Jewish Journal

Jewball, The Missing Class, Bye Bye Bybee

Posted on May. 6, 2009 at 8:21 pm

As a long-time Laker fan, the stories about Jordan Farmar and history of Jews in American basketball prompted me to think about a player that current Laker coach and former N.Y. Knickerbocker forward Phil Jackson might remember well: Neal Walk (“Jordan Farmar and the Jewish Hoops Future,” April 24).

Walk played from 1969 to 1974 for the Phoenix Suns, was traded to the then-New Orleans (now Utah) Jazz and subsequently traded to the New York Knicks, where he played for two seasons.

Afterward, Walk went to play in Italy (Venice), after which he went on to play in Israel (Hapoel Ramat Gan).

In 1988, it was discovered that he had a benign tumor enveloping his spine. Following surgery, Walk was left in a wheelchair, from which he played wheelchair basketball for the L.A.-Phoenix Samaritans in the Southern California league of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association. In 1990, Walk was honored at the White House by President George H. W. Bush as the “Wheelchair Athlete of The Year.”

Walk has since gone on to work for the Phoenix Suns in their community affairs department. Walk is in the Miami Beach Senior High School Hall of Fame and a legend in the Jewish community. He is also in the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Michael Krems, via e-mail

The Missing Class
I am not of the Jewish faith, but if, as David Suissa quoted from Thomas Cahill in his recent column, “The Missing Class” (April 24), “this oddball tribe, this raggle-taggle band” has something for me to learn from, then I will open my heart, ears and hands; take it and share it with others who might enjoy reading [Suissa’s] stimulating columns but, because of their difference in faith, have never picked up a copy of The Jewish Journal.

Whether it’s a personal revelation (“Leaning Sideways,” April 17), a call for community awareness (“Laboring for Ethics,” March 6), or new insights meant for a changing world (“The Missing Class”) [Suissa’s] voice, directed to the Jewish populace, always resonates in my own (non-Jewish) soul.

Each week, I eagerly look forward to what buried treasures may await in his column.

Camilla D’Avignon, West Hollywood

As the spiritual leader of the Nachshon Minyan, a congregation established to reach out to the unaffiliated in the San Fernando Valley, I read David Suissa’s recent column, “The Missing Class” with interest and, I must admit, some frustration (April 24). The frustration is not with what Mr. Suissa had to say. His idea of a class on “Jewish Contributions to Humanity” is a great idea, so great in fact, that we’ve been doing something like that at the Nachshon Minyan Torah School for the past two years. As part of our curriculum, our students learn about the contributions of famous and not-so-famous Jews who’ve made a positive difference in our world. And, based on my experience, Mr. Suissa is absolutely right about the fact that exposing Jewish students to these individuals builds a sense of Jewish pride. My frustration is that he is unaware of the work that we or other small congregations are doing because of the difficulty we have competing with far larger synagogues for press attention. As such, I invite Mr. Suissa and others in the L.A. Jewish press to learn about the work of our congregation and others like us. We may be small but we’re just as committed and, sometimes, even more creative.

Cantor Judy Greenfeld, Encino

Bye Bye Bybee
Marty Kaplan’s, “Bye Bye Bybee” is on to something (April 24). It will be up to future screenwriters or novelists to “get the torture story right.” (Not any of the contemporary journalists or historians.)

Here is a future storyline:

The most powerful nation in history is savagely attacked, killing thousands of innocents. The leadership of this nation, as any responsible government, adopts measures preventing such an attack in the future.

Non-citizens suspected of planning harm on the nation are captured and incarcerated. A limited number of these individuals are identified as having information that leads to preventing future attacks.

Accordingly, the government utilizes interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists, extracting information preventing future attacks. Such methods are tame compared to crueler tactics used by the overwhelming number of nations on earth.

The nation is a democracy, so these and other measures operate within strict boundaries.

Honest people differ on whether certain interrogation techniques constitute torture, but empirically these techniques prevented at least one major attack against the country.

Instead of being hailed as patriots, those condoning the countermeasures are vilified, themselves called terrorists and threatened with incarceration.

Yes, Mr. Kaplan, this would be a perfect episode of “The Twilight Zone!”

Stuart Pardau, via e-mail

Unlikely Trio
Mr. King’s film, “The Rescuers,” will contribute to understanding one of the main lessons of the Holocaust: While the evil represented by the Nazis and their collaborators was widely researched, there is not enough focus on the brave feats of rescuers, diplomats and common people (“Unlikely Trio Uncover Tales of Wartime Rescues,” May 1). All of them made a difference. Most of them remain anonymous.

The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation is proud to have collaborated with Mr. King, Sir Martin Gilbert and their team in this blessed venture. We actively engage in research and recognition of unknown stories of rescuers, including Christians and Muslims alike. We believe in education as the best antidote against the recurrence of a new Holocaust.

The fact that Ms. Stephanie Nyombayire, a Rwandan human-rights activist who lost many members of her family in her country’s genocide, has a predominant role in the documentary, is a strong reminder that the legacy of the rescuers is as relevant as ever.

Danny Rainer. New York

Happy Birthday Israel
Once again The Jewish Journal has shown its journalistic priorities: assuming that every connection between Jews and Hollywood merits pages of coverage (“Beautiful. Intense. Israeli.” May 1). Thus the issue for Israel Independence day focuses on Israelis who have chosen to leave the Jewish homeland to seek fame and fortune in Hollywood. The profile of the cover girl even makes sure to let the reader know within the first two paragraphs that she is “hot” and has a “really great body.”

One could only hope that next year the paper takes a more Zionist approach to its Yom HaAtzmaut story by perhaps focusing on Los Angelenos who have chosen to make aliyah or spend time studying or volunteering in the Jewish State.

Joel Feld, Los Angeles

The article, “Heschel Students See Another Butterfly” (April 29, Community Briefs), attributed the project to the wrong school. Students and families at the Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School in Northridge created the Holocaust memorial wall and interviewed Holocaust survivors.

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