Put Weasels To Work

I loath the French as much as a person lawfully can, but I think we should let them have a part in post-war Iraq, as long as they pay a price. Make French, German and Russian soldiers clean up the remaining Ba’ath party rabble so our soldiers can come home to a ticker tape
parade in the Canyon of heroes. They’ve earned it, and at the front of the parade should be the first soldiers in the Terror Wars, the police officers and firefighters.

Gary Taustine
New York, NY

Disloyal Dems

Come the next elections, I hope that voters will not forget the shameful undermining of President Bush in time of war by opportunistic liberal Democrats. I still cannot believe the
utter stupidity and disgraceful disloyalty of Massachusetts Senator (and presidential hopeful)John Kerry, who actually said that the only thing that will save the United States, now that it is isolated in the world, is a “regime change.”

The public has come to link Saddam Hussein and Yasir Arafat with those words popularized by the president. Kerry thus equated President Bush with Hussein and Arafat, two vicious murderers and enemies of peace.

Unfortunately, most of the Democrats in Congress are hardly any better than Kerry, though they chose their words more carefully.

Liberals always think that the rules don’t apply to them, even in time of war.

Libby Hoerner
(Via E-Mail)

Questions Military Approach

The Jewish Press consistently takes an editorial position supportive of President Bush’s John Wayne-type “might makes right” foreign policy as the only way to go in the post-September 11 world. While I agree that such an approach has as a certain facial logic to it, those of us who try to look to the future have grave reservations.

The military approach has certainly succeeded in removing Saddam Hussein and hopefully the threat he posed to our security as well. I have no doubt that other similarly-minded will take due note of his fate. Yet surely they will eventually realize that the United States cannot go about dismantling every regime it believes to be a potential threat to its security.

I also have no doubt that the Europeans opposed the war out of timidity, financial self-interest and, as your editorials have argued, out of a desire to dilute America’s influence in the world.

However, I wonder whether struggling along and seeking a diplomatic solution would not have had greater promise than the quick fix chosen by President Bush. It may not have been as dramatic and shirt-button-popping, but it may well have been more enduring.

Milton Schoenstein
New York, NY

Arafat Still In Charge

As your April 11 editorial “No Time To Blink” correctly noted, interpreting the appointment of Abu Mazen as a signal of the advent of a new Palestinian leadership “untainted by terror” – one of the conditions President Bush insisted upon last June – is a dangerous sham.

Aside from the very negative things Mazen himself has had to say about the Jewish state, Arafat, who appointed him, still holds the reins of real power. Until Arafat is really out of the picture, there is nothing to talk about.

Shirley Miller
Brooklyn, NY

Worthy Custom

I am writing to express my dismay with a remark in a recent column by Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss (“Creating a Proper Purim For Our Family,” Jewish Press, March 14). I quote Rabbi Weiss: “How sad that nowadays there is a new custom. Instead of sending beautiful mishloach manos, people send out postcards saying, ‘in lieu of mishloach manos we have given a gift to this-and-this institution.’ I very much fear that this is not exactly what Mordechai and Esther had in mind!”

I beg to differ with this esteemed rabbi. Those of us who send cards from a tzedaka do not do so in lieu of fulfilling the mitzvot of mishloach manos. After sending some lovely packages of nosh to close friends who have children and elderly friends who enjoy our brief visit, we choose to send cards stating a donation has been made in your honor to (a wonderful charity).

I feel that receiving 50 hamentashen and tons of candy is totally unnecessary. I’d rather my fellow Jews have food or medial care. The acceptance of this new custom by my friends has been most gratifying. The calls of thanks I have received for these cards have only enhanced and enriched my beautiful Purim.

A close friend told me, in confidence, that he and his family had been receiving food from this particular organization during a long bout of unemployment. I’m confident Mordechai and Esther, who cared about their brethren in Shushan, would most heartily approve of this modern-day addition to our Purim celebration.

Joseph M. Varon
Past President
Northeast Queens Jewish
Community Council
Bellerose, NY

Wasted Editorials

With all that is going on in the world, what inspired The Jewish Press to renew its on-again, off-again tweaking of Agudath Israel (“The Shafran/Berman Exchange,” editorial, April 4) and then a week later revisit the Get Law controversy (“Time To Revisit ‘The Get Law’ “” editorial,
April 11)”

I do agree that it is sheer folly for Agudah’s Avi Shafran to think that he can – with great brevity, yet – deal effectively with very complex and esoteric religious issues (in this instance, Daas Torah) in a hostile forum such as the decidedly non-Orthodox Jewish Week. And Shafran surely must have known that his effort would draw a spirited, and seemingly well reasoned, response from his target, Rabbi Saul Berman, who would have the last word – in spades.

However – and this is where I part company with you – I feel that wasting precious editorial space on this matter is a foolish and ultimately futile effort. In the same way that Rabbi Shafran will never persuade Rabbi Berman or the readers of The Jewish Week, The Jewish Press will
never persuade Rabbi Shafran.

As for your call to “revisit” the Get Law, I can appreciate your desire to trumpet your apparent vindication by events in the courtroom. But life has gone on since the passage of
that law, and judging by the lack of attention paid to it in the ensuing decade, there seems no longer to be concern for any dangers it allegedly posed. I see no point in calling attention to a dead issue.

(Rabbi) Reuven Rosov

Tutu Award An Abomination

I appreciated the letter from the reader who wrote regarding the honor bestowed on Desmond Tutu by Cardozo Law School (a subsidiary of Yeshiva University). I was not
aware of this abominable act of actually rewarding a rabid anti-Semite who hides behind the guise of religion.

It is appalling that an Orthodox citadel of Torah could associate itself with an individual who compares the Israeli government to Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, etc. and “advises Americans not to fear the powerful Jewish lobby.”

We as Jews place great value on leadership, especially during Pesach. Our liberation from Egypt was led by the greatest leader of all time, Moshe Rabeinu. A generation is judged by its leaders.

As the leader of Yeshiva University for over twenty-five years and currently the rosh hayeshiva of RIETS, where was Dr. Norman Lamm? It was his responsibility to know of and veto the presentation of a Peace Award to such a divisive and despicable person as Tutu.

Would HaGaon Rav Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveichik, zt”l, have condoned such an act? Absolutely not! Those who knew his brother, Rav Aaron, zt”l, would agree that this Torah giant and activist would have expressed openly his fury at such an act of moral degradation.

Yisroel Friedman
Rochester, NY

When Fear Distorts The News

Eric Fettmann gets it just right in his blast at CNN, the “Craven News Network” (New York Post, April 12): “If you can’t report the truth, why have journalists there in the first place?”

That was our question also upon hearing Eason Jordan make his confessional on television. (We didn’t read it in The New York Times, which we gave up reading when we began to understand how misleading and biased are its reports, editorials, and opinion pages.)

Fettmann likens CNN in Baghdad to having a “U.S. news bureau in Berlin so as to be able to tell Nazi Germany’s side of the story.” Sadly, as the Times itself has admitted, it suppressed stories on the Holocaust during World War II.

We know that today in Israel most of the anti-Israel stories are written by journalists who have agreed to abide by the PA’s “working rules for journalists,” which demands that all reports show the PA in a favorable light. Recall the case of the Italian journalist Riccardo Cristiano who filmed the Oct. 12, 2000 savage lynching of two Israeli soldiers who took a wrong turn and ended up in Ramallah. The bloody pictures had been beamed to the world, the journalist’s life was threatened, and on Oct. 16, 2000 his “apology” appeared in the PA’s official newspaper.

The problem of honest news coverage is one that affects countries throughout the world. Where tyrants dictate the news we get, the result, as Fettmann pointed out, is a mockery of everything journalism is supposed to stand for.

Helen Freedman
Charlie Bernhaut

No Useful Purpose

Jeff Wiesenfeld’s letter to the editor (Jewish Press, April 11), in which he indicts a number of prominent Orthodox figures, was very well written, extremely interesting, fairly convincing and, oh yes – absolute lashon hara.

It is hard to fathom how maligning a deceased rabbi can serve any useful purpose. While the readers may wrangle over the ” facts” that Mr. Wiesenfeld presents, the simple fact is that it is absolutely forbidden to accept what he states, because one who accepts lashon hara is deemed more negligent than the actual purveyor.

Politics is a dirty business, and I have no doubt that Mr. Wiesenfeld was privy to many unsavory characters while acting as a public servant. He may feel that since he is now in the private sector anyone is fair game, but there is still a Torah and we must answer to a Higher Authority.

Dr. Yaakov Stern
Brooklyn, NY

Acting Chief Rabbi A Vegetarian

It is pleasing news that Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen has taken on the position of acting Ashkenazic chief rabbi of Israel. Rabbi Cohen, who also serves as chief rabbi of Haifa, is a lifelong believer in vegetarianism as Judaism’s ideal diet and joins an illustrious list of chief rabbis of Israel who advocated vegetarianism including Shlomo Goren and Avraham Kook. Though Rabbi Cohen’s new role is a temporary one, hopefully it will bring new attention to the
many violations of Jewish teachings involved in consuming animals products.

Many Jews are not aware that Torah commentators agree G-d’s original intention was for a vegetarian world. Few consider that a diet linked to numerous degenerative diseases and shorter lifespans violates Jewish mandates to preserve one’s health and life. And in violation of tsa’ar ba’alei chayim (unnecessary cruelty to animals), systematic abuses inflicted on animals raised for kosher and non-kosher meat have become so barbaric and widespread that they would land someone in jail if done to a dog or cat. Moreover, modern factory farms’ vast environmental devastation and waste of natural resources violates bal tashchit (unnecessarily waste or destruction), and abrogates our responsibility to be G-d’s partners in preserving the

Any of these violations of powerful Jewish mandates should by themselves impel Jews to seriously consider a plant-based diet. Rabbi Cohen’s new role may help Jews move further towards the compassionate teachings of Judaism by embracing vegetarianism.

Noam Mohr
Jewish Vegetarians of North America
Washington, DC

Mitzvah Men Of Mesivta Chaim Berlin

Conventional wisdom has it that “no news is good news.” The implication, of course, is that
people like to focus on the negative – scandals, tragedies, seeing the deserving get their due.

This may very well be true – sadly.

I, too, would like to see the deserving get their due. In my case, however, no news would be bad news.

This is a story of tragedy, but it is also a story of hope. One of those little incidents that never
make the headlines, but one, I submit, that is no less a cultural indicator of our community. It is not meant to be self-congratulatory, but the individuals involved should be congratulated, as
should those who should be proud to call them their talmidim (disciples).

About two months ago, I was informed of a sad situation and asked to help. An elderly man
died. Though in his 80’s and having lived in New York his entire life, he would not have a minyan at his funeral. His son, like the deceased, was thoroughly secular and had very little contact with the organized Jewish community, religious or otherwise.

Could I round up a few yeshiva bochurim (rabbinical students), I was asked, to make sure
this fellow Jew would have a respectable funeral?

As it happened, the funeral home was down the block from Mesivta Chaim Berlin. The only
problem was that there was no set time for the service. It would be impossible to recruit in

When I arrived at the yeshiva, it was lunch time – bein hasedarin – and, to be honest, I did
not feel my prospects of finding a few good men needed to allow Kaddish to be recited would be all that great.

Most yeshivas, after all, start their day as early as 7 a.m. and end well after 6 p.m. Lunch is a
student’s only free time.

But I was wrong.

When I entered the building, I made my pitch to the first fellow I found. He, in turn, immediately recruited a few other bochurim.

No questions were asked. Dressed in their black hats and dark suits, these young men were
determined to perform a chesed shel emes, an act of selfless kindness that the recipient, in this case the deceased, has no way of ever repaying. They were happy to be of service.

If funerals are depressing, this one was all the more so. The entire gathering took up no more
than a few rows. The service lasted but a few minutes.

In contrast, the gratitude on the part of the aveilim (surviving relatives) was immense. This
chesed shel emes was also a huge kiddush Hashem Sanctification of the Creator’s name.)

Unfortunately, the story does not end there.

This month I received another call. The spouse of the deceased had suddenly died. The very
scenario replayed itself out again, with, once again, the talmidim of Mesivta Chaim Berlin coming to the rescue.

In both instances, because of the rushed nature of the circumstances, I was unable to get the names of these honest-to-goodness Mitzvah Men. They, however, know who they are and if
their yeshiva does not, it should.

All too often, we hear about Orthodox youth “at risk” and other ills that, however exaggerated, do plague our society. Newspapers chronicle the goings-on of a community. I, who never had an affiliation with Mesivta Chaim Berlin, would like these incidents to be recorded for posterity and be cited the next time someone – whether a cynical member of our own frum community or an outsider – shoots off his mouth about the supposedly degenerating situation in our educational institutions.

This was but one incident I was personally involved with. There are, no doubt, many similar
ones. One only wishes they would get the attention they deserve.

Binyamin L. Jolkovsky
Editor in Chief

Time For Europe To Face Reality

Our granddaughter, who lives in Israel, recently returned with her yeshiva classmates from the “March of the Living” to Poland. More than ever before, the world must forcefully be reminded of the demonic evil perpetrated by the Nazis and Hitler’s silent partners. I, for one,
cannot attribute the corrosive horror of that period solely to Hitler and his psychologically deformed associates. The burden of guilt bears heavily on all those ordinary Europeans whose much-heralded religious beliefs did not prevent them from taking part in evil schemes and committing acts of brutality and murder.

When our oldest granddaughter visited the sites of the Nazi extermination camps two years
ago, the emotional strain was evident for many months after her return home to Israel. Perhaps
coming in contact with the remnants of this horror most compelled her, as a religious young lady, to join the IDF (Intelligence Unit) rather than perform Community Service.

The civilized world must challenge the normality and banality of current European notions about Palestinian statehood and the existential threat to Israel’s survival. Sixty-plus years have smothered the death screams from the extermination camps. Sixty-plus years have erased the stench of decomposing bodies. Sixty-plus years have expunged any trace of the once vibrant
Jewish communities in Europe.

The Shoah was the culmination of a centuries-old hatred of the Jews. The destruction of Europe’s Jewish soul did not only decimate the Jewish people. It destroyed Europe’s conscience. True, there is a small minority of non-Jewish Europeans whose decency, morality and memory refuse to go along with the majority. Regrettably, their voice is too often suppressed.

Whatever remorse or shame Europeans may have felt after World War II has given way to a
new collective reality – reassign the guilt to Israel. Under this new Judeo-phobia, it is the Palestinian Arab who is the victim and the State of Israel (read the Jews) who are the guilty ones. The same hatred that fueled European anti-Semitism is now blistering throughout the Islamic world. Islamic fundamentalism poses the most serious menace to Jews – and to the non-Moslem world.

As we approach the holiday of Pesach, these thoughts continue to trouble me. We pray that the war in Iraq, and its (hopefully positive) aftermath, will force the majority of Europeans to open their eyes before it is too late.

Israel and Blossom Rubin
Manalapan, NJ

G-d Saves Us From Ourselves

This letter could have been, and perhaps even should have been, written two years ago, but
unfortunately it is still timely. Just some time ago, we read in the Torah about the splitting of the Red Sea. It is indeed interesting to note that we experienced in our generation a miracle of perhaps equal magnitude. When Prime Minister Barak offered East Jerusalem and most of Yesha in exchange for “peace,” it was the Arabs, with Arafat in the lead, who declined. What an open miracle in our times!

Having East Jerusalem, they would have been assured that no one would dare attack them. They would have been in a position to destroy, attack and vandalize at will. What nation would dare destroy the holy places of Jerusalem? Only the Arabs dared to defy and defile what others consider holy and dear.

The tragedy of losing our beloved Jerusalem and the territories would have been too much to
bear. It would have affected Jews in Israel, America, Europe, Asia and wherever they are
scattered, all over the globe. Hashem had mercy on His people. Thus, we were privileged to witness this outstanding miracle.

The betrayal of “Chaver” Clinton, Peres and their cohorts was nullified. Ancient and modern
history does not record a victorious nation that gave so much to their defeated enemy as Israel did to the Arabs, while the Jews were redeeming their own Promised Land.

Israel has paid too high a price for so desperately wanting peace with its enemies. This is a peace they can only dream about until Moshiach comes, because before then, it won’t come to realization.

To establish a Palestinian state next to Israel is suicidal. A people whose sole ideal is murder and mayhem cannot be a peace partner to any nation. A people whose leader’s wife prayed that her unborn child be a male so that he could grow up to be a terrorist, or whose parents teach their 4-year-old sons to handle loaded rifles, cannot be a peace partner.

The Palestinians can settle anywhere. Such was not the case when the Jews fled the Nazis.
They found every door closed to them. In many cases, refugees were turned back to a burning
Europe to face torture and death. Today, Jews in Arab countries are fifth-class citizens, while the world looks on silently in acquiescence.

Our Sages say, “Those who are merciful to the wicked are cruel to the righteous”. May the Master of the Universe have mercy on His chosen nation and may He continue to protect us, despite our own ineptitude and stupidity.

Charlotte Kolodny
Brooklyn, NY

Europe’s Fears

I wonder why everyone was so frustrated by the opposition of “Old Europe” to President Bush’s refusal to back off on Iraq. Although they routinely were critical of Saddam Hussein’s perfidy, the Europeans urged inaction in the form of endless inspections and interminable debate rather than decisive and conclusive action at the point of a gun.

That posture flows from a fear of their growing Muslim populations and the desire not to rock their domestic boats.

Shamefully, it is for this very same reason they have uniformly declined to deal with the ever-
growing anti-Jewish and anti-Israel outrages within their borders.

Secularist Zealotry

Re: “The Five Burnt Sifrei Torah” (editorial, April 11):

I for one can easily believe that the current secularist frenzy in Israel, reflected in the triumph
of Shinui and the ascendancy of Orthodox-baiter Tommy Lapid, could well have fomented the arson destruction of Sifrei Torah by Jews. I remember well the consequences of the outrageous accusations hurled at the religious community in the aftermath of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. You are right on target to caution Mr. Lapid and his colleagues about their secularist zealotry.