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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Klass’

The Passing Of Irene Klass: The End Of An Era

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

It was with profound sadness that I absorbed the news last week that the petite, charming Irene, wife of Rabbi Sholom Klass, and publisher of The Jewish Press, returned her soul to her Maker.

 

Slight in height, Irene had the stature of a giant and was a ball of fire. A gifted poetess and grammarian, Rebbetzin Klass boasted a beautiful penmanship and magnificent vocabulary. She took tremendous pride in The Jewish Press’s Women’s Outlook section, which was her “baby,” but she contributed to all aspects of the paper.

 

If she learned of a recent divorcee or widow, she and her husband would find a place for the single mother at The Jewish Press, whether as a secretary, typist or advertising saleswoman. If it became known to her that an elderly gentleman who had led a productive life was becoming depressed after his retirement, he would find himself gainfully employed at The Jewish Press, where Irene and her husband would have the retiree surrounded by young employees who bestowed respect and honor upon him and made him feel worthy again.

 

Wherever Irene went, whether to participate in a simcha or vacation at a hotel, she would socialize and meet people whom she would hire to enhance this wonderful Torah newspaper. She loved Torah and was a true helpmeet to Rabbi Klass, whose goal was to spread Torah.

 

When I worked at the Jewish Press as an editor in the 1980′s, I would have to call Irene every week to discuss the layout and content of the Women’s section. It was before the appearance of the fax machine and since Irene didn’t come to the offices of The Jewish Press then, Rabbi Klass would bring me an envelope each week with all the articles and pictures to be featured in Irene’s magazine. I remember the first time I was instructed to call her, soon after I was hired to be editor. It was before the advent of Caller ID, and she didn’t pick up the phone. When an answering machine came on. I started speaking into the machine, leaving a message that it was Pearl Preschel calling. In middle of my sentence, I found Irene on the line. “I thought you weren’t home,” I said, “since you didn’t pick up.”

 

“I can’t pick up the phone, unless I know who it is,” she explained to me. “We get hundreds and hundreds of phone calls a day and this is the only way we can screen them, by listening to the machine.”

 

Before yeshivas and Jewish organizations had professional fundraisers, The Jewish Press served that purpose. If the worthy institutions weren’t getting free advertising, they were only spending a pittance and on credit, because the Klasses had hearts of gold and were true philanthropists. According to Maimonides, the greatest level of charity is to provide a person with a parnassah, a means of self-support. The Klasses fulfilled that mitzvah hundreds of times over. What was very special about the way they did it was that they behaved as if the employee was doing them a favor by taking the job.

 

The Agudath Israel of America owes tremendous hakaros hatov to Rabbi and Mrs. Klass of The Jewish Press. Several decades ago, when Rabbi Moshe Sherer was at its helm, Agudath Israel of American wasn’t a multi-million dollar operation with a tremendous budget and offices in many U.S. cities. The organization was not known at all except in Orthodox circles and was on a shoestring budget. Thanks to The Jewish Press, Agudath Israel became a household name and achieved tremendous power in the political world. Rabbi Sherer, who was very close to Rabbi Klass, was given free reign when it came to publicity, and Agudath Israel often had its articles and photos exhibited on the front page.

 

One time Rabbi Klass submitted an article from Rabbi Sherer that Rabbi Sherer had asked be published on the front page with its headline blaring in huge type over four columns. Rabbi Sherer was working very hard at the time on conversions according to Jewish law. Since the headline disparaged one of the movements of Judaism, I was not comfortable belittling other Jews – even if they were not acting in consonance with Jewish law – in so public a forum.

 

“Rabbi Klass,” I said, “The Jewish Press is exhibited on newsstands throughout the city. I am afraid of a chillul Hashem, because many people who are not Jewish will see we are putting down other Jews. Can’t we print this article inside the paper?”

 

Rabbi Klass said we could but advised me to receive Rabbi Sherer’s consent as well. When I called Rabbi Sherer, he agreed immediately, as Rabbi Klass knew he would. We printed the article on page 3.

 

Rabbi Sholom Klass’s deferral to Rabbi Sherer made a tremendous impression on me at the time. I learned at a later date that The Jewish Press never charged the Agudah for any of its full-page ads.

 

             It is to Irene’s credit that her husband’s entire family was part of the Jewish Press. Who could forget Lionel Klass, Rabbi Sholom Klass’s gifted and intelligent brother who worked as editor at The Jewish Press? Knowledgeable in Torah, he would spend hours at home typing up pithy Torah sayings to insert into the pages of The Jewish Press as fillers. He always had a container of vitamin C pills to administer to anyone who had a bad cold. He would regale the employees with fascinating stories and the latest medical research. He was the epitome of modesty and wrote quite a number of very interesting articles.

 

Irene Klass’s older daughter, Naomi Mauer, is the assistant publisher of the paper, and several children of Irene’s younger daughter, Hindy Greenwald, work at The Jewish Press.

 

Rabbi Klass’s nephew, Rabbi Yaakov Klass, has taken over the late rabbi’s Question and Answer column, and follows in his uncle’s footsteps with his love of Torah. His father Al Klass and mother Hilda Klass, who worked in other departments at the Jewish Press, served as surrogate parents to all its employees. Anyone who had any personal problems would find an ear with them. Rivi Rosenhal, Rabbi Sholom Klass’s sister, still delights The Jewish Press readers with her wonderful illustrations and insightful political cartoons. Rivi’s husband Harry would, from time to time, contribute his political insights in wonderful articles about Israel.

 

Very often, people would mistakenly believe that I was a member of the Klass family and would be surprised to discover I wasn’t related.

 

Now with Irene’s passing, I feel like a member of my own family has passed away. Irene, a wonderfully, talented compassionate human being will now be reunited with a giant of a man, her husband Rabbi Sholom Klass. Rabbi Klass was descended from the Maharal. Irene, who was a Schreiber, came from the family of the Chasam Sofer. In addition to their illustrious yichus, they were people with tremendous self-yichus. May their memory be a blessing.

Irene Klass: A Pioneer At The Jewish Press And In Life

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Irene Klass, the cofounder and publisher of The Jewish Press, the first nationally-distributed Orthodox Jewish newspaper in the U.S., died last week. She was 94.

A larger-than-life newspaperwoman who helped her husband, Rabbi Sholom Klass, found and build the largest Jewish weekly in America over the last 50 years, Mrs. Klass maintained a reputation for being preternaturally able to spot writing talent and for having a knack at grassroots marketing. Her efforts contributed to the great growth of The Jewish Press over the years.

In addition to her Jewish Press persona, Mrs. Klass became the matriarch of her extended family and, by the sheer force of her charm and friendliness, an increasingly large circle of friends.

But it was at The Jewish Press where Mrs. Klass had her most prominent impact. She discovered and gave writing space to little-known but talented personalities like Rabbi Meir Kahane and Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis; along with Rabbi Klass, determined the look and feel of the newspaper; and became half of the public image of The Jewish Press – always carrying under her arm several copies of the latest issue wherever she would go.

“She was a queen in the true sense of the word,” said Molly Resnick, a close friend and founder of Mothers Against Teaching Children to Kill and Hate. “Regal in bearing and caring for everyone. She always put God Almighty at the forefront, wishing that more people could see the beauty of His Torah wisdom.”

Irene Schreiber, the oldest of three girls, was born in 1916 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to Raphael and Nettie (Weiss) Schreiber. The family moved to several neighborhoods before settling in Brighton Beach, on the southwestern edge of Brooklyn.

 

Irene Klass (left) , with her sister Helen,

around the time of her bat mitzvah

As an adult, Mrs. Klass felt that her yichus, or Jewish lineage, was an important part of who she was and would make sure to remind her grandchildren that the famed Divrei Chaim was her great-great-uncle, and that she was closely related to the Chasam Sofer.

Throughout school, she and her two sisters earned a reputation for brilliance and excellence. She would frequently repeat how an elementary English teacher would ask the class if she and Ms. Schreiber were the only ones who had read and understood Shakespeare. Because she was charged with taking care of her younger sisters, Mrs. Klass did not get the opportunity to attend college, but she still devoured much literature and eventually books of Torah to hold her own in conversations on most topics.

When she was ready to get married she looked for a talmid chacham when most of her friends were looking for someone handsome and rich. She also began attending Torah classes, and soon met Rabbi Sholom Klass, who regularly lectured on the Gemara.

They got married in 1940 and had two daughters, Naomi (Klass Mauer) and Hindy (Greenwald). They soon moved from Brighton Beach to the neighboring town of Manhattan Beach, where just a handful of Orthodox families resided.

Mrs. Klass shared many of her husband’s ambitions, including that of putting out a newspaper. Rabbi Klass’s first foray into the field was the Oceanside News, a four-page publication, and she would go with him to deliver it door to door.

 

Klass family circa 1926

Rabbi Klass started other publications – the Brooklyn Weekly and the Brooklyn Daily – before realizing his dream of producing a newspaper filled with Torah. It was Mrs. Klass who shaped much of the look of The Jewish Press, insisting that the stories that animated her husband’s lectures and made them so popular be included in the paper. The Tales of the Gaonim and the Midrash became one of the most popular columns of the paper, and continue to be reproduced to this day. Another column she pushed for inclusion was the wildly popular Questions and Answers, where Rabbi Klass would answer questions on halacha from readers. The best of that column has been collected in three widely read books.

Over the years the paper matured; in addition to its heavy Torah content, it became an important advocate for Israel. Hundreds of thousands of American Jews looked to The Jewish Press for solace during the Six-Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973 – and throughout the 70s and 80s.

The newspaper also increasingly played an important role on the American Jewish scene, serving as a liaison for the Jewish community to local, state and federal officials.

Mrs. Klass herself was a very accomplished writer. In The Jewish Press, she wrote scores of articles and poems.

At home, Mrs. Klass was the caretaker not just for her husband and daughters but also for the many extended relatives who came to live with them at various times: Her father, Rabbi Klass’s parents, siblings and cousins, and friends.

Longtime friends and relatives emphasize several aspects of her life and personality: her vibrancy, her intelligence, her enthusiasm for the newspaper, and her tzedakah.

Her vibrancy was reflected in Mrs. Klass’s zest for life. In addition to her prose and poems, she wrote a few songs, and saw to it that they’d be recorded. Additionally, her simcha dancing, which she practiced and displayed at her vacation spots – the Pioneer Hotel and then the Homowack Hotel – was highly admired.

She would pass down aphorisms to her children and grandchildren, such as, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again,” “You don’t have to be good at everything, take something and make it your best,” “Good better best. Never let it rest until your good is better and your better is best.”

Her intelligence was evident to everyone she met. “Irene Klass had a keen intellect,” said Prof. Paul Eidelberg, a Jewish Press columnist. “I recall our driving back together from a meeting in Manhattan. Her familiarity and understanding of one of my books – which is not an easy read – astonished me.”

She displayed intelligence not just in her book knowledge but also in her adaptation of healthful practices. She was a health fanatic, long before it was in vogue, advocating and practicing a healthful diet, and teaching those she met how to properly wash their hands.

She was also fanatical about The Jewish Press. She believed deeply in its content and preached its virtues every place she would go. She’d give friends and acquaintances free subscriptions not just to market the paper but also to expose them to all of its benefits.

“Irene encouraged people of all ages to get involved,” Nachum Segal, a longtime friend and a radio talk show host, said. “Her primary method was through writing, but no matter what the vehicle was, she wanted people to feel they had the ability to make a difference by expressing their opinion . [Many listeners] remembered how she would speak to young women and press them to express themselves.”

Dr. Miriam Adahan, a Jewish Press contributor and book author, called Mrs. Klass “a courageous woman.” “She spoke out fearlessly about issues that others were afraid to address,” she said, “such as domestic violence and political corruption. The fact that she published my articles was what gave me the impetus to keep writing, which led to many books and a thriving career, Baruch Hashem. I will be forever grateful to her for all that she did for me, personally, and for klal Yisrael.”

Her tzedakah was legendary. She’d regularly write out checks of several thousand dollars to cover operations, yeshiva tuitions, and basic expenses for families and individuals, many of whom she hardly knew or didn’t know at all. In one not unusual instance, her daughter Naomi alerted her to someone who needed to fly to Switzerland for an organ transplant. In an instant, Mrs. Klass paid for the airfare of this person she had never before met.

“She always gave, even when she could hardly afford it,” Naomi said. “She used the influence of the paper to help others get whatever they needed. The amount of tzedakah is almost impossible to comprehend. She was a tiny powerhouse.”

Aside from the advocacy for Israel in their paper, Mrs. Klass and Rabbi Klass became strong personal supporters of the land, eventually encouraging several grandchildren to make aliyah, and helping to support them financially when they first arrived.

When they went to Israel for the first time in 1972, Rabbi Klass came for 10 days, but Mrs. Klass was able to stay for three weeks. She took her granddaughters to the Kinnert. She had been singing a song about the lake her whole life, she said. They arrived in the evening, and when she awoke in the morning she went out on the porch. She said it was overwhelming, the song coming alive for her – how in her whole life she never saw such a site and was riveted by it.

And when she was davening in Israel in the morning, she said she would hear the birds chirping; they were joining her in her praise of God.

Mrs. Irene Klass, A”H

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

It is with profound sorrow that we address the death of Mrs. Irene Klass – publisher of The Jewish Press, wife of Rabbi Sholom Klass, zt”l, the newspaper’s founder and longtime publisher, and daughter of Raphael Schreiber, a”h, the paper’s co-founder.

 

Mrs. Klass shared her husband’s dream of developing an independent voice for Torah Judaism. She partnered with her husband for many years in bringing their dream to fruition and carried on with those efforts after his death in 2000. Extremely well read and blessed with a talented pen, she also contributed commentary, poetry and general articles that appeared regularly in the paper.

 

Mrs. Klass had a keen eye for talent and in fact recruited many of The Jewish Press’s most popular columnists – including Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, Dr. Morris Mandel and Rabbi Meir Kahane – to the paper.

 

She was a person of great character with a faith in the Ribbono Shel Olam that was at once profound in its recognition but straightforward and uncompromising in its application. She was honest to a fault, often telling others that anything less is a betrayal of one’s self. She had a wide circle of friends with whom she spent much time, but enjoyed a deserved reputation of never having spoken an ill word of anyone.

 

             Mrs. Klass was also known for her compassion and concern for the needy. She bestowed countless monetary gifts to the down-and-out and literally sustained hundreds of individuals and families over the years. Her loyalty and generosity to friends was legend – a character trait she shared with Rabbi Klass – and took an active interest in their families.

 

After the death of Rabbi Klass she regularly held forth at the center of the close circle of her children and grandchildren. She continued his practice of insisting that a d’var Torah be the centerpiece of all family gatherings.

 

Although she reveled in the accomplishments of her children and grandchildren, she never failed to note her pride in the development of The Jewish Press as a significant Torah learning resource and one of the important reasons government officials took the Orthodox Jewish community seriously.

 

The Jewish Press will have much more about the life and legacy of Irene Klass in the weeks to come.

 

May her memory be a blessing.

It’s My Opinion: A Golden Anniversary

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

I was an avid reader and fan of The Jewish Press long before becoming a writer in its pages. Our publication recently celebrated its milestone 50th anniversary and I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the paper’s unprecedented impact on American Jewry.

 

The Jewish Press was the first English-language Jewish weekly published nationally in the United States. It was unique. It was printed in English, not Yiddish. It was unflinching in its Orthodox perspective, but took on many subjects that more timid publishers in the Jewish world would long avoid.

 

Its founder, Rabbi Sholom Klass, zt”l, was an incredible Torah scholar who understood the ways of the world. He combined his scholarship with a common-sense approach to tackle issues that affected Jews in a modern world. 

 

The paper addressed sensitive subjects and issues that had, in the past, been swept under the proverbial Jewish rug. Alcoholism, drug use, spousal and sexual abuse, learning disabilities and more have been explored. Halachic perspective on organ transplants, fertility treatments, end-of-life issues and other scientific debates have also been examined.

 

Frum Jews enjoyed and read The Jewish Press. Over the years, an additional readership emerged. Because it was printed in English and contained such a blend of cutting-edge topical articles, in addition to traditional material, the paper has actually served as a tremendous source of kiruv (Jewish outreach). 

 

Rabbi Klass was undaunting in his courageous approach to the publication. He used the pages of the newspaper to champion Jewish causes and issues. He used the influence of his position to help the Jewish people and the State of Israel. The newspaper continues this legacy of Jewish leadership today.

 

Mazel tov to the Klass, Mauer and Greenwald families. You have taken the mantle. You have continued in this extraordinary undertaking. You have and are making a difference. Thank you for being there. The Jewish community needs you now more than ever.

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

Influence Of The Press
 
   It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since the passing of Rabbi Sholom Klass, zt”l, thanks to whom a good friend of mine got started on the road to Torah.
 
   Back in 1964, this friend was serving time in a California penitentiary for armed robbery. With so many empty hours to reflect on his predicament, the mistakes he’d made, and the lack of spirituality in his life, he decided to explore his Jewish heritage.
 
   He began reading The Jewish Press, complimentary copies of which were available at the prison library. Immediately he started keeping whatever mitzvos he could in that environment. Eventually my friend wrote a letter to Rabbi Klass, informing him of his progress. Rabbi Klass responded with a letter full of encouragement and insight.
 
   When he was released in 1973, my friend found a rabbi with whom he studied. Within a few years he was married and the father of two girls. Not many people in his community were aware of his past, but to those of us in whom he confided, he never stopped expressing his gratitude to Hashem for guiding him to a life of Torah via copies of The Jewish Press – in, of all places, a desolate and depressing prison where he often thought of taking his own life.
 
   My friend died last year, and I can’t help but think that the first thing he did in Olam Haba was search out Rabbi Klass in order to introduce himself.
 

Michael Dallek

(Via E-Mail)
 

 

From Father To Daughter
 
   How refreshing it was to read the sensitive, loving reflections of Naomi Klass Mauer on the occasion of the seventh yahrzeit of her father, HaRav HaGoan Reb Shalom Klass, zt”l (Jewish Press, January 26). It is rare to hear American-born children (even those who may be grandparents in their own right) vividly manifest such awe and deep respect for their parents.
 
   In addition to his many other accomplishments, Rav Klass – a gaon in Torah, a baki b’Shas and a brilliant publisher – imbued in his daughter a legacy of warm, loving memories that to this day inspires the life mission of her family.
 

Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen

West Palm Beach, FL
 

 

French Commitment
 
   Re your February 9 editorial “Where in the World is Abe Foxman?”:
 
   France was one of the first countries to lay down three clear principles for dialogue with any Palestinian government: the renunciation of violence, recognition of the State of Israel and recognition of the agreements signed in the past by Israel and the PLO.
 
   On January 26, 2006, the day after the Palestinian elections, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy declared: “It is essential, today, for the government which is going to emerge from the polls very clearly, explicitly and publicly to renounce violence and declare that it recognizes the existence of the State of Israel and its right to live in peace and security, and, above all, that it recognizes all the agreements between the State of Israel and the PLO signed in the past.”
 
   These principles are now prerequisites in the Quartet’s peace efforts.
 
   Regarding the threat of a nuclear Iran, President Chirac reiterated on February 1 that France cannot accept the prospect of an Iran with nuclear weapons and is asking Iran to comply with its commitments under the NPT. Together with the international community, France has demanded that Iran, which has not proved that its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes, implement the IAEA and UN resolutions.
 
   Such a serious matter, on which the commitment of France and President Chirac is constant, cannot be the subject of a war of words.
 

Fran?ois Delattre

French Consul General

New York, NY
 

 

ZOA’s Popularity
 
   Jonathan Tobin (“Who Will Speak for the Jews?” op-ed, Feb. 9) claims the Zionist Organization of America has lost popularity due to its positions against Oslo and the Gaza withdrawal. In fact, ZOA’s support has improved dramatically, as evidenced by, among other developments, a seven-fold increase in our budget over the past few years.
 
   The Wall Street Journalhas referred to ZOA “the most credible advocate for Israel in America,” while the Israeli daily Maariv has called ZOA “the most influential group in America.”
 
   ZOA’s national dinners regularly attract more than 1,000 people, with recent honorees including such giants of the Jewish communal world as Mortimer Zuckerman, James Tisch and Ronald Lauder – all former chairmen of the Presidents Conference.
 
   No wonder the new EncyclopediaJudaica, which has two listings on Mort Klein and ZOA, states that Mr. Klein “revived a moribund organization and brought ZOA to prominence … making it one of the most visible Jewish groups in America.”
 

Rabbi Albert Gabbai

Rabbi Fred Kazan

Members, ZOA Board

 

    

 

Still More On The ‘S’ Word

 

Banish The Word

 

      Re Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s “The ‘S’ Word Has No Place In A Religious Jew’s Vocabulary” (op-ed, Feb. 2):
 
      This was a long overdue article, but well worth the wait. The lack of voices speaking out against such an inherently offensive term as “shvartza” not only makes a horrible impression on non-Jews (and certainly the term does its part to increase anti-Semitism within the black community), it also serves to alienate black Jews.
 
      According to members of the organization Ayecha, young Jews of color go “off the derech” at a far higher rate than their counterparts of European descent. One common reason given by these kids is that they could not deal with being called “shvartza” on a regular basis.
 
      This term is one of the most offensive in the Yiddish language and its usage – along with racist conduct in general – has never been becoming for religious Jews. It should be banished from our vocabulary.
 

Yitz Jordan

(Via E-Mail)
 

 

A Great Chillul Hashem

      I am a regular Jewish Press reader who wishes to strongly endorse and give a hearty yasher koach to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach for his article on the “S” word.
 
      For many years I have taken the position with toddlers (yes, three-year-old children hear it at home and repeat it), teens, and my own contemporaries that the very derogatory and offensive “S” word is completely unacceptable. When I was growing up, we were the only family I knew in which the word “shvartza” was understood to be taboo. And when I raised my now adult children, it was clear to them and anyone who came into our home that this word was not to be uttered.
 
      I challenge anyone who uses this word to rethink his or her actions and choose another term when referring to people of color. We must recognize the use of this word as the great chillul Hashem it is.
 
      About 20 years ago, I stood up and walked out on a lecture by a world-renowned speaker visiting our community when she used that word. Several friends accompanied me and later, to her credit, the speaker issued a private apology.
 
      Let’s be conscious of the fact that words often reveal much about our values and sensitivities. We are taught from the time we’re children that words have great power. We can all do better.
 

Selma H. Elzas

Toronto, Canada
 

 

‘Disingenuous’ Letter

      I could not believe reader Chaya Blitzer’s defense of the “S” word (Letters, Feb. 9).
 
      First, her claim that “shvartza” is merely the Yiddish equivalent of “black” is completely disingenuous. The Yiddish term for “black” is “shvartz.” But who ever heard of someone referring to a black person as a “shvartz“? Adding the vowel “a” (or “e”) to “shvartz” turns the word into something demeaning, like “blackie.” It’s no longer a strict translation of “black.” Besides, just listen to the tone of voice that’s used the next time you hear someone say “shvartza.” It’s usually not very respectful or admiring, to say the least.
 
      And then Ms. Blitzer tries to justify the use of “shvartza” by making the claim that no group was more supportive of the civil rights movement than Jews. That’s a strange thing to say since Rabbi Boteach was addressing himself primarily to Orthodox Jews – who, sad to say, played an almost negligible role in the fight for black civil rights.
 
      As an Orthodox Jew it pains me to write this, but Orthodox rabbis (like Saul Berman) who went down South to march for civil rights at risk of life and limb were few and far between. As any serious student of history knows, it was the Conservative rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and the Reform rabbi Joachim Prinz who were routinely photographed as they accompanied Martin Luther King on his marches in the South and on his trips to Washington. Can anyone name even one prominent Orthodox rabbi who was similarly involved?
 
Avi Gordon
(Via E-Mail)
 
 

It’s The Context

 

      When I grew up in the 1950′s and 60′s, we knew better than to call a person of color a “nigger” – that was a pejorative term which we did not use. The term “negro,” however, was considered respectful.
 
      That seems to have changed, though I can’t see why. I have a problem being referred to as a “honky” or a “kike,” but I have no objection to being referred to as a “Caucasian.” There’s nothing insulting about that. Why should people of color have a problem being referred to as “negroes”?
 
      I don’t like the term African-American. It is too imprecise. Not all people of color stem from lineage that goes back to Africa. I would not want to be referred to as a European-American, though both my parents did come from Europe.
 
      The moniker “black” was chosen by people of color themselves, and it’s a good one, I think. For people speaking Yiddish, “shvartza” is an exact translation, and, in my opinion, totally acceptable. It’s not the term itself that’s objectionable, as Rabbi Boteach suggests, but whether it’s used in a disparaging context. Then it becomes completely unacceptable.
 

Chava Hornig

Brooklyn, NY

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor-176/2007/02/14/

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