December 19, 2002
A 'Final' Decision
I have never written a letter to the editor, but I feel motivated to break 30 years of silence because I was publicly humiliated by a former friend, Marshall Grossman ("A 'Final' Decision Courts Trouble," Dec. 13). He called me "jealous" and a "failure." The article cited Rabbi Gershon Schusterman's 18 years of service and leadership to the Jewish community of Orange County, but omitted my 19 years of service as director of campus activities at UCLA. When I arrived from Brooklyn, N.Y., to be a campus rabbi, I was shocked to find out that virtually no student had ever heard of Purim. When I was fired 19 years later, Chabad's West Coast Headquarters in Westwood had close to 1,000 students coming for Purim and Simchat Torah. Is that a "failure?" Am I jealous that now I get 700 people for our public Passover seders and the $5 million Chabad building in Westwood has gone from over 500 (during my tenure) to 60?
It's a shame that my first contribution in The Jewish Journal has to be to clear my name of the charge of sour grapes.
Shlomo Schwartz , Founder and Director The Chai Center
One Community, Many Voices
I thank the Journal for running a story on reactions to the "One Community, Many Voices" ad in the Nov. 22 issue ("Many Angry Voices," Dec. 13). However, a number of important points raised in my conversation with reporter Mike Levy were left out.
First, I do not believe that responsibility for the current morass in the Middle East lies exclusively with Israel. The Palestinians have done more than their fair share of damage to the cause of peace. But taking responsibility for our own actions is an act of courage, and one consistent with the core Zionist value of Jews' assuming control of their historical destiny.
Second, the reactions we have received from the ad were far from uniformly negative. We received a good number of messages of support from Los Angeles and around the country. One lesson to be derived from this response is that the signatories to the ad do not represent a fringe minority.
Finally, there need to be voices in our community thinking about alternatives to the present course. It is not inconceivable that the day will come when peace negotiations again appear on the horizon. Will we be emotionally and rhetorically prepared? Or will we be convinced of the enemy's ineradicable evil, and thus miss the opportunity?
David N. Myers, Professor and Vice Chair UCLA History Department
As the proud incoming chair of The Jewish Federation's Young Leadership Division, I am writing in response to a recent letter criticizing Vodka Latka and The Federation's Young Leadership outreach (Letters, Dec. 13). Contrary to the letter writer's assertion, Vodka Latka was designed to, and succeeded in, reaching out to a broad base of young Jewish professionals from every walk of life. That is why the minimum donation was $118, not $1,000, as asserted. And that is why almost 1,000 young Jews attended this fabulous event.
More importantly, after a brief hiatus to reevaluate its efforts, The Federation has reestablished its Young Leadership Division and has hired a director of Young Leadership Development, Jonathan Shulman. In addition to Vodka Latka, we recently sponsored a free wine and cheese reception at the Zimmer Children's Museum for almost 200 people, launched the Connections project to reach unaffiliated Jews in the East Valley and sent 22 participants on a mission to Argentina, each of whom did choose to give a minimum $1,000 gift to the United Jewish Fund campaign.
Everyone who cares about our Jewish community is welcome and is encouraged to join us in our efforts. Please contact Jonathan Shulman at (323) 761-8300 to get involved.
A.J. Adelman, Chair Young Leadership Division The Jewish Federation
Up a Tree Looking for a Home
In "Up a Tree Looking for a Home" (Dec. 13) oddly, of all the people with whom David Klinghoffer spoke, no one directed him to B'nai David-Judea Congregation of Pico-Robertson. This neighborhood has affordable housing and newly planted trees, spearheaded by B'nai David-Judea. Didn't anyone mention to him of this shul's efforts to single-handedly plan and coordinate the Tu B'Shevat plantings of 100 trees along the Orthodox heart of Pico Boulevard?
David, I hope you are reading this as you can certainly find your place in Pico-Robertson at B'nai David-Judea, where we take our responsibility of tikkun olam seriously. And where, with a little commitment and energy, green dreams come alive. I, for one, would welcome the Klinghoffers to Los Angeles, to help in our efforts to replant our neighborhoods.
Neal Shapiro, Los Angeles
In "Two Firms Take Bite Out of 'Dog' Market" (Dec. 13) the name of the co-founder of Neshama Gourmet Kosher Foods is Evelyn Baran.
The cover artist for the Dec. 13 issue was Steve Greenberg.