Letters: Defunding Police, Teens Helping During Pandemic

July 2, 2020

Defunding Police
With all due respect to Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, it appears that his comments and opinions are misguided (“Defunding the Police and Reclaiming Safety,” June 26). Defunding the police would mean shifting what the police do to keep us safe to entities such as mental health professionals and mediators. But where would this lead? Cohen stops cold on that question.   

In 2015, Black Lives Matter (BLM) co-founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi stated that the underlying ideology of BLM is Marxist. In effect, their belief in the ideology of socialism is prevalent. The hidden agenda of these radical views would be to promote chaos, which is what socialism needs to thrive. 

Certainly there needs to be constructive rethinking and policy changes in policing as it exists, but defunding, as Cohen so eloquently supports, is misguided and potentially dangerous.
Joel Greenman, via email

Teens Help During Pandemic
While visiting my daughter and granddaughter in Los Angeles last week, I picked up a copy of the June 26 edition of the Journal.

The story about Skye Loventhal and Sarah Shapiro (“The Covid NineTEEN Project: Delivering Free Activities for Elementary Students”) was especially interesting to me because my 8-year-old granddaughter missed going to school and learning while on lockdown.

When I returned home, I told my daughter about the program, and she signed my granddaughter up for it, and she had her first lesson recently.

I wanted to thank Syke and Sarah for doing this and bless them for giving our granddaughter a wonderful hour of learning. They are truly wonderful teens, and the mitzvah they are doing should be widely advertised because there’s not much good news these days.
Laurie Weinstein, Atlanta

Systemic Harmony
Ashager Araro, it must be difficult to feel you have to straddle two worlds, feeling pressured to choose between Jews or Black people (“Black Jews Open Up,” June 26).

The act of creating dichotomies between groups (as well as within groups) seems to be part of the metaphorical DNA of human interactions.

When my father, an immigrant Jew born in Poland, arrived in L.A. to be with my mother, a Viennese Jew, one of her brothers said in German, “Ost Jude!” Western European Jews, born in Germany or Vienna, thought they were more civilized Eastern European Jews despite the fact that Nazis from Germany, had recently murdered more than 6 million Jews.

As an activist child in the 1960s, I protested racism and police brutality with my Black friends. One day, a biracial friend asked, “If you had to choose between standing with the Jewish people or us, who would you choose?” Then, as now, I feel that part of working toward a kinder, gentler world is refusing to make value choices based on external pressures.

As well-intentioned beings trying our best to fix the world, it is our job to seek commonalities between generations.

In order to bring harmony to our world, we must embrace our diversity, including our individual characteristics, as a systemic,  unifying tool to celebrate our differences instead of as a means of attacking each other in the guise of justifiable rage.
Mina Friedler, Venice

Marriage Has Evolved
After reading Mark Schiff’s column about marriage, I couldn’t agree more (“Taking the Plunge,” June 19). Back in my day, when couples wanted to save their marriage and achieve “shalom bayit,” they would do anything possible to remain married. Now divorce is all too common. The meaning of shalom bayit has certainly changed over the years.
Richard Katz, Los Angeles 

Incorrect Term
I was disappointed to see an online story refer to Jesus of Nazareth as “Jesus Christ” in “Winona Ryder Responds to Mel Gibson’s Denial of ‘Oven-Dodger’ Comments: It’s a Painful and Vivid Memory for Me.” (posted June 23).

It is completely inappropriate for a Jewish traditional news outlet to use the word “Christ,” which means “anointed one” or “Messiah.” The correct reference should be “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Nathan (Nate) N. Salant, Birmingham, Ala. 

BLM and Anti-Semitism
One can certainly stand for civil rights on many fronts and with many worthwhile organizations without getting in bed with the foundational anti-Semitism of Black Lives Matter (BLM). At this time of unrest, it’s worth remembering an op-ed by Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2002. In that op-ed commemorating Martin Luther King Day, Lewis recalled the wise and prescient words of King spoken at Harvard a few weeks before his death: “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews; you’re talking anti-Semitism.”

Recently, BLM took the anti-Semitism in its platform off its website as a PR move, just as the Nazis “spruced up” Theresienstadt in June 1944 before the Red Cross visited. Just as the Red Cross was duped  by the Nazis in 1944, many Jews today are conned by BLM’s PR move. BLM publicly has never revoked its foundational anti-Semitism.
Richard Sherman, Margate, Fla. 

Funding Arts Education
During this uncertain and destabilizing time, I have watched with growing alarm as school districts across L.A. County propose drastic cuts to arts education programs. While there is no doubt that the economic devastation caused by COVID-19 is forcing leaders to make difficult decisions, I want to remind school board members that California education code legally requires that every student have access to arts education.

Additionally, multiple studies show that arts education increases student engagement, their sense of connection, average daily attendance rates and, thus, graduation rates. This cannot be overlooked as distance learning fuels an “engagement crisis” and dropout rates spike across the state. Evidence shows that students with arts education are: 

5 times less likely to drop out of school,
4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, and
3 times more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree. 

This is an issue of basic equity. We know low-income students and students of color face the greatest barriers to the high-quality arts instruction they deserve. And, because the creative sector generates 1 in 10 jobs in Southern California, cutting funding for these essential programs negatively will impact an entire generation of students preparing to enter California’s workforce.

If we fail to recognize the importance of arts education, we fail our children. We must invest in the arts programs that will ensure students have the tools they need to thrive. Do not cut arts education funding when children need it most.
Erin K. Flood, via email

In a story about a video game creator (“The Scavenger Game Creator Connecting People Around the World,” June 26) Tali Kaplinski Tarlow’s name was misspelled.

Now it’s your turn! Don’t be shy, submit your letter to the editor. Letters should be no more than 200 words and must include a valid name and city. The Journal reserves the right to edit all letters. letters@jewishjournal.com.

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