Readers Come Through Again
Once again we thank The Jewish Press and its many readers for helping to make a success of our Erev Pesach Falafel Campaign for poor Israeli families.
Thanks to the generosity of Jewish Press readers, this year we were able to send 52 families – that’s almost 500 people – to our local falafel store for a falafel, French fries and a drink.
Jewish Press readers can be found in an amazing range of places. We received checks from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California and several other states, as well as from Canada and Israel.
Checks that came in too late for the Falafel Fund will be applied to our Shavuos Cheesecake Fund, which gives the ingredients (and recipe) for a healthy no-bake cheesecake to poor families.
Jews And Baseball
I thoroughly enjoyed Jason Maoz’s moving ode to baseball (“A Love Affair With Baseball,” front page essay, April 5).
I too was born to immigrants, though my parents came to America in the 1920s. I was born in 1928 and quickly took to the game of baseball. Being considerably older than Mr. Maoz, my heroes were Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio.
Though I lived in Brooklyn and was surrounded by Dodgers fans, I was a fan of the New York Yankees right from the start. I did love Jackie Robinson, though, and went to quite a few Dodgers games at Ebbets field to cheer him on. So naturally I was quite taken with Ami Eden’s April 19 op-ed (“Remembering Jackie Robinson’s Fight Against Anti-Semitism”).
Jews in particular had a real soft spot for Jackie – in fact, it was common to hear Jewish fans at Ebbets Field affectionately refer to him as “Yankel,” calling out “Yankel, get a hit!” or “Steal the base, Yankel!”
As an Orthodox baseball fan I salute The Jewish Press for articles like Mr. Maoz’s and Mr. Eden’s, and of course for Irwin Cohen’s Baseball Insider column, which I wish would appear more than once a month.
Tongue On Wry
Isaac Kohn was exceedingly harsh in castigating the haredi parties (UTJ and Shas) for alleged hypocrisy and treachery (“The Ultimate in Audacity,” op-ed, April 19).
Kohn needs to examine objectively the history and mitigating circumstances, which will put everything in a more favorable light and illuminate the haredi parties’ shining altruism and glowing righteousness.
For example, while Kohn decried UTJ’s collaboration in the 2005 destruction (in Gaza and Shomron) of flourishing Jewish communities, synagogues, yeshivas, kollelim, the expulsion of ten thousand Jews from their homes, the loss of their livelihood and also the uprooting of fifty deceased Jews from their graves, he neglected to mention that in exchange for this collaboration UTJ received approximately $60 million for their worthy and special pet projects, including kollelim.
Now, is it at all reasonable to expect the UTJ haredi party to forgo $60 million in order to save some ten thousand Jews who wouldn’t vote for them anyway?
Likewise, in faulting Shas for collaborating in the withdrawal from Hebron, Kohn doesn’t mention that Hebron was sacrificed in a deal between Shas and Netanyahu that required the latter to appoint an attorney general who would agree not to prosecute Shas political leader Aryeh Deri for bribery. In the end Netanyahu couldn’t complete his part of the bargain and Deri ended up serving two years in jail, but only because of a booming hue and cry that arose from the public. So Netanyahu, his face plastered with omelets, was forced to withdraw the appointment.
Now, is it at all reasonable to fault the Shas haredi party for sacrificing Hebron in favor of “pidyon shevuyim” so their leader could avoid time in the slammer?
Free Speech And Pam Geller
Re “The Free Speech Wars” (editorial, April 19):
Free speech pretty much means one thing: you can speak without government penalty. You can get on your soapbox in the public park, blog on your blog, write your letters, and send your e-mails. What you are not entitled to is kavod. You do not have the right to be invited to address a private forums, such as synagogues. The notion that Pamela Geller is being censored, in any way, shape or form, is absurd. Her blog has hundreds of thousands of followers. She has been on Fox News dozens of times. She speaks in many conservative fora.
Like so many cynical manipulators of the First Amendment, what she is being denied is the additional legitimacy she seeks that may be gained from the honor of being invited to address a synagogue like the Great Neck Synagogue or a similar gathering.
By the way, Habeeb Ahmed, the person Geller alleges organized the campaign to have her disinvited from Great Neck Synagogue, is not an imam. He’s a past president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, a moderate mosque that has welcomed delegations of Jews and Muslims from Israel, and has worked with the local Jewish community for years. Ahmed has been honored for such work, and there is no record of his saying anything controversial.
Geller posted on her blog the e-mails Ahmed sent out to friends. It is quite clear, contrary to your editorial, that Ahmed sent them from his personal account. He includes his title as a commissioner of the Nassau County Human Rights Commission in his form signature, which appears at the very bottom of the e-mail. There is no mention of his occupying a position on the Human Rights Commission in the e-mail’s actual text.
Geller had been condemned as a bigot by both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Jewish Press should follow their lead.
Boston Marathon Massacre: A Response
Last week, life in America took on a different meaning. Two explosions ripped through the finish line of the Boston Marathon, turning a sunny day of celebration into a gloomy day of devastation.
As the Marathon came to its abrupt and tragic end, our sense of safety and security was shattered. Whenever death intrudes, life just seems so vulnerable. The painful feelings of grief and helplessness cannot be ignored: How should we respond? What can we do in the face of such ruthless brutality?
Amid the ambiguities and confusion, a fascinating juxtaposition stood clear: On the one hand, a group of runners and their fans had assembled to celebrate life. On the other, a group of murderers gathered to spew evil and destruction. Although Moses commanded us to “choose life, so that you and your children may live,” they chose death. Ironically, the sanctity of life that we cherish so deeply disturbs those who hate it so fervently.
And here lies the key to our response: we must respond to death by strengthening our commitment to life and experiencing fully its every moment. Passionate hatred toward living a life of Godly and moral ideals must be fought with a passionate love for it. Forces that wish to destroy life ought to be challenged by forces that aspire to build life with purpose and direction. True, our government and its agencies should do everything in its power to eradicate any person or body that seeks its harm. But it is not enough to focus on that which we are fighting against; we must also know that which we are fighting for.
“An unexamined life is not worth living,” Socrates famously said. Let us rise from this tragedy by ensuring that we live an examined and purposeful life. The Boston Marathon of 2013 ended tragically, but the marathons of our lives must continue. Let us leave our marks on this world for good. Let us fully realize our God-given skills and talents. Let us “choose life” and fill our years with actions of goodness and deeds of kindness.
Rabbi Pinchas Allouche
Editor’s Note: Rabbi Allouche is spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Tefillah in Scottsdale, Arizona.
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