Lyrical Essay

We’ve come to expect moving and profound insights from Rachel Weiss’s pre-holiday front-page essays, and Ms. Weiss certainly didn’t disappoint us with “Forever Burning, Forever Yearning” (Dec. 10). There is a lyrical quality to her writing that one does not necessarily associate with works of Torah scholarship, but make no mistake – her articles are packed with just such scholarship.

We’re already looking forward to her next holiday-related essay, which we assume will be around Purim time, though one can always hope for a Tu b’Shvat surprise.

Iris and Larry Kamins
New York, NY

Rush To Judgment

Kudos to your editorial on the pathological need of our local non-Orthodox Jewish papers to constantly drag the Orthodox community through the mud (“The Orthodox-Bashing Never Ends,” Dec. 17).

I’m not judging who’s right and who’s wrong in the matter of these horrific allegations that are being made against a prominent rabbi, since no one knows the truth at this point. But that’s precisely what makes the coverage of the story by the Forward and The Jewish Week so sleazy and one-sided. We live in a time when any woman or group of women can come forward and accuse any man (it always seems to be men of prominence, though) with all manner of sexual wrongdoing based merely on say-so – and often years after the alleged acts took place.

Where’s the balance in this? Why are we so in thrall to politically correct feminism that we operate under the blanket assumption of “men bad, women good”? And why are these mere allegations – there is no physical evidence that we know of, the case is not being tried at this point in a court of law, and we are supposed to assume a person’s innocence until proven otherwise – given repeated front-page play by the Forward and The Jewish Week?

Doris Arlin
(Via E-Mail)

‘Rare Leader’

I wish to add my commendation to that of Rabbi Shea Hecht (Letters, Dec. 17) for the wonderful interview with Effie Eitam that appeared in your issue of Dec. 10. On the rare occasions that other Jewish publications bother to cover Israel’s right-wing political leaders, it is almost uniformly done in a tone dripping with cynicism and even hostility.

I’ve had the privilege of hearing Mr. Eitam speak, and can attest to his unusual eloquence. He makes his listeners want to sit and hear more, even after he’s spoken at length. His personal experiences, coupled with his dynamism and deep faith, mark him as someone special – a rare leader in an Israel woefully bereft of leadership.

Tziona Lazar
(Via E-Mail)

No Place For A Frum Jew?

There is an up-and-coming Jewish boxer who has been in the news lately. Admirably, he has become shomer Shabbos and the like, and therefore he has become a hero to some frum Jews, a number of whom gather to cheer him on at his fights.

Making a boxer a hero for frum Jews is not the frum way. Yes, he deserves credit for being shomer Shabbos, but to get carried away and treat him like a gadol b’Yisrael? Boxing is a sport in which people can get seriously injured or even killed. The atmosphere is not one of kedusha but of violence and bloodlust – like a Roman circus. A frum Jew does not belong at a boxing match (maybe if it involved parnossa, a rav could be asked if there might be room for leniency, though even that is questionable).

Boruch M. Selevan
Brooklyn, NY

Nathan Lewin Raises Some Hackles

Misdirected Attack

Nathan Lewin’s article (“The Assault on Shechita,” front-page essay, Dec. 17) should have been titled “An Assault on the OU.” Perhaps the author should have entertained the possibility that the carefully considered path chosen by a group of talmidei chachamim – who, as the designated leaders of our community in kashrus, have been intimately involved with shechita-related issues for decades – might be the path better taken.

I particularly found his parting shot – that our rabbinic leadership “is unwilling or unable to abide by Avtalyon’s wise caution: ‘Chachamim, hizaharu bedivreichem’ ” – disrespectful and inappropriate for an individual of his accomplishments. Perhaps Mr. Lewin, though a layman, might benefit from Avtalyon’s advice and be more cautious with his own words, certainly

in a public forum.

Steven Katz
Teaneck, NJ

OU Acted Responsibly (I)

While I have the greatest respect for Nat Lewin as an attorney and advocate for klal Yisrael, he uncharacteristically missed the mark when he attacked the OU for its handling of the PETA controversy. It seems to me the OU acted responsibly and with great skill in assessing a potentially deteriorating situation and swiftly moving to head off a public relations disaster without compromising one iota of halacha.

Jerry Schreck
Brooklyn, NY

OU Acted Responsibly (II)

Nathan Lewin describes a process in which several kashruth organizations came together (itself no small feat, I imagine) in order to present a unified response to one of the most serious challenges to shechita that we have faced in recent memory. And yet, for reasons that are clear only to himself, Mr. Lewin unilaterally broke that unity among the organizations by writing an article in which he accuses the Orthodox Union of providing the New York Times reporter with support for PETA’s attack by agreeing to look into the situation after Mr. Lewin had so successfully stonewalled the Times for several days.

Mr. Lewin’s interest is in advocating for his client; there is nothing wrong with that. The OU, however, must act in a responsible fashion that will preserve the hard-earned public trust in the integrity of the most respected name in kashruth and in kosher supervision procedures generally. The position of the OU is clear, and is set out in an article by Rabbis Weinreb and Genack on the OU’s website,

Emanuel J. Adler
Teaneck, NJ

Swiss Morality

Mr. Lewin cites the Nazis’ prohibition of shechita. An even better example would be the Swiss (of whom I have personal knowledge, having lived in Switzerland at the end of the war). The Swiss have banned shechita since the late 19th century because they consider it inhumane. They did not, however, ban the prohibition of admitting Jews fleeing from the Nazis before and during much of the war. Mercy on cows was admirable, but mercy on human Jews was not.

Dr. Bert Zauderer
Merion Station, PA

Participants Weigh In On Sholom Tour

Glorious Trip

When a disparate bunch of people met at Newark Airport to go on The Jewish Press’s Sholom Tour of Israel, we thought, “Oy vey, how will this work out?”

Well, we all had a lovely time and got along very well. The tour was put together in a most heartfelt way by Naomi Klass Mauer in memory of her father, Rabbi Sholom Klass, zt”l.

We had a ceremony in Rabbi Klass’s memory in Shiloh where a park was dedicated to him. Our group stayed at the gorgeous Jerusalem Renaissance Hotel. We had many experiences which were both educational and emotional, such as touching the wedding dress of Nava Applebaum (the bride who was murdered together with her father by an Arab homicide bomber on the eve of her wedding), which was made into a paroches at Kever Rachel.

We went to the yeshiva in Otniel where four bachurim were murdered by Arab terrorists, and visited some of the heroic Yidden living in Chevron who are moser nefesh on a daily basis for all of us.

On a spiritual level we saw the graves in Tiberias of tzaddikim and the shuls in Tzefas. On a historical level we toured the ancient city of Bet Shean and the Herodian mountain. We traveled through the Shomron and past the beautiful Lake Kineret, and went south to the Dead Sea, Gush Katif, Ein Gedi and Yam Hamelech.

We saw many sights which we did not know existed and we met some of the families who have suffered and paid the ultimate price from the intifada. Evenings were filled with numerous interesting lectures from Jewish Press writers and columnists.

Many thanks go to Era Rappaport, our dedicated tour guide, a true man of chesed.

He did a fabulous job together with the coordinator of the trip, Lenny Davidman.

This was a glorious trip that we will always remember and cherish.

The Kaners
Brooklyn, NY

Very Special People

I’d like to write a few words about the first Sholom trip to Israel, on which we met some very special people. I’ll never forget the American lawyer who sacrificed his profession and status to become a dairy farmer in the holy land. There was a woman of about 90 who lives alone in Gush Katif and leads a very active life (she started the mediation process for divorce/get in Israel). She welcomed us into her house and offered us her prize Clementines from the trees that she herself had planted.

We also met a woman in the Hebron vicinity who is a young widow. Her husband was killed by Arabs while he was tending his goats. His wife didn’t become despondent, but instead continues his life’s work. She runs the farm and makes her own goat cheese. She is self-sufficient, brave and courageous. Her motto is “Never Give Up.” Another woman wrote a children’s book in memory of her husband who was murdered by terrorists. The book is called The Father of Noam (the name of her young child).

The visit to the yeshiva of Otniel, where we saw the pictures of the four bachurim murdered in the yeshiva on a Shabbos by Arab terrorists, was enough to make even the strongest man shed tears. In spite of this the yeshiva continues to grow and prosper.

Our meeting with Rabbi Eliezer Waldman of the Hesder Yeshiva in Kiryat Arba can only be compared to meeting with a spiritual giant.

Every one of these people rose up and met the challenge. It was a privilege and an honor to meet them. All of them have suffered tremendous losses for the sake of Eretz Yisrael but they all proclaim the words of the signs we saw on every house in Gush Katif: We Will Not Move From Here.

Thank you for a super trip.

Betsy Address
Brooklyn, NY

Trip Of A Lifetime

On Nov. 7 my husband and I went to Israel with The Jewish Press’s Sholom Tour led by Naomi Klass Mauer. We hadn’t been to Israel for many years and didn’t know what to expect. All I can say is that it was the greatest experience, far beyond our expectations. We had the most wonderful tour guide, Era Rappaport, who is so knowledgeable about Israel, and we went to places the average person does not get to see. We met the people in the Shomron, Hebron, Gaza, Gush Katif, Gush Etzion and Kiryat Shemona, and we saw first hand the hardships they have to endure. This is something you can’t get by sitting home in America and talking about it.

Our many thanks to Naomi Mauer and The Jewish Press for this wonderful time and for making this our trip of a lifetime.

Teresa and Lou Berman
Brooklyn, NY

Rappaport ‘Right Choice’

I want to thank The Jewish Press for choosing Era Rappaport as the guide for the Sholom Tour. In all of my trips to Israel I have found him to be such a part of the redemption. Other guides have read about the land and teach what they have heard or read. Era loves the land and the people of Israel so much and helps us to get to be a part of Hashem’s process of redemption.

Continue in your good work of telling the truth about Israel and encouraging more people to travel there.

Virginia Zakes
Houston, TX

Short And Sweet

If I had to sum up in two words my feelings upon returning from Israel with The Jewish Press’s Sholom Tour, it would be TERRIFIC EXPERIENCE. Thank you.

Chaim Greenberg
Brooklyn, NY