Jewish Journal

Expanding the Museum of Tolerance, Obama, Goldberg, CAMERA, Suissa

Posted on Feb. 14, 2008 at 5:00 pm

Bloods, Crips and the Rabbi

Letters commenting on your recent article about Rabbi Abe Cooper unfortunately conveyed some serious errors of fact concerning the proposed expansion of the Museum of Tolerance (Letters, Feb. 1).

The Museum is proposing a modest expansion to accomplish its mission of providing exhibits and professional training in how to recognize, confront and deal with cultural prejudice. In addition, the Museum is proposing to expand its facilities to accommodate its cultural and educational mission.

It is the height of hypocrisy for some neighbors to characterize the Museum's proposal as anything but a needed reconfiguration of space to accommodate the growing need for education in cultural tolerance. These people may have legitimate issues with the Museum's operating practices, and they should try to work out reasonable solutions, but the nasty attack on the rabbis and the institution is, frankly, intolerable.

As a nearby neighbor, I support the Museum's expansion plan, and I want you to know that many others do as well.

Isabelle Novak
Los Angeles

Down Syndrome

Thank you for the sensitivities of inclusion and your positive reporting on the raising of children with Down syndrome in the Feb. 8 edition of the Jewish Journal ("Film Shows Down Syndrome No Obstacle to Prayer").

However, if the readers are to gain insight and an education from exposure to this and other articles, the facts must be correct.

The reference in the article to a gene causing Down syndrome, with a predisposition in Ashkenazic Jewish families, does not seem to have any merit in published research. The research does indicate that the presence of an extra gene on that extra 21st chromosome causes the mental incapacities in Down syndrome.

Kathy Reynolds
Science Teacher
Heschel Day School

Thanks to The Jewish Journal for publishing the stories of two extraordinary Jewish young people and their families who live with the burden of Down syndrome, but do so with Judaism as their guiding light ("The Journey to Inclusion," Feb. 8).

Your readers should know that another extraordinary young man with Down syndrome, Wesley Baer of Torrance, was called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah in June 2007 with the guidance of Chabad Palos Verdes Rabbi Yitzchok Magalnic.
The clear message is that young people like Wesley, Michael and Shmuel may have limitations, but determination is not one of them.

Dan Freedland
Rolling Hills Estates


Like all the other advocates of exploiting poor workers, Rob Eshman attempts to advance his cause by using the term "anti-immigrant" instead of "anti-illegal immigrant": he disputes Pat Buchanan's claim that they make up 30 percent of the prison population stating that it is only 6 percent or 7 percent, but fails to cite his source ("Immigration: Time to Share the Heavy Lifting," Feb. 1).

Eshman wants Mexico to stop people from crossing the border, give them benefits (so they won't leave) when, in fact, Mexico gives them maps to help them find their way over the border and when, in fact, Mexico has made it clear it wants to export their poor to relieve their burden. Hocus-pocus!

Morton Sinclair Wright
Marina del Rey

Ed. Note: The source for Eshman's statistics is "The Immigration Charade" by Christopher Jencks, Jencks cites the U.S. Bureau of Justice as his source.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) took the lead fighting for comprehensive immigration reform during last year's rancorous debate in Congress.

Not enough voices cried out for comprehensive immigration reform and there is little reason for optimism during the 2008 election year. However, American Jewish Committee (AJCommittee) joined with us to make its voice heard and continues to stand with immigrants and their families. At a recent CHIRLA rally, AJCommittee Los Angeles Executive Director Seth Brysk rallied with students and civic leaders in support of the DREAM Act -- a bill that would have provided a path to citizenship for undocumented students who pursue higher education or serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. Although a bipartisan majority of senators supported it, the bill did not pass.

We need more organizations like AJCommittee creating partnerships across ethnic and religious divides to work for what is fundamentally good for the United States -- a comprehensive immigration policy.

Angelica Salas
Executive Director

Presidential Primary

Brad Greenberg's article was way off track about Jewish support in California and elsewhere for Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee ("Presidential Primary '08," Feb. 1).

Huckabee, who has visited Israel nine times, has inspired young Jews to support his candidacy. Proudly, our grandson is the on-campus representative for the governor at UCSD. He has studied his campaign very closely, and he knows that other support comes from Jason Dedrick, a New Hampshire State Representative, and several members of the Jewish Task Force.

Greenberg, look before you leap!

Gerry Minas
Westlake Village

I am shocked and dismayed by the number of Jews supporting Obama's candidacy, given the fact that his pastor has praised Louis Farrakhan as "a man of greatness."

Barack Obama can join any church in the Chicago area, yet he chooses to attend one led by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr., a Farrakhan fan.

Muriel Potter
Sherman Oaks


With all due respect, I have to disagree with your position regarding CAMERA ("Butt Out," Jan. 25).

Faced with an aggressive Islamofascist PR machine that infiltrates mainstream media like the L.A. Times and sends all sorts of agents to attack Israel and Jews verbally -- while supporting the terrorists who attack physically -- we urgently need watchdog forces like CAMERA to expose the slander being slung against us.

Rabbi Baruch Cohon
Via e-mail

I read with interest your exchange with Andrea Levin re: CAMERA and the upcoming Sabeel conference at All Saints Church ("CAMERA, Sabeel and The Jewish Journal," Feb. 1). You are correct in asserting that the All Saints community will be much readier to hear a reasoned alternative viewpoint from the Jewish community than to be pressured about what they shouldn't be permitted to hear.

I fear, as you do, that such coercive attempts are ultimately counterproductive ... they make the recipient wonder what we are so afraid of, and they raise suspicions that our real fear is that they'll be exposed to some sort of "truth" that we wish to hide from them. This risk is exacerbated by the reality that folks in the All Saints community can easily find some Jewish voices in Los Angeles who see the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians similarly to Sabeel. Thus, any attempt to silence Sabeel would cast the mainstream Jewish community in a very negative light -- as an "Israel, right or wrong" lobby of sorts that is contradicted by "right-thinking" Jews.

Rabbi Ken Chasen
Leo Baeck Temple
Los Angeles

Goldberg and The L.A. Times

I was shocked and dismayed that Los Angeles Times Op-Ed Editor Nicholas Goldberg couldn't tell when anti-Semitism was slapping him in the face ("Q & A With Nicholas Goldberg," Feb 1). How could anyone, especially a Jew, not see the anti-Semitism and Nazi-like reference of the illustration of a Jewish star shackling Uncle Sam printed in his paper? Goldberg tries to justify the use of the cartoon by saying that before the creation of Israel, the Star of David was used to represent "the Jews."

Must I remind Mr. Goldberg that the Nazis used a yellow Star of David to mark "the Jews" during the Holocaust? The way the Star of David was depicted in the L.A. Times illustration echoed the anti-Semitic Der Stermer Nazi cartoons from the 1930s, as do hundreds of modern-day illustrations widely printed in the Arab press. Maybe the L.A. Times had the chutzpah to run the illustration because they knew that Jews wouldn't violently protest its printing or threaten the life of the illustrator.

Kathy Hallgren
Via e-mail

Mogen David

David Suissa has artfully told the story of Congregation Mogen David's "Saturday Night Live" learning experience for fathers and sons ("Detail of the Week," Feb. 8).

Yet there is even another powerful story behind this remarkable gathering. This synagogue founded by Rabbi Abram I. Maron has been a traditional Ashkenazic congregation since its beginnings more than 100 years ago. When Rabbi Gabriel Elias, its associate rabbi and executive director for 19 years, became the principal rabbi six years ago, he realized that this institution needed an infusion of new families if it was to grow and regain its former vibrant self after a number of years of declining membership. He had a significant vision that Sephardic and Askenazic Jews could coexist at this spacious though underused building. He brought Sephardic Jews to the shul.

This harmonious mixture indicates that what divides us, as Jews from different parts of the world with divergent customs, is insignificant to the fact that we are all one people. The great experiment that Rabbi Elias started, and that many said would not work, has become a wonderful reality.

Daniel Langbaum
Congregation Mogen David

Growing Gap

In my opinion the "Growing Gap Between Orthodox, Non-Orthodox," relates to the evil of all religious fundamentalism. Fundamentalist Muslims, Christians and Jews all say theirs is the ONLY way (Feb. 8). The State of Israel makes the difference. As a Reform Jew in the United States, the Orthodox have no impact on my family's life whatsoever, but if I were a Reform Israeli Jew, my children would have to leave the country to get legally married. Also, only Orthodox rabbis and institutions are subsidized by the Israeli government.

The Israeli Orthodox use the system of government to extort their theocratic traditions upon the majority of non-Orthodox Jews and Israeli Arabs, making a farce of "democracy." The Orthodox encourages continuing the war with the Palestinians because it is claimed that God promised the Jews all of the Holy land. It is my opinion that the most secular Jew, such as David Ben Gurion, to the most observant Orthodox rabbi, and all the different denominations in between, constitute a Jewish people who should all enjoy equality.

Martin J. Weisman
Westlake Village

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