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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
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Letters To The Editor


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Quick Resolution

Thanks to The Jewish Press, our shul was able to reunite a visitor with the siddur he had accidentally left behind.

By Wednesday night of last week – the same day The Jewish Press came out with my letter about the siddur – the siddur’s owner e-mailed me and let me know that numerous people had already contacted him after seeing the letter.

This incident says a lot about your paper’s reach.

Thanks so much for enabling our shul to fulfill the mitzvah of hashavas aveidah.

Rabbi Akiva Males
Kesher Israel Congregation
Harrisburg, PA

Specter Fought Like A Giant

Re “Arlen Specter Remembered As Iconoclast Who Enjoyed Tangling With Tyrants” (news story, Oct. 19):

I am proud to say that late Sen. Specter was a friend of mine. He was the toughest man I ever knew. No matter how difficult the situation was, he stood up like a giant and fought – and with a ready smile.

Everything I ever asked him to do to help Israel, he did – from linking Palestinian aid to compliance with Oslo; to fighting Arab terrorists; to supporting moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem; to opposing Strobe Talbott, a hostile Israel critic, for undersecretary of state.

Specter was Israel’s best friend among the 13 Jewish senators. (Few knew that two of his sisters were Orthodox, with one living in Israel.) His passing was a great loss to Israel, America, and to me. I already miss him terribly.

Morton A. Klein
President
Zionist Organization of America

A Survivor’s Plea

I was born in Poland, and as a young boy I listened to Hitler say on the radio that his aim was to decimate the Jewish people. He did just that, killing six million Jews on the European continent. Today I hear the same from Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He wants to build nuclear bombs to wipe Israel and America off the map.

Yet we aren’t doing anything to stop Iran, just as incompetent and ignorant European leaders, such as Neville Chamberlain, didn’t do anything to stop Hitler in the early 1930s.

President Obama has visited Israel only once – during the 2008 election season. He hasn’t been there since. He did have time, however, to travel to Cairo where he promised the Muslim world a new beginning. In that infamous speech, he criticized Israel for the sufferings of the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians. He also criticized western Christian nations for oppressing the Muslim world while failing to criticize Muslim fundamentalists for killing Americans.

Therefore, as a Holocaust survivor concerned for our future, I plead with my fellow Americans: Please don’t vote for Barack Obama on November 6. We can’t afford another four years of this man.

Larry Wenig
(Via E-Mail)

Liberal Christian Hypocrisy

I don’t know what alleged specific accusations of human rights violations the fifteen leaders of the Christian churches are referring to in their calls for Congress to reconsider U.S. aid to Israel (“Liberal Protestants Show Their True Colors,” editorial, Oct. 19).

Are these leaders aware that there are three formal documents from the three main umbrella Palestinian groups of Fatah, the PLO, and Hamas, all calling for the destruction of Israel?

Are the ministers aware that there were more annual Israeli civilian deaths from Palestinian terrorism after the Oslo “peace” agreements than in the 50 years before the supposed peace agreements were signed? The wall the Israelis built to protect themselves from Palestinian suicide bombers isn’t the obstacle to peace. The obstacles to peace are the Palestinian suicide bombers themselves, and a Palestinian leadership that supports and glorifies the Palestinian suicide bombers by naming squares and parks after them.

William K. Langfan
Palm Beach, FL

Rosenblatt v. Silverman: A Culture War

The numerous comments we’ve received at JewishPress.com responding to Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt’s open letter to comedian Sarah Silverman (op-ed, Oct. 12) are fascinating. Once you get past the expletives, you can learn a lot about the culture that produced them. The statements and the tone of the comments demonstrate the differences, even the massive gap, between Jewish culture and Jewish-American culture.

Rabbi Rosenblatt addressed a public figure who has no problems exposing her inner self and saying whatever is on her mind on any subject, no matter how offensive or inappropriate it might be to anyone. The rabbi questioned what her underlying motives might be and offered what he believes is the answer. He couched his message, as Silverman sometimes does hers, in his notion of Judaic values and cultural identity.

Certainly it’s permissible, possible, even easy to disagree with Rabbi Rosenblatt’s explanation and worldview. I certainly expected to see some intelligent conversations developing around the article. But why all the openly hostile obscenity?

Silverman’s father’s foul-mouthed reaction was the first indication that Rabbi Rosenblatt had inadvertently hit a very raw nerve.

By and large, the commenters were using an obvious double standard.

They claimed the rabbi crossed the line; the rabbi was offensive; the rabbi was (fill in the obscene word) – and followed it up with their thoughts on Judaism (in some cases displaying ignorance and hatred). Yet Silverman, who prides herself on her “potty mouth” and crossing the verbal line on many social mores, is untouchable and can do no wrong.

When Sarah Silverman, on video, propositions Sheldon Adelson, using her doggie in mock soft-porn as substitute for the elderly billionaire – that’s humorous and acceptable.

When Rabbi Rosenblatt tells Sarah Silverman to get married and have children, though, that’s an expression of hatred and intolerance.

The question is, why?

I propose that many of the Jewish-American commenters got so upset because the rabbi crossed a line. The line he crossed, though, was not about his views on motherhood but rather his views on the role of the rabbi and of Judaism.

Judaism, to some of those commenters, belongs locked in a box in a synagogue and should never be allowed out to offer any moral observations, opinions or guidelines that disagree with the most permissive of Western cultural values.

As expressed by some of these commenters, Silverman actually represents “Judaism” to them.

Some of them may have a list of humanitarian/liberal values they call Jewish, while taking traditional Jewish practices such as Shabbat and kashrut (as well as Judaism’s own social values) and relegating them to archaic, comical, even dark places in the culture.

For them, Judaism is liberalism – a definition under which anything is permitted, alongside a strong pride in their cultural/ethnic identity as Jews, regardless of whether that identity actually represents a Jewish value system or an accident of birth.

The question is certainly open as to whether the rabbi was right or wrong in his analysis of Silverman, but one thing is clear: he rattled something deep and painful in the psyches of those who define themselves as cultural/ethnic Jews without having any actual Judaism to go with it.

Stephen Leavitt
Jerusalem

Editor’s Note: The writer manages JewishPress.com, The Jewish Press Internet Division.

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