Who Are We?
   Churning emotions, stirred up by the events unfolding in our Holy Land, ran the gamut from admiration for the brave Israeli armed forces to trepidation for their safety – until I read “From Chupa to Kever: A Soldier’s Journey” by Judy Lash Balint (op-ed, July 28), a heart-wrenching account of the ultimate sacrifice of a newly married 27-year-old soldier. Feelings of frustration and vexation now rose to the fore.
   Have we forgotten who we are?

   How proudly we view the widely circulating photos of Israeli soldiers on the battlefield, reading from the Torah scroll during Shacharis and Mincha prayers under a scorching sun. Is this merely paying lip service, or are we relying on the holy Torah to be our true guide?

   There is a specific injunction in the Torah against allowing a newly married man to go to war. “he shall be exempt from any kind of service in the army he shall be free in his home for one year to bring joy to his wife.” (Ki Seitzei 6:5)
   My exasperation intensified when I turn to your editorial on the unresolved issue of Jerusalem’s Gay Festival. Why is this still unresolved? The Torah spells it out clearly: “u’bochartah b’chayimlife and death, I have given youand I exhort you to choose life” (Nitzavim 30:19)
   The only way we will conquer our enemy is by having The Greatest Warrior on our side. The only way to accomplish this, to win Him over, is by adhering to His word.
   Have we forgotten who we are?

Rachel Altman

(Via E-Mail)


Long Wait

   As the media focused on the tragic loss of innocent lives in Kana, there was very little mention that on the same day 140-150 missiles were fired from Lebanon into the northern Israeli cities of Kiryat Shmonah, Acre, and Nahariya.
   I am still waiting for the Hizbullah leadership to apologize for the deaths and injuries of innocent civilians (Israeli and Lebanese) they’ve caused. I am still waiting for world leaders to urge Hizbullah to show restraint. I am still waiting for Kofi Annan to criticize Hizbullah for its “apparently deliberate” attacks against civilian infrastructures. I am still waiting to hear how leaders like Chirac, Blair and Putin would respond if their countries were invaded, their soldiers captured and their cities targeted with a barrage of missiles.
   I think I will be waiting a very long time.

Yitzchak L. Moskowitz, MD

Cedarhurst, NY

Feeling Israel’s Pain
   In May 1967, when it looked like Israel was on the verge of destruction, Jews around the world felt the pain, fear, and worry that Israelis were experiencing. Planeloads of volunteers arrived in Israel to keep the economy from becoming stagnant due to the call-up of reserves, and Jews in the U.S. and Europe attended rallies to show their support or took to the streets to raise money.
   By contrast, as Israel fights its enemies in July and August of 2006, there are glimmers of care and support, both emotional and financial, but not much more.
   I read in your paper about great events scheduled to occur after Tisha b’Av. There are concerts to attend, places to go, events to enjoy. It’s understandable that people want to have such diversions after the Three Weeks, but are we not missing the point of Tisha b’Av? Chazal tell us that those who do not mourn for the Bais Hamikdosh will not rejoice in its rebuilding. Each year that it is not rebuilt prolongs our stay in galus.
   Should we not, at least this year, show some restraint in our celebrations in order to empathize with and feel the pain of our people in Israel? Would anyone think of having a big party if a relative were seriously ill or in danger? Our relatives are in very great danger. Every missile aimed at Haifa or elsewhere in Israel is also aimed at us.
   This war is more than a conflict between Israel and Hizbullah: it is a showdown with terrorism. How do you suppose the people in Kiryat Shmonah, Rosh Pinah, Tiberias and elsewhere feel today while we sit here in America? We all have our own views on matters of religion and politics, but let us set them aside, daven, and make our suffering family our primary concern. In order to achieve Jewish unity we must first feel a national collective pain and address it in the way Chazal teach us to do.

Eli Wise

Philadelphia, PA


Needed: Sane Leadership

   Can there be any doubt left that unilateral Israeli withdrawal only leads to disaster? Prime Minister Ehud Barak withdrew from the Northern Security Zone. Hizbullah utilized this peace gesture to amass vast quantities of deadly weaponry, build massive fortifications, and stage unprovoked attacks on Israel.
   Last year Prime Minister Ariel Sharon implemented an ignominious expulsion of all Jews from Gush Katif and Northern Samaria – a withdrawal that directly led to the election of Hamas and the proliferation of assaults upon Israel.
   Nevertheless, as war rages in the North and South, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert maintains that he will implement his Convergence/Realignment plan in Judea and Samaria – another unilateral withdrawal, this time from the mountainous heartland of Israel, that will expose all of Israel’s heavily populated coastal plain, Jerusalem, and Ben-Gurion Airport to murderous rocket fire and create a potential four-front war.
   The rocket-shocked Israeli populace, buttressed by a concerned world Jewry, must categorically reject such a reckless plan and demand instead sane leadership in the existential struggle against unremitting genocidal adversaries.

Henry J Moscovic

Flushing, NY


Selective Condemnation


   Just when it seems that partisanship in Washington can’t get any worse, it does. Thus, the ridiculous spectacle of leading Democrats falling all over each other to condemn Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki as an anti-Semite. Not that his stated views about Hizbullah and Israel are to be commended, but these Democrats need to be reminded of that pointed World War II-era question: “Don’t you know there’s a war on?”
   These same Democrats seem to have a far greater tolerance for the ant-Semitism spewed out by the extreme left-wing bloggers threatening to take over their party. Ironically, one of the most vociferous of Maliki’s critics was Howard Dean, the bloggers’ one-time darling. Taking on the bloggers would be a far truer test of Dean’s – and other Democrats’ – interest in fighting anti-Semitism.

Richard D. Wilkins

Syracuse, NY


The Prime Mover
   The notion that you can’t hold a gay parade while missiles are raining down on Israel seems quite clear to everyone. What’s astounding is that it doesn’t dawn on everyone that maybe, just maybe, God had something to do with the gay parade being canceled (at least for now).
   Is it so far-fetched for religious Jews to consider the concept that missiles raining down on Israel just might be a warning from God that He does not want a gay parade in Jerusalem? Does anyone really believe that God has nothing to do with recent Middle East developments?
   We’re coming close to Tisha b’Av, a time when both Temples were destroyed as a direct consequence of our bad behavior, yet no one in the Jewish community has the guts or the insight to speak out and say that maybe we’re doing something wrong. What good are all the Tehillim and prayers we recite for Israel when no one believes that Israel’s current predicament has anything to do with anyone’s behavior? This is what Orthodoxy has come to?

   It’s really sad to hear people say that Israel is a democracy and should be run as such. Israel is a Jewish state, for crying out loud. I think the world would be very forgiving if the democratic Jewish state of Israel – on moral grounds – barred the morally depraved gay parade. In fact, I absolutely believe that Israel and the Jews would garner much respect from the international community if Israel were to disallow any gay celebrations on its soil.

   As it stands, Israel has become very liberal and has the respect of no one. Let’s wisen up. Believing in God while not believing He has anything directly to do with the affairs of the world – or that changing our actions can influence Him to help us – is not that far removed from avoda zora.

Mendel Rubin

Brooklyn, NY



Fighting Together With Our Soldiers
   It is apparent that this war with Hizbullah will be a long and drawn out confrontation. For the first time since 1948 a new feeling has enveloped us. In the past we have felt, at various times and among other emotions, surges of anger, rage, sadness, fear, confusion, despair and urgency. We never, however, felt this kind of desperation – the sinking feeling that, while we place our future in the hands of Hashem, we still fear that rockets may continue to be hurled at our cities in Eretz Yisrael on a daily basis for years to come.
   Akin to a building infested with vermin, the borders of Israel can be treated with repellant, but the vermin just resurface again and again. It becomes an eternal battle to control the spread of evil and protect our environs. In desperation you want to do anything to help, but you feel helpless because it appears that nothing can be done.
   With that in mind, I have a proposition. In the time of Moshe Rabbeinu, as Am Yisrael was poised to enter Eretz Yisrael, an army was created. We read that this military was formed elef l’mateh elef l’mateh (one thousand per tribe, one thousand per tribe). Why the redundancy? The Midrash informs us that every soldier who went to battle had a personal “soldier” partner who stayed behind and did the learning and davening that would protect him on the battlefield. The perfect partnership.
   I propose that each one of us in chutz la’aretz agree to take a soldier – a soldier we do not know personally. We will designate the soldier and give you his/her Hebrew name (example: Dovid ben Yisroel) and he/she will be your private responsibility. If you daven a little more or learn a little extra or do a mitzvah that you might otherwise not have done, you may well save that soldier from stepping on a land mine or being hit by a bullet.
   Become a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces. Do not stand back in desperation and do nothing. Join the army! “Mi l’Hashem eili,” said Moshe Rabbeinu. Let us heed his words today. Now is the time to rise spiritually and come to the aid of our brave warriors.
   Call (718) 969-8501 or (718) 969-8479. Fax (718) 969-2604. E-mail Fagie1@aol.com or ymhad@aol.com.
Rebbetzin Fagie Faskowitz

(Via E-Mail)