September 23, 2018

Letters to the editor: Trump, IANexus, Bend the Arc and more

No Respect for Trump

Mr. Trump has had nothing to do with first principles conservatism, prudence and care for our national security, a positive reform agenda to address our domestic debt through reasonable entitlement reform, and economic growth policies (“Why the Republican Party Is Dying,” March 4).

Donald Trump doesn’t have my vote, but worse, for dodging the draft and mocking fellow Americans, he doesn’t have my respect.

Larry Greenfield, former director, Republican Jewish Coalition

IANexus’ Heart Is in the Right Place

I read Jared Sichel’s article “Israeli-American Group Creates New Lobbying Arm” (March 4) about the new organization, IANexus. I think it is terrific that there are more organizations that are advocating for Israel to Congress, especially ones run by the Israeli-American community. While this organization is so young, its future looks very promising to me. I hope that Shawn Evenhaim’s goal to have anti-BDS bills passed in all 50 states is achieved as quickly as possible, and judging by IANexus’ and other organizations’ efforts so far, it will be. I also hope that IANexus inspires other communities to form organizations in order to work with organizations like itself to achieve our goals as Israel supporters and advocates. Thanks for keeping my community informed.

Gidon Amsellem, Los Angeles

An Ally in the Fight for Justice

For years, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, has been a strong ally in the fight for racial justice. Our name and mission echo Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspiring words.

Bend the Arc is a multiracial community that supports Black Jews and Jews of color taking greater leadership in the struggle to seek justice; to create a more perfect union; and to combat high unemployment among Blacks, police violence, mass incarceration, and a lack of access to housing, education, jobs, and prosperity.

And yes, as David Suissa suggests, praying together is also good (“How Do We Regain Black-Jewish Love?” Feb. 26).

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, rabbi-in-residence, Stephen Rohde, national chair, Bend the Arc

Programs for People With Special Needs

I read with interest Michelle K. Wolf’s article on Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month (“Why Give a Damn About JDAIM?” Feb. 12). It appears that much of her research was done by “perusing synagogue websites.” So it caught me by surprise that she did not contact the directors of synagogue special needs programs to inquire fully about what programs each might offer. To come to the conclusion that Temple Aliyah and Valley Beth Shalom come in as “runners-up” doesn’t tell the whole story.

Susan North Gilboa has been directing OurSpace at both synagogues for years. For years, OurSpace not only offers “early childhood to adult special needs Jewish education, social and arts programs, and support groups for parents and grandparents,” but do you know OurSpace has youth groups for special needs kids? A new class this year with the national Moving Traditions program? Did you also know that under the direction of Hazzan Mike Stein, Kolot Tikvah was formed, bringing music to our special needs adults and teens? Most recently, they sang with Craig Taubman to a roaring (and crying) standing ovation, and participated in Temple Aliyah’s Interfaith Service, where more than 700 people of different faiths attended?

For synagogues, as you note, “that want to do more to include persons with disabilities, there’s a great JDAIM program guide,” perhaps one should also inquire from directors (like Susan) of those successful programs already in existence. I appreciate your article about special needs, but before you criticize a community where you “found virtually nothing on JDAIM, disabilities or special needs in general,” perhaps you might do more investigation into what is being offered in our community and not what you found perusing websites.

David Brook, executive director, Temple Aliyah

Michelle K. Wolf responds: I appreciate all that Temple Aliyah is doing to include children, teens and adults with special needs, and I have the utmost respect for the extraordinary work of Susan North Gilboa, who has been a trailblazer in the this field, and welcomed our then 3-year-old son to the Shaare Tikvah program many years ago. The reason I did my research by looking at the websites of major synagogues in Los Angeles was very simple — that is how most parents would seek out information about Jewish special needs programs. They are highly unlikely to call or email 12 executive directors to figure out if that synagogue is welcoming to people with special needs.

correction

In the article on the film “Colliding Dreams” (“ ‘Colliding Dreams’ Delves into Occupational Hazards,” March 4), an editing error made it appear that the statement “Palestine is like a beautiful girl, but she is already engaged,” was made by Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizmann. The statement actually represented the anti-Zionist Arab view.