With trepidation, I logged on to the Yad Vashem victims database ("Becoming a Nephew," Nov. 26) and typed in my grandparents' names.
In my heart, I knew that their names and the names of my aunts and first cousins would be there. However, when my family name and the list of my immediate relatives came up in black and white before my eyes, I felt shock and great sadness.
History became reality for my children's children, and for me in my 40s. I, too, became a grandchild and niece and cousin to those I never knew.
But more shocking to me was that my 80-year-old father, the survivor who submitted the data in 1991, became a son, a role that I never saw him play – a role that was taken away from him as a young boy.
I wish to express my congratulations to Robert Reich for his insightful and intellectual article on the condition of this country ("Gods, Gays and Guns: The U.S. Fault Line," Nov. 12). In the last two elections, two words have been pushed into the category of dirty words by right-wingers: "liberal" and "taxes." The word "intellectual" is also on the threshold of entering that category.
When I read about some conservatives saying that there should be no or very low income taxes, because people should be able to keep what they earn, it makes me angry. Anyone who actually earns millions and, in some cases, hundreds of millions of dollars a year does so within an environment that enables them to do that; they should therefore be responsible for more substantially supporting that system. What this president has done to the finances of this country is truly criminal.
Why the citizens of this land let him get away with it is because he uses the word "taxes" as if it was a dirty word. I am somewhat discouraged about ever getting the people in the red states to open their eyes and see what is actually happening.
Marina del Rey
Approval of Seal
I, a former Soviet Jewish refugee, am adding my voice to Dennis Prager's. What the ACLU is doing is despicable but hardly surprising to me ("History Behind the Cross," June 18). Years ago, the organization hounded a Ukrainian teenager throughout the United States, trying to capture him and turn him over to the Soviets. He refused to return to the Marxist-Leninist paradise.
I grew up in Los Angeles County with Hispanics, Asians, Anglos, Christians and other denizens of our diverse region. We respected each other's beliefs.
The ACLU does not; it is trying to change history, much as the Soviet rulers did throughout their bloody and idiotic reign. I see no problem with the cross on our county's seal. I see a problem with cowards who bow down to secular fascists and leftist lawyers.
Kudos to Dennis and all those who fight to keep the cross on our county's seal.
Thank you for H. David Nahai's insightful opinion piece ("A Question of Morality," Nov. 19). Like Nahai, I deplore the rhetoric of the Republicans in their admittedly successful appeal to morality, a specious diversion from the issues of jobs, health care, the environment, the trillion-dollar deficit – issues that represent abject Republican failures – when, in fact, the reptilian nature of their campaign strategies are the furthest thing from moral.
I smell an ugly comeuppance in the offing.
I think there are many, many thoughtful moderate Democrats who are reflecting on the electoral failure of the Democratic Party. However, there was a great deal of passion in Nahai's article. Bush won and we will watch the level of poverty grow, the number of low-paying jobs rise, the lack of medical care for one-third of the nation persist, and our precious freedoms eroded.
I am surprised that Republicans have not reflected deeply on the Patriot Act and the many articles about how prisoners after Sept. 11 have lost their freedoms. Please be assured that all of us will not be enjoying prosperity and President Bush has done little to help resolve the Israel problem, as well.
How can Republicans be pro-family when funding for housing and health care for single parents and poor families was reduced? Also, the Democrats are the ones with the commitment for social justice (civil rights) and a belief in the moral value of taking care of the poor and the widow.
I pray we will not lose our freedoms as we attempt to liberate Iraq.
Book of Job
My friends tell me that the Book of Job is one of the oldest books in the Hebrew canon, and it must be treated as a sort of allegory ("Safire Says Book of Job Political," Nov. 19). Even if Job was a very wise man, he could not see his own destiny or future, nor could he grasp the idea that humanity is still not perfect. We are still in the same position right now.
More than two years ago, my husband and I traveled to Cuba with a group advertised in The Journal, Sephardic Friends ("Letters," Nov. 26).
As a group, we brought medicine for the Jewish community; baseballs for orphans; met with Jewish leaders in Havana and in Cienfuegos, a small Jewish community; spent time with elderly Jews; and visited the Jewish cemetery in Havana. Other groups have brought wheelchairs, as well. We even unexpectedly found a cousin.
Our connections to the Jewish community in Cuba have continued. We correspond and, when possible, send medical supplies to the island's Jews.
While in Cuba, we ate in paladors, private home-based restaurants, as much as we could. The majority income from the paladors stays with the owners and not the state.
Yes, we enjoyed the scenery, the music and the art. We came away with a more educated view of life in Cuba and incredibly aware of the poverty these people endure.
There are hospitals but little medication, literate people but few books. Our dollars and gifts made life a little easier for a few people. Isn't that what we should all be about? Viva Cuban travel.
I certainly hope that The Jewish Journal continues to publish ads promoting Jewish solidarity tours to Cuba, contrary to the demands of Kathleen Sahl in her letter (Nov. 26), if for no other reason than to promote the wholesome American value of a free and unintimidated press.
I have led five tours to Cuba to express friendship with the Jewish community, four through the 92nd Street Y in New York, and one through Judeo Global Travel, with whom I expect to lead a sixth trip in April. While I would contest a number of Sahl's statements and misstatements, I would remind her and all Journal readers that Jews have supported our coreligionists in every country of the world for a couple of thousand years, whether or not we personally favor the particular regimes under which they live. Regimes change; the timeless values of our community deserve ongoing attention and sometimes aid.
Jews made significant visits to the USSR and other Eastern bloc countries all through the Cold War period, as well as to South Africa, Franco's Spain, to Muslim countries and any number of other places where Jews had problems, in order to help mitigate their situation.
If Sahl could experience for herself the magnificent and dedicated efforts the Jews of Cuba are making toward preserving and expanding their community under admittedly most trying circumstances, she well might change her opinion about the rightness of visiting Cuba.
Is she aware – is any Journal reader aware – that Cuba is now the country where the Jewish community is growing by conversion at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world? Is she aware that despite public pronouncements of support for Arab causes, there are several Israeli investors with factories and other interests in Cuba? Is she aware that the Republican-dominated Congress has repeatedly voted to end the travel ban to Cuba, only to be overridden by presidential veto?
The world is never quite so black and white as extremist ideologues paint it. Please continue to exercise your right to publish any ad you see fit.
Eric A. Gordon
The Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring
James Besser ("Gay Marriage: A Real Threat?" Nov. 26) not too subtly tars all opponents of gay marriage with the bigotry label in his article purporting to show that Christian pastors consider other threats to marriage, especially divorce, as more pressing and imminent a danger.
While he acknowledges that "gay marriage is an appropriate topic for serious debate," he then goes on to savage those who call for such a debate and who are opposed to such a fundamental redefinition of marriage. He accuses them of a cynical use of religion; blatantly manipulating the values agenda; cynically exploiting the marriage issue; displaying and giving legitimacy to bigotry; being opposed to equal rights for gays and lesbians; targeting gays and lesbians with hatred, fear and fury; and generally undercutting the basic civil liberties protections that Jews and other minorities depend on. So much for allowing a serious debate or for crediting opposing views with any degree of civility or respect.
The only intolerant bigotry I see in this regard is that expressed by Besser and friends toward those who do not share their obvious enthusiasm for same-sex marriage, and who insist on labeling any opposition as bigotry.