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Change of Faith Can't Wash Away Misconduct

August 07, 1994

"In the Shadow of the '80s" (July 31) can easily lead to a harmful misconception of the teachings of the Jewish faith. Such phrases as " . . . he has renounced crime and found Jesus" and "he's banking on his dramatic conversion from Judaism to make a comeback" suggest that somehow crime and Judaism go together and that only by renouncing his faith through a "dramatic" conversion could he start a crime-free life.

Neither Judaism nor its daughter religion, Christianity, teaches or countenances wickedness. Both accept with loving, open arms true, sincere penitents who attempt to right the wrongs they have committed and sin no more.

It was not his Judaism which led Barry Minkow to his downfall, it was lack of understanding of the teachings of Judaism, which, apparently, he never thoroughly absorbed.

What is distressing is that the article can lead one to believe that a change of faith can wash away misconduct. If so, it would be easy for all Christians who might be guilty of a breach of the law to convert to some other faith. It is unfortunate that a story on the excesses of the '80s introduced the very personal and private matter of religious persuasion.

JACOB PRESSMAN, Rabbi Emeritus Temple Beth Am, Los Angeles

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That Barry Minkow is a "scoundrel caught red-handed" is true. But to say he has "renounced crime and found Jesus . . . and he's banking on his dramatic conversion from Judaism to make a comeback," implies that somehow crime and Judaism are connected.

This is a very inflammatory approach to the misdeeds of Minkow and others of that era. And to imply that Judaism and-or any other religion teaches this type of criminal and immoral behavior is like throwing gas on a fire: It does a disservice to us all and smacks of bigotry.

The scoundrels were many. People were driven by greed and the desire for limitless power. As the result of the deregulation of financial institutions, these people were given a license to steal, and steal they did.

The order of business here was "scoundrels of the '80s," not religious conversion.

CAROLYN FRIED, Los Angeles

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