September 23, 2019

Letters to the editor: Obama’s Jewish soul, hacking the hackers and more

Chanukah With President Obama
David Suissa owes my grandson an apology. 
In his Dec. 18 story titled “Obama: I’m Jewish ‘In My Soul,’ ” Suissa recounted his experience attending the White House Chanukah party the night before. I am that “imposing and tall white-haired gentleman” whom Suissa describes speaking to President Barack Obama. Unfortunately, Suissa got the rest of the story all wrong.
Contrary to Suissa’s snide and inaccurate remark that he thought I had had “a few single malts,” I treated the honor of celebrating Chanukah with the president and the first lady as a distinct and sobering privilege.
Suissa then misquotes me by claiming that I said to the president, “When I told my Christian friend I was coming to a Chanukah party at the White House, he told me, “I didn’t know the president was Jewish!’ ”
In fact, in that one precious moment I had with the president, I actually said the following:  When I told my family we had been invited to celebrate Chanukah at the White House, my 8-year old grandson said, “I didn’t know Obama was Jewish.” The president smiled broadly, and as he moved on, he put his hand on his chest and said quietly, “in my soul.”
In truth, my moment was all about sharing a wonderful story about my grandson Charlie with the president. It had nothing to do with Suissa’s Christian vs. Jewish trope.
Suissa could easily have confirmed the facts with me since I was standing right there. I hope he is not always this reckless in reporting the facts. 
But nothing can detract from this marvelous experience and how the innocence of my grandson Charlie brought out a deeply moving insight into the heart of our president.
Stephen Rohde, Los Angeles
Suissa responds: I thank Mr. Rohde for his confirmation that the president did indeed say he was Jewish “in his soul.” That was the main point of my story. I apologize for mishearing other details — maybe it was me who had the single malts.
To read David Suissa’s article about his visit to the White House is to confront his credulity and desperation by the paragraph. He could hardly have been more ecstatic if Obama had announced, “You know, some of my best friends are Jewish.”
Paul Schnee, West Hollywood

Remembering Rabbi Schulweis

I was reading this week’s issue of the Jewish Journal when the news bulletin announced Harold Schulweis’ death. It was a poignant juxtaposition of events that his poem appeared in the Journal just as he had passed away (“Sticks and Stones,” Dec. 19). He led a beautiful, meaningful life and inspired us all.
Barbara H. Bergen, Los Angeles


Norman Lear is to be commended for taking such a strong stand against discrimination (“Norman Lear’s Bright Future,” Dec. 19). There can be no doubt that it is good to be against all sorts of irrational discrimination and prejudice. He is to be praised as a champion of mutual acceptance.
Allen Hertz via

Fight for Your Right

Though Rob Eshman’s first suggestion is a little moot, the second is sheer genius (“How to Hack the Hackers,” Dec. 19). The regime wants to release information we’d rather keep private? Game on. Let’s see massive media coverage around the world on exactly what North Korea is all about.
Susan Golan via

Never Too Late

I was a patient of Dr. Henry Oster for years and so was my dad (“Survivor: Henry Oster,” Dec. 19). I was with him through several ophthalmological “crises,” during which I was able to fully utilize his services to maintain a normal level of vision. I never got to thank him for his excellent services to me and my dad. But due to Jane Ulman’s timely article, now at least I can write my delayed thank you to Dr. Oster. May he be around for many years to come!
David Stepsay via email

The Man Behind the Man Behind Our Cartoonist

One item omitted from Steve Greenberg’s cartoon tribute to the memory of his father was Steve’s dad’s significant contribution to political and social commentary by raising a son like Steve Greenberg (“Greenberg’s View,” Dec. 19). We feel privileged that Greenberg shared his sorrow and recognition of his father with us.
Stu and Marlene Bernstein, Santa Monica

In the cover photo caption for Jewish Journal City Guide 2015, the name of the author of “From the Shahs to Los Angeles: Three Generations of Iranian Jewish Women Between Religion and Culture” was misspelled. Her name is Saba Soomekh.