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March 3, 2015 / 12 Adar , 5775
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Letters To The Editor

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Toys Without Frills

I always enjoy Arnold Fine’s I Remember When column and this past week was no exception.

When Mr. Fine described the homemade items kids used for toys way back when, I was reminded of stories my father told me of playing with bottle corks and caps.

It got me thinking of all the money we spend on toys for children and grandchildren these days. Those thoughts were fresh in my mind as I went to my grandchildren for Shabbos. My young great-grandson Yehuda proudly escorted me to his room where I would be sleeping, and there on the floor stood a huge bottle filled with corks.

Surprised, I asked him about it. “I collect them and we play with them,” was his answer. I guess the saying that everything eventually comes back in style has truth to it –which certainly is good news because we have grown far too materialistic.

Nechama Meyerson
(Via E-Mail)

Glimpse Into Barbarity

I was fascinated by Ed Lion’s front-page essay (“Kristallnacht – A Family Recollection,” Nov. 8). He captured the sense of utter helplessness of the Jews in Germany and how evil can quickly destroy the achievements of a lifetime.

The story of the unspeakable horrors the German barbarians inflicted on the Jews in the concentration camps is only part of the story. The thugs masquerading as cultured gentlemen who made war against the robust, family-oriented and tradition-laden Jews of Germany is another.

I tried to see myself in the circumstances Mr. Lion eloquently described and I literally had to gasp for air. “Never Again” is not just a slogan, it is an indictment of the German soul from whence such inhuman brutality could arise.

David Ackerman
(Via E-Mail)

That De Blasio Endorsement

I think readers Sara Springer, Michael Ackerman and Allan Friedberg got it all wrong in criticizing The Jewish Press for endorsing Bill de Blasio (Letters, Nov. 8).

Bill de Blasio was always close to the Jewish community, as a councilman and as public advocate. He has many Jewish advisers and has always stood with us. Moreover, many Jewish religious leaders supported him in this election, though I suspect that they, along with The Jewish Press, don’t agree with him on all issues.

Also, as your endorsement noted, Joe Lhota himself said in his ads that his positions on core issues affecting us as a community were not all that different from those of de Blasio.

Arlene Brecher
(Via E-Mail)

Jewish Assets And Iraq

I am really surprised that you advocate rejecting Iraq’s call for the return of certain items U.S. troops took from Iraqi buildings during the U.S. invasion in 2003, even though they belonged to Iraqi Jews who were forced to leave Iraq and seized by Saddam Hussein (“Sending Jewish Assets to Iraq,” editorial, November 8).

Personally, I would like to see such things in the possession of the successors or heirs of the original Jewish owners. But how can you legitimate invading soldiers seizing the property of a sovereign country, in violation of international law?

What would your position be had Saddam Hussein formally expropriated, through taxation or otherwise, those same assets from the Jews who remained in Iraq?

Menashe Fried
Jerusalem

Gratitude To Pastor Hagee

I read Steve Walz’s interview with Pastor John Hagee with great interest (Nov. 8, “Where Are Israel’s Enemies of Centuries Past?”).

I feel a sincere obligation to express appreciation and thanks to Pastor Hagee for his dedication to and support of Israel. He enjoys a reputation for integrity and he delivers his pro-Israel message to a large audience of followers. I hope the interview with Mr. Walz generates an appreciative response from many others in our Jewish community.

Norman Shine
Brooklyn, NY

Baseball Book Should Become Standard Text

The monthly Baseball Insider column by Irwin Cohen, which covers so many aspects of baseball, is to be highly praised.

I just read his recently published book Jewish History In the Time of Baseball’s Jews and recommend that it become a standard text in our Jewish day schools. Our children need to be educated about the period of the Second World War in a manner that will be most meaningful to them.

Irwin Cohen’s book will surely serve that purpose.

Rabbi Simcha A. Green
Berkeley, CA

Obamacare Mess

Sometimes one must admit to a mistake or a partial mistake. A while back I wrote a letter to The Jewish Press titled “Thumbs Up for Obamacare.” I still believe it is better that a young person can stay on his or her parents’ health insurance policy until age 26, as stipulated by Obama’s health plan, and that insurance companies should not be able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions or set lifetime limits.

But this current website mess is unacceptable. In addition, President Obama said, time and again, that people would be able to keep their policies. But people are being dropped from their insurance policies.

The problems with the Affordable Care Act must be solved – and soon.

Reuven Solomon
(Via E-Mail)

Responding To My Critics On MBP

Clearly, my op-ed article “In Defense of Parental Consent for Metzitzah B’Peh” (Oct. 18), struck a chord.

Not one but three of the M.D. or Ph.D. experts engaged by the plaintiffs in the ongoing lawsuit involving MBP wrote a strongly worded response (“Consent Forms for Metzitzah B’Peh: Empowering Parents or Interfering in Religious Practice?” that appeared in your Nov. 1 issue

But they appear to have forsaken accuracy and context in favor of a heated – one might say personal – broadside. I will give just three representative examples.

First, the friend of the court brief filed by the Becket Fund that they rely on so heavily actually “expresses no opinion” on whether the regulation “withstands strict scrutiny” (i.e., whether it is constitutional or not); it argues “only that strict scrutiny [a heightened standard of review] must be applied” in evaluating the regulation.

More troubling still is the authors’ continued reliance on the so-called UPenn Study. Though the authors acknowledge that Penn has “taken issue with” their “characterization of [the study’s] findings,” they continue to suggest that the study undermines the well-established link between MBP and the transmission of neonatal herpes simplex virus (HSV).

In fact, as the UPenn report concludes, whatever limitations there might be with the available data, “All of [the reviewed] studies present clinical findings that are consistent with transmission of infection from mohel to infant, including the location of lesions, timing of symptom emergence, and typology of HSV.”

These and numerous other peer-reviewed case studies (including studies published in the Pediatric Journal of Infectious Diseases and in the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Journal in Spring and Summer 2013, after the UPenn study was released) upend the assertion that there is “not a single case of neonatal herpes that has been confirmed as occurring from MBP.”

As I made clear in my piece, an infant dying or suffering permanent brain damage as a result of MBP is a “worst case scenario” that, while not common (contrary to the mischaracterization of my argument that leads off the response), is well-documented. So is the resistance to testing within certain communities when infection-by-MBP is suspected. The government is easily within its rights to rely on the overwhelming consensus of the established medical community, buttressed by peer-reviewed literature, in passing informed consent regulations.

Finally, and most fundamentally, the authors failed entirely to respond to my piece’s core point, which is that it should be the parents, not the mohel, who decide – after evaluating the medical risks (however significant or insignificant they are) in light of their own position on the halachic status of MBP – whether to have MBP performed on their own child.

Akiva Shapiro
(Via E-Mail)

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One Response to “Letters To The Editor”

  1. Roy Neal Grissom says:

    Re the NYC mayoral election:

    That the Jewish Press doesn't care whether or not a candidate it endorses accepts the absolute minimum of universal Noachide morality indicates that its generational loyalty to the Democrat party surpasses any and all other issues. But the whole thing is simply symptomatic of a Jewish community that relies on secularism and eighteenth century "enlightenment" ideology rather than HaShem as the surest guarantee of peace and safety.

    If you insist on living in a sewer as the best choice for a "minority group" to make, don't be surprised if some of the substances gets stuck on your own feet.

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