Jewish Journal

Your Letters

Posted on Sep. 26, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Hamilton High

Regarding the situation at Hamilton High School ("Hamilton High's Sour Note," Sept. 20), where one of our children is a student, let's get clear about several facts that were omitted from your article. First, this is not a Jewish issue. There are Jews and non-Jews on both sides of the dispute. Framing it as a Jewish concern is a good organizing technique, but it is a false and inflammatory characterization.

Second, magnet programs undoubtedly persuade some educated, middle-class parents to keep their kids in the LAUSD beyond elementary school, but a magnet program is not the only way to do that. Our other child attends University High School, which has no magnet programs. Nevertheless, it is a diverse and excellent school with a higher proportion of white students than Hamilton.

Finally, if there is a Jewish principle at stake, it is tzedek (justice). Rather than wring our hands over a personnel decision, the Jewish community should be supporting efforts to build more and better facilities for the thousands of immigrant children entering the public schools each year. Let's help these children benefit from public education just as our immigrant parents and grandparents did in the past.

Susan Bartholomew and Sandy Jacoby , Los Angeles

Your article about the Hamilton High School Music Academy almost got it right. Your reporter suggested that the passionate support of Jeff Kaufman and the magnet school by the parents, students and faculty of the high school was matched by detractors in that same community. Wrong. There was absolutely no demonstrable support for Jeff's transfer other than from the administration that showed no respect for parent or student concerns or input. The administration was not interested in how the school's stakeholders felt. What a wonderful civics lesson for our children.

Edward Friedman, Los Angeles

Withholding Our Funds

We read Steve Berman's article "Withholding Our Funds From Territories" (Aug. 30) with great dismay. Berman asserts that the historical policy of United Jewish Communities (UJC) to discriminate against Jews who live across the Green Line "creates avenues for Jewish unity and minimized division." How does withholding social service assistance from Israelis who live in the Old City -- and were injured in the same terrorist attack as other Israelis who live a few meters away -- create Jewish unity?

Berman argues that we should not play a role in forming Israeli policy with regard to the territories and that withholding funds to the residents of the territories satisfies this goal. This argument is spurious. Denying Israelis who live across the Green Line access to charitable funds is major interference in Israeli policy. It is both a policy statement and discrimination. The UJC's role should be to give charitable assistance to all Jews in need and not to discriminate against a segment of the Israeli population on the basis of the political views of some of the UJC's donors.

The UJC's changed policy is a significant part of the reason that our synagogue chose to replace an internal fundraiser on Shavuot with one for the Jews in Crisis Campaign. We hope that funds raised to help all Israelis are not held hostage while Berman and others like him seek to create their version of Jewish unity through insisting on divisive distinctions and discrimination.

Howard and Elayne Levkowitz, Los Angeles


I was very moved by Amy Klein's insight into the holiday of Yom Kippur in her recent article ("Sin," Sept. 13). I was raised in a Reform Jewish family but became Orthodox in my early 20s. I also struggled with the issue of sin, begging God to forgive me every Yom Kippur. I would call on Him for forgiveness after every mikvah before the Sabbath with no success. I wondered what I was missing. Where was the God of Israel that spoke as a friend to our forefathers I wondered?

In my search for answers, I discovered that our God is alive and well and has provided a way for all of us to experience real forgiveness and peace.

Cyril Gordon, Los Angeles

Strange BRU

Kudos to Mike Levy for bringing the shenanigans of Eric Mann and the Bus Riders Union (BRU) to light ("Strange BRU," Aug. 9). As a recent visitor to Los Angeles, I read his article and was shocked and dismayed that Mann, a Jew, would stoop to a level so low as to accept money for one cause and direct to another that is so detrimental to his people.

Who are his people anyway? The transit-dependent working individuals who has the notion that the BRU would represent their interest to improve bus service in Los Angeles? Or the Palestinians?

Abbie G. Rosenberg , Watsonville

Makom Ohr Shalom

I am so pleased that you published a profile of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi ("Standup, Sit-down, See the Light," Sept. 13). There were a few misstatements in the article that I would like to correct: First, Makom Ohr Shalom Congregation meets in Tarzana. We rent a community ballroom in the catering facility of St. Mary's Church, 5955 Lindley Ave., where we hold services every Friday evening and on the Holidays. Second, our Yom Kippur Healing Service has absolutely nothing to do with massage. Massage would be wholly inappropriate and has never been practiced at Makom Ohr Shalom. Finally, Makom Ohr Shalom was described as "the XX synagogue" -- apparently a word was dropped. True, Makom Ohr Shalom is not easily categorized. Its rabbis over the last 25 years have had Reform, Conservative, Jewish Renewal and Lubavitch training. To fill in the blank, Makom Ohr Shalom is, I hope, a welcoming synagogue and a joyous one.

Rabbi Debra Orenstein , Makom Ohr Shalom


In the Sept. 20 Circuit, Young Judaea was spelled incorrectly.

The Community Brief, "Birthright Israel Plans to Send 1,000 to Israel" (Sept. 20), should have read:

Headline: "Birthright Israel Plans to Send 11,000 to Israel"

"Birthright Israel hopes to send 11,000 participants to Israel this year, despite violence in the Middle East. The program has sent over 30,000 students to Israel in the past 2 1¼2 years."

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