The great reformer Stanley Gold has a great challenge ("I'm Gonna Make It Relevant...," Oct. 19). Yes, The Jewish Federation has lost the support of many of us who used to make donations. To restore its image, Gold has the task of changing a culture that has arisen over recent years that has made The Jewish Federation appear irrelevant to many of us.
This started several years ago, when The Jewish Federation abandoned the Jewish Community Centers. Instead of understanding the reasons for the demise in membership at the Westside Jewish Community Center and helping to set the center on a positive track, The Jewish Federation turned its back on it and other Jewish Community Centers in the area. As a consequence, the management at The Federation has been perceived to be less than relevant in helping the Jewish community in Los Angeles and has lost our support.
I was pleased with your cover article, "Shul Tripping -- A Nostalgic Hippie Tours the Alternative Scene" (Oct. 12). Renewal and other meditation-focused synagogues in Los Angeles are attractive not only to hippies from the '60s but also to younger Generation-X hippies like me. Hopefully, Roberto Loiderman's survey will inspire your readers to attend services at one of the congregations mentioned in the article during the upcoming year.
Last year after attending Yom Kippur services at Makom Ohr Shalom, I decided to become a member. The last 12 months have been filled with rich and joyful Jewish self-exploration under Rabbi Debra Orenstein's guidance.
She has provided tangible, modern interpretations of ritual and has challenged me to pursue a constant elevation of my spirit. Orenstein, herself a young mother of two, infuses tradition with vitality, and her message of hope for the next generation is exhilarating.
As a wife and new mother, my Judaism has been recharged and renewed by exploring one of the alternative Jewish congregations in Los Angeles. I encourage other readers to do the same. You may even find a moment of transcendental ecstasy!
Ann Coulter should send a cake to Omri Ceren, if she hasn't done so already. Now, even after a blatant anti-Semitic statement, she can still claim that "some of my best friends are Jews" ("Over-Clamor Over Coulter's Comments," Oct. 19).
As for Ceren, disguising his cheap right-wing propaganda as an intellectual debate didn't quite work. He compares, for example, the belief that Jews are "nonperfected Christians" (Coulter's phrase) to the belief that "Christians are wayward Jews."
"And how can a person who's confident in their faith find that offensive?" he asks.
I don't know where Ceren was in school the day they taught the history of the Crusades, the pogroms in Eastern Europe or the Spanish Inquisition. If he has heard of these instances, than he'd probably find these thoughts of Christian anti-Semitism quite offensive. And yes, they resulted in quite a bloodshed, unlike the Jewish belief that Christians are wayward Jews.
And while neither Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad nor Coulter have killed a Jew quite yet, they both propagate a line of anti-Semitic thought that has killed many Jews.
And for Ceren to defend one of them, who has just repeated what the church has said to justify the persecutions and killings of hundreds of thousands of adherents of his own belief, is nothing short of shameful.
So, for helping Coulter make the Spanish Inquisition a legitimate institution, I have only one thing to say: Ceren, you should be ashamed of yourself.
Fundamentally, what Ann Coulter argued is what Torquemada argued in Spain in the 15th Century -- Jews are imperfect, because we have not accepted Christ. Omri Ceren's laissez-faire attitude of Coulter's statement is the kind of passive acceptance of ingrained anti-Semitism that leads to travesty for our people. Expelling Jews from Spain was not the primary goal of the grand inquisitor, no the primary goal was to perfect Jews by having them accept Jesus.
Well, I do not want to be "perfected" in that way and apologists for modern-day Torquemadas need to learn the lessons of history. It is shameful that some of us have not learned from over 500 years of hatred, distrust and violence against our people.
I would assume that one of your goals as editor of a Jewish community newspaper would be to bring all of the elements of the Jewish community together ("Agahozo"). Your throwaway comment in your Oct. 19 editorial "(though, frankly, not enough Orthodox ones)" should have been thrown away.
This appears to be a purely personal opinion of yours that does not have any stated factual backup. Even if it was true, it would seem that some friendly talks with Orthodox leaders would be more productive than your negative sentence.
Do you believe that even if true, there are no other groups that have not participated in raising funds for your current charity project? Why aren't they mentioned? Could it be because of your personal agenda against the Orthodox community?
I do not know who made you czar to decide how much should be given to any one cause by any one group. Do you have knowledge of how much and what percentage of income and assets is given by members of the Orthodox community to their charitable causes? Did you talk with the organizers of your current favorite charity and ask them if they approached Orthodox leaders to participate in this worthy project?
It takes personal contact to raise money. It doesn't "just happen."Yale M. Harlow
Leslie Susser writes of the peace plan currently under discussion that any deal would include "the proviso that nothing will be implemented on the ground until the Palestinians put a stop to terror against Israel" ("Jerusalem Status Takes Center Stage in Run-Ups to Talks," Oct. 12).
Unfortunately, the Israeli experience in negotiating with the Palestinian Authority shows that such a proviso will actually prove to be worse than useless.
To this day, the PA has not fulfilled its 14-year-old signed Oslo commitments to arrest terrorists and end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feed terror.
Yitzhak Rabin said that if the PA failed to honor its commitments, he would send the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to retake Judea and Samaria. The PA failed, but the IDF was not sent. Binyamin Netanyahu demanded reciprocity from the PA in return for Israeli concessions. Israel conceded more land, yet the PA merely reiterated past undertakings and did nothing.
The Bush June 2002 speech and the 2003 "roadmap" peace plan all called for PA action on terrorism and incitement before Israel makes concessions. Yet today, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has simply skipped these interim phases and jumped to final status matters, while Mahmoud Abbas' PA continues to protect terrorists, praise "martyrs," urge "resistance" and refuses to change Fatah's constitution, which calls for terrorism and Israel's destruction.
Pretending that the PA will be held to account only encourages further Israeli concessions to a party that has yet to demonstrate any interest in actually living at peace with it. A wiser policy would be for Israel to offer nothing until and unless the PA fulfils its prior obligations.
Morton A. Klein
Zionist Organization of America
Who's Afraid of Ahmadinejad?
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has forced the resignation of Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator (viewed in the West as a relative moderate) and engineered the appointment of Saeed Jalili as his replacement ("Who's Afraid of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad," Sept. 28).
Larijani's resignation and the appointment of Jalili puts Iran's nuclear program firmly in Ahmadinejad's hands. Within Iran, this is reported as a major victory for Iran's hard-line president. Now we can expect that Iran will push its nuclear program even more aggressively.
Thus, I believe that the publishing of my letter by The Jewish Journal is even more important than ever so that your readers can be given a view that is an alternative to Jesse Walker's.
I guess it was sheer luck that 41 percent of the eight to 10 Americans who know two all-beef parties are in a Big Mac, cited in your Oct. 19 Spectator article, "A New Film Series of Biblical Proportions," got it right and did not name "Thou shall not kill" as one of the Ten Commandments. But then I wondered if any of them corrected those doing the 2007 study and pointed out that the correct translation is "Thou shall not murder?"
In "Six Activists Illuminate 'Darfur Now.'" (Oct. 19), the American Jewish Committee was misidentified as the American Jewish Council. In addition, the article incorrectly refers to Adam Sterling as being "partially of Jewish descent." He is Jewish.
In "Museum of Tolerance Faces Fight Over Expansion Plans" (Oct. 19), Yeshiva of Los Angeles was misidentified as Yeshiva University High School of Los Angeles.
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