September 18, 2003
ISM and Terror Victims
I read with tears the moving first-person account of the friend of a terror victim ("My Mikvah Lady," Sept. 12), the story of Dr. David Applebaum, who saved so many lives and who died with his daughter on the eve of her wedding, and the astounding piece by Jonathan Medved concerning the heroism of his 16-year-old son who came to the aid of the Cafe Hillel bombing victims ("Our Heroes and Theirs," Sept. 12). It was remarkable to juxtapose his values, those of Dr. Applebaum and even those of mikvah lady, Rachel Weitz, with those of the lost Jewish souls so well-described in Gaby Wenig's article about young Jewish members of the Israel Solidarity Movement (ISM) ("Human Rights Activists or Aids to Terrorists?" Sept. 12).
As I read about young Jews who were so in thrall of the Palestinian cause and so filled with hate of Israel that they could not even bring themselves to condemn terror attacks, or even offered tacit support, I could not help but compare them to Jewish collaborators with the Nazis. And sadly, the ISM supporters came out worse. Jews who collaborated with the Nazis did so in a desperate attempt to save their lives or the lives of their families. Jewish ISM supporters provide succor to the enemies of their people and minimize the atrocity of terror and suicide attacks out of a warped and misguided belief that what they are doing is just, right and actually in support of human rights. Their naiveté and lack of compassion for the maimed, bereaved and dying in Israel sickens me.
Jan Roberts, Canoga Park
I read the article about Jews who are part of the so-called International Solidarity Movement and had to choke back a strong sense of revulsion. I was revolted by the concept of Jews who would stoop so low as to aid and abet an enemy sworn to destruction of Jews -- not just the Jewish State, but Jews anywhere and of any stripe. I was revolted by how these Jews even support the use of suicide/homicide bombing as a legitimate form of resistance, and total shock and disgust at the chutzpah they exhibit by daring to cite tikkun olam as their motive.
Yet this revulsion is tinged with pity -- how could these Jews be so sick and self-deluded? How did they get this way, so that they turn their backs on their own people? It is one thing to protest Israel's actions as part of the loyal opposition, but it is quite another to sympathize with terrorists as a means of protest.
Heshy Rosenwasser, Los Angeles
After reading the articles and the divergent perceptions and analyses of Dennis Ross, Dori Gold, Yossi Beilin, and Avraham Burg; anyone who thinks peace is possible between the Palestinians and Israelis is deluding themselves ("Ten Years After Oslo," Sept. 12). No one presently on the political scene has the vision or courage of a Anwar Sadat, Nelson Mandela or Vaclav Havel, and the environment is not conducive to producing one. I pray that I am wrong, but I fear that I am right.
David M. Marcus, Los Angeles
David Marker of the National Technical Advisory Committee, quoted in Joe Berkofsky's interesting article, "Rising Intermarriage, Fewer Jews" (Sept. 12), hits the nail on the head when he states that the Jewish community must do a better job of reaching out to Jews who have intermarried and their families.
As someone who intermarried more than 20 years ago (and whose husband converted to Judaism several years after our marriage), I can attest to the fact that other than the commitment of the marital partners, the attitude and outreach efforts of the community makes a huge difference in whether they decide to remain in the fold or not. When we were first engaged and then married, we were very fortunate to live in San Francisco and belong to Temple Emanuel, which, through its rabbis, programs, classes and congregation, welcomed us and made us feel a part of the community, when others, including many members of my family, did the opposite.
I have always had a strong Jewish identity, and the temple and its community helped my husband to foster his own identity, along with the rabbis involved in his conversion process once we moved back to Los Angeles at Wilshire Boulevard Temple, as well as rabbi Lawrence Goldmark. Their outreach, understanding and treatment of us as individuals left an indelible mark on our faith and on our life as a Jewish family. We are now active members of Valley Beth Shalom, where our children attend Hebrew school and nursery school.
I understand the issues surrounding intermarriage. However, the reality of Jewish life for thousands of years is that Jews have always intermarried and we have survived and thrived. Instead of condemnation and dismissal, let's engage in a dialogue of the heart, soul and intellect as we welcome intermarried families to the community of Israel.
Leslie M.B. Cole , Los Angeles
A Warm Greeting
Alan Fisher wrote what I have been saying for a long time: we need to welcome those who come to our synagogues as our brethren of other faiths welcome everyone to their places of worship ("Say Hello Before They Say Goodbye," Sept. 12). I am delighted to see his citing of Beth Jacob as an exemplary synagogue. I am proud to be a part of its outreach to those who come to worship with us. I anticipate greeting readers who are seeking a welcoming community!
Valerie Kay Strum, Beverly Hills
In the Sept. 5 Circuit, Red Buttons is pictured with Carol Conners.