Greetings From India

I introduce myself from India as an admirer of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. I would remind your readers that even when Jews were persecuted all over the world, India gave them all rights and absolute freedom and safety. Jews have not faced any trouble or persecution of any kind in India.

India and Israel have several similarities – both countries have great historical pasts, both won their independence from the British in the late 1940’s, both have fought wars with enemies and emerged victorious, and both are fighting the menace of terrorism. An unfortunate common aspect among Hindus and Jews is that both communities lack unity and are divided along sectarian lines.

It is my desire that friendly relations between India and Israel continue to develop and deepen in the years ahead, to the benefit of both nations.

Warm regards and best wishes.

V. Kumarakrishnan
Coimbatore, India

We’re Blushing

This is just a quick note to compliment you on your wonderful newspaper – one that should be in every home in America, Jewish or not. There are many reasons I could give for that statement, but basically it’s because of your truthful stand on Israel and your emphasis on the family.

Your op-ed columns do much to offset the huge tide of pro-Arab propaganda. The March 17 issue, for example, had great op-eds like “Understanding Jihadist Strategy” by Robert Avrech and “The Leader We Pray For” by Chananya Weissman – two articles that should be read by everyone.

I used to spend so much money on books on Israel and the Middle East, but now The Jewish Press has become my primary source of facts and information about Israel.

Your Family Issues section features so many articles for parents trying to raise children. There was an article recently about how handwriting is being downplayed in schools, mainly due to computers. My wife happens to be a teacher and she took that article to school to share with students and other teachers.

Thanks again for just an outstanding newspaper.

William F. Ray
Simpsonville, SC
Political ‘Extortion’

Reading Menachem Porush’s pre-election pitch for the Agudah slate, I could not help thinking of the posuk “v’shochad lo teekach” – you shall not accept bribes. It’s nothing short of hypocritical for a religious party that demands exemption from the military for its young men – and whose leaders say the learning of those young men serves as the true defense of Israel – to sell its vote for aid to its own institutions. If the nation is supposed to rely on God as its ultimate defender, surely the party can rely on God for its material requirement.

Because of bribes – i.e., government funding – Agudah sold out the Jews of Gush Katif, sentencing them to poverty and condemning them to homelessness.

It is my fervent prayer that whatever the outcome of the Israeli elections, Agudah will not be needed to put together a new government – and that its institutions get only the money they deserve, not the money they can extort.

Rabbi David Alan Willig
Bayside Jewish Center
Bayside, NY
No Back-Seat Drivers

As an English-speaking Israeli citizen, I am amazed and incredulous at the attitude of so-called frum American Jews to what has been going on in Israel since the Gaza disengagement.

All your wailing about the lost territory and the bleak future facing our state would be ameliorated if you would listen to your own words and get on a plane and makealiyah in order to ensure that corrupt self-hating Jews are prevented from coming to power and handing over our land to murderers.

Back-seat drivers we don’t need. What we need are committed Jews who are prepared to forgo the illusory contentment of dollars and more dollars, and struggle to create a proper Jewish government in the holy land (a mitzvah aseh d’oraysa according to the Rambam).

Wake up, American Jewry before we lose this land again, God forbid, through our own action or inaction.

Harry Amdur
Ra’anana, Israel
Walt/Mearsheimer At Home In LRB

In his March 24 Media Monitor column (“Walt’s Paper Trail”), Jason Maoz described the virulent anti-Israel article by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. The biweekly London Review of Books, which is read by the intelligentsia and never misses an opportunity to publish articles vilifying Israel, particularly by Jews, ran a lengthy excerpt of the Walt/Mearsheimer paper. As someone who monitors Jewish anti-Zionists in Britain, I can attest to how obscene their statements are. The LRB makes the New York Review of Books, itself sharply critical of Israel, look like an organ of the Likud party.

In a review of a book on Palestinian female suicide bombers (November 4, 2004), Professor Jacqueline Rose described Malki Roth, a young murdered victim in Jerusalem, as no less sick than the bomber because she believed in the coming of the Messiah, a cardinal principle in Judaism. “Is this wholesome?” Rose asked.

In the May 19, 2005 issue of the LRB, Israeli leftist academic Ilan Pappe wrote that “all the developing world’s frustration and all its desire for liberation will some day be channeled into the rescue of Palestine.” It sounded like wishful, genocidal thinking by Pappe that Third World countries – mired as most are in dire poverty and plagued by the AIDS catastrophe, ecological crises and corrupt governments – would somehow focus their frustration and rage on the tiny Jewish state.

Jacob Mendlovic
(Via E-Mail)

Chesed For Agunot

Re Shlomo Greenwald’s March 24 article about Naomi Mauer’s recent lecture at the Yeshivah of Flatbush in which she discussed the troubling issue of agunot:

It is because of people like Mrs. Mauer and institutions like The Jewish Press that more husbands will feel the pressure to give their wives the gittin these women deserve.

I really admire the men from ORA who picket for agunot – what a special mitzvah they do. May Hashem reward them for their chesed on behalf of the world’s agunot. I pray every day that the agunah problem be erased from our klal.

Gisele Strauch
Brooklyn, NY

Sensible Shaloch Manos

Today the Sanitation Department removed garbage from my house. Why is that important and why do I bother to inform the editors and readers of The Jewish Press about city workers doing their job? Well, the answer is that among the detritus I bestowed on New York City’s dumps, I included a full shopping bag, weighing a good few pounds, of nosh.

This bounty was bestowed on our two daughters by their friends and classmates – all good girls, from the best families – as shaloch manos. Apparently the Purim spirit is enhanced when such items are given and exchanged. Truth be told, our daughters were less than pleased on how we disposed of the sweets, but they understood that there can be too much of a good thing. After all, something can be kosher and not really “kosher” at the same time.

Why don’t parents and schools strongly state that this mitzvah is better performed with items that are nourishing and more beneficial? I know that kids who get apples and carrot sticks feel deprived – even despondent. But you know something? They get over it.

Is anyone else bothered by the overabundance of candies and other nosh in our supermarkets? (I am convinced that “heimish” stores in my neighborhood of Midwood devote more shelf space to such items than do Waldbaum’s, ShopRite and other large chains.)

Overdosing on jelly beans, sour sticks and Israeli wafers (I never realized just how many wafer makers there are in Israel) can have serious medical and dental consequences and can even affect one’s learning and state of mind.

As we are only required to give one person two items, maybe we should encourage the following policy: Give one healthful shaloch manos to an important person – your bubby or zaidy, say – and cut your losses. Your teeth, body and mind will thank you.

Shlomo Kleinbart
Brooklyn, NY
Science And Halacha

Zev Stern contends that “all biological roads lead to evolution” and states that “The Jewish Press is not the proper venue to challenge scientific ideas; that is done in peer-reviewed scientific literature and before one’s colleagues at scientific meetings” (Letters, March 17). He then proceeds to list specific scientific institutes and associations and invites readers to contact these organizations for dates and locations of their scientific meetings.

Dr. Stern is proceeding down a slippery slope with his unquestioning reliance on his scientific colleagues and acceptance of their forums as the proper venue for debate on scientific “facts.” For example, a recent survey of “leading scientists” – defined as members the National Academy of Sciences, perhaps the nation’s most eminent scientific organization – revealed that “fewer than 10 percent professed belief in a personal God or human immortality,” (New York Times, Scientists Speak Up on Mix of God and Science,” August 23, 2005).

While I share Dr. Stern’s distaste for character attacks and “book burnings,” I have a greater distaste for his presumptuous disdain for Torah sages.

The book Challenge: Torah Views on Science and its Problems (Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists, Feldheim, 1978) includes a chapter on “Creation and Evolution” and is illustrative of how scientists can work under the guidance of rabbonim in developing approaches to the subject. It is common knowledge that many leading poskim have worked closely with scientists to help determine important and complex halachic questions. Frum scientists, in turn, need to consult with rabbonim and obtain their guidance on understanding difficult “scientific” theories.

Joseph Geliebter, Ph.D.
Lawrence, NY