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December 27, 2014 / 5 Tevet, 5775
 
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Letters To The Editor

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Dreading Purim (I)

I applaud your giving front-page prominence to Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb’s article about substance abuse among Jewish youngsters (“Why I Dread Purim,” front page essay, March 2).

The problem has assumed ominous proportions and has and will damage if not destroy the futures of many of our young people. It is only through thoroughly ventilating the problem with thoughtful discussions that we may be able to move it toward a solution. I hope parents will read, absorb, and take Rabbi Weinreb’s message to their children.

Edward Wishner (Via E-Mail)

 

Dreading Purim (II)

I enjoyed Rabbi Weinreb’s article. Unfortunately, the fact is that today’s children come by their addictions “honestly.” That is, they are reared by adults who can’t seem to cope with or work through their problems without drugs or alcohol. Children are far from stupid and are much more perceptive and honest with themselves than prior generations at the same age. Parents teach by example and the sad lesson from all too many can be encapsulated into “There is a pill for that.”

I was disappointed that Rabbi Weinreb did not delve into what is meant by the admonition to drink until we cannot discriminate between “Cursed is Haman” and “Blessed is Mordechai.” It certainly is not self-evident that reliance on a mind-altering substance was being urged. Rabbi Weinreb quoted sources who ruled that drunkenness was not what was contemplated. But what still remains a mystery, at least to me, is how those words are otherwise to be interpreted.

Gary Kleinman New York, NY

 

Playing The Race Card

Re “African-Americans for Obama” (editorial, March 2):

President Obama is only partially to blame for calling on African Americans to support him in November “because I look like you.” Campaigning is the art of getting elected and Obama learned from the 2008 presidential campaign that when it comes to the race card, the media will always give him a pass. Sure enough, his shameless appeal to African-Americans to vote for him has caused barely a ripple in the media.

I wonder, though, what the reaction would have been to a call by Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum for Caucasians to join a project called “Whites for Mitt” or “Whites for Rick.” Actually, I know the answer. The media would have screamed “racism” non-stop.

Reuven Michaels (Via E-Mail)

 

Opposition To Obama Not Racial

Reader Howard Feinberg’s sweeping denunciation of frum Jews who oppose President Obama is misguided and wrong (Letters, March 2).

One need not read between the lines to discern that Mr. Feinberg is of the opinion that this opposition is grounded upon race. As an observant Jew, I can state with conviction that my opposition to Obama has nothing to do with his race. It has everything to do with the president’s ruinous economic policies that have resulted in the worst American unemployment figures since the Depression.

To add insult to injury, the president appears to be more concerned with moving his radical social agenda forward than with putting Americans back to work. And with gasoline prices approaching five dollars per gallon, the president opposes real alternatives that would alleviate the economic plight of most Americans and kowtows to environmentalists and other special interests.

On Israel, Mr. Feinberg claims the president is simply following his predecessors concerning settlements and the 1967 borders. While that statement is arguable, what is inarguable is that President Obama is the first American president to publicly advocate for borders between Israel and the Palestinians based on the 1967 lines with some undefined swaps of land.

Anyone with an elementary knowledge of Israel’s security and the current state of world affairs knows a return by Israel to its 1967 borders in any form would be suicide and a non-starter.

When an American president repeatedly states that “America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements,” refers to Israeli “occupation” and cannot differentiate between rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and Israel’s response, Jews, observant or not, take notice. That is why I will join with many of my fellow Jews and millions of other Americans this November in voting against President Obama.

Gerald M. Jacobs Staten Island, NY

 

Disagrees With Reviewer

This is in response to the Feb. 17 review of the book Girl for Sale by Faigie Heiman. While I respect everyone’s right to voice an opinion and I certainly do not question the credentials and expertise of reviewer Yocheved Golani, I emphatically disagree with several aspects of her conclusions.

First of all, just to set the record straight, the maiden name of the heroine of the story, Miriam Mendlowitz, is undisputedly Miriam Gross, not Miriam Azidowicz, as the reviewer erroneously reported. Nor does she have a middle name, as a reference to Miriam A. Mendlowitz would lead us to believe. Other statements are more subjective in nature and consequently less blatantly incorrect, though I personally disagree with the majority of the criticisms the reviewer cites.

As Ms. Golani accurately writes, readers familiar with the Heiman family can definitely more readily identify with the characters and appreciate the story. However, many who are unfamiliar with the family, except perhaps by reputation, have likewise read and thoroughly enjoyed Girl for Sale. It is not only a moving memoir of a specific frum mishpacha but a priceless and heartwarming look at the history of our people of that era in microcosm. The scenes of Israel in the 1950s and ‘60s are particularly riveting, and the first-hand accounts of the Six-Day War are, in my humble opinion, worth the cover price in and of themselves.

Naomi Gross (Via E-Mail)

 

Men And Temptation

An assumption in the frum community accepted as truth: Some people lust all the time and others never do. More precisely, only men have certain “thoughts.”

Here is an astonishing revelation: Females have “thoughts” too. Does anyone really think females do not have “thoughts” at a simcha, rally, or concert when they see young men dancing, jumping, gyrating and twirling? Do you really believe women are made of stone? Many of us seem to believe just that, since there’s no problem with women watching men.

The assumption that women in general do not have the capacity to have “thoughts” is actually comical. The deep secret that escapes most men: women are capable of “thoughts” but have been properly taught. While there is a difference in gender makeup, the fact is that when a he is “of interest” – whether it’s strong arms, a cute smile, a mellifluous singing voice – she notices!

Perhaps if males were as consistently inculcated with an appreciation of personal responsibility for their thoughts and deeds as females are from birth, males would be able keep their thoughts under control and not divest themselves of responsibility by making it a women’s issue.

It is sad that irresponsible behavior and automatic excuses have become so entrenched in our culture that our young girls and women believe they are responsible for men’s flaws. Women have been diligently taught that they can’t cover up enough (clothes), be hidden enough (mechitza), or silent enough (kol isha). It is an extension of this thinking that allows the men of Beit Shemesh to believe and act as they do. That the extreme is not the norm does not detract from the fact that they are both based on the same philosophy: It’s her fault.

Inconveniencing, restricting and burdening women because men do not take responsibility for their own behavior is a sad commentary on the lack of initiative on the part of fathers and rabbis.
Laurie Dinerstein-Kurs
(Via E-Mail)

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