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Letters To The Editor

Schumer’s Shame

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham put his Democratic colleague Chuck Schumer to shame during last week’s Senate hearings on President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense. In connection with what Hagel had said about the “Jewish lobby,” Graham challenged him to name one senator who was intimidated by that lobby. Hagel had no answer.

Compare Graham’s grilling of Hagel with the actions of Schumer, who for the sake of political expediency effusively endorsed Hagel after a brief and private meeting.

But let us look at the bright side. Schumer did get to say “l’chaim” at the inaugural ceremonies, and that is truly Yiddishe nachas.

Reuven Solomon (Via E-Mail)

Arguing Guns (I)

Robert Avrech’s account of his harrowing adventure during the 1992 Los Angeles riots was as riveting a story as one would expect from a seasoned screenwriter (”Jew Without a Gun,” front-page essay, Feb. 1), but I think some of the lessons he draws from his experience beg further scrutiny.

Avrech might feel secure as a “Jew with a gun,” but many studies indicate that keeping a gun in the home significantly increases the risk for a gun-related death in the home. The gun you bring into your home is far more likely to injure or kill a family member or friend than an armed intruder. For this reason the American Academy of Pediatrics states “the safest home for children and teens is one without guns.”

Intentionally or unintentionally, Avrech also creates the perception that the most effective way to deal with an intrusion is to engage the “bad guys” in a firefight. This is unwise in most circumstances. Even if you, as the homeowner, could manage to retrieve your gun from locked storage, retrieve your bullets (stored in a separate location for safety), and load your weapon before the intruder enters the house, shouldn’t you instead be using this critical time to get the family out of the house or into a safe room and, of course, call the police? For the safety of the family, I would hope so.

Finally, Avrech hypothesizes that “if you outlaw weapons, only the state and the outlaws will be armed.” Putting aside the dubious logic of this statement, I don’t know who Avrech thinks is conspiring to outlaw weapons. Recent proposals only restrict certain kinds of military-style guns and ammunition that have facilitated the horrific mass killings of recent years.

Such restrictions seem quite reasonable to most Americans since these types of guns are not needed for hunting or self-defense (as Avrech himself attests). Moreover, as far as I can tell, none of the proposed initiatives would interfere with Avrech’s enjoyment of his own Springfield pistol. So why all the drama?

David Fass Teaneck, NJ

Arguing Guns (II)

The Obama administration is intent on disarming Americans, which it will do with the convenient help of the United Nations.

The UN under the guise of a proposed global “Small Arms Treaty” that is premised to fight “terrorism,” “insurgency” and “international crime syndicates” will also target the Second Amendment right for law-abiding citizens to own and bear arms as a defense against tyranny. It will create an international gun registry – clearly setting the stage for full-scale gun confiscation.

Without due diligence, during some night in the future your front door will be kicked in by UN Blue Helmets.

Robert Dahlquist Orange, CA

Stop The Self-Promotion

While he likely meant no offense, I must take exception to reader Samuel Finck’s thesis that the tremendous resurgence of Torah Judaism in America is directly attributable to the last two Lubavitcher Rebbes (Letters, Feb. 1).

To be sure, their contributions were significant, but we cannot downplay the efforts of such luminaries as Rav Aharon Kotler, Rav Moshe Feinstein and the Satmar Rebbe, to name but a few.

It is time for the various strands of Orthodoxy to stop engaging in self-promotion and learn to function as a cohesive unit, and with Hashem’s help this unity will lead to the Ultimate Redemption with the coming of Mashiach.

Dr. Yaakov Stern (Via E-Mail)

Question Of Priority

A recent story in the New York Daily News caught my eye. The News reported on the new Lincoln Square Synagogue, built at a cost of $50 million, including $30 million raised in new funds. The building has bronze featured throughout and sanctuary benches made with wood from cedar from Lebanon.

Whenever I read a story like this about a nonprofit organization building a luxurious new structure, I wonder what happened to the recession we keep hearing about. And I can’t help but recall reading articles in The Jewish Press and elsewhere about the yeshiva tuition crisis and receiving letters in the mail asking me to help the hungry and the sick both in New York and Israel.

While each person obviously has the right to donate his money as he sees fit and each organization has the right to spend its money as it desires, the story leaves me troubled. (Though I’ll admit that for all I know, Lincoln Square Synagogue raises millions of dollars a year for charity.)

But it’s not just the Lincoln Square story that’s at issue. When there are plenty of empty seats in neighboring shuls and a rabbi or a group decides to spend money on a new shul (or shteibel), the question is the same. When an ornate new shul gets built, the question is the same. (Yes, I know about hiddur mitzvah.) And when thousands of dollars are given or raised to write a sefer Torah for a shul that already has a dozen, it’s the same question again.

Harold Marks
(Via E-Mail)

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