About That Blood-Libel Book
In light of the false and distorted interpretation given to my recently published book, I have requested the Italian publishing house El Molino to immediately stop further distribution of the book [news story, page 3] in order that I may re-edit those passages which comprised the basis of the distortions and falsehoods that have been published in the media. I was astounded by the sheer force of these misrepresentations, which turned what is a research book into a vehicle used to harm Judaism and the Jewish people and, God forbid, as a justification for blood libel.
I feel deeply responsible for the recent events which have transpired, and in order to express my profound regret regarding the misrepresentations that were attributed to me and which hurt the Jewish people, I have decided to donate all the funds forthcoming from the sale of this publication to further the activities of the Anti-Defamation League. I will never allow any Jew-hater to use me or my research as an instrument for fanning the flames, once again, of the hatred that led to the murder of millions of Jews.
I extend my sincerest apologies to all those who were offended by the articles and twisted facts that were attributed to me and to my book.
Prof. Ariel Toaff
About Those Mehadrin Buses
Many thanks to Ziona Greenwald for writing so beautifully about the mehadrin buses in Israel (“The Back of the Bus,” op-ed, Feb. 16). I have been blessed by Hashem to have children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren living in Israel. I am fortunate to be able to travel and visit them and I’ve experienced riding on a so-called mehadrin bus when I was too cold in winter or too tired to wait for another one.
Because of my age I find it a challenge to even get to a seat before the driver starts those bouncy buses and I lose my balance. To say the least, it is harder for me to climb up in the back of the bus to the designated women’s section – which is not level with the rest of the bus. I also had someone ask me to move to the back after I got on a bus unaware it was a mehadrin.
If Egged wants to cater to the needs of the Orthodox, it should provide buses for women and men only, or buses that are level all the way to the back.
About The French And Foxman
I could barely resist laughing out loud when I read last week’s letter to the editor from the French Consul in New York. He ignored every single example you cited in your Feb. 2 editorial that called out the ADL’s Abe Foxman for praising France and French President Chirac as being great friends of Israel and the Jewish people.
What the Consul is really concerned about is your refusal to be gulled by France’s pathetic effort to curry favor in the Jewish community by seducing the community’s number-one publicity hound. I guess the French think we’re all as easy as Foxman.
Los Angeles, CA
About The Albany Dust-Up
Re your editorials (Feb. 2 and 9) concerning the comptroller controversy:
I too wonder how Gov. Spitzer and the media just seem to ignore the plain words of the understanding on choosing a successor to Alan Hevesi – an understanding initially trumpeted by both sides – and instead simply pillory Assembly Speaker Silver for “reneging.”
Inclined as I was to go along with the media’s portrayal of Spitzer as a reformer on a white horse and Silver as an obstructionist, I was astounded when I read the salient portions of Spitzer’s own press statement in last week’s Jewish Press. There it was, in black and white: it was actually the governor, not Silver, who changed the rules in the middle of the process. But that is surely not the picture one gets from news accounts and editorials in our local newspapers. This is one New Yorker whose mind was changed after reading your editorials. As a Spitzer voter, I can only hope his behavior these past few weeks is not an indication of what we can expect in the coming years.
Albany Dust-Up (II)
I’m glad to see that The Jewish Press, almost alone among local media, is not afraid to criticize the governor – and this despite your enthusiastic endorsement of him! But beyond the particulars of the Silver-Spitzer imbroglio, there is something more fundamental going on here that I think needs to be examined.
New Yorkers should, of course, insist on honest reporting on the issues. But there should also be concern about the incredible pass the new governor has been getting from most journalists. Why is he allowed to get away with claiming that all members of the legislature should automatically be denied consideration for the comptroller’s job – when he hired former Republican state senator John Balboni as his homeland security director? Why no hue and cry about his offer to Democratic Assemblyman Alex Grannis to be commissioner of environmental protection? If politicians are truly part of the problem, in his mind, why is he trying to make so many of them part of his administration?
Moreover, why aren’t our media moralists concerned about the governor’s efforts – undertaken with an eye on decreasing the number of Republicans in the Senate – to induce Republican senators to switch parties or to accept positions in his administration? Should we not be concerned about what he might be offering them to make that switch? Are high-paying political jobs being dangled for purely partisan political purposes? Where are our investigative journalists when we need them?
Finally, the comptroller is supposed to perform audits of the governor’s office, and yet Gov. Spitzer felt he should be the one to determine who would occupy that position. Talk about a gigantic conflict of interest.
Albany Dust-Up (III)
The Jewish Press makes a convincing case that the selection of comptroller was to be made by the legislature from a pool of five candidates recommended by a selection panel. That is undeniably what the statements released by the participants said.
Nevertheless, I still believe that if the governor had capitulated it would have sent the wrong message. Sometimes you have to shake things up, and that is precisely what Eliot Spitzer was elected to do – shake up the sad state of affairs in Albany. Hang in there, governor.
It’s that time of year again, the holiday my non-Jewish friends know as the “Jewish Halloween.” I used to scoff at the association of Purim with a pagan holiday. However, the annual chillul Hashem that takes place in many of our neighborhoods makes me wonder whether there is something to the analogy.
Purim is the quintessential “people” holiday. The mitzvos of the day are supposed to connect us with our neighbors: mishloach manos, matanos laevyonim and the festive seudah. While at the seudah we are encouraged to drink alcoholic beverages, this minor element has been magnified in some circles, to the point where the holiday has become an all-night, all-day excuse to drink.
Sadly, this inebriation results in a perversion of Purim’s purpose. Love for one another is supplanted by the image of kids (and sometimes adults) yelling at passersby and stepping dangerously in front of cars (or worse, driving them). It is no secret that Purim is Hatzolah’s busiest day.
What are our non-Jewish neighbors to think when they see our teens (and sometimes adults) carousing? And what of those of us who are unable to sleep because of the elevated noise level well past midnight? Yes, the drinkers argue that they are fulfilling a mitzvah. Putting aside the fact that there is no mitzvah to drink on Purim night, our Sages never envisioned the sort of mindless exercise to which we sadly are witness.
One would hope that yeshivas would take control of the situation; unfortunately, much of the drinking originates at yeshiva-sponsored celebrations. Last year – at a yeshiva – when I told a young man that he was causing a chillul Hashem, he said to me in all seriousness, “I think I know what you mean.” This from one of the top boys in a local yeshiva!
Part of the problem involves boys who go collecting for tzedakah at various homes, where they are given liquor to drink. I think that greater supervision of youths by adults would help alleviate the drinking problem on Purim. I pray that yeshivas and parents will devise strategies, such as increased supervision by chaperones, to help contain Purim drinking.
Far Rockaway, NY
Cleveland Subway 100% Kosher
Re the Feb. 9 article on the new Subway kosher location in Brooklyn:
We appreciate the publicity, but there were items regarding our kosher location in Cleveland that we feel were misleading. They were also unfair to the people who own and operate that location and their patrons, and require clarification.
● Two of the three franchisees of the Cleveland location are Orthodox Jews. While it is true that one of the business partners is a Lebanese Christian, he is not the sole owner/operator of the restaurant.
● Avi Cohen, one of the franchisees of the Cleveland location, is their mashgiach.
● The Cleveland restaurant is located in the Jewish Community Center and is overseen by the Cleveland Rabbinical Council.
● All kosher Subway locations, either open now or due to open in the future, are/will be 100% kosher and are/will be supervised by the appropriate kosher certification authority for their area.
● All kosher Subway restaurants, including the Brooklyn location, are required to mimic the original Subway menu as much as possible.
● Both the Cleveland and Brooklyn locations offer smoked turkey. The Cleveland location offers parve cheese.
Public Relations Coordinator