Letters: Hope for Shalom, Biden’s Convention Speech

September 3, 2020

Hope for Shalom
One Sabbath in Sequoia,
“Shalom!” echoed
From among the redwood trees
Israeli father and daughter, walking beside us
Extolled how Israel, labeled “pariah nation,”
Taught drip irrigation
so children in Africa
saved from starvation
Could grow strong
Now Israel, never a “pariah nation,”
Partners with Arab neighbors
Sharing our wisdom
On the road to healing
“Shalom” somewhere
On the horizon
Mina Stern, Venice 

Officers and Their Daily Challenges

Police officers are again under fire. The outrage over George Floyd’s killing has reverberated around the world and has many asking if “Black Lives Matter.”

Four former Minneapolis officers are in jail, one awaiting a trial on second-degree murder charges and the others on aiding and abetting charges. The recruitment of police officers, their graduation from the academy, on-the-job training and supervision also are under scrutiny.

Law enforcement is demanding and dangerous work, and split-second decisions can lead to peaceful resolution but sometimes violence and death. These four men are in jail awaiting a jury to decide their fate.

Several years ago, I worked as a civil service recruitment examiner for Los Angeles County. The majority of evaluations I made, with the help of senior officers, were of candidates for the Sheriff’s Department. We interviewed the men and women who had passed the written examination. Many seemed qualified to join the department, while some clearly weren’t law enforcement material.

More recently, I worked with a large police department’s volunteer surveillance team. From a distance and hidden vantage point, we staked out places where people congregated as well as known hot spots for illegal activity. We were backed up by officers in a nearby black-and-white squad car, and would report suspicious activity over our radio. From our pre-surveillance briefings, to the work in the field, to the evening’s post-surveillance analyses, the officers guiding us made sure we knew what we had to do and could do. When we observed a car being broken into, theft, a drug sale or other law breaking, we would radio the officers with the details. Before rolling, they would want to know precisely what we were observing and where, how many people were involved, did we see firearms, was there a car in use and if so, its color and make and if it was moving. They would evaluate what we had relayed and respond accordingly.

In police work as in the military, business and every occupation, we want to minimize mistakes whether ours or others’, and sometimes we fail.

It’s inconceivable that law enforcement officers will never make a mistake or a misjudgment or apply unnecessary force in doing their job. And should they veer off course, they, too, must be brought to justice.

Albert Einstein spent three decades searching for the governing laws of the universe. He failed to find them. Yet atomic power, the polio vaccine, the computer and centuries of nourishing the world’s greatest democracy have been within our grasp, but not without failures and miscalculations along the way.

We are indeed all in this life together, and we are the better for it.
Hal Rothberg, Calabasas 

Biden’s Convention Speech

I liked David Suissa’s column and his comments. It’s true that to be effective, you need to be involved (“The Jewish Value Missing in Biden’s Speech,” Aug. 28).

However, I suggest a more positive tone, especially now. Next time, Suissa can run for president.
Sherri Morr, Los Angeles 

Regarding Jewish values in Hillel’s famous quote, “If I am not for myself …,” David Suissa rightly points out Biden’s speech was missing the Jewish value of taking on the responsibilities and obligations for ourselves. But in President Donald Trump’s egotistical speech at the GOP convention, a different Jewish value quoted by Hillel was missing. “If I am only for myself, what am I?” I have some choice words to describe what he is.
Elie Zev, Reseda

Israel and the UAE
On Aug. 29, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued a decree that formally ended the 1972 boycott of Israel.

On Aug. 31, the first direct flight from Israel to Abu Dhabi brought American and Israeli officials, including President Donald Trump’s adviser Jared Kushner, also his son-in-law. 

Telephone calls already can be made between the two countries.

What a start to Elul.
Enriqué Gascon, Westside Village

Anti-Semitism at Shoah Foundation’s Doorstep

I was glad to read “Fighting Anti-Semitism on Campus, One Person at a Time” (Aug. 28) by Stephen Smith, head of the USC Shoah Foundation. When I first read about former Vice President Rose Ritch’s resignation from the USC Student Council citing anti-Semitic threats, I couldn’t help but think of the USC Shoah Foundation that is housed on the same campus. The USC Shoah Foundation, through its collection and preservation of  testimonials from Holocaust survivors and other survivors of genocide, is committed to educating the world about the dangers and consequences of hatred. How disturbing that this ugly expression of anti-Semitism would take place on the foundation’s doorstep. Maybe the USC Shoah Foundation’s Stronger Than Hate course should be a university-wide requirement for all USC students.
Jan Berlfein Burns, Los Angeles

Love the ‘Little League’ Poem 

I will share Alan Ascher’s poem on the Aug. 28 My Turn page with my son, whose dad always went to his games, and who now always goes to his son’s games. From generation to generation — a very important part of family life.
Harriet Ohlberg, via email

The Homeless Man

I passed a weathered homeless man,
In the shadow, on the ground near the street.
He looked like he was resting,
He looked like he was beat. 

I noticed, under his jacket,
In a small, constricting space.
He seemed to be protective,
Of this tiny, little face.

A puppy had been abandoned,
Needing food and proper care.
He was left to die in a vacant lot.
The homeless man found him there.

If you saw the two, together,
You’d believe in God above.
Both of them so needed
The other one to love.

Whatever finally happens,
However they end up,
I always will remember,
The old man and the pup.
Alan Ascher, via email

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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