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January 19, 2017 / 21 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘letters’

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Israel’s Biblical Borders

In Resolution 2334, the UN Security Council refers to Israel as an occupier of ostensibly Palestinian territory demarcated by lines drawn on June 4, 1967. As our American political process continues to refine the nation’s position on the subject of Israel’s borders, we should not give undue authority to the definition of the 1967 lines.

America would do well to acknowledge that scripture records God’s promise to give Abraham “the whole land of Canaan…as an everlasting possession.” Genesis contains a description of the covenantal land as extending “from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.” This Abrahamic covenant established Israel’s original borders.

Many Americans challenge the authority of Scripture or doubt its applicability to modern, nonreligious life. Yet others who hold Scripture to be authoritative disagree about whether the Abrahamic covenant applies to the modern nation-state of Israel. Passionate debate about these differences is healthy and its existence indicates the enduring power of God’s word.

As a Judeo-Christian nation whose founders recognized God as the ultimate authority over matters both spiritual and practical – and considering the number of Americans who abide by that truth today –America should have a national discussion of Israel’s borders that begins with the biblical definition, giving appropriate weight to God’s unconditional, perpetual covenant with Abraham and his descendants.

Brian J. Goldenfeld
Woodland Hills, CA

 

  IDF Lone Soldiers

You have been in the forefront in covering Israel’s “lone soldier” phenomenon, which is, as far as I know, an institution unique to the Jewish state

When I joined the Israel Defense Forces in October1972 at age 22, I was a lone soldier, although I never felt alone. I appreciate the comradeship and support I received from my fellow soldiers and officers and although it has been fifty-five years, I have never forgotten all the positive experiences I had.

Pesach-Yonah Malevitz
Miami Beach, FL

 

In Israel With Mike Huckabee

Re “Bennett: Either Sovereignty or Palestine” (front page news story, Jan. 6):

I was with former governor Mike Huckabee in Maale Adumim last week at the cornerstone-laying ceremony. The group traveling with him was given hats with the slogan “Build Israel Great Again,” an obvious tribute to Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again.”

We also participated in planting an olive tree in what will be the new Huckabee Park. Mayor Benny Kashriel proudly affirmed that the city of 41,000 residents on the outskirts of Jerusalem would always be there, and with the incoming Trump administration, the Obama-imposed building freeze would come to an end.

The new Regulation law presently in the Knesset could be tantamount to declaring sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, and Maale Adumim could be the first community to realize that new status.

In light of all this, and recognizing that Arab terror attacks against Israelis – the latest one in Jerusalem on Sunday, which took the lives of four soldiers – it seems preposterous for talk of a “two-state solution” to continue.

Our trip with Governor Huckabee – to the Old City of Jerusalem, Amona, Maale Adumim, Hebron, and Sderot – followed fast on the heels of the despicable UNSCR 2334 and John Kerry’s speech laying the blame for the failure of the “peace process” on Israeli settlements and was an affirmation of Israel’s right to be a sovereign nation.

Helen Freedman
Americans for a Safe Israel

(AFSI)
New York, NY

 

  Not Quite A Chip Off The Old Block

Your Jan. 6 editorial cartoon portraying J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami raises in my mind the great contrast with his father Yitzhak (Mike) Ben-Ami.

Yitzhak (in his memoir he spelled the name as “Yitshaq”) Ben-Ami was part of a small group of Irgun members, followers of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who came to the United States from pre-state Israel in order to raise support for the idea of a Jewish Army idea and for struggle to establish an independent Jewish state. Most of all, they desperately wanted to save the Jews of Europe.

This was at the beginning of the Second World War. There was widespread isolationism in the United States, widespread anti-Semitism, an intimated Jewish community, and not even their ideological comrades, the American Zionist Revisionists, were supporting them.

The leader of their group was Peter Bergson, aka Hillel Kook, of the great rabbinic family that included HaRav Avraham Kook of very blessed memory. Prior to coming to America, Ben-Ami negotiated with Eichmann, may his name and memory be obliterated, in the hope of saving European Jews.

The Bergson Group successfully lobbied Congress to create a United States government agency to save the Jews of Europe, which became the War Refugee Board.

The above and much more is found In Ben-Ami’s book Years of Wrath, Days of Glory: Memoirs from the Irgun. It’s one of the best books I’ve read on the subjects of the Holocaust and the birth of Israel. (I also suggest reading A Race Against Death: Peter Bergson, America, and the Holocaust by David S. Wyman and Rafael Medoff.)

Reuven Solomon
Forest Hills, NY

Our Readers

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Obama And The UN Vote (I)

December 23, 2016 (23 Kislev 5777) is a date that will live forever in Jewish infamy. In abstaining from vetoing a grossly one-sided UN Security Council resolution, President Obama spitefully stabbed Israel in the back.

That action broke a nearly half-century U.S. commitment, under Democrat and Republican presidents alike, not to abandon Israel to the UN jackals. Obama has now gratuitously handed a potent sword to Israel’s enemies.

The forceful words of Israel’s late UN ambassador Chaim Herzog when he condemned, and then tore up, UNGA 3379 (“Zionism is Racism”), apply today:

“For us, the Jewish people, this resolution, based on hatred, falsehood, and arrogance, is devoid of any moral or legal value.”

Richard D. Wilkins
Syracuse, NY

 

Obama And The UN Vote (II)

There is no one happier than the peanut farmer from Georgia as he can step aside and make room for the new king of blunders, Barack Obama, the man who has led our great nation to a state of disunity and chaos. Throughout his presidency he was oblivious of who were our friends and who were our enemies.

Barack Obama proclaimed on many occasions that he would always have Israel’s back. True to his habit of making false promises, he meant he would cover Israel’s back until he had a chance to stick a knife in it.

This will take its place among the many missteps and blunders that comprise Obama’s dismal legacy.

Joseph Ceder
Far Rockaway, NY

 

Obama And The UN Vote (III)

It is entirely acceptable for the United States to (fervently) disagree and remonstrate with Israel’s settlement policy. This has been the approach of the past three administrations.

However, to abandon Israel to the tender mercies of the United Nations is unconscionable. We should not punish or extort with threats or otherwise actively interfere with our ally’s internal affairs.

Israel, like the U.S., a sovereign state with a democratically elected government.

Jerrold Terdiman, MD
Woodcliff Lake, NJ

 

Federations Criticize Administration On UN Resolution

I feel compelled to forward this message the Jewish Federation of North America released last week:

Jewish Federations across North America are deeply disappointed that the United States abstained from today’s vote on the one-sided, anti-Israel resolution that was passed by the UN Security Council today.

The Administration’s decision undermined a core principle of American foreign policy that has been embraced by Democratic and Republican Administrations for decades: that the only route to a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is through direct negotiations between the parties.

It also upended its own principled stance against UN resolutions that isolate Israel. Just two years ago when the U.S. vetoed a similar resolution, UN Ambassador Samantha Power stated “We voted against it because we know what everyone here knows, as well – peace will come from hard choices and compromises that must be made at the negotiating table.”

And the Obama Administration ignored the advice of 88 Members of the U.S. Senate who urged the President in September to reject such resolutions.

President Obama has consistently supported Israel’s right to self-defense and affirmed that America has an “iron clad commitment to make sure Israel is secure.” Several weeks ago the U.S. and Israel signed an unprecedented $38 billion military aid package.

It is tragic that the Administration chose to mar its legacy of support for the Jewish state and set back the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Yesterday, I sent out a link to the AIPAC website that gave people who wanted to a chance to send a message to their representatives. I appreciated the fact that AIPAC gave us an easy way to show our frustration with the current administration. However, I think their phrasing was not what I would have liked.

We need to make our representatives and friends understand that Americans support Israel. Anti-Israel groups, which are unfortunately led by some of our community leaders, do not speak for the majority.

My son, Daniel, who lives in Israel, poses one simple question to differentiate the anti-Israel groups from those that support Israel: If the vast majority of Israelis across the political spectrum reject an initiative, why do Americans think they know better and can impose existential conditions on Israelis?

That simple statement demonstrates why groups that support the United Nations resolution and, before that, the Iranian accord, cannot be considered pro-Israel by any objective criteria.

We need to remain united as a community and I welcome the support of the Federations.

Steven Rosenberg
Raleigh, NC

Our Readers

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Hopeful Sign (I)

Lawyer David Friedman seems to be an ideal choice for the position of U. S. ambassador to Israel (Dec. 23 news story, page 3).

First, he is a strong advocate for finally moving the U. S. embassy to Jerusalem, which of course is long overdue.

Second, his selection is vigorously opposed by J Street for the obvious reasons, considering the anti-Israel stance of that organization.

Hopefully his confirmation will be without debate and for once we will have an ambassador to Israel who appreciates the Jewish state and will have empathy for the dangers facing that nation.

Nelson Marans
New York, NY

 

Hopeful Sign (II)

Is Donald Trump’s election good for the Jews? If the question is confined to American Jews, yes, of course it’s good – and will be good for Americans of all religions and races.

If the question refers to Israel and its Jewish citizens, yes, it’s also good. Trump has already demonstrated his friendship by his choice of David Friedman as ambassador to Israel. Additionally, he is on record as stating that the UN resolution hammering Israel over settlements was wrong, as was the decision by the U.S. to abstain from voting.

Obviously, Trump’s next significant move will be to relocate our embassy

from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, where it has legally and emotionally belonged

since 1948. When this is implemented, what will be the reaction of those in the American Jewish community who enjoy bashing, demeaning, and denigrating Trump with empty rhetoric and unsubstantiated charges of anti-Semitism?

I’m overjoyed that Trump won and believe he will prove to be the best friend our people in Israel have had in many years.

Myron Hecker
New City, NY
 

‘Safe Spaces,’ But Not For Jews

The blatant bias in according “safe spaces” to which Jewish students appear to be “disinvited” is reprehensible and must be vigorously rejected (“Safe Spaces for – Almost – Everyone,” op-ed, Dec. 23).

But it also seems that too many university and college faculty and administrations are engaged in “infantilizing” their students and thereby precluding their eventual ability to face and function in the real world.

This real world harbors a virulent anti-Israel bias, the latest evidence being Friday’s UN Security Council resolution criticizing Israel’s settlement activity – this while the region is awash in brutal savagery responsible for the gruesome deaths of men, women, and children, and the creation of millions of refugees.

Fay Dicker
Lakewood, N.J.

 

The ADL’s Political Partisanship

Re “U.S. Jewish Organizations and Anti-Trump Partisanship” (op-ed, Dec. 16):

The ADL was founded in 1913 as an offshoot of B’nai Brith in reaction to the overt anti-Semitism of the period. The ADL’s goal, as stated in its charter, is “to end the defamation of the Jewish people [and] to secure justice and fair treatment for all citizens alike.”

Its core mission has always been to combat anti-Semitism and it had done that quite well – until recently.

In July 2015, Jonathan Greenblatt, a former Obama aide, became the ADL’s director after the retirement of Abe Foxman. As the op-ed article pointed out, Greenblatt has been a critic of Israel’s policies. That is well beyond the ADL’s charter and primary mission; i.e., to combat anti-Semitism. If anything, such criticism could serve to encourage anti-Semitism.

Greenblatt makes light of the anti-Semitic platform of the Black Lives Matter movement. But isn’t anti-Semitism what the ADL seeks to combat?

We further question Greenblatt’s qualifications to lead the ADL when he claims the current level of anti-Semitism in the U.S. is worse than at any time since the 1930s. Really?

Anti-Semitism may still exist, but it is nothing like what it was back then – thanks in large measure to the earlier efforts of the ADL and other such organizations.

Further calling into question Greenblatt’s qualifications to lead the ADL was his initial support of Congressman Keith Ellison, a Muslim who has had close ties with the avowedly anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan. Didn’t Greenblatt know of Ellison’s background before endorsing him as the next chair of the Democratic National Committee? Almost everyone else did.

Helen Klein
George Epstein
Los Angeles, CA

 

The View From Netanya

I was born and grew up in the city of Philadelphia. My husband and I, ardent Zionists, came to live in Israel 34 years ago and loved our life here very much. We came as starry-eyed leftists, true liberals, the kind who want Jews to be a “light unto the world.

Unfortunately, living among militant Muslims with their constant resort to violence soon changed our minds. Not content with bloodshed, our neighbors have been using the media, skillfully manipulating news coverage with lies and distortions. At this point their brainwashing skills have even affected many of our nearest and dearest fellow Jews.

What are you to believe when the newscasts constantly portray the Palestinians as poor, helpless victims who only want a state of their own (in an already tiny Israel, smaller than the state of New Jersey)?

Never is it pointed out that there already are a great many Muslim-ruled countries in the world. Never is it pointed out that there is very little peace in those Muslim countries as they have a religious schism between two sects, Shiite and Sunni. And democracy is a completely foreign concept to them.

Giving them the territory they want, right in our heartland, with higher elevation to give them the ability to fire on our airport and coastal cities, would be an act of national suicide.

It is so hard for us to see that intelligent Americans can be so easily misled by Palestinian propaganda and see the Arabs as victims. All we hear is “settlements,” “settlements.” The truth is, the great majority of Israelis would give them up in return for genuine peace. But just look at what happened when Israel got out of Gaza. All we can see when we look at Gaza now is another Aleppo. That’s tomorrow’s Palestinian state, God forbid.

Please think through and share what I have pointed out here. The people of Israel want peace with all our hearts. All we need is a sincere partner.

Ida Plaut
Netanya, Israel

Our Readers

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Promising Start

The “daylight” that existed between President Obama and Israel has turned into a new dawn with the election of Donald Trump and his Cabinet appointments.

Kenneth Levin’s brilliant recounting of recent history (“U.S. Policy and the Obama-Trump Transition,” front page essay, Dec. 16)) clearly illustrates that only the Jews and Israel have the biblical, legal, and historical claim to the land.

While broken promises litter the language and actions of past leaders, Americans can now breathe a huge sigh of relief that we finally have a president-elect who truly understands the “emes” regarding Israel. He has proven this by nominating David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Friedman outspokenly supports the moving of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as mandated in the 1995 U.S. Embassy relocation Act. He recognizes the absurdity of the “two-state solution” and supports the “settlements” in Judea and Samaria.

These are the same principles upon which Americans for a Safe Israel was created. We have been striving for them for over forty years. We are grateful to the president-elect for having the wisdom and understanding to select David Friedman for this critically important assignment.

Helen Freedman
Co-Executive Director
Americans for a Safe Israel/AFSI

Liberals And Conservatives

Reader David Fass (Letters, Dec. 16) questions whether there are studies to support the contentions in Dennis Prager’s Dec. 9 op-ed article, “10 Reasons Left-Wingers Cut Trump Voters From Their Lives.”

One item in particular – “there are more mean people on the left than on the right” – doesn’t need a study for confirmation. It’s self-evident.

Ever hear of conservatives demonstrating to get someone fired because he or she supports gay marriage? The cases of liberals pushing for the firing of someone because he or she believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman is quite common these days. If this isn’t mean-spirited, selfish, and intolerant, I don’t know what is.

On college campuses, it’s not uncommon for conservative speakers to be aggressively shouted down by liberals. Sometimes the liberal protests before the event can be so threatening that speakers will back out or be disinvited by the university. This kind of repugnant behavior among conservatives, however, is rare.

Even charity-giving habits point to the less-than-benevolent nature of liberals. And there are studies to back up that statement.

In a New York Times article several years ago, Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof, a liberal, referenced data cited by author Arthur Brooks that shows “…households headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals. A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals.”

Kristof also cited a study that revealed “Liberals show tremendous compassion in pushing for generous government spending to help the neediest people .… Yet when it comes to individual contributions to charitable causes, liberals are cheapskates.”

In other words, liberals are very “generous” with other people’s money, but not their own. This exemplifies, in my opinion, a common thread among many liberal agendas: It’s more important to look good than to do good.

Josh Greenberger
Brooklyn, NY

 

Trump And The Environment

While there have been many recent articles and letters in The Jewish Press about Donald Trump’s election, one factor seems to be overlooked – the chances of averting a climate catastrophe have been greatly reduced.

Despite the fact that all of the 195 nations, including Israel, at the December 2015 Paris climate change conference agreed that immediate steps must be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Trump has promised to tear up the agreement shortly after assuming the presidency.

He also has promised to repeal many of the recent U.S. initiatives to slow climate change and has made key appointments of people who are in denial about climate change, including a new head of the Environmental Agency, who has sued the EPA several times in efforts to reduce efforts toward a cleaner environment.

In addition, Trump ignores the strong consensus of scientists that global warming is largely due to human activities and is a major threat to humanity; he ignores that we are now in the third consecutive year of record temperature and all of the 17 warmest years worldwide since temperature records were first kept in 1880 have occurred since 1998; he ignores the view of the Pentagon and military experts that there will be tens of millions of desperate refugees fleeing droughts, wildfires, and storms, increasing the chances for instability, terrorism, and war; and he ignores the fact that glaciers worldwide and polar ice caps are rapidly melting, oceans are rising, deserts are expanding, storms are becoming more destructive, and wildfires are becoming more frequent and more severe.

In short, major positive steps are essential in order to leave a decent world for future generations, but these are unlikely to occur during a Trump administration. This is arguably the most critical issue facing humanity today, but far too many people are in denial, in effect rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as we head toward a giant iceberg.

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Staten Island, NY

 

Kudos To Harlem’s Old Broadway Synagogue

Moshe Jennings, benefit organizer

Moshe Jennings, benefit organizer

As a longtime Jewish activist, may I express “kol hakovod” to that venerable shul in Harlem, the Old Broadway Synagogue. Despite the synagogue’s own considerable financial challenges, members were so moved by the plight of the victims of the recent wildfires and arson in Israel that within two weeks congregant Moshe Jennings, with synagogue colleagues, organized a benefit concert on motzaei Shabbat, December 17, in the shul’s sanctuary.

The quartet of violinists and viola, all non-Jewish, warmly played Mozart and Jewish music. We concluded by standing and singing to the musicians’ rendition of “Hatikvah.”

The proceeds will be sent by Rabbi Allen Schwartz of Congregation Ohab Zedek directly to those in need in Israel. A true example of “Kol Yisrael areveim ze b’ze” – “All Jews are responsible for each other.”

Glenn Richter
New York, NY

Our Readers

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

Unconvinced By Prager

A recent New York Times story (“Political Divide Splits Relationships”) described three liberal individuals who decided to curtail their contact with Trump-supporters in their own families. It’s sad, but perhaps they had justification. Or perhaps not. Since I do not know them or their families, I would not presume to say.

Dennis Prager (“Why Are Left-Wingers Cutting Trump Voters From Their Lives?” op-ed, Dec. 9) has no such hesitation, however. He doesn’t know anything about these people, but he is absolutely certain their actions can be explained by deep characterological flaws connected with their liberalism.

These liberals, like all liberals, Mr. Prager informs us, are closed-minded and overwhelmed by their emotions. They cherish ideas more than people, demonize their opponents, devalue personal integrity, lean toward totalitarianism, attach meaning to nothing besides politics, dishonor their parents, and they are just plain mean.

This sounds awful. But even Mr. Prager must realize that these negative stereotypes could in most cases be just as easily applied to conservatives. (“They demonize their opponents! They’re closed-minded! They’re so mean!”) Unless there is some non-anecdotal evidence behind these claims, they are just empty invective.

So instead of tossing up tired stereotypes and inviting his readers to prove him wrong, why doesn’t Mr. Prager just go ahead and try to prove himself right? Let him cite the research that demonstrates that the character flaws he lists are more symptomatic of liberals than of conservatives. Otherwise, one might reasonably conclude that Mr. Prager is interested not so much in explaining liberal behavior as in simply denigrating those with whom he disagrees.

David Fass
Teaneck, NJ

 

Battle For The Democratic Soul

The battle for the soul of the Democratic Party is raging. And the party may be hijacked by the most radical elements within it.

Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota is the front-runner to take over the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee (DNC.) He is a left-wing extremist whose positions will alienate centrist Democrats who are having more and more trouble identifying with a party that has more in common with Louis Farrakhan than Harry Truman.

In fact, Ellison was a political ally of Louis Farrakhan, the longtime leader of the Nation of Islam. This is not guilt by association. Ellison’s recent pronouncements about Israel and its “control” of U.S. foreign policy reflect an anti-Israel – if not anti-Semitic – bias that is reprehensible.

One of Ellison’s supporters for the DNC position recently dismissed the idea of Howard Dean returning as DNC chairman, saying “We don’t need white people leading the Democratic Party right now.”

The Democratic Party would be better served – as would the people who used to proudly call themselves Democrats – by a more reasonable approach.

Brian J. Goldenfeld
Woodland Hills, CA

 

Truly A Queen

Re the article about his mother by Rabbi Yisroel Jungreis (The Queen Who Never Needed a Crown,” front-page essay, Dec. 9):

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis was truly a queen who, I believe, was very likely a gilgul of the biblical Queen Esther.

Rebbetzin Jungreis was whisked by the Kastner transport out of Bergen Belsen so that she could arrive on these shores to prevent the larger remnant of Jewry from assimilating after the Holocaust. Like Queen Esther, she had a taste of the gezeira cast upon her people, having been a child of only five when she experienced death all around her. And as Queen Esther did, she too strove to prevent a holocaust of her people – in this case a spiritual holocaust.

In person, the Rebbetzin could appear every bit the diminutive Hebrew School teacher who suddenly emerged to take the Jewish world by storm in 1973, but when she took the podium to deliver words of Torah, she would be transformed into a holy figure from a bygone era.

Nobody had Rebbetzin Jungreis’s ability to mesmerize people’s souls with the truth of Torah. I often sat in the small yet elegant Hineni beis medrash tightly sandwiched between two people for the duration of her hour-plus Torah discourse and could barely feel my body.

I once related my feelings about the Rebbetzin possibly being a gilgul of Queen Esther to a naysayer in a well-known yeshiva on the Lower East Side of Manhattan who was a little too quick to retort, “Queen Esther had a Mordechai.”

When I heard that, I felt I was indeed on to something. Those who were acquainted with the Rebbetzin’s husband, HaRav Meshulem Halevi Jungreis, know that if anyone fit the depiction of a tzaddik on the level of Mordechai HaYehudi, he did. He also appeared like someone from a bygone era and, just as the biblical Mordechai was related to Queen Esther, HaRav Jungreis happened to be a distant relative of the Rebbetzin.

During the few times I heard Rabbi Jungreis speak, he would refer to Rebbetzin Jungreis as “a little girl” who was able to accomplish a great deal. He may have been trying to tell us something. Lawrence Kulak Brooklyn, NY

 

The Fate Of Amona

 

Supreme Court Or Supreme Being?

It seems surreal, to say the least, that after the traumatic expulsion of thousands of Jews from their homes in Gush Katif, the Israeli government has been ordered by the Israeli Supreme Court to destroy Amona, a so-called settlement, and to expel from their homes the brave and devoted Jewish families who have lived there for decades.

Never mind that each new expulsion only emboldens our implacable Arab enemies, whose objective is to destroy Israel.

Never mind that countless Arabs who claim Jewish homes were built on “their property” are squatters who migrated to Israel seeking employment after the Jewish state was reborn in 1948.

Never mind that no one has come forward to claim the land, except for one or two dunams out of 500, and that the granting of it to Jordanians by King Hussein was illegal.

Israel’s ill-fated decisions to destroy vibrant Jewish communities like Gush Katif and, before that, Yamit – forcefully removing so many idealistic Jews who had built their homes and their lives in good faith in Medinat Yisrael – did not bring “peace.”

Instead, such moves ignited marked increases in Arab terrorist attacks. But the justices of Israel’s Supreme Court apparently have not absorbed the lesson of the old adage “He who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it.”

The Tanach, the Bible upon which Israel bases its claims of sovereignty, unequivocally teaches that God commanded Jews to settle everywhere in the land that He deeded to the Jewish people as an eternal inheritance.

The leaders of Israel should remember the long and painful history of the Jewish people. It is not secular laws, such as those espoused by Israel’s Supreme Court, but rather obedience to the Torah Laws of the Supreme Being that ultimately ensure Jewish survival.

Shifra Hoffman
(Via E-Mail)

Editor’s Note: The writer is founder of Victims of Arab Terror (www.victimsofarabterror.org) and executive director of SHUVA, the Israel emergency aliyah organization (www.shuva.net).

 

Reminiscent Of Gush Katif

Your Dec. 9 front-page photo highlighted the absurdity of the planned expulsion of Jewish residents from Amona by the Israeli government on the first day of Chanukah. My AFSI Chizuk mission demonstrated outside the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday morning, Nov. 13, with hundreds of children and adults from Amona, all pleading that their homes not be destroyed.

Our Readers

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Impure Land?

Reading Dr. Yitzchok Levine’s Dec. 2 Glimpses Into Jewish History column on Rabbi Moshe Weinberger (“Jews in Europe: Do Not Come To America!”), I recalled visiting a Jewish bookstore on Hester Street, long closed, owned by a chassidic Jew.

I asked the proprietor why the Jews remained in Europe prior to the Holocaust despite the widespread Jew hatred there. He replied with the very term used by Jews like Rabbi Weinberger in describing America: treife. I was astounded.

My paternal grandfather left Bialystok in 1907 and brought his wife and two sons, one of whom was my father, in 1909. My mother’s family arrived here from Odessa on Thanksgiving Day 1910.

Half a century later I asked my tante, my grandmother’s sister, if she regretted coming to America. Her English was virtually non-existent, as she spoke only Yiddish and Russian. She gave me one of her looks, as if I were meshuggah. The answer, of course, was an emphatic no.

Oh, those poor Yidden who remained in Europe at the urging of well meaning but overzealous rabbis.

Bert Zackim
(Via E-Mail)

 

Takes Issue With Columnist

Among the many wonderful articles in your great paper, I especially love to read Rabbi Dr. Jerry Hochbaum’s Jacob’s Ladder column. Perhaps that’s because he was my good friend and chavrusa for many years, and we got our semicha the same day at RIETS. Seriously, though the column is always excellent.

However, the Dec. 2 piece on Toldos included something I cannot accept: “In the end, Yitzchak finally agrees to renew the treaty with Avimelech….”

In my Bereishis volume (Great Torah Lights, vol.1) I argued (several leading rabbonim said I did so in a “powerfully persuasive” manner) that Yitzchak never made any agreement with Avimelech, but rather got him drunk. The phrase “they swore each to his brother” actually refers to Avimelech and Pichol (the Torah would never call our holy forefather Yitzchak a “brother” to a Plishti).

This explains the (otherwise) astonishing statement (v.33) that the town Be’er Sheva owes its name to the fact that Yitzchak’s shepherds dug a new well that day, number seven – shiv’ah (Sforno).

If my thesis is wrong, this verse makes no sense. My complete analysis, with further important details, is in the appendix to the volume.

Rabbi Dr. Yitzchak Meir Goodman
Far Rockaway, NY

 

There He Goes Again

Jimmy Carter, considered one of our worst presidents by historians, last week reiterated his views on the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict and once again confirmed his status as the most anti-Israel political figure in recent times.

The former president apparently does not – or wishes not – to realize that the Oslo Accords, which were very favorable to the Palestinians, called for negotiations between the two parties to the conflict before any Palestinian state would be established.

For the nearly 25 years since Oslo, Palestinian leaders have failed to negotiate in good faith and have never ceased calling for campaigns of terror and an end to the existence of Israel.

Nelson Marans
(Via E-Mail)

 

Readers’ Platform

December 7 was National Letter Writing Day.

Surveys show that the Letters To The Editor section is one of the most widely read and popular of any newspaper. Weekly newspapers such as our own Jewish Press offer readers a chance to speak out. The same is true with daily newspapers such as AM New York, the New York Daily News, Newsday, New York Post, New York Times and Staten Island Advance. Weekly newspapers tend to offer more space for writers than daily newspapers. Some daily newspapers have quotas of no more than one letter every 30 or 60 days per writer.

Contrary to popular myth, letter writers don’t always have our submissions published. Being a prolific letter writer doesn’t always guarantee publication on a regular basis by anyone. It helps if you have a snappy introduction and a good hook, and are timely and precise with an interesting or different viewpoint.

We are fortunate to live in one of the few remaining free societies, with a wealth of information sources available. I continue to be grateful that The Jewish Press and other daily and weekly newspapers afford letter writers the opportunity to express our views.

Thanks to you, ordinary citizens have the freedom to comment issues of the day and to voice agreement or disagreement with the actions and legislation of elected officials.

Larry Penner
Great Neck, NY

 

Obama’s Mixed Bag

President Obama has never been my cup of tea, but I blanch whenever I hear or read hyperpartisan statements about how bad he’s been for America. Like most presidents, he’s been a mixed bag. Certainly not the great chief executive portrayed by his admirers, but nowhere near the unmitigated disaster described by right-wingers

Just remember what the world looked eight years ago. The Republicans had just lost power after the disastrous and scandal-ridden George W. Bush presidency – during which the U.S. launched a war against Iraq on the basis of misleading intelligence that has thus far cost the lives of nearly five thousand U.S. servicemen and women and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis; allowed 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden and his followers to escape in Afghanistan; saw the misappropriation of billions of taxpayer dollars by contractors in Iraq, a major portion of which had been awarded without bids or any recordkeeping; and found itself mired in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

No wonder Bush’s approval ratings when he left office were in the low 20s. Americans were more fearful about their future than at any time since the early 1930s.

Eight years later, Obama leaves office with a growing economy and an unemployment rate at its lowest since the 1980s (numbers don’t lie). And his tenure has been relatively corruption free, with far fewer scandals than any administration in decades.

As far as the U.S.-Israel alliance is concerned, despite Obama’s rocky personal relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu (no worse, by the way, than Ronald Reagan’s relationship with Menachem Begin or Gerald Ford’s relationship with Yitzhak Rabin or Bill Clinton’s relationship with Netanyahu), military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries are at an all-time high; the administration has vetoed or otherwise torpedoed every single anti-Israel resolution at the UN over the past eight years (to put that in perspective, the Reagan administration voted against Israel at the UN 22 times in eight years); and Obama just signed the most generous military aid package to Israel in American history.

Obama has had more than his share of failures, including the Obamacare debacle and the administration’s inept handling of the Arab Spring, but the state of the country as described by his most bitter opponents doesn’t come close to the actual reality.

Yerachmiel Grossman
(Via E-Mail)

Our Readers

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Children And Grandchildren

It’s odd that in your Nov. 25 lead editorial, “The Democratic Playbook,” you criticize Gov. Andrew Cuomo for stating, “I am a son of immigrants.”

You note: “Actually he is a grandson of immigrants.” I found it amusing that you choose to make this distinction, even as we read in Parshat Chayei Sarah (Genesis 24:48) how Eliezer explicitly made no such distinction. He expressed gratitude for finding Rivkah who is “bat achi adoni livno.”

That phrase translates as “the daughter of my master’s brother for his son.” Of course, the brother of Avraham was Nachor, the grandfather of Rivkah. The principle of “B’nei banim harei hein k’banim” – “Grandchildren are like children” is something the governor understands well. Perhaps upon further reflection you would concur.

Dr. Nisan Hershkowitz
Brooklyn, NY

 
Law Based On Torah

The Israeli government is considering a normalization law that would give settlements in Yehuda and Shomron the same legal status as any other place in Eretz Yisrael.

Our rights to all of Eretz Yisrael should be confirmed by citing the first Rashi in Chumash, which states that when the nations say we stole the land, we should counter and say that Hashem created the world and gave the land of Israel to the children of Israel.

The Israeli Supreme Court objects to this law. The Israeli public seems fed up with the court. The time may be ripe to introduce a National Jewish Court based on Torah. We must speak out in favor of the law and against the secular supreme court.

We were silent at the time of the Gush Katif expulsion.

We must not repeat that mistake.

With best wishes for the Geulah,

Shmuel Koenig
(Via E-Mail)

 

Benzion Shenker (I)

I am deeply saddened by the death of Benzion Shenker (news story and In Memoriam tribute, Nov. 25). He epitomized true Jewish “soul” music – he touched the souls of all who heard him through his numerous recordings or who had the pleasure of hearing him in person. He was modest, gentle, and unassuming. He brought joy to his listeners.

When I started my hobby of presenting Jewish Soul Music in 1977, Benzion was part of what I referred to as ‘The Big Four’ – Shenker, Shlomo Carlebach, Mordecahi Ben David, and Avraham Fried.

Aside from my love of chazzanut, the four touched my soul – each in his unique way. Those who have listened to my programs over the past 40 years can testify to the admiration I felt toward Benzion and the pride I had in being his friend.

In 1994 I had the honor of doing a two-hour interview with Benzion. That program is now available on my website, www.charliebernhaut.com. Simply log on, go to the Archive, and check out Show # 370 (Nov. 28, 2016). The third hour features interviews from this past weekend with Chaim Boruch Shenker, Benzion’s brother, and Velvel Pasternak, noted expert on Jewish music. Also included is the complete recording of Benzion’s first album from 1956 – “Modzitzer Malave Malka.”

To hear my second two-hour interview with Benzion from five years ago, scroll down on the Archive to Show # 125 (Nov. 7, 2011).

We are all blessed to having been touched by this extraordinary talent. Benzion will be sorely missed. No doubt his music will be appreciated for generations.

Charlie Bernhaut
New York, NY

 

Benzion Shenker (II)

When I left the pulpit rabbinate for organizational life and moved to Flatbush 27 years ago, my immediate goal was to daven with R. Benzion Shenker in his minyan in the Modzitzer shtiebel. I was “raised” as a child on his tapes, and now I was free to daven where I desired.

Davening with R. Benzion was always most inspirational. Too few rabbanim convey to their congregants the importance of tefillah uplifted with shirah and neginah. There is little appreciation for the role of the shaliach tzibbur in elevating the davening so that the Heavenly “sha’arei neginah” can open wide to receive our heartfelt prayers.

May R. Benzion Shenker’s petirah – and niggunim! – be the catalyst to enable our tefillot and those of our congregants to reach the loftiest heights of Shamayim, carried on the wings of song.

Doniel Z. Kramer
(Via E-Mail)

 

The Clear Choice

Faced with a dilemma: This morning at my front door I found both The Jewish Press and the Los Angeles Times. As I brought them into my house, I thought: “Which should I open to read first?”

Of course, the Times brings me the day’s news from around the world and keeps me informed about what’s happening in the great city of Los Angeles. But it really was no contest. I settled back with The Jewish Press, hungering to see this week’s offerings.

First I read the editorial titled “The Strange Case of Senator Schumer.” How can any honest and honorable person ever vote for him again? How can he defend his support of Congressman Keith Ellison, an avowed pro-Palestine, Muslim supporter, against the interests of Israel?

Then I came across “The Miracle of Tamar,” a heart-wrenching story about a newborn child with serious health problems, expected to live only three or four months. Unable to have children of their own, a very special couple, Dini and Rivky, sought to adopt the baby. Dini expressed his appreciation for having his mind and heart opened to the idea of adopting a child with special needs: “Being Tamar’s father is the greatest gift I could ever have.” What a man. My heart is full of emotion as I write this.

And after I finish writing this letter, I look forward to reading what has become my favorite feature over the past year – the monthly Freida Sima series, which alas comes to an end with this issue.

My subscription renewal is in the mail.

George Epstein
Los Angeles, CA

 

Editor’s Reply: Mr. Epstein and the many other readers who let us know how much they loved the Freida Sima series will be pleased to learn that the author, Professor Judy Tydor Baumel-Schwartz, is at work on a new series, the first installment of which will appear in January.

Our Readers

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