October 2, 2003
Leaders Stay Silent
[Avrham Burg's] creed against the reality of the Zionist enterprise, as opposed to the dreams of [Theodor] Herzl, would be understandable were he to put the blame where it rightly belongs: at the doorstep of the Palestinians who, to this day, resist, by both deeds and words, the idea of having a sovereign Israel next door to their dreamed-for state ("Leaders Stay Silent as Israel Collapses," Sept. 26).
The Zionist dream, for compelling demographic reasons, has metamorphosed for most Jews into a state that excludes biblical Israel, but that truncated dream lies dormant because of Yasser Arafat's -- and his loyal Palestinian Authority's -- refusal to consider a Palestinian state that did not include Tel Aviv and Haifa.
Burg's inability to factor into his distorted calculus Arafat's refusal of the Clinton/Barak plan is inexcusable. The Zionists have not lost, as he suggests, their moral compass. It's Arafat and and his gang of thugs who never had one to lose.
Jack Salem, Los Angeles
Cast Thy Sins
I want to thank you for Amy Klein's thoughtful article on Tashlich, and for including me among your respondents ("Cast Thy Sins Away," Sept. 26). The use of the Internet Tashlich joke, though, requires this correction. The Tashlich litany of sins, each with its matching baked good, is from an essay by Rabbi Richard Israel, of blessed memory, who was my mentor. It was forwarded to an Internet list years ago without permission and without mentioning his authorship, and he eventually gave up trying to reclaim it. For the sin of quoting without attribution: stollen.
Rabbi Dan Shevitz, Congregation Mishkon Tephilo Venice
Thanks to Rob Eshman for expressing his disdain for Arnold Schwarzenegger's friendship with Kurt Waldheim ("Arnold's Choice," Sept. 19). How can any self-respecting person, especially if they are Jewish, support a candidate whose father was a Nazi and counts as his friends other known Nazis? Can you imagine the uproar if the father of Gray Davis or Cruz Bustamante was a communist? The right-wing talk show hosts would be having a field day. The fact that Schwarzenegger has a close association with a Nazi renders him unsuitable to hold public office. His apology on the eve of the election is an empty gesture so expedient as to be laughable. Whether you are for or against the recall, it would be a monumental mistake to allow a person so completely lacking in ethics and morality to become governor.
Lauren Levine Smith, Los Angeles
Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed to hold a town hall forum, co-hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition and KABC, in front of a live audience for "The Sean Hannity Show" and FOX News at the Los Angeles Center Studios Thursday, Sept. 25 ("Arnold's Challenge," Aug. 29; "Arnold's Choice," Sept. 19). After spending an extra hour answering questions from the majority of California Jews in attendance and taking photographs well beyond schedule, Schwarzenegger held a press conference extending his appreciation for the recent support. When asked by a Jewish Journal reporter to comment on the Kurt Waldheim toast many years ago, Schwarzenegger acknowledged his wrongdoing and, yes, retracted any affection for Waldheim's propaganda.
All signs indicate that Schwarzenegger is a decent man who has worked tirelessly to support many Jewish causes, most notably the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and has given no indication in his personal life to harbor any ill will to the Jewish community. We agree with Rabbi Marvin Heir's assessment, "Since I've known Arnold, I've never found him to be anything but a friend of the Jews and a supporter of Israel."
Joel Strom , President RJC Los Angeles
Michael Wissot , Executive Director RJC Southern California
Land of Roses
I was very surprised to read the story about Pasadena's Jewish history and discover a key omission ("Diversity Blooms in the Land of Roses," Sept. 19). In 1983, a small group of dedicated parents, including myself, decided that we wanted to establish a Jewish day school. We were told Pasadena would not support such a school and moreover our timeline was simply not realistic. We began in May and planned to open in September of the same year. We met almost every night of the week under the heading of a different committee. We did exactly as we planned. Our miracle school opened in September. Chaim Weizmann Jewish Day School was founded with 18 children from first through third grades the first year. Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center agreed to let us meet in their building. The school has grown every year since. How did The Journal miss this momentous historical accomplishment in your story about Jewish Pasadena?
Dorene Lehavi, Los Angeles
Turn the Tide
A great thank you for "Turn the Tide" by Rob Eshman (Sept. 26). Here we see a brave and understanding person hitting the nail on the head. We must reach out and touch all Jews regardless of practice or lack of practice. Rob's challenge of, "Try it once this year" is a wonderful message for the New Year. Hopefully many will take his wish and make it happen. We can meet the challenge and dance together.
Rabbi Eli Hecht , Chabad of the South Bay
The picture on page 16 of the Sept. 19 Journal identifies an American Jewish IDF soldier praying alongside "a religious man" ("IDF Gives Leg Up to Local Lone Soldier"). I don't know about you, but I would call the soldier, wearing tefillin and praying at the wall, a "religious man." Remember, wearing a black hat and long coat doesn't make you religious. How you behave and what you believe makes you religious.
Janet Fuchs, Beverly Hills
I was so pleased to read your article that paid tribute to LINK, the Los Angeles Intercommunity Kollel, based at the Westwood Kehilla ("Unaffiliated Find Connection in LINK" Sept. 19). I am so fortunate to live just a few blocks from this vital organization. Although I am not Orthodox, each rabbi welcomes me with a smile and makes it a point to greet me by name. Though I began small by taking one adult education course, I have now enjoyed many classes taught by their well-versed, genuine and unusually funny rabbis.
I'd like to put in a "plug" for this "David-sized" organization because it brings so much value to the community, and yet runs on a shoestring budget. I encourage readers of the Jewish Journal to meet LINK's rabbis and to explore this unique organization as a vehicle for a more spiritual and meaningful life.
Joyce Sand, Los Angeles
South African Jews
Your JTA report on the Centenary Conference of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies was most misleadingly titled: "South African Jews Fear for the Future" (Sept. 19). When the president of South Africa emphasizes "unequivocally that he will take all the time necessary to address Jewish concerns in South Africa," and that "anti-Semitism will not be tolerated," it is hard to see what there is to fear! And compared to Europe and much of the rest of the world, there is scarcely any violent anti-Semitic incitement because our adversaries know not to offend our mutual friends in the ANC.
Indeed, the population survey that came up with the figure of 60 percent "fearing for the future" is 6 years old, but the bottom line is that South Africa's Jews are well-established, respected, flourishing and more vocal in their Zionism than ever before. Does that sound like a community that is living in fear to you?
David Hoffman, Senior Rabbi Cape Town Progressive Jewish Congregation
I would certainly agree that the significant demands and sacrifice required to start your professional career have dissuaded many young Jews from pursuing medicine as a career choice "Is There A 'Docta' in the House?" (September 5). Yet, I was surprised that Beverly Gray failed to look in her own backyard while composing the article. At Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, many young Jews (and female Jews such as myself) -- -- from a variety of different backgrounds-- -- are still pursuing residency training in fields such as pediatrics, surgery, Ob-Gyn, medicine and pathology. A far more appropriate title would have been, "The Changing Face of Jewish Doctors."
Dr. Keren Ebel , Santa Monica