Letters: Ethnic Studies Curriculum, Putting Distance Between Practice and Faith

October 2, 2020

Ethnic Studies Curriculum

Many goals, like those of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC), are presented in a manner that suggests they are “worthy” in order to cover an underlying political agenda. ESMC drafts make it clear that curricula will be determined by the political ideology of Critical Ethnic Studies, which maintains that society consists of oppressed and oppressors (“The Anti-Zionism of Critical Ethnic Studies,” Sept. 25, online).

The amorphous ESMC goal of preparing students “to be global citizens” isn’t required in order to develop an appreciation for the contributions of multiple cultures. The best way to be a good “global citizen” is to continue to be the kind of country that people choose to immigrate to, and to provide excellent basic education so all have an opportunity to develop their potential.

Even if the ESMC prohibits K-12 teachers from using their classrooms to advance political causes, it is impossible to effectively monitor what goes on in all classrooms. The prohibition against politicizing the classroom will be a toothless, ineffective and misleading prohibition.

AB 2016, the bill mandating the creation of the ESMC, empowers the entry of the Critical Ethnic Studies agenda into our schools. As Tammi Rossman-Benjamin pointed out in her online story, this will have a divisive impact on all students and is particularly threatening to Jewish students.
Julia Lutch, Davis, Calif.

Putting Distance Between Practice and Faith
I gave up on organized Judaism because I couldn’t find a rabbi who didn’t want to dictate to me his or her politics and became dismissive at my politically conservative approach to fixing the world and respect for human life. I spent 1964 to ’70 in the United States Navy, with two of those years as the Jewish lay leader on a ship with a crew of 950 men. 

When I returned from overseas duty in 1968, the reception from the average citizen on the streets of Seattle was horrible, but the reception and reaction to my service to this country from the Jewish community was far worse. I could not find a date because a friend told me that when women found out where I had been the previous two years, they didn’t want to date me.

I didn’t give up, and persevered for many years, sometimes turning my back on the rabbi and walking out of services. This led to some heated debates but I always stood my ground and the rabbi and I remained opposed in our beliefs but always respected each other. When a new rabbi came along, he opened his first service with “Dear friends …” — that’s when I knew he wasn’t. I could see he was artificial, but exceptional at glad-handing and schmoozing. 

I have so many stories but my life now at age 73 is tranquil and enjoyable because the closest temple and synagogue are an hour away and I don’t attend. My grandfather, who I never met because he died six years before I was born, was a highly decorated infantry sniper in the czar’s army in the Russo-Japanese War before immigrating to the United States. He received the czar’s highest award for valor in two tours at the war front.

I decided to follow his lead by joining Naval aviation at age 17. I felt that because my uncles were too young for World War I and too old for World War II, and my father was 4-F during World War II, I was the one to pay off our family’s debt to this country.

This was the long way of thanking the Journal for David Suissa’s column “Politics at Kol Nidre: Yes or No?” Sept. 27, online). It was truly a breath of fresh air.
Robert “Bob” Shay, via email 

Cardboard Cutouts

I watch my sports on TV.
We cannot see it live.
We are told that we must do this,
In order to survive.
We notice in the stadiums
As the camera slowly pans,
There are only cardboard cutouts,
No actual, reactional fans.
They even have fake cheering,
To simulate the crowd.
How stupid do they think we are?
For crying out loud.
The owners of the teams think,
“What difference does it make?
All fans are oblivious
To what is real and what is fake.”
The fans should be resentful.
Their value to the game
Is more than cardboard cutouts.
Without the fans — it ain’t the same.
Alan Ascher, via email

For Ruth Bader Ginsburg

You were our national treasure
You improved women’s lives beyond measure
Your intellect, brilliant
Your nature, intent
On making the world better
You were heaven sent.
Your strength made us proud
Of all you could do
Both physical and mental
Your vision was so true.
You left us a legacy
We will try to uphold
To be fearless and honest,
Just and bold.
Ruthe Berkus, via email

Honey Cake Haikus
All neighbors await
Grandma waves her magic spoon
Golden loaves, sweet year.
Honey, oil, intent
Like manna for Israel
Sweets for protectors.
Healers saving lives
Gifts of sweetness delivered
Grandma is smiling.
Mina Stern, via email

Now it’s your turn. Don’t be shy, submit your letters 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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