August 22, 2019

Letters to the editor: JDAIM, Marty Baron and more

A Perfect Fit

I read “Why Give a Damn about JDAIM” (Feb. 12) by Michelle Wolf and I wanted to share my experience with inclusion. Our son Alex was born with a developmental disability and, from a young age of 2, has always loved Jewish prayers and Jewish culture. Now 13, he is getting ready to become a bar mitzvah this April.

Congregation Or Ami was the third temple we tried. It seemed that we were always trying to get our son to “fit in” with the mainstream kids. No one seemed to get it that Alex just couldn’t fit in until we found Or Ami. My husband and I met with Rabbi Paul Kipnes before to explain the difficulties we had been experiencing. From the moment walked into Or Ami, we felt at home. They not only have programs for special needs children, they embrace them. I remember when Rabbi Paul said, “It’s not a matter of if he can become bar mitzvah, it’s how. Know that he will become a bar mitzvah.” Alex loves Or Ami, where he feels he belongs.

I honestly can’t say enough wonderful things about Congregation Or Ami and the warmth they have shared with our family. We feel very lucky to be part of such an amazing place.

Joeli Gutfleisch, Westlake Village

A New College Prep Course

The rise of anti-Israel activities in academia around the world begs for an effective strategy to prepare Jewish students to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement on campuses before they go to college (“Another Mutation of the Anti-Semitism Virus — or Just Ignorance?” Feb. 19). Getting Jewish teens to Israel en masse, followed by Israel-advocacy training in local communities, before they go to college is the only shot we have to build an army of “boots on the ground,” of college-bound, pro-Israel activists. We owe it to prepare our Jewish youth for what awaits on college campuses.

Birthright Israel is in a position to help fund the most practical solution to this most pressing, urgent need facing the Jewish people. Word is Birthright Israel has unfilled seats and registration is open-ended, implying registration is down. If Birthright is not filling seats, it should do the responsible thing and serve as a funding source for Jewish communities to run trips to Israel.

We all agree that our kids need us and Israel needs us. Yet, Birthright Israel leaders fail to recognize the only solution at hand. Birthright should step up to the plate and fulfill its divine purpose and stated vision to “strengthen Jewish identity, Jewish communities and solidarity with Israel by providing a 10-day trip to Israel for young Jewish people.”

Robert Israel Lappin via email

Spotlighting Baron’s L.A. Connection

I enjoyed Rob Eshman’s story on Marty Baron (“Marty Baron’s Crusade,” Feb. 19), for whom I worked many years at the L.A. Times when I was a reporter and editor there. But was there a reason you didn’t mention his long tenure — I think it was 17 years — at the Times? For what it’s worth, he was a great editor and it was unfortunate that he never made it to the helm of the Times. Also, as you seemed to suggest with the “smile” references, he is in fact a very good guy with a good heart — it just takes a little while to discover that. Nice job, and all the best to you.

Stu Silverstein via email

Iran and the World

I believe David Suissa doesn’t present the whole picture in his comments that many Americans believe President Barack Obama got swindled in his nuclear deal with Iran (“The Lure of Trump: No More Rip-Offs,” Feb. 19).

Suissa fails to point out — and perhaps many of these “angry Americans” he mentions don’t realize — that the Iran nuclear agreement was ratified not just by the United States, but also by the so-called P5+1, plus the European Union. The Washington Post on Sept. 10, 2015, contains a jointly written editorial by Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel and David Cameron regarding their support for the deal. Leon Panetta, who has been very critical of Obama in other instances, also wrote an editorial in the L.A. Times indicating his support.

I also do not share Suissa’s optimism regarding Donald Trump›s negotiating skills. Trump, in his business dealings, has the advantage of a large asset base and a significant income stream, and is in an excellent position to be a strong negotiator. On the international stage, walking away from a deal may not be an option, and we have no idea about his ability or willingness to compromise with foreign leaders (or members of Congress, for that matter), many of whom are also skillful negotiators and may not have any strong motivation to reach an agreement.

Lewis T. Rosenthal, Los Angeles


A Moving and Shaking article (Feb. 19) incorrectly named Lisa Feldman as a member of Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center. Feldman is a congregant of Temple Beth Am, where she also serves as a member of the board of officers.