Your Letters


Columbia Tragedy

Your cover picture on Feb. 7 showing the breakup of the Columbiaaccompanied by the quote from Psalms 68 is the most beautiful, touching cover Ihave ever seen. It took my breath away. The scripture is a comfort for thetragedy and uplifting when thinking of the horrific daily attacks within Israel.

Vikki James, Sherman Oaks

Col. Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli in space, enabled me todo something I have not been able to do since the assassination of PrimeMinister Yitzchak Rabin in 1994 (“Israel Mourns First Astronaut,” Feb. 7).Ramon enabled me to dream. He made me, a holder of dual Israeli and American citizenship,believe that there was hope for my people and the carnivorous region of theworld in which they reside.

Daniel Inlender, Los Angeles

Returning to Earth with those seven astronauts, tucked intothe corner of that shuttle, was a little-publicized experiment created by fiveIsraeli teenagers from ORT Kiryat Motzkin School, students ranging in age from14 to 17. The experiment, which studied how zero gravity affected thedevelopment of crystals, was among six schools in Australia, China, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein and the United States. As a board member of Women’s AmericanORT, a major supporter of ORT Israel, I found the news of the tragedyespecially hard.

Those students had journeyed to Florida to watch the shuttlecarrying their experiment rocket into orbit, starry-eyed with the dreams ofspace exploration and of a better world united in its endeavor for knowledge.

Yet, the Columbia tragedy cannot diminish the remarkableachievements of those ORT Israel students and the others whose ideas took offwith the shuttle.

Carolyn Gold, Chair Board of Trustees Los Angeles ORT Institute

Fighter for Justice

Kudos to Tom Tugend for his “Fighter for Justice,” (Jan.31), which captures in a balanced way to bright essence, as well as thesubtleties, of Arthur Stern — maverick and truth-teller. Rather than being anoutcast, Stern is often the conscience of our community — the Los Angelescommunity, in particular, and the American Jewish community, at large — and herightfully deserves to be celebrated.

Michael Bank, Berkeley

Land of SeaweedWraps

Israel desperately needs our support and tourism dollars, sosending a select group of women on a press tour organized by the IsraeliMinistry of Tourism makes infinite sense (“Land of Milk, Honey and SeaweedWraps,” Feb. 7). And what a tour: getting to meet and interview top Israeliwomen like ICU physician Dr. Sharon Einav, Reform Rabbi Na’amah Kelman andCapt. Sharon Feingold and going on day trips to biblical sites like Dvoriya inthe lower Galilee.

Why, then, does the author regale us only with tales ofdelectable dinners, decadent breakfasts, herbal tea, hot chocolate and 20 kindsof massage treatments? Surely you believe that your many readers — especiallythose of the female persuasion — care about more than meals and manicures.

Diane Saltzberg, Los Angeles

David Schwartz

I have known David Schwartz and his family for nearly 10years and was shocked by your slanderous article concerning his case (“ChildMolester Sent to Treatment Center,” Feb. 7). Knowing Schwartz, the chargesfiled against him are completely out of character. He is a very conscientiousperson who follows halacha carefully and would never harm a child. While injail, he spent his time learning and saying “Tehillim.” When I visited him injail, he did not complain of the hell he must have been going through, butasked me to visit several folks in the old age home that he was no longer ableto visit. He pleaded “no contest” rather than risk going to trial given thepresent climate concerning these kinds of cases. He maintains his innocence. Ipray to Hashem that the truth will come out and the person who committed thiscrime will be brought to justice.

Daniel Romm, Santa Monica

In “Child Molester Sent to Treatment Center,” Julie GruenbaumFax wrote, “At a hearing soon after his arrest, at which his bail was reducedfrom $1 million to $300,000, Schwartz’s supporters heckled the parents of thevictims, accusing them of harming another Jew.” I was present at that hearingfrom beginning to end and no such thing occurred. There was great concern forSchwartz and his welfare from his friends and family, and people were hesitantto believe that the man they knew would commit such a despicable act, but to myknowledge — as an eyewitness — no one displayed anything but concern for theparents and their children.

Lee Weissman, Irvine

The Jewish Journal stands behind its reporting of the event.

Interfaith Families

I heartily recommend that R. Hernandez, who wrote about thedifficulty for his Latino/Jewish family to feel accepted in some Jewishcongregations, explore Sholem Community (www.sholem.org), a completelynonjudgmental Jewish community that has families of all “blends” (Letters, Feb.7). My own “Jewcana” (Jewish Chicana) daughter had her bat mitzvah with hervery proud Mexican-born, Catholic-raised dad right there at her side. He spokemovingly of how our Jewish community had made a place for him since his arrivalin the United States.

Mona Field, Eagle Rock

I was saddened to read the letter from R. Hernandezregarding the unwelcome feelings he and his family are experiencing from hiscongregation. Fortunately, there is hope! The congregation that my family hasbelonged to for more than 25 years, Temple Beth Hillel in Valley Village, hasalways had “open arms” toward interfaith families, especially those with youngchildren. The warm and friendly atmosphere lends itself to establishing manydifferent relationships. I’m sure there are other temples similar to TempleBeth Hillel in their outreach toward interfaith families. I know Hernandez andhis family will find what they are looking for.

Elaine Franklin, Burbank

Who Should Pay?

Our Jewish leadership was long-committed to encouraging theJewish rank and file to attend public schools (“Who Should Pay?” Jan. 31). Thiswas a viable alternative in the past, but our leadership has belatedly awakenedto the realization that a viable Judaism will now generally require a dayschool Jewish education. As a result of this belatedness, we are seeing afairly marked diminution of “Jewish continuity” today. The real question is,will our leaders shift community priorities rapidly enough to stem thiscontinued diminution?

Larry Selk, Los Angeles

Editorial

Contrary to Rob Eshman’s misreading of history, neitherSaddam, nor the mullahs, nor Al Qaeda will give warning before using anynuclear weapons they acquire, nor will they put their return address on theirnukes (“Ich Bin ein Missourian,” Jan 31). They have learned something fromhistory, as we should. Saddam should be crushed now, as Hitler should have beencrushed in 1936.

Chaim Sisman, Los Angeles

JCCGLA

The article detailing the current status of the JewishCommunity Centers of Greater Los Angeles (JCCGLA) highlights an organization intransition (“Redefining Its Role,” Jan 24). No matter whether you are asupporter of JCCGLA or not, there is certain agreement that JCCs are scramblingto define their role in the community.

With all the controversy and financial woes, JCCs have beenthe primary source of Jewish education for young children in Los Angeles.

JCCs should be expanding their demographic base: programmingshould embrace more religiously affiliated and unaffiliated Jews, Jews of mixedmarriages and teens.

JCCGLA can also develop an alumni support group that givesthose who are no longer affiliated an opportunity to express their support, andperhaps participate in new programs.

It is time for JCCGLA to prove their expertise insuccessfully running Los Angeles JCCs.

Bill Kabaker, Bay Cities

Thank you for including North Valley Jewish Community Center(NVJCC) in “Redefining Its Role,” and telling the community of JCCGLA’s currentstatus. We’ve made amazing progress in rebuilding our center and we are pleasedwith the acknowledgment of our accomplishment.

Elaine Fox, President NVJCC, Inc.

Correction

The article “C’mon Get Happy” (Feb. 7) incorrectly reportedthat the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach “took down the mechitza in his ownsynagogue on the Upper West Side in Manhattan.” There is, and always has been,a mechitza at the Carlebach shul. We regret any offense caused by the error.

The Age of Reason


I thought I had exhausted every possible way to meet members of the opposite sex: blind dates and JDates, fishing for invitations to big Hollywood parties and intimate dinner gatherings. I joined art groups in the hopes of finding like-minded women while shrouding myself in a veneer of respectability.

I thought I’d tried everything until I was in Chicago last year and my friend Doug introduced me to his beautiful new bride, Sara. "How did you two meet?" I asked. It’s always a good icebreaker and you tend to get a lot of juicy details out of one seemingly innocent question.

Sara was a statuesque redhead with miles of corkscrew curls and warm brown eyes who taught science at a public high school. She said she was fed up with the random nature of dating, and decided to impose some scientific controls on the process — much as she instructed her students to do in their laboratory assignments. "There’s nothing scientific about going out to certain places — a gym or a bar — and hoping that Mr. Right happens into the same place at the same time and happens to notice you," she explained. She wanted to level the playing field and, in so doing, take more control of the results herself.

The grand experiment began when she took out an ad in the personals section of the local free weekly, describing herself and the kind of man she’d like to meet in broad, poetic terms. The gentlemen were to call a voice-mail box and leave a message. By the end of the week, she received almost 100 replies. Half of those guys didn’t merit a call back for one reason or another — didn’t like the sound of their voice, they were calling from prison, whatever. She cut another 50 percent of the remaining contestants after a five-minute conversation, which she diligently clocked with an egg timer.

If the fellow made it past the phone interview, he was to meet her at a certain coffee place near the high school. She always arrived a little early, grabbed the same table, ordered the same drink (grande skinny no foam decaf caramel latté), and proceeded to ask each of the applicants the same list of questions. By creating a constant environment, she reasoned, the guy’s personality was isolated and could be compared, apples to apples, with the other candidates.

"What’s the worst question you asked?"

She thought for a minute, going over the printed list of questions in her mind and said, "What is the worst thing your ex-girlfriends would say about you?"

"That’s easy," I said. "I didn’t marry them."

Clearly, Doug had succeeded where I just failed.

"So far this sounds pretty much like a job interview or a casting call," I said.

"Exactly. You only want one person to get the part, but you have to start with as large a field as possible, then whittle it down on the basis of their qualifications and sensibilities. Some of these guys don’t show too well on first look, so you’ve got to keep an open mind. You have to think: Who could stretch to play the role? I mean, John Travolta as a hit man?"

A good "audition" merited a "callback" for an evening date; also-rans got a firm handshake and a casting director’s icy "thank you." Either way, Sara was back in class for seventh period and inconvenienced to the very reasonable tune of $3.25.

Doug had never answered a personal ad before, but he and Sara really hit it off. They ran away together, got engaged and got married in short order. It was a storybook romance on the one hand, and a testament to the rigors of empirical scientific experimentation on the other. They split up six months later. In Hollywood speak, they had "creative differences."

Unfortunately for old Doug, he was so blinded by the sexy scientist routine, he never thought to turn the tables and make her fill out a questionnaire. If he had, he would’ve known the worst thing her ex-husband and every one of her ex-boyfriends would say about her is that she’s plumb crazy. Loco en la cabeza. If the courtship was with Dr. Jekyll, the marriage was to Mrs. Hyde.

I bring all of this up because it now becomes clear that science doesn’t necessarily work for everything — especially in the field of personal chemistry.

The last time I spoke with Doug, I asked him what he was planning on doing now that he’s given up his interest in the scientific method. "What’s the opposite of science?" he asked.

"Faith?" I offered.

"No," he said. "Voodoo."