April 4, 2002
Recently, rabbis representing major movements in Judaism debated the origins of the Bible, commonly called the Torah ("Who Wrote the Torah?" March 29).
Some rabbis claimed that man had written the Bible or perhaps several authors contributed to the Five Books of Moses. Others went so far as saying that the Bible is not the initial truth. They had problems with the flood, the ark and the story.
Statements such as these insult many religious people -- Jews and Christians alike. It is with great regret that a debate of such massive spiritual destruction is being highlighted as an authentic and sincere search for truth. Nothing can be further than the truth.
Miracles do happen and people make note of them by inscribing them in books, which are transmitted from generation to generation. Belief in miracles is the cornerstone of all religions. This recent symposium is a depravity and an insult to religious people.
As my grandfather said, "We Jews don't believe in miracles, we just count on them." Miracles are not debated, they are celebrated.
Rabbi Eli Hecht, Vice President Rabbinical Alliance of America
Emerson and NPR
The letter from Bruce Drake, vice president of news for NPR ("Steve Emerson," March 29), is once again emblematic of its disingenuous slant to how they're suppressing any serious discussion of the threat of militant Islam throughout the world and especially on American soil. Steve Emerson was in fact aired for some 60 seconds as part of a much broader story. However, his airing is in response to the pressure NPR is feeling from certain sponsors about their obvious biases and the Emerson issue, and is nothing more than a knee-jerk response so that they can now say they're not blackballing Emerson.
Jeff Berg, San Clemente Volunteers for Israel
In the Jewish Journal's cover story ("Ten Things You Can Do For Israel," March 15), the number one item was: Visit Israel.
Volunteers For Israel (VFI), a non-partisan, non-profit organization is uniquely positioned to achieve this end. VFI encourages world Jewry to help Israel on a very practical level. Since 1982, Sar-El, our program sponsor in Israel, has arranged for over 40,000 volunteers to participate. For a period of two or three weeks, they work on maintenance bases, hospitals, archeological digs, performing community service where the need exists, alongside the men and women of the Israel Defense Force. During this time, lectures, field trips and cultural programs are presented to enhance the experience. Basically a volunteer pays for transportation to Israel and is fed, clothed and housed while on the program. Our presence affirms our love and support of Israel during this time of turmoil and violence.
The volunteers range in age from 18 to 65. Good health and a sincere desire to help Israel are the criteria. For more information please call (310) 470-1316.
Louis Goldowitz, Regional Representative Volunteers for Israel
Chabad of the Marina
Rabbi Shmulik Naparstek has managed to enlighten and bring together a community of Jewish people in Marina del Rey ("Rabbi vs. Rabbi," March 22). There is no doubt in mind that whatever donations have been given over the years (including the original grants of $15,000 to start the Chabad in the Marina) were given to this particular man to bring his particular quality of work to the community. He is a man who personifies the ethics of our original religious teachers. Support him.
Nancy Ann Rubin and Serafino and Milo Sini, Marina del Rey
As a secular Jew and a feminist, I spent three decades not knowing a single Orthodox Jew on a personal level. Like many other people from Israel, I lived with an invisible barrier separating "them" from "us."
Than I met Rabbi Naparstek and his wife, Leah, and my perspective changed and my heart opened with a renewed sense of jewishness.
This beautiful effort and work converted this radical feminist --who refused to step into an Orthodox synagogue -- into a happy member of the Chabad community.
If more rabbis were able to create a community in the same way Naparstek does, there would not be such a divide between the Orthodox community and the rest of the Jewish population.
Sharone R. Levinson, Los Angeles
As a member of the Chabad Marina community, I witness the selfless dedication of Rabbi Shmulik Naparstek and his staff at Chabad of the Marina on a daily basis. What shocks me is that there is no credible system of checks and balances within Chabad to mediate disputes that arise between a "Chabad head of state" and local Chabad rabbis.
Rabbi Yakov Shallman, Marina del Rey
Thank you for assigning Carin Davis to Hadassah Southern California Northern Area's Women's Community Conference on March 10 ("Mind, Body and Soul," March 8).
She certainly got to the pulse of the event, and also to the essence of Hadassah Southern California.
The event was a tremendous success. We feel that at least 14 people were same-day walk-up attendees thanks to the coverage of the conference by The Jewish Journal. Because the article attracted non-Hadassah members, we were able to add 17 new members to our roster on the day of the event.
Coverage by The Jewish Journal is very important to all of the Jewish organizations and I appreciate your recognition of the excellence and uniqueness of our event. Thanks for your help.
Elissa Berzon Managing Director, Hadassah Southern California Northern Area Resource Center
Wendy Madnick's article, ("Valley Secession: Better for Jews?" March 29) once again states the importance of Los Angeles staying "One City L.A." Thank you for your well researched, excellent reporting.
As Jews, we must also recognize the importance of Jewish organizations not becoming platforms for Valley secession. Breaking up the Jewish community is disastrous and does not serve any purpose.
Carole Wade , Century City
Federation vs. JCCs
How sad it is that our Jewish community is so divided! That the Jewish Federation Council (JFC) and the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles (JCCGLA) cannot function in harmony is an utter shame on their respective leaderships. Have they forgotten the only reason for their existence is to serve? What folly for the JCCGLA to say "we're going to be a winner agency." There are no "winners." The community suffers and loses in this internecine warfare. The primary role of the JFC is to fund the agencies that serve, and the primary role of the JCCGLA is to serve the community effectively. Unless this is done in harmony, the entire community suffers. Let us put aside our differences and focus on our respective responsibilities to keep the basic fabric of our community intact. It's not too late ... let's do it now.
Herman Gillman Director Emeritus Jewish Federation Council Southern Region
Chaim Weizman, Director Emeritus Valley Cities JCC Los Angeles
Conflict in Israel
Israel is now our front line of defense against terrorism. If we want to stop the next Sept. 11 before it begins, the Bush administration must send a new message to the Yasser Arafats, Osama bin Ladens, and Saddam Husseins of the world -- by showing uncompromising moral support for Israel's right to freedom and self-defense, and by demanding justice for Arafat. We should not have a double standard -- bin Laden and Arafat are the same, and justice requires they be treated the same.
America must make war, not peace, in its war against terrorism.
Dr. Yaron Brook, Executive Director Ayn Rand Institute, Marina del Rey
In last week's Circuit item on a dinner honoring the late Bruce Hochman, a copy editing error grossly changed the meaning of a sentence. The sentence should have read: "Bruce Hochman was a man of principle: committed to justice, constant, consistent -- he touched many thousands of lives in a very positive way," Gore said.
We regret the error.