stop the blanket of disrespect of interfaith marriages and start welcoming all the possible allies and children? Maybe never. In the meantime, I will remain a non-Jew married to a Jew raising by his own definition a very Jewish child.
What makes for a good story is when it continues to have lessons previously never seen. So I say hurray for Esther.
Paula Swinford, Culver City
Romance in the Negev
I was fascinated by Loolwa Khazzoom's "Romance in the Negev" (March 7). I have nothing against young love, peace or friendship, but I wonder why the editor felt it worthwhile to publish this article by an apparently observant young Jewish woman glorifying in her seduction of an affair with an Arab Muslim. It could be understood by young Jewish readers of The Journal that you give approval of her glorification of her adventure. They might think, that in their early adult life, with the insecurities and stresses that are normal, it may be all right to emulate such a misadventure. I hope her parents are spared seeing this article.
P.S., I showed my wife the article and my letter and she completely disagrees with me.
Dr. David Ackermann, Rolling Hills Estates
The pseudonym Mark Altman, used in "The Agonizing Toll of Sexual Addiction" (March 7), was fabricated by the author. The Mark Altman featured in the story bears no relation to anyone associated with Congregation Or Ami who shares that last name.
In addition, the correct address and phone number for Congregation Or Ami, where Rabbi Paul Kipnes runs 12-step services, is 32945 Calabasas Road, Suite 112, Calabasas, (818) 222-4922.
Temple Beth Haverim has moved to 29900 Ladyface Court, Agoura Hills,(818) 991-7111. "Anything Goes 12-Step" meets at the synagogue Thursdays, 7-8 p.m. For information on the group, contact meeting leader Jason at (818) 735-9934.
In "Mensch Madness" (March 21), Stanford University played against University of San Diego.