Joshua Rosenthal’s tribute to his late father, Harry Rosenthal (In Memoriam, June 13) was not only a warm and fitting tribute from a good son to a good father, of blessed memory, but it also gave readers of The Jewish Press a rare and fascinating glimpse into the dynamics of America’s First Family in Jewish newspapers, the Klasses.
I was fortunate enough to have been a classmate of the writer of the tribute at Yeshiva College and the rabbinical school, and he deserves a living tribute as well, l’havdil, for always being such a mensch. But there is more.
A number of rabbis who today may be in different parts of the country and the world owe Rabbi Josh Rosenthal a tremendous debt of gratitude for helping them through the ordeal of preparing for tests by virtue of his writing the best notes in one of our most important classes – in different colors for different commentators.
I believe a not insignificant number of the members of our class were the beneficiaries of copies of those notes.
Rabbi Aaron I. Reichel, Esq.
Kew Gardens, NY
Some Things Never Change
Rabbi Berel Wein’s June 13 front-page essay, “Miami Beach Memoirs,” was a delightful read and I definitely plan to purchase his new book.
One thing that struck me in a less than pleasant manner, however (and this was no fault of Rabbi Wein, who was merely relating his experiences), was the unmistakable whiff of factionalism and the less than ethical behavior evident in the behavior of some of the people Rabbi Wein wrote about – specifically the kosher meat wholesaler who was exposed as a dishonest hypocrite and the people in the community who badmouthed Rabbi Wein’s mikveh.
Turns out Miami Beach in the 1960s was a lot like frum communities today. We tend to look back at the past with the proverbial rose-colored glasses. But the “good old days” never seem to live up to their reputation, and Orthodox Jews in particular have a tendency to romanticize the past, whether talking or writing about prewar Europe or postwar America.
Rabbi Wein’s honesty is refreshing, if not always comforting.
Unfortunately, the actions of Pope Francis in honoring Holocaust survivors and his appearances at the tomb of Herzl, the Western Wall and Yad Vashem were too little, too late to compensate for his previous actions in Jordan and the Palestinian territories (news story, editorial, May 30).
The pope made five mistakes during his Mideast trip.
First, instead of honoring the link between Judaism and Christianity by visiting Israel initially, he chose to journey instead to a majority-Muslim nation, Jordan.
Second, he declared on arriving in Ramallah that he recognized a Palestinian state, which is far from a settled issue.
Third, he chose to pose with Abbas before a poster accusing Israel of occupation, brutality and ethnic cleansing.
Fourth, he was shown praying at a section of the security wall covered with anti-Israel graffiti that compared Bethlehem to the Warsaw Ghetto (contrary to the posted message, the security wall does allow access to Bethlehem.
Finally, instead of offering to host a prayer summit between the acknowledged leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Pope Francis chose Mahmoud Abbas and Shimon Peres. Mr. Peres holds the figurehead position of Israel’s president but Benjamin Netanyahu is the nation’s elected leader.
Perhaps these gestures were designed to protect the dwindling Christian populations in Arab lands. But whatever the motive, they served to disqualify the pope as a neutral and evenhanded arbitrator.
Silver Spring, MD
In her May 9 South Florida section, Shelley Benveniste wrote about a Jewish friend of hers whom she accompanied as he went apartment hunting. Ms. Benveniste’s friend made a deposit on an apartment in the area, only to be called a few days later by the landlord who told him he needed to speak to him about an important issue. The landlord told Ms. Benveniste’s friend, in her presence, that he had always had problems with Jewish tenants and that “Jews” had cost him a lot of money. Ms. Benveniste’s friend asked for his deposit back and left.