January 15, 2004
As much as I sympathize with Ron Solomon's loss of his brother, his praise of the governor's supposed compassion is premature ("Schwarzenegger's Kindest Un-Cut," Jan. 2).
Solomon credits Schwarzenegger's "compassion" with reversing cuts that have resulted in a denial of medical care for indigent seniors and children and would have had a terrible impact on the regional centers whose services Danny [Solomon] used. It was not compassion: the governor faced demonstrations from the disabled and the elderly whose lifelines these cuts threatened, and opposition from California assembly members unwilling to face their constituents with such bad news at the holiday season. Nor is the reprieve final: my students, most of them disabled senior citizens, are facing the new year with apprehension about their medical care, their dental care, their transportation, and their ability to afford their places in the modest assisted-living facilities that are their homes. Had Danny Solomon lived, the level of service he could expect from the Golden State in 2004 would be far below the service he received in 2003.
Gov. Schwarzenegger has promised to balance California's budget without increasing taxes. You don't need an economics degree to figure out where the money will come from: "spending cuts" at the expense of people like Danny Solomon.
Miriam Caiden, Los Angeles
Ron Solomon's article about his late brother, Danny, where he writes about his diseases and disabilities, inspired me to thank you for publishing the heart-tugging article. I have kept The Journal open to Page 26 with Danny's bright smile and I say: To cut away necessary funds from the state budget should never be an option. Children and adults with special needs should be provided for now, and in the future.
Margaret Marketa Novak, Beverly Hills
Dean's Jewish Ties
There is something vaguely disquieting about the inference I draw from your article about Dean's Jewish ties ("Dean's Judaism Ties Span Decades," Jan. 2). In the Jewish home in which I was raised, we were taught that it was both un-American and profoundly un-Jewish to characterize a person according to his race, religion or ethnicity.
The notion that we would vote for someone because he or she is a Jew (or married to one) is just as antithetical to the Jewish spirit, in my mind, as the idea that one would refuse to do so.
Ann Weissman , San Jose
Blacks and Jews
Rabbi Marc Schneier and Russell Simmons you are dreaming about a time long past ("We Need Blacks' Aid in Anti-Semitism Fight," Jan. 9). The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is dead and his leadership has passed on to people as [Jesse] Jackson, [Al] Sharpton, etc. Do you hear one word from them about anti-Semitism. No, what you get from them is anti-Semitism, "Hymie town." No prominent black has spoken out about the atrocities you enumerate.
Civil rights to blacks is an inward movement, obtaining "more," reparations, etc. Force movements as the Nation of Islam. Nothing to even remotely relate to anti-Semitism. It would be nice to have the black aid in the fight, but don't hold your breath if you think you will get "ethnic understanding" from the present black leaders and the black community.
Ed Fine, Rancho Palos Verdes
David Gamliel does not have any supernatural powers ("David Gamliel's Weird Science," Jan. 9). He is an illusionist or magician, which is why he performs at the Magic Castle and bar mitzvahs.
If he had the power to levitate glasses he would take James Randi's million dollar challenge and prove his power under controlled conditions. But he knows he would suffer the same fate as Uri Geller when he was unable to work his "miracles" when Randi was around. Other skilled illusionists from Harry Houdini to Penn and Teller have spent a good deal of time and energy debunking frauds like Gamliel and Geller. Gamliel is an entertainer. He might even be a good one, but leave out the rest of the nonsense.
David M. Marcus, Los Angeles
A Soulful Life
Julie Gruenbaum Fax's cover story described the efforts by some in the community to "downgrade" weddings and bar mitzvahs, and find ways to teach the importance of tzedakah ("How to Be Rich and Live Soulfully," Jan. 9). I run a charter school serving some of the poorest families in Los Angeles. At our annual fundraising dinner in October, Evan Corday and Helen Nash created fantastic centerpieces made out of school supplies wrapped in mylar, which were then donated to the school. This inspired two of our guests, Karen and Chuck Rosin, to suggest to their about-to-be-bar mitzvahed son, Avery, that he do the same. It's a wonderful gift. My sense is that it is less a lack of generosity than a lack of imagination that holds some people back from doing the right thing. Perhaps nonprofits like mine would do well to give local rabbis a wish list.
Roger Lowenstein, Executive Director Los Angeles Leadership Academy
Major kudos to The Jewish Journal for the article, "When Television Challenged America" by Tom Teicholz (Jan. 9). "The Twilight Zone" featured cutting-edge writing and acting in a 30-60-minute format. It was my favorite program on television.
Randy Ades, CSUN Grad Student
Congratulations on your bold article about salaries in the Jewish community ("Low Wages Force Workers to Struggle," Jan. 2). It is good that we Jews worry about the wages of workers of all kinds, but it is time to ask some hard questions of ourselves.
We are willy-nilly abusing many of our professionals and staff support people. Perhaps we have to set some standards below which we cannot go morally. Perhaps organizations have to begin with what is fair and equitable and then develop their institutions once this is done, rather than constantly pushing the envelope at the expense of the guy at the lower end of the pay scale. And that might require all of us -- even people like me who are not among the victimized -- to contribute more to help keep programs afloat and to adjust to some of our current inequities. Let our vaunted "Jewish values" prompt us to do some honest communal soul-searching, some more realistic planning and more generous giving.
Rabbi William Cutter, Steinberg Professor of Human Relations Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Douglas Mirrell, Daniel Sokatch, Rachel Neuwirth and even my distinguished and cherished colleague professor Aryeh Cohen are just plain wrong in their use of the word "kapo." A kapo was a prisoner foreman [Jewish or non-Jewish] in concentration and slave labor camps. They held considerable but thoroughly derivative power. Their lives were also at risk. For some power went to their heads and they mimicked the behavior of their German masters and further inflicted torture and humiliation on their prisoners. The humiliation was more deeply felt because it was experienced as an act of betrayal. Others used their power wisely and compassionately.
We have in Los Angeles one Jewish kapo, an early prisoner of Auschwitz, who saved scores if not hundreds of Jewish boys by using his power imaginatively.So when Neuwirth called Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller a kapo, she revealed her ignorance of the Holocaust, and not only her ability to wound. As to the Hillel director, he could have answered: "Thank you!"One can have contact with an enemy without betraying one's own. Such contact is indispensable if it is essential that a neighboring adversary must someday be less adversarial, if not peaceful.
Michael Berenbaum, Los Angeles
Dear "Yiddish" Journal, I adore the paper! I am almost 84 and I find the print ink a bit too light. The news should be so light!
S. Kabachnick, Los Angeles