I was sorry to see the discord re: business folks who cheat and our Jewish community responsibility somehow to face the issues raised by cheating behavior ( “Bad Behavior,” Dec.11). Surely Rob Eshman wasn’t encouraging us to rub people’s faces in their deeds, nor to hurt their families, nor to foster gossip among us.
Similarly, I hope that Rabbi Steve Leder wasn’t urging us to ignore the fact that when the Jewish community has been enriched by inappropriately created fortunes, we should just “whistle it away” or quote ancient texts that probably were designed for another sensibility entirely (that’s an understatement). It is not good for us to gossip about people who have done bad things, and it is usually not fair to their families. And it is true that modern law is complex and sometimes what is illegal in one location is not illegal in another. But I believe that we must take seriously The Journal’s suggestion that we consider our relationship as a community to the behavior of some of our leadership.
The organized Jewish community is the first to demand that other communities examine their behavior; so let’s keep doing it in regard to ourselves.
So two suggestions: Indeed, the entire question of what constitutes generosity needs to be looked at. And, in the spirit of Rabbi Leder, perhaps we need to do a little more self-examination, as none of us is free of one kind of misbehavior or another.
Rabbi William Cutter
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
I was astounded in reading the letter to the editor, “Bad Behavior” (Dec. 25). In an effort to protect the “innocence” of a man who was “only indicted,” the author “decries” a leading Rabbi and accuses him of violating a unanimous halachic decision. There was no need to publicly defame a Rabbi in this way. The very protection that Jewish law demands for the merely accused should also have been applied to the Rabbi in question. This is bad behavior upon bad behavior.
Rabbi Robert Rome
More Summer Camps
I read with disappointment “Find a Camp That Fits” by Jill Levin and Jenny Wolkowitz (Dec. 25). The article, which references other West Coast camps by name, omits mention of Habonim Dror Camp Gilboa and Camp Miriam, two camps that the Zionist movement operates on the West Coast. Acknowledging that “most Jewish camps affiliate with a particular branch of Judaism” the failure to mention the Israeli kibbutz movement’s camps is an unfortunate oversight.
Israel or Hollywood?
As I was reading your cover story about the new moguls in town (“The Next Moguls?” Dec. 18) I had to keep turning back to the front page to make sure I was reading The Jewish Journal and not Us Weekly. I would love to have been at that cover-story pitch meeting.
“There are these two guys who got a bunch of money from daddy to make a movie with no Jewish content, who have made no philanthropic or intellectual contribution to the Jewish community, who admittedly will not marry anyone from the “tribe” because Jewish girls are “annoying and cliquey,” but they are really interested in independent films. This is a no-brainer, of course they should be on the cover. I guess we really are a Hollywood paper and maybe some of those fancy people at the Chateau Marmont will read our paper if we write about the moguls with the circumcision. L.A. doesn’t have much of a Jewish community anyway, just about a million. Great cover idea, let’s have lunch.”
I am sure that in 2010 there will be major developments related to Iran and its threat to Israel. And I am sure I will read about it in The Jewish Journal ... buried in a short article in the back pages. The cover story accompanied by a several-thousand word article will be devoted to yet another profile of a Hollywood B-lister whose only connection to the Jewish people is that he/she was born to a Jewish parent.
Looking forward to a 2010 just like 2009 at The Jewish Journal.
Re: “Sharing in the Celebration” (Dec. 25): I have met Ruth Hollman and am familiar with her many years of dedicated work at SHARE!, so I was pleased to see this article in The Jewish Journal. David Nava, a participant in SHARE!’s Chanukah celebration, said that people with mental disabilities are underserved, if not ignored, by the Jewish community. Though I’m not qualified to give any opinion about this statement, I believe it would have been helpful if the article had included addresses and phone numbers for SHARE!’s two locations, so that readers of The Jewish Journal who suffer from mental illness, substance abuse and trauma, and their family members, could immediately contact SHARE! to seek help.
Editor’s Note: The contact information can be found here.
The Jewish Buffet
David Suissa’s “Year-End Buffet” (Dec. 25) offered excellent insightful analysis in one paragraph worth repeating:
“The problem is that individual groups or movements have attached themselves to one section of the buffet, ignored the others, and said, ‘Here! This is Judaism!’ Torah-observant Jews might ignore history and literature. Cultural Jews might ignore Torah and prayer. Spiritual Jews and tikkun olam Jews might ignore both and so on. Yet each one will claim, ‘This is Judaism!’”
That paragraph is quite significant. Suissa inferred the obvious solution. Step out of your comfort zone. This sounds like the road I found myself on long ago, with my ultimate intention being to escape the Jewish world and all its subgroups and labeling. Then I would finally be free to speak my mind. Having arrived at my goal, unpredictably I find myself a member of a temple. However, membership is not obligatory and if the plusses do not outweigh the minuses I can and will leave. Many Jews do not see being Jewish or Judaism as optional, because as Suissa states, they are often willfully ignorant of the options available to them. While ignorance should never be an acceptable option it is often the preferred and seemingly safest option.
A related problem in Jewish society is self-righteousness. In most of these Jewish movements/groups there is a self-congratulatory attitude and a feeling of superiority due to each movement’s success in its particular area of focus or expertise. Essentially, there is a considerable lack of humility. This is both a turn-off and a stumbling block for those in need of what other movements/groups offer.
Regrettably, my hopes are not high for the necessary changes occurring. The problems that Suissa describes are both obvious and inexcusable and have existed for centuries. Nonetheless people continue to support their preferred movements/groups and those within who might be curious about other movements/groups are often judged as troublemakers, pushed away and forgotten.
The ultimate question is not so much “What’s wrong with Judaism?” as Suissa’s article initially asked, but “What’s wrong with Jews?” The answers are as obvious or as elusive as the open or closed minds, hearts and eyes of those inquiring.
Richard S. Levik
More troubling than the movie could have ever been is Irina Bragin’s analysis of “An Education” as anti-Semitic (“British Film Gives ‘An Education’ in Anti-Semitism,” Dec. 4). Bragin must spend a great deal of time indoors without Netflix to not understand that there is a difference between characters written to express a particular point of view (attitudes that were probably quite prevalent in London of 50 years ago) and a movie actually being anti-Semitic.
The only point Bragin really has is that yes, once again, a Jewish character is self-hating, not really attractive, not really sexy. My question is, when is that going to end?
I saw ‘An Education’ and thought it was a fine film. What many viewers, some of whom have lamented the “anti-Semitism” in the film, perhaps don’t know that it is based on a true story, the memoir of Lynn Barber in England. The story of her revulsion in looking back at how her parents allowed this man they hardly knew to take their 16-year-old daughter away to foreign cities for weekends, etc., is amazing.
How Hitler Was Defeated
It is dismaying to read of the hallucinatory fawning by rabbis and others over a fictional and violent movie, including even Eli Roth’s father (“My Son Killed Adolf Hitler,” Dec. 11).
The true story, the real and heart-wrenching epic of sadness, sacrifice, toughness and heroism, took place when the USSR gave 20 million lives in the fight against fascism in World War II.
This is not to diminish the contributions of the other Allied forces — my father, a Jewish kid from Hoboken, was shot down in his B-17 over France and joined the anti-Nazi underground there — but it was the Red Army that saved the world from Hitler.
Rancho Palos Verdes
Topic Ideas for Marty Kaplan
Every time I read Marty Kaplan’s column it is always the same ole-same ole. Republicans this and that, Conservatives this and that. How about writing a column on something happy and positive, about Jewish issues and events. I wonder how many other people feel like I do.
Marty Kaplan need not continue to harangue about conservative talk-show hosts and former Republicans who are no longer in power, and should focus on [members of] his Democratic Party who, with absolutely no help from those darned Republicans, are doing a fine job on their own of running this great country of ours into the ground. Write about that, Marty!
It was Sir Winston Churchill who once famously said, “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” After reading Marty Kaplan’s column for months, I wonder who Churchill had in mind when he said that?
Wonderful Magazine. Horrible name of a Jewish magazine and equally horrible for any magazine that is not printed on a Native American reservation for Native Americans. It’s discriminatory and makes me cringe at your insensitivity in selecting it as your name. I’ll bet you thought you were cute. NOT! I am not the only one. Everyone with whom I’ve spoken agrees: The name must be changed!
Missing Stockholm News
How come there was no mention in the news regarding the Muslim riots in Stockholm against the presence of the Israeli soccer team plus the build up anti-Semitism there?
I have to totally disagree with Rabbi Sela of Sinai Temple (Letters, Dec . 25). He thinks good revenge would be “capturing Hitler alive and making him attend the bris of every Jewish child born to survivors. Make him go to the weddings, the High Holiday services, every opening of every new synagogue….” Heck, why not have this despot join in the catered parties from Greenblatt’s deli too? No, the best revenge for Hitler would have been to capture him alive and make him attend every single funeral of the millions who perished because of him. That is the proper revenge.
Iran and the Bomb
Your Editor-in-Chief, Rob Eshman, writes he now is concerned about Iran acquiring the bomb (“New Year in Natanz,” Dec. 25). I certainly agree with this. Does this also mean Eshman is now ready to call the J Street outfit a bunch of leftist loonies who dismiss this looming possibility? It wasn’t too long ago editor Eshman suggested J Street should be given a chance.
Real Y2K Problems
In “The Decade in Review” (Dec. 25) there are two misconceptions about the Y2K problem. This article implied that it was a virus. Instead, it was a bug or programming error. Programmers used 2-digit years for date calculations since they thought that their programs would be replaced before the year 2000. However, many of these programs were not replaced and required repair.
Second, it was not a false alarm. Instead, the vast majority of programs were fixed or retired. I heard about someone returning a videotape shortly after January 1, 2000 and being told that the computer marked it as 100 years overdue (the clerk canceled the charge). Related to date-calculation problems are display problems. I received synagogue statements that listed the year as 100, 101, etc. until they switched to another software package.