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December 25, 2014 / 3 Tevet, 5775
 
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Letters To The Editor

Arab-Americans’ Growing Influence

It’s interesting that so many Arab-Americans, already viciously anti-Israel, now attack the Israeli security fence and excoriate Israel for being so audacious as to defend itself. And
Arabs loudly object to America’s self-defense via the Patriot Act – how dare a nation try to weed out potential perpetrators of more 9/11s? Also outrageous to Arabs is our noble operation in Iraq, cleaning out the murderous regime of a brutal dictator believed by most Western intelligence services to possess weapons of mass destruction.

Also interesting is that these Arab views find a home in the Democratic party, as Arab-Americans cut and run from the GOP as quickly as they embraced it. Democratic candidates
expressing other than hostility to Israel or American homeland defense receive surly receptions from Arab political audiences.

These views come from an ethnic group with a middle-class orientation, politically attuned and concentrated in a few states. Arab political influence will grow rapidly, and it pushes views anathema to American and Jewish interests. Jews should wake up to this very real political threat rather than waste our considerable talents promoting the “wonderful mosaic.”

Steve Goldstein
Fort Lee, NJ


Universal Appeal

My compliments to you for your superb publication that has inspired and taught me so much over the years. Your articles and columns have a universal appeal to a wide range of Jews
and, interestingly, non-Jews as well, as evidenced by the letters of your readers.

The letter featured in Rachel Bluth’s Agunah Chronicles column this past week (Oct. 31) was particularly fascinating – not so much for its human interest (which it certainly has) as for the fact that it reflects a true desire by all people to abide by the universal laws of Hashem. The letter was written by a man from Ghana, West Africa (I take it he is not Jewish) – expressing his genuine concern for and heartwarming offer to a young woman whose husband wished to divorce her because of her pregnancy.

This brief and simple exchange, I believe, serves as a poignant reminder that the Torah is for all mankind. Jews are obligated to keep the 613 commandments and non-Jews are obligated to keep the Seven Noachide laws - all of which are the will of G-d. The fact that this letter appeared during the week of Parashas Noach is certainly no coincidence. The universal appeal of The Jewish Press is certainly due to your Torah-true hashkofos.

May Hashem bless you with continued success to teach and inspire.

Frida Schapiro
Brooklyn, NY



Broken Record

Re ‘Gray Lady’s Slip Still Showing’ (Media Monitor, Oct. 24):

The Gray Lady is still the “newspaper of record.” The problem is that it is a broken record, repeating the same false and often disparaging messages to any who fail to analyze the content.

Give me The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, Commentary, and The Jewish Press any day.

Good writing; keep it up!

Kelly McGrew
Olympia, WA



Partisan Democrats? Us?

Your seemingly high-minded editorial urging a ‘no’ vote on the non-partisan election proposal in New York City (editorial, Oct. 31) makes the points that the proposal was designed to
‘break up’ the Democratic Party and was not developed through democratic processes. However, you betray your own Democratic Party bias by proceeding to endorse Democrats
almost exclusively. How objective was your recommendation?

Liz Bernstein
New York, NY

Editor’s Response: That the goal of the promoters of the non-partisan elections proposal was the neutralization of Democratic Party domination of New York City politics is hardly debatable, even though some of those promoters argue - with a straight face, yet – they really are trying to “open up” that party. Sorry, but that just does not pass the proverbial “nose test.” And the proposal was, in fact, developed by a panel appointed by Mayor Bloomberg, a Republican who is, perhaps, the staunchest supporter of the measure.

Further, although we had our opinions, we did not state a position on the various substantive issues involved - such as whether the measure would promote greater voter participation, foster greater discussion, etc. - precisely because the debate over those issues broke along party lines.

Finally, we endorsed 29 individuals for a variety of offices. Of the 12 City Council candidates we endorsed, three were not Democrats and a fourth, Simcha Felder, ran unopposed on the Democratic, Republican and Conservative lines. Of the eight Democrats we endorsed, all were incumbents with established records who were strongly supported by local Jewish organizations and leaders. Of the 14 judicial candidates we endorsed, only six ran on the Democratic line (three of the six ran on the Republican and Conservative lines as well) and some were incumbents or had served on other courts with established records. All those endorsed were recommended by local Jewish organizations and leaders.



Agudah’s ‘Second-Tier Issues’

I was astonished to peruse the program for the upcoming Agudah convention and learn that the growing menace of Jewish “interdenomina-tionalism” is not even mentioned. It is as if the Agudah is oblivious to the continuing efforts of such groups as EDAH and Lishmah to denude Judaism of all recognized halachic standards and grant legitimacy to the Reconstruction, Reform, and Conservative movements.

Instead, the Agudah program seems to consist of modern-sounding cliches about second-tier issues.

When population studies are reporting a 50 percent intermarriage rate, it would seem that the issue warrants at least one measly workshop – if only to be on record that Orthodoxy deems it a problem.

Granted that intermarriage is not a significant problem among the Orthodox, but that did not stop the Agudah of old from battling it at every opportunity.

Zev Schiffman
Brooklyn, NY


Personal Approach To Tzedakah

Prior to a recent trip to Israel, our children decided to raise money to bring with them as part of a tzedakah project to help Israeli children. Due to the overwhelming generosity of family, friends and the community, they were able to collect $1,100 in support of Israeli children who live in some of the areas hardest hit by terrorism.

Toys were purchased in Jerusalem from vendors battered by the economic fallout of the intifada. Many of the toys were distributed personally by the children in towns such as Hebron, Neve Tzuf, Kedumim, Maale Adumim, and Bat Ayin. The youngsters of Hebron were able to spend a nice day at the Jerusalem Zoo. The tzedakah was also distributed to Jewish children in the so-called Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem (better named the Kotel Quarter since the Kotel runs through it). Finally, toys were distributed in two Gaza communities.

A united Jerusalem has always been, and will always be, the soul of the Jewish people. Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the heart of Eretz Yisrael. The Jews in these parts of Israel are truly unique and special people. Just about every person we met has lost a relative or close friend to the constant barbaric Arab terrorism. But there was absolutely no thought of moving. Every person we met expressed the same response to the current crisis: Build! Build! Build!

Yes, building and expanding Jewish communities throughout all of Eretz Yisrael is the answer. Everyone can do his or her part in the building and strengthening of Eretz Yisrael. Forget your next trip to Florida, Bermuda or Europe. Take your family, including your children, to see their “family” in Israel. Demand that your trip include all of Eretz Yisrael – Judea, Samaria and Gaza. If you send your children to study and tour in Israel, insist that their leaders allow them to see the entire country.

Don’t send your tzedakah to Israel - bring your tzedakah to Israel.

Ken Abrams
Margate, NJ


Wilkie Update

Your readers may recall an article of mine that appeared in the August 15 issue of The Jewish Press entitled “Academics Against Israel.” Part of the article dealt with Andrew Wilkie, a professor at Oxford University in England, who rejected the application to attend Oxford of an Israeli simply because he was an Israeli. At the time the article appeared Wilkie’s case had been referred to a panel that was to make recommendations about how to deal with him. The
panel has now completed its deliberations, and on October 27 Oxford issued the following statement:

“The Vice-Chancellor has accepted the recommendation of the Visitatorial Board that Professor Wilkie should be suspended from his academic duties within the University, without pay, for two months. Suspension is the most serious penalty that the University can impose, short of dismissal or removal from office. The decision follows an investigation by the Board of matters surrounding an e-mail which Professor Wilkie sent in response to an enquiry from an
Israeli student regarding the possibility of graduate study in his research group. The Board has made other recommendations, including that Professor Wilkie is required to undergo further equal opportunities training.

“This ruling reflects that there can be no place for any form of discrimination within the University of Oxford other than on the grounds of merit. Professor Wilkie fully accepts the gravity of the situation and is determined to make full use of training to ensure that his actions and those of his staff reflect best practice in future. He particularly wishes to make it clear that he greatly values the diverse backgrounds of the staff and students with whom he works and looks forward to applications from able candidates, whatever their background.”

However, this is not the only thing that has happened to Professor Wilkie as a result of his discriminatory actions against Israelis. In response to Oxford’s official statement, the Oxford University Student Union released its own statement arguing that the sanctions imposed on Mr. Wilkie were insufficient. Furthermore, Oxford’s Pembroke College issued the following statement on October 27:

“Pembroke College announces that, in the light of the ruling by the University of Oxford announced today, Professor Wilkie offered his resignation as a Fellow of the College and as a member of its Governing Body. This has been accepted by the Governing Body of the College. Professor Wilkie’s resignation takes immediate effect.”

Thus it seems that Professor Wilkie has now been “rewarded,” at least to some extent, for his discrimination against Israelis. Let us hope that this incident and what has happened to Professor Wilkie will serve as a warning to others of a similar ilk.

(Prof.) Yitzchok Levine
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Stevens Institute of Technology
Hoboken, NJ



Jewish Establishment’s Tried-And-Tired ‘Solutions’

Jewish publications print numerous articles and reports dealing with the survival crisis faced
by Jewish communities throughout the Diaspora. Noted social scientists armed with substantial
documentation and computerized statistical projections express alarm at the results of their
inquiry.

Ignoring these facts, our Jewish leadership, through its spokespersons and paid communal
professionals, continues with essentially the same planning and programming despite the mounting evidence of failure. We are told by those who have assumed the responsibility for our future that current trends – zero population growth, intermarriage, assimilation, etc. - regardless of how threatening, will ultimately be corrected. They have also suggested that our adversities only strengthen our ability to adjust to change, and that we as a people have always endured in spire of great peril.

Without dignifying these assurances, I would like them to know that their confidence in our
survival offers no comfort to the perished millions, nor to the many who have become accessible Jews to the missionaries, nor to the parents and grandparents of thousands upon thousands of apathetic Jewish youth, who, lacking in pride and self-respect, are in the process of phasing out their Jewishness completely.

I, for one, have lost faith in the ability of our ”planners” whose efforts on behalf of their
communities are too often predicated on not offending non-Jews. Nor am I personally interested in their yet unrevealed plans based on the studies of their ”experts” and committee findings.

In light of the dismal performance of Jewish leadership, what is needed is an open forum that
democratically permits and encourages all positions full expression in the Jewish community.
The moderates, the liberals and even the left have access to community facilities and media; the conservative right, never having had a significant voice of influence (your newspaper is the notable exception) and consequently not responsible for the problems that confront us, is frequently maligned and discredited without being heard.

What would be heard if this excluded faction were permitted free access?

In contrast to the standard position of accommodation and conciliation offered by those
who represent the Jewish community, we would vigorously hear that we, the Jewish people, have earned the right to an expectation of the non-Jewish world; that gentiles too must demonstrate their worthiness for our acceptance, as Jews have historically have been required to do for them.

To expect anything less, in light of our extraordinary accomplishments and contributions
to mankind, makes a mockery of our magnificent Jewish heritage, suggesting a thinly disguised self-hatred that encourages only contempt, instead of respect.

Therefore, if the professed Jewish liberal tradition truly exists, and solutions are to be determined, the full spectrum of alternatives must be examined and fully considered. If Jewish
leadership is unwilling to do this (and divest themselves of their special interests in order to plan for the common good), they must forfeit the authority and privilege of leadership they have abrogated for themselves and imposed upon us.

Bernard Arshenovitz
University Heights, OH



Paging Dr. Stern: Your Critics Are Here


Still Missing The Point

Dr. Yaakov Stern still misses the point entirely (Letters, Oct. 31). As an Orthodox/yeshivish single I only get to meet the girls whom a shadchan or other outsiders have deemed worthy by virtue of their understanding of who I am and what I need. If I do not fit into a preconceived mold that they can easily comprehend, they resort to wild guesswork that rarely comes anywhere near the target.

Weekends? Shabbatons? Mixers? In the yeshivish community these things don’t exist (and
there are some very legitimate reasons for that). Shidduch committees may be well meaning, but they tend to be worse than shadchanim as members usually have no clue how to match people up. Shul introductions? I daven in a small shul that I am very fond of but there are very few if any eligible singles to be met there. Workplace meetings? Not everyone works in a big Jewish company where there are all these singles just waiting to be introduced to one another.

In short, some of us have small circles and are left with very few options outside of shadchanim. When the shadchanim fail us, are we to blame?

By contrast, reader Robert Ness made some very valid suggestions in his letter. While I don’t
think it could work exactly as he writes it, I think it is a great starting point if anyone will actually take it seriously. What we need are more solutions like those offered by Mr. Ness and less finger pointing and insults like those favored by Dr. Stern.

Judah Stein
(Via E-Mail)


Thoughtless, Prejudiced Assertions

Re the response to my letter to the editor in the Oct. 24 issue:

If Dr. Stern thinks that my quoting the well-known Midrash Bereishis (which clearly states
that since finishing the creation of the world Hashem has busied Himself with shidduchim) is a
way for me to blame Hashem for the current ‘plight of singles,’ then I submit to all reasonable
people that Dr. Stern has more problems than merely an unreasonable prejudice against singles who complain about their situation.

While complaining is a negative thing, it doesn’t follow that the reason behind the complaint
is unwarranted. I was responding to Dr. Stern’s fallacious ideas; namely, that the complaints about unscrupulous shadchanim and uncaring acquaintances are “all a bunch of hooey,” and that since there are so many resources available, anyone who is still single must be that way
because that is what he or she wants.

Frankly, I am offended by such an attitude and Dr. Stern needs to realize that just because he
may be well intentioned, that doesn’t justify his hurtful comments - not in terms of intellectual
honesty, and not in terms of halacha. Saying things that are hurtful to others, even if they are
‘just’ thoughtless comments, is onaas d’varim (see Rabbi Pliskin’s book based on the Chafetz Chaim), which is assur d’oraysa.

I happen to know first-hand that many of these complaints are all too true. Dr. Stern doesn’t
know me, or my dating history, so I challenge him to be realistic and try to come to any intellectually honest conclusion(s) about me or my case.

Simply because there are many resources out there doesn’t mean that they will necessarily make the difference for any given (still) single person – or provide a new set of candidates for those singles who do put in their hishtadlus. There are many in the religious community who don’t and won’t use the Internet. So again, Dr. Stern, be realistic. Just because you can quote verbatim one uniquely toxic (male) single, who is thankfully different from any of my friends, it doesn’t mean that all are like that.

In my previous letter I clearly pointed out many different emunah concepts to show that there
are many plausible reasons why good, deserving people are still single. Please re-read what I wrote and you will see that timing and the means of any (still) single person’s shidduch is up to Hashem and is not a preposterous assertion on my part.

In a program that was presented in recent years on Tisha b’Av, Rav Matisiyahu Salomon,
shlita, stated that the singles problem is a nisayon of this generation and singles should not be blamed for it. Dr. Stern seems to have ignored the quote that I finished off with from Rabbi Pesach Krohn about the importance making shidduchim that make sense. Why didn’t he respond to that?

The fact that Dr. Stern seems to like to quote unique cases to back up his thoughtless assertions should tell thinking people that at best he is unreasonable and intellectually dishonest, and at worst a part of the problem rather than a part of the solution.

If Dr. Stern can’t realize that his blanket statements, based on extreme examples, are hurtful to those who have suffered in the parasha of shidduchim, then I have better things to do than
lend credence to his prejudices with any further responses.

Eliezer A. Weitz
(Via E-Mail)



Disgusted By Lack Of Derech Eretz

During Chol Hamoed Sukkot I had the pleasure and displeasure of attending a concert at
Brooklyn College starring Dedi, Yaakov Shwecky and Avraham Fried. I took my 10-year-old son to the concert as a reward for his doing so well in school in the subject of midot. I myself wanted to be there because I enjoy the music of all the performers and it was so special to have them appear together in one concert.

Well, my son sure was taught a lesson in midot that night - one that I wish he never learned. The concert was called for 7:30 p.m. It started at 7:40. My son looked around the auditorium and asked me why it was so empty. I told him I didn’t know. It wasn’t very long before we had our answer: From 7:45 until 9:00 people were streaming into the auditorium. They talked
loudly among themselves, and if they happened to spot a friend in the audience they would not hesitate to stop, schmooze, and block the view of the people sitting in their seats.

A mother with five children - two of whom were too young to be at this concert – had the
seats directly in front of me. It took her at least ten minutes of very loud persuading to finally get her children to stay seated. Then she sat down – and promptly started speaking on her cell phone. Does the word chutzpah come to mind? When I asked her to please stop talking on her phone, she had the nerve to give me a dirty look.

There was precious little derech eretz on display that evening. People kept arriving late and
blocking the view. Cell phones were ringing constantly, as were walkie talkie phones. My son at one point turned to me and asked, “Mommy, what happened to all these people’s midot?” What was I supposed to say to him? He learns in yeshiva about respecting others and then he sees his fellow frum Jews acting so disrespectfully to each other.

Do these people ever think about anyone but themselves? Probably not, since this was not the
first (nor, I am sure, will it be the last) time I’ve witnessed such ugly behavior.

Why is it that when I attend a public event that draws mostly non-Jews, there is nowhere near
the level of selfish and unpleasant behavior one encounters at frum events? Why have we reached the point that whenever my friends and I – all frum ourselves – plan an evening out or an excursion somewhere with our children, the first thing we say is, “Let’s go where there aren’t too many frum Jews?”

And if that’s how we feel, imagine what non-Jews and non-religious Jews think when they
behold the anti-social behavior so increasingly prevalent among Orthodox Jews.

Aren’t these people embarrassed to act in this manner? I know I’m embarrassed by – and for - them. With their kippot, black hats, sheitlach, snoods and tzitzit, they represent every religious
Jew to the rest of the world. For my and my children’s sake, I wish they’d make a better
impression.

In the future I’ll think twice before taking my son, who is at such an impressionable age, to a
concert or other function where there may be this kind of behavior.

Beth Schindelman
(Via E-Mail)

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