December 6, 2007
OneVoice, one heart, one mind
Arthur Cohn's recent guest opinion on OneVoice and Mideast peace is hopelessly rooted in the thinking of past generations ("OneVoice Speaks Mistakenly on Achieving Peace," Nov. 16).
The idea that Palestinians intentionally kill innocent Israelis, but Israelis only accidentally kill innocent Palestinians, and, therefore, there is no "moral equivalence," sadly misses the point. Both sides are killing.
The Palestinians, whose family members are killed by Israelis, take no comfort in the fact that Israel has done all it can to avoid killing innocent people. There is no point at the beginning of negotiations to try to cast one side as less morally equivalent than the other.
OneVoice is right. Let both sides stop violence and incitement, and let both sides sit down to find common ground to peace.
Survivor Mitzvah Project
I read the article on the activities of the Survivor Mitzvah Project online with a sense of pride and frustration ("Touched by Angels," Nov. 23). I have been aware of the activities of the project for the past year.
The source of pride is obvious. The frustration probably comes with the sense of feeling that with just a little more effort from those of us whose input to helping is financial, we can make a difference.
We cannot unring the bell of the slaughter and degradation of our fellow Jews, but we can help the survivors live out their lives with less pain than has been inflicted upon them to date.
This letter is one more man's plea to the already committed community that reads The Journal to do just something more right now. Every cause is worthwhile, but these survivors are more than just a cause, and the fact is we can do more.
People and institutions in the Jewish community should pause for a moment in this week of Chanukah and light a candle for the survivors left behind. Yes, it is money that will bring them warmth, food and medicine. Please give it a thought.
Thank you for publishing the article about the good work being done by the Survivor Mitzvah Project. These volunteers have been able to reach out to the forgotten Jews of Eastern Europe who have endured decades of pogroms, terrible wars, the Holocaust and tragic repression. Now they live alone in their last years in abject poverty, in remote shtetls virtually abandoned by the Jewish world.
The angels of this project seem to have managed to establish a network that has become a lifeline. With the small amounts of money, they deliver large amounts of hope to our virtual parents and grandparents, who are the only ones keeping alive in situ the memory of a destroyed Jewish civilization.
I second Grant Arthur Gochin's letter (Letters, Nov. 30) urging that each of us contribute even small amounts to enable the project to continue its commendable work.
Chanukah and Adult Faith
Danya Ruttenberg's article is historically inaccurate and itself kind of childish ("Chanukah and Adult Faith," Nov. 30).
First, Judah never presided over an independent nation. He was killed four years after the rededication of the Temple in one of the many battles to save a Jewish community under attack from the Syrian Greeks. Two other brothers also died in battles to protect Jewish populations from such attacks, which would cause certain death and destruction.
It was brother Shimon, who became Cohen gadol (the big kahuna) and nasi (prince) and achieved independence from foreign control by adroit diplomatic and military maneuvers. This occurred over 21 years after the rededication of the Temple, whose access was limited even after the rededication until Shimon finally defeated the Syrian garrison at the citadel -- literally across the street from the Temple.
Second, the need to express some kind of soul-searching for some alleged ancient wrongdoing by our guys, in order to appreciate the meaning of the holiday for today, is itself immaturity personified, when the soul searcher is really searching for a path to current political correctness and acceptance by those who have no sense as to what it took to become a Jewish nation then and what it takes now, for that matter. Or was the writer just writing stuff so that she appears deep?
Auspitz Law Corp
A clarification to Julie Gruenbaum Fax's Nov. 23 article, "Can Nonprofits Rake It in With Raffles?"
Should someone, in fact, win a home in a megaraffle, the value of the house would be taxed as regular income at a rate of 35 percent for federal taxes, as she reports. However, for the house, just as for a cash prize, the charity conducting the raffle would have an obligation to ensure that 25 percent of the value of the prize is withheld at the time the prize is won.
Satisfying the withholding requirement is much more difficult when the prize is property, such as a house, rather than cash, and the withholding requirement is one of the reasons that most grand prize winners opt for cash, rather than the house.
John E. Anderson Professor of Tax Law
Loyola Law School
It seems that The Jewish Journal has overlooked one of the most important dates in Jewish history. Nov. 29 marked the 60th anniversary of the U.N. partition vote on Palestine, turning the British mandate into two states, one Jewish and one Arab.
A milestone of 60 years of existence, no matter how embattled or hated, should not be ignored. It is a tribute to the stiff-necked nature of our history that we are still there and are proud of that existence. Too bad, it seems, that The Jewish Journal is not part of that recognition.
Two Thumbs Up
I just wanted to tell you what a great service your paper provides for Southern California Jewry ("Annapolis and Chanukah," Nov. 30). Last week's edition included your pitch for the worthy laptop program, opposing views about the wisdom of and prospects for the Annapolis conference, Zane Buzby's Mega Mitzvah project and Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky's insightful comments on the weekly Torah Portion.