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Letters To The Editor

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Tisha B’Av At The UN

Jewish Press readers have been an essential part of our annual Amcha-Coalition for Jewish Concerns Tisha B’Av public Minchah service for Jewish communities in danger. We convene at the Isaiah Wall opposite the UN at First Avenue and 43rd Street.

This Tisha B’Av – Sunday, July 29, at 2 p.m. – in addition to our traditional Minchah, complete with Torah reading, we will memorialize the 11 Israel athletes murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The International Olympic Committee has refused calls from around the world for just a minute of silence at the July 27 opening of the London Olympics to remember the slain Israelis. We, however, will conduct a proper hazkara.

For more information, please contact us at tishahbav@aol.comor leave a message at (212) 663-5784.

Glenn Richter
Amcha-Coalition
for Jewish Concerns

Rabbi Jacob Joseph (I)

Last week’s My Machberes column was superb. We need to hear more about the history of Jews and our great leaders in this country. I would like to see Jewish religious publishing companies come out with biographies on Rabbi Jacob Joseph and other leaders of his era.

Michael Pell
Los Angeles, CA

Rabbi Jacob Joseph (II)

In his July 13 My Machberes column, Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum wrote of the esteemed Rabbi Jacob Joseph (1840-1902) under the headline “Honoring New York’s Chief Rabbi.”

While Rabbi Joseph was indeed a prominent rabbinical leader in New York, there was never a post called “chief rabbi of New York.” Rabbi Joseph came to America from Kovno after being hired by a private firm known as the Association of American Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (AAOHC), a federation of several Eastern European congregations. And while Rabbi Joseph may have been called “chief rabbi” by the AAOHC, this was for the purposes of its congregations.

Concurrently, Rabbi Yehoshua Segal (the Sherpser Rav) was also declared by his group to be the “chief rabbi” of New York.

The truth is, many different groups had “chief” rabbis over the years. The 30,000 Balkan, Greek, Turkish and Syrian Jews of New York City, for example, had as their chief rabbis Dr. Nissim J. Ovadia (chief rabbi of Vienna, then Paris), followed by Rabbi Dr. Isaac Alkalay (chief rabbi of Yugoslavia). Both of these men held the title “chief rabbi” in New York City. And New York’s Syrian community had as its chief rabbi Jacob S. Kassin, who had come from Jerusalem.

Shelomo Alfassa
American Sephardi Federation
Center for Jewish History
New York, NY

Arabs And The Temple Mount

The current Arab effort to destroy the site of the Ark of the Covenant results from one of the most tragic and shameful events in Jewish history – the return of the Temple Mount to Arab control after it was liberated in the 1967 Six-Day War. The defeated and fleeing Arabs who were brought back and reinstalled on Judaism’s holiest site by Moshe Dayan soon began a massive effort to destroy all archeological evidence of Jewish history there.

No Israeli government since 1967 has done anything to take back the Temple Mount or to stop Israeli police from carrying out Arab orders to severely restrict Jewish access and to arrest Jews who try to pray there. The Arabs are now accelerating their efforts to destroy the remaining evidence of Jewish history on the Temple Mount with their desecration of the site of the Ark of the Covenant.

Not one Israeli government since the Six-Day War has done anything to end this archeological and religious atrocity that is leading to the delegitimization of the Jewish religious, historical and legal claim to Jerusalem and all of Israel.

Where is the international outrage from Jews and Christians?

George Rubin
New York, NY

Thumbs Up To Obamacare

The Chofetz Chaim, of blessed memory, wrote a book titled Ahavas Chesed. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is full of chesed – kindness.

It’s a kindness that insurance companies cannot deny care to sick people because of preexisting conditions or because of a lifetime limit. It’s a kindness that children up to the age of twenty-six can be covered on their parents’ policy. It’s morally right that insurance companies cannot arbitrarily terminate clients’ coverage when the person gets sick.

These provisions help millions of poor and middle class people, including Jewish poor and Jewish middle class people.

Obamacare saves lives and preserves health. It also saves anxiety, time and effort for hard-pressed doctors, nurses, medical secretaries and other medical personnel who would otherwise be engaged in arguments with insurance companies and endless appeals. That, too, is chesed.

The Affordable Care Act actually moves the United States closer to the Israeli medical system.

Reuven Solomon
(Via E-Mail)

Special Characteristics

Reader Miriam Maltz Schiffman wrote movingly about spending a Shabbos with the Bomzer family of Midwood, Brooklyn (Letters, July 13).

Not only are the Bomzers wonderful hosts, they are wonderful guests as well. This past Shabbos we were fortunate to have Avy and June at our home in Hewlett. All of the qualities described by Mrs. Schiffman in her letter rang true. The bottom line is that when a person or a couple is truly special, those special characteristics will and do shine through in any situation.

Anyone involved with Avy and June is truly blessed – as we are.

Leah and Jack Diamond
Hewlett, NY

My Yarmulke, Your Yarmulke

I enjoyed reading Mordecai Bienstock’s personal journey and am happy he found a good balance of Torah and the outside world (“Birth of a Leather-Kippah Jew,” front page essay, July 13).

Understanding of course that the leather yarmulke is a metaphor, I have an addendum on the topic. I think it’s possible to be a black-velvet yarmulke Jew and be a nuclear physicist. I think you can wear a kippah serugah and learn in kollel, and even wear a black hat on top of that kippah serugah.

When my husband and I got married he was a suede yarmulke Jew. As he aged and became challenged in the follicular department he switched to wearing a black kippah serugah because the suede yarmulke slid off his head. Heeding the laws of physics, this crocheted yarmulke, larger in diameter than the suede one, would stay on his head.

The question is, did that make him frummer because it was bigger or less frum because it was crochet? To further muddy the waters, he wears a gartel on Shabbos, a black hat (weather permitting) on Friday night, and a wedding band. People actually come up to him in shul complaining, “I don’t understand you.”

It’s very simple. It is possible to hold on to your Yiddishkeit, to honor your chassidish roots, but still read The New York Times and work in the secular world.

Mr. Bienstock refers to this phenomenon as being Superman, and I agree. I only wish we could be less judgmental of each other’s “yarmulkes” and concentrate instead on what’s really important.

Dr. Chani Miller
Highland Park, NJ

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