Letters to the Editor: Entitlements, Women of the Wall, Mormons, Christians, Prager

Eshman on Entitlements

Rob Eshman correctly notes that tzedakah is not merely charity but is also a religious and community response about social justice (“Entitled,” Oct. 19). Nowadays, “entitlements” are frequently used as a synonym for charity. However, Eshman inadvertently undercuts his own argument by failing to point out an essential fact: For working Americans, Social Security and Medicare are earned benefits paid for by payroll deductions.  

Gene Rothman
Culver City

What Happened at the Wall?

In your article on “Kotel Arrest Galvanizes Jews” (Oct. 26), it would have been nice to read a comment from someone “on the other side” of the argument. The only dissenting line was that Hoffman’s report of her imprisonment was inaccurate. Was there no one to talk to who opposes what Hoffman is doing?

The article also gives the impression that women are forbidden to pray at the Wall, a fact we all know to be false. So what exactly were Hoffman and her group trying to do that prompted the wrath of the police? Unfortunately, the report seemed more interested in promoting a political agenda than it did in clarifying a sensational news story.

Rabbi Yitzchak Sapochkinsky
via e-mail

More on Mormonism

Is this the sixth thing Jews should know about Mormons (“Five Things About Mormonism,” Oct. 26)? Article of Faith 10: “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.”

How about that the Book of Mormon is the word of God?  (Seventh thing?)

Mitch Paradise 
Los Angeles

Not All Churches Are the Same

David Suissa is correct in pointing out the outrage of certain Christian denominations’ views and the censure of Israel (“Christians Picking on Israel,” Oct. 19). Despite the moral repugnance and sheer idiocy of their views, Suissa neglects to cite the common link between these various anti-Israel Christian denominations: It is the churches on the far political left that share these biased views on Israel, from liberation theology in Latin America to the black liberation church’s anti-Semitic views as exemplified by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church, reaching back to Jimmy Carter’s Southern Baptist leftist church. Recently, the anti-Semitic views of the far left have begun to permeate the once-centrist American Presbyterian church.

Politically conservative American Protestant churches wholeheartedly support Israel. Yet the majority of American Jews fear the Christian right. Really?

Richard Friedman
Los Angeles

Prager and Politics

Dennis Prager attempts to make the case that Gov. Romney and the Republicans would be better for Israel than President Obama and the Democrats (“The Election and Israel,” Oct. 19). But in his article, Mr. Prager makes the following outrageous assertion: “The attitude of a party or candidate toward Israel tells you more than perhaps any other issue about that party or candidate. Treatment of and attitudes toward the Jews and Israel is an almost perfect indicator of a party’s, a country’s or a candidate’s values.” In other words, Mr. Prager believes that the Republicans’ love and support for Israel is the clearest indicator of their pure and superior moral character. 

If Mr. Prager believed that the Democrats were the better party for Israel, would he still make the same ridiculous, self-serving assertion? 

Michael Asher
Valley Village

Mr. Prager is wrong about which presidential candidate will be the strongest supporter of Israel. As I write this letter on Oct. 19, there are 3,000 U.S. troops in Israel conducting war games with Israeli troops. They are demonstrating their overwhelming power to Iran. The Israel defense minister said President Obama is the best friend of Israel of all the U.S. presidents, and without President Obama, Israel would not have been able to build the defense structure costing $300 million to defend itself against the deadly rockets Hezbollah had been firing into Israel from Lebanon.

President Obama has proven he has the character to do what is right and will stand by Israel no matter what happens.  

Leon M. Salter
Los Angeles



An article about “Orchestra of Exiles,” a film about the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (“Rescuing Jewish Musicians,” Oct. 26), gave an incorrect name for its support organization. The correct name is American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

Letters to the Editor: Entitlements, Food Labeling, Aging

Eshman on Entitlements

I was surprised and disappointed with what I had just read, Rob Eshman (“Entitled,” Oct. 19). You had written a beautiful article on the virtues of entitlements when suddenly you chose to take a gratuitous swipe at Bernie Sanders. You implied that he was one of those “leftie-zombie-Democrats” who obstruct bipartisan solutions. Don’t you know that Bernie Sanders is a leader in the fight to protect these very entitlements from the uncompromising Republican drive to devour them?

When the time comes for people your age to receive their Social Security, it will not be Ed Koch they’ll be thanking.

Henry Weiss
Los Angeles

Rob Eshman is right on with his excellent column about the importance of entitlements.

One of this nation’s greatest entitlement programs was the GI Bill, which enriched our country by sending hundreds of thousands of veterans to college. No one who accepted the GI Bill should be against entitlements or government help of any type.

Martin A. Brower
Corona del Mar

Rob Eshman’s article was an intriguing one, although it offered more rhetoric than actual solutions, if any.  

Eshman stated: “The Hebrew word for entitlement is ‫‬ זכאות — zcha’ut. In English, entitlement carries an almost wholly negative connotation. … People who feel entitled annoy us.” ‬‬‬‬‬

Maybe the word entitlement “carries an almost wholly negative connotation” because it is written in Birkat ha-Mazon (grace after meals): “… and please HaShem, our God, do not make us dependent upon gifts from the hands of man, and not upon their loans …”

I would rather go with the word gemilut chasadim for entitlements, which tilts the merit of giving, zcha’ut, toward the giver, rather than as an obligation on the giver that the taker feels he/she is entitled to.  

Danny Bental

How Safe Is Genetically Engineered Food?

To the delight of those of us who support Prop. 37, the truth-in-labeling measure, opponent Norman Lavin actually reaffirmed our position by stating it’s safer to eat food in which the ingredients are known (“Should Genetically Engineered Food Be Labeled?” Oct. 5). That is all we’re asking. Thanks to
Dr. Lavin for making that point.

Aric Zoe Leavitt
Valley Village


Aging Is Like a Playground Teeter-Totter

At age 87, I deal with that playground effort to maintain balance. On one side are the losses that are an inevitable part of aging. Family and friends die, physical prowess seem to disappear at an alarming rate. Exciting projects are fewer, and my creativity has dimmed. In the physical arena, the first to go was skiing, and with balance uncertain and increasing eye problems, there is no more tennis, and even bicycle riding is too risky. So I console myself with a stationary bike, which is less dramatic but at least won’t tip over. This slow decline is the down side of my teeter-totter.

On the other side are many positive aspects of aging. The pace is slower, and what I don’t get done in the next hour I can do later.  I now read more, including novels that I once felt were a waste of time. I find I am more aware of so many elements in my life that I just took for granted during my “productive” years, when my focus was on doing, on accomplishing, with little time for playing and no time for reflection. The pace was frenetic and there was little appreciation for the many blessings in my life. Now perhaps it is the recognition that the clock is counting down, that the number of days left are dwindling and there is an end to this game. I kiss my wife more often, call my kids more frequently, and find the pace of a dinner and movie to be a more complete experience. In reflecting on my life I feel satisfied that I did the best I could with the talent that was given to me. I now find  that mentoring younger people is not only age appropriate, it is rewarding, enjoyable, and I feel fortunate to have those relationships. I am still involved with several projects that were once such a major part of my life, and while I still care, I no longer want  leadership roles and am happy to just be a member of the team.

So, at age 87, I am on my teeter-totter, balancing the ups and downs. Coping with what has gone, appreciating what is still here, what is new, and looking forward to each day.

Dick Gunther
Los Angeles


An article about AIDS Walk Los Angeles (“Israel for a Cure Participates in AIDS Walk,” Oct 19) mistakenly said Congressman Brad Sherman stopped by the Israel team’s meeting station. In fact, it was Congressman Howard Berman. In addition, the name of AIDS Walk participant Drew Michelman was misspelled.