LettersJewish Education

Letters to the Editor.
May 29, 1997

We were pleased to read Beverly Gray’s column entitled “Congregation of Learners” (May 16). The column on the Experiment in Congregational Education, sponsored by the Hebrew Union College Rhea Hirsch School of Education, pointed to the important work in enhancing congregational education being carried out by this project.

While the column focused on the work at Leo Baeck Temple, we feel it is vital for your readers to be aware of the national scope of the Experiment in Congregational Education. In 1993, seven congregations from all over the United States joined the project. Leo Baeck was among them. In January, 1997 seven additional congregations became part of the Experiment in Congregational Education, including Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. This important project would not have been possible without the support of grants from the Mandel Associated Foundations, the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Gimprich Family Foundation.

Leo Baeck Temple, as well as the first tier of seven congregations, received financial support from the Covenant Foundation to enable its participation in the project.

In this time of concern about the future of Jewish education, particularly congregational education, we are grateful for The Jewish Journal’s attention to such efforts.

Professor Sara S. Lee,

Director, Rhea Hirsch School

of Education

Dr. Isa Aron,

Director, Experiment in Congregational Education

Hebrew Union College

Jewish Institute of Religion


I was personally offended by the characterization of Reform Judaism in the opening paragraphs of Beverly Gray’s recent commentary (“Congregation of Learners,” May 16). I grew up in a Classical Reform congregation; I was inspired by the sophisticated and profound beauty of its music and was intellectually challenged by its coupling of theology and reason. My experiences as a child and young adult in that sacred setting propelled me into the rabbinate.

Gray’s comment that the synagogue of my youth might be considered “not far from Christianity” was not worthy of your publication. Further, her remark that the synagogue aesthetic of the Classical Reform synagogue reminded her of her “best friend’s Lutheran church” demonstrates that she has spent little time in either setting.

The Experiment in Congregational Education program, sponsored by the Hebrew Union College, under the expert leadership of Professor Sara Lee, provides an opportunity to revolutionize supplementary Jewish religious education in this country. It is a shame that Gray chose to discuss it in a manner that disparaged the Reform movement, which gave birth to this worthy endeavor.

I personally look forward to the day when the regular commentators of The Jewish Journal can write about the various movements within religious Judaism without irresponsibly condemning any of them.

Rabbi Michael A. White

Temple Isaiah

No On Scheinbaum

Mr. Bustany is certainly entitled to his opinions (Letters, “An Outsider’s View,” May 16). But when The Journal features part of his statements as a large print masthead over the Letters page, it does a disservice to the Jewish community and to the State of Israel. The Journal is unilaterally endorsing his position together with its underlying hazards and intentions.

Yes, indeed, cloning an additional 61 Stanley Sheinbaums in the Knesset would make “peace between Israel and the Arabs a snap.” Unfortunately, the snap would be Israel’s spine breaking. And the peace would be analogous to that which took place during World War II, in Norway, when the Germans installed a puppet government under the traitor, Quisling.

Bustany loves Scheinbaum. But Scheinbaum forgets that what the Arabs really want is for the Israelis to jump into the Mediterranean Sea.

Milly and Irv Justman

Los Angeles


If American Jews would have cloned 61 Stanley Scheinbaums in the past, there would be a lot less of them today and they would be speaking German or Japanese.

As for the bleeding heart reference to what the Zionists and Israel had done and are doing to the Arabs: They took a barren desert and transformed it into a productive state. Democracy was introduced into the region. (In how many of the Arab governments, anywhere, are Jews permitted to vote?)

The gall to speak of the self-respect of the Jewish people hanging on by a thread. Does Mr. Bustany forget the Arab’s history of terrorism and violence? A history that still continues today with indiscriminate slaughter against civilians. Has he heard of the official Arab proclamation to kill anyone who sells land to an Israeli? A proclamation which, by the way, was carried out recently.

Obviously, Mr. Bustany just ignores things like this. Israel does not need to apologize. Nor does it need critics like Mr. Bustany. Throughout history, appeasement always has to be paid for later and, at a much higher price. Or, if Britain had cloned 61 Neville Chamberlains…..

Stanley M. Gottleib

Culver City

Inspiration To All

I was deeply touched by the article entitled “Growing Pains” (May 16), about Rabbi Alan Lew and his wife, Sherril Jaffe, regarding their struggle to deal with their rebellious daughter.

I, too, am the mother of a daughter. At the beginning of my journey, I am still treasuring every word, smile, and even nearly every scream of my 18-month-old. Yet, I am unaware of the challenges she is to present to me and my husband.

We know that the most loving and well-meaning parents are faced with children who pose challenges to them. Challenges they could not have predicted.

What I found poignant about this article is how willing the couple was to be candid. This openness is a great service to our community, which likes to keep its imperfections well hidden. In honesty can be found healing — for this family and, for other families.

I wish this family success and happiness as they come to accept the uniqueness and imperfections in each other; and as they continue to find solutions that suit their own situation. May their openness inspire others, and help to generate resources for others in their situation.

Sandy Lasarow

Los Angeles

No Cheap Shot

The “No To Peace Now” letter by Stanley M. Gottleib (May 16) contains an egregious error by the writer. It was, of course, Neville Chamberlain, not Clement Atlee who is remembered for his infamous “Peace In Our Time” statement.

Surely, your editors knew this. The letter should have at least carried an italicized correction at its conclusion. Allowing it to appear as written constitutes a decidedly cheap shot and a not so subtle attempt to belittle the writer’s point of view.

Hal Denner

Sherman Oaks

Editor’s note: We read the letter as Atlee’s comment on Chamberlain, made after the Second World War, when he was prime minster. Perhaps we were in error. The cheap shot is Mr. Denner’s projection, and the attribution of motive to us is misplaced.

What is Peace

In his response to my Letter to the Editor “Opposing Har Homa,” Stanley Gottlieb claims that “…American’s For Peace Now’s definition of peace is that whatever Israel does wrong…”.

That statement is not true.

Americans For Peace Now and our Israeli colleagues, Shalom Achshav, have one objective — to help Israel become secure.

Toward that objective, APN and SA have, on many occasions over the years, supported Israeli governments then in power:

They organized the largest public gathering in Israel supporting Prime Minister Begin’s Camp David agreement; often supported Prime Minister’s Rabin and Peres in their efforts to move the peace process forward.

Before the Hebron agreement was signed, our Israeli partners met with Arafat and urged him to accept Netanyahu’s proposal on Hebron, and when that agreement was signed, they publicly congratulated the prime minister on that accomplishment.

In contrast to the implication in Mr. Gottleib’s letter, we have repeatedly joined with the Israeli and U.S. governments position in publicly urging Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to clamp down on terrorism and honor their agreements if they want the peace process to move forward.

Mr. Gottlieb seems to say that raising an objection to Israeli government policies (such as building at Har Homa) “…is a sign of internal strife and weakness.” I disagree. I believe it shows Israel’s strength. Israel is a democracy and a democracy demands that informed public opinions be voiced.

Shalom Achshav in Israel was started in 1978 by retired Israel Defense Force officers who believed that the only longterm security for Israel was in a negotiated peace.

The late Moshe Dayan is credited with saying “You don’t make peace with your friends, but with your enemies.” And that meant talking with the Palestinians, which was completely against then-current Israeli government policies. Americans for Peace Now was started in 1982 because of pleas from Shalom Achshav to help in this struggle.

We believe in building a strong, secure Israel that has the wisdom and courage to negotiate for peace. I hope Mr. Gottleib shares that vision.

Richard S. Gunther

Immediate Past President

Americans for Peace Now

Spicy Bible Stories

In Robert Eshman’s review of Jonathan Kirsch’s new book, “The Harlot by the Side of the Road” (Jewish Journal, May 9), it is stated that “…for many generations, the very parts that render the Bible NC-17 have been excised from public consumption.” The author was quoted as saying, “We’ve suppressed these stories” and concluded with “For centuries we’ve avoided them and pretended they’re not there.”

Nothing could be further from the truth as far as the Jewish people are concerned. The weekly Torah readings in thousands of synagogues include it all… from the seemingly endless design details of the mishkan to the spicy, conniving adultery and premeditated manslaughter by King David.

What is true is that too few of us participate in hearing or studying Torah text in its original form, even though it is publicly available 52 weeks a year.

Kirsch’s book, therefore, reinforces our premise that a professional artistic presentation and interpretation of traditional texts reaches a far wider audience in a less threatening way than rabbinic sermons or scholarly works. We hope that his book will stimulate an appetite among readers to explore the original.

John H. Rauch

Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity


On May 16, in On The Scene, The Journal indicated that the 32-cent stamp of Raoul Wallenberg and a group of survivors, designed by Bart Silverman, could be obtained by sending a donation to Temple Knesset Israel. A postal official called to say that, of course, the stamp is also available for 32 cents at any post office.HR>


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