Letters to the Editor: During Hanukkah, pondering what binds all free-thinking Jews together

A rabbi lights the menorah on the first night of Hanukkah in Maitland, Fla., on Dec. 10, 2020.
(Joe Burbank / Associated Press)

To the editor: Tod Goldberg uses the start of Hanukkah to write about his past and his Jewish upbringing. He ponders whether his religion is something he actually believes in.

Jewish people are free thinkers. Albert Einstein considered himself a cultural Jew rather than a religious one. Religion has different meanings to each and every person. I am also Jewish, 81 years of age and have seen a lot in my years.

The musical “Fiddler on the Roof” speaks of tradition. This is what many Jewish people follow. There are Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews, Reform Jews and others. Each caters to what their adherents’ hearts wish them to follow.


What we have in common are pogroms common throughout history and glaringly brought to their horrific zenith in the slaughter of 6 million of our people during World War II. Religious or not, Jews are survivors, and lighting a candle on Hanukkah is a small price to pay for those whose lives were taken away because of their identity.

Barry Wasserman, Huntington Beach


To the editor: Goldberg’s op-ed article about his memories of learning about Judaism was very interesting.

As a child and a younger adult, I was certain that my metaphysical wonderings, of which I had quite a few, would all be answered by the time I reached the age of 85. I had no particular reason to pick 85, but likely it seemed safely distant at the time.

Then at some point along the way, I figured out those wonderings likely won’t be answered after all. This could be what Goldberg meant by reaching “the essence of any spiritual journey.”

I mainly wish to comment of Goldberg’s contentment “in the unknowing and in remembering a memory that may not exist; [but yes,] free, in any case, to believe.” I do believe that his memories exist, so there’s that, but at age 72 I’m still not content in the unknowing part.


So my journey hasn’t reached its essential phase, but I really admire Goldberg’s statement. It’s like learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Linda Finn, Marina del Rey