Jewish Journal

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Jul. 13, 2000 at 8:00 pm

Stand Against Hate

When a synagogue is burned in Sacramento there is a cry from our people that such acts of cowardice shall not be tolerated. Likewise, we stand today representing the streams of our faith to condemn the violence that took place in the Jerusalem suburb of Ramot not two weeks ago. There, gasoline-soaked flaming rags were tossed into a Conservative synagogue, burning sections of the main sanctuary, chairs and prayer books.

We stand together, outraged at the vandalism perpetrated this past week against the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Jerusalem Campus. "Am Yisrael chai" remains as our rallying cry. We will not give way to those who would perpetrate such violence and hatred, whether it be here in our communities or in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.While police investigate these incidents, let it be known to Jews everywhere that understanding, tolerance and acceptance remain central precepts of our faith. We join with Rabbi Yisrael Lau, chief rabbi of Israel, in condemning violence and desecration; they are an anathema to everything that we hold dear.We call upon Jews everywhere to further their resolve to condemn the hater, to root out the desecrator and to promote acceptance and understanding in our lives, in our institutions and in our organizations.

Rabbi Alan Henkin
Regional Director
Union of American Hebrew Congregations

Alice Greenfield
Acting Director
United Synagogue of America

Rabbi Alan Kalinsky
West Coast Director
Orthodox Union

Rabbi Gilbert Kollin
Board of Rabbis

Osias Goren
Jewish Community Relations Committee
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles


Special-Needs Education

Recently, there has been an ongoing discussion about the lack of Jewish education available to students in Los Angeles who find themselves in public or nonpublic schools due to severe learning problems. We, parents of special-need daughters, are determined to give our daughters every opportunity to grow as bas Yisroel. We have appealed to local agencies for help in providing a program; however, their resources are very limited and they are unable to help. We are determined to create a class alongside a frum system where our daughters will receive their education from specially trained staff yet be able to fully interact with the yeshiva students.

There is a leading nonpublic school that has expressed an interest in helping us pilot a program whereby the girls would attend that school for secular studies and go to a yeshiva in the afternoon. The school may allow the girls to receive credit for Jewish studies as electives or social studies.Some educators in the community have been sensitive to our situation and have offered to help us formulate such a program. We know that there are families in the Los Angeles and Valley areas who would be delighted to join in such an endeavor.

We would like to call a meeting as soon as possible for all parents who would like to help plant the seeds of a special-education program for girls entering high school. Please pass this information to any families who might be interested and have them call us at (818) 706-0577.

Eli and Sandra Eisenberg, Agoura Hills

Lecture Was Tasteful, Not Provocative

After reading Rhonda Rees' letter (July 7) regarding Dr. Ava Cadell's lecture on intimacy at the Stephen S. Wise Temple, I am quite sure that while we both attended the same event, I live on Venus and she comes from Pluto.

I heard and saw a respectful and giving teacher talking only to adults about the way to be more sensitive and responsive to another person and how to add some imagination and humor to intimacy. Why should discussion and information not be available to those who genuinely want it?

As long as it is done in a tasteful and instructive manner - and it certainly was this time - I believe it has a beneficial role to play in adult life.

Rees complains that it was a very provocative and erotic forum. If that means that anyone was turned on by the clinical discussion and use of medical terms for parts of the body, then maybe they need more of these lectures.

In Jewish life, the synagogue has always been a center - a place to go when you're happy or troubled. It can be a refuge, a source of joy and a place to learn, not only about our history, but also ourselves and how to deal with the times we are living in.

There should never be a bar on learning, education, information and discovery. Thank goodness the leaders of our most cherished institutions know this.

Nancy Gitlin Friedman, North Hollywood

Population Estimates Don't Match Reality

Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin may be laughing all the way to the mikvah, and if he would go to his local Jewish community library his feeling that the number of mikvaot has increased would be confirmed. The number of mikvaot in Los Angeles has truly increased. For example, "1977-1978 Jewish Los Angeles: A Guide" lists six mikvaot. The 1982 guide lists eight mikvaot and the current lajewishguide.com lists 11 mikvaot.

My life as a demographer of Jews would be a lot simpler, as would the lives of many other Jewish planners such as rabbis and Jewish communal workers, if Jewish population and Jewish behavior were highly correlated with Jewish edifices. Unfortunately, they aren't. My survey findings on the decline in Orthodox households for L.A. are confirmed in other books in the Jewish Community Library, which document other recent Jewish demographic research that found the same Orthodox decline elsewhere in the U.S.

One demographic fact is clear: There are 10 unjustly accused, tried and convicted Jewish prisoners in Iran. It does not help the battle for their cause if the Los Angeles Jewish Iranian population booms by multiples in the pronouncements of communal leaders when there is a crisis. The number of Jewish Iranians that was found by the 1997 Los Angeles Jewish Population Survey was 18,000.

In The Jewish Journal last week, Rabbi David Shofet reported 30,000 and Jewish Federation President John Fishel and Jewish Journal contributing editor Tom Tugend reported 35,000 Iranian Jews in L.A. Interestingly, before the fall of the shah, Iran had only 80,000 Jews, according to authoritative Jewish demographic sources. The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics reports 10,000 immigrated to Israel since 1979 with an additional 11,000 who came in the decade before, and 25,000 to 35,000 are thought to remain in Iran. That would suggest, according to the numbers cited in The Jewish Journal last week, that all the remaining Iranian Jews were here in Los Angeles, a highly unlikely scenario considering smaller vibrant Iranian Jewish Diaspora communities in other U.S. cities, such as New York, and in Europe, such as Paris.I would suggest that anyone interested in a credible and rich picture of the Los Angeles Jewish community obtain a copy of "1997 Los Angeles Jewish Population Survey" and a copy of the "Needs of the Community" from the planning and allocations department of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles by calling (323) 761-8324 or by checking it out at the Jewish Community Library.

Pini Herman, Ph.D.Phillips & Herman Demographic Research

Jews Defend Lebanese Christians

After 20 years of news about the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the truth is finally coming out. As reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer and other media, 78 percent of the 6,000 Lebanese people who escaped to Israel when the military regime regained power are Christians.Since the conflict began, close to 1,000 Israeli soldiers have lost their lives while attempting to secure Israeli settlements and simultaneously protecting the Christians in southern Lebanon.

Howard Clark Kee, Ph.D

Rabbi Max Hausen
Executive Director
American Interfaith Institute/World Alliance

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