The opinion piece criticizing the Happy Minyan missed the story of what really went on that Shabbat ("Happy Minyan Hits a Sour Note," Jan. 3). First, the author of the piece was greeted at the door by someone who never met him, so that he would feel welcome. Then when it was discovered that he had just gotten married, we arranged that he should receive the honor of being called to the Torah. Then his simcha was publicly announced. Then the men of the congregation danced around the bimah, celebrating with him. Finally, he was given an additional spontaneous "from the heart" blessing by yet another member. Afterward, he saw fit to write his lengthy critique. But again this isn't the real story of the minyan. The real story is, if he comes in again he'll still be greeted with love. And that's the Happy Minyan of Los Angeles.
David Sacks, Beverly Hills
Many thanks for your words about Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) ("The Art of Giving," Jan. 3). We have been members of LACMA for years. When we received the mail solicitation for the new buildings, etc., I wrote and told them they have an "edifice complex," and that their buildings are just fine as they are. I told them they are crazy, but if they want to commit to hundreds of millions of dollars for a new museum building when we have people sleeping on the streets of Los Angeles, be my guest -- but not with my money.
Our community leaders are acting like the proverbial drunken sailors who just came off a long cruise with lots of money in their pockets and can't wait to spend it, except that the LACMA people want to spend the money of other people.
It's about time someone told them to sober up and look around them. Yes, we are still members, but not a penny extra from us.
Harvey Schechter, Los Angeles
Jewish Community Centers
Your update on the JCCs ("Three JCCs to Gain Their Independence," Dec. 27) did not adequately explain the ongoing community role of the reorganized JCCGLA. The goal of independence for the Valley Cities, Westside and West Valley JCCs is to create neighborhood centers that are run by the neighborhoods they serve. But that's only part of the exciting future of the JCCGLA.
We are far from "getting out of the business." We remain committed to investing in and strengthening the centers and programs slated for independence as well as those that will stay within JCCGLA. Our long-term plan is to develop new JCC programs and services throughout Los Angeles.
After 60 years of service, JCCGLA has extensive knowledge of our community and of the best new trends and ideas in the national JCC movement. We are therefore uniquely suited to consult on existing programs and services and to act as an incubator of new ones. JCCGLA looks forward to continuing to serve the fast-growing and diverse Jewish population of Los Angeles for many more years to come.
Nina Lieberman Giladi, Executive Vice President Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles
Regarding Gali Wexler's article on the virtues of Israeli men over American men, I would like to respond from a unique American Jewish female perspective ("The Sabra Seduction," Jan 3). My husband is an American Ashkenazi Jew, while my brother-in-law is an Israeli Sephardi Jew. My husband is clean, conscientious, loyal and hardworking. Contrary to Wexler's beliefs, he also eats meat, hates to cook, is opinionated, and takes being an alpha male seriously.
Unfortunately, my Israeli brother-in-law -- who has two children -- is often unemployed, a chain-smoker, unclean and in debt. Wexler should be careful not to confuse masculinity with immaturity and/or irresponsibility.
I'll take my hot American dish over Israeli cocoa any day!
Name Withheld, Encino
I loved Gali Wexler's "Sabra Seduction." I agree with her wholeheartedly. She, however, forgot to mention why Israelis are called Sabras -- tough on the outside, but sweet inside. I know as I've been married to one of these "Sabra Seductors" for 23 years and he also graduated to latte.
Gila Shabanow, Oceanside
No to Joe
I hope that no one votes against Sen. Joseph Lieberman because he is a Jew ("Will Lieberman Run?" Dec. 20). However, I know many Jewish Democrats who will not vote for him in the primaries just because he is a Jew.
We feel that his positions, and that of the Democratic Leadership Council, have gone too far away from the kind of liberalism that kept us involved in the Democratic Party. We're looking for leadership that is looking out for the "least" of our citizens and not just for those who can bankroll the party. Lieberman's isn't that kind of leadership and the Democrats didn't have it in the last election. Particularly galling were his positions on issues involved in the corporate scandals before everybody jumped on the reform bandwagon and his lukewarm challenges to Bush on Iraq.
Where are the voices who are willing to confront the president on the many issues that confront our society?
Gershon L. Lewis, Pacific Palisades
Statements by defenders of Orthodoxy presented in Tamar Miller's First Person essay on "Hidden Sensuality" (Jan. 3) serve as a sorry indictment of the power of prayer. Comments like these are a reminder that all too often, prayer is an isolated part of people's lives, unrelated to how they think and behave as soon as they stop praying. Maybe these people should stop devoting so many hours to prayer and start learning how to accord respect and dignity to people of both genders.
Paul Bergman , Los Angeles
We want to know why two teenage boys walk into their high school one morning and kill 15 students and a teacher and ultimately kill themselves. We want to understand it so we can stop it from ever happening again in another school in another time.
This I understand. Why doesn't it translate? Why are we so afraid of, so angry at, the new movie "Max"? ("The Film No One Wanted," Dec. 27). Why don't we want to understand how a young man could become Hitler?
So, I am going to see this movie. We should all see this movie. So that maybe we can recognize it. So that maybe we can fix it next time. We know there will be a next time.
Joanne Holzberg , Marina del Rey
Leslie Susser's article about the launch of the Likud Party's election campaign for the upcoming Jan. 28 Knesset elections seems to paint a portrait of a strongly conservative party, with a neo-fascist doctrine of confronting aggression ("Vote Scandal Could Cost Likud Election," Dec. 20). A portrait that not only is unfair, but presents a heavily slanted liberal viewpoint that seems to suggest that if Israelis don't vote for appeasement (the Labor Party), continued aggression and prejudice against Palestinians will maintain the inflexible strategy of a total victory against anti-Semitic terrorism by voting for hawks (the Likud Party). Susser's presentation of the Israel election campaign is highly irresponsible and subversive.
Dario Witer, Reseda
Kudos to Emek
I was very happy to read of the extraordinary progress made by Emek Hebrew Academy since its founding in 1960 ("Emek Celebrates New Growth Spurt," Dec. 20).
It was organized by a group of individuals from Shaarey Zedek Congregation who I convened to start a Zionist-oriented Hebrew day school to serve the Valley. It came about, because it had become clear to me, soon after I had assumed the congregational pulpit in 1959, that there could never be a viable Jewish community in the Valley without the kind of intellectual and cultural environment that only a Jewish day school program can provide. Prior to this meeting, I had invited area rabbis of different denominations to work together with me on this project, but at the time, they were skeptical about the relevance or survival of such a school in the Valley. Our small group had to go it alone.
Fortunately, Rabbi Zalman Ury, supervisor of Orthodox schools of the Bureau of Jewish Education was able to procure for us a $1,000 seed money grant from the Religious Zionists of America, and we plunged ahead.
Not only has Emek prospered under the leadership of Sol Teichman and his staff, but there are now a number of other Jewish day schools and high schools in the Valley. Obviously, the skepticism I had encountered was not well founded.
Rabbi Gilbert Shoham, Kansas City, Mo.
Jews for Jesus
As you are well aware, Jews for Jesus is running a campaign to target our Jewish community. There is a particularly egregious example of the depths this group will sink to by the advertisement on a billboard owned by Viacom at the north side of Pico Boulevard just west of Robertson (see story, p. 17). Jews for Jesus is offering a free tape of survivor stories, targeting a population where many are still living with the nightmares of their Holocaust experiences.
As one who survived the Holocaust as a child in Hungary, I found this advertisement highly upsetting and distasteful. At the same time, I question Viacom's standards for renting billboards. Obviously, making a buck is more important than maintaining and enforcing values important and appropriate for a community. As a neighborhood resident put it: "I had to survive Hitler, I had to survive Stalin, and now this!"
Jews for Jesus should be ashamed of using the vulnerable community to promote its agenda and Viacom should be ashamed of their insensitivity.
John S. Gordon , President Child Survivors of the Holocaust Los Angeles
Response to Letter
You have published a letter from Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz who expresses concern that I "publicly humiliated" him by comments made in a published article about the victory obtained by Chabad of California against a former breakaway Chabad House (Letters, Dec. 20). As a matter of fact, Rabbi Schwartz was never discussed by your reporter or me. If the reporter had asked me my opinion of Rabbi Schwartz, I would have expressed my admiration for his work in this community.
Marshall B. Grossman, Santa Monica
There is nothing more accurate than Richard Gunther's description of Argentina (Jan. 3). And nothing more important for the Argentinean Jewish community than to receive economic assistance from American Jewish institutions and people.
My knowledge, as someone born and raised in Buenos Aires and who moved to Los Angeles two years ago, indicates that Jews in Argentina need more than money to survive.
Jews from Argentina need to find a new country. There are two options: Israel and the United States. The financial support from American Jewish institutions and people should primarily focus on assisting Argentine Jews to leave their country and begin a new life in the United States or Israel.
Dr. Jorge Weil, Los Angeles