September 29, 2005
I support Rabbi David Wolpe's position entirely ("We Must Condemn Heartless Bilge," Sept. 16). Rav Ovadiah Yosef has made Israel look very bad. Why would a scholar of Israel speak such racism, a man of our ancient traditions who should have more respect for human suffering? All Jews of good faith owe it to the people of Louisiana to condemn Rav Ovadiah Yosef.
Thank You Hatzolah
As a volunteer with Hatzolah of Los Angeles, I was happy to see that the efforts of my colleagues, Rabbi Chaim Kolodny and Rabbi Tzemach Rosenfeld, were recognized ("Going in After Katrina," Sept. 16). It is important to note that the dedication these individuals displayed is not uncommon among the volunteers of this wonderful organization. The more than 100 volunteers stand ready on a 24-hour basis to answer the call for help. Whether they get up in the middle of the night to assist a patient having chest pains or leaving their families on a moment's notice to help search for a lost child, the dedication is absolute and highly professional. Thank you Kolodny and Rosenfeld for your efforts, you make us all proud.
I must take issue with my friend Bob Hertzberg and his resistance to the November school bond measure for needed new schools in Los Angeles ("School Bond Measure Gets Failing Grade," Sept. 16). He has created a straw man in depicting the current school construction as "warehouses." In fact, LAUSD has made great progress in creating new schools that are outside the box, including small primary centers, and themed schools connected to important community institutions, whether the Science Center or Orthopedic Hospital.
Clearly, new buildings by themselves do not improve student performance. Sadly, just as these new schools are opening, state funding support for the basic education program remains grossly inadequate. In fact, LAUSD has been required to make nearly $1 billion in budget cuts in recent years. But we cannot get around the fact that new schools are a necessary -- but not sufficient -- response to the challenges of public education. New schools allow students to avoid long bus trips and return to their neighborhood school. New schools allow crowded year-round schools to return to a traditional schedule.
We should not force students and parents to remain out on the sidewalk at 6 a.m. waiting for the school bus to take them across town, because some of us would like to see a better design process or more collaboration with city government. We can, as Hertzberg hints, have both -- new schools and a visionary approach to making schools the center of the community.
Editor's note: The writer is a former LAUSD school board member.
Guns and Froman
Rabbi Ari Hier's letter illustrated precisely the type of illogic that characterizes the arguments of the NRA and the gun lobby ("Letters," Sept. 16). He begins his letter by stating that he learned that Israel was founded on God and guns. What the fact that Israel used guns to protect the newly declared state after it was invaded by Arab armies on all sides has to do with gun control in America is beyond me.
I also found amusing Hier's noting an affiliation with the L.A. Sheriff's office. Major police organizations have consistently lobbied against the NRA and in favor of gun control measures such as the Brady bill. Does Hier oppose the ban or assault weapons (like the M16 he carried in the Israeli army) or the strict registration of gun ownership and purchases? The NRA does. I would hope that in his time as an armory volunteer, Hier speaks to law enforcement officers about the advisability of easy accessibility to weapons by civilians vs. stricter controls. I am sure it would be an interesting discussion and learning experience for him. Few who I have ever spoken to think more guns in civilian hands is a good idea.
Let me add my outrage about Sandra Froman ("She's Armed and President," Sept. 2). Is she such a hero that she has to have her picture on the front page of The Jewish Journal? She is setting a terrible example for our young Jewish women who are taught to abhor violence. Self-defense is one thing, but rifles are only for killing innocent animals, birds and sometimes even children. Do we have to accept all the bad qualities from our macho men? It makes me shudder.
What's wrong with having a good, faithful watchdog to protect you? He would also prevent thieves and intruders from getting into your house and would offer companionship, in addition.
The NRA is a violent rightwing organization that we Jews should not join. You see in countries where there is strict gun control like England, France and even Japan there are far fewer murders than in the United States, where the old Wild West mentality still prevails.
I was petrified when I picked up the yellow-covered High Holidays issue of The Jewish Journal (Sept. 16). For us Jews yellow is a reminder of the Nazi period when Jews in the ghettos had to wear a yellow Mogen David.
The appropriate color is blue and white because this is the color of Jewish life.
Name withheld by request
Having just read Mihal Lemberger's review of Robert Pinsky's "The Life of David" one has to agree with the view that King David was a deeply flawed character ("David: Great Leader or Damaged Hero?" Sept. 23). The biblical sentiment that his throne "shall be established forever" does not imply an endorsement of David himself as a role model for a Messiah and in fact the prophet Nathan roundly condemns King David for his evil acts against God and tells him his descendants will suffer as a result of his murderous deeds. Having had Uriah killed so he could marry his wife, he also brought destruction on 70,000 Israelites through his misbehavior. Hardly an example for a future Messiah.
In fact in normative Judaism of biblical times messianism did not appear until the time of Daniel in the second century BCE, so King David cannot be the basis for a messianic figure for previous and present generations. Unfortunately for conventional scholarship there is no one else to look to.
When it comes to the descriptions of messiahs seen in the Dead Sea Scrolls, we perhaps see a clue to the real figures that originated messianic ideas in Judaism. Messiahs, because the Qumran-Essenes, the possessor/authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls, wrote about two -- and possibly three -- messiahs. One royal, one priestly and one like Moses. The royal figure was certainly not King David and the priestly figure is not suggested in the Pentateuch or any succeeding Hebrew text. As professor Joseph Fitzmyer of the Catholic University Washington notes, "It is a surprise to see a priestly figure become part of the Qumran community's messianic expectations, because there is little in the Hebrew Scriptures itself about a future priest." He finds no reasonable explanation for this phenonomena.
Cabs and Conscience
Helen Schary Motro, consumed with guilt because she refused to ride in a taxi with an Arab driver, reasons that she "too [is] a casualty of the occupation and the intifada it caused" and asks the driver's pardon ("Never Been Mugged," Sept. 23). If the intifada was caused by the "occupation," I'd like Motro to explain the 1921 and 1929 and 1936-39 anti-Jewish riots by Arabs, their strenuous military and terrorist efforts to prevent Israel from being born and the continuous warfare since 1948 by regular Arab armies and Arab irregulars attempting to destroy the Jewish state.
Helen Schary Motro suffers from that typically Jewish affliction, cancer of the conscience. Like any cancer, it causes the affected organ to grow abnormally large, but increasingly interferes with its function until it becomes more of a danger than a faculty.
She is not "a casualty of the occupation," but of the headhunters' penchant for senseless and atrocious violence. This is directed at various "infidels" around the perimeter of the Muslim empire (Chechnya, Cyprus, Serbia, Nigeria, Sudan, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Lebanon), and at other Muslims (Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Kuwait, Kurdistan, Iran, Afghanistan).
Their terrorism against us predated our return to Samaria and Judea, and claimed Jewish victims in Israel even during the 19 years when not one Jew set foot in those provinces. It predated the founding of the state.
This intifada was planned when Arafat was offered more than he could have dreamt of, and saw the excuse for existence of his gang being removed. It started with the murder of a Jewish soldier, days before Sharon's famous visit to the Temple Mount.
Is it but coincidence that following the U.S. pressuring of Israel to forcibly expel 10,000 of it's citizens from the Gaza Strip, they had to forcibly evacuate, for the first time in U.S. history, their own citizens from New Orleans ("Getting Out Before Katrina Still Painful," Sept. 16)?
But if that is not enough to show divine wrath, now the president's home state is being targeted by one of the most intense hurricanes in recorded history!
Could this not be modern-day biblical plagues?
White Oak, Pa.