Columnist’s Anti-Bush Tirade

The Jewish Press, which I’ve been reading since its first issue, is a greatly improved paper – one that we can be proud of, even when we don?t totally agree with it.

However, I felt a chill of fear when I read Emanuel Winston’s column of Sept. 5. I don’t want to sound like a real Golus Yid, but the venom in that particular column against President Bush and Secretary of State Powell was beyond the pale.

There can be debate – even fiery debate. One may criticize and fulminate and use convincing arguments to their fullest extent. But the accusations and name-calling in that column – against an administration that has been by far the most pro-Israel of all – is a most unhelpful tactic.

If you consider the changes wrought by this president in his dealings with Israel and its enemies, you realize that we have much to be thankful for. Indeed, one must wonder at the prescience of The Jewish Press when you endorsed the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2000. I sometimes think that even you have marveled at the way this president, knowing full well that he can never hope to get a majority of the Jewish vote, assumed positions that were very pro-
Israel. (Who knows? Maybe his policies are a result of your endorsement.)

Mr. Winston’s invective, unfortunately, reflects not only an insensitivity to the possible repercussions from such venom, it also betrays a boorishness that can backfire not only on you, but on the American Jewish community as a whole. I hope that in the future you exercise more editorial control over this man’s ranting.

Moe Bach
(Via E-Mail)

Editor’s Response: As we’ve pointed out on previous occasions, we do not necessarily agree with everything our columnists espouse. We endeavor to give our featured columnists and our op-ed contributors as much latitude as possible when it comes to expressing their views – within reason, of course. As for President Bush, anyone familiar with the editorial positions of our newspaper and the general tone of our opinion pieces knows that, despite our
strong opposition to the road map peace plan, we have been quite supportive of this administration and appreciative of its generally strong support of Israel.

Storming For Gidone

We are all at fault for allowing the murder of Gidone Busch to fade from public interest. Our secular brethren don’t want to hear of Mr. Busch. They will protest and demonstrate for non-Jews, but not for an observant Jew. You know the old fears: What will they think of us? We can’t rock the boat. Our position is precarious.

New York had a similar incident involving an African immigrant who was shot to death by the police. People stormed, and something happened. Observant Jews are faced with many things that require storming. Your paper is now storming. Yasher Koach.

Shabsi Turner
Chicago, IL

Waskow Deserves Criticism

Re the letter to the editor from Adriaan Finnerman in your Sept. 5 issue:

To criticize Steven Plaut for his op-ed article on Arthur Waskow is to miss the point entirely. “Rabbi’ Waskow’s political and religious views are contrary to any standard of normative rabbinic Judaism. I suggest reader Finnerman do a little research before voicing an opinion. One good source is a pamphlet written by Rael Jean Isaac for Americans For a Safe
Israel titled “the Rabbis of Breira.”

Paul Schnek
Jackson Heights, NY

Defending The Mayor (I)

I was distressed to read Sam Rieger’s letter in The Jewish Press criticizing Mayor Bloomberg on his trip to Israel (‘Unmoved By Mayoral Visit,’ Sept. 5). With all the anti-Semitism in the world today, why would Mr. Rieger criticize a political leader who makes the supreme effort to travel to Israel during this period of difficulty? How many politicians are not going there? How many Jews are not going there? Who cares what Mr. Bloomberg did or didn’t do on his
trip? If he stayed in his hotel room (which he did not) it would have been a terrific effort on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people. Of course he had bodyguards with him; he’s a Jewish
mayor of the largest city in the U.S.

J. Philip Rosen
New York, NY

Defending The Mayor (II)

In his letter, Sam Rieger asked what was the point of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent visit to Israel after the tragic bus bombing by terrorists in Jerusalem.

Perhaps Rieger is not familiar with the many acts of kindness that Mayor Bloomberg performed during his short trip.

First, he performed the mitzvah of nichum aveilim (comforting the mourners) by visiting Chana and Matanya Nathanson, who were sitting shiva for their two-year-old daughter, Tehilla.

Second, he performed the mitzvah of bikur cholim (visiting the sick) by meeting with the children who survived the terrorist attack in the pediatric ICU of Hadassah Hospital.

Finally, by making the trip (which was undertaken at his own expense), he demonstrated to the entire world that he stood in solidarity with Israel – refusing to stand by idly while Jewish
blood was being spilled.

Mayor Bloomberg may not be observant, but his actions certainly demonstrated an unwavering commitment to Israel of which all Jews – Orthodox and otherwise – can be proud.

Michael Feldstein
Stamford, CT

On The Other Hand…

I was really put off by Councilman Simcha Felder’s gushing column last week reporting on his trip to Jerusalem with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Felder, an elected official who sits in the
legislative chamber of New York City government, sounds like a kid who can’t buy his own ticket when he thanks the mayor for giving him ‘the great privilege of participating in this once in a lifetime experience.’

I also think Felder’s description of the “hero’s welcome” he and his group received at the Kotel was a bit much: ” Our security detail, a combination of New York and Israeli police as well as Shin Bet agents, had their hands full holding back the excited crowds.”

What got me most, however, was his description of his feelings while riding a bus along the same route of the August 19 attack secure in the protection of what he acknowledged was ‘tight security.’

Here are Felder’s memorable words: “Slowly, the bus traveled to the attack site. I felt some trepidation, not knowing what we were going to be faced with.”

I’m sure those ‘excited’ throngs felt very badly about his ‘trepidation.’

Fred Selidiker
New York, NY

Lishmah Pro

I am disappointed that The Jewish Press, both editorially and in its Letters section, continues to attack Lishmah and its efforts to bring all Jews together to study Torah. You criticize Lishmah’s sponsors for denigrating “normative” Judaism in giving non-Orthodox streams equal billing. On the contrary, they should be applauded for doing so. It is very clear to me that our only hope for survival in the 21st century is to seize upon anything that works to bind us together and not get hung up on observance of ritual. In case you haven’t noticed, there are vastly more non-Orthodox Jews than Orthodox. Pragmatic compromise is the name of the modern game.

Ellen Kayson
New York, NY

Lishmah Con

Why would Rabbi Avi Weiss and his Orthodox Lishmah colleagues want to be a part of Reform and Reconstructionist efforts at convincing Jews that there are no binding religious observances intrinsic to Judaism? On what authority do they base setting prior practice on its ear?

Indeed, if it is not our special Divine commandments that define us, what then makes us Jews? Even among most of the various splinter denominations of Christianity there are shared religious imperatives with disagreement limited largely to their implementation.

Nosson Geller
(Via E-Mail)

Not Alike At All

Arthur Weston in his letter to the editor (Aug.29) made a very astute observation regarding

Catholicism and its belief in Jewish deicide. During the inauguration of Vatican II, I was Catholic and heard many sermons regarding this subject. (My brother is currently a member of the Catholic clergy.) What was stated was: “If we continue to blame the Jews for killing Jesus, they will never want to convert. It should be explained that it is not a collective guilt. In other words, the Jews today cannot be held responsible for what the Jews did at that time.”

A rather amusing note is that at the same time that this was said about Jews, the same was being said regarding Protestants. Until that time, Catholics were not allowed to enter a Protestant church. The Catholic Church then said, “How can we expect to convert Protestants if we won’t allow Catholics to enter their churches and we condemn interfaith services?”

It should be noted that this same subterfuge is used by the Church to convince Jews that they and Catholics are “so much alike.” I shudder every time an observant Jew innocently says to me when they learn I am a convert, “Catholics and Jews are so much alike – it’s no wonder you became so observant!”

L’havdil! Having been educated in that religion, I know that it is closer to avodah zara than to Torah Judaism. Baruch Hashem, I have been a Jew now for more than thirty-five years. I learn Chumash, halacha, chassidus and Talmud. Ours is a beautiful faith from Hashem, the One, true and only G-d. May no Jew be led to think otherwise, and together may we merit to
see the coming of our Righteous Moshiach.

Jocelyn Ruth Krieger
(Via E-Mail)

Catholic Criticism Of Gibson Movie

Rose Brennan’s allegation (Letters, Sept. 5) that Mel Gibson’s passion play has received not one word of condemnation from an ”enlightened” and newly ”sensitive” Catholic hierarchy is untrue.

Rev. Professor John Pawlikowski, president of the International Council of Christians and Jews and a very prominent representative of the Catholic Church, mounted a spirited attack on the Gibson movie while visiting Australia. The condemnation was prominently displayed in the Melbourne Age newspaper. Gibson’s side also accused the church of obtaining its draft of the script illegally.

Philip Heilbrunn
Melbourne, Australia

You Read It Here First

Upon reading the article entitled ‘An Open Letter to the World’ in your Sept. 5 issue, the word plagiarism immediately came to mind, even though the byline indicated the piece was ‘submitted,’ not written, by Sam Domb.

What you neglected to mention was that the article had in fact been written in the 1980’s by Rabbi Meir Kahane (may G-d avenge his blood).

Sherine Levine
Brooklyn, NY

Editor’s Response: You’re absolutely right; we should have made Rabbi Kahane’s authorship of the article crystal clear. In fact, as was the case with a substantial portion of Rabbi Kahane’s writings, ” ‘An Open Letter to the World’ originally appeared in The Jewish Press ” the Jan. 8, 1988 issue, to be precise.

Everyone Can Help

Every Jew who reads this letter has the power to unite Jews everywhere to give tremendous help to Israel.

Please send copies of this letter to rabbis of every synagogue in your community asking them to announce on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur a world-wide campaign for every Jew to:

1) Send as much tzedakah as possible to Israel; and

2) Pray every day for peace in Israel.

Israel is greatly in need of our help – both spiritually and financially – at this time. It is fighting for its existence with very little support from the world. In addition to the costs of defending
itself against terrorism, the economy is down because of a decrease in tourism. Our rabbis can announce the names of worthy organizations collecting funds for Israel at this time.

G-d tells us in the Torah that if we give 10 percent of our income to tzedakah, we will be rewarded with riches.

Please also send this letter ASAP via mail, fax, or e-mail to as many Jews as you can so that this campaign will reach every corner of the world.

May G-d grant us all great success and peace in Israel.

Miriam Halevy
(Via E-Mail)

Fair Warning

On my recent visit to Eretz Yisrael I went to daven vatikin at the Kotel. After davening was over I left my tefillin on the chair I had sat on for a two-minute trip to the bathroom – and when I returned my tefillin were gone. Fortunately, I got them back a few days later. That, however, does not mean that everyone who has tefillin taken from the Kotel will get them back, especially since there are people in Israel who steal tefillin in order to resell them.

I urge anyone bringing tefillin to the Kotel: Do not leave your tefillin unattended even for one second – even if it means bringing your tefillin into the bathroom. The halacha allows you to bring your tefillin into the bathroom as long as they’re double-wrapped. If you place your tefillin in their cases and put them into a shopping bag, your tefillin are considered double-

Eli Alter
Brooklyn, NY

A Contrarian And Her Critics

Rachel Weiss Responds to Letters That Appeared in the Aug. 29 and Sept. 5 Issues

In Yiddish there’s a saying, “Oif der ganiv brent der hittle,” loosely translated as “The thief
feels his hat burning.” Could my expressed views possibly have hit on some raw nerves? All this indignation and stirred-up emotion could, in my humble opinion, have been better suited to
occasions that warrant such heated-up passion.

Why is it so difficult to face the fact that no two persons are alike? There are social butterflies
and loners, card-players and boardwalk amblers, couch potatoes and avid joggers, opera lovers and rock ‘n rollers, meat eaters and vegetarians, perpetual dreamers and unrepentant realists, knights in shining armor and chauvinistic apes, outgoing personnas and reserved souls … you get the picture. What works for one may not work for the other. Not for naught is matchmaking such a daunting task.

The bottom line is that we are here to do and accomplish great things within the boundaries set
by our Torah, and preferably – whenever possible, Mr. Bleiberg – without fanfare, kudos, public tributes and self-plaudits. The more ‘hidden’ one’s act of chesed to another, the more meritorious the deed.

It is an inherent trait of our people that we are not given to flaunting our G-d-given talents and beneficence. In the same vein, there are sects of people that may be not quite as schooled in
social etiquette as many of you may hanker for, yet who have been imbued with a deep sense of modesty from childhood on. This precludes mingling with members of the opposite sex at
simchas, in the workplace, and in casual chance encounters. Sound strange to some? For those who practice this way of life, it is simply normal. Situations differ from one another, as well. One can’t simply judge another’s behavior or mannerism in one swipe across the board. There are times when it is appropriate and befitting to greet another, and there are circumstances under which it may not be altogether proper to do so.

While rude behavior is never acceptable and should not be tolerated, our energies ought to be
focused and channeled in allaying the loads of the needy amongst us. Whether in the form of an uplifting smile, an invitation to a Shabbos meal, or various offers that may include monetary
assistance or simply a supporting arm or shoulder, these individual achievements will certainly score more brownie points in the hereafter than will keeping count of who did or did not greet you in the street today.

The next time you feel your blood pressure leap in tune to your resentment towards the woman who just passed you by on the crowded avenue and seemed not to notice you, lighten up. She may very well have been rushing to her daily voluntary stint at the local nursing home or hospital to help feed and otherwise comfort long-suffering and lonely patients. While her
humanitarian mission may not be obvious to the casual meanderer in the street, you can be sure that she is accruing credit in the Book that counts. So let’s all count our blessings and stop nitpicking and finding fault in others.

Ahavat Yisrael is indeed a lofty aspiration, Ms. Leogrande. The true essence of such is, baruch Hashem, rampant amongst our people. Tomchei Shabbos, Bikur Cholim, Hatzolah, Chaveirim, Kupat Ezra, Yad L’Achim are just a few of the numerous organizations run by selfless and dedicated volunteers who tirelessly practice ahavat Yisrael 24/7. If this doesn’t sufficiently satisfy the craving of Mr. Bleiberg for word to get out about “all the tremendous qualities a Torah Jew is supposed to exhibit,” a good start to that end may be to greet both our Jewish and non-Jewish neighbors alike.

By the way, where exactly does it say that we – you and I – must think alike? It’s okay to agree to disagree. The great Hillel and Shamai did just that, while maintaining decorum and the utmost respect for one another. That admirable attribute – in addition to extending benefit of doubt and thinking before acting or judging – will render this planet an infinitely more pleasant place to dwell in.

It is precisely at this auspicious time of year that we are obliged to search our inner selves. This month of Elul affords us the chance to turn its acronym [alef, lamed, vav, lamed] from Oy Li V’Oyva Li – woe is to me and woe is to my being – to Ani L’Dodi V’Dodi Li – I turn to my ‘friend’ and He will turn to me, so that we merit Ashrei Lach V’Ashrei L’Nishmasach – praiseworthy is to you and praiseworthy is to your soul.

At this juncture, please allow me to clarify an apparently grossly misconstrued perception. I find absolutely nothing wrong with the name “Leogrande,” and question of its origin never
crossed my mind. I am rather mystified as to Ms. Zach’s detailed speculation of such irrelevancy – and, in fact, I happen to feel that it is a beautiful and aristocratic name. Its meaning also just happened to fit with the tone of the writer’s original letter. But now that she’s contritely gone from “I can’t imagine why anyone would want to say ‘Good Shabbos’ to you, Ms. Weiss!” to “we simply want to connect with our fellow Jews – and that includes you” and “I wish you a Gut Shabbos,” I would like to digress for a moment to expound on the Hebrew translation of (Leo) “aryeh” – whose first letter, alef, stands for Elul … the reish for Rosh Hashana … the yud for Yom Kippur … and the hei for Hashana Rabbah. “Aryeh shoag mi lo
yireh…” – “When the lion roars, who shall dare not have fear in his heart!” The nature of the coming High Holy days is meant to instill in us a fear of Heaven and to awaken our souls to teshuvah.

Whereby – should any of the content of my previous letters have served to offend anyone in
any way, I hereby beg forgiveness of those who may have been inadvertently hurt. To all my
adversaries whose opposition to my sentiments ran the gamut of mild to vehement and downright wrathful – please know that I harbor no grudge and forgive you wholeheartedly. May pleasantries cross your path continuously on your journey through life.

Rachel Weiss
(Via E-Mail)

ZOA Pushed For Pipes

We at the Zionist Organization of America applaud President Bush for using his recess appointment authority to bring the expertise of Dr. Daniel Pipes to the U.S. Institute of Peace. We were dismayed at the extent to which Dr. Pipes’s character and record were being maligned with falsehoods and inaccuracies.

More troubling than the accusations leveled against Dr. Pipes, however, was the relatively
weak level of visible support for his nomination that characterized the last few months. During the course of lobbying, most members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Committee, which had jurisdiction over the nomination, we were told on several occasions that the Committee members were being flooded with calls and faxes opposing Dr. Pipes, and that we were the only American Jewish organization that they had heard from regularly on this matter.

In addition, we were also told by senior White House officials that the nomination was not
receiving visible support from most of the organized Jewish community, which had been a
source of deep concern at one point for the administration.

For these reasons, we are disappointed that some media outlets have taken it upon themselves
to label the Pipes recess appointment as a “victory” for certain Jewish groups without acknowledging the Zionist Organization of America’s role. While some groups did eventually engage in efforts to lend support to the nomination, it was made clear to us by several political officials that the Zionist Organization of America was allocating much more time and resources towards lending support for Dr. Pipes than other notable American Jewish organizations to which the success of the nomination has been attributed.

As with all of our advocacy work, we do what we do not for recognition, but to achieve goals that support America’s security interests. At the same time, however, we believe that certain media sources are doing a disservice to the American public by giving credit solely to the American Jewish groups that were clearly not as engaged in this nomination fight as we were. Responsible journalists should, at a minimum, be listing the Zionist Organization of America among those groups who can claim victory with respect to this important appointment.

Sarah Stern
National Policy Coordinator
Ben Lerner
Deputy National Policy Coordinator
Zionist Organization of America