January 11, 2012
Letters to the Editor: Beit Shemesh, Lord Sacks, Ron Paul, City Guide
Fanatics Are Not Observant Jews
The opening paragraph of the article “Israel’s Religion Minister Fears Jewish Divides” (Jan. 4, jewishjournal.com) reads as follows: “Israeli society could be torn apart if disputes between ultra-Orthodox and less observant Jews continue to heat up, Israel’s religious affairs minister said on Wednesday.”
Let us be clear: These fanatics are not observant Jews. They practice sinat chinam, unwarranted hatred. They do not practice what the rabbinic sage Hillel called the essence of the Torah, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” They may be obsessed with what goes into their mouths but have no concern for what goes out of their mouths. They may eat glatt kosher but their behavior is pure treif. To label religious Jews such as myself and many that I know as less observant than these sinners is offensive. It grants them the victory of accepting that their definition of Judaism is genuine.
Shame on the minister of religious affairs. His comment is insulting. Their behavior is a hillul Hashem, a desecration of God’s name, certainly not the behavior of a religious person.
Lord Sacks Deserves More Credit
As someone who attended two standing-room-only talks given by Britain’s Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in New York two months ago, I would like to redress the somewhat negative impression of Rabbi Sacks in Rob Eshman’s editorial (“Lord Shmuley?” Jan. 6). Rabbi Sacks is the most articulate, engaging, animated and enthusiastic proponent of Judaism I have encountered. I will personally refund [the book’s purchase price to] anyone who doesn’t come away from reading [Sacks’] “A Letter in the Scroll” thinking that it is one of the best arguments for being a Jew and maintaining their Judaism they have ever come across.
Regarding Limmud, while he has not attended since being chief rabbi, he attended more than once when he was head of Jews’ College (the British equivalent of Yeshiva University) [now London School of Jewish Studies] and enthuses about Limmud in glowing terms.
And regarding his effect on Jews in Britain, the number of Anglo-Jewish children attending Jewish day schools has risen from 25 percent to 65 percent in the 17 years he has been in office. In case there is any doubt about his desire for outreach, let me recommend the “ChiefRabbi” app for iPhone and iPad, where you can access his many books and sermons.
Helping the Needy Goes Beyond Beipeedy
We share David Suissa’s desire to help the most vulnerable in our community with dignity and efficiency without being burdened by “formal hoops ... a bunch of forms ... [and] performance metrics” (“On the Money,” Dec. 23). Please know that Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles works directly with our colleagues at The Jewish Federation and The Jewish Community Foundation to make sure that individuals and families in need get help as quickly as possible through our Emergency Grants program.
While there is a simple form to fill out, Jewish Family Service must be accountable to our donors and the public at large to make sure that we use our community’s generous contributions well. And we also know that assistance doesn’t stop with a check. Each Emergency Grant recipient meets with a highly skilled JFS social worker, who connects them to critical resources — counseling, job training, public benefits, groceries, legal assistance, to name just a few — he or she needs to return to self-sufficiency.
Anyone who is in need can simply call (877) ASK-4JFS or visit a JFS senior center, JFS SOVA Community Food & Resource Center, or other JFS site and get connected to help.
As the economy continues to falter and individuals struggle to make ends meet, what’s most important is that we all respond to calls for help with dignity and respect.
David O. Levine,
Chief Operating Officer
Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles
Survivors’ Stories — Necessary and Timely
Jane Ulman’s pieces on survivors are truly outstanding in telling of the tragic experiences of our brethren during the darkest period in Jewish history. As time passes and the number of those who miraculously have built new lives continues to decline, it is most important that their personal stories be made known, especially to the younger generations of Jews yet to be born when the Shoah occurred. I commend Ms. Ulman and The Journal for responding to a vital need in so effective a manner. Indeed, we must never forget.
Israel Study for Students With Special Needs
Thank you for the guide to Israel study programs (“Study Your Heart Out in Israel, No Matter Your Age,” Jan. 6). Although impossible to include all of the great schools and programs, you left out one that serves an important population. Yeshivat Darkaynu (midreshet-lindenbaum.org.il) offers a study-work program for young men and women with special needs. The program is designed for students who want to continue their learning, develop vocational skills and expand their love of Israel and the Jewish people. Darkaynu already boasts several Los Angeles alumni.
Ron Paul Would Be Best Ally for Israel
I appreciate The Jewish Journal’s measured and respectable treatment of Congressman Ron Paul’s position on Israel and foreign aid (“Iowans Weigh in on GOP’s Ron Paul and Israel,” Jan. 6).
Contrary to the hackneyed, empty rhetoric of mainstream media outlets, which have castigated the Texas congressman as an irresponsible pacifist with ultra-isolationist tendencies, Paul’s reasonable and constitutional policies would enhance the freedom and stability of Israel as well as of the United States.
Like many of the Paul supporters interviewed by Shmuel Rosner, I do recognize the bellicose threat of a nuclear Iran, but Paul has countered this fear with the facts on the ground: Israel, with its 300-plus nuclear arsenal, can more than protect itself in the face of immanent danger from the Iranian regime. As one of Paul’s supporters noted, the congressman openly supported Israel’s stealth bombing of Iraq’s Osirak nuclear facility in 1981, while the rest of the world openly cowered and condemned the action — but privately breathed a sigh of relief.
On another note, even if Paul does not win the GOP nomination for president, I believe that any Republican candidate would be a better and stronger ally of the Jewish state than the current vanity-in-chief, who has time and again “thrown Israel under the bus,” pressuring the Israelis to engage in land swaps for peace at any cost. Like Paul, I believe that the State of Israel does not need the chief executive of the United States leaning over the Knesset’s shoulder or badgering the prime minister on which treaties to sign, which concessions to make, or which nations to ally with or repudiate.
Arthur Christopher Schaper
Where Are the Women?
Congratulations on the new City Guide to Jewish life in the Los Angeles area, with something for everyone. Or not?
Leafing through the handsomely produced pages I came upon a two-page photo spread titled “Religious Life.” All the pictures were of males at various stages of life. What am I, chopped liver?
Whose idea was this sexist photo spread? Was the editor asleep at the switch?