June 5, 2003
Your article on the "Rabbi Revolution" (May 30) omitted one very important Westside rabbi. Rabbi Asher Brander, 35, has led the Westwood Kehilla for nine years, inspiring a renaissance of Jewish learning and thought.
During this last year, he single-handedly established a Kollel in Westwood with five energetic rabbis and their wives, who reach out to all Jews at all levels of learning and commitment, and who give classes all over the city. He has also established a vibrant college program for UCLA students who wish to learn more about their Jewish heritage.
He is always bringing exciting speakers to not only the Kehilla but to the entire Los Angeles area. His learning, teaching, leadership and vision establish him as a role model for the entire Jewish community. He is certainly part of the Rabbi Revolution, the next generation of rabbis that are taking over Los Angeles.
Zach Samuels , President Westwood Kehilla
The Jewish Journal's "Rabbi Revolution" only seems to be in effect for the Ashkenazi community of Los Angeles. Missing from your article was any mention of Rabbi Haim Ovadia, the recently appointed rabbi of Kahal Joseph Congregation, a "Westside" synagogue serving the Iraqi Jewish community. Ovadia is 36, and, in his short tenure at Kahal Joseph, he has already revitalized the congregation with creative programs that attract large numbers of young people. The Ashkenazim of Los Angeles may never take notice of this, but from all of the Orthodox rabbis serving Orthodox pulpits, Ovadia is probably the most authentically "modern Orthodox" rabbi in this city.
Rabbi Daniel Bouskila, Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel
As she's done in the past, Julie Gruenbaum Fax once again cogently highlighted an interesting development in the life of the Los Angeles Jewish community. However, "Rabbi Revolution" (May 30) requires a follow-up article on the truly religious work our rabbis perform. What commitment does the new rabbinic generation make to pastoral care, effectively guiding Jews through the profound challenges happiness and tragedy placed before them?
Come to think of it, Fax doesn't need to apply her strong journalistic skills to another article. She needs to write a series.
Mark Rothman, Los Angeles
Jews in College
Regarding Sharon Rosenthal's article, "Book Preps Jewish Students for College" (May 23), I would like to point out one major concern affecting both new and continuing college students: money.
While the financial aid world is constantly growing -- both students looking for fellowships, loans or scholarships, and organizations and foundations offering them -- many Jewish students don't think they qualify for any targeted aid. For over a decade, Los Angeles Hillel Council has published "The National Guide to Scholarships, Fellowships and Financial Support for Jewish Students" in book form. This valuable resource, is now available free online at our new Web site www.theBagel.org . It lists over 125 sources of financial aid and is updated on a regular basis.
Alyce Arnick, Editor TheBagel.org Los Angeles Hillel Council
[Naomi] Pfefferman's review of "Jewtopia" misses the mark ("A State of 'Jewtopia,'" May 16).
Jewtopia is mostly funny, but unfortunately departs from poking fun at contemporary Jewish idiosyncrasies to instill "meaning" in an evening of fun.
The two "nice Jewish boys" who wrote and acted in the play, just don't get it. There is nothing funny about a young lawyer asking his mother why he should raise his children as Jews, nor is there anything funny about her responding with idiotic blather.
Their insensitivity and irreverence is woefully evident in the character of the rabbi who is not simply a buffoon with sexual perversions, but the instrument who desecrates those prayers Jews hold dear. "Cute" becomes testy and slips into self loathing.
The enormous energy of the play often escapes into nothingness, without direction or purpose. The nail is hammered in the coffin of the message when our hero announces that he sees no reason to raise his children as Jews.
Louis Lipofsky, Los Angeles
Geraldo and the Jews
When the latest intensification of Arab violence began, Geraldo Rivera kept showing on TV a scene of an Arab father and young son cowering before being shot and killed ("Do the Jews Need Geraldo?" May 30). This picture was shown over and over on TV while Rivera was reporting to make us think that this father and son were killed by Israeli gunfire.
A thorough investigation revealed that the father and son were killed by Palestinian Arabs. Even German news media reported that. Geraldo never corrected his malicious reports. In essence, Rivera knowingly and wittingly defamed and libeled Israel.
Rabbi Shimon Paskow , Temple Etz Chaim
In "Moving Beyond Ladies Who Lunch" (May 30), the name of Bat Yam's incoming membership chair is Sharon Rifelli.