We Made a Chillul Hashem
I am a proud alumnus of East Midwood Day School, and I attended the meeting two weeks ago at which hundreds protested the former school building’s decision to rent space to Urban Dove Charter School.
Someone in the audience complained that the kids in Urban Dove know how to fight, as if knowing how to fight was a bad thing. Another said Urban Dove kids are inordinately tall (last time I checked, we all want our children to be tall) and that our children would be intimidated by taller kids.
The Holocaust should have implanted into our consciousness the impossibility of living post-messianic lives in a pre-messianic world. If our children don’t know how to fight and are intimidated by taller kids who do, we have neglected a necessary part of their education.
The meeting two weeks ago degenerated into a raucous unruly mob. The organizers tried to have people in the audience line up and present their remarks in an orderly fashion, but people were talking – or rather shouting – out of turn so that nobody could be heard. The organizers had to give up and end the meeting early.
We were at our worst, and our bad behavior was recorded for posterity. I fear that we will have to answer for the Chillul Hashem that some of us created.
Bloomberg – A Centrist?
In his online op-ed on Michael Bloomberg entering the presidential race, Thane Rosenbaum incorrectly describes him as a centrist. Bloomberg’s positions on many issues are clearly on the left side of the political spectrum.
For example, he supports gay marriage. He favors abortion on demand. He strongly supports illegal aliens. He’s also a climate change and gun control advocate. He views the Constitution as an evolving document and opposes appointing strict constructionists as justices.
Finally, he has recently dropped his longtime support for the law enforcement policy of “stop, question, and frisk” and calls for raising taxes on the wealthy to address income inequality.
Bloomberg may not be as radical as some of the other candidates, but he is hardly a centrist.
Not All Colleges Are Bad
Rabbi Dov Fischer’s “Modern Orthodoxy Has a College Problem” (op-ed, November 29) identifies two key challenges for Orthodox students attending secular colleges: the anti-Israel political climate and the “culture…of hefkerus.”
It’s true that these challenges exist, but many college campuses are different than the ones Rabbi Fischer describes, and parents and college guidance counselors often steer students to these places. I spent 36 years teaching at one of them: Baruch College, where students are focused on changing their lives, not the world.
Baruch students live at home, and the growing numbers of Jew in this college attest to the fact that students can receive a first-class education there. The same is true of other CUNY schools and I trust commuter campuses throughout the country.
The key challenge for Orthodox students at many residential campuses is not the politics, but the lifestyle. Living in co-ed dorms and standing out at an impressionable age are of far greater consequence than the campus’s politics.
Rabbi Fischer is correct, though, that many parents overlook the importance of the challenges he identifies.
Professor Emerita of Sociology
Baruch College, CUNY
New York, NY
We Mustn’t Forgo What’s Ours
Thank you, Elliot Resnick, for your timely reminder that Eretz Yisrael includes the East Bank of the Jordan. It’s imperative that we claim this area so that, as Mr. Resnick states, we will be prepared to immediately annex it if, in a future defensive war, G-d liberates it for us.
Last week, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett announced plans for a new Jewish neighborhood at the site of the old Jewish shuk in Hevron. The Jews of Hevron and Kiryat Arba never gave up on this area. They routinely walked through its streets in the midst of belligerent Arabs on their way to daven at the Me’arat HaMachpela. They understood that we must never give up claims to our G-d-given land. Now, finally, the fruits of their efforts are being realized.
The first step to Middle East peace is ending the hatred. With such strong hatred in the Arab streets, any reasonable Jewish leader should think twice before making concessions. King Abdullah I and Prime Minister Wasfi Tal – both of Jordan – were murdered for merely considering peace with Israel.
What may surprise Americans is that much of this hatred is government approved and sponsored. The PA allows the most vile libels against Israel and Jews to be taught. Its school textbooks contain horrible descriptions of Jews, and some school plays have heroes who murder Israelis or Jews.
The PA also pays stipends to the families of terrorists who murder Israelis. The greater the number of people they kill, the more money their family receives.
This really must stop!
Fort Lee, NJ
On December 25, Just Relax
I’ve never suffered from the “It’s hard to be a Jew at Christmas” syndrome – probably because I grew up in the San Fernando Valley/Los Angeles area and enjoy the whole season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. The city feels a little cheerier, and people act a little friendlier.
Over the decades, Jews have intensified their celebration of Chanukah so that we and our kids don’t feel left out. Some have also filed lawsuits against City Halls for displaying Christian symbols on their front lawns. For its part, Chabad has decided that if you can’t beat them, join them; every year, Chabad rabbis erect large public menorahs to compete with the trees, creches, and candy canes.
I’d like to suggest another approach: What if we treat Christmas like a neighbor’s birthday party? If a neighbor were celebrating his birthday, you wouldn’t begrudge him holding a big party and you wouldn’t expect an invitation if you weren’t friends or family.
You’d understand why the party was taking place on a certain date, and you probably wouldn’t plan a party of your own just to compete. Assuming that no one were twisting your arm, you might even enjoy the music spilling over the backyard fence and allow yourself to be heartened by the sounds of laughter and celebration. After all, you know you have your own birthday to look forward to as well as the birthdays of your friends and family.
I admit that we have a complex relationship with the “birthday boy” in this case, but we generally have the luxury to let this go. I’m not suggesting that we lean in to Christmas, but we can certainly lean away and not freak out when the Christmas tree in the building lobby is much bigger and nicer than the menorah on the doorman’s desk.
Brian J. Goldenfeld
Oak Park, CA
Democrats Are Not Pro-Israel
If there were any doubt that congressional support for Israel is no longer bipartisan, the resolution introduced by Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi last week cleared it up.
The resolution contained the usual vague support for Israel while asking for the end of the “occupation” and a cessation of any expansion of the current settlements.
The final vote was 226 for and 188 against. Nearly every Democrat voted for it (Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, and Tlaib voted against it because it granted Israel a measure of legitimacy) and nearly every Republican voted against it.
The future of relations between the U.S. and Israel is clear. If Republicans are in power, relations will be positive. If Democrats are, they will increasingly be negative. Supporters of Israel should take heed.
New York, NY