September 21, 2018

Letters to the editor: An L.A. light-rail, mourner’s Kaddish and encyclopedias

Marvelous Metropolis

If Rob Eshman is “happy to see light-rail lines rising on the Westside,” he ought to be ecstatic about the light-rail line projected now for the 405 Corridor from Sylmar in the north San Fernando Valley to LAX (“Builders and Shakers,” Oct. 10). Both candidates for 3rd District supervisor of L.A. County are, at our Leo Baeck Temple’s urging, publicly committed to building a 405 Corridor rail project. So is Mayor Eric Garcetti.

We are getting close to the time when thousands of working commuters will travel every hour on a swift, clean, reliable train; 10 minutes from Ventura Boulevard to Westwood, 35 minutes from Pacoima to Los Angeles International Airport — even at rush-hour.

Jewish Journal readers should know that Jewish Angelenos are indeed among the builders of a better Los Angeles. Our slogan: “We want to live in a livable L.A.!” We’re succeeding on it right now.

Rabbi Jerrold Goldstein, Sherman Oaks

Encyclopediatrics

As I was sitting at my computer last week, I looked up at the World Book Encyclopedia on the bookshelf and was wondering how to dispose of it (“E-n-c-y-c-l-o-p-æ-d-i-a,” Oct. 10). I grew up on the one in our family and was excited to purchase one for my children. Then, I opened this week’s Jewish Journal and lo and behold … in the table of contents was the word “encyclopedia.” Immediately, I began to sing the Jiminy Cricket song. When I turned to Page 10, there it was!  I loved that bit of nostalgia.

I bet you shekels to sufganiyot that my computer-savvy 11-year-old grandson does not know what an encyclopedia is.

We had the World Book. The Britannica was too cerebral for us.

Phyllis Steinberg, Sherman Oaks

Communal Healing

I am sure Danielle Berrin’s eloquent article (“My Year of Kaddish,” Oct. 2) touched a nerve with many in our community, particularly women. 

My mother passed away in 1979, aged 49, when I was still a teenager, and my older sister, Charmaine, newly married. Although not required halachically, my father, Chazzan Andre Winkler, recited the Kaddish three times a day for 11 months, partly on our behalf but mostly as a way to assuage his own grief and guilt for having survived, not only his young wife, but many in his immediate family who were victims of the Shoah.

When our father passed away five years ago, Charmaine and I immediately understood our obligation to recite daily Kaddish for our father, who had essentially raised us during my mother’s long illness, and who had placed our needs before his own despite being widowed at only 54. 

Joining a Kaddish minyan in Los Angeles was fortunately easy for me, and I found my home at Sinai Temple’s afternoon Kaddish minyan, where I was welcomed with open and empathetic arms by Ralph Resnick and a cadre of strangers who became my “Kaddish minyan buddies” during those 11 months. On Shabbat, I was similarly welcomed to recite Kaddish by my own Lubavitch minyan, which never once questioned my desire to recite.

My sister, however, found more of a struggle to be accepted in her traditionally Orthodox daily and Shabbat minyan in Sydney, Australia, where she was the only woman among a minyan of (mostly elderly) men to attend daily minyanim. Over the 11 months, however, she became accepted as part of the chevra (a chair was even designated especially for her, in the back of the beit midrash) even though she had to wait for the 10th man to be able to participate.

The daily minyan anchored our loss and became the epicenter of our days and nights, soothing our hearts and minds before we went to sleep and when we awoke. Even if the meaning of the Kaddish itself did not heal us, the fact that we were a part of a community dedicated to our loved ones and feeling the same pain comforted us. 

Like Berrin, we faced the end of our 11 months with trepidation. Our anchor was gone and we were afloat. Again, as is inherent in our both our tradition and our parents’ teachings, somehow we found our way forward, even though it was a “new” forward.

I urge all women whose background may preclude them from joining a daily Kaddish minyan to find a meaningful and accepting environment where they can express their loss daily in the most meaningful of ways.

Janine Winkler Lowy, via email

correction

A Sukkot column about Rabbi Amy Bernstein, senior rabbi at Kehillat Israel, (“Season of Love,” Oct. 10) misstated her first name. The Journal regrets the error