Letters: Shofar

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Melissa Block and Robert Siegel read from listeners' letters, including many who commented on and questioned the interview with a shofar player.


It's time now for your letters. And many listeners complained about how we referred to film director Roman Polanski yesterday. We said that Polanski fled Los Angeles back in 1978 after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old. And that is in fact, the legal description of what he was convicted of.


But, Bonny Richardson(ph) of Chicago writes: it really disturbed me when I heard Roman Polanski had sex with the victim, as if it were consensual. Polanski raped a 13-year-old girl. And I don't know why NPR and so many news outlets don't or won't identify this horrific crime as such.

BLOCK: On another matter, there was a great deal of interest in our story about people changing jobs to become teachers. David Underwood Sweet(ph) of Danville, Kentucky, offers this perspective: I am in my 35th year of teaching and can tell anyone that you never stop learning new tricks to use with students. He continues: if all teachers got the support that you highlighted in the story, there would be no bad teachers, only developing teachers, as we all should be.

SIEGEL: As Shofar-blowing season drew to a close this week with the Jewish holidays, I spoke with Jennie Litvack, a shofar player and Goddaughter of jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. Louis Cato(ph) of Kent, Washington, tells us this: I was pumping gas today listening to NPR, when I noticed the license plate of the car in front of me which read Shofar One. I thought, that's interesting. I wonder what that means. Imagine my delight and incredulity when the next story I heard on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED was a story about a shofar player who had a special relationship with Dizzy Gillespie. I had never heard of a shofar, which I learned is a ram's horn that's played at the synagogue as part of the service.

BLOCK: Well, several people questioned what kind of horn Litvack was blowing. Listener David Zasloff(ph) of Burbank, California, wrote on our Web site: For your information, in her photo, Jennie is playing a kudu antelope horn, not a ram's horn. The difference is about three feet. As a result of our interview, Ms. Litvack learned that her shofar could be a kudu and not in fact a ram's horn.

SIEGEL: And one more item from that interview. Jennie Litvack who also plays the trumpet told us about meeting Dizzy Gillespie. Her father had taken her to a jazz club when she was 12 years old and she asked Gillespie if she could play his trumpet. She did and he offered to give her a lesson the next day.

Ms. JENNIE LITVACK (Shofar player): After that, he just decided that - he never had children of his own - he decided that I was his Goddaughter, and so we developed a very special relationship.

BLOCK: Kathy Bryson(ph) of Kerrville, Texas, is one of many listeners who wrote to clarify. She says this: my niece Jeanie Bryson(ph) is Dizzy Gillespie's legally-acknowledged biological daughter. Your program incorrectly stated that Dizzy had no children.

SIEGEL: Well, let us know if you think we're hitting the right notes or not. Go to npr.org and click on Contact Us at the bottom of the page.

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