Katrina Response

Thank you so much for Robin Podolsky’s thoughtful analysis, “Response a Disgrace — Not a Tragedy” (Sept. 9).

Her insightful distinction between the natural disaster of hurricane and flooding, and the “human disaster” — the abandonment of the Gulf Coast’s poor, immigrant, elderly and most particularly people of color — reminds us once again of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s admonition: While we are not all guilty, we are all indeed responsible for the well-being of our neighbors, whether they be friends or strangers. And as Rob Eshman helps us see, we would be far better served if our present government shared that sense of responsibility.

Claire Gorfinkel

Armed and President

I applaud the courage of the NRA in its appointment of a Jewish woman as their new president (“She’s Armed and President,” Sept. 2). After serving in the Israel Defense Forces, it became clear to me that the modern State of Israel was essentially founded upon two things: God and guns. It is unlikely that we would be seeing rioting in New Orleans if more weapons were placed in the hands of law-abiding citizens. Let us distinguish between guns in the wrong hands and guns in the right hands.

Rabbi Ari Hier
Armory Volunteer
L.A. County Sheriff’s Department

You will, no doubt, receive much mail about Joshua Runyan and Idan Irvi’s article about Sandra Froman.

She is clearly wrong. I was a rifleman in the 70th Division during World War II and qualified with the M-1, the carbine and the .45-caliber pistol.

Anyone waking up to find an armed intruder in the house is at a disadvantage. The intruder, if armed, is alert and dangerous. The sleeper wakes up groggy.

And to be armed with a revolver? Nonsense. I was on the firing range often enough to see how inept most people are with a handgun.

Froman is offering dangerous advice. The fact that she had been aggressive and ambitious enough to get herself elected as president of the National Rifle Association (NRA) gives her away. Take the time to meet and become acquainted with NRA members and you will not want many of them as friends.

What Froman needs is not a gun, but a good psychiatrist. Or, if she cannot master her fear of intruders (how many are there?) she would be better advised to buy a shotgun.

Paul Gropman
Woodland Hills

Christian Zionists

What James Besser misses in his article is that there are many Christians who support Israel and have serious concerns about Israel’s security, yet who are neither Pat Roberston nor Jerry Falwell (“Links to Christian Zionists Pose Perils,” Sept. 2). Because one questions the wisdom of the disengagement, should not mean that the questioner himself represents an obstacle to peace. A very sizable percentage of the Israeli population itself has been asking the same questions out of pure desire to protect Israel from further attack.

While Christian Zionists may have their own reasons to oppose further unilateral withdrawals, Christian theology varies from group to group and should not be the concern of the Jewish community. Support for the secure future of the State of Israel is our concern. Contrarily, the divestment campaigns of the Presbyterians, Anglicans and Lutherans have been built on latent anti-Semitism and it is simply ludicrous to suggest that they have emerged because some Christian Zionists happen to be anti-abortion and the Jewish community has not condemned their views.

Daryl Temkin
Via e-mail

Inner Sanctum

I enjoyed reading Rob Eshman’s impressions of his recent visit to the Latter-day Saints Temple in Newport Beach (“Inner Sanctum,” Sept. 2).

Contrary to the opinion expressed in a recent letter to this forum, Latter-day Saints most definitely believe in literal, inerrant truth. If we did not, we could not justify listening to modern-day prophets or sending tens of thousands of missionaries throughout the world.

One obvious inerrant truth is that God lives. Other inerrant Latter-day revelations of interest to Jews include the belief that Elijah did return to earth again during Passover (in 1836), that Moses received two revelations on Mt. Sinai (only one of which is contained in the written Torah), that priesthood authority must be received through the laying on of hands (smicha) and that God has honored and will continue to honor the covenant that He made anciently with the House of Israel.

While I have never claimed inerrancy, it is an axiom in my mind that there is no Christian church as doctrinally linked to Judaism as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This would not be so if we believed that divine revelation to prophets is inherently flawed. Many thanks to The Jewish Journal for allowing me to clarify this important principle. Shanah tovah to the local Jewish community from your Latter-day Saints friends.

Mark Paredes
Jewish Relations Committee
Southern California Public Relations Council
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The ‘Other’

Bracha Malkin states with admirable clarity and forthrightness the logic motivating the empathy manifested by many Jews in Israel and America for the Gaza settlers (Letters, Sept. 2). She makes a far more compelling case for commiserating with the settlers than any other I have heard.

At the same time, by bringing to light its underlying psychology, she shows exactly what is wrong with it. Malkin explains that self-love and exclusive concern with one’s own legitimate interests constitute a necessary stage on the road to moral development.

I completely agree. But what in a child is a case of normal development is, in grown people, a case of arrested development. It is heartening that members of the Jewish community can demonstrate concern and respect for their Jewish neighbors, even those with whom they strongly disagree.

Malkin, who happens to be our next door neighbor, exhibited just such respect in her response to David Myers — the author of the original Aug. 26 article and my husband — and I feel the same respect for her.

But if Jews cannot extend beyond concern for their own legitimate collective interests and show respect and concern for others, it is hard to escape the implications of Malkin’s analysis. A history of victimization is no excuse for failing to advance beyond a state of moral childhood. After more than 50 years of statehood, and thousands of years of peoplehood, if not now, when?

Nomi M. Stolzenberg
Los Angeles



Inner Sanctum

Being a Mormon, I really liked your article “The Inner Sanctum” (Sept. 2), however, there is some information you received, that I am not sure you understood correctly. It’s the question of “literal truth.” While we do believe that the Book of Mormon is historically true (that is, it talks about events that really took place and people who really lived — we don’t take it as mythopoeia), we don’t think that it is inerrant true.

The title page of the Book itself says that there could be errors of men in it.

As Mormons, we do not believe that man can be infallible, and therefore we cannot understand something inerrant. As soon as God communicates with us, he has to speak in a way we understand. Hence, the church’s second prophet, Brigham Young, said that he doesn’t know of an inerrant revelation, nor does he believe that such could be possible.

René A. Krywult
Vienna, Austria

Armed and President

Let’s see … you rarely feature a woman in a Jewish Journal cover story, but this week you managed to do so and you pick one who is an NRA president (“She’s Armed and President,” Sept. 2). I presume none of the women in the community who work for positive, socially responsible, peaceful, meaningful and enriching causes were available for an interview. (The exception being, Roberta Schiller, quoted in the article in opposition to Sandra Froman’s advocacy of private gun ownership.) Maybe it’s just me; perhaps there just aren’t enough firearms lying around out there — or armed individuals, with or without a permit to carry.

J. Levitt
North Hollywood

Sandra Froman opposes restrictions on gun sales and makes a strong case for women’s need to have guns for protection against predatory men. OK, let’s require gun shops to demand every customer present an ID, plus a doctor’s certification that the applicant is female.

Macy Baum
via e-mail

In your cover story about Sandra Froman, your writers quote Roberta Shiller saying, “The idea that just because you have a gun, it will make you safe is just untrue.” Runyan and Ivri should check the validity of statements before allowing someone to use their story to misrepresent the truth.

According to The Department of Justice’s own National Institute of Justice study, titled “Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms,” it is estimated that 1.5 million Americans use guns for defensive purposes every year.

The article cites further misstatements by “gun control” advocates and presents a totally different perspective than Schiller.

Phil Blum
Los Angeles

Christian Zionists

In the Sept. 2 issue of The Jewish Journal, James D. Besser wrote a very negatively biased and short-sighted article regarding Christian Zionists (“Links to Christian Zionists Pose Peril”). Besser’s polarized commentary, replete with many unfounded statements, sought to influence the readers to view Christian Zionists as an element that threatens the life blood of Israel.

Christians who believe in a Jewish Israel have, many times, sacrificed their own livelihoods in the communities in which they lived/live and given of their own life blood to help Jews escape certain annihilation not only during the Holocaust, but during the times in which we now live, waiting the coming of Moshiach.

Chana Leah Mendelsohn
Los Angeles

The ‘Other’

David Myers exhorts us to have sympathy for various other people besides those whom we saw evicted from their homes in Gaza (“Show Gaza Sympathies to the Other,” Aug. 26).

Unfortunately, at this point in time, this goal is entirely unreachable and totally unrealistic. Judaism does not teach us to “Love your enemy” and until proven otherwise, the Arabs must be considered our enemies.

A neighbor is someone with whom you live, if not in harmony, then at least in civility. When will we be able to consider the possibility that that we can engage the “other” in the manner Myers would like?

Dr. George Lebovitz
Los Angeles

Honest Reporting

I was intrigued by the remark made by Walid Al-Saqaf in the Aug. 26 Jewish Journal editorial by Rob Eshman (“Honest Reporting”). The Yemeni journalist said that journalists can pressure Arab and Muslim leaders to “level with their people” and confront the region’s real problems — the lack of development and the dearth of democracy and accountability. What interested me was the idea that journalists had the power to influence leaders.

But journalism is no longer the proud profession that it was, dedicated to the truth. Just as in Nazi Germany, it has become the tool of a country’s leaders, whether the leader be a sheik or a Texas rancher, and I doubt any journalists today are ever going to try to pressure any leaders or even to devote themselves to the truth again.

Mal Cohen
Woodland Hills

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