November 19, 2019

Your Turn:Standouts on the Diamond;Teaching Tolerance;Politics and the Pulpit

Standouts on the Diamond 

Yasher koach to Israel’s national baseball team, which has shocked the world by advancing to next year’s Olympics (“Israeli Baseball Team Qualifies for 2020 Olympics,” Sept. 27).

In 2017, Israel stunned the baseball world when the team and its “Mensch on the Bench” mascot reached the second round of the World Baseball Classic.

This year, perhaps even more remarkably, Israel placed fourth in the European Championships to earn a spot in the Europe/Africa regional Olympic qualifying tournament. Yet once there, Israel’s incredible run continued as it defeated Spain, the Netherlands, Italy and South Africa to win the tournament and earn one of just six berths in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.

Who knew that when Cinderella took the baseball mound, she wore not only glass slippers but a kippah, too?  Stephen A. Silver, San Francisco

Teaching Tolerance

The story in the Oct. 4 edition about the U.N. made me stop and think (“UN Releases First-Ever Report on Anti-Semitism”).

As anti-Semitism grows with time, all over the world, more organizations recognize the problem. “The U.N. is finally recognizing the severity of the ages-old hatred against Jews,” observes the American Jewish Committee. Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, suggests that “Anti-Semitism is a virus that is rapidly spreading throughout the world.” 

So, I asked myself: Why do we have anti-Semitism and other forms of hate?

My answer: People are born with all sorts of traits which carry during their lives, including greed and jealousy. I believe these are natural characteristics of all living things — human, animals, etc.

Because of jealousy, it’s natural to seek out or imagine the “faults” of others, especially those people who have succeeded so well in life. And it’s easier to attack those minority groups who are so successful in various ways. 

For whatever reason — probably in an effort to overcome racial hatred and bias — Jews have become ingrained with the need for education and to develop various capabilities with significant payoffs, financial and otherwise, and become world leaders. (Like a typical Gaussian distribution, some more so than others.)
The solution: Teach people from birth, at every opportunity — at home, at school, in places of worship, at work, in law enforcement — to respect and love their fellow man, no matter their differences in religious or other beliefs. Most important, don’t be jealous. Instead, admire the success and accomplishments of others. Tell them so, with a sincere and big smile, and do your best to learn from them and follow suit, advancing your unique skills. 

Some may call this “brainwashing,” but it’s all to the better good. George Epstein, Los Angeles

As an observant Jew, I fully understand editor David Suissa’s point of view that Yom Kippur is a special day during which we should be concerned about ourselves and not about politics (“Can We Keep Trump Out of Yom Kippur?” Oct. 4). However, there have been times during our 5,780-year history when even our traditional holy days should have been altered.

I assume that during the 1930s in Europe, Yom Kippur was observed just as Suissa explains it should be, even as Hitler’s Third Reich was raging. Perhaps there were some rabbis who did not speak out against Hitler so as not to offend the members of their congregations who supported Hitler. Yes, I assume that some Jews supported Hitler in the early years because, after all, Hitler wanted to make Germany great again. Martin A. Brower, Corona del Mar

Attending Rosh Hashanah services has always been a very special time to reflect on the past year in a most spiritual setting at one’s chosen house of worship. One can hopefully forget about the troubling news we read every day in our country and around the world, and focus on our Jewish faith, family and the continuity of our people. This brings together our Jewish community.

Unfortunately, Suissa’s excellent editorial about trying to keep politics, and I would add, personal views on a host of controversial news issues, should have been written before Rosh Hashanah.

It was rather disturbing to be subjected to a sermon, the rabbi’s stated choice, about all the plastic debris in our oceans and the other dire consequences of climate change. Could topics of more concern to us as Jews be more appropriate — the rise in anti-Semitism in our country and around the world in the past year, or the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel are two examples.

Hopefully, rabbis will heed Suissa’s advice or they will surely see a decline in their temple membership. Janet Polak, Beverly Hills

She Stands With the Rabbi

Go with strength, Rabbi Lori Shapiro! (“Redeeming Judgment: Disagree With Me,” Oct. 4)

Because the blame game is a shame

got to look inside, see what we’ve done wrong

what we can do better, Yom Kippur the paradigm

for a society gone insane

Because children have to question,

think, know uncomfortable is OK

Striving for truth hurts

all ideas on the table, all the ways the world is

Because there shouldn’t be “safe spaces” in universities

Speakers prohibited because whole populations are sensitive

Never forget Nazis marching through Skokie past Holocaust survivors

Because the ACLU believed denying one group their right to march (or speak)

means others will be denied

freedom “sanitized”

Destroyed Mina Friedler via email

The Pineapple as Modern-Day Fertility Symbol 

The Journal’s website recently shared a New York Times story about pineapples as fertility symbols. Thank you for taking notice of the issue of infertility. However, Judaism actually has many symbols for fertility and the timing couldn’t be better to learn about them.

The tradition of the Sephardic Rosh Hashanah seder includes pomegranates (many seeds), apples (from Song of Songs), honey, and fish (which lay many eggs) specifically for fertility. Additional traditions surround the etrog used on Sukkot, garlic on Friday nights, and food shaped like stars to represent God’s promise to Abraham that his children be as plentiful as the stars. Many resources and rituals are right here in our Jewish tradition that provide meaning and support for infertility. I pray we can reach out and embrace the many people facing infertility and other family-building challenges that have for too long not received enough support from the Jewish community. Rabbi Idit Solomon via email


A photo caption accompanying a story on Rep. Adam Schiff and the impeachment inquiry incorrectly cited the committee he chairs. He heads the House Intelligence Committee.

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