I am a committed supporter of Conservative Judaism and have been a member of Conservative Temple Beth Am for more than 20 years (“Conservative Judaism Reborn — In Germany,” Nov. 29). I agree with Rabbi Brad Artson that the movement is not dying.
In “No Faith, No Jewish Future” (Nov. 6), Dennis Prager has it backward. The assiduous practice of mitzvot results in recognition of their foundation, not visa versa. Halachic adherence remains the key to growth in Orthodox Judaism. A 3-year-old child learns what we do, i.e., wear tzitzit, when he puts them on and recites a bracha.
The NewGround project is as controversial as it is ambitious (“It’s Not Just Talk,” Aug. 2). Although I am skeptical as to its potential success, I believe the focus of the Jewish-Muslim dialogue is myopic. Since 9/11, it has become increasingly obvious that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a symptomatic and symbolic flashpoint of a problem of much greater universal dimensions.
I received such a delightful surprise. I received a copy of your thoughtful article “Figueres” (July 12). I am grateful for your visit to Costa Rica. It is a lesson in itself. I am grateful that, at a special time of need, you remind us of the truths of the dreams and their realities of Jose Figueres. You can perhaps understand my emotion if I share with you that I am the widow of Jose Figueres. Shalom.
Oh, yes, Hagel was bad for Israel — now he’s OK (“Hagel, Obama, Bibi and Red Lines,” April 26). Kerry was good for Israel — now he’s bad. And of course “good for Israel” means not pushing Bibi to actually stop eight years of talking about a two-state solution and doing nothing, not even bringing it up for a vote within his own party. Which I guess makes around half of all Israelis “bad for Israel.”
This week, Jews around the world observed Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day ought to be universally observed, because the lessons of the Holocaust are universal. Here are some of them:
I have an answer to Dennis Prager’s column criticizing the annual list of 50 top rabbis published by Newsweek/Daily Beast (“Time to End the ‘Top Rabbis’ List,” March 29). Prager complains that the Newsweek ranking brings the cult of celebrity to the fragile institution of the rabbinate, inflicting “gratuitous pain” on those rabbis who don’t make the cut and inflating the egos of those who do.
David Suissa has been writing a brilliant monologue, telling Los Angeles Jews that Israel’s settlements are legal and Israel’s enemies are so very afraid. The problem with his monologue is that it will convince no one who is not already convinced.
As a working lawyer and a practicing comic, I have to remark at the irony that on the 50th anniversary of Betty Friedan’s groundbreaking “The Feminine Mystique” (“‘All That I Am I will Not Deny,’” March 1), David Suissa (“Jews Can’t Take Love,” March 1) mentioned 21 male comics (the Marx Brothers were four) and only two female comics. I’m sure Mr. Suissa could have Googled for more female names if he wanted to present a more balanced census in 5773/2013.
In a recent article, Dennis Prager wrote an oversimplified and sweeping criticism of self-esteem (“Behavior Matters Most,” Feb. 15). He claims that self-esteem promotes the idea that feelings are more important than actions.
It is quite something to read Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion dean Joshua Holo’s caricature Dennis Prager as reckless, heedless, gratuitously hostile and a provocateur “painting in broad strokes of facile caricature” (Letters, Dec. 21), when that is precisely what he, not Prager, does.
Dennis Prager has again conveniently and simplistically divided his world into good and bad, conservative Republicans being good, liberal Democrats being bad (“A Jew Tours for Romney,” Nov. 2). He then uses this formulation to claim that the conservative Republicans more ardently favor Jews and Israel, than do the liberal Democrats.
Rob Eshman correctly notes that tzedakah is not merely charity but is also a religious and community response about social justice (“Entitled,” Oct. 19). Nowadays, “entitlements” are frequently used as a synonym for charity. However, Eshman inadvertently undercuts his own argument by failing to point out an essential fact: For working Americans, Social Security and Medicare are earned benefits paid for by payroll deductions.
Some thoughts for Rosh Hashanah: If we took a vote on what trait we human beings most value, goodness would undoubtedly win. Certainly goodness is the trait that we most want everyone else to possess. But if we say we value goodness above everything else -- and surely Judaism does -- why aren't there more good people? A big reason is that it is easier to value other things -- including, and especially, positive things -- more than goodness. So it's much easier to be just about anything rather than good. It’s easier to be religious than to be good.
We applaud The Jewish Journal and Julie Gruenbaum Fax for the wonderful cover story “Fueling the jFed Generation” (June 1). We commend The Jewish Federation and its leadership for their tireless efforts to engage young adults in Jewish life. The Federation’s new Young Adults of Los Angeles (YALA) initiative and its collaborations with dozens of young adult organizations are instrumental in ensuring the future vitality of our community. This undertaking is a direct result of the synergy between the Jewish Community Foundation’s Cutting Edge Grants Initiative and the Jewish Federation’s elevating young adults to a top priority.
Readers who think I am preoccupied with political issues may find it interesting to learn that I lecture on the subject of happiness more than any other single topic. And, every Friday for the past 12 years, I have devoted an hour of my radio show to this subject.
In the belief that there are people on the left who are more interested in understanding the right rather than in simply dismissing its decency, I would like to briefly explain why many thoughtful people are skeptical of the claims made on behalf of global warming. By “global warming” I am referring to the claims of Al Gore that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are causing dramatic increases in the Earth’s temperatures; increases that will devastate much of the Earth.
For two decades I have been on a crusade: to convince adults who have cut off all communication with a parent to re-establish contact.
On April 3, under the auspices of the American Jewish University, in its Gindi Auditorium, five Los Angeles rabbis competed with one another in an evening titled “Dancing With the Rabbis.” As reported in this newspaper, the sellout crowd loved the evening.
Rob Eshman is right (“Look,” March 18). We should mourn any child killed during war, either intentionally or unintentionally. But the real question is, who started the violence? The Nazis remained the aggressors even though many German children were killed by the allies in World War II. Look again at the facts. Palestinian leaders have misled their own people, rejecting all offers for peaceful compromise, incessantly fomenting state-sponsored hatred by demonizing Israelis and Jews, even in their children’s schoolbooks and TV shows. Look again.
Rob Eshman needs to do his homework (“The Home Front,” Dec. 10). A road test by edmunds.com pegs Chevrolet Volt’s range at about 300 miles, and in extended range mode it only averages 31.4 miles per gallon. That’s a huge scale-back from Eshman’s 235 mpg. If 9.2 seconds for the zero to 60 feels like “it takes off like a beast” and [has the] “handling of a muscle car,” in my humble opinion, Mr. Eshman is prone to irresponsible editorial exaggeration, especially where he writes [electric vehicles] “... are — finally — Detroit’s way of telling the Saudis to shove it.” Now there’s a line that’s going to embrace peace with the Saudis, shut down the Taliban’s opium profits and stop Sunni terrorist groups.
The Wall Street Journal recently published a column about ultra-Orthodox (Charedi) Jews in Israel who do not work for a living. Sixty-five percent of ultra-Orthodox men ages 35-54 do not go to work. Instead, they study Torah while demanding increasing amounts of money from the taxes paid by Israelis who work for a living. The author of the column, Evan R. Goldstein, wrote: “Voluntary unemployment has become the dominant lifestyle choice for [Charedi] men. And even if there was a desire to work, [Charedi] schools leave students unprepared to function in a modern economy.”
While clearing away the rubble from Dennis Prager’s latest attack on “liberals,” which he likes to think is not ad hominem (unless, of course, one understands the term literally), we have to acknowledge that he may have a point. One can debate whether Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are “the major impediment to peace in the Middle East.” After all, there are weighty factors other than settlements that complicate prospects for a negotiated settlement, including Israeli political opinion, Palestinian public opinion, the attitude of neighboring Arab states, and the lack of resolve of the international community to offer carrots and sticks at the appropriate moments.
Can you please replace the mindless Rob Eshman (“Haiti Versus the Flotilla,” June 4) with reprints of Charles Krauthammer? Instead of aggravating the intelligent, confusing the equally naïve from his position of authority and supporting all those who intend to cause Israel harm, please publish an insightful piece instead from Caroline Glick or Charles Krauthammer like his intelligent Washington Post article on the same topic that shows how it is all really not that complicated.
In 28 years as a radio talk-show host, I have not consciously humiliated a single person — whether a caller to my show or a public figure.