January 1, 2004
L.A. Housing Crisis
Thank you for printing the "Q&A With David Grunwald," (Dec. 5) about the housing crisis in Los Angeles. The current housing crisis demands a multiplicity of responses, including advocacy, grants, loans and services. Our city desperately needs individuals and organizations such as Grunwald and L.A. Family Housing, who are on the front lines of the battlefield every day providing critical services to thousands of homeless and low-income Angelenos. The article implies that while his endeavor is not seen as "Jewish" per se, his work has a profound impact on all of us.
As members of the Shefa Fund's Los Angeles Tzedec Advisory Committee, we welcome Grunwald's "agitation" and "frustration," along with his passion and expertise in our shared endeavor. Tzedec, Shefa's lending program, provides a venue for Jews and Jewish institutions in cities across the country to respond to the tremendous need for more affordable housing and community services.
The loans that we are currently raising from our local Jewish community will be used for home ownership, affordable housing development and job creation in Los Angeles' low-income communities. Tzedec is a way for Jews to move from NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) to WASTSBY (We All Share The Same Backyard).
Stephanie Klasky-Gamer, Chair Los Angeles Tzedec Advisory Committee The Shefa Fund
Apologize to Seidler-Feller
Now that Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller has agreed to an official recommendation that he participate in an anger management program and write a letter of apology to his alleged victim, our community must demand similar forms of teshuvah (repentance) from other sources.
Rachel Neuwirth and her supporters owe Seidler-Feller and the entire Jewish community an apology for their repeated, incendiary references to Seidler-Feller as a "kapo" (a Jew who collaborated with Nazis in exterminating other Jews). Neuwirth's own "worse than a kapo" epithet reportedly instigated this unfortunate incident.
During the last two months, this same reprehensible label has been attached to Seidler-Feller (whose grandparents perished in the Holocaust) by Neuwirth's supporters on various inflammatory Web sites and anonymous answering machine messages. Finally, apologies must also be demanded from those who have cynically used this incident as a pretext for castigating Seidler-Feller because of their ideological disagreement with his avowed and principled "pro-Israel/pro-peace" stance.
It's time to put this sorry episode behind us and to demand civility -- in word and deed -- from all sectors of our community.
Douglas Mirell, Executive Committee Chair
Daniel Sokatch, Executive Director
Aryeh Cohen, President Progressive Jewish Alliance, Los Angeles
Love the Do!
Jewfro is a fabulous column ("Hair Club for Jews," Dec. 19)! I always enjoy reading Carin Davis' humorous and insightful words and usually wind up nodding in agreement. Kudos, kudos, kudos.
Judy Wolfberg, via e-mail
I was eager to read your paper's coverage of the Istanbul bombings as I hoped your article would give some insights into the current situation. As an Armenian living in the Diaspora, I have close ties with people living in Istanbul and was concerned about their welfare, the state and psyche of its citizenry, as well as the overall geopolitical shifts happening in the near/middle east. After reading Engin Ansay's [Turkish consul general in Los Angeles] opinion article, I was disturbed by his blanket statement, "For centuries, Turkey has enjoyed a richness of diverse cultures and religions living side by side, a testimony of peaceful coexistence and tolerance." ("Attacks Bolster Turks' Will To Fight Evil," Nov. 21). Not wanting to overshadow the tragedies that have inflicted Istanbul, this statement is problematic, especially to the Armenians, Kurds, Assyrians, Greeks and Allevis who have suffered unjust and inhumane treatment presently and in the past 100 years.
Perhaps The Jewish Journal can educate readers by running an article on Turkey's current track record on human rights and the complex politics of denial of the Armenian/Greek genocides, and how the Israeli government has given in to pressure from the Turkish government to be complicit in the denial the Armenian genocide.
Gabriel Azizian, Los Angeles
Two Roads One Path
I read with interest your Dec. 19 cover story on interfaith marriage, "Married to It?" Julie Gruenbaum Fax covered the issue in a very balanced way, culling information across denominational lines. Although she wrote that "outreach-oriented groups are more likely than in the past to accept non-Jewish partners who want to learn about Judaism," unfortunately, a good local resource for interfaith couples was overlooked.
Two Roads One Path (www.tworoadsonepath.com), supported by the Los Angeles Jewish Community Foundation, reaches out to such couples in a positive and nonjudgmental fashion. We have counseled couples from all over the United States, particularly in child-rearing issues. These individuals access our welcoming Web site and respond through our online chat service. We just want to make the Jewish community aware of its existence.
Rabbi Aaron Parry, Director Two Roads One Path Education Director Jews for Judaism
Reality of Right
In "Republican Redux: Jews Going Right?" (Dec. 12) James Besser advances a couple of misconceptions about Jews and the GOP.
First, he attributes the potential shift of the Jewish vote to the GOP as confined only to the top Jewish leadership strata and, even then, only swathed in support for Bush's pro-Israel positions.
The reality is that the Bush administration's unparalleled support for the Jewish state may be pulling some top Jewish donors and voters -- as it should. But Jewish support for the Republican Party has been a growing, grass-roots affair, and it has emerged from every economic echelon and for a variety of reasons.
But the biggest myth perpetrated by Besser is that Bush's "aggressively conservative domestic policies" may be "hardening" the liberal fury of some Jews. The question that needs to be asked is: Which aggressively conservative domestic policies?
There are numerous recent examples of the president's moderate domestic policy positions. The president co-sponsored the education bill with [Massachusetts] Sen. Ted Kennedy and recently signed a comprehensive new Medicare bill that enacts the largest transformation in Medicare since its creation in 1965. The historically liberal AARP, the nation's most influential retiree lobby with more than 35 million members, called the passing of the bill a "historic day for seniors."
Of course, polls guarantee nothing for the Republican Party, but these trends are not "perceived," they are concrete indicators that a shift among Jews is taking place.
Matthew Brooks, Executive Director Republican Jewish Coalition
In November, you had a review of the CD, "Abayudaya, Music From the Jewish People of Uganda" ("An Afro Judeo Beat" Nov. 14). The staff reviewer said, "But the harmonies remained African, and this collection celebrates the melding of the songs and prayers you know with music you can only dream about. Give it to a cantor today."
This music is so beautiful, I think that it should not be reserved for cantors. It's like "Lion King" meets Jewish prayers. One of the songs has a musical sound in the background, and the liner notes tell you that is crickets in the background as the sun sets on the village. The liner notes are extensive, and describe this community's conversion to Judaism and their struggles to maintain their Judaism despite Christian and Muslim attempts to convert them. When I read that all royalties are sent to the Abayudan community, I decided to give this as a gift to my friends as their Chanukah gift. I am sure this CD would be appreciated by many, many people.
Judy Lederich-Mayer, via-e-mail
Painting Through Pain
With regards to Leora Alhadeff's "Painting Through the Pain" (Dec. 26) article: Orville Wright Middle School is located in Westchester, a middle-upper class suburb in Los Angeles. Although many students from nearby underprivileged areas attend, it is incorrect to refer to this ocean-proximate school as "inner-city."
Sonya Neweissman, Former Westchester resident Orville Wright Junior High School alum Culver City
It is so refreshing to hear another point of view about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict ("Who's To Blame for Palestinian Despair?" Dec. 26). I sometimes wonder if our nascent Jewish guilt makes some of us believe that Israel is responsible for this crisis. We consider ourselves a compassionate people, wanting justice for the Palestinians even to the point that we often forget how this whole problem began. I only hope and pray that our Arab cousins will one day see the light for they have so much more to gain by peaceful coexistence than by animosity.
Gila Shabanow, Oceanside