July 6, 2000
Letters to the Editor
Collaboration with al-Mayarati Shameful
Salam al-Mayarati certainly can't be trusted. At best, he is not a friend of the Jewish community, let alone of Israel ("Caught in the Crossfire," June 30).
The fact that leftist-liberal Democratic politician Adam Schiff chose to associate himself with al-Mayarati shows us all we need to know about his values and priorities. That is bad enough, but hardly surprising in a left-wing liberal today - Jewish ancestry or not.
What is much worse is the willingness of those with real Jewish credentials to involve themselves on behalf of Schiff and to engage in apologetics for al-Mayarati. These people either place the leftist cause ahead of the Jewish one or can make no distinction between them.
Their behavior is disgraceful and unhealthy and verges on collaboration. Shame on them.
Dr. Bruce J. Schneider, Irvine
Cohen Lawsuit Coverage Appreciated
I am a Jewish businesswoman from Thousand Oaks. Our newspapers give very little coverage to Kissandra Cohen's lawsuit against Ed Masry, even though he moved here three years ago and moved his law practice here, too ("Kissandra's Complaint," May 26).
He is now announcing that he is running for our local city council, and many of us are extremely concerned about Cohen's allegations of sexual harassment and anti-Semitism. An update on Cohen's lawsuit from The Journal would be wonderful.
Jill Lederer, Thousand Oaks
Modesty Is Best Policy
There is no justification for sexually assaulting women, and men who do so are criminals and belong in jail, but based on her immodest appearance on the cover of The Jewish Journal (June 11, 1999), I am not surprised that Kissandra Cohen is alleging unwanted sexual advances. Kissandra, like all women, should take some responsibility to ensure that they are not the victims of unwanted sexual advances.
Certainly women and men know that a woman's physical appearance is distracting to men. Merely telling men to "get over it" belittles and minimizes men's nature. This is the way men are created. Men cannot get over it, but good men control it.
In the past, women became resentful of men expressing their base sexual nature in public and demanded change, and they have mostly achieved it. But there has never been a quid pro quo concession from women to curb their sexual nature - exhibiting themselves in public.
Women should begin searching inward for a way to promote goodness among men and women while recognizing and accepting that men will certainly be men. One way of doing that is to be responsible when appearing in public. Society must promote the values necessary to teach men that they must be stronger than their base impulses and teach women that immodesty is demeaning and can lead to a personal threat. Does Kissandra deserve unwanted sexual advances? Obviously, no. Did she help bring it about by her suggestive attire? Arguably, yes. She certainly does not dress in a way to minimize the alleged advances.
A. M. Goldberg, West Hills
Is Nothing Sacred?
Sex, masturbation, reaching a better orgasm, oral sex techniques, the G-spot, using common household objects for greater pleasure - sound like the topics for an X-rated discussion? Think again. These and other highly provocative subjects were all a part of a recent lecture that was led by a sex expert and was held at Stephen S. Wise Temple. The very erotic forum was also co-sponsored by Temple Judea, the University Synagogue and Kehillat Israel.
Isn't there anything sacred anymore? I never thought that I'd live to see the day when a respected place of worship has been turned into "Jerry Springer." In our current climate of anything goes, it seems as if no topic is too far out of bounds or unacceptable for public consumption.
But a synagogue? The very place that upholds God, morality, right and wrong, should know better. We attend this institution to learn to live our lives by a higher standard. We send our children to Sunday school and encourage them to absorb the lessons from the Bible and the Ten Commandments. On Yom Kippur we fast and atone for our sins, while we look to our rabbis for leadership and for a sense of direction.
With this in mind, and on the off-chance that I was wrong about my assumption as to what the discussion was going to be about, I decided to go to the event and see it for myself. Unfortunately, I discovered that after attending this sexually explicit and highly pornographic atmosphere, I came away with the sense that I had been cheated - feeling off-balance, and robbed from my idea of what is right and wrong, and what should be valued.
During the break I walked up to the speaker's table and picked up literature that told me all about the power of seduction, ways to enhance my love-making techniques and how to speak more erotically. I then made my way through the hall and couldn't help but notice pictures of the smiling faces of the temple's past confirmation classes staring at me, so wide-eyed, young and innocent.
I left the evening wondering what these leaders from the various organizations involved would have to say for themselves now? How can they explain or reconcile such a disparity in their value systems? Shouldn't they themselves be held accountable and answer to the same high standards as the rest of us? Doesn't the public have a right to demand that they do?
Rhonda Rees, Encino
Essential to Oppose Bigotry
Thank you so much for Rabbi Boteach's insightful article ("Dr. Laura Misguided on Homosexuality," June 16). I have been troubled by the anti-gay hate speech in which "Dr." Laura engages, and I feel it is essential that our teachers and leaders stand up to oppose bigotry whenever it is expressed.
Victoria Helton, Ventura
Torah Not an Evolving Document
The Israeli Supreme Court's recent mandate of absolute equivalence for all-male and all-female prayer groups at the Western Wall has spurred yet another heated debate about rights, entitlements and quality of treatment.
The language of some of the principal plaintiffs quoted in The Jewish Journal ("Widening the Wall," May 26), expressed the desire to give women "a voice in what may be the final frontier" in Israel and as one woman boasts, "the Torah is mine, and I don't have to be a spectator."
The fact is that from the giving of the Torah to the present, both woman and men have and have had a voice in bringing our ultimate redemption and its consequence - our complete return to Israel (truly "the final frontier") and in owning the Torah's individual dictates to men and women.
Sadly, the phrases and rhetoric of the Women of the Wall is a pale imitation of rights talk of the American courtroom, legislative chamber and academic journals. This is the language of American-style litigation. We are at home with it; it is familiar to our ears. But it has nothing to do with Torah.
The Torah is not an evolving document like the U.S. Constitution. It is removed from politics because it is from G-d; it knows not of democracy because it is timeless. We were presented with this gift for our common and individual good. But the gift can be received only if we accept it on its own terms.
Moshe Polon, Los Angeles