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September 9, 2004 | 8:00 pm

Hawaiian Gardens

We are surprised that The Journal allowed letter-writer Rabbi Julian White to characterize our organization as "nasty 'stopmoskowitz.com' antagonists" in his recent letter about Irving Moskowitz's casino license (Letters, Sept. 3). We are actually stopmoskowitz.org, and White also got it wrong that our opposition to Moskowitz's casino license was based on his efforts against Israeli-Palestinian peace. Our opposition was based on extensive evidence of Moskowitz's economic and political damage to Hawaiian Gardens.

Jane Hunter, Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem Los Angeles

Goodbye Mr. Pickles

Mr. Pickles Kosher Deli located across from Costco on Washington Boulevard has closed and I feel our community has really lost something wonderful and needed. A kosher restaurant serving remarkable food in an area that never had kosher food before [allowed us] to bring our loved ones to eat in a manner consistent with traditional Judaism.

I feel that Mr. Pickles going under as a restaurant is a badge of shame on our Jewish community on the Westside/South Bay. We should not have let it happen! We should have encouraged our congregants to have eaten more meals at our restaurant. We should have held more meetings at our restaurant. I am so sad to hear of this closing.

Mr. Pickles will be missed.

Joanne Samuelson, Los Angeles

Durban to Beersheba

Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Dr. Harold Brackman would do well to note that the biggest barrier to Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan is the "supercharged ideological hatred" of Jewish religious nationalists (in Israel and abroad) and extremist Israeli settlers, not NGOs or even (for once) the Palestinian leadership ("From Durban to Beersheba," Sept. 3). Blaming the Beersheba attack on a 3-year-old failed U.N. summit is an exercise in self-defeating self-delusion and the authors' approach even manages to offend the memory of Sept. 11. Finally, it is frankly inexcusable for a rabbi ever to declare that "hope" is "destroyed."

If our religious leaders do not encourage us to keep up hope, who will? Has Cooper forgotten the words to "Ani Ma'amin"?

Shawn Landres, Los Angeles

 

In their article, "From Durban to Beersheba," Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Dr. Harold Brackman provide an important perspective how NGOs lead the demonization campaign that began at Durban. They also note that NGO Monitor is central in holding these non-governmental organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty, to account for exploiting the rhetoric of human rights while perverting its substance. Please note that the NGO Monitor is not based in Geneva, as stated in the article, but rather is part of the Israel-based Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and funded by the Wechsler Family Fund. NGO Monitor's material and resources are available at www.ngo-monitor.org.

Gerald M. Steinberg Editor, NGO Monitor

Simon Plosker, Managing Editor, NGO Monitor Jerusalem

Everything's Relative

In Tom Tugend article "Everything's Relative" (Sept. 3), he states that Dr. Einstein's papers of 1905 lead to the discovery of a number of discoveries. Among these he mentions X-rays. Roentgen discovered X-rays in 1895. The paper concerning the photoelectric effect dealt with light rays knocking that "knock" electrons from the surfaces of metals.

Martin W. Herman, Rancho Palos Verdes

 

You have Einstein labeled as an atheist. But he wasn't that at all. He was among the most spiritual of men. He rejected the biblical description of God, but did conclude that there was a grand creator or designer of the universe. The biblical picture of God was -- and is -- too simple-minded and limiting, compared to what the universe evidences. Einstein understood that.

Sandra L. Lerner, Las Vegas

Judy Gruen

I have really enjoyed Judy Gruen's columns. It is a pleasure to read articles by a Jewish woman whose writings reflect her pride in her religion. Too many of your columnists scorn and ridicule our beautiful religion's values. Let's have lots more of Judy Gruen and others like her who put the "Jewish" in Jewish Journal.

Frederica Barlaz, Los Angeles

California Budget

Idan Ivri writes regarding our apparently budget-to-budget gap of $10 billion, "...higher taxes or cutting social services, there doesn't seem to be a third option. California needs to either spend less or take in more revenue, despite the ongoing appeal of doing neither" ("California's Budget, Compromised," Aug. 20).

What Ivri and California liberals fail to acknowledge is one of the main reasons for the seemingly permanent budget shortfall: The Business Shortfall. A great deal of business has left California, is leaving California and will leave California. Putting a business into California means constantly having to deal with malignantly opportunistic and dishonest lawsuits.

Jarrow L. Rogovin, Los Angeles

Real Planning Guide?

Wouldn't it have made for better reading (and guidance) had your "B'nai Mitzvah Planning Guide" (Aug. 13) included some of the following:

At birth -- choose a meaningful Hebrew name. Make sure that you are members of a synagogue and make Jewish life and practice an important part of your family lifestyle.

Eight to 10 years ahead -- enroll your child in a Hebrew school or Jewish day school.

One to three years ahead -- have a meaningful conversation with your child about the importance of becoming bar or bat mitzvah, highlighting the link to their tradition and heritage that they are joining.

Special day onward -- emphasize the importance of continuing your child's Jewish education. Encourage active participation in the synagogue, teen programs and summer camps, and continue to make Jewish life and practice an integral part of your family's life. Motivate your child toward giving a portion of his/her gifts to tzedakah.

Imagine had the article used the above values as its theme -- what a different world this would be!

Name withheld by request, Los Angeles

Spiritual High

On behalf of the entire Academy for Jewish Religion family, I wish to express our deep appreciation to The Jewish Journal for the beautiful stories highlighting our accomplished students and graduates ("Midlife Calling" and "New Prayer Communities Seek Spiritual High," Aug. 20). It is an honor and a privilege to have created a rabbinical, cantorial and chaplaincy school able to teach such dedicated, motivated and passionate individuals. Having achieved success in their "first" professions, they are now poised to make a profound impact on the Jewish community. We will all benefit as a result.

Rabbi Stan Levy, Chair Board of Governors Academy for Jewish Religion Los Angeles

Stem Cell Research

Dr. Charles Hyman seeks to reassure us that, despite Bush's position on stem cell research, the work will get done abroad, and therefore shouldn't be a factor in the election (Letters, Aug. 13). I am not at all reassured. First, the same ideologues who want to prevent the research in this country might very well strive to prevent the use in this country of any treatments created by stem cell research elsewhere.

My second and much greater worry is that outsourcing what might be the most promising new direction in medical and biological research could be disastrous for scientific research in this country, and not just in the medical area. All the fields of both biological and physical sciences are becoming increasingly interconnected; blocking stem cell research could have a "domino effect" on wide variety of areas of science and the technology by cutting off potentialities that we cannot even imagine at the moment.

Finally, from a tribal point of view, losing out to other countries in medical and scientific research and development would also be "bad for the Jews." As in so many other fields of intellectual endeavor, we Jewish Americans are prominent in many of these arenas far out of proportion to our numbers. I cannot prove it, but I think that this fact contributes to our political clout as well.

Deborah Bochner Kennel, Los Angeles

Christian Nation

Cathy Young ("Texas GOP Pushes 'Christian Nation,'" July 23), objects to the symbolic reference to America as a Christian nation. But the European religious landscape raises the question of whether such symbolic slights are Jews' biggest problem.

The Texas platform contrasts with the new European Union Constitution, which, at France's behest, omits any reference to God.

In this secular environment, French Jews are denied the right to wear kippot in school, denied the right to vote absentee if an election falls on a Jewish holiday and denied accommodations when exams fall on Shabbat. Several European nations have outlawed the production or even importation of kosher meat, and others are threatening to outlaw circumcision, as well.

These restrictions are supposedly pro-animals and children, rather than anti-Jewish, in motivation. But Jews cannot thrive where religion does not.

In places like Texas, religion is deemed a constructive activity that deserves respect (even when it's a minority denomination). In places like France, it's considered by many to be a nonconstructive, divisive activity that must yield before other goods, like "social unity" or the rights of animals.

Jews have less to fear from positive support for religion than from negative restrictions on it. The Christian resolution might make some Jews uncomfortable, but it does not make their religious practice illegal.

Mitchell Keiter, Los Angeles

Presbyterian Dialogues

Mark Pelavin's essay on the need to renew dialogue with Presbyterian leaders makes me wonder if he has actually read the resolutions passed by this church ("We Must Renew Presbyterian Dialogues," Aug. 13).

I have.

Certainly, most Presbyterians are as shocked as I am by what their leaders are doing. As they should be, because the behavior of these men is shocking.

The Presbyterian resolutions call for turning Israel into a Muslim/Palestinian state by demanding "the right of [Palestinian] refugees to return to their homeland."

And while the formal resolutions did not brand democratic Israel as an apartheid state, the church's official press release did. Moreover, the leaders of this church, notably Stated Clerk Clinton Kirkpatrick, have libeled Israel by accusing it of apartheid in numerous formal statements, the earliest at least four years old.

The leadership of the Presbyterian Church is quite deliberately working to destroy the Jewish state by demanding a right of return, by promoting divestment, by regularly publishing outright untruths about events in Israel and by demonizing Israel in programming and official statements going back over a decade.

I believe that the Jewish community will be best served not by talking with the Israel-hating Presbyterian leadership at the national level but by going directly to the millions of Presbyterian pastors, elders and individual Christians who understand that the Jewish state has a right both to exist and to defend itself.

Diana Appelbaum, Boston Israel Action Committee Newton, Mass.

Over Mourning

Bravo to Managing Editor Amy Klein for her courageous piece on mourning ("Over Mourning," July 16). I agree with her on our need to move from a perspective of victimization to one of dignity and empowerment. Here's to continuing the conversation and moving forward.

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