August 19, 2019

Letters to the editor: The death penalty, marriage equality, Downtown J and more

Convict Convictions

I must agree with Dennis Prager regarding the death penalty (“Opponents of the Death Penalty and the Escaped Murderers,” June 19).  

When the discussion of the death penalty first began in New York, where I lived at the time, a poll was taken of the attitude of convicts. The majority of them agreed that the death penalty was a deterrent. The idea of life in prison is not a deterrent, in fact, it seems that life with assurance of food, clothing, shelter, and medical and dental care is preferable. While I admit I don’t know the exact cost of providing for the needs of the prisoners, I believe it might be better spent on programs that would help to identify and deter the reasons that people turn to crime. It bothers me, and should concern others, that a convicted criminal is provided these necessities while there are honest, innocent people, including children, going hungry and homeless.  

Frances B. Parker, Hermosa Beach

Davening Downtown

As someone who has been [to Chabad of Downtown L.A.] many times, I can say that it’s a blessing for us in downtown Los Angeles (“An ‘Island of Spirituality’ in L.A.’s Fashion District,” July 3). Have learned so much from this man. What he does is beyond appreciated. God bless Rabbi Moshe Levin and the entire Chabad community. Shabbat Shalom!

Victor Mizrahi via

Murky Morals

Good stuff here (“The Value of Apology,” July 3). We can only hope that Israelis on the left and right are learning to respect the human rights of their Israeli “opponents” (not to mention, to walk in the shoes of Palestinians and others). We can only hope that we feel secure enough to learn to listen better. 

That said, why do we have to claim ourselves the “moral victors”? Why can’t we, as wise spiritual beings, know that all of us are simply doing the best we can? We all believe we are helping our family, our group, our people — even when we go to war. Morality is a relative concept. Still, I understand that in order to enlarge our hearts about the other, it also helps if we feel we have done our best. As Andrew Friedman says, the future is more important than the past. How can we look inside and be moral in the complexities of right now?

Harvey Stein via

Come and Get Your Love

A beautiful personal testimony to the wondrous turn of events, and a remembrance of how bad things once were (“From Fear to Elation: My Mother’s Love Wins,” July 3). Let’s cross all the oceans and sing dozens of songs together.

Bill Burnett via

Thank you, Rabbi Susan Goldberg, for a lovely essay.

Harriett Neal via

This is really beautiful, Susan.

Meredith Cahn via

Are we ever going to hear from the other side of this? Doubt it. The Jewish Journal has never been about equal access or diverse opinions. What a rag.

Roberta Scharlin Zinman via

You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling

I don’t think the idealist love as it is portrayed in films or romantic novels, where beautiful young people put flowers into barrels of guns, can win (“Will Love Win?” July 3).

Our inherent human nature is self-centered and egoistic. Basically, deep down we are capable of loving only ourselves. When we seemingly love someone, we love because it gives us joy and gives us pleasure.

In order to create the love that facilitates mutual interconnections, the mutually complementing cooperation our survival depends on, we need to develop love above hatred. We need a practical method that enables us to feel our inherent differences and mutual distrust on one hand, and still accept each other, love each other and collaborate.

This practical method was given to the Hebrews escaping Egypt at the “Mount of Hatred” when they pledged to unite “as one man with one heart,” being mutually responsible toward each other despite their differences and their mutual hatred. And when they fell back into mutual hatred despite having the method, they were exiled.

Today, Jews and the nation of Israel need to re-create that unity and mutual responsibility using the same method. Not only for their own survival but in order to show positive example, the only remedy to self-destructive humanity.

Zsolti Hermann via