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September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
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Letters To The Editor

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IRF’s Wide Range

Re Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz’s Jan. 31 op-ed column, “The Chief Rabbinate’s New Deal”:

Rabbi Zev Farber’s theoretical proposals to solve the wrenching problem of agunot are his own personal positions and are not the policy of the International Rabbinic Fellowship(IRF).

The IRF is a growing fellowship of Orthodox rabbis, clergy and communal scholars from the entire range of the Modern Orthodox rabbinate.

Rabbi Jason Herman
Executive Director
International Rabbinic Fellowship

Murderers’ Agenda

John Kerry adamantly wants to carve a Palestinian state out of the center of Israel, even though Palestinians assassinated the U.S. ambassador in the Sudan, aided in the murder of 241 Marines in Lebanon, allied with Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War, and celebrated the 9/11 attacks on America.

It is unconscionable for the secretary of state to promote the agenda of murderers of Americans.

In God we trust; not in a delusionary John Kerry.

Chaim ben Zvi
Queens, NY

UNESCO’s Historical Revisionism

You recently reported that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had canceled a planned exhibition on the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel, on the grounds that it could undermine current negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The decision is, of course, a slap in the face to Israel and Jews everywhere. Yet there is a certain peculiar logic to UNESCO’s decision. The current Israel-PA negotiating process seems to be based on the notion that the Judea-Samaria territories belong to the Palestinian Arabs, no questions asked. That’s why every time Israel builds a few apartments in those areas, the international community screams about “illegal settlements.” Yet when the Palestinian Authority builds not just a few apartments but entire new neighborhoods in the territories, nobody says a word.

The canceled exhibition would have highlighted the 3,000 year-old Jewish presence in the Land of Israel – a fact that might upset the entire basis for the international community’s constant pressure on Israel to withdraw from those historically Jewish lands. In an honest negotiating process, that would not be a problem; historical facts would be weighed along with other factors in considering the competing claims.

Moshe Phillips
President
Philadelphia Chapter
Religious Zionists of America

 

Whither Modern Orthodoxy?

Deafening Silence

I was pleasantly surprised by your Jan. 31 editorial “Who Speaks for Modern Orthodoxy?” – especially given the silence you referred to on the part of the OU and the RCA concerning inroads being made into the Modern Orthodox community by proponents of the oxymoron called “Open Orthodoxy.”

What is most interesting regarding that movement’s latest deviation from normative Orthodoxy is that in the past, movement leaders would hide behind the mantra of “avu shteit” – where in the Shulchan Aruch is it prohibited? – when questioned about their practices. But this time is different.

In discussing the exemption of women from the mitzvah of tefillin – and referring to a scenario where a woman feels she would like to go beyond what is required by the letter of the law and don tefillin – the Rema (Aruch Chaim, volume 1, 38:3) states that we are “mochin b’yadan” – that we must protest in the event of such circumstances.

Such unambiguous terminology leaves us with no doubt as to how halacha views this unfortunate practice. Your call for the RCA and the OU to end their deafening silence could not be more appropriate.

Joey Aron
Brooklyn, NY

Shocking Inaction

Kudos to The Jewish Press for speaking out in your wonderful editorial “Who Speaks for Modern Orthodoxy?” The silence of the major Orthodox groups you mentioned – the very groups that should be setting standards and criticizing the self-appointed authorities – is shocking.

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One Response to “Letters To The Editor”

  1. Roy Neal Grissom says:

    Yasher koach to Moshe Phillips. Yet how can Israel and Jewry invoke the historical connection between Jews and 'Eretz Yisra'el without having to deal with the Bible? Yet the Bible as an argument on any public issue has been considered beyond the pale for decades now–ironically, in large part because of historical Xian persecution of Jews. So now what happens? Mainstream Zionism usually ignores the Bible (and certainly HaShem) in its arguments with opponents in favor of a purely secular rationale. To maintain this rationale while invoking the Bible is going to be a problem.

    Furthermore if one begins invoking the Bible on one issue, the floodgates will be opened up to invoking it on other issues as well. Why should the Bible be listened to on one issue but not another? To invoke the Bible while still in political alliance (however "pragmatic") with homosexuals and atheists (as a "minority group") will make the Jewish community hypocritical.

    Perhaps…just perhaps Jews were never meant to turn to secularization for protection? Maybe their mission from Day One has been to teach the Nations about HaShem and His Law, which is the antithesis of secularism, however historically "benign" it has been to Jews (though it has been far from benign to everybody).

    Liberal Jews never let "separation of religion and state" stop them from agitating for ever more destructive policies. How can Orthodox Jews continue to cling to this false concept and refuse to agitate for G-dly positions on all issues?

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