November 15, 2019

Letters to the editor: Remembering Schulweis and Beerman, Simone Wilson’s Tel Aviv and more

Rabbis Harold Schulweis and Leonard Beerman: Thank You for the Memories

Forty years ago, my wife, Marcia, and I attended a service at Valley Beth Shalom and were stunned by Rabbi Harold Schulweis’ intellectual passion, knowledge and remarkable down-to-earth sense of humor (“Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis: ‘Rabbi of Rabbis’ and World-Renowned Jewish Leader,” Jan. 2). As a result, we joined VBS. His inspiration gave all those privileged to know him, hear his wisdom, and learn from him a contemporary vision of Judaism that had and will continue to have an impact on the Jewish world and the world at large.

Michael Halperin via

Rabbi Schulweis was a powerhouse of intellectual thought, an activist, a mentor, a leader and one of the most important people in my life. His good deeds and wisdom will long outlive him.

Annette Appleby Weinberg via

For one hour on each of nine days in the tumultuous summer of 1964, I sat on a grassy lawn at the feet of Rabbi Leonard Beerman at Camp Saratoga as he talked with us young teens about what being a “good Jew” really meant, and the imperative of seeking social justice through actions, no matter how small (“The Great Leonard Beerman z”l: Inspiration Through Word and Deed,” Jan. 2). Each night, while we gathered on that lawn in a circle, holding hands and singing “We Shall Overcome” before heading off to our cabins to sleep, Rabbi Beerman’s words resonated in my thoughts. Undoubtedly, he changed my life; part of my essence has been since then, and will always be, what he inspired; any good that I have done in the half-century that has passed, has been in some way driven by what he taught us, I feel certain. May his soul especially, of all souls, be bound up in the bond of eternal life.

Joan H. Leonard, Sherman Oaks

I can honestly say that much of my political conscience was honed, beginning as a young teenager, by listening to Rabbi Beerman in the classroom and to his sermons. I still have the books on civil rights that were required reading and can remember to this day conversations with him about various moral concepts, including pacifism and questioning if there is a God. It was wonderful to see him after decades, when our confirmation class had a reunion and honored him. Leonard amazed us, especially the women, by apologizing for being late — and possibly insensitive — to the vigorous support of women’s rights during the ’60s when we were very young and grasping for identity. I felt instantly healed from the painful anger experienced when once dismissed by Leonard as perhaps a too-smart and too-outspoken young girl. A few years later, I ran into him at a political event where I was staffing a Congressional candidate and introduced them. Rabbi Beerman, seeing me at work in the political arena, acted like a proud father praising my abilities. He could not have been sweeter or more generous with his compliments. It is a memory I cherish on this day.

Lauren Joy Sand via

To Simone, With Love

I have wanted to write to Simone Wilson for a long time, since her first article about the war in Gaza (“A Nation on Edge,” June 20, 2014).

I have been a reader of the Jewish Journal for a very long time, and have never read anyone with the consistent quality that she has. She is easy to read and understand, has a beautiful and professional style and I have yet to find a mistake when she states facts. Also, I have not found her to misuse facts for her own agenda. Another compliment to her is that I have no idea what her personal bias is. She clearly loves Israel (or at least Tel Aviv) but shows genuine compassion toward Gaza. I have come to trust her, which is more than I can say about most other writers, including those with whom I agree.

When I first read her blogs, I resented how a young outsider like her dare write about my Tel Aviv as if it were hers. Now I come to realize that despite all the technological changes, Tel Aviv still has the same vibe, and she feels it and shares it. Tel Aviv is as much hers as it ever was mine.

Michael S. Katz via email

Blame Where Due

In Michael Berenbaum’s column Dec. 12, he said that four out of five Jews were immediately killed (“Hero or Traitor: The Life, Murder and Afterlife of Reszo Kasztner”). That is not correct. They were immediately MURDERED — a very huge difference. He should stand corrected about that.

Laurence Gelman via email