March 29, 2001
Educating in Israel
Jonathan Rosenblum provides many causes for concern on numerous issues ("Time to Sweat the Small Stuff," March 16 column). I would like to point out a true silver lining in the many clouds he describes.
Rosenblum describes Israel's educational system as a "disaster area." I am very pleased to let him and Jewish Journal readers know that AMIT, which maintains a network of 55 schools, youth villages and child havens throughout Israel, has achieved a stellar record of success in teaching "Israel's forgotten children."
Well over 100,000 students have been taught in AMIT schools, including a current enrollment of over 15,000 youngsters. Most of these children come from immigrant families and families living below the poverty line, from homes in which crime is a day-to-day reality and from severely dysfunctional families, where physical and emotional abuse is prevalent.
These children's lives are turned around by AMIT. Our successes are quantifiable: Where the national average of students taking the Bagrut exam is 45 percent, the average of AMIT students is close to 70 percent. In several AMIT schools, the figure is over 90 percent.
Meir Sheetrit, the new minister of justice, is an AMIT graduate. Yaffa Eliach, famed author and professor, is an AMIT graduate. Other graduates have become roshei yeshivot, teachers and professionals, as well as mechanics and hairdressers. These young people live the kinds of productive lives that would have eluded them if not for AMIT.
AMIT has developed through the years methodologies for reaching and teaching children who have failed in other schools and other environments. AMIT teaches these children in a nurturing way, in which each child's natural abilities are recognized and encouraged. In 1981, AMIT was designated as Israel's official network for religious, secondary and technological education.
The problems that Rosenblum describes are real and significant. AMIT, with the help of tens of thousands of members and supporters in America, is insuring the future of the children in its care, and, by extension, the future of Israel.
Roslyn Linderman, President AMIT Los Angeles Council
In response to Levi Garbose's comments about Teresa Strasser (Letters, March 23), I, for one, can't wait to get the Journal, in large part because I'm anxious to read what refreshing, enlightening, honest observations this amazingly creative spokesperson for the single experience has to offer us. I am at least twice her age and have been single twice as long, and I say she has a talent for expressing out loud what so many think and who we are. So, Mr. Garbose, if you can't see all the information, news, inspiration, Torah teaching, advertisements to worthwhile and educational events, and opportunities for participation in all manner of mitzvot that the Jewish Journal offers you, then maybe you do need to cancel your subscription. That's a lot of money wasted if all you read is one column.
Vikki James, Sherman Oaks
I am writing to let you know how much I enjoyed the story on Mathieu Schneider ("A Jewish King," March 23). My 7-year-old son, Ethan, has been playing hockey since he was 2 1/2. He is a pretty good player and is always talking about being in the NHL. My family laughs and people always say you'll never find a Jewish hockey player in the NHL. When Schneider came to Los Angeles, I told my mother, and she said that he was probably German and not Jewish. It is nice to know that there are Jews in hockey. My son will enjoy reading the article, and it will make him proud to know he is not the only one. We will be at the Jewish Journal Kings Night on Thurs., March 29. See you there.
Lori Fougner, Valencia
As a recent convert to Judaism, I was troubled by your description of Mathieu Schneider's mother. First you state that she converted to Judaism to marry Schneider's father. Then you go on to state that although the couple divorced, she "continues to identify as a Jew." As the editors of The Journal should know, Jewish law forbids reminding a convert of his or her non-Jewish past. Identifying Schneider's mother as a convert added nothing to the article and should have been omitted. To add that she still identifies as a Jew after her divorce implies that her conversion was insincere and solely motivated by her marriage. This is an insult to Schneider's mother in particular and all converts by implication.
Beth Martin, Newport Beach
Thank you, Beverly Gray, for your terrific article on Blanche Bettington ("My Best Teacher," March 23). She was my best teacher, too. No one else even came close. We left her room each day yelling at each other, debating the ideas she had introduced. Thanks to her inspiration, I have been a history teacher myself for the past 35 years. Blanche Bettington, may she rest in peace, was a great woman.
Ann Ponedel Bourman, Los Angeles
My husband and friends always tease me about this, but whenever I see Mike Tyson on the news, I see the face of someone with a sensitive and beautiful soul. Thanks to the Barkans for passing this story to Rabbi Schulweis, and thanks so much to the rabbi for passing it on to us ("Recognizing Goodness," March 23). It confirms something I think I already knew.
Name withheld by request
Thank you for your interest in my father, Leonard Pritikin, and the "Dayenu" cartoons that he illustrated ("Prime Ribber," March 16). He was a long-time resident of Sherman Oaks. He knew at an early age that art was his calling. After graduating from UCLA as an art major, he went to New York to see if he could make it as a cartoonist, but learned that only the rare few were able to sustain themselves on cartooning alone.
He returned to Los Angeles and decided to work in advertising instead. During this time he and Rabbi Rabin started "Dayenu." They had a joke about the profits from this venture: they would spend the money earned at the end of the year by going out to dinner.
After he and Rabbi Rabin stopped doing "Dayenu," the cartoons were still run in many Jewish papers. I was working with Cantor Baruch Cohon at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills when my father asked him if he would be interested in collaborating on a similar cartoon. They started "Chutzpah," which was very similar to "Dayenu," and called themselves "Baruch Leonard." "Chutzpah" had a short run, but they both enjoyed the venture.
My father passed away in February 1998. I still have the original printing plates of his cartoons, and my brother and I have most of his paintings. We are proud of his accomplishments and miss him very much.
Julie Pritikin, Los Angeles
In your article about Antonio Villaraigosa ("One on One With Antonio Villaraigosa," March 23), you commented that Krispy Kreme had only one outlet in the San Fernando Valley -- Sherman Way and Van Nuys.
Krispy Kreme now has a second marvelous dispenser of goodies on Topanga Canyon Boulevard, just north of Vanowen.
Al Lapides,West Hills
I happened to read a copy of The Jewish Journal while visiting from San Diego recently and enjoyed the article about Randy Newman and his family ("Family Business," March 2).
Alfred Newman dedicated "Conquest" from the film "Captain From Castile" to USC. That piece of music has been played since at all Trojan football games and some other events. In addition, the Newman Recital Hall was dedicated by the university in his honor a couple of years ago.
Abe Gruber, San Diego
The italicized paragraphs interspersed throughout Ellen Jaffe-Gill's March 23 article "Passover Escapes" were excerpts from the Passover Portfolio published by Resort Classics. We regret that there was no attribution to Resort Classics.
Also, to review Passover cruise packages offered by Vicky and Ian Barnett, please visit their Web site at: www.cruiseone.com/ibarnett