Your Letters

Familial Dysautonomia

Ellen Jaffe-Gill’s article (“No News Is Bad News,” Jan. 25) well-defined the symptoms of familial dysautonomia (FD), and it certainly let readers know about efforts made to make genetic testing available in the Los Angeles Jewish community. However, there is so much more information about FD that is good news.

The Dysautonomia Foundation, a New York nonprofit started in the early 1950s by parents of children with FD, has been the springboard for research and discovery of the gene in January 2001, and its efforts and successes have also been focused on a diagnostic treatment and evaluation center at New York University Medical Center. The Foundation also funds a satellite evaluation and treatment center at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

The Foundation provides counseling to families seeking support for a newly diagnosed child, and also provides information on other closely related Jewish genetic illnesses.

Should you have a family member or friend that displays FD symptoms, please contact Dr. Felicia Axelrod through the Dysautonomia Foundation at (212) 949-6644. If you or a friend are interested in genetic testing information, please contact Elsa Reich at the NYU Hospital Genetic Counseling Center at (212) 263-5746.

Anne Rainer , President Dysautonomia Foundation Southern California Chapter

We thank both Ellen Jaffe-Gill and the editor for helping us inform our extended Jewish family about familial dysautonomia (FD), the carrier tests available and the urgent need for research funding to save the lives of the children with FD.

The FD Hope e-mail address listed has been changed to:

We hope the entire Jewish community will join us in urgently working for a cure, which the scientists believe will be possible within the next five to 10 years.

Mavis Feinberg, Southern California Representative Familial Dysautonomia Hope


Knowing how seriously the editors take The Jewish Journal’s role in fostering Jewish identity and continuity, we were shocked that you would permit a writer to trash the Stu & Lew Productions’ Schmooz-A-Palooza on the basis of first-time jitters and personal bias. Especially, when the goals of the event are in sync with those of your publication. (“Schmoozapalosers,” Dec. 21).

When a day doesn’t go by in December that we’re not inundated with Christmas cheer, Dec. 24 is the perfect night for Jews to gather — if only to connect, have fun and be proud that we’re Jewish. It was clear that many did not agree with Ms. Davis’s sentiments, as the House of Blues was packed for the eighth year in a row. We’re disappointed that Davis did not do her due diligence, and call us to discuss her one experience. We could have put her in touch with some of the thousands who have had an amazing time at our events, made everlasting friendships, as well as met potential mates. And, of course, the dozens upon dozens of couples that have ended up under the chuppah as a result of Stu & Lew Productions. We can’t be all that bad, can we?

Lewis Weinger and Stuart Wax Stu & Lew Productions

Ritual Slaughter

It is likely true that part of the reason behind the drafting of the original Swiss law against shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter), as well as some of the current outcry against its repeal, are due to anti-Semitic sentiment (“Swiss Attack Jewish Ritual,” Jan. 11). However, honest Jews must stop hiding behind the excuse of anti-Semitism to defend a ritual that has been scientifically documented to be less humane than modern slaughter methods.

As a Conservative Jew who sends his children to Jewish schools and has strong ties to the Jewish community, it pains me to see the ignorance with which this subject is approached. I am certain that shechita was the least painful method of slaughter hundreds of years ago. It is undeniably not now.

We are wrong to defend it on any grounds other than pure religious doctrine. It is degrading to all of us to label as anti-Semitic every group with which we disagree.

Alexander Werner, Sunland

Your Letters

UJF Campaign

I would like to correct a quote I gave Michael Aushenker relative to the results of the 2002 United Jewish Fund Campaign (“Coming Out on Top,” Jan. 25). The campaign was extremely successful. However, I stated that the $45 million total did not include an additional $1 million raised for the Victims of Terror Fund. In fact, the $45 million does include these funds. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused your readers.

William S. Bernstein,Executive Vice President The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles

Cynthia McKinney

As an African American who reads your journal on a weekly basis, I think that your decision to reprint such a nasty piece on Rep. Cynthia McKinney without comment from her camp and an equal number of comments from insiders who didn’t share such an anti-McKinney viewpoint was in poor taste, not to mention poor journalism (“In-Your-Face Crusader,” Jan. 25).

While The Journal was not originally published with African Americans in mind, a large population of us are out there who do read The Journal on a weekly basis. We don’t appreciate you spreading lies and breeding discord without provocation.

Francis Johnson-Rosenthal, Los Angeles

Editor’s Note: Rep. Cynthia McKinney failed to return several phone calls from the reporter asking for comment. Her lawyer spoke on her behalf.

Israel Solidarity

Having just returned from an Orthodox Union solidarity mission to Israel, I can certainly agree with the point made by MK Avraham Burg and espoused by Rob Eshman that “the simple days are gone” (“Nostalgia,” Jan. 25). I would also concur that eventually Israel will return to negotiation, though this statement is itself simplistic. The real question is, when and with whom?

That Israelis are suffering physically, emotionally and financially is readily apparent. But what most impressed me was their determination to persevere. Repeated horrific acts of terror have not led Israelis to conclude that further concessions are the answer. Instead, the attacks have reinforced a belief that the Palestinians are currently unprepared to make peace, and indeed retain as their goal the destruction of the State of Israel.

Burg’s timetable for negotiations is one the majority of Israelis reject. They are waiting for a sea change in Palestinian thought and behavior, not just a temporary lull in violence. The Israelis I met are prepared to wait for a generation if need be, rather than commit national suicide.

If American Jews are to consider being more discriminatory with their financial support, as the column seemed to advocate, I would suggest that they first make the trip to Israel and see for themselves. They will likely conclude, as have I, that we “simply” must stand with our people in these difficult times.

Larry Eisenberg, President West Coast Orthodox Union

J.D. Smith

I caught J.D. Smith’s column (“Bundles of Joy,” Jan. 18) and he made me laugh out loud. My refrigerator used to be covered in pictures of my friends, and now it’s covered in pictures of their toddlers.

I opened the Jan. 25 Journal looking for Smith’s column and found a letter to the editor from someone who just doesn’t get it. People need to relax and have a sense of humor. Smith is the voice of single people. I look forward to reading more of his columns in the future.

Valarie Shaw, Gardena

I thought J.D. Smith’s Jan. 18 column was great and right on. I am in that boat. Just two weeks ago my twin sister had a son, my first nephew. I totally relate.

Marina Janofsky, Alhambra


The Calendar listing for “Shared Roots: A Dance Partnership” at the Skirball Cultural Center in our Jan. 25 issue contained some inaccuracies. Please see the corrected calendar listing on page 22.

Your Letters

Strasser and Smith

Teresa Strasser, my heart cries for you, girlfriend. I know you are a 20-something writing a singles column, but how much pain are you going to take? You don’t need this tszuris — meeting guys on your own who come over late at night to feign headaches and maneuver onto your bed (“When Booty Calls,” June 22). Feh! Believe me, I know. I was single and secular once.

Please get thyself to a frum rabbi and head toward an Orthodox lifestyle. Your new religious friends will want to introduce you to marriage-minded young men who don’t expect liberties before the first date.

One of these days you will enter the land of 30 and beyond. Wouldn’t it be nice to author a column on happy, fulfilling marital life?

Leslie Fuhrer Friedman, Venice

Awoke feeling energetic. Multigrain cereal with organic banana slices. Read Jewish Journal; J.D. Smith finally wrote a column that didn’t make me want to hunt him down and wring his evil little neck. Workday uneventful. Late lunch with salad. Lovely evening with boyfriend. Midnight snack of peach sorbet. And so to bed.

Susan Wolfson, Burbank

Mosk Seat

Regarding Marlene Marks’ discussion concerning the “Jewish seat” on the California Supreme Court formerly occupied by the late Justice Stanley Mosk (“The Mosk Seat,” June 29), it is worth noting that in 1852 two out of the three judges on that court were Jewish. Justice Mosk himself described this brief coincidence in a 1976 article, “A Majority of the California Supreme Court.” One of these justices, Solomon Heydenfeldt, had a major impact on California law in the 19th century, writing a precedent-setting water law opinion in 1855 and, after his return to legal practice, litigating successfully against a Sunday blue law on behalf of a Jewish merchant in Sacramento.

When I present my living-history impersonation of Justice Heydenfeldt to fourth-grade classes at Valley Beth Shalom Day School, I emphasize that his Jewish identity gave him a perspective that favored legal innovation and religious freedom. I agree with Marks, however, that it is not necessary to have a “Jewish seat” in order to promote these values.

Prof. Peter L. Reich, Whittier Law School

WWII Memorial

Thank you, Si Frumkin (“An Insult to Our Soldiers,” July 6). Perhaps your firsthand story will inspire the needed outcry against the shameful letting of the contract to build our World War II memorial to a wholly owned subsidiary of a German construction giant. Using slave labor, this company profited handsomely from working for the very enemy our servicemen were fighting.

I have been trying since mid-June, to little avail, to inspire a huge protest against this unbelievable insult to the memories of all who fought, died, were injured or lost years of their lives in that grim period of history. No response from my senators and none from veterans or Holocaust organizations.

In these ensuing weeks of frustration, one further and terribly disturbing thought has occurred to me. Philipp Holzmann AG has now been ordered to pay reparations to those few former slave laborers still living. Some of the profit made from constructing our memorial will defray this expense. American tax dollars wash Nazi hands. The ultimate irony.

Eleanor Jackson, Palm Springs

Orthodox Life

The Orthodox Jews I know ordinarily avoid reading The Jewish Journal or cringe when reading it. The July 6 issue has got to be the most Orthodox-friendly issue in the modern history of The Jewish Journal and leaves us flabbergasted. So many positive articles about Orthodox Jews and even ads for women’s hats and kosher facilities for the retired.

We hope, for the sake of Jewish unity, that the July 6 edition will be a new beginning.

Yehoshua ben Gershon, Los Angeles