July 26, 2001
The recent "reforms" of the JCC of Greater Los Angeles have resulted in the termination of after-school care programs, thus leaving unaffiliated elementary school students of working parents with no avenue for regular after-school Jewish education and enrichment ("Bay Cities Blues," July 13). The JCC gave the parents only nine days' notice before ending the programs.
In Santa Monica, there are few alternatives for the impacted children. Many families are contacting the YMCA to see if they will care for their children.
Joel Rothblatt, Santa Monica
There are many Jewish Community Centers around the city with deteriorating buildings, underutilized and outdated facilities, and communities of Jews hungry for programs. Financial contributions from The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles have steadily declined over the last 10 years, with no expectation of an end in sight. The board finally decided to be bold. It wasn't really a tough choice when the alternative was a slow and painful death.
So the JCC's New Directions Committee identified its three core businesses: preschool, camping and physical fitness. For the next few years, the agency must concentrate its resources on making these programs the best of their kind in Los Angeles. This is not to say that childcare, teen services and adult programming are not important to the community, or devalued by the JCC board. In Los Angeles especially, quality over quantity is the only option for the short term. This plan will, in time, build a devoted membership, strong community support and solvency. In the long run, the JCCs will grow and thrive and be there to meet everyone's needs.
Randy Myer, Vice President Board of Directors, Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles
The Valleys are, indeed, exciting centers of Jewish life. Wendy Madnick is correct that the Valley Jewish community is dynamic and has a unique quality ("What Makes Us Special," July 20). The potential, as yet not fully tapped, is enormous. Yet, by drawing the connection between actualizing the full potential with a break-off from The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles misses the benefits that both the Westside and the Valleys have mutually enjoyed by being part of the second largest Jewish collectivity in the United States. The issue is creating, together, a vision for our overall community in the next decade.
John Fishel, President, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles
While there is certainly much that we at Toward Tradition could quibble with regarding your article ("An Assault on the Jewish Liberal Consensus," July 13) on balance, we are gratified that your newspaper has chosen to cover a perspective often given short shrift in the Jewish community.
The article notes that "critics have knocked Rabbi Lapin and his organization for being politically out of step with American Jews, only 18 percent of whom identify themselves as political conservatives." Toward Tradition has never presented itself as a movement representing all or even a majority of American Jews. Rather, we ask to be judged on the strength of the case we make.
As to the "other Jewish leaders" who charge "that Rabbi Lapin and Toward Tradition officials present their public-policy positions on welfare, tax reform, and other topics as the only legitimate view that Judaism has to offer," their indictment is weak unless one supposes that Judaism has no practical message whatsoever as to how we should govern our affairs. Clearly, this is not a position taken by any Jewish leaders, many of whom we suspect are bothered not so much by our assertion of a "Jewish view" on public policy, but by our refusal to endorse their dogmatic liberalism as the authentic Jewish position.
Yarden Weidenfeld, National Director, Toward Tradition
In the July 13 article "Locals' Dreams for Breed Street," Rabbi Yona Ganzweig's first name was mistakenly listed as Noah.