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August 1, 2015 / 16 Av, 5775
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Siyum Editorial

Kudos for last week’s editorial on the Siyum HaShas at MetLife Stadium. You really succeeded in capturing the moment. I only hope you are right and that it did put a positive face on our community, which has suffered all too much in the image department in the last couple of years.

The various Daf Yomi celebrations were truly remarkable. I attended the one at MetLife Stadium and will never forget the achdus I saw and felt as tens of thousands danced, sang and davened in unison.

We should not, however, allow the euphoria to make us forget that learning Daf Yomi is not a one-size-fits-all thing. Those who can put together the time and have the training are obligated to probe more deeply into the richness of the Gemara and more fully into Rashi and Tosafos.

Chaim Blau
(Via E-Mail)

Crime And Political Correctness (I)

Political correctness has not been limited to opponents of the NYPD’s stop and frisk policy (“When Political Correctness Gets in the Way of Fighting Crime,” editorial, Aug. 10). It is now known that the fanatical Muslim army psychiatrist who opened fire on his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood was known as a disaster waiting to happen for a long time prior to his rampage but was not dealt with out of a fear of being accused of racial profiling.

Congressman Peter King has been attacked by Muslim groups and assorted civil liberty types because of his efforts to uncover possible illegal anti-American activities in the Muslim community. This is serious business and we’d better wake up.

Charles Grossman
(Via E-Mail)

Crime And Political Correctness (II)

For all of the yelling and screaming about how effective a crime-fighting tool stop and frisk is, we should never lose sight of the fact that this is America and we do not take our civil liberties lightly. In fact, it has been the bedrock of our nation since the beginning of our breakaway from England.

I am reminded of an American commander during the Vietnam War who was quoted as saying that a town in which Vietcong soldiers were hiding “had to be destroyed in order to save it.” Let us take care that in our efforts to save ourselves we don’t destroy ourselves in the process.

Ellen Schwartz
(Via E-Mail)

Olympic Pride

I would like to acknowledge the tremendous Kiddush Hashem made by American gymnast Aly Raisman upon winning two gold medals (and one bronze) at the London Olympics. Instead of trying to hide the fact that she is Jewish, she proudly performed her gold medal winning routine to “Hava Nagilah,” saying, “I am Jewish. That’s why I wanted the floor music.”

She then stuck it to the IOC by invoking the massacre of the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich games. It is the 40th anniversary of that outrage and the gutless International Olympic Committee, led by Jacques Rogge, refused to honor the slain athletes with a moment of silence at the opening ceremonies.

I do not know how observant Ms. Raisman is, but as Jews we must all be very proud of her and we all must thank her.

Barry Koppel
Kew Gardens Hills, NY

Ballot Blues

I found it fascinating that Assemblyman Dov Hikind was kicked off the Republican ballot for November’s election (“Judge Boots Hikind from GOP Line,” news brief, Aug. 10) for not having the required number of supporting signatures from Republican voters in the district.

This could well present an image problem for such a longtime and well-known incumbent, who will still be running on the Democratic line and will doubtless win the Democratic primary and the general election.

Michael Rothstein
(Via E-Mail)

Why Are We So Quiet?

As a child of survivors, I heard “never again” over and over again. Yet anti-Semitism is again rearing its ugly head in much of the world.

In the wake of the Mumbai massacre, the Toulouse shootings, and the recent deaths of Israelis in Bulgaria, why are Jews and our leadership not more vocal? The dead are buried, Kel Moleh is said, and then all is forgotten.

Are we repeating the mistake of the generation prior to Hilter’s rise? Why are we so reticent? Why are we so quiet? Where are the protests? Where is the activism needed to make sure that this indeed never happens again?

To boot, our college campuses have become institutions of higher brainwashing, causing Jewish and non-Jewish students to sympathize with haters of Israel.

We cannot be ostriches with our heads in the ground. We must wake up and become more vocal for our brethren around the world as well as here in the United States. We must reach out to enlighten young Jewish minds so they can be proud of their Judaism – of the mesorah handed down through the generations – and have a love for our people and for the land of Israel, a gift from God Himself.

Leah Starkman
Atlanta, GA

Night To Remember

As I entered MetLife Stadium the evening of August 1, a swarm of faces and an environment of palpable excitement welcomed me. I was among the nearly 100,000 Jews privileged to attend the celebratory and spiritually recharging Siyum HaShas.

The stadium normally houses sporting events that attract fans whose moods frequently reflect the success or failure of their team. For better or worse, the emotional tides of fans’ lives are often dictated by the performance of athletes.

Conversely, Torah Jews do not govern ourselves based on the trivial pursuits of others. Instead, we delight in our own and in our fellow human beings’ spiritual, ethical, and moral accomplishments. We are instructed by the Torah to elevate mundane activities into actions of holiness, and utilizing a stadium that usually hosts sporting events for the recognition of a national spiritual feat is an execution of that particular commandment.

The spiritual fervor, staunch kinship, and joyous celebration of Torah made it a night to remember. Our nation glowed with the incandescence of Torah light. Nobody was a stranger.

Shortly after I awoke the following morning, a phone call from my son added another beautiful and personal dimension. My son was one of fifty boys from his camp chosen to attend the Siyum, and he had been beyond excited. As the hours ebbed away, I couldn’t help but wonder whether his excitement was due to the event itself or to the privilege of staying up into the wee hours of morning. As I walked him back to the bus at the conclusion of the event, he asked for a copy of his ticket. I didn’t think too much of it as I handed it to him; I assumed he just wanted a souvenir.

When he called me the morning after, he told me he had taken his ticket to Shacharis and placed it in his siddur, and that when davening was over and he closed his siddur, he took out the ticket and gave it a kiss. Before I had a chance to ask him anything more, he added that he held onto the ticket because he wanted a way to savor the memory of that night – and that he would keep the ticket forever.

As I put down the phone, I smiled. He was playing for the winning team.

Benny Rogosnitzky
New York, NY

Editor’s Note: The writer is cantor at Manhattan’s Park East Synagogue.

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