September 17, 2019

Letters to the editor: Ben Shapiro, intermarriage, embracing the stranger

Prager’s Premise

I’ll bet you get a lot of letters that start with “Dennis Prager … ” Here’s mine.

Dennis Prager writes that taking in Muslim immigrants is causing Europe to go into a “death spiral,” and that this is somehow due to those immigrants’ non-European values (“Wisdom vs. Compassion,” July 21). I cannot help but read this in the context of the Holocaust. After the Nuremberg laws went into effect in 1938, Americans opposed letting in Jewish immigrants, and many Jews died as a result. Prager’s lead uses the Four Sons from the haggadah to derive the idea that wise is the opposite of bad. Does the famous line from Leviticus count for anything? “When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Levitcus 19:33-34).

Jacob Schaperow
via email

New Voice in the Journal

I appreciate having Ben Shapiro’s voice be heard in the Jewish Journal. As an almost lifelong Democrat for 54 years and a conservative since 9/11, and a proud dual citizen of Israel and the United States, I think leftist values are not the predominant ones that will preserve Judaism, Israel and the Jewish people. Silencing conservative voices does not help Judaism nor the world at large. Giving articulate, knowledgeable, caring people like Shapiro a platform in the Journal will help our people and mankind, together with other respectful, knowledgeable, caring voices along the political and religious spectrum. Kol ha-kavod to the Jewish Journal.

 Gershon Weissman
Fundraiser at Emek Lone Soldiers

Intermarriage and
Genetic Disease

I am neither opposed to nor a proponent of intermarriage (“Marrying In,” July 21). I am a proponent of informed consent when it comes to any couple deciding to begin a family. With 42 percent of Ashkenazi Jews (observant or otherwise) related to one of four women who lived in the 12th to 13th century, we have a far greater burden of genetic disease than most populations. In fact, 1 in 4 Ashkenazi Jews is a carrier for a genetic disorder found to be more prevalent in our population. This includes any person who is or was of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, including those descendants of Crypto-Jews. Therefore, part of the dialogue about whether intermarriage can be done correctly should include providing the couple with genetic counseling and, if the couple desires, testing for disease burden.

Just a thought.

Gary Frohlich
Senior Patient Education Liaison
Rare Business Disease Unit, US Genetics

Those Were the Days
(on the Westside)

The folksy article by Jonathan Kirsch (“A Nostalgic Trip Down the Westside’s Memory Lane,” July 14) recalls fond memories of my youth.

For pure nostalgia, I’d attend the silent movie theater on North Fairfax to see Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, and for more contemporary films, the Fairfax Theater, providing part-time work for Fairfax High School students, who’d let their friends in through the side door.

Billy Gray’s Band Box, a nightclub, the one semblance of “Borscht Belt/Catskills” humor on the West Coast, with hilarious satires such as “My Fairfax Lady, “The Cohen Mutiny” and “Goldfinkle,” and where Mickey Cohen, the head of L.A.’s “Kosher Nostra,” conducted business after hours, was ideal for teenage parking lot attendants. After all, where else but Fairfax Avenue could you feel the atmosphere of New York, Eastern Europe and the Middle East?

Ed Cress

A Kind Word for
Yona Sabar’s Word

Toda rabba (thank you) for publishing professor Yona Sabar’s “Hebrew Word of the Week.” It is always informative, often revealing new, unexpected insights into Hebrew words, both biblical and modern, while also telling readers about related words and concepts in a wide spectrum of other languages.

I look forward to reading more of Sabar’s words of week, and hope that he will publish a collection of his Jewish Journal column writing in a book.

Rivka Sherman-Gold
Yodan Publishing

Source Material for
‘Tycoon’ Miniseries

Judging from comments by director Billy Ray in the Journal’s story on his upcoming miniseries based on “The Last Tycoon” (“Miniseries Adds Jewish Context to Fitzgerald’s Unfinished Hollywood Novel,” July 21), it’s unfortunate Ray hadn’t caught wind of Steven Ross’ forthcoming book about Hollywood’s dealings with the Nazi regime (“Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America”). As Ross discloses, the Jewish moguls were far from the Hitler patsies Ben Urwand claimed in his wildly overstated book “The Collaboration,” and which Ray states he used to ground his treatment of the moguls in the series.

Although the heads of MGM, Paramount and Fox did indeed “cave,” for pecuniary reasons, to many of the Fuhrer’s demands in Germany, on the homefront, these and other studio bosses were working ardently behind the scenes to thwart assassinations and other terrorist plots by a Nazi fifth column in Los Angeles.

Also, for a more balanced rendering of Hollywood’s interactions with Hitler in general, Ray would have been far better served by Thomas Doherty’s “Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-1939.”

Vincent Brook
Lecturer, UCLA


A Lesson in Embracing

the Stranger

Yasher koach to Rochel Groner (“Photos of Jewish Woman Comforting Autistic Boy on Plane Go Viral,” July 21) for embracing the opportunity to befriend a young Muslim boy in pain. Rochel lovingly created a sacred space for the boy and all those on board were able to witness her caring for a stranger who is very different from her. I wish we could publicize and see more of these magical moments in the world today, especially toward those who have special needs.

Friendship Circle of Los Angeles offers programs for Jewish children in the community just like this little boy and we welcome new families and volunteers to join us.

Gail Rollman
Development Director
Friendship Circle of Los Angeles 

Story on Gaza Is 

Great First Step

I want to thank Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib for offering me (us) a glimpse of hope regarding a solution to the seemingly hopeless conflict in the Middle East — and especially in regards to the situation in Gaza (“The Hard Truth,” July 14). I like Alkhatib’s idea of bringing in the U.N. to stabilize the Strip “by preventing another war, reversing the deterioration of living conditions, initiating infrastructure renovations and managing aid money in a professional, nonpartisan manner.” He has explained his idea well and why he thinks it would work.

Now, how do we get this idea to the right people so that it can be transformed into action and fulfillment? Any suggestions, Ahmed?

Lori Levy
Sherman Oaks