February 15, 2012
Letters to the Editor: JCC closure, Kosher Jesus and prostitution
Effects of JCC Closure Widely Felt
Every morning I take my kids to school at The JCC at Milken. As we enter the Early Childhood Center, we are greeted by the teachers, the secretary and the director, who have become family through the years.
We are in disbelief and frustrated that this great place that we know and love will be shutting its doors to our kids, to us, to the teachers and faculty, to the seniors who have a place that cares for them (“Seniors Angry Over Plans to Close JCC,” Feb. 10). We are being sold out.
As Jewish people we are bound to stick together, because of our past and for our future generations. We do not turn our backs and do not close doors.
These seniors are us. These are the people who paid the memberships, tuitions, the bills, raised the funds for the synagogues, Jewish Federation, Jewish schools as part of the Jewish community in their peak earning years. These are the people who bought the land that the sharpies are trading away. These are the older generation that is now being segregated away from the multigenerational contact that a JCC provides. These are the seniors who provided and protected our public good all their lives and are now being deprived of it along with many other vulnerable segments of the Jewish and general community. Their slogan is written in Psalms 17: Do not abandon me in my old age.
Save the JCCs.
Expand Our Embrace of Converts
I share Rob Eshman’s opinion that the Jewish future will be greatly enhanced by truly welcoming all those who feel drawn to Judaism and the timeless truth of its teachings (“The Embrace,” Feb. 10).
At my synagogue, Temple Knesset Israel of Hollywood, we are in the midst of a dramatic reinvigoration since welcoming an influx of congregants of Sephardic descent, primarily from Central America, who wished to learn and participate in our beloved Jewish rituals. Rabbi Robert Elias is currently teaching a third conversion class at our synagogue, and Shabbat attendance, not long ago less than 20, now averages over 60. The devotion of our new members is remarkable, and they have transformed our synagogue into a vibrant, diverse and certainly unique congregation.
A miracle, perhaps?
Harvey Shield, president
Temple Knesset Israel of Hollywood
You’ve written a moving and important article about embracing converts. The eyewitness account of the young boy reciting the Kiddush provides a convincing snapshot to show that when it comes to conversion, the Jewish people’s imports are better than our exports.
I hope you will write additional articles on the subject of conversion, especially about how the idea of embracing converts can become more widespread among American Jews.
Another View of Jesus
When Shmuley Boteach released his book “Kosher Jesus,” he expected to be throttled by the Christian community but instead was metaphorically “spat upon” by many within the Jewish community (“A Jesus Even Jews Can Love?” Feb. 10). Rather than acting like barbarians, let’s be civil and come to terms with the fact that Jesus has been one of the world’s foremost promoters of love, peace and tolerance. We may not accept him as the Son of God, but why overlook the fact that he was a religious Jewish rabbi and teacher, who, throughout his short life, relied upon, believed in and emphatically encouraged the study of Torah. What’s so bad about that?
Who Is the Real Criminal?
Gili Varon needs to reassess her evaluation of the criminalizing of prostitution (“Israel Must Criminalize Purchase of Sex,” Feb. 10). Perhaps if those responsible for the conditions that create the need for prostitution as a financial source for survival were held as criminals there would be no need for prostitution.
Jewish Summer Camp’s Benefits Are Numerous
I was mentioned in Gerald Freisleben’s article (“An Appreciation to Summers Spent in Paradise,” Jan. 27) as one of the wonderful wives of his camp friends. As a pediatrician and specialist in adolescent behavior and emotional development, let me offer a professional translation into the truly invaluable meaning, depth of connection and enduring worth that immersion in the Jewish summer camp experience offers. Not only is camp a great place to form lifelong friendships, it is an inoculation against teenage angst and deleterious risk taking, and a remedy for current teen disillusion. Twenty-first-century teens need help learning to tolerate boredom and distress safely, and to experience social life as real human interactions and not screen versions. Camp is that place.