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NO TZEDEK, NO PEACE

Re: Howard
Blume’s “Abandoning
the Kids” [December 7–13]
. The plan to close five of the seven Los Angeles–area
Jewish Community Centers is a shocking example of moral bankruptcy. Too many
within the Jewish establishment are afflicted by an Edifice Complex that blinds
them to the true, immediate and pressing needs of our community. As the president
of an organization that is a paying tenant of the Westside Jewish Community
Center, I have seen firsthand the wide-ranging diversity of people served by
the JCC — senior citizens, preschool children, working parents, summer campers,
Israeli dancers, teenage basketball players, adolescent swimmers and other recreational
enthusiasts. I have seen how the JCC brings together Jews from across our religion’s
many denominational and ethnic lines, and how these centers reach out generously
to the non-Jewish residents of the surrounding communities. If we have to move,
our organization will surely find another home. But the same cannot be said
for the many poor, working- and middle-class residents for whom the JCC is an
indispensable and irreplaceable oasis and lifeline.

The root of the Hebrew word for charity (tzedakah) is tzedek
— justice. Even if charitable fund-raising is suffering, it is unforgivable
that the JCCs and the functions they uniquely perform are not at the very top
of the communal funding agenda.

—Douglas E. Mirell
President, Progressive Jewish Alliance
Los Angeles

 

THE BODY POLITIC

Re: “Every
Woman Can” [A Considerable Town, December 7–13]
. The girls of Velvet Hammer
define the female form in all its naturally diverse glory. And while I truly
appreciate the article written by Judith Lewis, I believe she does them, and
women in general, a disservice by ending on the “sex objects without being skinny”
note. Skinny doesn’t play into the equation, and is irrelevant until someone
else brings it up.ä If these women seek “liberation,” as Lewis suggests, I imagine
it’s more from nagging commentary than on something as tedious as dress size.

Please, let’s pick another aspect to explore.

—Vera Duffy
Los Angeles

 

JUDITH LEWIS REPLIES: In a city where expectations of physical perfection
border on tyranny, Velvet Hammer’s revelation that women’s bodies can be objects
of eroticism without being model- (or stripper-) perfect is certainly not beside
the point.

 

BEAT THE SYSTEM?

Re: “Burning
Love” [Reverb, December 7–13]
. I was amazed at the monument of ass-kissing
that was Paul Rogers’ article about System of a Down. I actually like the band,
but that was the closest thing to a press release I have read in the Weekly
in 15 years. Send the article to Teen Beat and watch the editors laugh
as they cut out the sap. There’s a church on every corner, bro. Why worship
four guys from Glendale?

—Mandrake Root
Pomona

OUTBREAK

In “Rising After
the Fall” [New World Disorder, December 7–13]
, Steven Leigh Morris mentions
a doctor who worked on a cholera vaccine in “the south Soviet territory.” Guys,
over the past few years there have been several nasty outbreaks of diseases
in the former Soviet territories. Perhaps these incidents account for American
reluctance to deal too closely with their Soviet counterparts on such issues.
Unless, of course, you don’t believe that the numerous reported lapses of security
in various Soviet biological (and nuclear) programs have actually happened.
Our own record in these areas is far from sterling, but the Russians . . .

Okay. You’re right. Americans are arrogant. It’s our fault. Again.

—Paul Farrell
New York City

 

THANK YOU FOR SHARING

In “The
Feminine Mistake” [Cakewalk, December 7–13]
, Erin Aubry Kaplan assured me
that I am in touch with myself and the world. The last three paragraphs, when
she talks about finding something to wear and then worrying about reactions,
hit home with me, because last week I decided to wear the same pair of pants
to work for five days. At day three, I was thinking maybe I should put on another
pair, but they felt so good I said, “Forget it, I’m wearing ’em because I like
’em!” I did change the rest of my outfit. I shower twice a day and sit in an
office at work. In between home and work is my car. I justified my actions via
my “cleanliness,” and it felt good, and no one cared.

Anyway, I hope she reads this and becomes inspired enough to put on the wardrobe
of her choice without second-guessing or caring what anyone else thinks. Girl,
go wild!

—Gregg Johnson
Nashville