November 30, 2006
Letters to the Editor
In the May 19, 2006, issue of The Jewish Journal, Editor-in-Chief Rob Eshman noted that "of the 50 wealthiest Angelenos, 27 are Jewish" and further went on to say that their total wealth was on the order of $61.8 billion. As an engineer and hence a numbers guy, I figure that's an average of nearly $2.3 billion per billionaire.
We L.A. Jews come from all sorts of backgrounds from virtually every corner of the globe and every affiliation from ultra-Orthodox to nonobservant. But in every Jewish heart and soul there must exist a bond that unites us all. I mention this after reading the dichotomy of the 27 wealthy Jewish Angelenos and the thousands of Holocaust survivors subsisting in Southern California on roughly $1,000 per month in Marc Ballon's "Poverty Stricken" (Nov. 24) I was not personally on the list that Mr. Eshman refers to, and I don't live in an affluent area like Brentwood or Bel Air, but I'd gladly send Ms. Zucker $250 to move. But of course that's not the point. It seems to me that if we, as Jews, are to put any value at all on the principles of tzedakah (charitable giving) and tikkun olam (heal the world), we need to start at home by "never again" seeing articles that describe a wheelchair-bound Holocaust survivor's inability to get $250 to move from Hemet to Palm Springs.
When Mr. Ballon quotes Todd Morgan as saying that philanthropists would gladly give to a Holocaust museum but not to the victims, I have to ask what's wrong with this picture. With the hundreds of billions of dollars shared by L.A.'s affluent Jews, one would hope that some small percentage of this wealth could be earmarked to ensure that not only Southern California's Holocaust victims, but all elderly Jews, can live in dignity for the last 10 or 20 years of their lives.
The article in your issue of Nov. 3 by Josef Avesar, explaining the concept of an Israeli-Palestinian confederation, is a thoughtful, clear, concise yet comprehensive plan for relations between the Palestinian and Israeli states that so many hope to see peacefully coexisting ("Mideast Solution: A Confederation). A great deal of careful, creative and balanced effort has been invested by the IPC to foster an open dialogue on mechanisims by which current and future problems could be resolved. When the time is right, this proposal fully merits close consideration by the parties.
Ambassador Edward L. Peck
Former Chief of Mission in Iraq
The idea of an even loose confederation needs the agreement, and the good will of both sides. Early Arab rejectionism made impossible the overtures of left and liberal Jewish leaders to get along and create a binational state.
This conflict is a burden on both sides and should be put to an end in a reasonable and honorable way. Extremism will not be the solution. Extremes are the only solutions coming from the Arab side.
I received a copy of the article by Josef Avesar on the formation of an Israel-Palestinian confederation ("Mideast Solution: A Confederation," Nov. 3). This is a well written article with detailed proposals. In fact it is similar to the EU, where it functions well. The problem, of course, is to get the two partners to agree, and Mr. Avesar will have to come up with a workable plan to initiate discussions on how to take make this plan a reality.
Bill Boyarsky, like his former bosses at the L.A.Times and apparently the Chicago Tribune, just doesn't get it ("Times Faces Tough Job," Nov. 17). The paper keeps losing readers, and they think it's because they had to cut a few staff members or hadn't changed the front page format for a few years.
Boyarsky speaks about connecting with "the widely dispersed Latino, Chinese American, Korean American, Armenian, Russian, Persian, Pakistani and Indian immigrant communities...." That's because when liberals speak about diversity, they inevitably break people down by pigmentation, sexual orientation or country of origin.
What the Times lacks is diversity of thought and opinion. It's become little more than the mouthpiece for the DNC.
Only a fool would think it's a mere coincidence that in a city that is, say, 40 percent conservative, the paper has lost approximately 40 percent of its circulation over the past six years.
Davening at Aishhhhhh
It's funny how people like David Suissa, with uncontrollable urges to shmooze in synagogues during services, somehow manage to keep quiet when sitting in theaters during movie screenings ("Davening at Aishhhhhh," Nov. 17).
I guess they consider disrupting people's entertainment from Hollywood a greater sin than disrupting their communication with God.
In David Suissa's article, "Davening at Aishhhhhh'" he begins by stating, "It's Shabbat, and you've come to pray." After reading his opinion, I couldn't help wondering what part of pray doesn't Suissa understand. And more importantly, just who does he think he is praying to. The "shhhh" is a friendly reminder to know who he is standing before.
On Shabbat, the shul is quite full. Does Suissa realize that conversations are very distracting to the congregants around him? The next time Suissa comes to Aish Hatorah, there is a 10 a.m. class on prayer, where speaking and questions are encouraged. After the class, he can shmooze with the whole congregation and then get set up with a family for a delectable lunch with song and Torah discussions.
David Suissa responds: I am amazed at how some people are taking my light-hearted ribbing of Aish so seriously, so let me just say this: One of the leaders of Aish told me that they love this kind of stuff, because it spurs them on to constantly upgrade and freshen up what they do (in this case, their davening), no matter how good it already is.Venice's Eruv
This person, like many others, got the serious point of my article, which applies to every shul in the world: The better the davening and the melodies, the less you have to go shhhh. In other words, no shmoozing should be a result, not a rule. Was that serious enough for you?
I love the Orthodox community. I believe they are doing an important service for all Jews. However, this particular community is asking the government to participate and, in essence, promote an aspect of special religious need ("Carry On! Venice Gets an Eruv," Nov. 24). Putting an "invisible wire" around a few miles of West Los Angeles is a glaring error when it comes to the separation of church and state, or in this case, synagogue and state.