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Letters to the Editor: Diaspora Jews, ‘Oslo,’ Kotel and TJ Leaf


Prayer for Israel

David Benkof writes that when American congregations recite the Prayer for the State of Israel, it strengthens the connection between congregants and Israel (“Diaspora Jews Cannot Expect Veto Power Over Jewish State,” July 7). We agree; prayer and ritual do reinforce the values of the community that offers them.  Therefore, it matters what the actual prayer says.

At Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, the prayer we have chosen to recite is the one written by Anat Hoffman, the director of the Israel Religious Action Center and chair of the board of Women of the Wall. We have pasted it in the prayer book in Hebrew and in English. Reciting this prayer every week reinforces our values and strengthens our resolve that Israel matters to us and that we must continually work to help this vision of Israel be realized:  

My God,

In this sacred moment, give us hope for Israel and her future.

Renew our wonder at the miracle of the Jewish state.

In the name of all those whose labors made the land bloom — give us the tools to cultivate a diversity of expression in Israel.

In the name of the fallen — give us courage to stand up to the words and ways of zealots, those in our own midst and those among our neighbors.

In the name of Israeli inventors who have amazed the world with their innovations — help us apply the same ingenuity to finding a path to peace.

In the name of all these women and men — grant us the strength to conquer doubt and despair in Israel. 

Replacing doubt with action.

Replacing despair with hope.

And let us say: Amen

Rabbi Jonathan Aaron, Rabbi Sarah Bassin, Rabbi Laura Geller
and Cantor Lizzie Weiss 


Groundwork Laid in Oslo

I read David Suissa’s column about “Oslo” with interest (“The Missing Drama in ‘Oslo,’ ” July 7). Clearly the Oslo process was largely a failure and Suissa’s carapace of cynicism is justified. Let him and other cynical supporters of Israel be fortified by Israel’s national anthem “Hatikvah” (The Hope). Hopefully, I say as a naive pragmatist and optimist, future Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will build on these accords, perhaps even several decades in the future, to solidify and stabilize the relationship between a safe, defensible Israel and the Palestinians.

Ian R. Tofler via email


Fissure Over the Kotel

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, in his response to the Kotel controversy, claims that while he understands the “letdown” felt by Reform and Conservative Jews, he “cannot understand charges that this is a repudiation of their Jewishness” (“Local Rabbis React to the Controversy,” June 30). The rabbi might refer to the article just above his (“Outcry No Match for Charedi Political Power in Freeze of Western Wall Plan,” June 30), in which Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, welcoming the Cabinet decision states flat out, “This decision sends a clear message to the entire world that Reform Judaism has no access to or recognition at the Western Wall.”  

Does that aid your understanding, rabbi?

Jesse Winfield, Los Angeles


Israelis in the NBA Draft

In the story about T.J. Leaf, Oren Peleg erroneously stated that Leaf was the second Israeli-born basketball player to be drafted by the NBA (“Israeli-Born T.J. Leaf Makes a Bit of History in NBA Draft,” July 7). Actually he was the third. In addition to Omri Casspi and Leaf, Doron Sheffer, out of the University of Connecticut and Ramat Efal, Israel, was drafted No. 36 in the second round by the Clippers in the 1996 draft. He chose to pursue his professional in Israel, however.

Ephraim Moxson, Co-Publisher, Jewish Sports Review


Seniors Should Wait Before Returning to Facility

We were deeply disappointed by the Journal’s inclusion of a quote that suggests that former residents should return to Westwood Horizons, at least at this time (“Westwood Seniors Get Reprieve From Orders of Eviction,” July 7). As Bet Tzedek’s and the city’s consultants found, the building is in a serious state of disrepair, and the much-needed renovations will create significant disruptions.

The building is a former UCLA dorm built more than half a century ago. Its mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are aged and vulnerable to outages, leading to potentially unsafe conditions, especially for a community of seniors.

Westwood Horizons’ residents will have to be moved to other apartments and/or nearby hotels at certain points during the construction process because power, water, heating and cooling will have to be turned off for extended periods of time. We regret this inconvenience, and we certainly don’t want to inconvenience even more residents. 

Former residents have been invited to return to the building after the renovation. But suggesting that they return before then would only put them at undue risk and inconvenience. For the health, safety and general comfort of all residents, we continue to urge them to move out of the building during the renovation, and we will help them find a new place to live. 

David Barnes, President of Watermark Retirement Communities, which manages
Westwood Horizons