The Fear Factor
The content of Jane Ulman's article ("The Fear Factor," March 14) on the scary aspects of Purim was reasonable. However, I hope you will consider running a headline article titled, "Is Halloween Too Scary?" As Ulman points out, the dark side of Purim is balanced by many positive lessons. We cannot say the same for Halloween, a pagan observance that unfortunately many Jews embrace with enthusiasm.
Dr. Michael Feinman , Agoura Hills
A Team Effort
We appreciated your recent article about day school-religious school collaboration ("Culture Clash," Feb. 28) and wanted to share with you our own very special model. At Temple Israel of Hollywood we have a wonderful partnership between our schools, which begins each year at our combined staff orientation day.
We speak to our families, students and staff about the importance of creating and sustaining one school community. Our programming embodies these values.
Temple Israel students learn and grow together through their joint participation in Shabbat dinners, our fourth- through sixth-grade retreat and our youth program. Many day school graduates work in our religious school and hold positions of leadership in our senior youth group.
Our schools share both faculty and classroom space; we handle any issues that arise by encouraging communication and mutual respect. In addition to weekly senior staff meetings, we meet bimonthly to discuss mutual concerns and to offer support and friendship. We also work closely with our preschool and its excellent principal, Sherry Fredman.
Eileen Horowitz, Head of School
Laura Bramson , Religious School Principal Temple Israel of Hollywood
There is a growing sense that the ongoing public dialogue regarding campus activism is deteriorating into an unconstructive war of words (Letters, February and March). We are not interested in dividing this community, nor are we interested in making UCLA or other campus students feel like they now need to make choices between professors and StandWithUs.
A healthy community, respectful of diverse perspectives within, will likely find common ground within which to work together. Legitimate voices should not be silenced.
To this end, we would like to ask that progressive-thinking college professors do all they can to make sure that classroom panels work to include all the voices, including the moderate centrist perspective, as well as right and left of center perspectives. StandWithUs would be happy to provide or recommend sophisticated experts, who represent the centrist view, to participate in any panel on any campus.
If we earnestly share the same concern, the good of Israel, then we are obliged to work toward these goals together.
Roz Rothstein , Executive Director
Esther Renzer , Acting President StandWithUs
Rabbis for Rent
The article, "Rabbis for Rent" (March 7), presents the most obnoxious vision of rabbis ever conceived. The article -- and the Web site it recommends -- reduce rabbis to the level of car valets who can be hired to "rock up to your door" for special occasions.
A genuine rabbi is not a mechanic for public ceremonies. Although we live in a society of consumerism, Jewish rituals are not simple consumables like movies, cruises or restaurant meals. The rabbi is not a florist, caterer or maitre d'.
Rabbi Ed Feinstein's column ("Our Legacy," March 7) declares, "We imagine God in the image of those who teach us about God." Rabbis are primarily teachers of a sacred tradition, and they ought not be available for rent on an Internet Web site.
Rabbi Jerrold Goldstein, UAHC Introduction to Judaism Program
The article "In Search of Moderate Muslims" (Feb. 28) claims that the Minaret magazine banned a moderate Muslim from publishing his opinions.
The author never contacted the Minaret editor or the board about the so-called banning decision. On the contrary, the Minaret asked the moderate professor for an interview on his differences with the Muslim leadership, which he refused.
Aslam Abdullah , Editor The Minaret and The Observer
I am not a regular subscriber to The Jewish Journal, but when I was assigned a project in my Hebrew High class to write to the editor of a newspaper, I went looking for an article in The Jewish Journal. I began to read the article about sexual addiction and found it very interesting ("The Agonizing Toll of Sexual Addiction," March 7).
The first thing that I learned from the article is that this could happen to anyone. Sexual addiction and rape can happen to anyone, the poor, the rich, any culture and race. This story shows that no one can escape this awful thing, not even a yeshiva boy.
Everyone makes mistakes. Even if you are so in touch with your soul and God, you still can make mistakes. It is sad to think that an innocent boy, a good Jewish boy, just sitting in his yeshiva was raped and then turned to life of trouble.
What I liked about this story is the lesson that you can overcome even the worst of situations. Thankfully, there were people in his life who loved him enough to help him get out of this terrible hole. This teaches us to value our lives and to know that when things look like they can't get any worse, somehow or another you can change.
Again, I just want to say this was a great article for teens. I am not sure you meant it for people my age, but the story was something I learned from and found very interesting.
Brittany Gruberger, Los Angeles
"The Agonizing Toll of Sexual Addiction" by Julie Gruenbaum Fax is an excellent article, ringing with truth and hope. My thanks to you, the author, the individual who told his story and everyone quoted therein.
Stan Coleite, Los Angeles
With all the events happening in the world at present, I find it disturbing that The Jewish Journal would devote their cover story to "The Agonizing Toll of Sexual Addiction."
Roz Bliss, Manhattan Beach
I commend Julie Gruenbaum Fax for bringing to light one more behavior that we would like to think does not afflict Jews. I hope that the men you wrote about, who are working to recover from their addictive behavior through 12-step programs, are seriously considering how to do teshuvah (repentance) for their past.
These addictions do not affect only the addict; they are not victimless offenses. Women and children are abused so that these Web sites can offer child pornography and other forms of pornography.
It is a big step to ask forgiveness for your past errors, to change your behavior so that you do not repeat those offenses, and now we also need to consider how to make amends to those unknown individuals who suffered in support of these addictions.
Marcia Cohn Spiegel, Member Jewish Advisory Board Center for Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence
Rather than seek avenues to bring Jews together at this critical time in history, you managed to scandalize the Orthodox members of our community by including information about "an upstanding Chasidic rabbi" on the cover of The Journal. I am very perplexed and troubled by your choices and priorities.
Avi Engel , Los Angeles
"Don't Expect Arab Democracy Anytime Soon" (March 7) by Avi Davis and Dr. Khaleel Mohammed is probably as accurate as the authority it cites for its conclusions (i.e., zilch).
They are either abjectly ignorant of or intentionally deceptive when they fail to acknowledge examples of successful American efforts to establish democracies where none existed or was expected in the past -- admittedly some to a greater degree than others -- but still democracies, where none existed before (e.g., Japan, Germany, Russia, most of the rest of the former Soviet Union and Central Asia).
The article, therefore, is a thinly disguised effort to discredit the noble intentions of America -- to at least make the effort to bring democracy to a region that has been plagued by tyrannical dictatorships.
Elliott Alhadeff, San Clemente
Why Not Lieberman
As a former president of Democrats for Israel, Los Angeles, and as a present political action co-chair of this organization, I disagree with current President Paul Kujawsky's dismissal of concerns over Sen. Joseph Lieberman and church-state separation ("Why Not Lieberman?" March 7).
I am now speaking only for myself. The reason many of us "squirm," as Paul puts it, when Lieberman speaks about his religious faith is because he used religion in the 2000 campaign as a sword of intolerance. He said that freedom of religion does not entail freedom from religion.
How can a society have true liberty of conscience if it does not equally recognize the rights of nonbelievers? The senator also maintains that belief in a biblical God is a prerequisite to being morally trustworthy.
This can only mean that he regards as morally inferior all the atheists and agnostics who sincerely cannot bring themselves to believe in anything supernatural. Einstein rejected the concept of a personal deity. Would Lieberman consider Einstein to be morally defective?
The best America is one in which no branch of government officially treats any of us differently based upon the God or gods we worship or don't worship.
Eddie Tabash, Beverly Hills
Romance in the Negev
I can only ask Loolwa Khazzoom, "What are you thinking?" ("Romance in the Negev," March 7). After reading her article and going on her Web site and being amazed at her credentials, I am utterly perplexed. With her commitment to both Judaism and her Mizrahi culture, one would think she would find it abhorrent to date a non-Jew. Loolwa, you are a disappointment to the students you served at Berkeley, to young people all over, to the Mizrahi community you hold so dear, to your parents and to all Jews. Shame on you.
Betty Menachem, Long Beach
Just a quick thank you and commendation for the two excellent and upbeat articles in the Feb. 28 issue. Although my wife and I do not send our children to Toras Emes, we stand in awe at the great accomplishments of the school ("The Whole Kingdom," Feb. 28). Your article on the school's 50th anniversary was a fitting tribute. The article on Ashrenu and Rabbi and Mrs. Zaret's selfless dedication also hit the nail on the head. Thank you.
Manny Saltiel, Los Angeles