Jewish Journal

Dead Sea Scrolls, grunions, birthright and pastrami

June 21, 2007 | 8:00 pm

Dead Sea Scrolls

I have read Brigid Brett's June 15 article on the upcoming Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit ("San Diego museum culls worldwide collections for Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit").

I write to express my surprise that Brett did not mention the controversy in which this exhibit is gradually becoming submerged.

For details, see historian Norman Golb's article, "Fact and Fiction in Current Exhibitions of the Dead Sea Scrolls -- A Critical Notebook for Viewers," which indicates that there are "basic questions regarding the scientific conduct of the San Diego museum in respect to its forthcoming exhibit of the Scrolls." This article can be downloaded from the University of Chicago Web site.

Brett might also have mentioned Golb's recent editorial in The Forward, "Take Claims About Dead Sea Scrolls With a Grain of Salt," which explains precisely why this controversy is so important.

In essence, a world-renowned scholar of Jewish antiquity has accused the Natural History Museum of taking sides in a bitter and widening academic dispute. Allow me to state my opinion that the Jewish population of Southern California would have been better served if you had signaled the existence of this controversy to them, rather than allowing the Natural History Museum to use your newspaper as a public relations tool.

Charles Gadda
New York, N.Y.

Future of the JCC

This is an open letter to the Jewish Community and The Jewish Federation ("Milken JCC Board Rejects Federation Offer," June 15).

To paraphrase Mark Twain: "The news of our [the JCC at Milken] death was an exaggeration." The reason we have not been able to communicate effectively with our membership is because we have been given half-truths by The Jewish Federation. We have stayed silent because we honestly don't know any more than the membership, but we are going to stay open and continue to serve the needs of our community. Our preschool and senior programs will continue without any delays, and our Camp program will begin as scheduled. After-school and enrichment classes will be held in the fall, as usual. The community has spoken, and as a member of the Board of Directors, I take my cue from the membership that elected me.

Maralyn Soifer
Board of Directors (1981-present)
Past president (1999-2001)

Paris, Rosie, and Muslims

Kudos to Editor Rob Eshman for (a) his insightful and balanced view of the tough job that some (but not all) in the media have trying to speak truth to passion and (b) for his being credible enough to be invited to address a Muslim audience at the Islamic Center and for his readiness to speak openly and directly to an audience most of whose members probably viewed the editor of a Jewish newspaper with caution if not suspicion ("Paris and Rosie," June 15).

I also thank him for bringing to our attention Rabbi David Rosen's injunction to reach out to our American Muslim neighbors. As a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force I lived almost three years in a Muslim country (Turkey) and came to appreciate how much we as Jews have in common with Muslims.

With our common Middle Eastern origins, Jews and Muslims "do" religion in very similar ways and there is a huge potential for mutual appreciation and understanding that awaits us on the other side of the emotional and rhetorical walls that exist between us.

Rabbi Gilbert Kollin

birthright Baby, birthright!

After comparing birthright Israel participants (of which I am one) to manically mating fish, Rob Eshman wonders whether the message that "there is more to Jewish survival than hooking up" is actually getting through to those of us who've gone on the trip ("Grunions," June 8). Allow me to answer with an unequivocal yes.

While I have to admit I came back to Los Angeles with a girlfriend from the trip, who I'm now living with and will probably be engaged to very soon, I went to Israel with no intention of hooking up but with the urge to find myself in the Jewish world, in its history and in its presence. And I came home having experienced a very meaningful imprint on my life.

Since returning from Israel, I have gone to temple many times, I have produced a very powerful Jewish-themed short film about Elijah and I have been involved with alumni here in Los Angeles. I have lit Shabbat candles, and I have read more news articles, because I was there, and because Israel is still inside my heart.

In short, while your article touches upon the fact that young Jews get a free trip to Israel and may hook up while on the adventure, it does no justice to what the journey really means to the individuals who went and the everlasting impression that it has on those that are the future of Israel throughout the globe.

Matthew Benson
birthright Alumnus
Summer 2005

I participated in the Taglit-birthright Israel trip several years ago, and as I look forward to starting my second year in graduate school, I have to say how grateful I am to have had that experience.

Your recent editorial suggested that the birthright Israel trip was designed as one big mating dance, a beer-soaked matchmaking effort, and I cannot help but feel that you have missed the point.

I cannot say that my friends and I did not notice anyone from the opposite sex, or that many students did not take advantage of the fact that the drinking age in Israel is 18, but mostly what we did was spend 10 amazing days learning about our roots, exploring an incredible country and the people who live in it, growing as individuals and making friends for life.

I do not know when I will have another chance to return to Israel, but I do know that the experience has truly impacted my life in a tremendous way. From the classes I took as an undergraduate student, to my interest and views in politics and policies, to the groups and organizations that I have become a part of and the friends I have made since -- all have been a result of my involvement in the birthright program. I feel a much deeper connection not only with the Jewish community, but with my family, as well as myself. I had an amazing time on the trip, but most importantly I returned to the United States with a tremendous sense of pride and responsibility to the American Jewish community.

Alice Feldman
via e-mail

Kosher Deli

I grew up in Los Angeles in the '40s and '50s ("Langer's celebrates 60 years of a passion for pastrami," June 15) For a brief time there was Hartman's kosher restaurant, but no others. With all the dozens of wonderful kosher places to eat now in Los Angeles, and many places with great pastrami, why feature a treif restaurant? Try Pico Kosher Deli or one of the other delis that are kosher.

I would like to see pieces more often on kosher establishments.

Pearl Taylor
Sherman Oaks

In "Langer's celebrates 60 years of a passion for pastrami" (June 15) by Joan Nathan, portions of this story originally appeared in Bon Appetit magazine and were reprinted with permission.

In "Milken JCC Board Rejects Federation Offer" (June 15), The Journal reported that center board member Marty Hummel resigned prior to the vote on a Federation proposal during the executive meeting. Hummel supported the Federation plan, but voted against the plan during the meeting. Afterward he abruptly resigned prior to the general meeting and spoke out against the vote.

In "Muggings in Pico-Robertson Raise Concern of Orthodox" (June 8), Rabbi Basil Herring, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America, mistakenly said that Rabbi Moshe Feinstein had permitted carrying cash on Shabbat to appease would-be robbers. Though some rabbis have issued such a ruling, Feinstein never did.

THE JEWISH JOURNAL welcomes letters from all readers. Letters should be no more than 200 words and must include a valid name, address and phone number. Letters sent via e-mail must not contain attachments. Pseudonyms and initials will not be used, but names will be withheld on request. We reserve the right to edit all letters. Mail: The Jewish Journal, Letters, 3580 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1510, Los Angeles, CA 90010; e-mail: letters@jewishjournal.com; or fax: (213) 368-1684.
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