June 10, 2004
As a Jew, with the knowledge that a person must be buried with all their body parts, the photo in the First Person, "Our Soft Underbelly" (May 28), speaks for itself. It is one of the most powerful photographs I have ever seen, not to discredit Shira Kaplan, but words only diminish the effect of the picture. It says it all.
Judith Kollman, Sherman Oaks
Lea Silverman's uplifting story about Russian Jewish immigration to Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley was right on the mark ("The New Face of Russian Jewry," May 28). If all immigrants demonstrated the determination and powerful work ethic of these new Americans, we'd have no immigration debate in our city and nation.
But Silverman overlooked another source of Russian Jewish immigration -- adoption. My wife and I are the proud parents of a Russian boy, age 11, who joined our family 14 months ago after a hosting summer via Kidsave International.
He was raised without religion in Russia. Now, he has taken to Judaism like Pushkin to poetry. He went into regular fifth grade at Temple Beth Hillel Day School in Valley Village, a remarkable pre-K to fifth-grade institution that I cannot recommend more highly to any Jewish parent.
His peers accepted him without hesitation, and he has learned not just English in one school year, but Hebrew too! For sixth grade next year, he's attending another Jewish day school out of choice.
Our son is not alone; I personally know of at least nine Russian children adopted by Jewish families. Just like the children of conventional Russian Jewish immigrants, they will be amongst the Jewish leaders of tomorrow. We should all consider ourselves lucky for that.
Jeff Gottesfeld, Sherman Oaks
"Face to Face" (May 28), which I just read as part of the Union for Reform Judaism's "10 Minutes of Torah," is one of the best thought pieces I have read in a long, long time. Congratulations.
Norton Rosenthal, Dallas, Texas
The article on Carpenter Avenue Elementary left me quite bemused ("Carpenter Parents Step Up for Kids," May 28). One would be led to believe that the entire public school is made up of nothing but "members of the tribe."
Carpenter Avenue is an excellent school with very active parent groups (PTA and Parents for Carpenter) made up of a diverse group of people. David Burke (not Jewish by the way -- is it still OK to mention him?) works very hard as head of the PTA, and Janet Loeb (as the article pointed out is Jewish) has and continues to do more than one would think a mother of four has time for. They and many others from all walks of life strive to make Carpenter better every year.
My son had three excellent teachers at Carpenter: Gail Craven, Paula Denen and Farnaz Kaufman. Only one was Jewish. My daughter has a kindergarten teacher whom she adores, again not Jewish.
It is a combination of hard work by all concerned -- parents, administration, teachers and students -- that earned Carpenter Avenue it's well deserved California Distinguished School Award.
Although Joan Marks did a great deal of work to make the school what it is today, her tenure was not without problems. Also, she was not quite as alone in her work as the article made her seem to be.
Again, it was Joan Marks and the work of many that made and still makes Carpenter Avenue the excellent school that it is. And why is there no mention of the current principal, Barbara Grey, who continues to build on what Joan Marks started.
Surely The Jewish Journal trusts its reader's intelligence enough to write a more balanced story about what makes Carpenter Avenue, or any other school (and yes, there are a few more good public schools around) great and not the drivel that was printed.
I am proud of my culture and heritage, but not at the expense of others who contribute as well.
J.B. Nudell, Carpenter Avenue Elementary School Parent
Height of Absurdity
Leonard Fein's "easy answer" to Palestinian negotiating intransigence is the height of absurdity ("Pursuit of Peace Requires New Coalition," June 4). "Try that ... try something else" as a negotiating idea is meaningless.
What, specifically, would he suggest? Appeasement? Is he aware of the vile, anti-Semitic garbage spewed from PA schools and papers, let alone the targeting and celebrating of the slaughter of innocent civilians?
And Mr. Fein thinks Israel has lost the moral high ground?
Jonathan Matthew, Agoura Hills
It is extremely difficult to agree with Leonard Fein's answer to the Palestinians' refusal of Ehud Barak's peace offer that was "more than anyone thought possible."
Fein proposes that Israel should pursue a policy of making "approaches" -- presumably until the Palestinians accept one. He cannot be serious, because the only approach acceptable will be one where Israel agrees to cease to exist.
Joseph M. Ellis, Woodland Hills
In the May 28 Table of Contents, the photo caption should have read "above photo of an excavation in the city of Auschwitz courtesy of the Malgoget Groupa."