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October 30, 2014 / 6 Heshvan, 5775
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Letters To The Editor


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Unasked Question

Re Jonathan Tobin’s Feb. 21 op-ed article “The Question the Palestinians Aren’t Being Asked”:

The “perennial question” posed by pundits as to whether Israel is prepared to take risks for peace deliberately ignores the many concessions and conciliatory actions Israel has already implemented in an attempt to coax the intransigent Palestinians to deign to come to the table.

The arrogance of Israel’s critics who strive to convince Israelis that their total capitulation to maximalist Palestinian conditions will ensure a halcyon future for everyone is conclusive evidence of those critics’ not so latent anti-Israel bias.

Fay Dicker
Lakewood, NJ

Pew And Zionism

Rabbi Elchanan Poupko (“The Pew Study and Zionism: The Inconvenient Truth,” op-ed. Feb. 14) notes that the much ballyhooed Pew study shows that Jews in Israel have a greater adherence to Torah values than Jews in the Diaspora and he concludes that we “must acknowledge the positive accomplishments of Zionism …[which has]…been successful in maintaining and preserving the Jewish soul.”

He’s correct that numbers don’t lie. But interpretations vary. The connection between living in the land of Israel and greater adherence to Torah values is obvious, but the study does not establish cause and effect. In fact, the connection between Zionism and greater religiosity defies logic. How does a political movement that does not espouse religious values make anyone more religious?

You can just as easily give a more lofty interpretation: perhaps it is the holiness of the land of Israel that influences people.

Although I support Israel in almost every respect, a Jewish state not run according to Torah law is a sad state of affairs. You really can’t blame some Orthodox Jews for not supporting a state that, for example, publicly celebrates the gay lifestyle that is condemned by the Torah.

Ironically, in the same article Rabbi Poupko points out how the Reform and Conservative movements are having a hard time keeping their members while the Orthodox have a stronger bond to Jewish values and identity. Isn’t that all the more reason for Jews to demand that Israel be run according to Torah law?

Josh Greenberger
Brooklyn, NY

Not Feeling The Beat Of Our Jewish Symphony

I am glad that reader Mark Stone (Letters, Feb. 21) responded the way he did to Harvey Rachlin’s Feb. 14 op-ed “The Shabbat Morning Service: Like an Opera – Only More,” since I share Mr. Stone’s sentiment and felt guilty admitting it.

Sadly, I do not enjoy shul services. As a 20-something professional who works 60-plus hours a week in a suit, I look forward to and need my weekend to recharge. Sorry, but waking up early, putting on a suit, and sitting on an uncomfortable chair for more than two hours (longer if it’s a chag) listening to a chazzan stretch every syllable and repeat the same verses over and over again to the point where I’m grinding my teeth, and then having to listen to a lecture, just does not do it for me and others in my age group. While our co-workers are sleeping late, relaxing, running errands or simply catching up on work, we are drained.

I wish something could be done to modify the experience.

Alex Lapin
(Via E-Mail)

We Stand Corrected

In her Feb. 21 front-page essay, “America’s Earliest Jews,” Laurie Rappeport writes that “When the Portuguese captured the territory [where the Jewish community of Recife, Brazil, was located] in 1654 the majority of the Jews were killed, expelled or forced to go into hiding by the Portuguese Inquisition.”

This is incorrect. As I noted in “Recife – The First Jewish Community in the New World” (Jewish Press, June 3, 2005):

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Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

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