January 24, 2008
Rabbi Cooper; Enough with the Spinka; Tuskeegee Airmen
In profiling Rabbi Abe Cooper, I'm glad you mentioned his work in combating hate in cyberspace ("The Bloods, The Crips and The Rabbi," Jan. 18). What is particularly noteworthy is how he has resisted the temptation to push for government censorship and instead has heeded the teaching of Justice Louis Brandeis (who not incidentally was the first Jew on the U.S. Supreme Court), who wrote that those "who won our revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty."
By supporting conferences and online technology to combat bigotry and anti-Semitism on the Internet, Cooper has adhered to Brandeis's proscription that "If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."
Stephen F. Rohde
Progressive Jewish Alliance
Your headline on the front page of your Jan. 18 edition states, "What's This Guy Have to Do With the Crips?" Next to the headline is a dignified picture of Rabbi Abe Cooper. My question is why does a fine paper like The Jewish Journal find it necessary to downgrade the English language by using the slang word "guy" instead of using the word man? The television media standards continue to sink.
Please don't let the print media fall into the same abyss.
Leon M. Salter
One of the worst things that a Jewish person can do is to bring shame to the Jewish People ("Following the Spinka Money Trail," Jan. 11). Shame on you Jewish Journal. Your cover story and photograph did exactly that. I'm not saying that the story shouldn't have been covered. It could have been done in a less embarrassing way, and it certainly didn't need to be on the front page and in our faces. It's nothing to boast about or to be proud of.
In the future, I hope that you and The Jewish Journal will focus on the good things in our Jewish community and not bring us any unnecessary shame and embarrassment.
I must add to Rob Eshman and Marjorie Pressman's comments about our pride in Benji Davis and David Landau ("Brave + Mensch = ?" Dec. 28). Both Benji and David are former regional officers of Far West Region United Synagogue Youth.
Benji was the religion/education vice president from 2004-2005 and David was the Israel affairs vice president from 2005-2006. Following their graduations from high school, both young men spent their freshman year in Israel on the Nativ College Leadership Program, sponsored by the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism. I could not be prouder of these two remarkable young men. Kol Hakavod to their families and the "village" that helped raise them.
Director, Youth Activities
Far West Region United Synagogue Youth
Pilots Over Auschwitz
The "Black Pilots Over Auschwitz" opinion piece by Rafael Medoff ... appears to strive for some relevancy but the message is diluted by its emphasis on the race of the fighter pilots (Jan. 18). What is unknown is if any of the pilots engaged in the mission of Aug. 20, 1944, to bomb the factories near Auschwitz were even remotely aware of the daily atrocities occurring at Auschwitz. History tells us that the chances are they were not. And if not, what does the race of the bomber or Mustang pilots have to do with the subject of the piece? If the all-white pilots of the Flying Fortresses could testify just as compellingly as the all-black pilots of the Mustangs to the technical viability of a bombing mission on Auschwitz -- which they obviously could -- what is the point of the piece?
Is it merely a "feel-good" to demonstrate that Jews and Blacks could have intersected at points in history to make life better for the both of us? Or is it something else?
By the by, it appears that Mr. Medoff has deconstructed, either intentionally or inadvertently, a most cherished historical "fact" ascribed to the Tuskeegee Airmen: that they never lost a plane they were tasked with protecting. Either they did, which makes a portion of the piece false; or they didn't, which makes their vaunted reputation a lie.
Franklin S. Adler
Program for Grandparents
Although I totally agree with organizing support groups for grandparents with intermarried children, and, in fact, have conducted similar programs for years, I take issue with the subtle derision aimed at "Hebrew school teachers" ("Program Helps Grandparents Nurture Interfaith Grandkids," Jan. 18). Would that every Jewish grandparent might have the devotion to educating our children that our teachers display each time they walk into the classroom.
Academy for Jewish Religion/California
As one of the co-chairs of the XIII Lithuanian Folk Dance Festival, I would like to express, on behalf of our organizing committee, our extreme disappointment with the Jan. 11, 2008 article by Jane Ulman titled "Lithuanian Festival Excludes Yiddish Dancers." The heading of the article strongly conveys the impression that we went out of our way to deliberately exclude Yiddish dancers from participating in our festival. This could not be more erroneous.
The Lithuanian Folk Dance Festival is an international celebration of Lithuanian Folk dance held every four years, whose sole purpose is the mission of preserving and nurturing the art of folk dancing together with its music, authentic costumes and traditions. Many groups have members of non-Lithuanian descent, and this is not a criterion for participation. The festival welcomes any group, or individual, that is willing to learn the dances as part of a synchronized routine. This is the only criterion for participating.
We urge you to avoid politicizing the XIII Lithuanian Folk Dance Festival and accept it as a cultural event that embraces all participants who come to celebrate Lithuanian dance.