Where’s The Outrage?

Kudos to Rabbi Yehuda Levin for his on-target op-ed article regarding the silence of Orthodox organizations as the homosexuals prepare to take over Jerusalem for ten days (“Defiling the Courtyard of the King,” Nov. 21).

At what point will the Agudah, the OU and Young Israel at least issue a statement of protest? Are they condoning the deviant behavior of tens of thousands in the backyard of the Holy
Temple? What do they think of the smut film festival to be celebrated in Jerusalem, right next door to the yeshivas and seminaries their children attend?

I have seen the agenda of the forthcoming Agudah Convention, and there is a huge gap. My question is: What does it take to outrage the Torah and lay leaders of Orthodox Jewry? This is obviously a direct attack at our jugular, and we should be able to feel confident that Orthodox organizations will protect us from this defilement.

There should be an immediate and urgent response from all Orthodox organizations around the world. This open and brazen threat should send the Agudah, the OU and Young Israel into
a frenzy of activity and protest. I have yet to see or hear a cry of anguish, a call to prayer, a directive of action, or even a whispered sigh.

This resounding silence is not only offensive and cowardly, it is downright scary.

Rabbi Dr. Reuven Poupko
Baltimore, MD

Speak, Mr. Mayor

As a proud congregant of Kehilas Mevakshei Hashem, I wish to express my gratitude to The Jewish Press for providing Rabbi Levin a prominent forum to enlighten your readership as to the insidious and unrelenting assault on society’s moral standards by militant gay groups. Just ten years ago the very idea of ‘gay marriage’ would have been considered preposterous.

It is my sincere hope that the haredi mayor of Jerusalem will publicly condemn, from the pulpit of the Agudah convention, the international gay conference planned for Jerusalem and will use
all his resources to try to cancel it.

Shlomo Winter
Brooklyn, NY


Please allow me to express my support for Rabbi Rafael Grossman’s criticism of Thomas Friedman of The New York Times (“Thinking Aloud,” Jewish Press, Nov. 21).

Even though Mr. Friedman and The New York Times continue to discredit themselves with what Rabbi Grossman accurately describes as dangerous foolishness, they continue to enjoy
widespread circulation and to affect public opinion – and that is what makes them dangerous. As long as they continue, someone must stand up to oppose them and expose them. I salute
Rabbi Grossman for taking the time and showing the courage to publicly refute these charlatans.

I must, however, respectfully differ with Rabbi Grossman’s opinion that Mr. Friedman is sometimes brilliant and incisive. It could be that Mr. Friedman displays certain academic skills
that allow him to write with a surface impressiveness, but his mistaken, warped and dangerous ideas cancel any benefit from those skills and reveals the fool lurking behind them.

We should all be appreciative that The Jewish Press offers a credible and formidable forum to deliver the antidote for their poison. Thanks also to The Jewish Press for publishing my letter
(July 11) in which I categorically renounced and rejected Mr. Friedman and The New York Times for the same reason Rabbi Grossman did last week.

Norman Shine
Brooklyn, NY

Appreciates Truth About Kennedy

As always, I immensely enjoyed Jason Maoz’s Media Monitor column last week. It was a bracing tonic to the Kennedy worship one was confronted with all over the media for at least five days running.

There were some exceptions to the near-total whitewashing of John F. Kennedy’s real record – some documentaries on the History Channel, for example – but by and large the media once
again acted as a public relations machine for the House of Kennedy.

Any assassination of an American president is a tragic event (the way the media focus on JFK every Nov. 22, it’s easy to forget that there have been other presidents murdered while in office, about whom we almost never hear), but it really is time for supposedly hard-boiled journalists to grow up and stop giving us a John Kennedy fit for a children’s storybook instead of the deeply flawed man he was.

Howard Meltzer
(Via E-Mail)

Not Out To ‘Get’ Seidler-Feller

I am surprised at David Eisner’s lack of knowledge of the sad events that took place at UCLA after Alan Dershowitz’s speech (“Is The Jewish Press Proud of Naomi Ragen?” Letters, Nov. 21).

What occurred had nothing to do with politics or one’s views on Israel. What took place was an assault by one of the Los Angeles community’s most visible rabbis. It is shocking, unforgivable, and in my view an act that merits his resignation or dismissal.

Just to set the record straight, let me give you a short biography of Rachel Neuwirth, the woman attacked by Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller. Among other things, she was a commander
in the Israeli Air Force, a member of the Israeli national women’s basketball team, an El Al flight attendant, a guide for the Jewish Agency in Israel (which means she passed a test on
Israel’s history and biblical heritage), and an actress in Israel.

Today she is a respected member of the community who is a strong advocate for Israel and the quest for true peace.

There is no campaign to “get” Rabbi Seidler-Feller for his political views, but rather an effort to see him removed from his post for a long series of verbal abuses against his ideological
opponents, and now this physical violence directed against a woman.

Gary Ratner
Santa Monica, CA

‘Angry And Threatening’

Re David Eisner’s remarks in defense of Rabbi Seidler-Feller:

I was there. Although I was nowhere near the altercation, Rabbi Seidler-Feller came toward me in a rage after he was restrained following his kicking of Rachel Neuwirth. As he approached me, his bearing was angry and threatening, and students had to hold him back. He was ranting, blaming me for Rachel’s coming to the Dershowitz event because he had seen me
sitting next to her during the lecture.

Rabbi Seidler-Feller is aware that I have chosen at this time not to file charges of assault pending the outcome of the Neuwirth case.

The fact remains that Rabbi Seidler-Feller was completely out of line in his attack against a woman. This is not an incident of left versus right, but one of right versus wrong.

Allyson Rowen Taylor
Valley Glen, CA

Unjust Criticism Of Joel

I do not know Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, Rachel Neuwirth or Naomi Ragen. Neither do I know what happened between Neuwirth and Seidler-Feller at UCLA. If, however, Seidler-Feller did what was reported in the UCLA Bruin as Ragen wrote, he should be severely disciplined, if not fired.

I suspect that if he were still president of Hillel and the facts turned out as alleged, Richard Joel would indeed discipline Seidler-Feller if not terminate him.

But Richard Joel is no longer associated with Hillel. And what he said about Seidler-Feller last year while president of Hillel, even if true, certainly did not warrant the attention-grabbing
title on Ms. Ragen’s opinion piece, or warrant the slap she took at Yeshiva University for hiring Joel as its president.

I do know Richard Joel – first as a student-adviser many years ago working under Joel when he headed YU’s kiruv program for high school students (known as “Seminar”), and more recently as a friend and neighbor and in his capacity as a local Jewish community leader.

I have not necessarily agreed with everything Joel may have said or done in the past, and I personally am at odds with Hillel in terms of halacha and hashkafa. And I may not agree with Joel in the future as to every policy he may wish to implement at YU. But knowing Joel, I am confident that he was hired by the trustees of YU not solely for his fund-raising prowess, as Ragen writes, but also for his integrity, his overall leadership qualities and his unique ability to motivate and inspire others, especially young people.

As Ragen herself acknowledged, Joel is a “great guy” who, I would add, has the potential and ability to help YU accomplish great things in both Torah and secular matters.

Certainly if Ragen wishes to legitimately – yet respectfully – criticize Joel for substantive things he does or says as president of YU, that is one thing. But it is beyond the pale for Ragen to gratuitously link Joel and YU to a person and an incident at UCLA over which Joel no longer has authority or control.

Yitzchak Kasdan
Silver Spring, MD

Israel … Or Iraq?

I read with sadness the Nov. 21 Jewish Press article by Ruth Matar, of the Women in Green, on the abuses by the Shin Bet.

How can my people behave and act in such a manner toward their brethren who only seek peace and the perpetuation of the State of Israel?

To mistreat Jews like this is a disgrace and a chillul Hashem as well as a violation of halacha.

To incarcerate Jews without bringing charges or even informing them of their alleged crimes does not befit a country that calls itself a democracy.

How can we be a ‘light unto the nations’ if we behave no better than Iraq and other totalitarian countries?

Eugene Singer
New York, NY

Religious Politicians In The Public Square: The Lieberman Dilemma

Public, Private Personas

I come to praise William Brenner and to bury him (figuratively, of course). In a beautifully
crafted letter (Jewish Press, Nov. 21), Mr. Brenner takes “Brooklyn Joe” Lieberman to task for criticizing Senator Joseph Lieberman’s alleged failure to advance the moral agenda. He argues that the senator’s public and private personas are distinct, and should be allowed to remain so. With all due respect, I do not concur.

Several weeks ago, Dennis Prager graced the front and back pages of The Jewish Press with a brilliant piece making the case that America is now engaged in its second civil war, a bloodless skirmish between conservative and liberal ideologies. While this may be an overstatement, clearly the demarcation lines have been drawn.

The Republicans, once viewed as the party of “Big Business,” are now considered the protectors of family values, while the Democrats, long regarded as the “Party of the People,” seem to champion every cause that runs counter to this country’s Judeo-Christian foundation.

We are not living in a vacuum. Look at the Supreme Court. Surely our finest jurists must
place fealty to the Constitution above all else, but in reality those judges with a liberal bent
consistently rule according to their political ideology – as, in all fairness, do the conservative
arbiters. Similarly, many single-issue politicians in both camps are embraced by their constituencies for advancing their particular concerns. Simply put, despite the real and imagined pressures (and let’s be careful about speaking against the man), there is no reason for Senator Lieberman, who has earned and established his reputation as a man of principle and is known as an observant Jew, to make any concessions in his faith.

Sadly, Mr. Brenner seems to believe that Judaism should only be practiced at home or in the
synagogue. But it was King David who wrote, “Shevisi Hashem kinegdi tomid” – I set G-d before me at all times.

Baruch Hashem, the United States has provided a wonderful haven for the Jewish people.
We’ve been afforded the opportunity to grow, both spiritually and materially. A midrash tells us that before Hashem brought the Great Flood, He allowed for a period of “Heaven on Earth.” We must not delude ourselves that our present good fortune will continue if we continue provoking the Creator.

It is our obligation, as we view the moral decay around us, to speak out – both for our own
and for our country’s sake. If doing so for Senator Lieberman means committing political suicide, remember that Jews throughout the millennia have made far greater sacrifices to demonstrate their allegiance to the G-d of Israel.

Dr. Yaakov Stern
Brooklyn, NY

Man-Made Morality Or Torah Law?

While visiting American servicemen, President George W. Bush noticed a sign that Jewish troops had prepared in his honor which stated, “For our Country, for our G-d”. The born-again Christian and leader of the free world remarked to the young men that the sign should
have G-d?s name before the name of our great republic.

To me, that little anecdote is but a small yet poignant illustration of the relationship we Jews
have, on a very large scale, with our Christian countrymen in this great democracy. Increasingly, the people who are promulgating immorality and paganism in the U.S. are descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, while those who are reprimanding them lovingly, both privately and publicly, in many instances are not.

Man-made morality that is not rooted in the holy Torah or tied to the Seven Noahide Laws can lead to many evil outcomes. Nazi Germany is a perfect example of how the will of the masses, when allowed to supersede the validity of a moral and just constitution rooted in Judeo-Christian ethics, can bring about horrors the likes of which the world had never seen.

We Americans have been blessed that the founding fathers, inspired by our Founding Father,
wrote just such a contract – a contract that includes G-d. Our Declaration of Independence, the opening statement to the world and to the ages, clearly identifies us as a people who believe in a Creator who has guaranteed our freedoms, not an intrusive government.

Chanukah, my favorite holiday, is fast approaching, and I would like to remind my fellow
Jewish Press readers that the central victory of that ancient war was not a physical or military
conquest. Rather it was – and is – the celebration of light overpowering darkness.

Homosexuality and abortion certainly are the epitome of darkness. It is not the goal of citizens
like myself to outlaw either one. Only our Redeemer can accomplish that. However, for the
Jewish senator from Connecticut to have advocated that my hard-earned tax dollars be used to legitimize acts labeled an ‘abomination’ by our Torah – Lieberman has stated publicly that if he’s elected president he will sign legislation allowing federal employees’ benefits to cover their gay ‘spouses’ – is tantamount to heresy.

Today it is abortion, and tomorrow the courts may find that the “quality” of life – as defined by
fallible human beings in black robes – should be the deciding factor when a family considers pulling the plug on an ailing loved one.

Morality and values are not relative. They are directly tied to our holy and eternal Torah. The
Christians, Jews and Muslims of this country who have faith in the One Creator will continue to fight for what they not only believe, but also for what they know to be the truth set forth by G-d through his servant Moses.

Joseph Lieberman
Brooklyn, NY

Shorefront JCC Needs To Help Us, Too

The Shorefront Jewish Community Council is indeed doing a commendable job regarding the
neighborhood’s indigents (“Hungry Receive Food from Shorefront JCC and Councilman Recchia,” Jewish Press, Nov. 14).

It is very important to see to it that the truly needy receive their entitlements. In fact, according
to a speaker at the last council meeting, other neighborhoods are sending people to the Shorefront Jewish Community Council to receive help in obtaining their entitlements.

That is all nice and good, but I have a question. What is the Shorefront Jewish Community Council doing for the Jews of the community? Many of our synagogues are on the verge of closing, if they have not already done so. Our mikvah is in financial hot water. At one time
there were 29 shomer Shabbos stores on Brighton Beach Avenue. Now there is one.

You want to buy chalav Yisrael milk? You have to go to a Palestinian grocery. You want
certified kosher ready-made salads? You have to go to the same Palestinian. Rubashkin chicken? Again, you have to patronize the Palestinian.

What is the Shorefront Jewish Community Council doing about getting affordable housing for
the Jews of the community? Or about getting young, Orthodox people into the neighborhood?
(The few remaining young people in our synagogues will have to leave the neighborhood
when they get married if nothing is done about the housing crisis now.)

First our community leadership thought that senior housing was the answer to the neighborhood’s problems. When that proved wrong, the next song was that “the Russians are coming to save the neighborhood.” Well, I?m sorry to say this, but a once-vibrant Jewish community is no more.

Our synagogue is, baruch Hashem, holding its own. We struggle with a daily shachris minyan but have had to discontinue the daily Mincha-Maariv minyan for the winter. Our Shabbos minyan is thriving, but we know we will not be successful in keeping our doors open unless we have young, Orthodox families moving into the neighborhood.

Perhaps it is time to ask the “haves” of the Russian community to take a more active part in
assisting the “have-nots” of their community. (Don’t we in the Orthodox community do the same thing? It’s called tzedakah. We donate money to organizations that in turn distribute food, clothing, and money to those in need.) Then the Shorefront Jewish Community Council will be able to direct its limited assets toward solving the problems of the entire Jewish community.

The Shorefront Jewish Community Council must bring the neighborhood?s landlords into the
picture so that together we can try to overcome our housing crisis. We need affordable homes, not the deluxe co-ops that are going up in the neighborhood and which only the affluent can afford.

The Shorefront Jewish Community Council must take the reins in uniting all our neighborhood
Jewish organizations for the purpose of discussing and solving our problems.

It is time for the Shorefront Jewish Community Council to take an active and leading role in helping to solve the problems of the Shorefront Orthodox Jewish community.

Alan Solomon
Young Israel of Brighton Beach