Responses to Sexuality
I was disappointed by your June 27 issue, which overall equates non-marital sex with maturity, and warns parents not to be judgmental about their children's behavior. In light of evidence showing that people who are sexually active prior to marriage have more than twice the divorce rate of those who do not, contraception cannot shield us from the costs of early sexual experimentation.
At least three reasons explain the correlation. First, sexual activity distorts courtship. People who expect sex in dating may seek sexual desirability instead of character compatibility in their dates. Such focus hinders one's search for Mr./Ms. Right. The Janus Report revealed individuals drawn to their spouse's "sexiness" had more than twice the divorce rate of those who selected for "personality."
Second, sexual relationships generally involve greater emotional investment, and thus greater emotional loss at their demise. After suffering several breakups, one learns to expect finite relationships, and to "look out for number one." Such defensiveness is inconsistent with the mutual compromise and commitment a successful relationship needs.
Finally, most people who begin their sexual careers with a non-spouse do not contemplate lifelong sexual monogamy. "Rotating polygamy" creates a taste for sexual variety and impedes subsequent marital fidelity. A recent study reported women with four or more sexual partners were 20 times more likely to commit adultery.
Memories and emotions from past intimate relationships challenge young marriages. The biggest losers in the divorce revolution are its children; we owe them the standards that protect them from family disintegration.
Thank you Gene Lichtenstein for your wonderfully balanced editorial on a brave, delicate subject ("From One Generation to the Next," June 27). Of all the fine articles, yours asked as many questions as it answered, acknowledging from your unique personal view that every generation must tread through its equally unique treacherous shoals of sexuality. In the chaos of the sexual revolution of the late '60s and early '70s, there was the belief that real values clarifications would emerge. Some light did fall on some of us.
For example, I dared to live with the man who became husband number two. This would have been social suicide had I done so with husband number one; never mind that it would have saved us from one unhappy first marriage.
Would I want my son or a daughter to do the same, i.e. be sexually involved with a future mate? Not necessarily. Once again, the times have changed, and not only as Marlene Marks points out, sex can be fatal ("The Facts of Life," June 27).
We "sexual libertarians" learned that having sex before marriage answered some, but not all the questions. For many, it did not guarantee wedded bliss any better than a carefully arranged marriage does.
Shalhevet's sex education approach in such honest hands as the Finkelsteins' sounds promising ("The Birds and the Bees and Judaism," June 27). Relying on the empowerment that we don't have to do things the way everyone else does? Maybe.
Keeping those hormone-driven questions out of the dark and in the open light seems best.
Josie Levy Martin
Your June 27 cover story, "Jewish Girls & Sexuality," made for a sensational issue. Having raised three girls during the Beatles period, and "flower people," was an experience I wouldn't wish on any parent. But they survived. And so will this generation.
Survival is the intent of sex. That moment of ecstasy is what creates the spark for all life to continue.
There is basically nothing different between the urges, male and female, regardless of birth origin and/or religious affiliation. It's the latter that sets moral guidelines, and mandates behavior for Jews. But you fail to make that point in what's reported.
Hyman H. Haves
Friedlander at UCLA
I would like to thank the Journal for publishing the interview with Professor Saul Friedlander ("The Years of Persecution," July 4).
Tom Tugend's well-written review of Friedlander's new book and his past, capture the essence and the core of the Jewish tragedy in Europe. A human face on the collective loss of six million, so difficult to comprehend.
Tom omitted one aspect of Friedlander's life: what brought him to Los Angeles and UCLA. Professor Friedlander is an incumbent of the 1939 Club Chair of Holocaust Studies at UCLA.
The endowment of the chair, presently over $2 million, began some seventeen years ago. It was in 1979 when a group of survivors affiliated with the 1939 Club began to raise money for the first chair on Holocaust studies in a public university. After gaining the approval of the Regents of the University of California, in January 1979, the chair became a reality.
Having personally spearheaded the drive to establish the chair, and serving as an ex-officio on the academic committee that invited Professor Friedlander to UCLA, I am proud to say that in addition to the large undergraduate enrollment, numerous graduate students have completed their Ph.D. degrees with specialization in Holocaust studies.
For us, the generation that lived through the actual events, the need to preserve the historical facts through education and transmission to future generations remains very critical. But it also serves as a permanent living memorial to those six million who perished.
Dr. Sam Goetz
Past President of the 1939 Club
Israelis in L.A.
I noted with interest the discussion of the number of Israeli immigrants in Los Angeles served by the Israeli press ("Power of the Hebrew Press," July 4). As a demographer, I have studied the topic for a while and wanted to clarify the question as to the numbers.
In the May 1997 edition of the prestigious peer reviewed journal Demography, Professors Yinon Cohen and Yitchak Haberfeld of Tel Aviv University, reconfirmed through their own independent research, my 1983 published estimate of 100,000 to 120,000 Israeli immigrants in the United States. In my 1983 study, which was also published in Moment magazine (Sept. 1983), I estimated the Israeli immigrant population in the Los Angeles area at 10,000 to 12,000. In tracking the trends of Israeli migration over the past fourteen years, I have seen no evidence that the number of Israeli immigrants in Los Angeles has grown greatly.
I am currently tabulating and analyzing the results of the 1997 Los Angeles Jewish Population Survey and I am looking forward to publishing updated estimates of the Israeli and other communities in September.
Pini Herman, Ph.D.
Research Coordinator, Planning and Allocations Department
Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles
Paying Their Dues
This letter is being written by a Jewish family who is taking issue with a Reform temple in Thousand Oaks. The question that is raised is whether meeting the financial requirements of the temple is more important than allowing a family to practice their religion, at a cost that is affordable to them. Our family was recently turned away from this congregation because we could not afford their membership dues. The shortfall was about $69 per month.
We were very disappointed with this decision and, frankly, stunned at their attitude. We were not looking for membership in a country club but inclusion in a temple.
Mitzvot might be a good description for the Jewish religion. It means the doing of good deeds, not the doing of pettiness. We think this temple has forgotten its place and purpose. A closed door to any Jewish family is not a door that belongs to any self-respecting temple.
Without members there is no temple, and then there is no Jewish community! As Rabbi Hillel said: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am for myself only what am I? And if not now when?"
Mr. and Mrs. William E. Kirsch
Although we applaud the recent flurry of forums, panels and town meetings whose purpose appeared to bring healing and reconciliation to the disparate elements of the Jewish community, we were both surprised and deeply saddened by the exclusion of the Reconstructionist movement from these public events.
The Reconstructionist movement has been a separate movement in North American Judaism since 1968 and has contributed significantly to American Jewish life. The result of ignoring the Reconstructionist movement was that all the publicity surrounding these events was therefore misleading to the community. The many Jews in Los Angeles who do affiliate and identify with Reconstructionism, felt further alienated and discounted by the very events designed to promote inclusion.
We urge every responsible Jewish agency in our community to contact us for sponsorship and participation in all community-wide events in the future, and hope that they will therefore truly be opportunities for healing, learning and bringing our too fragmented Jewish community together again.
Neil Selman, President, Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben: Kehillat Israel, Pacific Palisades;
Shira Adler Schwartz, Rabbi Neal Weinberg: Los Angeles Reconstructionist Community of Havurot;
George Greenberg, President, Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue;
Randy Klinenberg, President, South Bay Havurah;
Louis J. Wiener, President, Whittier Havurah;
Linda Schibel, National Vice President, Sandra M. Rubenstein, Regional Director: Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, West Coast Region, Los Angeles
Where Are the Arabs?
Donald S. Bustany believes that if over half the Jews in the Knesset would be like Stanley Sheinbaum the road to peace in the Middle East would be a snap ("An Outsider's View," Letters, May 16).
He misses an important point. Over the years, innumerable Jews in and out of Israel have spoken out forcefully whenever they thought Israel was acting unfairly to Arabs. I have never heard one word by an Arab taking any responsibility for the conflict.
Where are the Arab Stanley Sheinbaums? I want to hear them condemn egregious Arab acts such as the pressure on Britain to limit jewish immigration. They were opposed to Jews immigrating to Palestine all through the 20th century, but were not opposed to Arabs, with no national, historical ties to the land, coming. Jews had a continuous presence there for 3,500 years, and had been the only sovereign nation there during that time. Where were the condemnations of the 1929 Hebron massacre, and the refusal to accept partition, even after 76 percent of Palestine was used to create Jordan, a country that had never existed before in the history of the world.
Why didn't they condemn the attack on Israel in 1948? Where were their outcries in 1967, when their fellow Arabs massed hundreds of thousands of troops on Israel's border, and threatened to push the Jews into the sea. All they did was whine about Israel being an aggressor for trying to save its own life.
When the Arab Stanley Sheinbaums start to speak out loudly and frequently about Arab responsibility, then peace will be a snap in the Middle East. The Jews have had Stanley Sheinbaums since the days of the Prophets. Whatever short comings we Jews have, a lack of self-criticism is not one of them.
It is time for the Arabs to stop whining and wallowing in self-pity and victimization, and blame the Jews for all of their own problems. Come on, Mr. Bustany, share in the responsibility, and we will all have a better life.
Remember Neal Schnall
I have never felt the need to write a letter to a newspaper, but when I read the excellent article by Beverly Gray ("The Gates of Hope," June 20), I wanted to correct an omission.
Gray writes so movingly about the Valley Beth Shalom programs for the developmentally disabled, but regrettably, the name of the man who brought the program to our synagogue and developed it with great love and care, is not mentioned.
Neal Schnall, our Hebrew school principal, has nurtured this program from its infancy. He has put his heart and soul, not only into the program, but into every one of the students.
Thank you so much for bringing this wonderful timeless program to the attention of the Los Angeles Jewish community.
Cantor Herschel Fox
Valley Beth Shalom
Israel Television's Department of Children and Youth is in the process of creating a series of short documentaries depicting how American young people view Judaism and Zionism. These documentaries will include segments dealing with the significant daily issues confronted by American youth.
Certain organizations or individuals in your community may be interested in submitting video tapes about or made by American Jewish youth to Israel Television for consideration. We heartily encourage your participation.
These tapes should focus on how American Jewish youth relate to Jewish and Zionist issues. Clips should be approximately three minutes in length and can be filmed using any type of video camera. Tapes should be sent to the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles, 6380 Wilshire Blvd. '1700, Los Angeles, CA 90048. If you would like more information about this program, please call us at (213) 852-5524.
Consul for Communications and Public Affairs
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