Jewish Journal

LETTERS: September 11-17, 2009

Posted on Sep. 9, 2009 at 10:59 pm

Money Isn’t Everything

As a young professional dedicated to philanthropy and the spirit of tikkun olam, I found the cover article on Sam Nazarian to be quite distasteful and very shallow (“The Brew That Makes Sam Nazarian Tick,” Sept. 4). Yes, the wealth Mr. Nazarian has amassed in his relative youth is awe-inspiring, but where is the mention of giving back to the community in any meaningful way? If there was a Sam Nazarian foundation aimed at helping children of immigrant parents or a Sam Nazarian wing at the hospital of his alma mater, that would have made this story worthy of front-page recognition. The fact that it did not occur to your editorial staff that this crucial component was missing highlights the fundamental disconnect in Jewish Los Angeles — a disconnect that worships wealth and status and discounts the substance of one’s character. 

Name withheld upon request

I recently read your article on Sam Nazarian, the millionaire from the Jewish Persian community. I was puzzled by this person. Why is he looked upon as such a local hero? Because he’s young? He was raised in a rich family, lives an excessive life with fast, expensive cars and owns hotels, real estate and clubs. I’m thinking — what is so special about a person who thrives on building an empire of money and power? What has he given back to community?

Sandra Shapiro
via e-mail

Wagner’s Bigotry Matters

I read Rabbi Harold Schulweis’ op-ed questioning Jews’ celebration of the music of Richard Wagner in the current Wagner Festival in Los Angeles (“Let Wagner Be Heard?” Aug. 28). As an opera-lover and a Jew, I take issue with E. Randol Schoenberg’s response (Letters, Sept. 4).

Just because Wagner might be rated an eight on a 10-point scale of Jew-haters of his time doesn’t matter much. Wagner became a cultural and national icon, and his views, along with his music, have become part of worldwide culture. His statements mattered. To say that his loathsome private feelings and public statements against Jews and Judaism should be tolerated as ordinary in the scheme of things is intellectually dishonest. His “ho-hum” level of anti-Semitism led to a later generation of his family becoming close friends with Hitler, so apparently someone took their views seriously. 

At what point, exactly, does Schoenberg feel religious bigotry should become tolerable to Jews or anyone else? Should Jews be held to a higher standard of accepting bigotry when it comes to us, or should we not stir the waters of civility or culture with our own self-interest? I suggest that Schoenberg’s self-regard as an LA Opera board member, bolstered by being a descendant of a famous composer and winning a Holocaust case as a lawyer, has clouded his vision as to being an “ordinary” Jew like the rest of us. It seems that he can’t see the trees for the illustrious forest he’s planted around himself.

Sara L. Cannon
via e-mail

Religious Schools Get Bad Rap

As a religious school director, I am more than disheartened to read the article by Rachel Heller titled, “Innovative Religious Schools Take Hold” (Aug. 28). In this article, there were many assumptions made about synagogue religious schools. I don’t understand the “innovative” idea of a few students meeting with a teacher in a private home. This idea is not novel. In fact, years ago many religious schools got their start in just that way. Children attended religious schools in homes while their parents strived and worked tirelessly to build a synagogue. I also don’t understand why learning in an environment not set up with classroom materials, bulletin boards, appropriate tables and chairs, and learning equipment is so amazing? I also think that it is very sad that there is an assumption in the article that a religious school education at a synagogue is rigid and unpleasant.

A synagogue gives students a well-rounded Jewish education and it gives our members a second home. Most importantly, a synagogue gives our students the sense that their Jewishness is important…. At Temple Etz Chaim Religious School, we strive to give our students a positive and enriching Jewish education and community. I invite anyone to visit our synagogue and religious school, and I will personally give you a special glimpse into an innovative religious school education.

Joyce Bronstein
Director, Temple Etz Chaim Religious School
Thousand Oaks

THE JEWISH JOURNAL welcomes letters from all readers. Letters should be no more than 200 words and must include a valid name, address and phone number. Letters sent via e-mail must not contain attachments. Pseudonyms and initials will not be used, but names will be withheld on request. We reserve the right to edit all letters. Mail: The Jewish Journal, Letters, 3580 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1510, Los Angeles, CA 90010; e-mail: letters@jewishjournal.com; or fax: (213) 368-1684.


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