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September 3, 2014 / 8 Elul, 5774
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Letters To The Editor

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The Torah’s Concern For The Oppressed

Ronn Torossian (“Sheldon Adelson’s Umbrella,” op-ed, Aug. 3) seems to be deeply bothered that wealthy American Jews still harbor certain liberal values typical of less advantaged demographics, lamenting that “Jews earn like the rich establishment but vote like poor recent immigrants.”

Well, this doesn’t bother me much at all. The Torah enjoins us time and time again to remember that we were slaves in Egypt, strangers in a foreign land, among the most lowly, needy, and despised. “You should not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9). The Torah demands that we keep before us always the interests of the less privileged.

So if concern for the interests of the disadvantaged is the only idea secular-liberal American Jews have ever gotten from the Torah, I say they have a sounder understanding of Torah than those of their more observant contemporaries who are increasingly trying to promote Judaism as a religion of wealth, privilege, and extravagance.

Torossian ruefully observes that “Every other socioeconomic group in the country moved rightward as their socioeconomic position improved – every group but the Jews.” I don’t know if that statement is true. But if it is, good for us.

David Fass
Teaneck, NJ

Overhauling Orthodox Education (I)

Kudos a thousand times over to Rabbi Dov Lipman for his Aug. 3 op-ed article, “Overhauling Orthodox Education to Make Better Jews.” He expressed what has been on my mind (and, I’m sure, the minds of others) for years.

It is a shame that many if not most young men coming out of our all-boys’ yeshivas can hardly speak Hebrew (or, for that matter, foreign languages such as Spanish that are useful in today’s world). Many boys who complete their yeshiva years barely understand what they’re saying when they daven.

Doris Davis
Long Beach, NY

Overhauling Orthodox Education (II)

I could not agree more with Rabbi Dov Lipman’s call to reassess and revamp our yeshiva system and the way our Torah educators teach our children. I was absolutely appalled by the story he shared regarding the young religious man who insisted on being paid more than what his passenger initially offered. If this is the mindset – Torah study above all else (thoughtfulness, generosity, acts of kindness with no strings attached, etc.) – then clearly something needs to change.

It is encouraging to know that there are many Orthodox yeshivot that do emphasize chesed, derech eretz, and midot tovot. The schools my children attend have established chesed programs as well as wonderful role models in the rebbes and morot who teach them.

I found it interesting that Rabbi Lipman made no mention of parents and the very active role they play in the nurturing and development of their children as true Torah Jews. Yes, it is imperative that our yeshivot look to instill in our children a sense of Torah im derech eretz, but this can only be accomplished if done in tandem with parents.

Annie Schneider
West Hempstead, NY

Thumbs Up For Dirshu

As someone who admires the work being done by Dirshu, I applaud your editorial on the Dirshu Siyum HaShas in Israel. As you said, it was a true celebration of Torah and its pivotal place in Jewish life.

I was also intrigued by Rabbi Hofstadter’s plan to promote more serious Daf Yomi study by underwriting rewards to those successfully passing examinations on the materials they covered. It is an interesting and potentially significant innovation that could make a big difference.

Chaim Aaronson
Jerusalem

Those Romney ‘Gaffes’

In “The Romney Uproar in Perspective” (editorial, Aug. 3), you gave a much appreciated back of the hand to all those media types who ridiculed Mitt Romney’s supposed gaffes in the course of his Middle East trip. As you demonstrated, their criticism was basically partisan blather.

David Gordon
(Via E-Mail)

Romney And Israel

I was happy to read Mitt Romney’s recent speech in Jerusalem (“Israel and America, Bound Together,” front page essay, Aug. 3). I have been around long enough to know that presidential candidates are willing to say just about anything to sway voters, so I take what he said with a grain of salt. However, at least he talks about what he sees as a fundamental tie between Israel and America and his personal affinity for the Jewish state and its current prime minister.

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