Great issue (April 3)! I was visiting my sister in Los Angeles. We picked up copies of The Jewish Journal at Habayit Restaurant, partly because of the insert on Artifacts, Stories & Music. Being a musician, I was particularly intrigued by the Nowakowsky article. But then I leafed through The Journal itself and found quite a number of articles I enjoyed reading and wanted to share (e.g., with my wife back in San Francisco). Nice work, guys; a hearty “well done” to you for an enjoyable and informative magazine.
Jeff Levinger, via e-mail
Confronting ‘La Causa’
Kudos to The Jewish Journal for exposing KPFK’s anti-Semitic radio program “La Causa” (“Latino Radio Show Stirs Concern Over Views on Jews,” March 20). I wish I could offer the same kudos to Jaime Rapaport and David Myers’ response to the “La Causa” program (“Extremist Opinions Must Not Go Unchecked,” March 27). Instead of leading protests outside of KPFK, they wrote an article to their fellow Jews wringing their hands about how extremists hurt the Jewish Latino alliance.
If the African American or Latino community were confronted with the disgusting, over-the-top racism that Jews always face from the “progressive” community, they would confront it with in-your-face, angry demonstrations. The offices of KPFK would have been occupied. Myers and Rapaport would probably have joined in the protests.
Unfortunately, unlike African American and Latino leaders, the Jewish community response to outrage is, at best, statements that our feelings have been hurt. Will somebody please give our leaders some cojones?
I’m not a psychologist, but I think a little anger and outrage would be good for Jewish self-esteem and might get us more respect.
Peter Weinberger, Los Angeles
L.A. Times on Israel
I read with dread David Peyman and Sam Yerbi’s piece regarding the awfulness of the Los Angeles Times when it comes to writing about Israel (“That’s Where The Debate Is Going,” April 3). The bias is so obvious that it is embarrassing. It is smeared all over the paper — in the news from Israel, in the articles written by known Israel-haters, in the editorials and even in the letters. The first victim is Israel, the second is the truth. Fairness never found its way there. I am always disgusted when I run into an editorial where the editor tells Israel what to do as if a sovereign country like Israel is obligated to listen to some editor of a thin paper in Los Angeles who wants to tell Israel how to run the country, or rather how to give it away to a bunch of murderers who have no right to it whatsoever but just simply want it.
Forgive the cliché, but what we have here is old-fashioned anti-Semitism, loud and clear and heartbreaking, and it happens here in our city.
Batya Dagan, Los Angeles
Your April 3 issue detailed a recent meeting held between a top L.A. Times editor and local Jewish notables who were dismayed at the editor’s statement that Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state was a legitimate issue around the world. I think the discussion is much too limited.
What right does Vatican City have to exist as a Catholic statelet in Italy? What right do Iran and Pakistan have to exist as explicitly Islamic states? What right does the United States, the heir to illegal European colonialist settlers, have to exist on land expropriated from the indigenous inhabitants? The same question applies to Australia and New Zealand, or to the illegal British settlers in Northern Ireland, or to the Latin American states, all the heirs of illegal colonialist Spanish and Portuguese settlers. I want there to be a full discussion of issues like this in the Times and other media outlets, rather than focusing solely on Israel. If there is no such discussion, I’d like people to talk about why such issues aren’t being raised.
Chaim Sisman, Los Angeles
Thanks for the Opinion piece by David Peyman and Sam Yebri about their meeting with a senior editor of the L.A. Times. I agree with them: There is no question in my mind — and many other readers’ too — that the L.A. Times editorial policy has been badly skewed in favor of anti-Israel rhetoric. And congratulations to The Jewish Journal for the courage to publish their opinion piece — to tell it as it is where the L.A. Times is concerned.
Peyman and Yebri urge our community to speak up — write a letter to the editor. I have done just that, many times; and the L.A. Times has published quite a number of my letters under both my name and a pseudonym — but never a letter critical of the L.A. Times editorial policy, and certainly never about their apparent anti-Israel leanings. I had considered canceling my subscription to the L.A. Times, as have a number of my acquaintances (maybe that’s one reason their subscriber base is down). How else can we make our concerns heard?
George Epstein, Los Angeles
I can’t believe that your Editor-in-Chief Rob Eshman could make such a ridiculous statement as “look at him,” he’s not Italian he’s Jewish (“American Idols,” April 3).
Since when is Jewish a nationality and not a religion?
The last time I checked, I’m pretty sure you can be Italian and Jewish at the same time.
Lastly, what does an old Jew look like?
Nesha DeAngelis, Santa Monica
Rob Eshman responds: Fair point, since some of my best friends are Italian Jews. I was using sloppy shorthand for Italian Catholics.
The phrase “ultra-Orthodox” is used by gentiles, as well as fellow Jews who dislike observant Jews, to marginalize observant Jews, as well as Muslims, etc. (“Spinka Rabbi Sentenced to 24 Months,” April 3).
Please let The Jewish Journal show its higher level of journalism by refraining from such negative, hateful words as “ultra” when speaking about a Jewish sect which is doing a better job than most of us are in keeping to our Jewish traditions.
Avi Balser, via e-mail
The “faulty conversions” ad of Eternal Jewish Family (EJF) in The Jewish Journal last week insults the integrity of thousands of sincere Jewish couples in Los Angeles (Page 34, March 27).
“Full halachic observance” is not the authentic standard of Jewish identity for the overwhelming majority of American Jews. In our contemporary Jewish community, there is widespread tolerance for diverse patterns of observance.
Conversions to Judaism authorized by Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative rabbis are accepted as authentic by the majority of religious Jews in America. Only the minority of Jews identified as Orthodox declare our converts to be “not really Jewish.”
In Los Angeles there are two pluralistic Rabbinic Courts that meet regularly to authorize responsible conversions to Judaism: The Rabbinical Assembly Beit Din and the Sandra Caplan Community Bet Din. Each of these Rabbinic Courts welcomes dozens of converts to Judaism every year with dignity, diligence and kindness.
EJF is a narrow-based Jewish religious group. Their claim to speak for “universal” Judaism should be recognized and rejected by readers of The Jewish Journal.
American Judaism is spiritually vigorous and proudly pluralistic. EJF attacks and insults the very premise of American Jewish solidarity.
Rabbi Jerrold Goldstein, via e-mail
No Peace For Israel
I can only echo David Suissa when he writes that President Obama will discover that “no amount of American engagement or Israeli concessions can undo the reality that for the foreseeable future, the Palestinians are utterly incapable of delivering peace to Israel.” (“Mind-State Solution,” March 27).
If peace depended upon American engagement or Israeli concessions, peace would have come long ago. Successive administrations have devoted endless attention to negotiations involving Israel and the Arabs: President Clinton’s first Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, undertook 22 trips to Syria, without positive result. Israel has ceded half of Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza, and handed over assets, funds and even arms to the Palestinian Authority (PA), again, with no positive result.
There is no purpose negotiating with and rewarding with American taxpayer funds an unreconstructed PA that protects terrorists and incites hatred of Jews and Israel in its media, mosques, schools and youth camps. On the contrary, ending ties and aid will be perhaps the only thing that could help bring about a true reformation of Palestinian society.
Sadly, with $700 million given to the PA in the last year by the Bush Administration and hundreds of millions more in the pipeline from the Obama Administration, the conflict is being needlessly prolonged.
Morton A. Klein, National President, Zionist Organization of America, New York, NY
Torah Slam 2
Yesterday, I attended a very interesting event in the theatre on Wilshire Boulevard (“Torah Slam Rabbis Debate,” March 27). Five Rabbis from different Jewish congregations discussed the main source of being a good Jew.
Of course, we heard the most eloquent explanations from biblical points of view about behavioral and moral qualities of a human being. Amazingly, there were even controversial opinions that made the discussion sharp.
I wondered about and at the same time admired those people who raised this question in the time of economic deficiency in the USA. Maybe they are sorry for Madoff, whose greediness caused so many losses for people who believed in him.
Surprisingly, the huge hall of the theater was completely full and most of the people were young.
People then, after the main discussion, were asking a lot of questions that seemed very important.
There was a young woman from Israel who had just finished serving in the Israel army. Her reaction to the rabbi’s words — “Jews, as human beings are obliged to help people of different races and nationalities” — was an immediate decision to help homeless people. She asked if it would be appropriate to build for them kinds of kibbutzim in Israel.
I think the discussion was a success because the leader David Suissa looked like a professional conductor of a symphony orchestra.
Sofia Gelman, Los Angeles
Jewish American Idols
I assume you never viewed Billy Joel when he was interviewed on “Inside the Actor’s Studio” (May 30, 2000) when Lipton brought up Joel’s Jewish heritage and Joel elaborated on the subject (“American Idols,” April 3).
Aside from that part of the interview, the show was like a class in music appreciation when Joel educated the audience on how he wrote his words and music.
If you never saw the show, it is extremely entertaining to a fan or non-fan.
Milt Cohen, Chatsworth