Jewish Journal

Letters to the Editor: Adults with special needs, Dennis Prager and JCC

Posted on Mar. 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm

More Resources for Young Adults With Special Needs

Regarding Julie Gruenbaum Fax’s article “Finding Their Place” (Feb. 24), about 20-somethings with special needs, I want to express my profound disappointment regarding the fact that, once again, there was no mention about the supports and services provided by the Regional Center system. Simply stating that they receive government funding is a slap in the face to many of the staff and service coordinators from Westside Regional Center who have advocated on behalf of many individuals featured in this article, along with the early collaboration I personally had with Ms. Reisbaum and Dr. Held in developing their programs. Several of my colleagues have provided similar efforts in working directly with the individuals and families.

I am happy to see the discussion about the challenges and successes many young adults with special needs experience become more prominent, and hope it will continue to foster more opportunities for many in all aspects of their lives. This discussion started 28 years ago with the support of the Council on Jewish Life and many Jewish professionals from the community who recognized the lack of opportunities within the Jewish community for the individuals we were serving, resulting in many of these individuals and families turning away from their synagogues and community centers. We’ve made progress but still have a long way to go. Please continue your efforts toward community awareness, but please remember that there are many others in the background who deserve to be acknowledged.

Lisa Basiri
Beverly Hills

Good Luck With That, Dennis

With all his rambling and soul-searching verbiage about the relationship between God and luck, Dennis Prager seems to have made a good case for atheism (“Can a Believer in God Believe in Luck?” Feb. 24). Fact of the matter is that “luck” is a well-defined term meaning the chance or probability of an event occurring. As a poker player for many years (I’m 85), I have learned that luck cannot be controlled. On the other hand, a skilled person can influence luck in his favor. (That’s the difference between winners and losers.) In our daily life, it’s no different. When you cross the street, there is always a chance you will be hit by a speeding automobile. That would be bad luck. If you take the precaution to cross at a traffic light and look both ways before crossing, you can vastly diminish the chance of such an occurrence. That’s influencing luck, and God plays no role there.

George Epstein
Los Angeles

My biggest problem with Dennis Prager is not the unprovable view of God that he asserts in this article, but rather his support and encouragement for Christian fundamentalists and Evangelicals in the United States, who want to take a particularly conservative interpretation of their religious views on abortion and gay marriage and turn them into secular law and impose them everywhere in this country, all the while making the absurd claim that the Constitution supports their views.

I would like to see Mr. Prager write an article connecting the dots between his relatively benign view of God in this article and his malignant support for the intolerant and undemocratic agenda of the religious right.

Michael Asher
Valley Village

Sad Days for the Jewish Community

I came to Los Angeles about 50 years ago, when the Jewish population was about 250,000 (“Seniors Angry Over Plans to Close JCC,” Feb. 10). Yet we had a thriving Jewish Federation Council that not only supported internal departments but raised funds for its agencies and supported Israel and overseas operations. We had the most magnificent Community Relations Committee (CRC) and a thriving Jewish centers organization. We had seven Jewish centers then plus an extension Jewish center program that worked with temples and synagogues from Long Beach to West Covina, from Palos Verdes to the North Valley. We had one of the most impressive community libraries in the country, and even more.

Now we have a community that reaches nearly three times as many Jews, and what does the Federation do — one more step in relinquishing its role in Los Angeles?  First it got rid of the most prestigious CRC in the country, it disconnected all of the agencies so that they must raise their own money for operations, it got rid of any connections with Jewish organizations in Los Angeles by dropping the council part of its operation, it cut back on all of the centers, and it gave the library to the American Jewish University, which is far away from the center of the Jewish population.

Where are the programs to help integrate young Jewish people into the Jewish world? The centers provided a place for them.

For a quarter of a century, The Federation has been cutting back. Can anything be done to move it back into this world?

Al Mellman
Former Federation Council professional

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