letters good 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Space in school...
Sir, - Re "'Rescuing' Ethiopian Jews" (Editorial, August 14): My children study in a private religious school in Petah Tikva.
To expect a private school to automatically accept a group of children based on their color is ridiculous. As in all private schools, the school board decides, on an individual basis, whether or not to accept a child, based on suitability. Last year, the school accepted numerous Ethiopians, and my children very much enjoyed the company of their new classmates. This year, the school continues to enroll Ethiopian children on an equal basis.
In contrast, PTA member Yehuda Lanzkron's statement that the public schools have "no more room for (Ethiopians)" makes me wonder: Do they have more room for white children?
The PTA is so desperate to avoid additional Ethiopians in their schools that it is planning on striking the school year. To my mind, that smacks strongly of racism.
For the record: The majority of our school's funding comes from donations and tuition fees, not from the Education Ministry or municipality.
...for valuable olim...
Sir, - Thank you for Pnina Radai's informative and important "Give Ethiopian Jewry a chance to flourish" (August 25), a clear look at how our "largesse" is perceived, and at how much we have to learn to bring these deserving and valuable olim into the mainstream.
Whatever the motives were for bringing them here, the haphazard policies mentioned, and the fact that each municipality determines its own policy has put stumbling blocks in the path of our Ethiopian brethren.
Just bringing them to Israel isn't enough. Getting them to understand and participate in our culture does not mean negating and ignoring their own.
Denial of entry to educational facilities must be stopped. These children deserve the best education we can give them. Those schools that practice discrimination should be shut down.
Radai's last paragraph was powerful and hopeful: "Ethiopian Jewry is part of the unique fabric that makes up the beauty and greatness of Israeli society and given the right circumstances, it too will flourish in this country and contribute greatly to it."
'On our honor! (not really)'
Sir, - Does Kenny MacAskill mean that had murderer Abdel Baset al-Megrahi's homecoming been a hush-hush affair, it wouldn't have been so bad to trample over the feelings of hundreds of family members of the victims? ("Scottish minister: Libya broke its promise," August 25). Moreover, it is symptomatic of Western ignorance in dealing with the Arab world that a promise is still seen as an undertaking to be kept on one's word of honor.
We in Israel can show the Scottish minister a long list of how in the Arab world, a promise is too often a tactic for gaining advantage, after which the promise can be disregarded.
FRANK J. VAN BERS
Candy or condemnation?
Sir, - The real question Daoud Kuttab should have asked Palestinian youth in Ramallah is whether, when Muslim terrorists fly an airplane into another American skyscraper or perpetrate a similar act of wanton terror in the US, they will dance in the streets and throw candy as they did in September 2001. Will the USAID banners that festooned Manara Square be torn down, trampled upon and burned - or will Palestinians join the world in mourning and condemning the terror? ("An unusual sighting in Ramallah," August 25).
Big Lie thrives
Sir, - It seems that the Nazi idea of the "Big Lie" is alive and well in Sweden. While the Swedish government refuses to condemn, on the grounds of freedom of speech, the Aftonbladet article alleging Israel's trafficking in Palestinian organs, it had no trouble falling all over itself to apologize for the "Muhammad cartoons" which the Islamic community found offensive.
A bunch of sanctimonious hypocrites - and that's even before getting on to their record in WWII.
Idea Depot & other ideas
Sir, - Rob Eshman, editor-in-chief of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, is correct in identifying the Jewish press demographic as one that is incredibly "literate, active and involved" ("North American Jewish press battered, not beaten," Zack Colman, August 10). Local Jewish papers and national publications are recognized by readers, advocates and advertisers as an anchor for Jewish communities around the country and the community as a whole.
To be sure, Jewish media professionals face many challenges similar to those faced by their colleagues in the secular and ethnic media. The good news is that through the American Jewish Press Association, Jewish publications are engaged in an unprecedented visioning process focused on idea and resource-sharing, with an eye toward learning from each other about what new business initiatives are succeeding among their peers.
Among other vehicles, AJPA has launched an online Idea Depot for its members and conducts a year-round distance learning program aimed at providing low-cost resource-sharing and professional, new media and business training for member publishers, editors, reporters, freelancers and business managers.
Because of economic challenges, many press associations have canceled their regular conferences. Some feared AJPA would have to do the same. However, contrary to one source quoted in the article, attendance at the AJPA's annual conference was 70 percent of that of its 2008 confab, itself an all-time high. Those in attendance benefited from the face-to-face exchange of ideas and hands-on practical skill-building necessary during this transformative time in the media.
Many AJPA newspapers are re-imagining their formats, business model, content delivery systems and ways to engage their readers. What seems clear is that the need for this critical voice - long serving as a pillar in communities across the country - will not disappear any time soon.
ELANA KAHN-OREN, President AJPA Editor
Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle
Sir, - Re "Kids in a bubble" (Letters, August 24): Is Heather Friedman serious? Because some non-entity seeks notoriety by describing the dimensions of her lover's sexual organ, I must let my grandchildren read such trash? I always thought it was the responsibility of parents and grandparents to instill sound values in their children, not act as tour guides for them to red light districts and X-rated movies.
JANE S. HIRSCH
Are you descended from the Vilna Gaon?
Sir, - I am in the process of updating my book Eliyahu's Branches - the Descendants of the Vilna Gaon and His Family (Avotaynu 1997).
In the light of additional material received from many families, and with resource to new archival records not available when my book was published, I am re-assessing the data.
I invite those whose families appear in my book to send updates of children born since the book's publication 12 years ago, plus any corrections. I would also like to hear from all families who hold a tradition of a relationship with the Gaon. (Family trees in a gedcom file, if possible, to email@example.com).