Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
Remove Settlements Now
I agree with those people who say that settlements should be uprooted. I also agree that Arabs and Jews cannot live together and that the settlements are a provocation and a source of friction. However, I differ with them on just which “settlements” we are talking about. The settlements that should be removed in the “interest of peace” are the Arab settlements found throughout Eretz Yisrael.
Make no mistake about it, the Jewish claim to Eretz Yisrael is not found in the century-old cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa, but in the thousands-of-years-old Jewish cities of Hebron, Shilo and Bet El. Town after town mentioned in the Torah can be found in Judea and Samaria. These areas form the basis for stating that Israel belongs to the Jewish people.
The provocation occurs when Arabs and their supporters try to claim Jewish land as their own. The unrestricted building of Arab settlements throughout Eretz Yisrael is the true “obstacle to peace.” Appeasement to Arab claims has been tried, and it has failed miserably. The settlement issue continues to be raised. That’s great, but let’s focus on the real settlement issue for once.
For the sake of peace, difficult decisions on the settlements must be made. For the sake of peace, remove Arab settlements now.
Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder were perceptive as usual in their sharp denunciation of George Soros (‘The Sorry Tale of Soros,’ op-ed, Nov. 28).
To my fellow Jews who aren’t out-and-out left-wing crazies but who still, after all we’ve seen in recent years, still see no reason why they shouldn’t just keep on supporting the Democrats, consider this: Why do you think a man like Soros gravitates to the Democratic party? Obviously he feels comfortable with the party’s agenda and is willing to spend a fortune to replace President Bush with a Democrat.
Shouldn?t that fact alone cause you to reconsider your blind devotion to the party of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and Jimmy Carter and Howard Dean? The party that offers no coherent alternative to the Bush administration’s war on terror or to the president’s refusal to place American security in the hands of the United Nations?
New York, NY
Save Noam Federman
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz recently signed a six-month order of administrative detention for Noam Federman, who has not been charged with any crime. Under administrative detention, individuals may be imprisoned by the state without due process,
without being charged, and without even being informed of what their crime might be. They don’t have to be brought before a judge, and are often not allowed to have their day in court.
At this moment, Noam Federman in his sixth week of a hunger strike, is dying or may already have died in the horrendous Ashmoret prison reserved for the worst Arab terrorists,.
If Federman is suspected of committing a crime, the Israeli government should indict him and put him on trial, allowing everyone to see the evidence against him instead of keeping it secret. If there is no evidence against him, and if he is not accused of a crime, he should be release from prison immediately.
If Noam Federman dies, it will be a dark stain on all those who were responsible for putting him in administrative detention, and on the State of Israel itself. Israel claims to be a democracy, but is using the ruthless tactics of totalitarian governments in dealing with
Jewish political dissidents. To arbitrarily throw Noam Federman in jail is to mock democracy.
Anyone interested in faxing Defense Minister Mofaz may do so at (03) 697-6218. He can be reached by e-mail at: email@example.com.
Chaya Chava Shulman
In Memoriam (I)
Re the obituary for Mr. Abraham Tenenbaum (Jewish Press, Nov. 28):
As a young boy in the historic city of Berditchev, young Abraham wished to attend synagogue with his father, who would not allow it because he feared the Communists would persecute a youngster seen going to shul.
Right after he arrived in New York in 1991, Mr. Tenenbaum joined our shul and began working as a volunteer. Soon he was elected a trustee. In 1997 the shul was up for sale ‘the keys were already in the hands of a realtor – but Mr. Tenenbaum paid numerous visits to
rabbonim, community leaders and askonim, asking them to press the shul’s board not to sell. He worked tirelessly to prevent the sale, until finally at a raucous membership meeting the decision was made: the shul would not be sold.
A few months later Mr. Tenenbaum was elected president of the shul. He devoted himself to raising funds and to seeing to it that the shul was comfortable for everyone.
Even in the last year of his life, when he was very ill, Mr. Tenenbaum worked as hard as he could from home for the shul. His dedication and service to our shul will never be forgotten, and will be a z’chus for his neshama in the Olam Haelyon.
Rabbi Avrohom Brody
Cong. Anshei Zedek
In Memoriam (II)
This year marks the fourth anniversary of the passing of Julio Martinez. While his obituary in The New York Times (Oct. 30, 1999) mentioned him as the founder of key organizations in the fight against drug addiction, I knew him as a student in college who demonstrated his friendship for the Jewish community at a critical moment.
It was the early 1970’s at the State University of New York at Binghamton (now called Binghamton University). A group of Jewish students decided to apply, for the first time, for funding for Jewish activities from the student government. Before that, under the doctrine of “separation of church and state,” such finding was believed to be impermissible. This Jewish group, however, asked to be recognized as a separate cultural entity, as deserving of funding as the Chinese student group, the black student group, and other groups whose eligibility and right to receive funding had long been accepted.
The student government had a heavy representation of leftists who tended to be hostile to, or suspicious of, manifestations of Jewish identity. Nobody was surprised, therefore, that the student government gave the Jewish request a hostile reception and then tried to put off all further discussion of the proposal.
Everybody was surprised, though, by what happened next. Waiting in the wings to deliver the funding proposal of the Hispanic student group was a student named Julio Martinez. The injustice of the way the Jewish students were being treated was finally more than he could stand. At a certain moment he shouted out that the Jewish students represented a certain percentage of the students on campus and if the student government refused to give them any funding then the student government was dominated by racists.
Much more than the words themselves, the source of the words caused a huge shock. Leftists idolized the black and Hispanic students, considering them standard-bearers in the struggle against oppression and racism. For the leftists to be called racists by a Hispanic student – by the leader of the Hispanic students – was perhaps one of the two biggest shocks of their lives. To imagine that they themselves might be racists was the second biggest shock.
I would not say that Julio’s words were the only factor in the decision to grant funding to the Jewish student group, but it was undoubtedly a factor. Julio had taken a big chance by speaking out and jeopardizing the amount of funding for the Hispanic student organization.
The Book of Esther records that the words of a non-Jew named Charvonah played a crucial role in turning the tide against Haman. Julio Martinez, too, showed how the power of a few words uttered by a non-Jew can make a difference in the course of Jewish events.
Avraham L. Kallus
Don’t Change, Mrs. Bluth
I would like to assure Rachel Bluth that the letter of criticism she featured in her November 28 column by no means represents the sentiment of her readers. The insular view expressed in that letter is shocking and completely contrary to the compassion that Judaism espouses. It is insensitive to belittle problems other than one’s own.
Mrs. Bluth should continue to deal with all family and personal issues in her column in her usual even-handed fashion, whether those issues be wife abuse, husband abuse, in-law abuse, child abuse, the agunah problem, or difficulty in meeting one’s bashert. Long may Mrs. Bluth continue to dispense her sage advice on the whole gamut of human problems. Her many readers remain grateful and hope her column graces The Jewish Press for many years to come.
Gary Lloyd Gottlieb, Q.C.
A Time To Hate…Or Not?
Cheryl Kupfer makes some interesting points about how in some parts of the world the kosher
slaughter of animals has become an issue among the same people who tolerate the boiling live
lobsters and the forced feeding of livestock, and how Israel is condemned for the “barbaric”
bombing of empty buildings while the UN is relatively silent with regard to suicide bombings
that blind, maim and burn innocent people (‘A Time to Hate,’ op-ed, Nov. 28).
Ms. Kupfer attributes this phenomenon to anti-Semitism and “baseless hatred directed at Jews.”
A similar sentiment was expressed by Elan Steinberg, senior adviser at the World Jewish
Congress, in response to billionaire George Soros’s ridiculous remark that anti-Semitism is the result of the policies of Israel and the U.S. “Anti-Semitism is not caused by Jews,” Steinberg
said, “it’s caused by anti-Semites.”
What I find difficult to understand is why so many people who are grappling with the issue of
recurring anti-Semitism either can’t put two and two together or are just afraid to face the problem.
A letter published several weeks ago in The Jewish Press from a Beth Schindelman, who
described the disrespect she encountered at a Chol Hamoed Sukkot concert – and the subsequent letters from other readers bolstering her claims with additional accounts of similarly offensive behavior among “frum” people – hit the nail right on the head, in my opinion.
If anyone thinks there can’t be a connection, since anti-Semites usually speak nonsense – i.e.,
Jews run Hollywood, they rule the world by proxy, they drink blood – but seldom make references to our behavior or values per se, I can tell you a story that pretty much dispels such doubt.
Working for a major financial institution, I saw a “frum” manager one morning coming to work
holding a sefer. It looked great – he spends his time on the subway learning. However, he also
ruled his department like a dictator, in a manner very unbecoming of a decent person, let alone a “frum” person.
At one point, I heard some non-Jews I worked with murmuring about why he leaves early on
Friday (for Shabbos). On the surface, this may have seemed like anti-Semitism. And maybe it
was. But being more intimately involved with the situation, I knew for a fact that he was generally not liked because of his behavior, and that that was the precursor to their religion-related discontentment.
I’m not exactly a Torah scholar, but I believe it says somewhere that when Jews live up to their responsibilities, no nation on earth can harm them. When they don’t, the opposite is true. I’ve met non-Jews who are aware of this maxim. Why aren’t more Jews aware of it?
There’s no question that anti-Semitism is committed by anti-Semites. There’s no question
that we have to fight the Hitlers of any generation. But, ultimately, we have to stop explaining why someone got killed by a bolt of lightning with the mechanics of how lightning works. We have to ask ourselves what safeguards we ignored that allowed the lightning to strike us.
Blessings And Curses
I am writing to voice my enthusiastic agreement with Cheryl Kupfer’s article regarding
the need to hate those who perpetrate evil acts against our fellow Jews.
Unfortunately, many Jews still cultivate the mistaken idea that people are inherently good and
that if the nations of the world are against the Jews, then we are wrong and must change to suit
Fortunately, we have a Torah to dictate to us Hashem’s will – what is right and what is wrong.
It is explicitly written that Israel was given as a homeland to the Jews. It is ours and no
government has a right to give a speck of it away to anyone.
It is indeed tragic that many Jews do not recognize even our obvious enemies to the extent
they support the fallacious claims of a band of terrorists who claim to be a nation and call
themselves Palestinians. Chazal’s warning that those who have pity on their enemies will
ultimately show cruelty to their own people has come a tragic reality as thousands of our dear
Jewish brothers and sisters have been killed or maimed for life by Arab terrorism.
Today, there are many individuals, gentile and, unfortunately, Jewish (the enemy within),
who not only must not be trusted but whose hypocrisy must be exposed. The goal of some is to change the image of the Jew as a “light unto the nations” and force us to be like the other nations of the world. This will not work; it never has. Others are outright anti-Semites who would like to drive us into extinction.
But do not despair. There is hope. The Jerusalem Talmud (Berachos, Chapter 8, Halacha 8), recounts a story where a non-Jew approached Rabbi Yishmael and blessed him. He responded, “Your remarks have been answered.” Another non-Jew approached him and cursed him. The sage offered the same reply. Perplexed, his students asked him why he gave them the same response. ‘The Torah,’ Rabbi Yishmael told them, ‘says that those who curse you will be cursed and those who bless you will be blessed’ (Bamidbar 24:9).
Those who curse us and work to destroy us from without or within will ultimately be cursed.
Those who bless and defend us will receive their reward.
It is only a matter of time. May that time come very soon.
The Reform Perspective
Cheryl Kupfer’s column was absolutely hateful. Haven’t we Jews learned anything? Are we
serving Hashem by transforming ourselves into venomous Nazis in sheitels and shtreimels?
When I read something like ‘A Time To Hate,’ I can only thank G-d I was reared in the
Reform tradition of Judaism with its emphasis on universal brotherhood. In fact, this very subject was addressed recently in temple by our rabbi, who, I am proud to say, is a woman. She gave a sermon explaining why we as Jews are obligated to speak up for the world’s oppressed, even if our endeavors on their behalf go unappreciated. She also spoke, quite convincingly, of why hatred and revenge are not Jewish concepts.
I find it appalling that a Jewish newspaper would publish a column calling on Jews to hate
their perceived enemies. The notion has more than a tinge of fascism. I can’t say I’m completely shocked, however; you did after all endorse the cowboy in the White House and have generally supported his policies of death and destruction.
Mothers And Children
The Importance Of Stay-At-Home Mommies
Kudos to Dr. Yitzchok Levine for his op-ed article (‘Who’s Raising Our Children?’ Nov. 28). I have been preaching this very same thought for years. Look at our kinderlach on the streets late at night, especially Friday nights being mechalel Shabbos.
I have another suggestion for Dr. Levine. Instead of creating agencies that will help these
young couples find the proper care for their children, why not create agencies that will help
fund or find funding (whether loans or grants) to these families to pay tuition so that Mommy can stay home and raise her own children? So that when Dovid or Rochel come home from school, Mommy is waiting with a warm smile, a warm hug, a hot dinner and questions about their day, help with the homework and so on.
It is so important for children to run home from school and have Mommy waiting for them.
Remember the good old days when we actually referred to the children whose mommies weren’t home as ‘latchkey kids’? Look at how far we have come, unfortunately.
When I was growing up, it was unheard of for a child to be out of the house, or out of his/her
mother’s care, before the age of four. But it seems that today we live in a society where frum mothers have their priorities horribly skewed, to the detriment of their children’s well-being.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not referring to those mothers who must work because they
absolutely need to help support the family. I am referring to those who get a job or find some other ways to spend their day because they simply “want to get out of the house.”
When you bring children into this world you have a responsibility to care for them as best as
possible, and that might just mean sacrificing your leisure time and having to stay home when they’re very young to ensure that they receive the proper nurturing, time and care that only a parent can give.
Can anyone honestly say that a playgroup teacher or a nanny will give a child the kind of
attention and love that he/she needs during those tender young years? These are the most formative and impressionable years for a child, which will have an indelible effect on their lives,
I am a stay-at-home mother, and I am amazed at how many times I have been incredulously
asked by neighbors, “You don’t send your 2-year old child to playgroup? Why not?”
A sad commentary on this is what happened to me when I signed my child and myself up for a
“Mommy and Me” group in Boro Park last year. Mommy and Me is a group in which mothers and their young babies spend time together in a group setting. Well, believe it or not, the group was canceled because I was the only mother who had signed up for it. When I asked the coordinator why she thought that was, her reply was very telling. She said, “In the frum community, mothers aren’t looking for a place to spend time together with their child; they want to find a place to drop off their child!”
Modern Orthodox Phenomenon?
Dr. Levine is all too accurate in his depiction of the brave new world of Orthodox mothers who have little time for their children. As someone who lives in a Modern Orthodox neighborhood and works in a chassidic area, my perception is that the problem is far more acute among Modern Orthodox families – which at first glance might seem odd, since generally speaking the male head of household earns a higher income among the latter group.
Why, then, do so many Modern Orthodox women throw themselves into jobs and careers and neglect the noble calling of motherhood? The answer, I’m afraid, is rather obvious: Because of its fascination with all things modern and secular, the Modern Orthodox community is all too susceptible to any lifestyle or life choice that comes along wrapped in shiny and enticing garb.
Thanks to the pervasive influence of feminism on even those women who insist they’re not
feminists, being a housewife and a stay-at-home mom is seen as something negative, as somehow a low calling in life. Just speak to a random sampling of young women at Stern College and you’ll see what I’m referring to.
There are indications, noted recently by such arbiters of cultural change as The New York Times and New York magazine, that the pull toward full-time motherhood is causing a number of successful career women to question their decisions and in some cases to ditch the briefcase for the bassinet.
Since it takes about 20 years for the Modern Orthodox to fully embrace secular trends – it
wasn’t until the rest of America began to sour on feminism in the late 1980’s that suddenly the
phenomenon of ‘Orthodox Feminism’ was upon us – I expect that the new trend away from full-time careers will start reaching the Modern Orthodox world sometime around the year 2020.
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