October 25, 2001
Contrary to Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein's claims ("Lenin Meet Noah," Oct. 19), "state-controlled terror as an instrument of imposing the government's will" was not invented by Lenin. In fact, the revolution he led outlawed anti-Semitism and the pogroms that permeated Russia prior to 1917.
For 1,800 years throughout Europe, Jews had either been barred from settling altogether or confined by law to ghettos -- from which they could not emerge at night or Sundays -- shtetls or the Pale of Settlement, denied citizenship, land ownership, and admission to most professions, trades and occupations. Jews could not leave the ghetto without wearing yellow badges. State-authorized violence against Jews was perpetrated by military forces.
In 1791, the French emancipated Jews who joined with them as their armies advanced across Europe, tearing down ghetto walls. But in 1815, the Congress of Vienna rescinded the obligation of any nation to grant rights to Jews. In Russia, oppression of Jews remained as an instrument of imposing the government's will until Lenin.
While the Soviets suppressed all religion, they fought Nazi genocide, which grew easily from the European soil in which persecution of Jews had been cultivated for centuries.
Ralph Fertig, Los Angeles
To Teresa Strasser, regarding your latest column ("In Praise of Geeks," Oct. 19). Keep your hands off my husband!
Janet Fuchs, Beverly Hills
By the time I was done reading Lauren Linett's letter poking fun at The Jewish Journal's attention to "Kosher Bunny" Lindsey Vuolo (Letters, Oct. 19), I thought, this proud Jewish woman's got spunk. Then, after I kept reading and noticed that The Jewish Journal made the smart decision to actually publish her photo, I thought, Playboy needs a talent scout to keep an eye on the pages of The Jewish Journal.
Name withheld by request
A Living Wage
It is easier to focus on the living wage issue of big hotels in Santa Monica ("Santa Monica Gets a CLUE," Sept. 28) than to look into the remuneration of the people who clean our homes. Jewish employers of domestic help would be well-advised to read a book titled "Doméstica: Immigrant Workers Cleaning and Caring in the Shadows of Affluence." Written by Pierreta Hondagneu-Sotelo, a USC professor who is also the daughter of a Latina maid, the book discusses issues in the informal, unregulated world of Hispanic household help. Hondagneu-Sotelo observes that among themselves, domestic workers share information about types of employers to avoid. The list includes "Armenians, Iranians, Asians, Latinos, blacks and Jews, especially Israeli Jews."
Those of us who try to right wrongs and consider ourselves fighters for the underdog should look at our own treatment of household employees and other low-wage workers. It is much easier to make a case for what someone else should be paying. When low-wage workers can get better pay and benefits cleaning our own homes and offices, the hotels may be forced to pay the living wage to attract employees.
Karen Heller Mason, Los Angeles
For The Kids
As an 11-year-old Torah-observant day school student, I would like to point out some mistakes in the "For The Kids" section (Oct. 19). In the Tower of Babel article, the people decided to build the tower because they wanted to rebel against God, not because they wanted to come closer to Him.
In the article about Noah, it said that it took Noah 120 days to build the ark. It really took 120 years. The article said, "The rabbis ask: 'Why did it take him so long?'" The article answered that God was giving Noah a chance to talk to his neighbors. The real answer is that God was giving the people one last chance to repent.
Noah Gruen, Los Angeles
Editor's Note: The Torah has 70 faces and the author's version is one of the many interpretations. But the midrash indeed suggests that it took Noah 120 years to build the ark.