September 18, 2019

Letters to the Editor: Rabbi Sholom Levitansky,, Israel and the election

Rabbi Got Off Lightly

I was furious to read about Rabbi Sholom Levitansky, who will be treated at Beit T’Shuvah rather than doing jail time for pedophile sexual abuse (“Rabbi Charged With Sex Abuse to Get 1 Year of Counseling, No Prison,” Nov. 4).

He committed a crime against girls, which can affect their lives forever, and he will be treated for addiction. The fact that rather than report him to the police for his act, he went before a panel of “prominent Los Angeles rabbis for remediation” is outrageous. He should immediately have been reported to the police. I couldn’t help to think that if he had been an African-American janitor at the facility, he would now be serving time, but a white rabbi gets a year of “treatment.” 

What have we learned in the last months about letting white sexual offenders get off lightly? Nothing, I guess. It’s time that we woke up and sentenced these men appropriately for the harm they have committed on children.

Marcia Cohn Spiegel via email 

No Talk of Israel

Thank you, Shmuel Rosner, for your article (“Election ’16: Israel out, Anti-Semitism in,” Oct. 28). I, too, found it jarring that Israel was almost never mentioned during the three election debates. It is unclear to me whether we should worry that Israel has become less important in U.S. politics, or whether we should breathe a sigh of relief that with so much other mayhem in the Middle East, Israel is no longer the focal point.

Naomi Weberman via email

Hate Speech and Free Speech

In the midst of the explosion of hateful messages on social media spewing bigoted, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim slurs, it is refreshing to see little or no call for government censorship. One of the bitter lessons of living in a constitutional democracy, which places a very high value on freedom of expression, is that unless someone makes a “true threat,” which the law defines as a clear and explicit threat against an individual with the intent of causing imminent lawless conduct, not merely political hyperbole or just letting off steam without any intent to do harm, then even hateful and offensive speech is protected by the First Amendment.

Fortunately, your article (“Digital Hate: After the Election, Will This Be Our New Normal?” Oct. 28) highlights a variety of steps people can take to empower themselves to combat these hateful messages, including the private removal policies of Facebook and Twitter, without getting the government involved. In the end, we should heed the wise counsel of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who urged that in the face of incitement, “the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

Stephen F. Rohde, Chair of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice

Howard Stern Is No Hero

Week after week, I read the letters to the editor to see someone comment on the blatant one-sided bashing of Donald Trump in almost every issue by the editor and publisher, Rob Eshman.

I am surprised that a Jewish publication would not be more even-handed in its approach to the news. You have just about ignored the multiple, serious transgressions of Hillary Clinton, disregarding her flawed and criminal persona. You and your ilk have distorted many of the comments made by Mr. Trump and have given Hillary Clinton a pass on all that she has done.

In a recent article (“5 Heroes of 2016,” Oct. 21), you have stooped to present a one-sided list of individuals and publications, deserving of downgrading comment. … I will, however, limit my remarks to one person, who in the past you have lauded as someone deserving of praise.

Howard Stern is a foul-mouthed, disgusting and reprehensible excuse for a human being. His expletive-filled rants, lechery, potty humor, sexual innuendos and controversial opinions do not deserve any recognition .

Stern is a “shock jock” who specializes in talking about lesbians and strippers. Your praise of him puts you in the same boat with him. A society that pays him millions to spout his perverted thoughts is a society unworthy of the name.

An editor of a Jewish publication that lists him as a “hero” brings his own moral and ethical being into question. You should stick to writing about food and not commenting on current events. I would suggest that you read David Suissa and Dennis Prager for more intelligent comments.

Abraham Baror, Los Angeles

A Different Take on Jews in Morocco

It was disappointing to read the article by Jessica Marglin (“Jews and Muslims: Lessons From Moroccan History,” Oct. 28). Jewish Moroccan history was far different from the idyllic one Marglin describes. Virulent anti-Semitism was strong and pervaded all facets of life. By her own admission “Muslims occupied a higher rung on the social and legal hierarchy, and various aspects of Jews’ daily lives reminded them of their inferior status.” She uses the example of the Assarraf family to make her case. The fact that there was one smart and successful Jewish attorney who was an expert in the system of Shariah courts is a bad example and nothing new — Jews flourish even when they are in bad environments.

Frances and Stuart Miller, Beverly Hills