August 5, 2004
The torrents of ink on "Jewish hip," "Jewish cool" and "Jewish pop culture" obscures a simple truth: Only Jews who take seriously Judaism -- the religion -- can count on having Jewish grandchildren ("From Jew to Jewcy," July 23). This is because in an open society only Judaism provides a compelling answer to the question, "Why be Jewish?"
Other "Jewish" paths are dead ends, and literally sterile -- they can't reproduce. They have Jewish value insofar as they may be a person's door into Judaism, and thereafter enrich one's practice of Judaism.
The remaining question is whether the organized, "secular" Jewish community will include this insight into its outreach efforts before it's too late.
Paul Kujawsky, Valley Village
Tisha B'Av Today
Dr. Aryeh Cohen ("Tisha B'Av Today," July 23) has got one thing right -- we do need Tisha B'Av today. Unfortunately, he has the reasons all wrong. His assertion that on this Tisha B'Av we must consider "how all our cherished hopes for ourselves as a community based on ethics and a commitment to social and economic justice can -- and at times have -- slipped through our hands" is misguided. Indeed, Tisha B'Av has nothing to do with confronting our inability to "create an ethical polity" or with being "allied with the forces of injustice." Despite Cohen's evident discomfort with the idea of Jewish victimhood, Tisha B'Av is, in fact, a day dedicated to the great tragedies which have befallen our people, including the ongoing calamity of the confusion of Jewish values with the politically correct agenda of the day. On Tisha B'Av, our thoughts should be directed toward bridging the huge gulf between God and the Jewish people, which is symbolized by the continuing absence of the Temples in Jerusalem whose destruction is the main focus of the day. That is what Tisha B'Av is about today, as it has always been.
Ben Taylor, Los Angeles
I hate to burst Mark Miller's stereotype-laden bubble, but my granddaughter has blond hair, blue-green eyes and a straight nose (both her parents are Jewish) ("Test-a-Jew," July 30). Continuing to analyze my granddaughter's family tree vis-a-vis Miller's standards: My granddaughter has two Jewish parents. Her maternal grandmother (that would be me) has blond hair (natural, but now gray) and blue eyes; her three first cousins (on my side) all have blue eyes; and her paternal grandfather has blue-green eyes. Two of her first cousins on her father's side have blue or green eyes.
Both of my parents (both Jews of Russian heritage) had blue eyes.
I think a higher percentage of Jews have blue or green eyes than people of any other faith.That study would be a ridiculous waste of time, but since Miller brought it up.
Name withheld by request, Los Angeles
Faith and Pork
I believe that Micah Halpern ("Balancing Acts of Faith and Pork," July 23) is blind to the possibility that the State of Israel's secular founding fathers are turning over in their graves by the monster they created by subsidizing Orthodox Jewish "students," who now number in the scores of thousands (along with their enormous families). They are a burden on the economy, and have politically disenfranchised all non-Orthodox Jews. What kind of "democracy" is it that insists that all marriage and divorce for Jews be in the Orthodox traditions in order to be legal? In comparison, Ireland is a true democracy. Although about 88 percent of the citizens are Roman Catholic, civil marriage and divorce is quite legal. A Jewish state does not have to be a fundamentalist Jewish state.
Martin J. Weisman , Westlake Village
Reverse in Israel
Gideon Levy writes about a disabled Palestinian man killed during an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) house demolition and a Palestinian professor and son shot in their home and asks for our reactions if the situation were reversed ("If the Situation Were Reversed," July 30). However, Levy admits that the IDF considered the death of the disabled man "a death that shouldn't have happened." In both cases, the aim of the IDF was not to indiscriminately kill Palestinians and that both cases are being thoroughly investigated to determine the cause of these tragedies and methods to prevent them in the future. One can quibble about how thorough and how serious the IDF are in these matters, but the fact is that they aren't pinning medals on the soldiers responsible.
If the situation were reversed, for instance, after the bus bombing in Tel Aviv on July 10 that killed Maayan Naim, groups like Yasser Arafat's Al-Aqsa Brigades proudly take credit for intentional murder. The perpetrators' goal is to murder as many Jews as possible, and their communities hail them as heroes. These incidents will be studied by these Palestinian groups not to prevent them in the future, but to learn how to repeat them and to learn how to murder more Jews.
Dr. Steven Ohsie, Los Angeles
In "Presbyterians Ignite Divestment Uproar" (July 30), Rabbi Mark Diamond is the executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California.