Your cover picture on Feb. 7 showing the breakup of the Columbia accompanied by the quote from Psalms 68 is the most beautiful, touching cover I have ever seen. It took my breath away. The scripture is a comfort for the tragedy and uplifting when thinking of the horrific daily attacks within Israel.
Vikki James, Sherman Oaks
Col. Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli in space, enabled me to do something I have not been able to do since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin in 1994 ("Israel Mourns First Astronaut," Feb. 7). Ramon enabled me to dream. He made me, a holder of dual Israeli and American citizenship, believe that there was hope for my people and the carnivorous region of the world in which they reside.
Daniel Inlender, Los Angeles
Returning to Earth with those seven astronauts, tucked into the corner of that shuttle, was a little-publicized experiment created by five Israeli teenagers from ORT Kiryat Motzkin School, students ranging in age from 14 to 17. The experiment, which studied how zero gravity affected the development of crystals, was among six schools in Australia, China, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein and the United States. As a board member of Women's American ORT, a major supporter of ORT Israel, I found the news of the tragedy especially hard.
Those students had journeyed to Florida to watch the shuttle carrying their experiment rocket into orbit, starry-eyed with the dreams of space exploration and of a better world united in its endeavor for knowledge.
Yet, the Columbia tragedy cannot diminish the remarkable achievements of those ORT Israel students and the others whose ideas took off with the shuttle.
Carolyn Gold, Chair Board of Trustees Los Angeles ORT Institute
Fighter for Justice
Kudos to Tom Tugend for his "Fighter for Justice," (Jan. 31), which captures in a balanced way to bright essence, as well as the subtleties, of Arthur Stern -- maverick and truth-teller. Rather than being an outcast, Stern is often the conscience of our community -- the Los Angeles community, in particular, and the American Jewish community, at large -- and he rightfully deserves to be celebrated.
Michael Bank, Berkeley
Land of Seaweed Wraps
Israel desperately needs our support and tourism dollars, so sending a select group of women on a press tour organized by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism makes infinite sense ("Land of Milk, Honey and Seaweed Wraps," Feb. 7). And what a tour: getting to meet and interview top Israeli women like ICU physician Dr. Sharon Einav, Reform Rabbi Na'amah Kelman and Capt. Sharon Feingold and going on day trips to biblical sites like Dvoriya in the lower Galilee.
Why, then, does the author regale us only with tales of delectable dinners, decadent breakfasts, herbal tea, hot chocolate and 20 kinds of massage treatments? Surely you believe that your many readers -- especially those of the female persuasion -- care about more than meals and manicures.
Diane Saltzberg, Los Angeles
I have known David Schwartz and his family for nearly 10 years and was shocked by your slanderous article concerning his case ("Child Molester Sent to Treatment Center," Feb. 7). Knowing Schwartz, the charges filed against him are completely out of character. He is a very conscientious person who follows halacha carefully and would never harm a child. While in jail, he spent his time learning and saying "Tehillim." When I visited him in jail, he did not complain of the hell he must have been going through, but asked me to visit several folks in the old age home that he was no longer able to visit. He pleaded "no contest" rather than risk going to trial given the present climate concerning these kinds of cases. He maintains his innocence. I pray to Hashem that the truth will come out and the person who committed this crime will be brought to justice.
Daniel Romm, Santa Monica
In "Child Molester Sent to Treatment Center," Julie Gruenbaum Fax wrote, "At a hearing soon after his arrest, at which his bail was reduced from $1 million to $300,000, Schwartz's supporters heckled the parents of the victims, accusing them of harming another Jew." I was present at that hearing from beginning to end and no such thing occurred. There was great concern for Schwartz and his welfare from his friends and family, and people were hesitant to believe that the man they knew would commit such a despicable act, but to my knowledge -- as an eyewitness -- no one displayed anything but concern for the parents and their children.
Lee Weissman, Irvine
The Jewish Journal stands behind its reporting of the event.
I heartily recommend that R. Hernandez, who wrote about the difficulty for his Latino/Jewish family to feel accepted in some Jewish congregations, explore Sholem Community (www.sholem.org), a completely nonjudgmental Jewish community that has families of all "blends" (Letters, Feb. 7). My own "Jewcana" (Jewish Chicana) daughter had her bat mitzvah with her very proud Mexican-born, Catholic-raised dad right there at her side. He spoke movingly of how our Jewish community had made a place for him since his arrival in the United States.
Mona Field, Eagle Rock
I was saddened to read the letter from R. Hernandez regarding the unwelcome feelings he and his family are experiencing from his congregation. Fortunately, there is hope! The congregation that my family has belonged to for more than 25 years, Temple Beth Hillel in Valley Village, has always had "open arms" toward interfaith families, especially those with young children. The warm and friendly atmosphere lends itself to establishing many different relationships. I'm sure there are other temples similar to Temple Beth Hillel in their outreach toward interfaith families. I know Hernandez and his family will find what they are looking for.
Elaine Franklin, Burbank
Who Should Pay?
Our Jewish leadership was long-committed to encouraging the Jewish rank and file to attend public schools ("Who Should Pay?" Jan. 31). This was a viable alternative in the past, but our leadership has belatedly awakened to the realization that a viable Judaism will now generally require a day school Jewish education. As a result of this belatedness, we are seeing a fairly marked diminution of "Jewish continuity" today. The real question is, will our leaders shift community priorities rapidly enough to stem this continued diminution?
Larry Selk, Los Angeles
Contrary to Rob Eshman's misreading of history, neither Saddam, nor the mullahs, nor Al Qaeda will give warning before using any nuclear weapons they acquire, nor will they put their return address on their nukes ("Ich Bin ein Missourian," Jan 31). They have learned something from history, as we should. Saddam should be crushed now, as Hitler should have been crushed in 1936.
Chaim Sisman, Los Angeles
The article detailing the current status of the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles (JCCGLA) highlights an organization in transition ("Redefining Its Role," Jan 24). No matter whether you are a supporter of JCCGLA or not, there is certain agreement that JCCs are scrambling to define their role in the community.
With all the controversy and financial woes, JCCs have been the primary source of Jewish education for young children in Los Angeles.
JCCs should be expanding their demographic base: programming should embrace more religiously affiliated and unaffiliated Jews, Jews of mixed marriages and teens.
JCCGLA can also develop an alumni support group that gives those who are no longer affiliated an opportunity to express their support, and perhaps participate in new programs.
It is time for JCCGLA to prove their expertise in successfully running Los Angeles JCCs.
Bill Kabaker, Bay Cities
Thank you for including North Valley Jewish Community Center (NVJCC) in "Redefining Its Role," and telling the community of JCCGLA's current status. We've made amazing progress in rebuilding our center and we are pleased with the acknowledgment of our accomplishment.
Elaine Fox, President NVJCC, Inc.
The article "C'mon Get Happy" (Feb. 7) incorrectly reported that the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach "took down the mechitza in his own synagogue on the Upper West Side in Manhattan." There is, and always has been, a mechitza at the Carlebach shul. We regret any offense caused by the error.