Thank you for your coverage of the peace deal between the Sudanese government and the people of southern Sudan ("The Graves of Sudan," Nov. 26). It is a relief to finally see a possible end to Africa's longest-running civil war.
While the signing of this peace agreement is worthy of increased attention, the ongoing crisis in Darfur still casts a long shadow. This peace deal does not cover the ongoing conflict in Darfur, where the Sudanese government continues to wage a campaign of genocide against its own citizens.
Over the past two years in Darfur, 400,000 people have died, and 2 million more have been made homeless. The realities in Darfur will not be changed in any way by this signing ceremony, and until the ongoing genocide in Darfur is fully addressed by pressure from the U.S. government and a United Nations intervention force, peace will continue to elude the people of Sudan.
We cannot allow the slaughter to continue. The United States must support a meaningful United Nations intervention now.
I agree with David Myers that it is debatable whether the Jews were the most important influence in the 20th century ("Undue Influence?" Dec. 31). However, I do believe that the 20th century could be called the Jewish century in a certain sense. The 20th century saw a historic transformation in the Jewish condition reminiscent of the Exodus.
Yuri Slezkine's use of Tevye's daughters to illustrate this is inspired. The shtetl Jews had their covenant, but otherwise they were oppressed on every side with severely limited prospects of alleviating their status.
Those who came to America used the opportunities here in an exemplary fashion. Those who went to Palestine found their land and their spirit so that if tsuris were not eliminated, there was no longer the crushing despair of victimhood.
Only two of the Mercurial transformations were destined to strike gold, however. The exchange of one covenant for another as the path to power and influence brought some advantage, but was eventually disastrous in Russia, as it was in Germany. Perhaps this should be a source of reflection for non-Jewish Jews.
Julie Gruenbaum Fax's benevolent account of Glatt Mart presents one side of the story. While the mart may have thrived despite inadequate parking, the surrounding neighborhood was not so fortunate ("Overnight Fire Destroys Glatt Mart," Dec. 31).
Eilat Market and Glatt Mart shared the same block but did less than nothing in a cooperative manner to mitigate the traffic and parking problems this engendered. As a resident of Shenandoah Street, I can attest to the endless frustration created by the customers of Glatt Mart blocking access to private driveways and flagrantly disregarding clearly marked red zones and loading zones on our street.
Lisa L. Rubin
Thank you for the "Power of a Blessing" in your Dec. 24 issue. I still have excerpts of Naomi Levy's previous column of Dec. 20, 2002, on my refrigerator door. I shall treasure this second article even more, since it contains a variety of blessings. Each one is like poetry, coming directly from the heart.
How blessed we all would be if we were willing to bestow these on all whom we know and love, as well as on all of mankind.
Devoted to 'Children'
Kudos to Marc Ballon for his fine article, "Friendships Add Life to Scholarships Role" (Dec. 31).
As the former Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) scholarship administrator, I can personally attest to Bernie Axelrad's devoted work on behalf of his "children."
I recall how he, his voice filled with pride, recounted stories of veteran Casper Mills-JVS scholarship recipients who had met with great success in their respective fields, and how after all these years, continue to correspond with him. I also recall how Bernie would agonize over those who were not quite as organized as he would have liked them to be. I could almost feel him pacing the floor in frustration and fatherly concern, even though we were both seated in our respective rooms conversing by phone.
At times, our conversation would drift to our shared birthplace – New York City – and together we would reminisce about long-ago landscapes and the ethos of those times. But Bernie's fond memories of the past did not prevent him from looking toward the future and believing that it held good things in store for his "children" – if they were willing to work hard for success.
Thank you for showcasing someone who by nature does not seek honor or gratitude for all that he does.
Our ethical teachings state: "Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot." Bernie has not been one to merely be content with his lot, he has made it his life's work to improve the lot of others.
Lighten Up on Christmas
The founding fathers of this great country had the wisdom and compassion to break with the long-standing tradition of religious oppression in Europe and create a nation with true religious freedom ("Lighten Up on Christmas and Christians," Dec. 24). The result is an unprecedented acceptance and flourishing of a Jewish community outside of Israel.
How do we thank our Christian friends for this incredible gift? We thank them by demanding that their most important holiday, Christmas, be removed from the public eye.
The Jewish people were chosen to bring godliness into the everyday world, not remove it. It is clear from the writings of the founding fathers that they sought a society with freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Jews should turn their energies and focus toward celebrating their own holidays and improving their own lives, and stop badgering our Christian neighbors.
Dr. Michael Feinman
The world has come together to provide aid to the countless victims of the tsunami disaster. Yet, the United Nations cannot resist using this critical humanitarian relief effort as an opportunity to once again damage the State of Israel.
The United Nations list of 34 countries, including Nepal and Estonia, contributing aid to the tsunami victims, printed in the Los Angeles Times and in newspapers throughout the world, has omitted Israel.
Upon news of the disaster, the Israeli government immediately pledged $100,000 to each country affected and has already sent a team of doctors and more than 100 tons of medical and humanitarian aid. We probably can't expect integrity or decency from the scandal-plagued United Nations, but readers deserve the full story.
YULA Girls' School
We, as members of the YULA Girls' School Torah Studies faculty, feel truly blessed and privileged to be a part of the YULA family and appreciate all of the efforts of the board. We both respect and admire Chana Zauderer for her professionalism and her friendship.
However, we were left shocked and hurt by Julie Gruenbaum Fax's "Girls School Debuts New Campus" (Nov. 26). There were a number of factual errors that we would like to correct. We have been using rabbinic texts to aid the teaching of Dinim for many years. Zauderer is not following any new trends. Modern Israeli history and leadership seminar have been in the curriculum for a number of years. YULA has always directed girls to seminaries in Israel in which each student could experience optimal growth. Finally, we have always been a community school with a faculty that related well to the Modern Orthodox community. To insinuate that Zauderer and the lay board have brought these "improvements" to the school is outright slander against our former administrators and teachers, as well as those faculty members who have been with YULA for many years.
Members of the YULA Girls' Torah Studies faculty School Option
In her article, "Where Will a Teen's Schooling Continue" (Dec. 24), Nancy Sokoler Steiner highlights one of the great struggles for Jewish parents today: How can I ensure that my teens receive a meaningful, practical and high-quality Jewish education?
Steiner correctly points out that one path to achieve this is at a Jewish day high school. There is a second wonderful option here in Los Angeles. Students may attend public or private secular schools and continue their Jewish education at Los Angeles Hebrew High School.
Our program offers fantastic courses in modern Hebrew, Torah and text study, ethics, history and Israel. Our students are eligible to receive high school foreign language credit, and we are blessed with a special community of teens which is second to none in the nation.
We are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges
and the Bureau of Jewish Education.
By partnering with our program, parents are able to continue formal Jewish and Hebrew schooling without the limitations or costs of a Jewish day high school program.
Los Angeles Hebrew High School
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