April 25, 2002
Elephant in the Valley
I hope that readers who revere Judaism resent, as I do, the article, "The Elephant in the Valley," (April 12), quoting statements made by three Jewish political candidates, all contributing to the idea that "the values of Judaism and those of the Republican Party ... are very much in line."
One candidate refers to Judaism's requirement of personal responsibility. Was this found in the Republican Party's tax breaks for the wealthy? One mentions tikkun olam. Is he referring to the Republicans' protection of corporate polluters? One could go on and on, refuting each of the statements that is an insult to our intelligence and especially to our faith.
Vivian M. Barmert, Palos Verdes
Your editorial titled "Rallying" (April 12) unfortunately inverts the blame for the poor turnout at the recent public demonstrations in support of Israel. Finger-pointing at the community misdirects the culpability for the vacuum in the appointed lay and religious leadership on such an important issue at this critical time.
The rank and file have a right to passionate, vocal and unified leadership, which to date on the West Coast has been disappointingly absent. This is a time for our leaders to set aside the quiet diplomacy of board rooms and scripted sermons, link arms in the streets in front of their communities, and in the manner of Abraham Joshua Heschel, march in chorus until they can feel their own feet praying.
S.L. Drew ,Los Angeles
Length of Days
"Celebrating Length of Days," (April 5) about the work of the Jewish Hospice Project-Los Angeles was a comprehensive and telling piece about the difficulties of starting a Jewish hospice in Los Angeles -- the only city of its size to lack such a service. To contact this organization and its directors, rabbis Carla Howard and Sheldon Pennes, who are currently serving patients in need of care, call (310) 358-0313.
Joyce Powell Board Member Jewish Hospice Project-Los Angeles
When I read the cover story, "Rallying," I was very put off. I am 100 percent behind the state of Israel, and I am behind Ariel Sharon's struggle to keep Israel alive. What I am upset about is the opinion of some people thinking that there are people, "who don't care" or "just don't get it!"
I am a person who wanted to go to the Federal Building and make my voice heard, but I have a family who asked me -- even begged me -- not to go. Their feelings were, "What if there is a large crowd and riot is started and you were put in jail? Or even worse, what if someone decides to be the first suicide bomber in Los Angeles and your are killed?"
I thought about it and realized that they made a lot of sense. What makes us think that suicide bombings are only an Israeli problem. Have we forgotten Sept. 11?
So, carrying a sign and shouting pro-Israeli slogans won't help, but remember that we as Jews have been down this road before, and we will survive.
Barbie Michael, Santa Monica
Birth of a Jewish Nation
Thank you for the piece written by Yehuda Lev (April 12), "Birth of a Jewish Nation: Why 54 years ago, one state thrived while the other crumbled." Let's all remember that in the United Nations vote, in 1947, an Arab Palestinian state, as well as a Jewish state, was created. It is safe to assume that Palestinians do not read your newspaper, but ironically, their reading and analyzing this article may not only decrease the violence and terror in the region, but increase the probability of their achieving statehood.
Faith Schames, Los Angeles
I have read and re-read Rabbi Cunin's letter (Ad Page 5, April 5) and in all honesty, as a Reform Jew, I feel his letter does nothing to assist Israel in her time of need. I feel that God took us across the Red Sea and forgot where he left his chosen people. Growing up in the Holocaust era, my father prayed to God, and it did no good. The uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto did more.
Today, the same problem arises. Praying will do no good. Lighting the Shabbos candles and putting on tefillin will also do no good. What will do good is if your young men in the yeshivas become part of the Israeli armed forces and defend their country. The Moshiach will not come in the near future, but the defense of Israel is now.
Young Israelis will not allow the rabbis to lead them into the death camps again. They are defending their country by being strong. Your young yeshiva students should join in defense of Israel.
Gilbert Smith, Encino
I understand the letters of Journal readers calling for a boycott on French products as a reaction to anti-Jewish "incidents" taking place in France. However, I do not understand the lack of outcry and action by the Jewish community against the Los Angeles Times for it's daily slanted, pro-Palestinian, damaging, anti-Israel reports. If the Times practiced that type of bias in reporting stories about African Americans, their community would instantly mobilize and take action to let that paper know in no uncertain terms it had better stop. There would be boycotts of it's advertisers, pickets and news conferences. However, the Jewish community just sits back. Where are our men and women of valor?
Jerry Cutler, Thousand Oaks
As a teacher at a local synagogue, I've witnessed the emergence of the Jewish community's most divisive conflict today: whether or not to support Israel's actions. Unfortunately, for many this question is simply boiled down to support Israel or not?
It needn't be that simple. Principally, there are two things we should remember.
One: Criticism of Israel's actions does not preclude support for the state of Israel. As Americans, we feel free to criticize the president and American policies, but we never question our support for the existence of the United States. Why should it be any different with Israel?
Two: All parties involved (including newspapers) spin the facts in their favor. Thus, to get a better view of what's going on, we need to dig farther than simply reading one news source. This isn't easy, but it's a skill we as Jews have from studying Torah. When researching Torah, there are often many interpretations to any given topic (look at Rabbi Akiva vs. Rabbi Hillel as one example).
Armed with better knowledge, or at least more colorful opinions, we can in good conscience partake in pro-Israel rallies going on everywhere, because, now more than ever, Israel needs our support.
Kristopher White, Los Angeles
Photos for the April 19 article "Israeli Folk Dancing: The Phenomenon" were by Jill Holtzman.