June 12, 2003
I truly enjoyed the churchgoing Jews article ("Jewish Churchgoers on the Rise," June 6), for I have found myself to be among that group of people. I am affiliated with a Reform synagogue here in Los Angeles, the kids go to Sunday school and we even light candles for Shabbat each Friday night.
Why do I find myself in church then? For the personal feeling and relationship with God that I haven't yet found in a synagogue. For the warmth and open arms that I am greeted with. For all of the Bible study classes and Mommy & Me classes that are on a donation-only basis.
I wish more synagogues offered that "come-on-in feeling" that I have found in church. I am still feeling my way through this, and I sometimes wish that I felt differently. But perhaps if the synagogues were more personal and humble, more Jews would find there way back there.
Amy Lord , Los Angeles
Bush at Auschwitz
In recent weeks, notables in the organized American Jewish community repeatedly have charged Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas with denying the Holocaust in his doctoral dissertation. Dr. Rafael Medoff does so in The Jewish Journal ("Bush at Auschwitz: Troubling Contradictions," June 6).
However, no American Jewish leader has acknowledged Abbas' statement -- in the same dissertation -- that nothing in his discussion "does in any way diminish the severity of the crime committed against [Jews], as murder even of one man is a crime that the civilized world cannot accept and humanity cannot accept." In his May 28 Haaretz interview, Abbas called the Shoah "a terrible, unforgivable crime against the Jewish nation."
The point of making peace is that we do so with people who do not like us. Even as we make it clear to Abbas that we expect him to be consistent in his condemnation of murder, regardless of whether it is perpetrated by members of the SS or the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, we should welcome the opportunity to find common ground with the new Palestinian leadership. Exercises in trust-building are good for everyone -- even American Jews.
J. Shawn Landres, Lecturer Jewish and Western Civilization University of Judaism
You tell your readers that James Besser's "U.S. Jewish Leaders Face Risky Situation" (May 30) is "analysis." However, not once does Besser tell his readers the names of the "Jewish leaders" he is referring to, nor does he identify the "polls" that support his conclusions. With "analysis" like this, who needs "opinion" pieces?
Roy Young, Beverly Hills
James Besser responds:
Of course, the reader is correct; it would be much better to use only named sources. But like politicians, Jewish leaders increasingly speak their minds, express their worries and talk candidly when unnamed. Without using such sources, we would simply be rewriting the press releases of organizations. The polls were not named only because there are several of them pointing to the same conclusions.
Mark, it's not that I'm without sympathy for your plight ("Exit Strategy," May 30), but are we supposed to take your pain more seriously because you're a guy? Your former girlfriend simply chose to dump you according to "The Guy Playbook": she left. I know no woman who hasn't been dumped multiple times in this manner.
None of us like actually to be the one saying "no," but at this point in my life, I'm sparing myself the additional pain of "making nice" -- only to end up emotionally bludgeoned by guys who can't take "no" for an answer -- and I imagine your former girlfriend is doing the same.
Elin Guthrie, Los Angeles
The Journal wrongly attributed the op-ed piece, "Time to Stand Up Against Suicide Bombing" (May 30) to Ismail Ibrahim Nawwab. Nawwwab, a columnist for The Arab News, did not write the essay. It appeared as an unsigned editorial in The Arab News. We deeply regret the error.
It was poet John Keats who died in Rome, not Percy Shelley ("A Short Escape to Prewar Italy," June 6).
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