Neturei Karta Loves Ahmadinejad


   The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has repeatedly called for the total destruction of Israel. Such a catastrophe would mean the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews. That position, of course, has qualified Ahmadinejad for Neturei Karta’s hero of the month award. Past recipients include such great statesmen and friends of the Jewish people as Yasir Arafat and Osama bin Laden.
   There they were, those low-life thugs who look and dress like chassidic Jews, proudly meeting with Ahmadinejad just a couple of days before Rosh Hashanah. I’m surprised they didn’t extend an invitation to him to speak in their shul before shofar blowing.
   Why do Neturei Karta members even bother going to shul this time of year? As we learn in the laws of Viduy (confession), sins between man and his fellow man are not absolved on Yom Kippur unless the transgressor seeks forgiveness from those he sinned against. Members of Neturei Karta have committed a grievous sin against every Jew in the world, and as such they have a lot of phone calls to make.
   I, for one, will never forgive them for offering support to those who wish to destroy all of us.

Barry J. Koppel

Kew Gardens Hills, NY


No Prayers For Israel?


   I just purchased the ArtScroll Stone travel-size Chumash with Shabbat davening to take to Israel and was extremely upset that the tefilot for the State of Israel and the welfare of Israeli soldiers were excluded. How upsetting that at this time in history, with Eretz Yisrael under siege from so many enemies, the publishers feel that these tefilot are not necessary.
   May Hashem listen to the prayers of those who do say these tefilot – and may He keep our brave defenders safe and bring peace to our homeland.

Rozanne Polansky

North Bellmore, NY

Legitimate Disputes

   It’s important that readers not mistake the Conservative movement’s craziness in voting on Torah matters with legitimate Orthodox rabbis’ disputes over, for example, matters such as eruvim.
   In the example of the eruv, no one claims you’re allowed to carry on Shabbos in public and no one questions the halachic validity of the concept of an eruv. Rather, it is a question of what category does the current situation fall under and what impact does Torah law have in the particular case. That may at times be complex – but that we have to adhere to Torah law is never in question.

David Balsam

Brooklyn, NY


Miller Book A Beloved Heirloom


   Dr. Yitzchok Levine’s article “Rabbi David Miller: Forgotten Fighter for Orthodoxy” (front-page essay, Sept. 15) was very much appreciated. We happen to have a copy of the 1938 revision of The Secret of the Jew in our household and I have long wondered about the author and his motivation. Dr. Levine’s article has given me insight into this.
   The book in our possession had belonged to my wife’s grandfather, Louis Novick, who served in the 1930’s and 1940’s as cantor of the Adas Israel congregation in Washington before making aliyah, and who worked behind the scenes in facilitating the creation of the State of Israel. My mother-in-law remembers dignitaries such as Meyer Berlin (Bar Ilan) as guests in her parents’ home, one of the few kosher houses in Washington at the time.

Kenneth H. Ryesky, Esq.

East Northport, NY


Help For Stutterers


   I am writing to address an issue that goes largely unnoticed in the Jewish community, as well as in the mainstream press for that matter. Stuttering affects one percent of adults worldwide as well as about four percent of children at some point during their development. While an exact cause is unknown, both genetic and neurological factors seem to be prevalent.
   The website of The Stuttering Foundation of America ( can provide great resources. A nonprofit organization, it offers a national listing of qualified speech therapists, a toll-free helpline (1-800-99-9392), and many books and DVDs for adults, children, parents and teachers. The website’s list of “Famous People Who Stutter” is most interesting.
   Israeli readers may be interested in the website of The Israeli Stuttering Association (, which can be accessed in both Hebrew and English. It’s very informative and will help those struggling with the speech disorder.
   I hope you print my letter – it will help the many people in the Jewish community who struggle with stuttering on a daily basis.

Michael S. Feld

Springfield, MA


Paragon Of Integrity

   As a longtime member of the congregation whose rabbinic certification was the object of your editorial scrutiny (“Virtual Versus Real Hashgacha,” Sept. 15) there is no doubt in my mind that if the writer knew the rav personally he never would have portrayed him in a negative or condescending manner.
   The rav in question is not some hapless individual undertaking hashgacha beyond his resources and essentially clueless about what is happening under his nose. Certainly he was not, as you imply, misleading people about the extent of the supervision. It is just that neither they nor the rav (nor the mashgiach) could have imagined that someone so well known by them was really a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde. Frankly, I don’t believe any hashgacha – real or virtual – is fully equipped to deal with that kind of a situation.
   The fact is the rav is not in the hashgacha business per se (he receives no remuneration for his efforts), but does grant his certification as a service to his congregation and members of the community who wish to avail themselves of it.
   What he in effect says to them is that a particular food establishment deals only in items of unquestionable kashrus and that the person in charge is known to him personally as someone reputable. He sets the standard and relies on a mashgiach to check for human error and bring to his attention questions that may arise.
   In this case the proprietor, now known as the perpetrator, was a trusted individual with outstanding credentials – a baal koreh, a shaliach tzibbur, the chairman of the board of the local yeshiva, a popular dinner chairman for frum mosdos, et al. There was no reason for anyone to question his credentials as an erliche Yid par excellence.

   Yes, our rav – and all of us – were betrayed. Big time. There is no provision in halacha that requires assurance that a Yehudi Neeman is not committing deliberate fraud. To counter with a question like “Why wasn’t a simple examination made just to make sure he is selling what he says he is buying?” is to engage in Monday morning quarterbacking.

   Our rav is known to all in Monsey and beyond as the paragon of personal integrity and honesty, frankly in a league of his own. Ask anyone in Monsey.

Ary Kempler

Monsey, NY




Haredim And Israel
      So, reader Howard Schneiderman thinks he is well positioned to rant about the haredi community’s relationship with Israel (Letters, Sept. 15) because even though he himself is not Orthodox, he has “family members who are, and I grew up in an Orthodox home.” On that rather questionable basis, Mr. Schneiderman proclaims himself “more than familiar with the inner workings of the Orthodox community.”
      But does Mr. Schneiderman cite even one example to support his thesis that the Orthodox community, with the exception of its Modern Orthodox component, is either a hotbed of anti-Zionism or at best “non-Zionism”?
      Contrary to what he might think, students in haredi yeshivas regularly pray for the safety of Israel and its inhabitants. Ask anyone who really knows what’s going on. And ask anyone who knows the community about the thousands of haredi students from abroad who year in and year out study in Israel.
      Does anyone in his right mind think that haredi parents of children studying in Israel would not support the state and the army of Israel? These parents are well aware that the Israeli military is the only thing standing between their children and the hordes of Arab cutthroats who lust after Jewish blood. How long would these children last without the IDF? Not very. And believe me, their parents know this and are deeply grateful for a strong Jewish army.
      Ironically, many Jews have no qualms about criticizing the foreign and security policies of Israeli governments (despite the fact that these armchair practitioners possess scant knowledge or real-life experience of the issues at hand). Yet the yeshiva world is somehow deemed evil for criticizing the same Israeli governments for their anti-religious domestic policies. Is there really something so terrible about insisting that Israel be governed more in accord with the Torah and less with the dictates of atheistic socialism?
      It is also time to once and for all put to rest the canard that Torah leaders were virulently opposed to the establishment of a Jewish state in the 1940’s. What they opposed was the unambiguous plan put forth in the late-1800’s by devoutly irreligious Jews for the creation of a militantly secular state built on the principles of socialist-tinged nationalism.
      Is it so difficult to understand the principled opposition of Torah leaders to a secular state that over time could not help but erode its citizens’ devotion to Hashem and their fealty to the Torah vision of a Jewish state? Such a principled stance, premised on the determination to secure a Torah-true Jewish future, is hardly beyond the pale of acceptable discourse and is a far cry from opposing the creation of a Jewish state per se.
      Are we saying that everyone in early- and mid-20th century Europe was required to become Jewish nationalists and abandon the Torah in order that we consider them, decades later and with the cheap wisdom of hindsight, good Jews? Does it make sense that the Torah world, under siege nearly everywhere, would take issue with secular Zionism just for the sake of debate? Or that Europe’s frum communities, which were decimated by the Holocaust, would not support a place of refuge for the surviving remnant?
      As for those who make much of the refusal of haredim to recite Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut, they need to remember that there was once great controversy over whether to accord Purim the status of an official Jewish holiday. The decision was reached only after a long period of time and animated discussion. Yet was there ever any doubt of the miraculous essence of that event in Jewish history?
      Finally, I would remind all the heated letter-writers, whether Modern Orthodox, haredi, or, as in Mr. Schneiderman’s case, merely self-described experts on Orthodoxy, that there is no transcendent law requiring those who share similar views to express themselves in the same way.

Reuven Lesher

(Via E-Mail)