Lopsided Exchange

Once again the government of Israel has demonstrated that, contrary to the oft-repeated mantra about not making deals with terrorists, it in fact deals with terrorists all the time – and on lopsided terms in favor of the bad guys.

I really do feel for the families who would like the return of their loved ones’ remains, but it is sheer lunacy to trade hundreds of violent Jew-hating Arabs (who, once released, are certain to return to their predatory ways) for a few dead bodies and a businessman of – ahem – dubious repute.

How many Jewish fathers, mothers, sons and daughters who are well and happy and alive at this moment will die in the near future as a result of this obscene exchange, Mr. Sharon? How many fresh graves will be dug to contain the victims of the beasts you’re letting loose, Mr. Prime Minister? How many more empty cliches about Jewish honor and toughness and resiliency will we hear you mouth in the aftermath of the bombings and the shootings that are sure to come, Mr. ‘Warrior of Israel?’

If Ariel Sharon had been elected to lead the country twenty or even ten years ago, the situation here in Israel would be completely different. Unfortunately – for him and even more so for us – he attained his life’s goal of the premiership too late in life. To the anti-Semitic Europeans, he’s a hard-charging iron-fisted man of war; to we disillusioned Israelis, he’s a foolish old man desperate to win the acclaim of people like Shimon Peres and the editorialists
at Haaretz.

Moshe Lanter

The Busch Whitewash

I salute The Jewish Press for being the only Jewish publication that has kept the killing of Gidone Busch on the front burner. As has been the case since his shocking death four years ago, the organized Jewish community is largely silent on the matter – just as it was during the Crown Heights riots of twelve years ago. (Like Gidone Busch, the Lubavitchers of Brooklyn are just not the type of Jews that secular Jewish leaders, housed in their plush Manhattan offices with their plush Manhattan zip codes, feel comfortable with.)

In your most recent editorial on this travesty of justice (“The Busch Trial,” Nov. 7), you once again point to the need for a thoroughgoing investigation into what was clearly a cover-up by Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Police Commissioner Howard Safir and District Attorney Charles Hynes.

I am one Jew who will not forget the Gidone Busch whitewash if and when Giuliani runs for governor of New York.

Doug Morrow
New York, NY

Craven Europe

The recent poll of Europeans (“Europeans Rank Israel as Greatest Threat to Peace,” Jewish Press front page news story, Nov. 7) should once and for all force all but the most dense liberal Jews to quit their whining over how President Bush has supposedly slighted Europe in pursuing a unilateral foreign policy.

Why would any American Jew want the cowardly, anti-Semitic Europeans to have a say in anything that touches on the national security of the U.S. and Israel? I’ll take President Bush any day over the venal, craven and amoral politicians in France, Germany, the Netherlands, et al, whose spines are made of jelly and whose knees are permanently bent in the direction of Third World depots and Muslim terror chiefs.

Carla Blau
(Via E-Mail)

Agudah’s Issues

Re “Agudah’s ‘Second-Tier’ Issues” (Letters, Nov. 7):

I agree with reader Zev Schiffman’s comment about Agudah’s unfortunate downplaying of the danger of “interdenominationalism.” There can be no question that it is a growing menace to the fundamental homogeneity of the Jewish people and will no doubt lead to its further dismemberment.

Having said that, however, I don’t think it’s fair to denigrate Agudah’s focus on other vital issues. Just because Agudah may have missed the boat on interdenominationalism doesn’t mean that those issues it does focus on are chopped liver.

Avraham Bronstein
New York, NY

Preschel Fan

I continue to be fascinated by Tovia Preschel’s unique articles in The Jewish Press. I found the information last week about the Vilna Gaon invaluable and would not have otherwise come across it. I am thankful that Rabbi Preschel shares his vast store of knowledge with us, and am grateful to you for publishing it

Leah Grossberg
(Via E-Mail)

Unhappy With Editorial (I)

Your really clever use of statistics in your “Editor’s Response” notwithstanding, I for one agree with the assertion by Liz Bernstein in her letter last week that your editorial urging a “no” vote on non-partisan elections reflects your pro-Democratic Party bias.

While in this election The Jewish Press may have not endorsed Democrats on an almost exclusive basis, that has been your rule of thumb in the past.

Ari Strauss
Bronx, NY

Unhappy With Editorial (II)

I was disappointed in the mild tone of your editorial against non-partisan elections. You failed to mention what I believe should have been obvious: this was the brainchild of Lenora Fulani, who conditioned her endorsement of Mayor Bloomberg (which helped put him over the top in the 2001 election) on his getting the issue put on the ballot.

Let’s not overlook the fact that the mayor tried to sneak this through in an off-year election when he hoped that most voters would not come out to vote. Equally off-putting was the mayor’s spending so much of his own money to muscle the measure through by overwhelming the opposition. Just because he has more money than most people doesn’t mean that what he wants has more merit than what others want. Advertising blitzes don’t make things right.

Stephen Fruchter
New York, NY

EDITOR’S RESPONSE: Reader Fruchter’s points are well taken, particularly his concern over Mayor Bloomberg’s Fulani connection. As for Ari Strauss’s claim that we tend to endorse Democrats, that is certainly true in New York City races – for the simple reason that New York is, for all intents and purposes, a one-party town. With the rarest of exceptions (the prime example being Republican Rudy Giuliani, whom The Jewish Press endorsed three times – in his unsuccessful 1989 bid and his victorious runs in 1993 and 1997), the realistic choice in local elections invariably comes down to Democrat A or Democrat B.

In state and national elections, however, we’ve endorsed a number of Republicans over the years – including Gov. George Pataki, President George W. Bush, and former president Ronald Reagan (twice).

Second Term For W?

There is merit in what reader Craig Bergman writes about liberal Jews who hate Bush and blindly support Democrats even though their policies are bad for Israel and America (Letters, October 31). However, Mr. Bergman is wrong to advise Jews to automatically support President Bush who, he says, is unprecedented in his support for Israel.

Bush continues to ignore the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act that requires him to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem. His policies toward Israel are now very different from what they were before the Iraq war. As a Bible-believing Christian, Bush once supported Israel’s right to all of its historic homeland and its right to defend its citizens. After the Iraq war Bush changed his policies to conform to those of the pro-Arab
State Department.

The Bush administration has criticized Israel for using ”excessive force” and perpetuating the ”cycle of violence.” When Israel dares to defend itself, ”both sides” are blamed and Israel is
warned to ”show restraint.” Bush has exempted Arafat and his network of terrorist gangs from his war on terrorism in a cynical attempt to appease Muslims in the U.S. and Middle East at the expense of Israel. Worst of all, he has imposed the infamous ”road map” that rewards Arafat for 40 years of terrorism by establishing ”Palestine” on historically Jewish land.

We know that liberal Jews will vote like lemmings for any Democrat who runs against Bush. However, open-minded Jews and other Americans will have a soul-searching decision to make. They will have to carefully consider whether a second term for Bush with more dangerous demands on Israel would be preferable to the election of a liberal Democrat and all the damage that another Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton could do to Israel and America.

George E. Rubin
New York, NY

Brooklyn’s Joe Lieberman Answers A Skeptic

Editor’s Note: Joseph and Hadassah Lieberman of Brooklyn have published a book called Joseph Lieberman is a Pious Liberal and Other Observations, available at their website,
www.ishyemini.com, and at www.amazon.com. In the book, they illustrate how Senator Joseph Lieberman has misrepresented Torah-true Judaism to the world and that he must be reproved for that, as the Torah directs us to do.

Recently they were contacted by a Mr. A. Freilich, who identified himself as the brother of
Hadassah Lieberman (the senator’s wife). In his letter he asked that the content of his message not be publicized. The following is the response to that letter by the authors Joseph and Hadassah Lieberman.

Dear Mr. Freilich,

Thank you so much for writing us. You have expressed your thoughts in a very well-mannered
and civil way. For that alone you deserve my respect. However, I would like you to try and hear my side of the story as well.

My wife and I are Orthodox Jews, residing in our birthplace of Brooklyn, New York, who are truly embarrassed by the damage that liberal Jews have created in this country. Hadassah, like your sister, is the child of a Holocaust survivor, and we wrote our book in the hope of combating the forces that have the ability to someday bring much distress to the American Jewish community.

Devout Christian Americans are more on target with regard to what is right and wrong in this country than is your dear brother-in-law, at least when it comes to how he votes. I am eager
and ready to immediately pull my book off the shelves and remove it from Amazon.com as soon as the senator recants his misstatements on several issues – misstatements that enable me to make the following assertions:

A. He has helped promote, with his votes and political speeches, the proliferation of abortion in America.

B. He has helped promote homosexuality and pornography.

C. He has given comfort to Jews who marry out of the faith by stating publicly that intermarriage is permitted.

Mr. Freilich, rest assured that a young man like myself – young enough to be the senator’s son
– did not embark of my own accord on this “mission” to help Sen. Lieberman see the light.
Rather, searching for nothing but the truth, I discussed this matter with, and showed the pre-
publication manuscript of my book to, almost a dozen Orthodox rabbis.

Was it right for me to publicly denounce the man whose name I share? They all concurred that
the Chafetz Chaim, zt”l, taught that one who disgraces G-d’s name in public and does not accept reproof is not covered under the prohibition of gossip.

Gossip is, in some ways, the worst sin a Jew can commit. The second Temple was destroyed
because it was rampant among the Jews of that era. What I need to point out, though, is that not once is Hadassah Lieberman’s name mentioned in the book. I am only upset and disappointed with Sen. Lieberman, who yields so much power and influence and has a daily opportunity to sanctify or desecrate G-d’s Holy name. I believe he has done a lot more of the latter than the former.

Let us examine, for example, who are his supporters and who are his detractors. Homosexuals, abortionists, and other radical social liberals love the man. On the other hand, Bible-believing gentiles, along with Torah-observant Jews (excepting those who place political
allegiances above the heritage of their forefathers) are deeply disturbed and embarrassed by him.

I am honored by your reaching out to me on the level of one Jew to another. As you said, being an American I have a right of freedom of speech. Yet, you know that I answer to a higher authority. I must act in accordance with halacha.

Indeed, I am a Jew, like yourself, who strives to please his Father in Heaven. On the surface it
may seem that I wrote this book to draw attention to myself, to sell many copies, or to satisfy some other selfish motive. You will have to believe me when I tell you that all I am trying to do is make your brother-in law see the truth. I suspect he knows it, but accepting it may cost him his bid for the U.S. presidency.

The world is watching him – and Joseph Lieberman has an opportunity like no other to
make us all proud.

Joseph and Hadassah Lieberman

More On Derech Eretz – Or The Lack Thereof

Incivility In The Streets

Apparently Beth Schindelman (Letters, Nov. 7) has never driven down 13th Avenue in Boro
Park or Avenue J in Midwood on a Friday, Sunday, or erev Yom Tov. She would typically see the same kind of behavior and complete lack of derech eretz and midot that she and her 10-year-old son witnessed at the Chol Hamoed Sukkot concert at Brooklyn College.

People typically double- and triple-park on those streets even when a perfectly legal parking
spot is no more than 20 feet away. People typically park in front of fire hydrants, not caring about the hazards that might cause in case there is a fire or other emergency. People typically park in bus stops, not caring that an elderly man trying to board the bus now has to walk a few feet out into traffic, and that he also now has a more difficult climb into the bus.

Even if we forget about the moral aspects of these parking violations, what about the legal
aspects? I believe there is a halacha known as deena d’malchusa deena, which means that we as Jews must respect and obey the law of the land. And let’s not even discuss the awesome chillul Hashem such actions cause among our non-Jewish neighbors.

So, Beth Schindelman, the next time you purchase tickets to a so-called Jewish event or
concert, take a drive down 13th Avenue or Avenue J on a Friday afternoon. Then, if you arrive home in time for Shabbos, request a refund.

Barry Koppel
Kew Gardens Hills, NY

Concerts Short On Jewish Values?

Unfortunately, the problem raised in Beth Schindelman’s letter is not only the dreadful conduct on display at all too many Jewish public events. There is an old Yiddish saying: “Vi es
Christeltsich, Yiddelstsich.” Loosely rendered, it means that what occurs in the non-Jewish world often finds its way into the Jewish community.

One would not be surprised if the conduct Ms. Schindelman describes were reported at a rock concert. Unfortunately, our “concerts” are purposely modeled after those events and despite the presence of kippot, black hats and the rest, are barely distinguishable from them. There is the same worship of the human voice and the ability to play a musical instrument. Certainly, despite the invocation of p’sukim, there is no celebration of particularly “Jewish” values to be found in the demeanor of the performers or the behavior of the audience.

Ruchie Sendrowitz
(Via E-Mail)

Sound Of Silence

It seems that some of our yungeleit are not learning the Torah principles concerning bein adom l’chavero (between man and his fellow man) or simply good midot. Certainly the majority of
b’nai Torah are well mannered – reflecting their upbringing and their education – but those who aren’t are becoming a nuisance and an embarrassment to klal Yisrael. As a minority or perhaps a minority within a minority it behooves us as parents and as educators to address this
situation head on rather than sweep it under the rug.

In Cleveland recently my dear mother, nearly 80 years old (‘biz 120), found a cell phone on the street. She took the trouble to locate and contact the owner. The young adult who retrieved the phone didn’t even say “Thank you.”

My mother called me to ask how a young man with a black hat, payos, and a “layngeh mantel”
(kaputeh) could be so rude. He could have said “Thank you” to her in English, Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish, Russian, Ukranian, German or Uzbek and she would have understood. What she could not understand, however, was his silence. For that matter, neither can I.

Shame on us all for tolerating such behavior within our communities.

Dr. Carl A. Singer
Passaic, NJ

A Different Perspective

My family and I went on a few wonderful day trips on Chol Hamoed. We went to Riis Park and my husband and I were thrilled to see how polite and refined everyone was – whether we were waiting on line for the circus, or eating in the sukkah, or going on rides, everyone was
considerate and showed a true sense of ahavas Yisrael.

On another day we visited the Bais Hamikdash exhibit in Flatbush. Here we were so happy to see the excited looks on the faces of the people – men, women, children, chasid and litvak
alike. Everyone was so excited to learn the details about the Bais Hamikdash.

Let’s hope that this new year brings us peace and Moshiach in zechus of these two events alone!

Chanie Katz
Kew Gardens Hills, NY

Dr. Stern’s Rebuttal

In the Letters section of Nov. 7, readers Judah Stein and Eliezer Weitz once again challenged my contention that singles have the wherewithal, but not necessarily the will, to change their status. Both stated that since I am unfamiliar with their particular situation, I therefore am unqualified to judge them. This is the very epitome of self-centered thinking: I don’t know
either of these gentlemen, yet they imagine that my comments are directed at them.

Mr. Stein, in an earlier submission, noted that shadchanim are singularly responsible for the
“marriage morass” as they are the only resource for those looking to wed. When I challenged this assertion he clarified his remarks, explaining that as a member of the “yeshivish” community he must rely on matchmakers. Note – I make general statements which hopefully apply to the majority of singles, yet this fellow attacks me for failing to solve his problem.

Mr. Stein avers that since he is yeshivish he cannot attend singles functions. I assume he found
this prohibition in his Yeshivish Shulchan Aruch. Look, when a person is sincerely searching he is amenable to all suggestions; Mr. Stein, however, seems more interested in excusing himself and blaming others. He can’t meet anyone in his shul because it’s small and there is a dearth of singles. Hello, Yehuda – try changing shuls.

The gist of Mr. Stein’s letter is that shadchanim as well as shidduch committees are worthless because they don’t understand “who I am and what I need.” But the last time I checked,
shidduchim were a two-way street. It’s not just about you; there is another party involved.

Reader Eliezer Weitz is fond of citing Torah sources to back his assertion that Hashem is to
blame for the singles crisis. Well, two people can play this game. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai teaches us in the Zohar that it’s better for a man not to be born if he does not marry. The Gemara recounts in an extended narrative the prophet Yishayahu telling King Chizkiyahu that he’d forfeited his portion of the World to Come since he hadn’t married (he subsequently wed Yishayahu’s daughter).

Should one argue that such maamrei chazal (Torah teachings) require adaptation for the
contemporary individual, consider the following: A distraught fellow once approached Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, and explained that he was depressed because he had yet to locate his basherte. Rav Miller retorted, “You met her last week, but she was ten pounds overweight.”

Mr. Weitz accuses me of “quoting unique cases to back up [my] ridiculous assertions.” I
wonder if Mr. Weitz in all honesty cannot recall a single female whom he could have or should have married, but instead chose to reject? And if he really cannot, would he at least admit that a good percentage of singles have had such opportunities?

As for his vaunted Midrash which tells us that Hashem is constantly making shidduchim,
why is that a contradiction of my premise? Certainly Hashem is arranging for people to meet,
but whether such meetings will lead to marriage is within one’s purview – it’s a concept we call ‘free will.’

Mr. Weitz also noted that Rav Matisyahu Salomon explained at a Tisha b’Av gathering that
the singles situation is a nisayon of our generation and that singles should not be blamed. While I did not attend that event, I accept the comment as stated. Our rabbis teach that Hashem never subjects anyone to a test he cannot overcome, so if in fact the singles crisis is a test from above, by definition everyone can pass – i.e. get married.

As for the second half of Rav Salomon’s statement, I am not preaching blame for singles, but am stating that most of them must change their attitudes if they are to find their life partners. This means changing one’s dating strategies and expanding one’s dating pool.

Dr. Yaakov Stern
Brooklyn, NY