March 1, Taanis Esther, marks the second yahrzeit for the four Seidenfeld children of Teaneck, New Jersey, who perished in a fire. Philyss Seidenfeld, the mother of the children, has requested that individuals, communities, and shuls learn on that day in memory of the children and as an aliyah for their neshomos. The children’s names are Aryeh Lev ben Avraham, Noach Simcha ben Avraham, Natan Yekutiel ben Avraham, and Adira Emunah bat Avraham.
It has been my privilege to learn with Philyss these past two years and to have witnessed her heroic emunah. How appropriate for the yahrzeit to fall out on a day when we recall the many miracles Hashem performed for us, when times seemed bleak and without hope. May these pure neshomos be intercessors for us in these times of great need for the Jewish people.
Rav Blumenkrantz, zt”l
The Jewish nation suffered a great loss with the passing of Rabbi Avrohom Blumenkrantz, zt”l, last Friday, Adar 5, 5767. Rabbi Blumenkrantz was truly “Beloved by Hashem and by people.” His soothing voice and caring manner will long be remembered.
His work regarding laws of Passover, detailing which foods are forbidden and which permissible, was accepted across the spectrum of Klal Yisrael – chassidish. Litvish, etc. Had I been unaware that the annual Laws of Pesach was the work of one person, I would have thought it was compiled by an entire institution devoted to research.
Perhaps Rabbi Blumenkrantz’s passing is a heavenly indication that the year 5767 will be our last in exile; in the past we needed Rav Blumenkrantz’s guidance on what is and is not permissible on Pesach, but with the advent of Moshiach we will get our answers directly from Moshe Rabbeinu.
May Rav Blumenkrantz be a meilitz yosher on behalf of Klal Yisrael.
Meshulem Feivel Hakohen Charach
Unimpressed By Apology
As if the recent moral treason against Jews and Israel committed by the perfidious and heinous group of Neturei Karta henchmen were not enough, we are now confronted by Professor Ariel Toaff’s speculations of Jewish ritual murder in the Middle Ages in resonance with accusations made by the most depraved and vicious anti-Semites of those times.
What is equally troubling is that Prof. Toaff babbles a half-witted apology in a letter to The Jewish Press in which he claims his articles were falsely distorted on the one hand but that many people were justifiably offended by them on the other and that he plans to re-edit those offensive sections.
The mere suggestion of “ritual” murder implies that there is a religious ritual that sanctions such an act. That, Prof. Toaff should well understand, is an absurdity because neither murder nor the consumption of blood has ever been sanctioned by Jewish law. In the very unlikely event that a Jew murders another human, we should refer to that as an isolated act of depravity, not a ritual.
I strongly suggest that Prof. Toaff’s re-editing of the offending articles be in the nature of an unrestricted retraction. Until then, his calumny will fan the flames of anti-Semitic hate, for which he will some day stand in judgment.
No Release, No Peace
Gilad Shalit’s great-grandfather (his father’s paternal grandfather) was murdered by the Nazis during World War II and his paternal grandmother survived the war in Vichy France. His uncle, Yoel Shalit, was killed defending Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Shalit has spent more than seven months as a captive of Arab terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
A nationwide campaign is underway to lobby for the release of Shalit and two Israeli soldiers held hostage by Hizbullah in Lebanon, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Several major Jewish organizations are co-sponsoring a website (Freethesoldiers.org) that seeks one million signatures on a petition to the United Nations demanding that the three soldiers be sent home. Several members of Congress and the New Jersey state legislature along with Jewish leaders urged their release during a Dec. 20 news conference in Scotch Plains. State Sen. Tom Kean Jr. has introduced a resolution in the New Jersey Senate to this effect.
These are three young Israelis who were serving their country when their lives were turned upside down. Their ongoing imprisonment is an act of war, and Israel has every right to end the truce. We can be under no illusion that a public outcry will produce their release, but we cannot give them up without a fierce, intense fight. We as American Jews must show we care. If we don’t, why should anyone else?
No release, no peace.
Bruce S. Ticker
Your editorial last week captured the enormity of the perfidy committed by those in power in Israel who betrayed the residents of Gush Katif (“Falling From Grace: Gush Katif Syndrome?”)
Israel’s so-called leaders viewed those hapless Jews as mere pawns in some sort of international chess game. Ironically, the perpetrators got checkmated when their ill-conceived plan not only failed to swing world opinion to Israel’s side, it actually encouraged more Palestinian violence and recalcitrance.
I read Ziona Greenwald’s op-ed article (“The Back of the Bus,” Feb. 16) with interest. Like her, I am an attorney, but I come to this story from the perspective of a non-Jewish American. While her comparison of Brown v. Board of Education with the haredi bus lines’ “separate but equal” discrimination litigation is highly instructive, Ms. Greenwald neglected to raise one key element present in both the 1954 Brown case and the 2007 Israeli cases that I think needs mention if not underscoring: public funding and support.
My understanding of the bus litigation in Israel is that the Israeli Transportation Ministry is a party to the litigation not only because it performs a regulatory role, but also because it acts as a conduit for public tax monies used to subsidize both private bus lines.
That public funding is what in my view transforms private, unofficial religious practices, no matter how offensive or inoffensive to others, into publicly supported, separate but unequal, officially supported discrimination.
To me, that kind of institutional wall requires demolition, brick by brick. It is what we Americans ultimately could no longer tolerate in the Jim Crow South and elsewhere after the 1890 U.S. Supreme Court debacle of Plessy v. Furguson (approving “separate but equal”).
Today, it is what Israeli citizens – men and women – of good faith should now say “no” to in Israel. They should do so unequivocally.
P. Alan Zulick, Esq.
A Healthy Purim
Last year, one week after Purim, you were kind to publish a letter of mine in which I was critical of the excessive sweets and other nosh given out over Purim by adults and children. I noted the deleterious health and learning-related impact of all the nosh and suggested disposing of the stash rather than ingesting it.
My letter was so effective that the following week a letter from another reader was published which decried my disposal methods (via the NYC Sanitation Department) and suggested I should have donated the nosh to nursing home patients or even American soldiers in Iraq. (Perhaps if I had listened to my respondent the course of the Iraq conflict might have changed. Who knows?) In fact, the respondent to my letter noted that she was thoroughly disgusted by what I had done.
Fortunately, my family and friends accepted this criticism with equanimity and did not find my actions overly objectionable. I am still accepted, or at least tolerated, by them. In truth, however, maybe I should have tried one of the alternative disposal methods suggested and I accept the position of my critic. In fact, since no one can eat so much of this stuff, and since so much of it is chometz, I could have simply burned it during biur chometz a few weeks later. (I’ll probably do that this year.)
Why do I mention this at the present time? Well, yesterday I was in a local Brooklyn store that runs good deals on such items before Purim. Waiting in line was a young mother, obviously frum, who was emptying a seemingly bottomless shopping cart of nosh on the counter. Between us was a gentleman, definitely not frum and almost certainly not Jewish, who kept looking at me and others with upraised arms as if to say, “When does this end?”
What the cashier was thinking as item after item was placed on the counter I do not venture to guess. In retrospect I might have done well to alert this person that these purchases were related to Purim, a religious holiday. Remember that all of the clerks were doing this throughout the week before Purim and that they assuredly talk to each other about this unique custom. (Remember also that the children in tow are all wearing yarmulkes and modest attire and the mothers are in sheitels – obviously frum Jews).
But more important than what the non-Jewish or non-frum world thinks of our nosh-generating activities is our continued emphasis on unhealthy foods for the mitzvah of simchas Purim rather than more appropriate and healthy foods that we all know are preferable.
So I bring this again to readers of The Jewish Press, this time before Purim, and ask that you all limit your shaloch manos to items that are consistent with Purim and beneficial to the recipients. As I ended my note last year, and I repeat this year, your teeth, body and mind will thank you.
A freilichen and healthy Purim to all.