November 19, 2019

Letters to the Editor: Worshipping in Budapest, Trump and Israel and the Mill Building

Worshipping in Budapest

Did Danielle Berrin really see worshipers at the Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest  on Shabbat morning “wrapped in tallitot and tefillin” (“Escaping the Shadow,” July 21)? Tefillin are not worn on Shabbat.

Ralph Kostant, Valley Village

Editor’s note: The article mistakenly referred to the wearing of tefillin.

Thank you for your cover story on Hungary. It is a balanced and fairly well-written story. However, I strongly disagree with the words “Rising anti-Semitism” on the front page.

I was born in Hungary. Both of my parents were Holocaust survivors (Auschwitz and Dachau) and I came to the United States as a Hungarian refugee fleeing Communism and religious persecution.

As the story states, unfortunately, anti-Semitism is a problem in Hungary, as it is all over Europe. But there is absolutely no evidence to indicate that there is any rising anti-Semitism in Hungary. As a matter of fact, as the statistics show, anti-Semitic incidents are lower in Hungary than almost anywhere in Europe.

I met with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and I am positive that he does not have an anti-Semitic bone in his body. Yes, he is right of center and a nationalist, something like President Donald Trump (think: “Hungary first”). In his spacious office in the parliament building, Orbán pointed out that it is safer to walk while wearing a kippah in Budapest than in most other European cities. He further pointed out, and correctly so, that his immigration policy, whether or not you approve of it, clearly benefits the Hungarian-Jewish community. It is a fact that additional Muslims who have been taught in their native countries to hate Jews would increase anti-Semitism if allowed into Hungary.

I have been visiting Hungary on a regular basis since 1956. I actually see that Hungarian Jewry is flourishing. As stated by Hungarian Chief Rabbi Robert Frolich, Jewish life is strong. The synagogues, schools and restaurants are attended and supported regularly. There are Jewish newspapers, theaters and cultural events. The 2019 European Maccabi Games will be held in Budapest at a soccer stadium commonly known as the “Jewish stadium,” and the Jewish street fair celebrating its l0th anniversary recently concluded, attracting more than 10,000 Jews for a weekend of cultural and educational programs.

Andrew Friedman via email

Double Standard in Judging Trump

Why not use the double standard to our advantage? (“The Double Standard,” July 28) Let’s give President Barack Obama an ovation for a 14 percent rise in all pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs and stock accounts. Forget the Donald Trump effect. Many Jews on every political spectrum have 14 percent more funds to donate to the Jewish Journal and other pro-tolerance groups, scholarships, etc. It’s a win-win for a continued Jewish golden age in the United States and the Jewish state with all this extra income.

Oh, by the way, I’m one of the 35 percent of Jews in the U.S. who are conservative, but I can agree to disagree. I wish most of our landsmen will remain tolerant even with No. 45, Donald Trump, who lacks a filter.

Dick Bernstein, Los Angeles

Shalom, Rob. Thank you for your column, which was a painful but much-needed reality check for me.

Peter H. Pflaum via email

Thank you, Rob, for this column. I totally agree and must add: Me thinks that the real “double standard” is Black vs. white. Sadly.

Aviyah Farkas, Los Angeles

Free Speech on Campuses

Ben Shapiro’s arguments of a lack of free speech on college campuses today are compelling but, at the same time, just a little too tidy for this reader (“Truly Free Speech Absent at Colleges,” July 28). Would he be as strong an advocate for his position if the head of the Ku Klux Klan and thousands of his followers marched on a campus cloaked in hoods in order to “speak”?  Or how about if a group of Nazi leaders and their followers came to address the student body regarding their point of view?

Free speech, as with most everything else, does not exist in a vacuum, and although there certainly are excesses on the left regarding this issue, it sure would be refreshing to hear from the right that when potential speech has a decent probability of leading to widespread injury and violence due to its content, that maybe that speech should be considered just talk and not rise to the level of protected speech.

Elliot Semmelman, Huntington Beach

Wisdom vs. Compassion

With regard to Dennis Prager’s recent “contest” between wisdom and compassion, it seems that if I were to agree with him, we would both be wrong (“Wisdom vs. Compassion,” July 21).
Recently, we were reminded of the tragedy of the MS St. Louis. Certainly, compassion could have and should have saved the lives of those poor souls. Was it wisdom that sent the vast majority of them to their deaths?

As one who worked in the community for decades, I have witnessed well-placed compassion based on wisdom produce quite wonderful results. However, as he often does, Prager uses the terms and their meanings to consign wisdom to the political right and compassion to those on the left, that being his launching pad for those he disagrees with, even to the point that wisdom has replaced religion. To simply say he is wrong is not enough, as using these terms to frame left and right politics is perverse in its inaccuracy.

Irving Cramer, Venice

History of Mill Building

Thank you for the story on Capitol Milling Co. (“Will Capitol Milling Become Grist for Downtown Redevelopment?” July 28). My great-grandfather was Jacob Loew, my grandfather was Stephen Newmark Loew  and my father was Stephen Newmark Loew Jr. He died in 1996. I am sorry that the property did not become a historic landmark but there were many factors that prevented this from happening. Any degree of acknowledgement of the mill’s history would be appreciated not only by me and my family but by the Los Angeles Jewish community. 

Susan Loew Greenberg, Los Angeles