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Letters week of May 13, 2010
Controversy at University Not Worthy of Brandeis
What an honor it is to have Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to Washington, as Brandeis University's commencement speaker and honoree. But what a disappointment it was to read about a controversy that occurred among some students and faculty concerning his selection (Nation & World: "Choice of Israeli Envoy to Speak Rankles Some at Brandeis," May 6).
Oren is a distinguished historian and scholar. His books, Six Days of War and Power, Faith and Fantasy, are "must reads." His many commentaries in The Wall Street Journal reflect his strong commitment to Israel.
This controversy is a blemish on the memory of Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, who was an ardent Zionist.
Lets See Your Papers: Is That What We Want?
Chana Rovinsky, whose letter was published in the May 6 Exponent, "Why Are Groups Fighting So Hard for Illegals," would do well to study history.
When her forebears (and mine) came here in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, our shores were far more open than they are now.
By 1940, immigration laws had tightened so much that the Jews aboard the SS St. Louis were turned away and sent back to Nazi-occupied Europe.
The idea of stopping people to ask for their papers is right out of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. Is that what she wants this country to become?
Most "illegals" are here to make better lives for themselves doing menial jobs that Americans don't want to do. All in all, their presence is probably a net economic plus.
There are doubtless problems related to immigration in this country. Some localities are having their budgets and law-enforcement resources strained. But these need to be dealt with rationally on a case-by-case basis -- with much federal help.
Adults Can Learn All Over the City and SuburbsThanks so much for covering the Gratz College Florence Melton Adult Mini-School in "The Next Step" supplement in the April 15 Jewish Exponent. It's exciting that you have devoted space and energy to the topic of adult education.
Still, there are a few details missing from the piece, such as:
· This year, our core two-year program is running both at Gratz and at Temple Beth Hillel/Beth El in Wynnewood. But we also offer many classes in various locations around the area for Gratz-Melton alumni and members of the community. Also, plans are in the works to offer the core program in Center City this fall.
· The two classes offered of the Melton curriculum last for the entire school year.
· In August, Gratz will present the second annual Camp Melton, where prospective students can sample some lessons.
Liz Zinbarg Nover
Gratz College Florence Melton Adult Mini-School
Lee Strasberg Nurtured Unknown 'Stars,' Too
Robert Leiter is certainly correct when he says in his book review that teacher Lee Strasberg, the co-founder of the Actor's Studio, influenced many (Books and Writers: "The Life of Our Times," May 6).
This was true not only for the well-known actors Leiter lists at the end of his article (John Garfield, Steve McQueen, Al Pacino), but lesser known ones, like Gabriel Dell, one of the original Dead End Kids, who starred with Garfield in 1939, rode motorcycles with McQueen in the 1960s and played a rabbi in ABC-TV's "Serpico."
As I wrote in my book, From Broadway to the Bowery, Dell "scrubbed floors to pay his way to learn the craft all over again at the Actor's Studio." He once told his son that he didn't think he could "go much further unless I find for myself the importance of my art."
An Italian, Dell found what he was looking for playing a Jewish intellectual in Lorraine Hansberry's short-lived play "The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window."
In November 1980, Dell received an Actor's Studio award from Lee Strasberg himself at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.