Simple Question

I am a simple man. I possess no academic credentials, nor am I eloquent in my English. I barely survived the Holocaust as a child in the Budapest ghetto and most of my family died in Auschwitz or were shot dead into the Danube river.

I spent my youth in Communist Eastern Europe, then Western Europe, and I’ve lived in the U.S. for the past 25 years. I am a witness to, and a victim of, all the horrors of modern history – and wherever I drifted in search of security and a place to forget I found myself face to face with an enigmatic reality I am unable to comprehend.

What is wrong with the Jewish psyche?

In the Communist era Jews were the chief advocates of dictatorship and anti-Israel propaganda. You could bet your next door Party boss was a Jew. During the Nazi regime many Jews were kapos – collaborators – and the Jewish Council selected those to be sent to the gas chambers first.

That was then. But nothing has changed.

In the U.S. the most outspoken anti-American, anti-Israel ideologues are Jewish; they call themselves intellectuals, journalists, movie actors, etc. These Jews are worse than Palestinian terrorists because they have no rational reason to be more virulent than the Arabs themselves.

Whatever political philosophy they embrace, it’s always pious in words and bloody in practice. Why are so many Jews so hell-bent on being the leaders in anything that is anti-Jewish?

Perhaps your readers can tell me why so many of us are psychologically and mentally sick.

Thomas Werner
Los Angeles, CA

American Victims Of Terror

It is worth noting that there was a glaring omission in the table showing the American death toll from terror that accompanied the Wall Street Journal’s recent editorial supporting the president’s policy on Iraq. Not included were the no fewer than 47 American citizens, including women and children, murdered in Israel over the last decade by Palestinian terrorists. That’s just one shy of the number killed in the attacks on the Khobar Towers, African embassies, and USS Cole combined.

The fatal mistake these Americans made was riding a bus, eating in a restaurant, or attending a religious celebration. They were victims of murder/suicide bombs, stabbings, drive-by shootings, and even stoning.

We must make every effort to bring to justice the murderers and those who sent them, no matter who they are. For instance, we know that three of the 13 Palestinians sent into exile after the stand-off at the Church of the Nativity are responsible for the murder of two Americans. We should hunt them down and arrest them. If the war on terror means anything, we must not forget these fallen Americans.

Rep. J.D. Hayworth

Numbers Tell The Story

If the same proportional terror casualties that occurred in Israel on September 9 were to occur in the United States, the headline would read, “825 Killed, 5,000 Wounded in Two Terror Attacks”.

Wouldn’t that serve to get your attention? Wouldn’t that cause American outrage to reach levels not seen since 9/11?

Well, the 55:1 population ratio between America and Israel should always be applied when we hear of terror attacks in Israel because at very least it will serve to increase our sensitivity to better understand what Israel lives with almost daily.

Since the birth of Oslo 10 years ago this month, 1,500 Jews have been murdered. When you do the math, you will see that, comparatively speaking, Israel has endured the equivalent of
twenty-seven 9/11 attacks or two and half 9/11’s each of the past 10 years.

Ken Heller
Philadelphia, PA

Tough To Please

Pish tosh. So the Zionist Organization of America is annoyed because it didn’t get the recognition it claims it deserves for the appointment of Daniel Pipes to the U.S. Institute of Peace even though they purportedly led the charge for Pipes in the Senate while other groups were only lackluster in their efforts (Letters, Sept. 12).

Hello. Pipes received a recess appointment, without Senate approval, precisely because his nomination never got out of committee to be voted on by the full Senate.

I suggest that the ZOA stop relying on its own press releases. Yelling the loudest does not always translate into being the most effective.

Irving Dallech
Los Angeles, CA

Emotional Words

“Auschwitz Fly-by” (editorial, Sept. 12) had me crying. I cannot imagine anyone reading of IAF General Eshel’s “promise to be the shield of the Jewish people” without shedding a tear and resolving “Never Again.”

Rita Kauffman
(Via E-Mail)

Try Arafat

The current hot topic in the media is the question of what to do with Arafat. The question is bandied about in the chambers of the Israeli government with an assortment of possibilities that staggers one’s sensibilities.

Here we have an avowed terrorist – whose hands drip with Jewish blood and who has a long history of mayhem, lying, theft and murder – holed up and within the grasp of the Israeli military.

What is the question? In the name of justice and for the sake of justice, you bring a criminal to a court of law. Evidence against him has to be overwhelming. Conviction in a military tribunal would be most appropriate, and this action will expose his guilt to all the world. This must be done swiftly and decisively. Anything less will be a perversion of justice.

This clever, ruthless little tyrant has been on the world stage too long. Time to ring down the curtain.

Norman Shine
Brooklyn, NY

Cage Arafat

I have an easy solution to the dilemma Israel is currently facing regarding Yasir Arafat, y’mach sh’mo. Let’s face it, they need to do something now that they’ve said they’ll “remove him” – if they don’t, they’ll look even weaker than they already do, which will encourage the Arabs to commit even more acts of terror.

They should kill him and take him out of the picture altogether. But, alas, they never will because that might make him into a martyr, the world would cry out, his successor might be even worse than he is, etc.

Expelling him is a bad idea because, let’s face it, we don’t want him running around the world terrorizing everyone else the way he did back when the PA was the PLO and he was just a regular terrorist instead of a “leader.”

Instead, they should put him in the Jerusalem Zoo. Don’t hurt him. Give him his own cage, make him nice and comfy. Give him good food. (They can debate whether or not to let him keep his clothes.) Just demean him in front of the whole world and show them that we consider him as irrelevant as the other animals in the zoo. Anyone who wants to will still be able to talk to him or interview him – through the bars of his cage. After all, he is dangerous.

If he’s put in a cage in the zoo, maybe the world will see him for what he is and stop paying attention to him.

Barry Verstaendig
New York, NY

Exile Peres

I just read about an obscene nationwide festival in Israel celebrating the 80th birthday of the architect of the “peace plan” that has resulted in so much death and misery to Jews around the

I recommend that Mr. Peres celebrate his birthday in exile with this best friend, Yasir Arafat.

May all your readers be blessed with peace in the new year. This should be a year without Yasir, Hamas, Bin Laden, Jihadists, and all the enemies of our people.

David Rothschild
Brooklyn, NY

Peres For Palestinian PM

One would think that after ten years of the unspeakable horrors and damage of the Oslo disaster of which he was a prime architect, Shimon Peres would show some humility. One would think that the man would apologize and beg forgiveness; but no, he goes on working against Israeli interests around the world.

Reading Peres’s recent statements, I thought Arafat would appoint him as Palestinian prime minister. Peres remains loyal to Arafat and blames Israel for the suicide bombers because we didn’t dismantle “settlements.” Is there no morality at all in this man? Did the Arabs keep even half a promise they made at Oslo?

I think it’s time that Shimon Peres stand trial for his part in the Oslo Accords as well as for providing weapons and importing terrorist armies into Israel. It’s time to move forward and pray that further damage might be prevented, though of course there is nothing that can be done about the precious hundreds of lives and thousands of families who have been destroyed by Oslo.

Yes, Israelis need hope to go on. We don’t want to ask anyone’s permission to defend ourselves. We’ll have hope when we unite in our determination to live in the Land of Israel which G-d promised us and when we can walk freely in our streets, have a cup of coffee
and ride our buses without fear. When we can kiss our children good night and wipe away their nightmares and fears as we say Shema Yisrael with them.

May G-d protect and watch over all our precious chayalim and all of Israel.

Leah Wolf
Metar, Israel

Keeping Up With The Cohens

The Gemara tells us that the amora Rabbi Yochanan was less troubled by the punishments meted from Above than by the recipients’ inability to perceive the message. In her latest Jewish Press
column, Rachel Bluth asks the frum community to consider the
disappearance of two chassidic girls a wakeup call to do teshuvah.
She blames materialistic one-upmanship for creating the
environment which leads our young men and women off the derech.

She’s absolutely right, but I fear that the message is lost on those
who have been so completely sucked into the goshmius vacuum.

A friend related the following story. His brother had a successful
business, one which afforded his family the requisites and some
amenities as well. Not satisfied, this entrepreneur invested the
majority of his earnings into a rather volatile stock market. You can
guess the rest. Yeshivas were asked to forgo tuition, Tomche
Shabbos provided meals and he was forced to resort to loans to pay
off his mortgage. An old story, you say? Yes, but with a twist.

This man still bought his wife and children designer exclusives
and not just for Yom Tov. They still went on luxurious vacations
and ate in fancy restaurants; in short, there was no deviation from
their previous lifestyle. Why the deception? They couldn’t deal with
the shame of people knowing the truth. This speaks volumes.

While a non-Jewish judge in Alabama fights to defend the Ten
Commandments, for a large segment of the frum community there
is but one rule: “Thou shalt be rich” ? or at least pretend to be. The
stories of gedolim ? hey, of our own grandparents who served
Hashem faithfully despite abject poverty ? no longer resonates. It’s
put up or shut up time as friends and family make notes of the
essentials ? house(s) car(s), etc. Should one be found wanting in
any area he is immediately tagged with the ignominious and un-

shakable label of “loser.”

You’ve really got to hand it to the yetzer hara. A few years ago
a number of gedolim, quite cognizant of what’s really going on in the
Yiddishe velt, tried to put the kibosh on lavish spending, be it on
weddings, bar mitzvahs, what have you. There was a hue and cry
from the feiner menchen ? “Don’t you dare tell us how to spend our
money.? And countless others followed suit because “siz meir far
menchen then far Gott” ? it’s more important to impress your
neighbor than to curry favor on High. The sad joke is that people
are robbing Peter to pay Paul to create and maintain a facade of

I wish I shared Ms. Bluth’s optimism, but nothing will change
unless there is a dramatic and concerted effort to break the cycle
of duplicity that corrodes our society.

Dr. Yaakov Stern
Brooklyn, NY

We?re Blushing

Each issue of The Jewish Press is a weekly treat to look forward to and
enhances my Shabbos repose. But the last week’s issue (Sept.5) was an
especially uplifting and inspiring read.

Chana Weisberg?s Feminine Soul story of how family members pulled
together in a time of need was most touching and inspiring; Rabbi David Hol-

lander was articulate as usual in his penetrating ?To Display or to Obey? as
he examined and explicated on the current Ten Commandments controversy;
and Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss?s Part One of ?52 Ways to Improve Your Life?
made me thirst for Part Two.

The ever-popular and always resourceful Rebbetzin Jungreis had a vital
message to impart in her ?Wake-Up Call?; Yosef Y. Jacobson’s ?Loving the
People You Hate? was an erudite and educational eye-opener of a piece;
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin offered a wise perspective on the question of why bad
things happen to good people; and Rachel Bluth, everyone’s mother, infused
agonized souls with renewed vigor and confidence.

This letter would be incomplete without special mention of the dynamic
Media Monitor. Jason Maoz, the most scintillating columnist of all, cleverly
exposes the shams of the shameless and wittily updates us on the witless, the
featherbrained, and the fair-weather politically motivated.

I just wanted to thank you all at The Jewish Press for reaching out to our
hearts and minds at this time of year in a most outstanding and commendable
way, one that eclipses any other medium out there today ? and that surely
exhilarates and elevates the soul of Rabbi Sholom Klass, z”l. May you all be
inscribed this new year in the book of health and strength, to enable you to
continue your avodas chesed.

Rachel Altman
(Via E-Mail)

No Legal Grounds For Deicide Charge

The forthcoming film by Mel Gibson that
seeks to revive the preposterous charge that “the
Jews,” not the Roman emperor, killed Jesus
requires a sharp rebuttal to the absurd ancient
claim of deicide. That charge, first made 2,000
years ago by Romans seeking to avoid re-

sponsibility for their actions, was designed to
blame the Jews for something the Jews had no
responsibility for but which was a uniquely and
exclusively Roman effort.

Can you grasp and imagine the absurdity, so
readily swallowed and magnified by religious
hatred over the centuries, that the most powerful
army of that era ? whose powerful legions had
overrun the entire known world and whose
standard practice of capital punishment, unused by
and unacceptable to the Jews, was to nail the
accused on a cross ? deferred to the Jews control
of a single select crucifixion?

What have those ancient fabrications, lies and
embellishments to do with us today, whether
perpetuated by Mel Gibson or by some Holocaust
denier? If it is not subject to verification, it has no
validity. My system of justice is the American
system of justice; anything else has no validity to
me. The preposterous declaration that the Jews, all
of them, are guilty of deicide, cuts no ice with me
because there was no trial that adhered to the
American system of justice with its rules and
procedures designed to produce a valid verdict.

In the case of the screwball charge against the
Jews and their relationship to Jesus, there was no
trial and no procedures even remotely suggesting
the most elementary system of justice and
certainly no review by higher courts.

I am a Jew; I am not bound by anything a
group of inflammatory propagandists shouted some
two thousand years ago. What they did then, as a
bunch of rabble presided over by a dictator, has no
meaning for me or anyone else. I am an American;
I answer only to American law, not the law of
propagandists and bigots seeking to blame the
Jews for an act of criminality perpetrated by a
Roman tyrant.

There can be no argument about this: there is
no guilt, no valid procedure invoking justice, and
no valid charges ? so there is no punishment,
whether by Adolf Hitler, Harry Truman, or Mel
Gibson. Gibson can believe anything his heart
desires, but his beliefs not only have no validity for
this writer (or any other American, Jewish or not),
they should render him subject to libel and slander
charges in a court of law.

We file suits for libel on matters less
inflammatory and less libelous than the absurd
charge that the Jews collectively, for all time, are
responsible for the murderous rule of a long-dead
Roman tyrant and people who sought to cover their
own responsibility and pass it off on a tiny and
vulnerable minority of Jews.

Jerry Boris
(Via E-Mail)

Back To The ‘Hood

Bumper Cars

Continuing on with ?Problems in the ?Hood,?
will someone please tell me what the deal is with
people and their cars?

Recently, my husband and I were in Boro
Park and we could not believe the rudeness,
aggressiveness, and lack of respect for the property
of others. While we were parked, our car was
bumped numerous times on the sides and front by
other drivers who either ignored us or reacted with
outrage at our temerity to complain.

What’s the problem?

Is it too difficult to say “I’m sorry” or “Excuse
me” ? never mind to display some common
courtesy and treat the possessions of a fellow Jew
with respect?

Devorah Merwitz
Cedarhurst, NY

Boro Park Welcomes Flatbush

Given all the recent letters complaining about
Boro Parkers never saying ”Good Shabbos” to
Flatbushers, your readers should know that there
was a real kiddush Hashem during the Shabbos
immediately following last month?s blackout.

With power restored to Boro Park on Friday
afternoon, many people shopped for or invited
people from Flatbush for Shabbos. Boro Parkers
were busy buying and bringing over challos,
yahrzeit candles, ice coolers, and making
arrangements for hachnosas orchim for
Flatbushers to stay over in Boro Park for Shabbos.

As gabbai of my shul, I personally greeted the
guests from Flatbush with an official Good
Shabbos, and I invited them to come over any time,
even when there’s no blackout. They don’t need a
passport to cross over the border into Boro Park!
We may be negligent sometimes for forgetting to
greet people with a Good Shabbos, but the real
chesed came out into the open at a time of crisis
when we tried to make it a Good Shabbos for those
in real need.

Rabbi Moshe Shochet
Brooklyn, NY

Pitfalls Of Labeling

For the past couple of months people have
been voicing their strong opinions regarding
various behaviors and attributing them to specific
neighborhoods in New York City which in turn are
deemed typical segments of Orthodox Jewry. I
maintain that the process of categorizing
behaviors, neighborhoods and people is to be

Our rabbis understood that the processes of
labeling and categorizing can lead to judgment of
others which in turn leads to acting out against
them which in turn leads to weakening of the
Jewish community as a whole. ”Talmidei
chachamim marbim sholom baolam” ? Torah
scholars bring peace to the world ? is in stark
contrast to the students of Rabbi Akiva who did not
respect each other. There is a famous Gemara
which tell of Bruria, Rav Meir’s wife, who focused
Rav Meir’s attention on sins rather than on
sinners. The implication is that a person’s actions
and the person should not necessarily be equated.
Pirkei Avos reminds us, ”Hevei dan es kol ha’adam
l’kaf zechus” ? Don’t be quick to judge someone,
and try to attribute the behavior that you see to
something positive.

The Torah also states, ”Ve’ahavta l’re’acha
kamocha” and asks us not to do others what we do
not want done to us. Although we want to maintain
Torah standards, we have to do so in a way that
does not take us away from a positive direction,
that validates the ”tzelem Elokim” in each of us,
that enhances the Jewish community at large, and
that is necessary for the spread of Torah
observance and values.

The chassidic masters were very much aware
of the deleterious effects of placing people in
categories and took great caution to prevent it from
getting out of hand. All the legendary stories about
Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev exemplify his
refusal to succumb to categorizing, labeling, or
judging others even when there appeared to be
ample opportunity to do so based on the person’s

The Sfas Emes understood the importance of
each individual Jew and his/her contribution to the
klal, the entire Jewish community. He constantly
emphasizes ichud hakochos, the combining of our
individual powers into a collective whole because
kedusha, holiness, has a special power when it
rests on the tzibbur, the community as a whole.
Labels are often overgeneralizations. Those
involved in kiruv know that labeling and type-
casting tends to alienate people.

I am not a Lubavitcher (nor any type of
chassid) but I have always admired their positive
effects upon people who were very far from
Yiddishkeit. I believe that the reason for the
successes of their outreach programs is that the
Rebbe never discussed Jews in terms of labels or
categories; instead, he looked at Jews as Jews,
cared about them and demonstrated this care by
reaching out to them. This caring endeared him to
Jews regardless of whether they were Reform,
Conservative, Orthodox, haredi, Modern Orthodox,
centrist, chassidish, yeshivish, etc. He succeeded in
bringing Jews closer to Torah, and the Jewish
community is stronger for it.

Rather than focusing on behaviors we do not
like, maybe the yeshua will come when we focus on
the positive. Although categorizing behaviors and
groups of Orthodox Jews allows us to determine
what we are not, it also prevents us from seeing
our brethren in a way that actualizes the
wonderful Jewish people that we are.

Morton Frank
Kew Gardens Hills, NY