Bill Boyarsky's piece on public schools neglected to mention both Bob Hertzberg and Dr. Keith Richman's contribution to the movement to transform Los Angeles schools ("Mayor's Plan for Schools Gets 'E' for Effort," Sept. 22) Most importantly, teachers not politicians, will be the final arbiters of whether our schools set high standards, improve and obtain excellent results or not.
Los Angeles School Board
Fire in the Hood
What David Suissa made explicit in his beautiful article we would like to make explicit ("Fire in the Hood," Sept. 29). The bite of the ordeal we are going through as a result of the fire has been considerably softened by the love we feel around us. We are blessed. Thank you to everyone for your concern, for your help and for your prayers.
My hunch is that someday all of us who live in this community will look back at this period some day and realize that we were living through a charmed golden moment of the "West Coast exile." David Suissa's articles go well beyond describing our beautiful community, they help us to redefine it.
David, Deena, Aviva and Noa Brandes
RJC vs. Dems
In the ongoing squabbling in these pages over whether Republicans or Democrats are better for Israel, letter writer Norman Epstein states that "[the American Israel Public Affairs Committee], the Republican Jewish Coalition, and the mainstream Jewish community supported congressional legislation to oppose U.S. funding of Hamas" while "Americans for Peace Now [APN] and other groups whose policies have long been discredited, lobbied for funding Hamas, confusing lawmakers."
In reality, it is Epstein who is confused. The policies of APN, a Zionist organization supporting the survival of a secure, democratic Israel, far from being discredited, represent the mainstream of pro-Israel American Jewish opinion. APN has never lobbied for U.S. funding of Hamas. Rather, we opposed the House version of this legislation because it had nothing to do with opposing aid to Hamas (aid which is already barred under U.S. law), and everything to do with using Hamas as a pretext for banning, limiting, conditioning and sanctioning virtually every aspect of U.S. contacts with even those Palestinians who oppose Hamas. This is bad policy, for both the United States and Israel. In his confusion, Epstein also seems unaware that the House bill was opposed not only by the entirely nonpartisan APN, but also by President Bush (not generally known as an "aging Jewish liberal"), for very similar reasons to ours. Epstein also seems to have missed the fact that APN supported a more responsible version of the legislation that was eventually passed by the Senate.
Director of Policy and Government Relations
Americans for Peace Now
I do not see the RJC speaking about Jack Abramoff and his crew of vicious vipers who have illegally stolen money right and left as they left the White House and Tom Delay's office. I do not see the RJC talking about the medical bill that is hurting so many Jewish families and Jewish poor. Nor do they talk about the Iraq war, which has now taken as many people as were killed at the World Trade Center, nor the ineptness of the Afghan campaign. I could go on about Katrina, and the shutting out of any Democratic participation in laws that have been passed in the past years under the Republicans. And, lest I forget, the cutting of the estate tax, that the Republicans almost passed. And now look at how many Republicans were involved in blocking any mention of Sen. Mark Foley.
It is time that Jewish Democrats rise up and demand equal time, something that the Republicans have stymied in the media that used to belong to all the people.
I would like to thank you for such an excellent article about a very touchy subject ("Orthodox Youth Not Immune To High-Risk Lifestyles," Sept. 29). As a brother of Joel Bess, I watched him go through his "tough times" and to see him pull himself together is by itself unbelievable, but to start an Organization Issue Anonymous to help other kids is truly unfathomable. He doesn't like to call it an organization because it might scare away kids; he calls it "a place to talk, eat and chill out." Yoel (as the family calls him) has a heart of gold and I hope many more needed kids will join. Keep up the great work.
I read with interest Carin Davis' article on the probable Major League Soccer (MLS) "rookie of the year," Jonathan Bornstein of ChivasUSA (Pro Soccer Rookie Bornstein Gives Small Goals a Big Kick," Oct. 13). From what I am told, he is deserving of all the accolades he is receiving.
He is not, however, the only Jewish soccer star playing in the MSL in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Galaxy started the season with two Jewish players, Mike Enfield and Ben Benditson. Enfield remains with the team and is a major contributor. (There were, in fact, seven Jews in the MSL at the start of the season.) Incidentally, Benny Feilhaber was not Jonathan's only outstanding Jewish teammate as Enfield and he played together at UCLA.
Ephraim A. Moxson,
Jewish Sports Review
And Who Shall Die
Your thoughtful and thought-provoking column on military obituaries a few weeks ago inspired me. As stated in your column, few individuals within the Los Angeles Jewish community have a direct connection with a soldier, living or dead, serving in Iraq or Afghanistan ("And Who Shall Die," Sept. 22).
When the people with power and money in our society simply don't know the people who assume the personal risk of combat, it becomes painfully easy for the administration to sell the illusion that this war is necessary and moral.I attended the funeral of a soldier killed in Iraq in fall of 2004. The soldier was a former student whose younger brother was, at the time, a current student. I will never forget the wailing of this young man's parents as he was laid to rest. I can still hear his mother scream as I write this letter. Policymakers in Washington should have attended this funeral, as well as some 2,729 others. So should any Jewish Journal reader who doesn't really care about the war, "since no one I know is actually fighting."
Rachel Rubin Green
I am a Progressive Democrat and an active Jew--there is no contradiction between the two. Torah commands us to "Love you neighbor as yourself." Torah instructs us that all human beings are created "B'Tzelem Elohim--in the image of God." Torah tells us, "Remember the stranger for you were once strangers in a strange land." Torah instructs us that "God redeemed us with an outstretched arm."
I am a Democrat because I believe the only party in the United States that has policies that embody the principles of Torah is the Democratic Party. My party believes in the dignity of all human beings, and sees God in all human beings. We have never promoted the idea of a "Welfare Queen" and we stand up for national health care that provides medicine, and coverage for all people -- a policy which recognizes the unifying principle -- we are all children of Adam and Eve, we are all family, and because I have money and someone else does not, cannot mean I am more entitled to medication.
I am a Democrat because the Republican Party acts with one principle: money and might make right. This is not a Jewish value. I am Democrat because I stand for peace and justice over war and injustice. I am Democrat because I can patriotically criticize my government and stand like Washington, Jefferson, Abraham, and Moshe Rabeinu against tyranny and oppression. I am Democrat because I can stand like Lincoln for a unified vision of America that sees, as our Constitution, and our Torah tell us, "All ... are created equal." Not as the Republican party seems to see it, "All rich people are entitled to whatever they want and the poor should be grateful for whatever scraps they receive from the table of plenty."
I am a Democrat because even if one person in Los Angeles will go to bed tonight without dinner, then America is not doing fine. I am Democrat because Social Security, and Medi-Care, and Medic-Aid are promises to all Americans that we are a moral and just society. I am Jew who believes that when Torah came at Sinai and our gathered ancestors read, "Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof" they knew, as I know now, that the pursuit of justice is not just for us, but for all.
I am a Democrat because Israel is a promise to the world that "Never Again" is not a catch phrase but a covenant. I am a Democrat because the Republican Party is silent on Darfur, and loud on Iraq. I am Democrat because North Korea has a nuclear bomb and can sell it to Iran and Bush; Dennis Hastert and Bill Frist did nothing.
I am Democrat because I love Torah before wealth. I am a Democrat because like the Constitution, Torah is a covenant with its adherents, and the Republican Party violates its covenantal obligations. I am Democrat because lying about adultery is far less evil than 2,500 dead American soldiers in Iraq and at least 50,000 dead Iraqis. I am a Democrat because "To save one life is to save the world."
I am Democrat because the Republican party loves Israel and hates Torah. I am a Democrat because to love Torah is to love Israel.
Ari E. Moss
Rabbi Mel Gottlieb, the dean of the Academy Jewish Religion, CA's Rabbinical School and Chaplaincy Program was himself not identified as a rabbi ("Wanted: Someone to Help Suffering Jews," Oct. 13). We regret the error.
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