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Sharpton Democrats (I)
Imagine if a white supremacist were running for the Republican presidential nomination and the party’s other candidates not only refused to denounce him, but actually welcomed his candidacy and went out of their way to make nice with him at debates and other joint appearances.
Switch the words ‘white supremacist’ with ‘Al Sharpton’ and ‘Republican’ with ‘Democrat,’ and you know why I will not be voting for the Democratic candidate for president this year. It’s my personal way of protesting the Democrats’ open-armed embrace of one of the country?s most notorious racial arsonists. The fact that President Bush has been an outstanding friend of Israel only makes my decision that much easier.
Sharpton Democrats (II)
I find it sickening every time I see the Reverend Al Sharpton taking part in a Democratic presidential debate. We know his history with the riots in Crown Heights, with Freddy’s Fashion Mart in Harlem, with Tawana Brawley.
Any Jew who votes Democratic in the upcoming presidential election has to be out of his or her mind.
The pollster John Zogby, who happens to be the brother of Arab-American activist James Zogby, told the Village Voice that a majority of Arab-Americans are ‘vocal and militantly
against Bush’ and will vote for whomever his Democratic opponent will be next November.
How ironic that most American Jews seem to be just as anti-Bush. Arab-Americans are well aware of the unprecedented relationship between this administration and Israel, and so they plan to vote in their perceived self-interest. As usual, though, most Jews plan to vote not in their self-interest, or in the interest of the Jewish state, but entirely on the basis of their tiresome, knee-jerk obeisance to liberalism and the Democratic party.
The Arab-Americans who’ll be voting against Bush know exactly what they’re doing; I wish I could say the same about the Jews who’ll be voting against Bush.
New York, NY
How Will We React?
I am writing in the wake of the murderous Jan. 29 bus bombing in Jerusalem. I do not wish to discuss the Israeli response, as I am not an Israeli. I am an American, and I would like to think about how America will respond when terrorism hits here. 9/11 was a one-shot deal and the nation is still playing politics with it. What will happen when terrorists start hitting random targets here on a regular basis? Can’t happen? Of course it can. The DC sniper was a Muslim. The start of the Iraq war was marked by a Muslim noncom killing American officers with a hand grenade. What will our reaction be when a shopping center is attacked? Or an American pizza shop?
Make no mistake. Just as the Spanish Civil War was a dress rehearsal for World War II, Israel’s war against terrorism is a dress rehearsal for the coming war against the U.S. Will we
fold like the Europeans at the first signs of terrorism and try to make peace with the devil? Or will we fight? And if we fight, how? Something to think about.
Rabbi David Willig
Rosedale Jewish Center
I applaud The Jewish Press for publishing George Baker’s article about the increasing support of librarians for anti-Israel propaganda (‘Librarians Against Israel: The Outrage Continues,’ Jan. 30). I have been a professional librarian for almost three decades and have been doing much research into the increase of such propaganda and its availability. The Duke University website is the symptom but the real disease is the website of the American Library Association.
Take a short trip to www.ala.org, click Our Association, then Round Tables, then SRRT (Social Responsibilities Round table), then International Responsibilities, and, finally, Alternative Resources on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. There you will see four pages of the most vitriolic anti-Israel locations on the planet. You will even find the biased ALA
resolution concerning Palestinian libraries. Is it really necessary for a professional organization to have such a complete resource on one subject?
Perhaps such an exhaustive presentation is agenda driven. As a professional librarian, I know it would suffice to present one page to enable a researcher to investigate the issue. Even at that, one page is out of proportion and four pages on such a subject with a slant in one direction is outrageous.
In our Internet-based world it is relatively easy to promote and spread hate. Many people give great credence to what they find on the net. In the interest of bibliographic integrity and fairness, this skewed resource needs to be exposed and dealt with. It is also important to know that the ALA does not speak or represent the views of all professionals. Librarians as a
whole may not be anti-Israel, but the American Library Association certainly is..
Once again, I praise The Jewish Press for its doing its duty as a newspaper.
Eliezer M. Wise
Tuttleman Library of Gratz College
Melrose Park, Pa.
I agree with op-ed contributor Joseph Schick (‘Don’t Demonize All on the Left,’ Jan. 30) that Steven Plaut in a previous article went too far in his criticism of opponents of Prime Minister Sharon’s security fence. Plaut is obviously correct that there are some ideological “crazies” on the Left who do not have Israel’s best interests at heart and are going to extremes. However, they should not be seen as representing all of the opponents of the fence.
I support Sharon’s plan one hundred percent, but I recognize that there are principled people who disagree with either the concept of separation itself or the prime minster’s precise formulation.
In closing, I must tell you how much I welcome the addition of Mr. Schick to your pages; his mind is as sharp as the razor of the same name.
Plaut KnowsThe Left
I enjoy Joseph Schick’s intelligent op-ed pieces, but must vehemently take issue with his criticism of Steven Plaut. Of course there are Israeli leftists who are well-meaning, patriotic citizens, and they and their families have sacrificed much for Israel. But Plaut writes of the large numbers of media and academic leftists who’ve internalized all the arguments of our enemies and spew them out with barely concealed hatred for anything that smacks of traditional Zionism.
Anyone who regularly reads Haaretz, the paper of Israel’s left-wing elite, is all too familiar with this phenomenon – and no one can convince me that most of Haaretz’s columnists aren’t more sympathetic to the Palestinians than they are to Israel (as P. David Hornik demonstrated so well in his Jewish Press page-one essay last week).
Steven Plaut knows Israel’s ugly radical Left as only a professor at Haifa University can. And Plaut knows there’s a difference between the old-style Mapai leftists and the unreconstructed Chomskyites who have such an inordinate influence on Israeli politics and culture.
Steven Plaut and Joseph Schick both got it wrong. I don’t question Ariel Sharon’s desire to save Jewish lives, but the whole idea of unilateral disengagement makes no sense. Not only does it reward Palestinian banditry and savagery, it also effectively cedes land that belongs to us for absolutely nothing concrete in return.
Sharon’s plan is almost the same as the one pushed by Amram Mitzna in the last Israeli election. Mitzna was overwhelmingly repudiated by the voters, but Sharon has no shame in pursuing the very policy Mitzna championed.
A Community And Its Poskim
We in the Bialystoker Synagogue enjoyed a pleasant Shabbat Bereishit when Rabbi J. Simcha
Cohen regaled us with a sparkling lecture, delivered with wit and aplomb. Apparently the
experience made an impression on him as well, because Rabbi Cohen’s most recent column
(”Carrying a Child on the Sabbath,” Jewish Press, February 6) makes reference to an incident he witnessed that Shabbat and uses it as a springboard to discuss some broader issues which
he applies specifically to our community. Since our community and our synagogue had the honor of being singled out in Rabbi Cohen’s article, I feel entitled to address some of the points he makes.
Rabbi Cohen opens with the scenario of a mother trying to coax her reluctant child to walk
home on Shabbat. Without an eruv, she cannot carry the child; how, then, shall they make it
home? Rabbi Cohen presents various standard halachic responses to what can be a frustrating
dilemma – holding the child in place, or walking in short increments (pachot midalet amot) while carrying the child. At this point Rabbi Cohen moves into what, halachically, is no longer terra firma.
”This is a tedious halachic method for carrying a child home,” he writes. ”There is also a simpler way.” He goes on to cite an essay by his grandfather in the sefer Minchat Shabbat, in which the author offers a limud zechut (halachic justification) for carrying children on Shabbat. ”[S]uch a legal loophole… can serve as a rationale for withholding criticism of those who are lenient and carry children in public on the Sabbath in communities without an eruv.”
There are several basic halachic objections (which are beyond the scope of this letter to detail)
to the argument of the Minchat Shabbat which Rabbi Cohen cites, but that is really besides the
point. A limud zechut is an argument which a posek himself does not truly consider halachically
valid, but offers in defense of a common practice that he is powerless to change. To cite it as a
”simpler way” to observance flouts the halachic process. Rabbi Cohen’s subsequent reference to ”withholding criticism of those who… carry children” is misleading. The article ostensibly is
offering practical advice to parents confronted with the scenario it describes at the outset. The only relevant halachic advice is that which is recommended as normative halacha, not common
practice which can only be sanctioned with great difficulty.
Rabbi Cohen then opines that the Lower East Side in particular is a neighborhood where ”one
certainly should not criticize those who carry children,” because it lies within the confines of the
Manhattan eruv, which was sanctioned by the Gaon Rav Menachem Mendel Kasher, zt”l. Here, too, one wonders how we transitioned from ”what to do” to ”what not to criticize.” But the issue runs much deeper, and a bit more clarification is required than what Rabbi Cohen provides in his article.
Rabbi Cohen notes that at the time that Rav Kasher offered his support for the Manhattan eruv, ”the Agudat Harabbanim and many roshei yeshiva disagreed with Rav Kasher.” He fails to mention that among these many roshei yeshiva was an individual whose name on the Lower East Side is essentially synonymous with ”rosh yeshiva” – the Gaon Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, who respectfully but firmly felt that Manhattan by definition could not halachically maintain a traditional community eruv.
We are currently blessed on the Lower East Side with the presence of Rav Moshe’s two sons,
Rav Dovid Feinstein and Rav Reuven Feinstein, shlita, whose status as internationally consulted decisors of halacha makes them universally accepted as the poskim on Lower East Side community matters. They are both on record as affirming their illustrious father’s pesak. The article’s statement that ”local rabbis have not formally sanctioned carrying in the area” implies that the position of the Lower East Side rabbinate is somehow equivocal. It is not. The rabbanim of the Lower East Side universally affirm the pesak of Rav Moshe and his sons and pasken for the balebatim that carrying on Shabbat on the Lower East Side involves a Torah prohibition.
That being the case, it would be incorrect to say that one cannot criticize those who carry a
child on the Lower East Side on Shabbat. Whatever one affirms in the complex area of
Hilchot Eruvin – and certainly many great and saintly poskim disputed and continue to dispute
Rav Moshe’s halachic conclusions – one fact is clear. One has no right to challenge a pesak of a community’s recognized mara d’atra, the halachic ”master of the locale.” The Talmud relates
(Shabbat 19b) that Rav Hamnuna excommunicated a student who paskened according to the normative halacha in the town of Rav, who was known for espousing an opinion that was stricter than the norm.
Other neighborhoods are certainly within their rights to follow the poskim who set halachic
policies for their areas. We may, and should, follow ours.
Rabbi Zvi Romm
Rav, Bialystoker Synagogue
Rebbe, Isaac Breuer College, Yeshiva University
Leib Stone Won’t Be Silenced By Critics
The respondents (Letters, Jan. 30) to my letter regarding the opinion piece “Orthodox
Hellenism 5764″ contend that I wrote disparagingly about the author by calling him a ”one issue” man. Rabbi William Handler writes that the author ”would cheerfully plead guilty to
the charge,” yet concludes his letter by stating that I am either ”woefully ignorant” of the facts or ”willfully ignoring them” – because of my characterization of the author as a one-issue man!
The author of “Orthodox Hellenism” does not have to prioritize and is willing to go to great
lengths to further his cause, but the organizations he disparages are involved in numerous issues and must prioritize. As I stated in my previous letter, unquestionably the majority of gedolim whose guidance was sought on these issues by our community did not agree that the morality issue was the most critical issue facing us. That Rav Miller, zt”l, did believe that this issue was of paramount importance is well known and I don’t disagree. All agree we must fight for our interests on morality issues; the question is how, when and where.
Rabbi Handler cites Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, and Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzki, zt”l, as having
supported the author. They also had direct contact with at least some of the organizations mentioned. By following their advice an agenda was formed, and the morality issue was not made a top priority. Rav Moshe Feinstein wrote that during hearings in City Hall we should fill the chambers to publicly show that we are against abomination. Rav Moshe didn’t write that we should publicly attack and heckle politicians friendly with our community because they do not agree with us on this issue.
Rabbi Handler’s account of how Rav Miller helped arrange visas to America for the family of
one of the revered gedolei hador was heartwarming but irrelevant. As for his contention that if Rav Moshe mandated that each and every one of us be at City Hall for hearings, our public organizations should have provided transportation – well, that borders on the ridiculous.
As for Mr. Fried’s letter, it is naive to think that the gedolim in Eretz Yisrael are not aware of
what is taking place in Yerushalayim. I am sure that they have formulated a plan of action of how to fight this terrible chillul Hashem, and do not need a couple of Brooklyn-based activists to guide them.
The tone of Mr. Winter’s letter suggests a lack of emunas chachamim, albeit unintentionally, I
presume. Regardless, his argument that placing a great public emphasis on moral issues would have stemmed the moral decay in our society is purely conjecture. Even if he were right, it is beside the point. What is important, is that our gedolim decided that other issues, such as Jewish education, were of a higher priority and that is where we should concentrate our efforts and have our successes. The other letter, by virtue of the writer’s denigrating of roshei yeshiva in pre-war Europe and his backhanded swipe at the posek hador, does not deserve a response.
In sum, what I read was a lot of emotion with little or no substance, and Rabbi Handler’s diatribe not withstanding, I have not found any compelling reason to change my position.
More Tributes To Chezi Goldberg, a”h
How to begin? What to say?
You have accomplished so much in your very short life. You had so much more to do; but, alas, you were cut short by the mire of strife in the land of your choice. Israel was in your heart and soul as were your wife and children. Your goal of helping souls find their way to a better quality of life according to our Torah was part and parcel of every fiber of your being.
May those who still inhabit olam hazeh follow in your teachings. You have left a great legacy,
Chezi. This life is but a preparation for the world to come. You are now on a higher plain.
May your spirit soar. You are now in a position to be a meilitz yosher for your family and
for Klal Yisrael.
May your family heal in time. May Hashem turn his face on them and on Klal Yisrael.
Enough is enough.
Angel From Hashem
My heart is full of pain and my eyes full of tears when I think that Chezi Goldberg is no longer with us. I wrote to him about a certain problem which he eventually wrote about in his Jewish
Press column. But before it finally reached the public, Chezi spent two months going back and
forth with me on several rough drafts. And after the column appeared he spent several more weeks working with me on readers’ responses. I thought this man must be an angel sent straight from Hashem.
Chezi Goldberg touched my life with his kindness. May Hashem bless his wife and children
with all that is good.
My name is Yechezkel Chezi (Charles) Frajlick. I live in Brussels, Belgium and am a
communication consultant and a regular columnist for a French-language Jewish monthly. I was a ‘hidden child’ who survived the Holocaust by escaping the Gestapo three times.
What happened to your columnist Yechezkel Chezi Goldberg breaks my heart and I feel a deep sorrow. Sorry for my English, but I want to tell you that I am with you and share your pain.
Lesson Of Unconditional Love
I received the call from my brother at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29. “You were zoche to have met a tzaddik.” I could barely hear him. It was only after a few moments that his words began to sink in. His chavrusa, Chezi Goldberg, HY”D, was identified as one of the victims of the latest bus bombing in Yerushalayim. My brother was broken. Although our family for years followed Chezi’s articles in The Jewish Press, downloading his column from the Internet every Thursday since we made aliyah last July, I had only met him personally for the first time one week before his murder, at the Nefesh Mental Health Conference in Yerushalayim.
Whenever I attend such conferences, my goal is to take away with me at least one concrete piece of advice which I can put into action. Chezi’s presentation was wonderful. When he took out his yo-yo and spoke of his canary I immediately understood his special ability to connect with troubled youth. The topic he spoke on was the special challenges faced by those who make aliyah. He recommended that parents whose teenagers hang out “in town” actually pay a visit to “town” on a Thursday night to see for themselves what exactly their kids were up to. When I returned home that day I told my wife to plan on a Thursday night out.
We pushed off our Thursday night out for one week. After a day of listening to screaming
ambulances, making frantic cell-phone calls to our children who travel daily to school on
Yerushalayim’s buses, and then hearing about Chezi, we were just too drained to do anything. But we went the following week, just as Chezi had suggested.
The Ba’al Shem Tov taught that whenever we observe another person’s behavior, it is by Divine Providence that we should see it. And if we observe something negative, then this is G-d’s way of revealing to us a fault within our own selves, like a reflection from a mirror, because self-love often prevents us from seeing our own faults.
But a tzaddik has no faults, which is why Chezi, when describing to us at the Conference the
Thursday night scene of hundreds of our children hanging out on Ben Yehuda, spoke of the
unconditional love he would see expressed between the kids. Of course he saw the drugs, the alcohol and all the rest. But all that did was to spur him into action.
Rabbi Schwab from Neve once discussed with me why so many children from good families are caught in the web of drugs and trouble. After all, weren’t we always taught that age-old clich? about the apple not falling far from the tree? He answered that sure, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – when there’s hardly any wind blowing. But if it’s windy and stormy, the apples can fly all over the place. And what our children are confronted with today is a raging storm.
What my wife and I observed on Thursday night was the storm our children are trying to
weather. These young, young children come week after week and gather where they know they will be loved and accepted for exactly who they are. We went because Chezi said we should.
After a previous bus bombing, Chezi wrote of how a tragedy must push us to introspection; how we need to look at each day as if it may be our last. Living here in Israel has given my wife and me much cause for this very type of introspection. And so I’ve often thought: If today is, G-d forbid, my last in this beautiful world, what can I do to give my children the strength they would need to deal with the special challenges they would face without me? Which is why I must strengthen my children every day with my unconditional love for each and every one of them as I teach them to love the Torah and Klal Yisrael.
Thank you, Chezi.
Rabbi Mordecai Weiss, MA
Mitzpe Yericho, Israel
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Today is my brother’s second yartzheit and a Torah was dedicated in his memory.
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