I offer my appreciation of your fair-minded coverage of two recentcelebrations of Jewish conservatism: Toward Tradition’s nationalconvention in Washington D.C. and National Jewish Coalition’s eventin San Diego (Oct. 17). It stimulated an interesting response from adistinguished Jewish leader.
In his letter of Oct. 31, Rabbi Harold Schulweis has unwittinglyperformed a service for those of us who regard the rampant secularliberalism of the Jewish community as problematic and perhaps evendangerous. He shows how Nazi-era German Bishop D. Otto Dibelius made”his own distinction between religious Jews and secular Jews.””Secular Jews cause all the troubles,” Bishop Dibelius is quoted assaying. “They and their liberal ideology, their relativism, theirirreligiosity…they [German Jews in general] can return. But only ifthey are religious.”
Rabbi Schulweis’ anecdote merely proves a longstanding contentionof mine. While the Nazis themselves were an exception (and BishopDibelius was “no Nazi sympathizer,” in Rabbi Schulweis’ words), mostGentiles do not hate Jews. They hate the anti-religious secularliberalism that so many Jews have adopted as a replacement for ourfaith.
This is a remarkable endorsement of Isaac’s prophecy in Genesis –“The voice is Jacob’s but the hands are Esau’s.” Jewish traditionteaches his meaning to be that unless we sound like Jacob (i.e.religious), then Esau (perhaps Germany) will have the upper hand.
Rabbi Schulweis is an eloquent and formidable spokesman for theviewpoint which has held monolithic sway in the Jewish community formany years. Perhaps we would be doing a service to the community werehe and I to conduct a public debate on whether Jewish traditiondemands that we re-evaluate our role as the circumcised wing of theDemocratic Party. Perhaps the Jewish Journal could sponsor such anevent as part of its fair minded coverage of trends in contemporaryJudaism.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin
Mercer Island, WA
Editor’s note: We would of course be happy to sponsor such adiscussion. Difficult though it might be, we would strive to be asfair-minded as Rabbi Lapin. One cautionary note: we would feelimpelled to ask Rabbi Lapin for evidence to support some of his moreastonishing opinions (Gentiles “hate the anti-religious secularliberalism that so many Jews have adopted…), and certainly wouldexpect him to explain why religious beliefs or non-beliefs were notprotected under the First Amendment, no matter who objected to them,Rabbi Lapin included.
Marlene Adler Marks came out against Mike Hernandez for his felonyconviction on cocaine use (“Challenging Hernandez,” Oct. 31). I fullyagree.
In the same article she speaks of “anti-immigrant Prop. 187”. Thisbill was aimed at illegal immigrants. Why is the crime of illegalentry into the U.S. less heinous than the illegal use of cocaine?After all, we have over one million illegals in Los Angeles Countyand only 12 cocaine uses by Hernandez.
Robert S. Ellyn
One Man’s Journey
As someone who was arrested at a civil rights sit-in in SanFrancisco in the 1960s, I found your cover story on Mark Hardie, themulti-talented aide to Gov. Pete Wilson, of considerable interest(“One Man’s Journey to Judaism,” Oct. 24).
Wilson is free to select any aide he wants to and Hardie is freeto cite any role models he wishes, but neither one should be allowedto speak out of both sides of their mouths and have it both ways.
Wilson says he is against affirmative action. In practice, to citebut one of many possible examples, he appointed a former aide (ablack woman) to a judicial position despite the fact that anonpartisan California Bar Association group judged her to bejudicially unqualified. There are obviously qualified blackconservative women attorneys he could have appointed. If Wilson trulyopposes affirmative action then perhaps he should not practice ithimself for his chosen candidates.
I note also that Hardie graduated from a UC law school. He earnedit, he deserves it, but he is also fortunate. Affirmative action maybe an imperfect solution to a deep-seated problem of white racism inAmerica, but it also provided some degree of opportunity for blackprofessionals.
I am constantly amazed at how the same conservatives who ignored,or even fought, the civil rights movement, always seem to invokeMartin Luther King, Jr.’s quote about “content of character” againstaffirmative action. King never opposed affirmative action and in somecases endorsed it. If we are to reach the genuinely colorblindsociety that everyone claims to seek, we are going to have to dealwith real data and make some painful choices which ultimatelyinvolves a much more profound restructuring of American society.
Gene Rothman, D.S.W.
Million Man March
Besser’s article on Louis Farrakhan is more a product of wishfulthinking than fact (“The March Backward,” Oct. 31).
Besser’s statement that “anti-Semitism did not soar”as a result ofFarrakhan’s march is wrong. Anti-Semitism has become entrenched, aconstant, not to be debated or disclaimed.
I wonder if we would accept comments from those attending a DavidDuke rally, that “this was to encourage responsibility in whitemales; we don’t consider his anti-Semitism.”
When Besser noted that Farrakhan’s Libya-financed politicalmovement fizzled, he amazingly omitted that it was because it wasillegal, not because Farrakhan’s supporters didn’t want the money.
Something is wrong when the NAACP can protest against ClarenceThomas, but not Farrakhan.
Jesse Jackson once made much of the fact he protested anappearance of a self-styled fascist with a dozen followers in Skokie,Ill., but instead of protesting a fascist with hundreds of thousandsof followers, joins them instead.
If Farrakhan vanished tomorrow, anti-Semitism would not decline,it is fabric of the thoughts of millions. There would just appear newreligious charlatans to profit from it, in his place.
I wish it weren’t so. Besser’s article cannot wish againstreality.
No More Gun Controls
I wish to take exception to Robert Eshman’s comment that”Feinstein knows American Jews support gun controls”(“ShootingStraight,” Oct. 3). It seems to me that Eshman is leaping to aconclusion that has no basis in fact. Can he point to any valid studyto support this egregious conclusion? I think not.
As an American Jew, I do not support gun controls. What’s more,among my friends and acquaintances I find most do not support moregun controls.
It continues to amaze me how impervious some people are to factsand logic. With thousands of anti-gun laws already on the books, wehave not diminished crime one bit! Have these people learned anythingfrom Prohibition, from our multi-billion dollar drug wars, totalfiascos and enormous wastes of money and energy?
Eshman and Sen. Feinstein are trying to hook us into anotherbottomless pit to expend billions more to control human nature. Ifpeople want to kill each other, they will find the weapons, startingwith the wood clubs of the cave men.
If our legal system would address the problem of incarcerating(and keeping) the elements of our society who have shown theirinability to conform to our society’s rules, we wouldn’t be let downthese dead ends that make politicians feel good but essentiallyaccomplish nothing.
The most recent statements coming out of Israel disregarding thelegitimacy of the more liberal forms of Judaism are extremelyalarming and may have tragic consequences on any number of personal,political, religious and spiritual levels for all Jews worldwide.
I can only speak for myself; however as a recent ba’alatteshuvah, I do believe that I represent a significant and growingsegment of the Jewish population. Because of what I call a deep”Jewish wounding” in the past, many of us searched for meaning (andreceived it to some degree) in other spiritual traditions, whilestill tentatively holding onto our sense of Jewishness. In recentyears, I personally was led to return with a whole and open heart tomy roots and have been actively building a strong foundation for myJewish spiritual and religious practice under the guidance of myRebbe and other dedicated teachers and peers.
At this time, I and others like me, are in quite a vulnerableposition in regards to our newly found and preciously regarded Jewishidentity. It is frightening, disheartening and demoralizing to seeour Jewish brethren in such conflict, in such denial, in such a stateof negativity.
I am not so naive as to think that conflicts don’t arise in themost loving and respectful of communities and traditions. Nor am I astranger to understanding the long history of internal conflictwithin and between the different factions in Judaism. However, whatis not happening, is the necessary and healthy resolution of theselong-held conflicts.
Historically, Judaism as a religion and our identity as Jews(secular, observant and all levels in between) have paradoxicallybeen both invincible and extremely fragile. I fervently hope that themost recent conflicts don’t fracture and damage beyond repair theintegrity of the Jewish people. This would be a sin against G-d andourselves, as both Jews and inhabitants of the planet.
Ideally, as intelligent, thoughtful and caring human beings, wecan choose a form of observance that is most fitting for ourselves asJews, while respecting (or minimally tolerating) other choices.
I was given a teaching attributed to Elijah that said G-d is foundin silence. I pray that we can each enter that silence and experienceacceptance, tolerance and love.
I am appealing for your assistance, Jew and non-Jew alike,especially to survivors of the Holocaust. We have a moralresponsibility to do something about the cross as a memorial that thePolish government has placed in Auschwitz-Birkenau, erasing anyvisible sign where our parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters,relatives and millions alike, were murdered because they were Jewish.
I, in behalf of the millions of Jewish souls, need you tointervene with the United States government to require Poland topermit and erect the proper Jewish memorial where my family, andyours, and millions’ others, were murdered in Poland.
Please call me. There is not much time left. (818) 342-0163.
In last week’s issue, the photo of a gay marriage that accompaniedan article on Valley Beth Shalom’s Nov. 16 “At the Crossroads toEquality”conference was not provided by the synagogue. The photocaption makes clear that it was taken from the book “The HistoricalAtlas of the Jewish People” and in no way implies that VBS performsgay marriages. We regret the confusion.
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Publisher (1919-1997), Ed Brennglass
Editor-in chief, Gene Lichtenstein
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Contributing writers, James David Besser (Washington),Larry Derfner (Tel Aviv), Ina Friedman (Jerusalem), Rabbi EdFeinstein, Linda Feldman, Beverly Gray, Joel Kotkin, Rabbi StevenLeder, Yehuda Lev, Deborah Berger-Reiss, Eric Silver (Jerusalem),Teresa Strasser
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