September 23, 2019

Letters to the editor: Matzo Ball, Barbara Boxer, French Jews and more

If I Go, There Will Be Trouble; If I Stay Will It Be Double?

I am an American non-Jew and basically secular in thought. Until recently, I was completely unaware of Jews feeling threatened in Paris (“Stay or Go? French Jews Face a Growing — and Emotional — Dilemma,” Jan. 23). I am willing to bet that 99 percent of my fellow Americans are also totally unaware. Is it the Arab population threatening you, or the French? I cannot speak for my country’s immigration policy, but if Jews living in France requested immigration to the U.S., I would welcome that. I wish safety and peace for each of you. wherever in the world that may be.

Zoe Ash via

I do not want Jews to emigrate from France. What would it prove? That they let evil run their lives? Jews there need to become self-vigilant. They cannot let themselves be pushed around by human evil after hundreds of years of Jewish-French culture. The prime minister of France was correct when he said that France would not be France without Jewish influence. Fewer Jews in Europe would only make them weaker and [they would] have much less clout than they already have. Don’t give up.

Richard Levine via email

A Teacher’s Reach

Marty Kaplan’s homage to a science teacher who opened his singular world to the world-at-large is a paean of praise and gratitude to a profession that has lately been in the crosshairs of pundits and parents (“Before Your Favorite Teacher Dies,” Jan. 23). Teachers, in innumerable ways, have been the swizzle stick that has churned the sediments that lie in each of us, releasing in the process an unbridled curiosity, a heat-seeking intellect, and a passion that is the engine to creative achievements across a variety of fields and vocations. I, like Kaplan, have been the recipient of numerous pedagogues who opened my eyes and engaged my heart, unleashing in me a thirst for learning and justice that will never be quaffed. Every day that I open a book, marvel at the symmetry of a tree, revel in the multihued sunrise and sunset, and immerse myself in the gymnastics of an intellectual endeavor, I remember and thank all the teachers whose paths I was fortunately enough to cross.

Marc Rogers via email

As a student in Mr. Jaeger’s biology class, I was far from ever considering a career in the sciences. But I, too, felt the wonder of science, and more importantly, I saw an educator whose love for his subject and dedication to his students demanded respect.

Hugh Mahon via

Electing Barbara Boxer

If I recall correctly, Barbara Boxer was first elected in large part because the Republicans chose the very right-wing (and Jewish) Bruce Herschensohn over the more moderate and electable Tom Campbell (“Barbara Boxer and the Democratization of California Politics,” Jan. 23). Once elected, Boxer enjoyed an incumbency advantage that nearly guarantees statewide re-election in California. (Remember, Gray Davis was not defeated by any opponent. The only person he could lose to was himself!)

E. Randol Schoenberg via

Funding for their Future

Thank you for the wonderful article on the Generations program (“With Help, Local Schools Grow Their Endowments,” Jan. 16). The Journal has reported in the past about Builders of Jewish Education’s Los Angeles High School Affordability Initiative funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation. The Generations project builds on the success of the Jim Joseph Foundation grant, and between the two programs, over $34 million in cash and pledge endowments have been raised for day-school education since 2009.

The initial idea to help schools build endowment began with the vision of the Lainer family. They and local donors created the Simha and Sara Lainer Day School Endowment Fund, a 1:4 match to incentivize schools. The Jim Joseph Foundation then provided a grant to help schools build their development infrastructure, create a culture of giving and provide middle-income scholarships while the high schools raised endowments to sustain these tuition grants.   

The two programs have become models for other communities. BJE, with the help of the Jim Joseph Foundation, created, where donors, schools and communities interested in undertaking endowment development can obtain detailed information on how to implement this initiative in their school or community.

Arlene Agress, Director, Jim Joseph Foundation High School Affordability Project,  BJE (Builders of Jewish Education), Los Angeles

Matzo Ball Drops the Ball

I wanted to share a story with you about a Jewish singles event I attended last month on December 24, 2014.

Most single Jews in LA know that the largest Jewish singles events that happen each year are on Christmas Eve. I am a young single mom of a 6 yr old girl. On December 24, I decided to try a singles event called The Matzo Ball. I was completely shocked and disgusted at what I saw that night. 

The event was at a club in Hollywood called Bardot. Approx 200 or more people were there that night. There was a stage with a dj and a screen where graphics were being project. The graphics showed photos of men with their shirts off and the statement read “The Matzo Ball, where you find the best Kosher meat in town”. Another graphic was a photo of a menora with candles of Kim Kardashians naked rear end. This supposedly was a spoof on Saturday Night Live. These graphics were so offensive. I was shocked that at a Jewish event the promoters would ridicule what it means to be kosher and the hannukkah menora that represents g-ds miracle of lights.

Next they had a woman dancing on stage to rap music. She was dressed in a bra and g-string. Shortly after that they played Hava Nagila. I swear, it felt more like a freak show at the circus than a Jewish event. I invited a group of friends and after about 2 hours we left. We stayed the 2 hours because we thought it was going to get better, but it only continued to get worse.

A few days later I wrote the company an email requesting a refund. After no response, I followed up with a phone called to the headquarters in New York. I spoke to a young man named Ben and told him the story. He responded by saying “whats the big deal, lighten up”. I was even more upset that I had to convince him that there was a problem with those events. I responded by saying “It is up to our generation to hold the respect for our religion and our people. My family went through the Holocaust and now its up to us”. He cut me off and said “My family went through the Holocaust, so whats your point?”. He said to forward an email to him and he would give it to the owner. Since that call, I wrote back 4 more times followed by 4 more calls. They never responded to me. Finally I contacted the company that sold the tickets (Eventbright). After 5 days Eventbright sent The Matzo  Ball and gave them a warning to refund my money within 1 business day. After that I received a refund.

The reason I am writing the Jewish Journal about this story is because I think the Jewish community needs to send a message to young people/professionals. The message I would like to send young people especially those club promoters is to keep the integrity of the Jewish people and religion in the highest regard. These young individuals are our future and the torch needs to be passed on to them to protect us from blasphemy. If these promoters do this at an all Jewish event, what can we expect for the future of our people.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

Sandra Luban via email