August 23, 2019

Letters to the editor: Nazis and Social Security, Abu Tor, campus racism and Kristallnacht

Star of David Big and Bright Deep in the Heart of Westwood

As the director of UCLA’s Center for Jewish Studies, I am writing in response to professor Judea Pearl’s article, “Should Campus Racism Be Discussed?” (Oct. 17). While I do not disagree with his desire to foster respectful learning spaces on campus for all students — Jewish and non-Jewish alike — I do take issue with his suggestion that Jewish Studies faculty at UCLA have been silent on campus, “afraid to reveal their sentiments and identity.” As a beacon of Jewish life on campus, the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies promotes the research and teaching of all aspects of Jewish culture and civilization. In fact, as the center enters its 21st year at UCLA, we have supported and promoted more public programs on Jewish history, society, culture and civilization than any other academic unit on campus. Our 27 affiliated faculty members teach more than 70 Jewish Studies courses annually, from literature and language courses to history, religion, law and music. We support a suite of undergraduate service-learning courses and work with numerous community partners. We touch the lives of nearly 2,000 students every year and partner with both Jewish and non-Jewish organizations across campus and in the greater Los Angeles community. I haven’t seen Pearl at a single Jewish Studies program in years, let alone a Jewish Studies course, so I do worry that he is out of touch with the very vibrant, honest and engaging work that our faculty and staff do to promote the study of all aspects of Jewish life and thought. Far from silent or complacent, our faculty and student leaders at UCLA have continually strengthened and deepened our commitment to learning and outreach in ways that have positively affected Jewish life across the campus. I personally invite you to attend our programs and peer into the vibrancy and diversity of Jewish life at UCLA.

Todd Samuel Presner, Los Angeles 

Lost in Translation

Having just returned from Germany, I read with interest the articles in the Jewish Journal about Kristallnacht (Nov. 7). I have always known what Nov. 9, 1938, represented in the march toward the Final Solution. However, I learned last week in Berlin that the term “Kristallnacht” is, in truth, a euphemism assigned to that night by the Nazis to disguise the violence of that one evening 76 years ago against the Jews of Germany. The Jews called it “The Night of the Pogrom,” not “The Night of Broken Glass.” Given that day’s destruction and what was being contemplated for the 11 million Jews all over Europe, the Jewish designation is far more descriptive than the poetic Nazi deception.

Rabbi John Rosove, Temple Israel of Hollywood

If You’re Not Part of the Solution, You’re Part of the Profit

The problem has been here for a long time; the abolition of all spending limits by the Supreme Court has simply made it unbearable (“Nightcrawler Nation,” Nov. 7). All the reforms to Boise and back six times over will never fix this until individuals take responsibility for their own viewing and reading. No one is forced to watch this for-profit media garbage. If viewers choose to do so, they become part of the garbage.

John Thomas via


Thank you to Rabbi Daniel Landes for sharing his experience (“Abu Tor Report: Our Deadened Morality,” Nov. 7). It’s so directly difficult for him, for others in the same neighborhood, and much less directly but compelling for all of us who want peace and reconciliation. I look to him, and I apologize for the burden it places on him because he is an observant Jew and Zionist  whose ethical compass doesn’t permit him to fall into self-congratulatory nationalism. I care about his observations and opinions because, first and foremost, he is a person of principle and a teacher. I pray that we, and “we” means all of us, can find a way forward through conflict toward a sense of shared humanity that makes it possible to see holiness in each other and impossible to hurt each other. It’s a good dream. 

Laurie Malia Franklin via

Paying for Their Sins

I find the column informing the public of Nazi war criminals receiving financial support from the United States appalling, and am shocked to hear that, after all these years, SS officers and Nazi war criminals are still receiving such funds (“Why Some Nazis Are Collecting Social Security,” Oct. 31). The Holocaust was a horrific event that inflicted suffering on millions, yet the very men and women who helped hurt innocent people are receiving financial benefit. What is the point of teaching future generations about the grievances of the Holocaust if the very people involved are not being brought to justice?

Adi Vildorf, Encino


In an article about Alan Gross (“The Forgotten Man,” Nov. 7), an American being held in a Cuban prison, an incorrect date was given for the creation of the Jewish Cuba Connection. It was established in 2000.