‘This Is Our Land’

We stood together, well over 100,000 strong, bearing witness to our commitment to our land. Many of us held hands. Many of us spent the time reciting Tehillim. Many of us sang. At the Kotel, the sounds of the chazozrot, the trumpets, resounded.

For two hours we stood at our chosen points along a route stretching from Gush Katif to Yerushalayim, ending at the Kotel. Some stood in areas full of thorns, not a bathroom in sight, on a hot summer day.

We wanted to make a statement with our bodies. Hands touching hands, Israeli flags flying proudly, we wanted to say: We are here, this is our land. Gush Katif is every inch as holy and important to us as any other part of our land.

I stood in Yerushalayim with my youngest daughter. We held hands with those on either side of us and proudly sang Hatikvah and Ani Ma’amin. How appropriate it was to be there, sharing prayers and hope and support and love with our fellow Jews.

Debbie Garfinkel Diament

A Metaphor Come To Life

In 1980, a close friend of mine gave me a Naomi Shemer songbook for my birthday. Even though this friend was a member of Peace Now, she shared with me a love of the Land of Israel – especially as expressed in the songs of Israel’s unofficial national poet.

Fast forward 24 years later: Naomi Shemer died on the 7th of Tammuz. It was so like her to die just before a period of national mourning. What she missed, on her shloshim, was seeing the Human Chain from Jerusalem to Gush Katif. Shemer had vision, but neither she nor anyone other than the Prophet Ezekiel himself could have envisioned the success of the Human Chain.

The backbone of Israel – from Jerusalem, down the highway through Latrun and Ashkelon, all the way to Gush Katif – grew muscles and skin, hair and sinew. It is more than uplifting to participate in and witness a metaphor become reality. The hand-holding was accompanied by hugging and dancing, singing and prayer. We made new friends and ran in to old ones. We spoke many languages with one heart.

G-d willing, this act by so many Jews will overturn the harsh verdict of destruction and ruin.

Mindy Aber Barad

Senior For Kerry

While I realize The Jewish Press has its reasons for supporting Bush, it is important to realize that there are many issues at hand in any election, and one or two issues alone should not be used to make a decision. Senior citizens, for example, may have valid reasons for wanting a Democratic administration instead of a Republican one. I hope that as a responsible newspaper, The Jewish Press will consider printing a dissenting point of view – namely mine, the view of a senior citizen who happens not to be Jewish.

During the Clinton administration, I had an extremely good and well paying job. Since President Bush took office, however, my life has changed for the worse. I lost my job. I lost my health insurance. And then came the ultimate tragedy: I lost two sons in that terrible Iraq war.

As a matter of fact, I lost virtually everything. Adding insult to injury, when the authorities found me living like an animal without a proper home, instead of helping me, they actually arrested me.

I will do anything to ensure President Bush’s defeat in the next election. I will do anything that Senator Kerry wants to ensure that a Democrat is back in the White House come next year. Bush has to go!

I just thought you’d like to know how one senior citizen views the Bush administration. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.

Saddam Hussein
In Captivity, Iraq

Op-Ed Appreciation (I)

Thanks for Isaac Kohn’s op-ed column “Of Jew and Fences” in your July 23 issue. A wonderful piece, and one that should be read by everyone.

Carolyn Hart
Versailles, MO

Op-Ed Appreciation (II)

As usual, Joseph Schick strikes just the right tone (‘Respect Dissent, Reject invective Toward Sharon,’ July 23). I consider myself a hawk on Israeli security, and if I were living in Israel I certainly would not vote for Labor. But I think those on the Israeli Right do themselves irreparable harm when they resort, as they do all too often, to ugly name-calling – and worse, in the case of death threats – whenever an Israeli prime minister has the temerity to disagree with them.

Menachem Blonski
Via E-Mail)

Museums Are Nice, But…

Virtually all major cities with large Jewish populations have deemed it necessary to build some kind of Holocaust center or memorial – a phenomenon that may be explainable as a kind of communal expiation for the guilt feelings experienced by Jewry over its relative silence during the Holocaust.

Presently, as the greatest upsurge of anti-Semitism since the Holocaust engulfs the world, the Sharon government intends to reward the crazed murderers of hundreds of Jewish men, women, children and infants beyond their wildest dreams. It callously prepares to forcefully expel thousands of peaceful Jews from their homes, schools, and synagogues to appease the dictates of Islamofascists. Nevertheless, the general reaction of the Jewish world to this situation, is once again, deafening silence. Apparently, then, all the impressive multi-million dollar interactive-hi-tech Holocaust museums have failed to impart any kind of genuine survival lessons to the Jewish people.

Therefore, at this pivotal juncture in Jewish history, it seems advisable to focus not only on modern exhibitions but also on our ancient heritage. Hopefully, such a combined effort will infuse sufficient Jewish honor, pride, and self-respect to help us actualize a central tenet of the teachings of our sages. “Every Jew is responsible for the other,” and not one precious individual – much less entire vibrant communities – are expendable.

Regardless of geographical dispersion and innumerable political and religious controversies, we are all one family. Let us act accordingly – as concerned brothers and sisters and not, G-d forbid, as indifferent strangers.

Henry J. Moscovic
Flushing, NY

Dems And Race

Re your July 23 editorial ‘Democrats Play the Race Card’:

The NAACP’s recent convention in Philadelphia was a week-long partisan harangue against nearly everything Republican. Consider just some of the inflammatory rhetoric that flowed unabated from the lips of the organization’s near-crazed leaders: “[President Bush] has selected nominees from the Taliban wing of American politics, appeased the wretched appetites of the extreme right wing and chosen cabinet officials whose devotion to the Confederacy is nearly canine in its uncritical affection.”

In the presidential election of 2000, the NAACP ran television ads accusing then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush of complicity in the horrific dragging death of James Byrd, despite Mr. Bush’s public call for the death penalty for those involved.

Let there be no doubt: the NAACP is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic National Committee, and its efforts are dedicated entirely to John Kerry’s election in November.

How’s this for hypocrisy: NAACP officials support the anti-Bush insults of Chairman Julian Bond but are quick to insist that the legally tax-exempt and self-described nonpartisan organization does not endorse either party or candidate.

It’s long past time for fair-minded citizens to go after each and every corporation that contributes to this totally partisan organization, which is a shadow of its once-admired past.

Corporate support of rank partisanship should no longer be disguised as tax-deductible donations. The detestable partisan rhetoric that flowed from the podium at the NAACP convention should disabuse everyone of that notion.

Brian J. Goldenfeld
Woodland Hills, CA

Forcing Jews Off The Land

I question the legality of Prime Minister Sharon’s plan to evict the settlers. We all understand that when we use the word “democracy” we do not mean unlimited power for the majority, but a system of government that acknowledges human rights and protects the rights of minorities. No democratic government can seize a citizen’s property by majority vote. Even if all the people think Donald Trump is an egomaniac, they cannot seize his property.

To be sure, there is a doctrine of eminent domain which states that if the government has a great need for an individual’s property for public purposes, the government may purchase the property at fair market value, even against the will of the property owner. However, in the case of the Gaza settlers, the government is giving up all claims to the land of the settlements. The doctrine of eminent domain does not apply. If at some point in the future a democratic government arises in Gaza, it would have the right to claim eminent domain in a legal proceeding. The Israeli government cannot argue eminent domain while simultaneously abandoning the area.

Nor can the Israeli government argue that the settlements are illegal. Both Labor and Likud governments supported, encouraged and subsidized the settlers for many years. Israel cannot, at this date, argue their illegality in an action to evict the settlers.

Many will argue that the eviction of the settlers at Yamit serves as a precedent for the Gaza settlers. Yamit, however, was turned over to Egypt pursuant to a treaty with Egypt. The right of a government to make treaties is fundamental to any theory of government, and that gave the government powers it would not ordinarily possess. There is no treaty being negotiated with anyone regarding Gaza, so I ask again, by what authority does the Israeli government plan to evict the settlers?

Rabbi David Willig
Bayside Jewish Center
Bayside, NY

Human Attributes And The Creator

Rabbi Abraham Stone opened his July 16 ‘Expounding the Torah’ column with an unqualified statement that Menachem Av (“consoling Av”) may be defined as man’s “consoling of G-d.” He interpreted the word “Av” to mean our “Father” in Heaven. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Maimonides and all of our Sages held, G-d has no needs.

G-d is the Creator; we are merely the created. The Creator has no “needs,” certainly not from the lumps of clay – mankind – He created. Even more damaging is the insinuation that G-d requires consoling, as if He were a man possessing the human frailty of emotion. The Torah portion of Balak states (Numbers 23:19), “G-d is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should be consoled…”

If the Torah contains a phrase such as “G-d was angered,” it does not imply human emotion on His part. It means to teach us what G-d does not desire for us. Conversely, when we read that Noah’s sacrifices found favor in G-d’s eyes, it means that Noah acted in accord with G-d’s plan for man. But we never understand such phrases literally. Unkelos went out of his way to translate all such phrases in their proper light – not literally. Maimonides discusses this as well.

G-d does not need consoling. He does not need anything. This unfathomable Creator cannot be spoken of as if we understand anything about Him. Certainly, to project human emotion upon Him is against the Torah’s foundations.

Rabbi Marshall Gisser
(Via E-Mail)

Defining Jews

Re the ”solution” of Israeli Minister of Justice Tommy Lapid, the subject of Menachem Porush?s July 9 ‘As I See It’ column:

The Vaad Harabbonim of Flatbush represents 90 rabbis serving 50 major congregations and approximately 200,000 Jews. The members of the Vaad love the State of Israel and have been strong supporters. We cry when our brothers and sisters are injured and rejoice in good tidings. Our children and grandchildren study and reside in Israel. We visit, contribute and support our Holy Land monetarily, spiritually, and politically.

We emphasize the importance of the unity of Klal Yisrael, yet the ”solution” proposed by the minister of justice will endanger future relationships because our children are permitted to marry only halachically defined Jews – which is possible only if the definition of a Jew is in accordance with the Shulchan Aruch as decided by Torah authorities designated by the chief rabbis. Deviation from this will create division and irreparable harm to our people and homeland. The Jewish character of Eretz Yisrael is at stake.

Would the minister of justice dare to define who is a Catholic, Protestant or Muslim?

Religious Jews have kept the hope and dream of our return to Zion throughout the centuries and preserved our identity through the destruction and death of pogroms, persecutions, and the Holocaust. It would be a travesty to lose it in our Holy Land, G-d forbid.

For the sake of unity and our future, we plead for the protection of our sacred existence as Jews.

Rabbi Melvin Burg (Executive Vice President)
Rabbi Herbert Bomzer (Chairman, Political Action Committee)
Vaad Harabbonim of Flatbush

Take That, Dr. Stern

To reader Yaffa Rabinowitz: The first critical letter written by Dr. Yaakov Stern (Letters, June 18) regarding your own very touching missive several weeks back was revolting enough. His persistent and obstinate stance the second time around (Letters, July 9) was downright offensive and over the top.

So why do I address you rather than him, you ask? First, I’ve been there and done that, as you may well recall (Letters, June 25). Second, there unfortunately are those who will never admit defeat or concede to having erred. After you graciously took him on and took the trouble to explain and elucidate your position and inner heart’s sentiments, I was dumbfounded by his flagrant insistence in maintaining that you had unjustly vilified your son’s yeshiva superiors.

Of course, you did no such thing. And even as other readers were witnesses thereof, I just felt the need to tell you so directly. Your original letter was moving and sensitive and contained not a hint of malevolence or derision. Its message was rather one of insight and wisdom. In essence, you respectfully suggested that your son and his peers not be shielded from the sad events and circumstances that surround them and affect their fellow Yidden, proposing that they be inspired to say Tehillim for the wounded and to perhaps be allowed to pay a visit to the bereaved.

In no way did you deprecate your son’s rebbe, as Dr. Stern would have us believe, for bringing to the fore the less appalling events of our time; you in fact wrote that you had no objection to such dialogue.

Rest assured that your words were pure, as was your motive. Anyone who would be so obtuse as to have perceived otherwise would be well advised to relearn his language, reading and comprehension skills from scratch.

Rachel Altman
(Via E-Mail)

…And That

I am happy to read that Dr. Stern says Tehillim daily for our brethren in Israel. It is a big zechus to be able to pray for others. I therefore cannot fathom why he would find fault with Mrs. Rabinowitz’s suggestion that every yeshiva boy do the same.

As to Dr. Stern’s pronouncement that he can read and understand English very well, that is another matter. I doubt that any other reader found Mrs. Rabinowitz’s letter to be anything other than respectful to Torah, halacha and rabbonim.

In her opening sentence she said, “I am writing this letter as a concerned mother…it is not intended to minimize the importance of Torah learning, G-d forbid. On the contrary, I am very proud and thankful to Hashem that my son is able to spend a number of years post-high school devoting all his time to learning….”

She then raised a concern of hers as a Jewish mother, but noted that her letter was not meant to be political or mocking. After mentioning the horrific acts that had befallen Am Yisrael the previous week, she stated that she was upset to learn that her son’s rabbis had not mentioned any of those events to the boys, preferring instead to focus their discussion of current events on Indian hair and bugs in water.

She did not trivialize this, stating, “I do believe that the aforementioned wigs and bugs are important halachic issues that should be discussed.” Her only point was that those issues should not have been the only topics mentioned when Klal Yisrael is suffering such pain. She did not call for a disruption of Torah studies, but only suggested saying Tehillim and Misheberach during tefilla and visiting the wounded or mourners during free time (which all yeshivas have).

If you truly have no trouble with English comprehension, Dr. Stern, tell me, please, where the denigration is. Where do you find that she considered the wigs and bugs “minutiae”? Is it when she stated that she considered them important halachic issues to be discussed? Perhaps you are so jaded that you cannot recognize sincerity or the writings of a mother without guile. I think it is time for you to go back to the teachings of our master. One should judge all people l’kaf zechus.

Amy Wall
New York, NY

Korczak Profile

I commend Arnold Fine for his profile of Janusz Korczak in the June 25 issue of The Jewish Press (‘Janusz Korczak: He Stayed With the Children to the End’).

Your readers may be interested to know that the two best Janusz Korczak archives are housed in the Beit Lohami Haghetaot/Ghetto Fighters House in Israel and the Janusz Korczak Workshop Archives in Warsaw, Poland.

Liba H. Engel, Ph.D
(Via E-Mail)

Points For Education

Derech HaTorah

As another school year draws to a close it is once again time to express our hakarat hatov to The Jewish Press for the Points for Education program. The fact that our school has once again collected the highest amount of points is a testament to the spirit that exists at Yeshiva Derech HaTorah.

As anyone involved with chinuch knows, financial constraints cause us to prioritize our expenses. Very often an area as crucial as the school library can be overlooked or put aside. It is for this reason that Points for Education has played such an important role for the talmidim of Yeshiva Derech HaTorah. Over the past few years we have been able to add and make serious improvements to the English Judaica section in our school library. This has helped us in offering our talmidim suitable reading material. In addition, we have been able to add sections to our library for Holocaust studies as well as biographies of gedolim and Jewish leaders. This has clearly been a tremendous help in reaching our goal of educating well-rounded bnai Torah.

All of this would not be possible without The Jewish Press and its wonderful Points for Education program. On behalf of the students and faculty of Yeshiva Derech HaTorah, I wish The Jewish Press many more fruitful years continuing in its great work and furthering the cause of Jewish education.

Rabbi Yisroel Grossberg
Principal, Limudei Kodesh
Yeshiva Derech HaTorah
Brooklyn, NY

Bruriah High School

Bruriah High School has been participating in the Points for Education promotion since it began four years ago. When the program began, with much effort we managed to raise a total of 5,700 points. As librarian, I was thrilled with the items we received from The Jewish Press as a result of our participation.

Our school is fortunate to have enthusiastic students, parents, relatives and friends not only in the community but all over the tri-state area. When word got out that we had an opportunity to receive Judaica material for our library by joining this program, our supporters came through for us. Coupons are dropped off, mailed in, and given to students. We have students who volunteer their lunch periods to help clip, organize and package the collected Points for Education coupons.

This year we reached our highest total yet, 65,000 points. The library at Bruriah is proud that because of The Jewish Press we can boast an extensive collection of the latest ArtScroll seforim and Judaica books. The Jewish Press deserves our thanks.

We look forward to participating again next year in the Points for Education program.

Chava Goldstone
School Librarian
Bruriah High School
Elizabeth, NJ

Politz Day School

This was the first year we collected Points for Education, and we are happy with the results. We are a small school in southern New Jersey but were still able to accumulate 9,145 points.

We thank you for providing us with this opportunity, and we will make good use of the items purchased with the gift certificates.

We look forward to participating again starting in the fall and we will try to encourage more families here to subscribe to The Jewish Press.

Sharyn Rauer
Administrative Assistant
Politz Day School
Cherry Hill, NJ