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March 5, 2015 / 14 Adar , 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Boteach’

Elie Wiesel to Attend Netanyahu’s Speech in Congress

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Elie Wiesel will attend Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech in Congress next month, activist Rabbi Shmuley Boteach announced Thursday.

He also said he is buying advertising space in The New York Times and The Washington Post to promote Wiesel’s decision, with the Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner stating:

I plead with you to put aside the politics that have obscured the critical decisions to be made. Surely it is within your power to find a solution that will permit Israel’s Prime Minister to deliver his urgent message. Will you join me in hearing the case for keeping weapons from those who preach death to Israel and America?

Wiesel’s support for the Prime Minister’s controversial visit may slow down, if not reverse, the rush of many Congressmen to boycott the speech because it will be delivered two weeks before elections in Israel.

The speech also comes three weeks before President Barack Obama and Iran may agree on terms for a deal on containing Tehran’s nuclear development. Prime Minister Netanyahu will focus on the Iranian nuclear threat in his speech, emphasizing that Iran is stalling for time and not conducting honest negotiations.

Wiesel carries a big stick in American public opinion, and President Obama is known to have warm regard for him.

NYPD Investigated Kahane Chai for threats against Rabbi Boteach

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

The New York Police Department several years investigated Kahane Chai, a militant Jewish group, for threats against Rabbi Shmuley Boteach but never told him, according to internal NYPD documents obtained by the Tablet website.

The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) asked the NYPD’s intelligence division to monitor the group in the late 2000s after anti-Boteach comments were posted on Kahane.org,

“He commits incessant chilluley hashem and for that imho deserves death,” a website moderator on Kahane.org wrote in 2007, using the online name Doom777. “Someone shoot Shmuley Boteach,” the individual wrote a year later.

The NYPD launched a Terrorism Enterprise Investigation into the postings, enabling it to use informants and undercover officers to monitor Kahane Chai, which the State Department designated as a terrorist group in 1994. The NYPD’s investigation appears to have focused on web postings and online forums rather than infiltration of Kahanist groups, Tablet reported.

Boteach, a celebrity rabbi who wrote “Kosher Sex” and ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year from New Jersey, told Tablet that he was never informed of the threats.

Nobody appears to have been charged in connection with the online postings, according to the documents.

Cory Booker, NJ Torah-Versed Black Christian, on Way to Senate

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker is leading the Democratic primary polls and if he wins, he is a shoo-in for a general election victory to replace Frank Lautenberg in the Senate.

Already touted as possible presidential candidate in the future, Booker’s interest in Jewish studies began approximately 20 years ago when he met a Chabad rabbi. A “chavrutah” Torah study partner is – who else? – Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.

The Wall Street Journal noted Monday that his wide contacts with Jewish sources have helped him fill his campaign chest, even though Lautenberg’s family is far from thrilled with his candidacy and have endorsed one of his opponents, Rep. Frank Pallone.

Booker, a black Christian, usually appears at a Passover Seder, and he is so interested in Israel that he once took his parents to visit the Jewish state.

His knowledge of Judaism “could put many of us to shame,” New Jersey philanthropist and Jewish Federation leader Lori Klinghoffer told the Journal.

Booker has been in politics since a young age, after having grown up in a predominantly white upper-class borough of Bergen County. His parents were among the first black executives at IBM.

After earning a law degree at Yale, he moved to Newark to become a tenants’ rights attorney when he was  only 27. He quickly moved into politics and was elected to the city council in 1998. Booker narrowly lost his seat in 2002 but regained in four years later and then became mayor.

AIPAC, NORPAC, Stay Neutral in Race between Rabbi Boteach and CAIR Supporter Pascrell

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is running for US congress in the 9th Congressional District in New Jersey.  He is pro-marriage, pro-security, pro-democracy, pro-Israel, and pro-Arab (as in pro-democracy and western-style freedoms for Arabs).  His opponent, Democrat Bill Pascrell Jr., signed the infamous Gaza 54 letter blasting Israel for what it called “collective punishment” of Gazans by blockading food and medicine — not true — and reserved a meeting space for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in the Capital building, and has done his best to help block the deportation of radical anti-Israel Imam Mohamad Qatanani.

This particular election should be an easy choice for pro-Israel voters.  Should be, but something’s missing.

Other than the Republican Jewish Coalition and the locally-based Jewish paper, The Jewish Voice and Opinion, Rabbi Boteach doesn’t have the public support of major pro-Israel political organizations behind him.  In fact, although critics attack groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the single issue NORPAC political action committee as being blindly supportive of Israel, neither one of these political heavyweights are actively supporting Boteach’s bid for congress.

Why?

Both NORPAC and AIPAC typically support the incumbent in a race, unless he or she has failed to meet what is sometimes criticized as a “fairly low benchmark.”

Ben Chouake, president of NORPAC, told The Jewish Press that, in general, if an incumbent has a “good voting record,” which means largely that they “vote for U.S. aid to Israel, vote in favor of pro-Israel Resolutions, and have voted in favor of Iran sanctions,” they are considered a “friendly incumbent” and NORPAC will support them.  There are a few exceptions, but those are rare.

One example of such an exception was in the bruising primary campaign preceding this general election in NJ’s 9th, when Pascrell defeated his Democratic opponent, the fiercely pro-Israel Steve Rothman.  That battle was a Middle East conflict set in the Garden State.  A major Pascrell supporter, Dr. Aref Assaf, the president of the Arab American Forum authored an op-ed contemptuously referring to Rothman as being “Israel’s man.” Assaf also denounced Rothman as an “Israel-firster,” as in Israel was more important to Rothman than is the United States.

Even though both Pascrell and Rothman were incumbents with “good voting records,” NORPAC supported Rothman in the primary because he had an “extraordinary record on Israel.” However, NORPAC is now treating the NJ 9th election as an “open seat.” This means that they will bundle funds for either contestant, if asked.  “But,” Chouake said, “NORPAC is not making donations from their general fund for either candidate.”

Not everyone is thrilled with the kind of red line drawn by the major pro-Israel political organizations.

Chouake admitted that Pascrell signing the Gaza 54 letter and supporting Imam Qatanani were problematic.  “But Qatanani is a constituent of Pascrell’s, and the decision about whether to deport the Imam is a judicial one, not a congressional one.”

Maybe so, but Pascrell signed an affidavit opposing the deportation on behalf of Qatanani, the Imam of one of the largest mosques in New Jersey, calling him “peace-loving” and “magnanimous.”  That’s hard to square with information provided by Steve Emerson, one of the world’s leading terrorism experts.

Emerson wrote that Qatanani’s deportation case centered on the Imam’s lying on his immigration documents about having been arrested by Israel for membership in the terrorist organization Hamas.  But even while in the United States, Qatanani has openly displayed his hatred and contempt for Israel.  He allegedly referred to the creation of Israel as “the greatest disaster which occurred on the face of the Earth,” and has called for supporting the children of homocide bombers. It is difficult to reconcile that with the words in Pascrell’s affidavit and his 2008 description of Qatanani whom he said, “put so much time into bringing peace for all of us. Thank you imam, for all you’ve done for America since you’ve come here.”

On the other hand, although AIPAC and NORPAC are sitting out this election, the pro-Israel sugar daddy/mama team of Sheldon and Miriam Adelson have contributed directly to Boteach, as well as to a Boteach-connected super PAC.  In total, their contributions to Boteach account for more than half a million dollars.  The cash-infusion, in turn, led the Republican National Congressional Committee to upgrade Boteach’s campaign to “Contender” status.  That new status ensures Boteach will be the further recipient of important support from other GOP congressional leaders and other campaign accoutrements.

In fact, riding the wave brought on by the Adelsons’ donations, Rabbi Boteach is currently in Florida, attending the Republican National Convention.  The Jewish Press caught up with him in the RJC lounge.

What pushed the world-famous celebrity rabbi, author and reality show star to choose politics as his next frontier?

He says he “wants America to refocus on values, but not the side show ones on abortion and gay marriage.”  Boteach wants to focus on “supporting marriage, offering vouchers for school choice, and granting tax breaks to corporations to close on Sundays.”

He pointed out that “before the big brouhaha surrounding Chik-fil-A and gay marriage, the chain deserved attention for its astronomical growth, even though all the outlets were closed on Sundays.” His point is that being family-friendly does not have to have negative economic consequences for businesses.

When asked what distinguished him from his opponent who has what some professionals claim, is a “strong pro-Israel record,” Boteach let loose.  “Look, the number one issue threatening Israel is Iran.  But right behind that is the international delegitimization of Israel.  And Pascrell is one of the foremost congressional participants in that delegitimization.”

“Pascrell has engaged in a blood libel.  It was an astonishing act of ignorance for Pascrell to sign the ‘Gaza 54′ letter.”  That letter, according to Boteach, “charged Israel with engaging in collective punishment by falsely claiming they deny food and medicine to the Gazans.”  Pascrell has stood by that letter, saying he did not regret signing it.

Boteach asked, “what is the point of having the pro-Israel red line be support for aid to Israel, if, when every time Israel uses that aid to defend herself, she is accused of things like ‘collective punishment?”

Boteach is clearly disappointed by the lack of expected support.  Nonetheless, with the clout added to his campaign by the large financial show of Adelson support, Boteach was invited to address the RJC’s Salute to Pro-Israel Elected Officials at the Crowne Plaza Westshore Hotel last night.  Boteach is hoping that, “G-d willing,” at the next Republican Convention, he’ll be part of that audience.

AIPAC expressed disinterest in speaking on the record.  Congressman Pascrell’s campaign spokesman Keith Furlong did not respond to a request for comment.

Rabbi Boteach: ‘Turn Friday Night Into Family Night’

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Social conservatives constantly bemoan the erosion of traditional family life and morality. In their view, narcissism and materialism plague the American landscape.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, founder of the Jewish Values Network, host of the television program “Shalom in the Home” on TLC and the acclaimed author of over 20 books, believes he has a solution – or at least the beginning of one. He wants millions of American families to join his new initiative and “Turn Friday Night into Family Night.”

“As America debates in this time of financial crisis how we can restore the values that made this country great,” Boteach told The Jewish Press, “in my opinion there’s nothing more important than recreating the family, creating real family values. And to do that you need family time.”

If Boteach’s dream comes to fruition, families across the country will spend two “unplugged” hours – no television, phones, or blackberries – together every Friday evening, with two guests around the table, discussing two meaningful issues or engaging in two family activities. He hopes that President Obama, who according to The New York Times greatly values family dinners, will also participate.

“Look,” Boteach argues, “Obama says he wants to change things. Now change doesn’t just mean change the economic policies. You have to change the root causes that got us into this economic mess. The number one cause is greed. Now greed is not an economic issue, it’s a spiritual issue . To fix that, you have to recreate families.”

Boteach envisions a monthly national lottery for families signed up to his initiative, with the winner joining the first family for dinner at the White House.

Boteach is not the only one excited about his project. Alan Colmes, former co-host of the Hannity & Colmes TV show, told The Jewish Press he thinks “Turn Friday Night into Family Night” is a “wonderful idea” and praised the program’s “message of families devoting time to be with each other, inviting friends over, and focusing on their friendship and caring for each other.”

Lisa Oz, a New York Times best-selling author and frequent co-host of “The Dr. Oz Show” on Oprah & Friends’ XM radio telecast, was even more enthusiastic. “I think it just brings to the forefront the idea that a family is priority. It’s a time when you choose to be together, to talk together, to understand what’s going on with every member over the course of the week. A lot of families – we don’t – but a lot of families will actually have a television on even if they’re eating together, so there’s no real communication.”

She added, “Shmuley has often said that it doesn’t have to be a religious thing – it’s just a values thing – but I like the idea of keeping the conversation at an elevated level, making it really about something more than just eating. There’s an awareness and gratitude.

“We’re not Jewish, but we spend a lot of time with different Jewish friends at Seders and that whole idea of the cup for Elijah during Passover – I love that idea. It’s like inviting the Divine or a spiritual level into the evening, and I think that’s really lovely.”

Oz said that busy schedules unfortunately prevent her and her husband, Dr. Mehmet Oz – who often appears as a health expert on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” – from designating every Friday night for themselves and their four children. Nonetheless, she said they both make a point of regularly scheduling family dinners. Reminiscing on her own upbringing, Oz said, “I think for our generation spending time around the table was a time when our parents really could communicate their values to us without even making it a conscious thing . I think it was a really big part of my upbringing, and I think this generation is losing something because we don’t do it as frequently.”

Boteach knows that Shabbos Friday night dinners are a unique inheritance of the Jewish people. But he believes Jews should share their “gifts and treasures” with the rest of the world. “The question is: Who will give America its values? Will it be specifically Christian values or will the Jewish people finally have a seat at the table?”

He continued: “I have hosted tens of thousands of non-Jews at my Shabbos table over the years in Oxford, and here in the New York area and in New Jersey, and they’ve always said to me, ‘Gosh, why don’t we do this?’ ”

Boteach’s idealism of sharing Judaism’s light with the wider world contains an element of pragmatism as well. He argues, “How can we inspire young [secular] Jews to want to take their tradition seriously if that tradition, in their opinion, has no outside reach, has no ability to impact on the wider world, is basically irrelevant?… Rather than always trying to bring young Jews back to the fold, why don’t we bring Judaism to them? Why don’t we mainstream these Jewish ideas?…

“People say, ‘What do you need Jews and Judaism for anymore? The Jews gave the world a lot of important things like God but that was a long time ago.’ That’s why it’s so difficult to get young Jews to take pride in their heritage, because they don’t see that the Jewish people have any impact. I think the time has come for us to be a light unto the nations, and I think the idea of insulating ourselves away from the world when 80 percent of Jews are secular we’re going to lose them and we can’t.”

Boteach said that “Turn Friday Night into Family Night” is just the first of many national initiatives he hopes to launch through the Jewish Values Network. Commercials promoting “Turn Friday Night into Family Night” will soon start airing on several cable channels, and Boteach hopes one million Americans will sign up through his website, FridayIsFamily.com, by year’s end.

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006

Offensive ‘Joke’

As an avid reader of The Jewish Press, I was dismayed by the inclusion of a highly inappropriate joke in Arnold Fine’s “A Bi Gezunt” column last week. I use the word “joke” advisedly, because there was nothing the least bit funny about the joke’s subject matter, and it certainly did not belong on the pages of a family newspaper, frum or otherwise.

Frankly, Mr. Fine should be ashamed of himself for even thinking that anyone would find anything humorous in such a joke, and The Jewish Press should in the future be more vigilant about what its contributors are permitted to write.

Suri Bernstein
(Via E-Mail)

Editor’s Response: A number of readers have taken us to task – and rightly so – for the joke referred to by Ms. Bernstein. This obviously was a case of a temporary lapse in judgment on the part of Mr. Fine coupled with a breakdown in editorial oversight. We apologize to all who were offended.

 
On A Positive Note
 
I would like to thank The Jewish Press and its many readers for helping to make a success of our Erev Pesach Felafel Campaign for poor Israeli families. Thanks to the generosity of Jewish Press readers, we were able to send 15 families – totaling more than 200 people – to our local falafel store for a felafel, french fries, and a drink.
 
The reach of The Jewish Press is truly amazing – we received checks from readers all over the United States and Israel. Again, a big Thank You to the management and readership of The Jewish Press for making this erev Pesach such a wonderful time for so many fine, frum Jews.
 
Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein
Jerusalem
 
 
Admiration For Moshe Kupfer

Though I am well past my “teens and twenties” – I guess I would describe myself as a grandmother who likes reading what young people have to say – I always enjoy the “Teens & Twenties Talk” page of The Jewish Press. I’d like to express my admiration for Moshe Kupfer, the young man whose column appeared at the top of that page in the April 28 issue. It is a beautiful and sensitive person who at the time of his wedding can acknowledge and show appreciation to his mother. His bride is fortunate indeed, because a young man who appreciates all that his mother did for him will surely appreciate his wife as well.

And to his mother I say: Well done. I wish you lots of nachat.

Nechama Mayerson
(Via E-Mail)
  

‘Lowered Expectations’

While reader Leib Garfinkle may have been “disappointed” by Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s assuming the worst about the young people of Boro Park and minimizing the reports of police overreaction (Letters, April 28), I was not. Call it a case of lowered expectations, but I have become sadly resigned to this type of kowtowing to executive authority on the part of our elected officials – and in this regard Mr. Hikind is far from the worst. Remember when, in the immediate aftermath of the Gidone Busch murder, then-Council member Noach Dear ran around the city defending the officers who treated poor Mr. Busch like a target practice cardboard cutout?

Our Jewish elected representatives suffer from a collective inferiority complex. They appear to view any controversy as an opportunity to curry favor with mayors and governors, and they seem to have a particular fascination with police officials. Perhaps these Jewish politicians subconsciously see themselves as the tummlers and shtadlanim of old, ever eager to let their friends in shul or at the corner grocery know just how many home phone numbers of decision-makers they have in their Rolodexes.

If only these appeasers would take a lesson from African-American politicians.

David Brodsky
New York, NY
 
 

Fur Flies Over Boteach Piece

I usually enjoy Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s articles in The Jewish Press and find myself in agreement with most of what he writes. But boy do I disagree with his latest (“The Fur Coats of Englewood,” op-ed, April 28). It is one thing to write about excesses in our lives and another to come off sounding like an advertisement for PETA.

On a cold winter’s day (or night), nothing insulates a person like a fur coat. Walking to shul on a freezing Shabbat, a lady in a fur has much to be thankful for as she keeps toasty warm. In fact I don’t think a fur coat is even considered a status symbol anymore, as so many women have them.

If Rabbi Boteach wants to do an “Al Chet” for extravagances, he should do it on his own account and not pick on women who may be giving greater amounts to charity than they spent on their coats.

By the way, I live in Manhattan and don’t own a fur coat. But one doesn’t have to be from Englewood to be annoyed by Rabbi Boteach’s article.

Amy Wall
New York, NY
 
 
Fur Flies II

Women wear fur coats because they feel warm and luxurious and look beautiful and fashionable. Further, fur coats are a real value, as they normally last much longer than any cloth coat. Because fur is resilient and lasting, it can by recycled, updated, and restyled time and time again.

And what is wrong with looking and feeling good on Shabbos? Isn’t it a mitzvah to wear our best attire in order to look good and honor the Sabbath?

Jewish women as a group have much responsibility and work very hard. They are usually in charge of keeping our homes, bearing and raising and chauffeuring our children, and, in most cases, helping to financially support the family. Does Rabbi Boteach really want to deprive them if they get some enjoyment from going to shul in a beautiful, warm, stylish fur coat on Shabbos? Perhaps he would have them remove their jewelry also?

Contrary to Rabbi Boteach’s article, fur coats are not made from exotic species – the fur trade is government regulated to ensure that endangered species are never used. God placed animals on this earth for man’s use (Bereshis 1/26) and God Himself chose garments of skins as His choice for clothing Adam and Eve (Bereshis 3/21).

It is no sin to like and enjoy nice things. Does Rabbi Boteach advocate that residents of Englewood (and Teaneck and Monsey and Boro Park) give up their million-dollar homes and move into more modest housing? Should they give up the new Lexuses or Lincolns in their driveways? It is these very folks who are tremendous baalei tzedakah and support shuls, yeshivot, mikvaot, and many other worthwhile endeavors.

So when Rabbi Boteach sees the women of Englewood walking to shul in their fur coats on a wintry Shabbos morning, he should praise Hashem for the abundance and wealth He has heaped upon His people, and praise the women for being such eishai chayel, for walking to shul in the bitter cold even when they have no chiyuv to daven with a minyan, for their wonderful midos and for their tremendous chesed and tzedakah.

Ira Widman
Edison, NJ
 
 
On Darwinism, Time And Language

Re the recent debate on evolution in your Letters section:

In considering the scientific findings about the past, it seems to me vitally important to distinguish between the findings themselves and the conclusions that have been drawn from them. It appears that from the very first, Darwinism was associated with social Darwinism. Evolution was said to favor the “fittest,” i.e., (in the eyes of the theorists) the “strongest,” those who would prevail over their fellows in “competition” which was and should be “ruthless.” Thus, removing the inhibitions against ruthlessness would lead to the evolution of the superior human – the “master race.” The Nazis were not the only ones who held these ideas; they were just the most shameless about putting them into practice.

Social Darwinism is not “scientific” in the sense of being a logical conclusion from the evidence. Many have pointed out that survival of a species can depend on many factors, including adjustment to the environment, protection of the young, cooperative behavior – all of which can be hindered, not helped, by competition. We see clearly from the “experimental results” that removal of inhibitions leads only to degeneracy.

But those who set up the theory of evolution against belief in the Creator seem, alas, to have been influenced by the Evil Inclination, which is always on the watch for excuses to believe that “there is no judgment and no judge.” They therefore published their findings as a “refutation” of faith.

Unfortunately, it seems that many people of faith have taken the bait. Instead of recalling the Psalmist’s “A thousand years in Your eyes are but a single day” and “How manifold are Your works,” instead of greeting with awe the revelations of the vast extent and intricacy of creation, they in turn have set up the authority of scripture as a barrier to block out all the vast horizons that have opened up.

The proper approach to “evolution” lies not in trying to discredit the evidence that the early ancestors of humans – in times so remote that the limited human mind cannot grasp how remote they really are – were primitive mammals. What we need to understand is that this in no way refutes Creation.

What this is really about is our relation to time. To have experienced hashgacha pratit (the Hand of Providence) is to realize that while on one level time seems to move forward – with what comes earlier appearing as the “cause” of what takes place later – in reality everything is brought about by God, Who is outside time. From the perspective of hashgacha pratit, what happened earlier may actually have occurred for the sake of what was to come later. When Moshe Rabbeinu saw the bush that burned but was not consumed, he saw that linear time (in which, of course, whatever burns must consume itself) is not the whole story.

Two final notes about the Genesis account: First, God creates the world by means of words – words that name things and express intentions about them. That is the nature of language. Science has not only “discredited” faith, it has also worked to discredit language itself as an instrument for grasping reality. But without language everything reverts to chaos and formlessness. (I am thinking of Helen Keller’s account of how the learning of a single word – “water” – turned a dark and silent chaos into a world.)

Second, is it possible for us to look at this problem, as it were, from God’s point of view? Suppose God wanted to tell us about the world He made and our place and purpose in it. Would it have made the slightest sense for Him to go into all that stuff about the Big Bang and the quarks and natural selection? He’d never have gotten to the mitzvot, and we wouldn’t have understood anyway, just as we don’t really grasp the enormity of His work even today. So He gave us an account we could absorb.

Now that we have a lot of new information about how God went about the business of creation, we must do our best to integrate it into a path of Divine service.

Esther Cameron, Ph.D., J.D.
Madison, WI

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

Lessons From Misfits

Pat Robertson declares that Ariel Sharon’s massive stroke was the result of divine wrath for dividing the Holy Land. The ADL’s Abe Foxman tells Robertson that his views are un-Christian. There are a couple of lessons to learn from these two misfits.

The first is that Foxman makes a better Christian than Pat Robertson, and knows less about such essential Jewish concepts as reward and punishment. The second should shame every religious Jew, particularly those who give a hechsher, even theoretically, to the notion of “land for peace.”

I don’t care about Robertson and his distorted motives. What is clear is that this non-Jew is mortified by the very notion of giving up an inch of the Holy Land. The tragedy is that he loves the land of Israel more than most Jews do.

Daniel Fuchs
(Via E-Mail)
 
 
 
Prayers For A `Gibor

In his hour of need I and my friends have prayed and chanted Tehillim 23, 120 and 121 for Ariel Sharon, who never “slept nor slumbered” when we, the Jewish people, were in danger. Over the years he developed the kills of a visionary, and I understand his unilateral withdrawal from Gaza was a visionary move. That’s why he gets along so well with President Bush – they are both visionaries when it comes to protecting their people.

I interviewed Ariel Sharon twice, once right after the Six-Day War when I served as a reporter and nightly newscaster for Radio UPI, and more recently when he headed the opposition Likud party. I have loved Ariel Sharon, this gibor milchama.

Ray Kestenbaum
Rego Park, NY
 
 
 
`Disastrous PM’

I know this will make me seem callous and cold, but I can’t get too worked up over the calamitous state of Ariel Sharon’s health. I certainly didn’t wish this on him, unlike some of the right-wing crazies who’ve been spreading their un-Jewish vile over the Internet. I hope he survives and recovers his basic functions. Obviously he will no longer be a public figure even if he pulls through this, so in that respect we can speak of him in the past tense.

Simply put, Sharon was a disastrous prime minister. A military hero, yes; a man whose military feats saved the lives of countless Jews, as well as the State of Israel itself, yes. But a good prime minister? Most emphatically not.

By giving up Gaza unilaterally, he set a precedent for future Israeli leaders. By permitting terrorists to creep ever closer to Israeli population centers, he endangered the lives of who knows how many civilians. By gutting the democratic process as he rammed through the Gaza pullout, he laid bare the myth that Israel is a democracy in any real sense of the word.

Worst of all, by uprooting thousands of Jews and destroying dozens of flourishing Jewish communities, he showed the world that no Israeli “facts on the ground” are permanent: Sinai 25 years ago, Gaza last year, maybe part of Jerusalem next year when someone like Ehud Olmert is sitting at the negotiating table.

It used to be that only the most far-out leftists acted like guilt-ridden interlopers, eager to give in to Arab demands to avoid being labeled “intransigent” or “aggressor.” Now Sharon, of all people, has given cover to the Left by making the dismantling of the Land of Israel a bipartisan policy. No wonder the leftists who hated him now love him so.

Shlomo Mizrachi
Jerusalem
 
 
 
Israel Needs Jewish Leader

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (“Israel Needs A Non-Jewish Prime Minister,” op-ed, Jan. 6) writes that it is time for Israelis to begin to look seriously at having a non-Jewish prime minister. Rabbi Boteach believes no Jew can stand up to the pressures of the non-Jewish world. He suggests an evangelical Christian for prime minister. Why isn’t Rabbi Boteach worried about the support an evangelical might give to missionary work in Israel? Further, why didn’t Rabbi Boteach suggest an observant Jew as prime minister – someone who believes in the territorial integrity of Eretz Yisrael based on the first Rashi inChumash that says Hashem rightfully gave us the Land?

As proof that non-Jews have ruled over Jews in Eretz Yisrael, Rabbi Boteach quotes the Gemara in Sota 41a that seemingly shows how the non-Jewish king Agrippa II was so beloved by the Jewish people. What Rabbi Boteach failed to point out is that the Gemara in Sota 41b indicates the Jews had no love for Agrippa – who flouted Jewish law and ruled by force – and flattered him only for reasons of self-preservation.

Rabbi Boteach’s proposal flies in the face of Jewish history and Jewish destiny. Israel needs a proud Jewish leader at its helm, especially in these uncertain times. It is sad to see how

little faith Rabbi Boteach has in our people that he feels we must search elsewhere for a worthy candidate.

Rabbi Mordechai Bulua
Montreal, Canada
 
 
Locking Out Science

As I read the responses (Letters, Jan. 6) to the recent letter by David Fass bemoaning the degradation of science in the yeshiva world (Letters, Dec. 30), I couldn’t help but feel regret. This regret was mostly that I had absolutely no idea of the meaning of the scientific jargon being bandied about. My yeshiva science teacher quit in a huff when I was in tenth grade and he was never replaced in the years that followed. The yeshiva’s science lab existed behind locked doors as a storage closet.

That was 20 years ago, so the greatest share of blame I cast on myself for not seeking to achieve a greater understanding of how the natural world works. My experience, I believe, is not the exception, but the rule. Six years ago, I attended a lecture on parenting led by a prominent educator in the yeshiva world. During the question and answer session, a lady raised her hand and asked why her son has so much homework in secular studies. “What do we expect our sons to be, scientists?” she asked.

I grew up in a shul where Ph.D.’s outnumbered lawyers and doctors. These were men who valued intellect. They were baalei chesed andmidos who were leaders in the community. Of my peers, and I include the dozens or perhaps hundreds of yeshiva students I knew in high school, beis medrash, and college, I know only one who earned a Ph.D., and I have great respect for his thirst for knowledge and for his tremendous personal and intellectual integrity. Those who disparage David Fass would do well to heed his advice instead.

This letter is submitted via the Internet from Monsey, where chickens haven’t turned to monkeys – but the fish have been known to speak.

David Barg
Wesley Hills, NY
 
 
Missing Midah

In her interview with Jason Maoz, Abigail Pogrebin says that she found that most of the well-known people she interviewed for her book were, to her surprise, non-observant (“Not Such ‘Stars of David,’” Dec. 30. She found this noteworthy and worth discussing. Many frum Jews can tell Ms. Pogrebin the main reason this is so: most Jewish celebrities, especially in the entertainment industry, are lacking a basic midah which keeps most of us out of the worldwide, or even the nationwide, public eye – the midah of tzniut (modesty).

Avi Schwarzmer
Fairfield, CT
 
 
Disturbing Ad

I was shocked and dismayed at the full-page add in your newspaper last week regarding the issue of metzizah b’peh. Unfortunately, a group claiming to be upholding the mesorah ofKlal Yisrael is engaging in reckless behavior and causing a chilul Hashem.

1. While it is difficult to quantify the actual risk of metzizah b’peh, there are several series of cases which have been unquestionably traced to this practice.

2. Neonatal herpes is a devastating illness and there have been fatalities reported.

3. Private warnings to leaders in segments of the community where this is widely practiced were issued several years ago.

4. The bet din the health department consulted failed to act.

5. The health department and commissioner have a legal obligation to protect the welfare of all residents of New York. This obligation is heightened for infants and children.

6. The health commissioner’s letter to all physicians was similar to the letter distributed to members of the Orthodox community. It alerted health care professionals to the signs and symptoms of neonatal herpes. Additionally, the obligation and public health requirement of reporting any infectious disease to the health department was included.

7. While the health commissioner has the legal right and obligation to ban dangerous procedures on newborns, the health department has issued advisories hoping that mohelim and community leaders would discourage the practice ofmetzizah b’peh.

8. The inability of rabbonim to modify the practice of metzizah in view of thesafek sakanah nefashot posed to babies is shocking. Unfortunately, we are a generation of orphans when it comes to Jewish leadership.

9. Amazingly, none of the cases currently being reported involved inappropriate behavior of mohelim. This is a testimony of the tahara of our mohelim.

10. The true enemies of Israel will seize the opportunity to ban not onlymetzizah but milah and shechita. Let’s not give them ammunition.

Tod J. Rothschild, MD
Oceanside, NY
 
 
Barney Ross’s Example

It was inspiring to read, in your Dec. 30 issue, that Jewish boxing champ Dimitry Salita has volunteered to take part in the upcoming Flatbush Park Jewish Center event to raise funds for the seven year-old Crown Heights yeshiva student who needs a third liver transplant.

As the niece of 1930s’ boxing champion Barney Ross, I was struck by a comment that Mr. Salita made in a recent public appearance. He said that “his role models are the greats of Jewish boxing before World War II, especially Barney Ross, for how they behaved inside and outside the ring.” I agree that my uncle Barney’s accomplishments outside the ring were as important as the boxing skills that won him the junior welterweight, welterweight, and lightweight championships.

In response to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Barney, though well past draft age (he was 32), enlisted in the U.S. army. In the famous battle of Guadalcanal, he was seriously wounded while rescuing injured comrades from a Japanese ambush. His heroism under fire earned him a Silver Star.

Thanks to research by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, we know that upon Uncle Barney’s return to the United States in 1944, he became active in the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, also known as the Bergson group. The Emergency Committee used full-page newspaper ads, public rallies, and Capitol Hill lobbying to pressure the Roosevelt administration to rescue Jews from Hitler.

Uncle Barney was also active in another of the Bergson committees, the American League for a Free Palestine, which sought to rally American support for the creation of a Jewish state. He spoke at its rallies and chaired its George Washington Legion, which recruited American volunteers to aid the Irgun Zvai Leumi, the Jewish underground militia (headed by Menachem Begin) that was fighting the British in Mandatory Palestine. The Legion was patterned on the famous Abraham Lincoln Brigade, which had recruited Americans to fight against Franco in the 1930′s Spanish Civil War.

One of the Bergson group’s newspaper ads featured a photo of Uncle Barney with this message from the boxing champ: “There is no such thing as a former fighter. We must all continue the fight.”

Barney Ross fought the good fight, inside and outside the ring. He fought for America in World War II, and he fought for the Jewish people in his efforts on behalf of Holocaust rescue and Jewish statehood. That is a powerful and inspiring example for today’s Jewish athletes to follow.

Audrey Cantor
Chicago, IL

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor-120/2006/01/11/

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