May 27, 2004
Saving the JCCs
During the past 50-plus years that I have been involved in Jewish life a number of JCCs throughout the continent have found themselves in financial distress, sometimes for reasons of their own doing and at other times because of circumstances beyond their control ("Buy It Now," May 14).
In almost all instances, the Federation in each of these cities realized the importance of JCCs as a unique community institution serving their communities in vital ways. These federations recognized that only JCCs could reach out to both synagogue and non-synagogue people and thus provide the only Jewish setting in their communities hospitable to all.
The leadership here has done a grave disservice to the community by not continuing the path that their predecessors here and their colleagues in other cities did when JCCs experienced the same difficulties now confronting us here.
By closing centers here the community is about to be deprived of services that have stood the test of time. There is an enormous difference between "fixing" and destroying. What is happening now is a destructive act, which will have long-range consequences for all of us.
Federation is in the process of alienating countless JCC supporters. It is removing services form a segment of the community that is not served by synagogues. By doing so, it abdicates its claim to be a central address for the community -- and all this in the name of calling in notes amounting to few million dollars.
I am painfully aware that millions don't grow on trees. As this community grows it will produce leadership that will once again realize the uniqueness of JCCs. More millions of dollars will have to be raised to build new centers. It is not too late to halt the present path. Let us call upon the Federation leadership to arrange to refinance JCCs, to become active "overseers" if need be in the process. A city this size should do no less. The resources can be arranged for. What is lacking is the will to serve the future as was the case in the past.
No one should excuse JCC management for its errors and shortcomings. The present leadership in the JCCs is prepared to shoulder their responsibilities but cannot do this without Federation's help. People in this community should not be made to suffer and be deprived of the services that only a network of centers can provide in this huge metropolitan area.
Rob Eshman was right -- where are the visionaries who are needed now more than ever?
Gerald Bubis, Founding Director and Professor (Emeritus) School of Jewish Communal Service Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Los Angeles
Kudos to The Jewish Journal on the prominence of your coverage of the issue of gay marriage ("Gay Marriage," May 14). Jews have historically been at the forefront of civil rights issues. Equality ("not separate but equal") for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals is today's civil rights issue. As for Joan Goldstein's letter to the editor (May 14), she quotes chapter and verse and then concludes that one should refrain from homosexuality. Sexual identity is a core part of everyone's identity. I do not know how one, in a healthy way, refrains from who he or she is. However, if Goldstein agrees to refrain from her heterosexuality, I will refrain from my homosexuality. Ms. Goldstein, you first.
Jeff Bernhardt, Valley Glen
We who have signed this letter were among the joyful participants at the chuppah of Rabbi Don Goor and Cantor Evan Kent. We feel that it is incumbent upon us as Jewish communal leaders of congregations and institutions across the nation to support our newly married colleagues and lend our voices to support of those who wish to sanctify their unions in the Jewish tradition and have them recognized by our state and national governments.
First to the issue of the picture on The Jewish Journal's front cover: Had your readers witnessed the absolute joy and shared celebration felt by all in attendance, they would understand the profound holiness attainable in same gender weddings. They would know that far from concerns of immorality, this was the moral choice affirmed by communal leaders from across the nation acutely aware of the issues raised by such marriages.
Gay and lesbian couples who choose to marry with a Jewish ceremony and Jewish leaders who officiate recognize in these unions a level of morality and kedushah that is potential in all marriages. Yes, without hesitation, we agree that marriage is a sacred institution. By extending its blessing to gay and lesbian couples we are doing nothing less than strengthening the very moral fiber of Jewish community and our American society.
Rabbi Ron Stern and Becky Sobelman-Stern; Rabbi Paul Kipnes and Michelle November; Rabbi Bruce and Tamar Raff; Rabbis Jonathan and Zoe Klein; Rabbi Richard Levy; Marissa Borenstein; Natalie Smolens; David Eshel; Margie Ipp; Ellen Franklin; Rabbi Karen Bender; Rabbi Dan Moskowitz; Rabbi Phil and Amy Warmflash; Rabbi Michael White; Rabbi Karen Fox and Michael Rosen; Rabbi Dense L Eger and Karen B. Siteman; Rabbi Nancy Kasten; Cantor Mark Britowich; HUC-JIR rabbinical student Jeremy Schneider and Rachel Tucker; HUC-JIR rabbinical student Jeremy Schneider, MAJE; HUC-JIR rabbinical student Jocee Hudson; HUC-JIR rabbinical student Brett Krichiver and Tami Krichiver; HUC-JIR rabbinical student Adam Schaffer