I attended a Jewish day school in the Midwest ("Don't Kid Yourself," Jan. 12). From the time I was 9 until 15, I was sexually molested by my Torah/history/Judaica/ ethics teacher who was also a trained cantor and a Shabbat-observantJew. I was molested in the boiler room of the school and in his car.
There was no one to tell, and as a child, I didn't think anyone would believe me. Every day I lived in fear, because my Jewish school, located in a synagogue, was not a safe place.
He destroyed my life by making me feel less than a piece of dirt. Today, I have chronic illness which in some part was caused by this massive trauma to my body and soul. My ability to trust people is severely limited.
Child sexual abuse knows no boundaries, and our clergy, the individuals in whom we have placed our trust, must accept that this behavior of abuse is evil and unacceptable. The scared child is the one who needs our protection and support.
There is actually something more cruel and humiliating than being sexually abused. It is the perpetration of community denial fostered by our rabbinic leaders ("Reining in Abuse," Jan. 12).
Denial of the existence and the extent of child sexual abuse isolates the victim from comfort, help and treatment. Trauma, by definition, lacks the coherence of words, but when there is no one to listen, the horror is magnified.
Without the understanding that sexual abuse is perpetrated even by Jewish clergy, there is no way to stop the perpetrator and warn the community. You enable and empower the perpetrators by disallowing attention to the victims' voices and thereby become responsible for the next victim.
If the crime doesn't exist, then it is the victim cum accuser who is the culprit making up allegations against esteemed people in the community. The community treats them as the culprits, and the victims now feel guilty.
There is no safety for our children as long as you ally yourselves with the perpetrators of abuse. When you keep these events secret and don't warn the community, you give these clergy perpetrators free reign. You have no idea of the permanent damage they create in innocent children - while our rabbinic leaders stand idly by making the conscious choice to be deaf to their cries.
California Board of Behavioral Sciences
Thanks for another cover story addressing issues of sexual impropriety and abuse by our clergy and others. Let's continue exploring care for both our injured and injuring parties (both need our loving assist) through dialoguing, compassionate therapy and educating awareness.
After The Jewish Journal's cover story months ago, I gently offered (nonsexual) tantra yoga instruction -- an oft-taught ancient path that redirects sexual energies toward God consciousness -- to a rabbi sentenced to prison for child porn.
Uninterested in learning, he left me puzzled and frustrated that this perfect tool goes unrecognized and unused, relegating us instead to cycles of ignorance, shame, denial and abuse. There are several of us yogis in Los Angeles of Jewish heritage: Please, let us help.
Not a Racist
What Larry Derfner defines as racism, Benjamin Netanyahu regards as necessary for Israel's survival ("Netanyahu Ranks High as Racist Demagogue," Jan. 19). He insists this war is far from over. Because the former prime minister says the things we don't want to hear, but deep down we know to be true, he is condemned.
He's not a racist; he's a survivalist. Israel lives in the thick of the growing Jihad menace and will need to defend itself in the coming months and years like it has never done before. David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, presided over the most dangerous time in Israeli history, the first 10 days of the state's existence in 1948. He would roll over in his grave if he knew what kind of peril Israel faces in the near future.
Its time we as Jews realize our responsibility. We must face this evil down as a community and stand as one, because not to is to face the unthinkable.
Children of Intermarriage
Once more The Jewish Journal proves again that it should be called the un-Jewish Journal. The article, "Jewish Parent + Christian Parent = Jewish Kids," (Jan. 19) doesn't once mention the word "halacha," which apparently is an anathema to The Journal.
The article completely omits that if the Jewish parent is the father, then the children are only considered Jewish in the eyes of the Reform movement. According to the Orthodox and Conservative movements, they are not Jewish.
The article also fails to state what would happen if the girls wanted to marry someone who is Orthodox or Conservative. They would then have to convert.
By prolonging this, the parents are putting more heartache on their children who consider themselves Jewish already but in actuality are not. Instead of the big metsieh that the article portrays of "raising the children Jewish" (Jewish children don't attend church services or celebrate Xmas) it should have gone in depth into the consequences of such actions.
If I wanted to read a paper that is a shill for the Reform movement, I could subscribe to the Reform movement's own publication directly.
The Journal is right to devote significant attention to Muslim-Jewish dialogue and pioneers like Salam Al-Marayati and Daniel Sokatch ("Try, Try Again," Jan. 19). Even though many of us may disagree on how best to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian morass, Muslims and Jews share theological, legal and ritual concerns that differ significantly from those of the Protestant Christian and secular majorities in America.
Progressive Jewish Alliance's (PJA) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council's (MPAC) cooperation in 2002 and 2003 during the roundup of Iranian immigrants with visa irregularities speaks to our shared political concerns.
Strategic alliances such as those being built between MPAC and PJA will help us ensure continued legal protection for rituals like brit milah (male circumcision) and shechita (kosher slaughter), both of which have come under attack in other democratic countries with Christian and secular majorities.
Shawn Landres Los Angeles
Livin' in the Hood
I would like to enlighten the woman who objected to Pico-Robertson as being referred to as "the hood," because she associates that term with gangsters (Letters, Jan. 5).
In my reading of David Suissa's many articles, I do not see him referring to his "hood" as a place of gangsters.
I myself have used the term "hood" for places of which I am very fond. I have taught for many years in an area that, despite possibly fitting this woman's definition, has been for me a place of great love, warmth and nurturing - the same thing that the shtetl has been for so many of our people.
Regarding the letter written by Bracha Malkin referring to David Suissa's article calling Pico-Robertson, "The Hood" -- get a life Bracha.
I've lived in the Beverlywood area for 40 years. I've been calling it "The Hood" for the last 20 years.
It's been a term of affection for a united group of people. We are the "mob" -- the good guys.
Sharon Estroff's suggestion that families donate to the Jewish Family Service/SOVA food pantries to make a child's themed bar/bat mitzvah celebration more meaningful is a sweet idea. ("At Party Time: Candy is Dandy, Charity Is Sweeter," Jan. 12).
Might I suggest some other ways families can help JFS/SOVA respond to the growing hunger crisis in our community?
Throughout the year, hundreds of families teach tzedakah by including JFS/SOVA in their various life-cycle events. They host food drives, sponsor book collections for our kid's corners, use our Baskets of Hope centerpieces for their party tables, schedule Sunday food sorting events at our warehouse and ask that guests make donations to JFS/SOVA in lieu of buying gifts.
We invite the community to experience the satisfaction of providing nourishment and support for those in need through sharing tzedakah with SOVA, a Jewish Family Service program (www.jfsla.org).
JFS/SOVA Community Food and Resource Program
The Rev. King's Speech
My wife and I were present when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Hollywood's Temple Israel on Feb. 26, 1965 ("Dr. King in Hollywood," Jan. 12).
We were only 20 years old at the time. We were inspired by Dr. King's message and were enthralled by his homiletic genius.
Rabbi Max Nussbaum, senior rabbi at Temple Israel, escaped from Nazi Germany on July 31, l940. He knew in a very personal way the consequences of not confronting a murderous dictator.
Rabbi Louis J. Feldman
Truth About Anti-Semitism
Regarding Sacramento PBS Station KVIE's refusal to air our documentary "Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century" based on their opinion of the film, you state that 18 of the top 50 PBS markets didn't air it at its scheduled time, if at all ("Sacramento's PBS Head Nixes Anti Semitism Film," Jan. 19).
In fact, the film aired in 99 of the top 100 PBS markets, the sole exception being KVIE. And while some stations did change the date or time of broadcast, you didn't clarify it is entirely routine for stations to shift schedules for local needs.
More importantly, your paper's review acknowledged our film as a "telling analysis of the corrupting effect of anti-Semitism on the Arab masses." It has also been praised by the American Jewish Committee, and is licensed to broadcast in numerous foreign countries including Australia and Sweden.
It's an important piece of journalism on an important topic. And we stand behind it.
Two Cats Productions
Oregon Public Broadcasting
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: email@example.com; or fax: (213) 368-1684