January 23, 2019

Letters to the editor: Young Americans in Israel, embracing our elders and shmita

Young Yisra’el?

I recently read Rob Eshman’s article about the younger generation and their views of Israel in light of the summer’s violent events (“Young Americans and Israel,” Sept. 5). I applaud the Journal’s courage in presenting the fact that there is a range of views within the American-Jewish community — not all Jewish print media have the chuztpah to acknowledge this.

What is drawing so many people to Jewish Voice for Peace is the realization that we have become the oppressor, and we do not want and cannot support a Jewish state that commits atrocities so resonant with events in our own lifetime’s experience. 

I am the child of two Holocaust survivors, and my parents taught me with deep conviction that all people are equal and deserve to live with dignity and in peace. 

Deborah Mia Shelton via email

Minds Shouldn’t Retire

As an elder in my 90th year, I have a somewhat different perspective on this stage in the life cycle than the one David Suissa expressed in “Embracing our Elders” (Sept. 26).

He asked, “What’s going through the minds of people who are, say, 90 years old? When they look back on the past year, are they thinking about their mistakes, or about their ailments? When they look to the coming year are they thinking about spiritual refinements or are they simply hoping to make it through another year?”

Suissa implies that elders in this stage of life should offer themselves to their community by sharing their lifetime of stories. They should be respected and made to feel they still can offer some gifts from the experiences of their long lives. This is all worthwhile, but for many of us it is not enough. It implies a passivity, a retirement from continuing to learn. 

For over 40 years each Yom Kippur morning, I write of my year, of what I did right and where I erred. Of what I want to continue to do and what I want to change. Do I often enough tell my wife, Lois, and my sons that I love them? Do I give enough of myself and my resources to those causes in which I believe? As I review my writings of previous years, I see the saga of my life unfold, where dreams were fulfilled and where visions failed, and from this process I learn. As my age progressively limits my movements, what new and revised activities can I learn? For example, in recent years I have become a mentor to several most wonderful young people and find this activity contributing and satisfying. I attend classes in subjects that interest me through UCLA and elsewhere. I continue to stay connected and help where possible. 

So I add to Suissa’s writing that in my 90th year, I hope to continue to stay active. The path is not always clear, but to me, staying alive means continuing to seek new experiences, even though they lack the drama of previous years. 

But life is a continual adventure, and I agree with Suissa that I am grateful to still be in the game.

Richard Gunther via email

Shmita: Sustainable Sustenance

This is great (“A New Look in Israel for Shmita, the Year of Rest,” Sept. 26). I love it. What an amazing way to live life, for all people. Words cannot express how much I love this idea and concept. God Bless Israel!

Thomas Czech via jewishjournal.com

’Tis the Season

We would like to thank the Jewish Journal for the inspiration to take action to address suffering in Gaza. Jonathan Zasloff’s column (“Responsibility Without Fault in Gaza,” Aug. 14) pointed to “devastating” damage as a direct result of this summer’s military conflict; “tens of thousands are homeless [and] more go without medical care.” He encouraged Jews to raise funds for humanitarian relief not as concerned citizens of the world, but precisely because, as Jews, it is our responsibility to care for our enemies (Shemot 23:4).

Zasloff recommended that one place to start would be raising funds for American Near Eastern Refugee Aid (ANERA), an organization with a good track record for getting help to families in need. Leading up to this season of reflection and repentance, we gathered with 18 other Jews on the evening of Sept. 20 and together raised a $2,500 donation for ANERA. We call other Jews in Los Angeles to join us in working toward humanitarian relief in Gaza. We would love to hear from any Journal readers who are interested in joining in this effort.

Leah Boustan, Ra’anan Boustan, Jessica Marglin via email


In an article about Rabbi Harold “Hershy” Ten (“Bikur Cholim Head’s Role Revealed in Annuities Scheme, Sept. 26), attorney G. Scott Sobel is quoted as saying that Michael Horowitz was the person responsible for obtaining the signature of Jane Doe 1 to documents. 

In fact, according to Sobel, Jane Doe 1 did not sign the documents. Her husband, John Doe 1, signed them and Ten — not Horowitz — was responsible for obtaining his signatures.