February 22, 2001
Free Loan Success
What a wonderful story on the Jewish Free Loan Association (JFLA) ("In Community We Trust," Feb. 16). Reading it reminds me of my own story. I didn't come to L.A. from a foreign country, but Boston. I arrived in 1998 with $400 in my pocket and no job. Fortunately, Ethel Taft (from Jewish Vocational Service) introduced me to JFLA's now long-serving Executive Director Mark Meltzer, who immediately arranged for a loan to help me plant roots in Los Angeles.
When I was starting my business, Meltzer steered me toward the Baran Small Business Loan Fund, which provided critical support to my fledgling business. Two years later, I have a successful business, own a house and a car, and am forever grateful to the role the JFLA has played in my life and the lives of thousands across our community. It is an organization that epitomizes chesed.
David Novak, Los Angeles
My good friend and colleague Dov Fischer wrote an article expressing his outrage at President Clinton's pardoning of the four Skverer Chassidim ("The Price of Freedom," Feb. 2). As Fischer and I are religious Jewish attorneys who wear our yarmulkes in our law practice, we are de facto representatives of Orthodoxy, and when things go sour in the community, we usually have to face our critics.
However, Fischer crossed several major lines when he equated religious Jews who choose not to allow aspects of prevalent American culture to infiltrate our homes with scheming Shylocks plotting to rip off the government. I used to think that the anti-Orthodox animus came from outside the observant community. Unfortunately, now it seems to be coming from within.
A gifted, talented, eloquent and sincere writer who champions truth and the straight-and-narrow path, who rallies against falsehood and injustice, must act consistent with that mandate by writing articles within the parameters of halacha, and not exacerbate and already painful chillul Hashem with false and misleading rhetoric about religious Jewry.
Baruch C. Cohen, Los Angeles
Congratulations Rabbi Dov Fischer. You hit the nail on the head. The amazing thing to me is that so many people are surprised by Clinton's actions with these horrendous, obviously political pardons. Those of us -- and we are few in the Jewish community -- who never voted for slick Willie are not surprised at all. Same old, same old.
Suzanne Bermant, Tarzana
The National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles agrees with United Jewish Communities (UJC), ACLU and ADL in their opposition to government funding of faith-based social-service agencies ("The Faith-Based Blitz," Feb. 2). Such funding will inevitably lead to a breach of spirit and intent of the First Amendment's dictate that church and state be separate.
Although faith-based institutions often do much-needed community service, as do nonprofit organizations such as NCJW/LA, the introduction of government funding will create a multitude of problems: How will agencies be selected? Isn't there a distinct potential for discrimination in hiring and service? What accounting procedures will these government funds be subject to lest there be co-mingling of funds for religious purposes?
Even some of the faith-based agencies express concern about these added pressures.
In the words of NCJW National President Jan Schneiderman, "Religious beliefs play no public role in governance and explicitly religious programs are inappropriate vehicles for public policy and service delivery."
Debra Gendel, Co-President, NCJW/LA
Jill Levin, Co-President, NCJW/LA
Purim in Cuba
Having recently returned from a visit to Cuba with a humanitarian organization, I read with interest the travel section advertisement for a Purim in Cuba holiday. Allow me to give some advice when packing your 44 lbs. of luggage.
Pack medication. Fill those corners of your suitcase with antibiotics, multivitamins, surgery gloves, antiseptic wipes, insulin and aspirin. Pediatric hospitals are filled with children who are not receiving appropriate care for lack of proper medications.
Pack school supplies. Students at classes in Havana's Bet Shalom Synagogue have few pens and pencils, tape, paper and scissors.
Food is scarce and rationing is severe. Pack clothing that will not return with you. And if you've got just a bit more room, pack a toy. A member of the synagogue introduced us to his disabled daughter and informed us that even as a member of the medical profession, he was unable to obtain the appropriate medications for his child. Draconian U.S. legislation has put the fingerprints of U.S. citizens on every death certificate for a child who died because the immoral economic embargo of Cuba.Pack compassion.
Jo-Ann Winnik, Encino
I enjoyed reading the article by Lynne Z. Gold-Bikin ("Advice From The Trenches," Feb. 9). They were all very good commandments, many of which I already knew or believed in. For what it's worth, allow me to add one more commandment to your list:
11. Cherish the time you have together. While you may feel that the two of you will grow old together, you really have no idea how long it will last.
I lost my wife Rebecca to brain cancer after being married to her for only six short but loving years. Even people who do have happy marriages should not take their partner for granted and assume they will always be there.
Abrey Myers, West Hills
In the Feb. 2 Circuit, judges Howard Matz and Clifford Klein were misidentified. We regret the error.
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