January 29, 2004
An Unkosher Affair
The selection of some swank country club or hotel venue ("An Unkosher Affair," Jan, 23) -- even when their management does not permit an outside caterer, i.e. a kosher one -- at the cost of the excluding the more abiding, traditionally committed element of our community service questions the ultimate goals and the qualifications of the leadership.
Perhaps the time has come for all self-respecting Jews of every ideological stripe in Los Angeles to consider what steps need be taken to redeem and enhance our Judaic heritage -- not erode it.
Rabbi Julian M. White, Los Angeles
Many of the kids who come back from Jewish summer camps each year are proud when they convince their parents to keep "kosher homes," meaning they only use kosher meat, don't mix dishes, etc. They always check the ingredients but they may not make sure that every food item had an "OU" sign. Are we now saying that their kitchens are treif? Are Conservative rabbis who dine dairy at Denny's eating unkosher? Is the Reform rabbbic student, who makes a point of asking whether the soup has a chicken stock, wasting her energy because the restaurant serving the soup doesn't have rabbinic supervision?
If I can ask for a vegetarian plate at a Jewish event, then my Orthodox brother should feel equally comfortable asking for a glatt kosher one.
In fact, we ought to applaud organizations that think carefully about what kind of food to serve at their functions. I was taught that keeping kosher reminds us to think about what we are eating, to appreciate and be grateful for the miracle of food. In a way, the decision to to use charitable dollars for educational programs or to feed the hungry, rather than on a hashgacha, can itself be considered a way of keeping kosher.
Jonathan Jacoby, Director Israel Policy Forum Institute
Thank you for such a well-written article ("Is There Life After Denominations?" Jan. 9). As a teacher of Jewish studies, I've often told my students (who come from every walk of Judaism) that labels cause division. We need to focus much more on our common bond and much less on the words Reform, Conservative, etc.
Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism have the ability, in many ways, to unite Jews around certain spiritual principles because they focus on the inner soul of Judaism and less on specific observances. It seems with the rise of interest in spirituality that we are at least headed (in some ways) in the right direction.
And when Mashiach finally comes, we can ask him which synagogue he plans to join.
Rabbi Max Weiman , St. Louis
David Marcus' letter ("Real Magic?" Jan. 16) assails David Gamliel as an "illusionist or magician, which is why he performs at the Magic Castle and bar mitzvahs" ("David Gamliel's Weird Science," Jan. 9). Having seen Gamliel perform at a number of venues, I disagree. I witnessed my eyeglasses float off the table, and can attest to the surprise of many restaurateurs who had to pick up their utensils -- in pieces -- at the end of the night. I have seen Gamliel perform healings for family members, and can attest to the enormous physical strain that it takes to work intimately with another person's pain. Add that to the wisdom, kindness and sly humor that pervades the man's character, and go see him; decide for yourself what constitutes a true gift.
Michelle Holtzman, Sherman Oaks
Thank you for allowing the voice of Americans for Peace Now to be heard ("State of the Union Aftermath," Jan. 23). Too often, it has seemed to me, The Jewish Journal publishes only articles unequivocally in favor of Israel's policies. There are those of us who love Israel but do not agree with every decision its government makes. Thank you for giving us a voice, too.
Barbara Bilson , Santa Monica
If Israel ceases to exist, then it is open season on Jews everywhere ("Who Causes Anti-Semitism?" Jan. 9). George Soros can plead with Hamas that he was an opponent of [Ariel] Sharon, but they would turn him into a bar of soap in an instant.
These are very dangerous times. Maybe it's not the 1930s, yet, but Europe has a grand tradition of being the killing fields of Jews. If Soros would have his way, we, as a people, are doomed.
Jason Meisler, Los Angeles
I found Steve Greenberg's satirical cartoon about Starbuchabads amusing and right on target (Jan. 23). Starbuck's corporate vision is to bring quality coffee, slow-roasted according to traditional methods, to every corner of the globe.
Chabad Chasidism likewise strives to make traditional, Torah-true Judaism accessible to all without sacrificing quality. And just as some may rail against distributing sacred words or tefillin-wearing to those who do not yet savor Judaism; the paper cup will also always have its detractors. But the quality of the coffee inside the cup and its ability to win loyal customers, speaks for itself over time.
Chaviva Friedman, Los Angeles