Letters to the Editor
I appreciated the opportunity to read the articles by Rabbis Shmuley Boteach (“Dr. Laura Misguided on Homosexuality,” June 16) and Ezra Schochet (“The Torah: A Moral Compass,” July 14) as well as the article by LILITH magazine associate editor Sarah Blustain (“The Stealth Politics of Dr. Laura,” July 14); they underscored the diversity of opinion in our community.
While the allegation that Dr. Laura Schlessinger is being used as a model by extreme right-wing groups concerns me, I also feel that Blustain’s commentary is part of another, somewhat different political discussion. Though very much related, the opinions of the two rabbis focused more upon our religion’s response to those among us who are homosexual.
Boteach, in his correct attempt to heighten our sensitivity to homosexual Jews and legitimize their acceptance in our community, unfortunately made what I felt were some extraordinary leaps in reasoning his position.
Equally unfortunate was Schochet’s religiously conservative, but well-intentioned response to Boteach, which was seriously weakened when he unnecessarily added his strong support for Schlessinger. By doing so, Rabbi Schochet allowed himself to be drawn into the different political discussion, the topic of Sarah Blustain’s article.
Our intrareligious debates and discussions with regard to moral and spiritual values are important and in keeping with our Jewish tradition. But when populist preaching evolves into demagoguery, suggesting that certain individuals or groups are damaged because of personal practices which do not affect others, we begin the slide down the slippery slope toward the same type of social order which led to the persecution of Jews, homosexuals, gypsies and others in Nazi Germany.
Stu Bernstein, Santa Monica
Dr. Laura Promotes Jewish Values
Sarah Blustain maintains that the message on Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s radio show, to which some 20 million men and women listen each weekday, is somehow outside the mainstream of Jewish views. Blustain confuses the views of contemporary liberalism with what she believes is mainstream Judaism. I wonder if she has really listened to Schlessinger’s show, where men and women with moral dilemmas call each day for guidance and receive common sense, religiously based answers to their questions; almost all seem satisfied with her responses.
Schlessinger believes that children do better with a full-time mother at home; that children deserve both a mother and father in a committed marriage relationship; that giving a baby up for adoption is preferable to abortion; that our society suffers from a surfeit of sexual promiscuity; that homosexuality is not a desirable alternative lifestyle; that we need to accept personal moral responsibility for our actions. These views accord very well with the essence and essentials of Judaism, which is why the Rabbinical Alliance of America and Toward Tradition have praised Schlessinger’s stance on these issues.We have seen the cumulative effect of what LILITH magazine praises as “the liberations of the last four decades”- a society in moral decay and degradation, adrift without values.
Schlessinger should be praised for stressing the importance of fundamental, religiously based values in everyday life. That is mainstream Judaism.
Carl Pearlston, Director Toward Tradition
Prager’s Liberal Attack
When I read Dennis Prager’s headline (“Defending Hillary,” July 21), I hoped that the leopard had changed his spots. But it was just another ruse to catch us in his web of sophistry.
Linking Hillary’s alleged slur uttered in a moment of anger 26 years ago to the common-speech habits of both Truman and Nixon was hardly defending Hillary. It was a ruse to hit us with hackneyed and tired attacks against what Prager sees as the great evil-doers of our world – liberals.
Liberals, according to Prager, are single-handedly responsible for high crime, unemployment, teen pregnancy, declining stock market, no smoking, poor test scores, corked bats, creeping secularism and telephone company slamming.
I had hoped, at least, some of his other villains would have been mentioned, such as trial lawyers, teachers’ unions, college professors, single moms, gays, feminists and university graduates, but no such luck. Prager continues to earn his reputation as the intellectual’s Rush Limbaugh, just not as funny.
Elsa Renee Celniker, Rancho Palos Verdes
Impacting Children’s Perceptions
Something seems seriously wrong in the picture Jane Ulman paints about her son Danny’s obsession with personal security (“Joining the NRA,” July 21).
During a very critical period in my own life, I began a session with my therapist by expressing fears about the nuclear threat hovering over the world. “Tell me what’s really bothering you,” he responded. It is tempting to project our personal anxieties onto a global canvas in order to avoid facing them.
At 9, one’s sense of the world is still filtered through parental perception and personal experience. If parents convey the message that the world is essentially a dangerous place, it is no wonder that a child’s notion of a hero is someone armed and invincible, whose mission is to save himself and his family from the lurking threat out there.
Miriam Elkins, Los Angeles
Honoring Quackenbush Unfortunate
Tom Tugend’s article (“A Kind Word,” July 7) seems to have reinforced the quoted comments, which suggests that it is okay with the Jewish community if a public official is corrupt as long as he or she is seen as assisting the Jewish community.
I think it is unfortunate to salute one who supports noble Jewish causes who, at the same time, conducts his office in a manner which violates the rights of all citizens.
Burton S. Levinson, Beverly Hills
The staff at Jewish Family Service/Partners Adult Day Health Care was pleased to read Ellie Kahn’s advocating the use of pet therapy for the elderly (“For the Love of a Dog,” July 14).Everyone looks forward to pet day at our West Hollywood center for individuals who are physically disabled, frail, elderly or suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
We have discovered that when dogs and cats come to visit our program, there is more laughter and interaction among the patients than during other traditional modes of therapy. We believe in “puppy love” at Partners.
Susan Mendlowitz , DirectorPartners Adult Day Health Care
‘Remembering Melanie’ Compelling
I believe it is never too late to write. I read Herbert Gelfand’s heart-tugging, compelling story about the loss of his granddaughter (“Remembering Melanie,” May 15). Such children teach all those around them a true lesson about courage.
M. Marketa Novak Dattels ,Beverly Hills
More Dear Deborah
Please give us Dear Deborah at least twice monthly. She is your most helpful columnist.
Nancy Kohn, Los Angeles