June 23, 2005
The Gaza Fight
Imagine a person's agony when the doctors tell him that in order to save his life, he must amputate a limb. ("The Battle Over Gaza in America," June 17). Imagine the increased agony when a second group of doctors tells him that not only will amputation not help his condition, it will actually worsen it.
I think this is an apt analogy when thinking of the imminent withdrawal from Gaza.
Regardless of a one's political and/or religious sentiments, every Jew should feel a great sense of agony over what is occurring to our brethren in Gush Katif. Necessary or unnecessary, it is nothing less than an amputation of our people from their land.
That is why I appreciated your fairly written cover story on Jon Hambourger and savegushkatif.org. Hambourger is a level-headed, pragmatic person, who respects and loves all Jews regardless of their political and religious affiliation. Despite the fact that his political views may not exactly coincide with yours or mine, he has earned my respect as a Jew who will not stand by silently amidst his brothers' and sisters' pain.
We stand together with Hambourger and savegushkatif.org, and pray on behalf of our troubled brethren in Israel.
Rabbi Daniel Korobkin
In February of this year, I traveled with my sister to Gush Katif. My life changed. My main mission became how I could help save this precious place. In the Gush (Kfar Darom) I saw schools, shuls, factories and, most important, a people who are dedicated in their belief in God, surrounded by a murderous enemy who will stop at nothing to destroy them. Please all God-fearing Jews and non-Jews, help save the Gush and Shomron. Without them, there goes Israel!
I just don't understand what drives people like Jon Hambourger and his anti-Gaza disengagement group. They use two lines of argument to base their insistence on retaining Gaza: 1) Eretz Israel, including Gaza, was given to the Jews by God, and 2) Gaza is needed for Israel's security. The first argument is weak, and the second is incorrect.
How good is a biblical claim from more than 3,000 years ago in the modern world, especially considering that the claim was not maintained for most of those 3,000 years. It is true there have been Jewish residents of Jerusalem, Hebron and the Galilee continuously since before the Babylonian exile, but except for about 100 years during the first century B.C.E. Hasmonean (Maccabee) Kingdom (which did include Gaza), there has not been Jewish control of the land until the U.N. partition in 1948. The land was controlled by Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabians, Christian Crusaders, Ottoman Turks and the British.
Israel's right to exist comes from the U.N. separation, and the fact that for almost 60 years, millions of Jews have lived on the land and built a democratic, economically successful nation. But we must not forget that Palestinians have lived in the region for far longer, and they, too, have earned rights to the land. And that brings us to the security question.
Israel's security ultimately relies on Israel being a democratic society. Sure a strong military can maintain control in the short term of an Israel that includes the West Bank and Gaza. But a Palestinian population that is treated as second-class citizens and feels dispossessed will be a continual security threat. To control that population, the Israel government will continue to get less democratic. The Palestinian population will develop into the majority over the few years, which brings up the very worrisome demographic problem.
Surely the demographic problem is one of the reasons that pushed Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to back Gaza disengagement. It puts off the demographic problem for about 15 years.
So why do anti-Gaza pullout people like Jon Hambourger want to retain Gaza? It will surely make them feel good. But, as a Jewish American, I worry that if they are successful, it will result in a weakened Israel and will end Israel's being a Jewish homeland.
La Habra Heights
The Real Brains?
After reading this article in the June 10 edition of your newspaper, I was hard-pressed not to think it was racist ("Rare Ailment Occurs More in Ashkenazis"). Yet, in a strange way, I was also flattered, as my husband and I are both Tay-Sachs carriers, and I can only think that some other "sphingolipid-storage"- challenged researchers came up with the tests to determine if a fetus has the disease. Thanks to them, we have three healthy, intelligent kids.
The question of Ashkenazi intelligence has previously been discussed by Max Dimont in his book, "Jews, God and History," where he connects it to genetics and social values, coupled with natural selection and Darwinian evolution. If finches in the Galapagos can evolve into different species within generations, then Jewish intelligence can be linked to the tradition that sends the first-born son to the Yeshiva and marries him to the daughter of a rich father who can support him and his family while he devotes his life to study. All of which is in contrast to the Catholic tradition of giving the first-born son to the church and a life of celibacy without issue.
E Richard Cohen
In "Israeli Artist Paints a Path to Healing" (June 17) Rhea Carmi's age should have been listed as 63. Her relative who died in the Yom Kippur War was her brother-in-law.
I read your article in an April 1 issue titled, "Zucky's Counter Culture," where you quote Zucky Altman as saying that in 1954, "Santa Monica had one Jewish merchant, a dress shop."
Altman's memory is incorrect. I can remember at least four Jewish merchants in Santa Monica in 1954, and I believe there were a number of additional ones:
1. My mother (Rose Gold) and uncle (William Shalat), who had a ladies' clothing store at 1431-1433 Third Street (I count these as "one merchant").
2. Adolph Braun (my godfather), who owned Braun's Men's Wear next door to my mother's store.
3. Marty Goodfriend, who owned Goodfriend's Jewelers.
4. The Jewish owner of another ladies' clothing store across Third Street from my mother's store. I cannot remember that person's name.
Arnold H. Gold
I wish I could agree with Jacob Neusner's praise of Chabad in your June 17 article ("Why Reform, Chabad Are Necessary"). I find them to be a bigoted, self-servicing religious body best described as a cult with lots of chutzpah, and whose pockets are lined with lots of money, and no lay board to govern them. Nor do we need ghetto living in America.
Hyman H. Haves
As I read Jacob Neusner's column I was reminded of the old adage, "Those who know, do; those who don't know, teach). It is a shame that one who teaches Judaic studies apparently knows so little about Orthodox Judaism. I am a member of both a Conservative and a Chabad shul and have attended a Reform synagogue a few times in order to say Kaddish and as a bar mitzvah invitee. Contrary to Neusner's assertion that the Reform movement is "willing to cope with problems that Orthodox reading of halacha treat as cut and dried, and which they botch completely," and that "there is a human dimension to take into account," which Reform takes into account completely misstates the Orthodox and especially the Chabad movement. The non-Jewish woman he cited who raised "three Jewish children" and could not be buried in a Jewish cemetery did not raise Jewish children. She gave three children, born of a Jewish father, a Jewish education for which Hashem should bless her. She had the chance to become Jewish by converting prior to her death but, for whatever reason, she did not do so and therefore cannot be buried in a halachically Jewish cemetery. It is not a matter of being heartless but of observing Torah Judaism. If you want to be buried with your spouse in a Jewish cemetery you should marry a Jew. It is one of the things that people intermarrying should discuss beforehand but probably never do.