Dreamer Vs. Realist


   It is clear that Eli Chomsky (“For Israeli-Syrian Talks,” op-ed, Jan. 26) lives in America and Steven Plaut (“Israel Should Offer Syria Nothing,” op-ed, Jan. 26) in Israel. Like so many in America, Mr. Chomsky fails to understand the Arab mentality, and therefore he dreams. Professor Plaut may also dream, but living in Israel forces him to be a realist.
   The American grows up with the concepts of fairness, give and take, live and let live. Would that everyone in the world incorporated those noble traits. The Arabs are unencumbered by such values. They seek world domination for Allah. They give nothing, but take (in stages) whatever they can. They even have a precedent from Muhammad for abrogating treaties and contracts.
   If one considers the peace treaty with Egypt it quickly becomes apparent that Israel gave up the entire Sinai, its oil fields and Taba, and in return Egypt agreed not to go to war against Israel. But Egypt has no trouble looking away as terrorists smuggle all manner of weapons into Gaza to be used against Israel.
   Dream on, Mr. Chomsky. I guess we can’t fault you for trying to hasten the vision of our prophet Isaiah (Yeshayahu) who speaks of the lion dwelling with the lamb. But until that glorious future arrives, let’s hope the Almighty saves us from our shortsighted, misguided Israeli politicians who don’t even know that the biblical borders of Israel include the Golan Heights.

Amy Wall

New York, NY


Great Debate
   Both Eli Chomsky and Steven Plaut made well-written, articulate cases for their respective positions, but I must admit to being partial to Mr. Plaut’s more hard-line approach. At any rate, putting their columns on facing pages and allowing them to express their views was a great idea, and I hope we can look forward to seeing more of these debates in future issues of The Jewish Press.

Saul Wachtel

Brooklyn, NY


‘Spirit Has No Color’


   Thank you for your wonderful article about Jews of color (“Minority Within a Minority,” Jan. 12). We can all be inspired by the tenacity of faith and the high price such people are willing to pay for their Judaism.
   This past weekend PBS presented an eight-minute segment on Jews of color. The webcast and script is available at www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week1022/feature.html.
Focusing on Yavilah McCoy, who was also featured in your article, the program shows how she uses her family’s gospel-singing tradition to re-energize and enhance the spirituality of classical Jewish liturgy. As Yavilah says in the program, “Spirit has no color.”
Menachem Daum
(Via E-Mail)


Too Quick To Judge


   Re Yirmayahu Farbstein’s Jan. 26 letter to the editor, in which he seems to take Torah law into his own hands:
   No man alone can tell a woman she is assur l’ba’alah, forbidden to be with her husband. Unless a bet din makes a ruling, which would require eyewitness testimony, this woman may stay with her husband.
   Obviously the woman who wrote to the “Chronicles of Crises” column (Jan. 19) is doing wrong. However, her confession to a columnist does not give you or me the right to tell her what she may or may not do as punishment for her transgressions.
   Rachel advised her – as she did another woman who claimed to be doing the same (Chronicles, Nov. 24) – to the best of her capacity. To my knowledge, the Chronicles column is not authored by a posek, nor does it function as a halachic authority.
   Far be it from anyone to sit as judge, jury and executioner.

Brooke Rose

(Via E-Mail)


Carter’s Jews

   With the publication of his book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, former president Jimmy Carter has been widely accused of being an anti-Semite. In his recent speech at Brandeis, Carter responded to that charge by pointing out that a number of Israeli public figures and institutions share his views on Israel, including former cabinet minister Shulamit Aloni, the Haaretz editorial board, and various “peace” groups.
   Carter apparently feels that since many prominent Israelis are vocal critics of Israel, he shouldn’t be considered an anti-Semite for expressing similar sentiments. This is similar to Marxist officials who denied being anti-Semitic by pointing out that Karl Marx was Jewish, or Iran’s Ahmadinejad denying his anti-Semitism by embracing visitors dressed as chassidic Jews at his Holocaust denial conference.
   In response to the allegations of anti-Semitism made against Carter, a number of Jewish leftists have stood up for him and his book. It is clear that there is such a thing as a Jewish anti-Semite, and Carter’s use of these individuals as references in his writings and speeches indicated that he shares the anti-Semitism of those self-haters.

Sergey Kadinsky

Forest Hills, NY


Likes Inquiring Photographer


   I enjoy Ita Yankovich’s Inquiring Photographer column so much that it’s the first thing I turn to in the paper. Recently (Dec. 8, 2006) she asked whether it’s right for people to go around collecting money at weddings. A few years ago, a Yiddish publication featured this debate for many weeks running, and readers sent in their opinions, both pro and con. In the last letter that appeared on the subject, the writer suggested that “maybe the people who are going around to collect money are collecting money to pay for the wedding and the meal you are now enjoying.”

Solomon Schlussel

(Via E-Mail)


Proud To Wear Yarmulke
   I enjoyed reading Maury Litwack’s “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Yarmulke” (op-ed, Jan. 19).
   I wasn’t raised Orthodox. A Conservative synagogue is my home base (but I do drop in on Orthodox synagogues every now and then). As a child I attended Talmud Torah and would always put my yarmulke on as I walked in the door – and just as quickly take it off as I exited. I had a problem with being self-conscious, but eventually I overcame it by observing other Jewish men wearing their yarmulkes in public. (And I mean only a yarmulke, not a yarmulke covered by a fedora or any other type of hat.)
   So I learned to follow suit, and not only did I leave my self-consciousness behind, I even experienced a sense of exhilaration at being seen in public wearing my yarmulke. Not that people were looking at me – for the most part they weren’t – but I always thought they would.
   My yarmulke proclaims my identity. I wear it with religious conviction – and with pride.

Stuart Winters

Woodhaven, NY


No Recognition Of Non-Orthodox Groups

   Although Rabbi Michael Broyde (“Orthodoxy and Practical Pluralism in America,” front-page essay, Jan. 5) correctly points out that “Orthodox Judaism stakes its existence in a theological sense on the proposition that the intentional curtailment of observance of halacha … is sinful…”, he contradicts himself by conferring recognition on other “denominations within the Jewish community that are sincere in their faith and serve the Jewish community in many ways.”
   In my opinion, nobody has the right to recognize, from an organizational and formal perspective, any theological movement outside the Orthodox camp as a valid form of Judaism. (Respect for individuals is certainly mandated; however, recognition of heterodox movements is forbidden.)
   In fact, it is more sinful to associate with Reform and Conservative groups than with pagan entities. (I refer to organizations, not individuals.) This position is corroborated in the Gemara (Avoda Zara 17a). The Reform and radical Conservative movements promote intermarriage and support sodomy and abortion on demand. They deny the divinity of the holy Torah. How can Rabbi Broyde believe these groups serve the Jewish community?
   Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, zt”l, stated that the Reform and Conservative movements have less in common with classical Judaism than the ancient Sadducees and Karaites. Unfortunately, Rabbi Soloveitchik did not sign the famous 1956 declaration issued by the greatest roshei yeshiva and gedolei Yisrael that prohibited participation with Conservative and Reform clergy. That edict has halachic ramifications which Rabbi Broyde ignores. Even if Rabbi Soloveitchik issued a heter – a dispensation – the principle of majority rule prevails.
   It is important to emphasize that there were eleven world-class theological leaders and scholars who put their reputations and careers on the line by issuing that ruling, among them Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, and Rabbi Aharon Kotler, zt”l. Such an unequivocal ruling is binding.
   It should be borne in mind that the signatories targeted apostate organizations – not individual Jews. Certainly with respect to social, economic, moral and patriotic causes we can join with other groups for the good of society. (Only peaceful protests are allowed with respect to the heterodox movements under discussion.)

Chaim Silver

(Via E-Mail)



Cesspool Of Germs


      I would like to bring to light a potential health hazard that too many of us routinely overlook: our wash cups.
      We use them daily in our bathrooms, kitchens, shuls and restaurants. They stay by the sink, wet and at room temperature. They don’t look quiet so clean and colorful as when they were new because they start accumulating a layer of germs – inside and out. Eventually, if you rub your finger on the bottom you can feel a slimy layer forming. As this continues you can see the discoloration just like mold on your shower walls.
      I took the liberty to sample one such cup from a public wash station. I sent a culture swab to the lab (the same way the pediatrician takes a culture of the child’s throat to see if there is an abnormal growth of pathogens or germs).
      Though it was only a sample, not a scientific study, the results of my experiment were as follows:

      ·Heavy growth of gram-positive bacilli.

      ·Light growth of gram-positive cocci.

      ·Rhodotorula mucilaginosa.

      This is a cesspool of bad germs. Bacteria, fungus, molds. Would you drink from these cups? These are dangerous to everyone, especially to very young children, the elderly, people on strong anti-arthritic medications, transplant patients on anti-rejection medication, and diabetics.
   I strongly suggest that everyone follow these basic rules:

      ·Wash cups out with a strong detergent and throw out the sponge.

      ·After using the cups to wash, turn over to allow the cut to dry out. Do this regularly.

      ·In the same light, all dish sponges and washrags should be thrown into the wash, changed daily.

      ·Do not use the same hand towel in the kitchen that was used to dry dishes. Change daily.

      ·When having guests, use disposable paper towels.
      I hope this sheds some light on a potentially dangerous situation that can be remedied by a simple flick of the wrist. And remember – keep those cups turned over so they dry out.

Dr. Yehuda Schneider

Passaic, NJ

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