April 17, 2003
Rabbis for Rent
Miriam Garber refers to "Rabbis for Rent" (March 28) as a godsend because "they do God's work without putting a price tag on it, as it should be." After a quick review of the RabbiRentals.com Web site, however, I see that all of the rabbis on the site do, in fact, put a price tag (and might I say a high one) on their services. One rabbi has a price for a "traditional" wedding and a higher price for an "interfaith" wedding.
I'm not going to apologize for my synagogue, or any other, for that matter, charging membership dues -- I don't need to because the logic behind it is utterly apparent. I invite any Jew on the Westside in search of a community to visit us at Kehillat Ma'arav in Santa Monica, which has always addressed the issue of membership and school tuition to individuals and families based on income, as well as ability to pay, in a confidential and dignified manner.
Chazan Keith Miller, Director of Education Kehillat Ma'arav
In response to Miriam Garber's letter (March 28) regarding "Rabbis for Rent" (March 7) and finding bar mitzvah training for her son, the Los Angeles Jewish community does indeed offer the bar mitzvah training she sought for her son. Adat Shalom in West Los Angeles, as well as other shuls in the area, has never turned anyone away. We have always had a policy that "no child is refused a Jewish education" and do not subscribe to the philosophy of either of the synagogues she queried. We are not a bar mitzvah factory, but we do believe that becoming a bar mitzvah is much more than just learning a haftorah and a few prayers for one Shabbat service. We prefer our students to be part of our religious school for four years. Our synagogue embraces our children as a part of our Jewish community and our religious school teaches our children what it means to be a Jew. This philosophy will ensure a future Jewish generation.
Mandy Altman , Treasurer Adat Shalom
A Just War
I agree with Rabbi [Joel] Rembaum that the war will more than likely have a negative impact on Israel ("A Just War May Be Great Risk to Israel," March 28). This will particularly be the case if it increases the forces of radical Islam and weakens such moderate Arab governments as Egypt and Jordan.
People may differ on factual judgments, but to those American Jews whose primary justification for this war is its presumed benefit to Israel, I say, shame!
David Perel ,Los Angeles
Aunt Coca's Ghost
Annabelle Stevens' article, "Aunt Coca's Ghost" (April 4), hit close to home and felt real. Please keep bringing new pens. There is a difference between vulnerable and open, and lovable. The kvetcher group complains a lot, but also wants too much and is aggressive. Stevens touches and scores as a writer, and despite the Elliott experience, her kindness makes her very eligible. The prognosis is optimistic, except her girlfriends will miss her at Starbucks. I am a nice guy who got lucky after decades of singles futility. Time ticks slower for guys, but "kind" was probably my ace in the hole. Kudos for publishing a wide variety of points of view in the more serious, political side of The Journal.
Name Withheld Upon Request
We greatly appreciate the fine article by Ellen Jaffe-Gill ("A New Voice for Jewish Music," March 21). The Jewish Journal provides the major opportunity for Jewish arts organizations to reach the greater community, so it is an important opportunity for the Jewish Music Commission to be recognized in The Journal. It would be unfortunate, however, not to acknowledge Dr. Robert Strassburg for his unstinting encouragement and guidance and Sam Glaser for his great work in producing four outstanding years of the "American Jewish Song Festival" (1992-1996), which were the culmination of international competitions for new Jewish songs.
Richard A. Braun, Chairman Jewish Music Commission of Los Angeles
April 4-6, UCLA hosted the seventh annual national conference of the National Union of Jewish Lesbian-Gay-Transgender-Bisexual Students (NUJLS). Had I not provided a host home, I would have been unaware of both the gathering and the existence of NUJLS. The attendees, who traveled here from all over the United States and Canada, were committed Jewish young people, knowledgeable, aware and educated; an asset to our communities and our institutions. On Shabbat morning, they had Reform, Conservative and Orthodox services. Homosexuals should be part of the mainstream of contemporary Judaism, not the fringe. There is a reservoir of good leadership in this group, maybe even a Conservative rabbi or two.
Karen Heller Mason , Los Angeles
In a letter to the editor by Iddo Wernick (April 11), a statement regarding Rabbi Mattis Weinberg should have been attributed to Rabbi Ari Hier, who is director of the Wiesenthal Center's Jewish Studies Institute.
"Fine Wine Pours Down From Golan" (April 11) was incorrectly illustrated with a photo of Mouton Cadet. The photo should have depicted a bottle of Yarden. We regret the error.