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Unfair Criticism

I was quite dismayed to read a letter last week that accused Rabbi Chananya Weissman of holding Diaspora Jews in contempt. I have read his books and essays and cannot find any indication of such contempt. On the contrary, his writings display great ahavas Yisrael.

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One letter writer last week also suggested that living in Eretz Yisrael is not a mitzvah according to all authorities, the Rambam being one of them. But the Rambam arguably did consider living in Eretz Yisrael to be an obligation and didn’t include it in his list of 613 mitzvos for the same reason he excluded other Torah obligations from the list (see his 14 rules).

I should also note that the author of Hon Ashir comments (on Sotah 9:15) that Hashem delays Mashiach’s arrival until the Land of Israel is built up.

Shamai Forster
Brooklyn, NY

 

Singing for Churchill’s Soul

I cannot begin to tell you how moved I was by Saul Jay Singer’s article on “The Zionism Of Winston Churchill.” It ought to be studied in all Jewish schools.

A small anecdote: In 1965, the year of Sir Winston’s passing, I was at the very beginning of my cantorial career and serving at Yeoville Synagogue, a prestigious synagogue in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Upon the death of Churchill, the United Hebrew Congregation decided to commemorate his life with a memorial service at the Great Synagogue. The morning of the service, I received a phone call from Chief Rabbi Bernard Casper, informing me that the chazzan of the synagogue was unable to officiate due to a cold and that I was expected to take his place.

Within an hour, I met with the chief rabbi to go through the program and saw that I was to chant Kel Male Rachamim in memory of Sir Winston. I asked the chief rabbi, “How do I sing a Jewish memorial prayer for a non-Jew?” He dismissed my concern and said I should say “et nishmat Sir Winston Churchill” when I got to the appropriate place.

I listened to him and as I said “et nishmat Sir Winston Churchill,” a chill ran through my body and I raised my voice as loud as I could. I also emphasized the words wishing that his soul rest in Gan Eden.

I shall never forget that moment, a tribute to a great non-Jewish Zionist.

Years later, my wife and I entertained Churchill’s biographer, the late Sir Martin Gilbert and his wife Lady Esther at our home for a Shabbat meal. You can imagine whom we discussed at length…

Cantor Joseph Malovany
New York, NY

 

Want a Shidduch? Follow Hashem’s Rules

I read with great interest the two articles on page 52 last week on “Do Shadchanim Care?”

One of the articles, “Stop Placing Your Fate in the Hands of Others,” especially caught my attention. Placing our fate in the hands of others? For shidduchim, we should place our fate solely in the hands of Hashem, the creator of all, the great orchestrator of all shidduchim.

Of course, we must do our hishtadlus and not just sit at home waiting for the phone to ring. But what does hishtadlus mean? It means following the Torah’s directives for finding a shidduch. And many of these directives can be found in a wonderful three-volume set of books entitled Eternal Joy: A Guide to Shidduchim and Marriage,” which contains advise and guidelines on shidduchim from the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

We need to enlist the services of shadchanim and others to assist us in our search, but the ruchnius aspects of our search is as important – if not more important – than the gashmius aspects.

For example, by consulting these volumes when I began look for shidduchim for my children, I learned that it is advantageous to give 18 cents to hachnossas kallah every day, especially before lighting Shabbos candles.

I also learned that the Torah states that when we pray for others, Hashem answers our tefillos first. So, I daven for the singles I know to meet their zivugim.

By learning and following the Torah’s directives on shidduchim, singles can make themselves spiritually ready to be blessed with meeting and marrying their bashert – “the right one at the right time!”

Elana Bergovoy

 

Mashiach – It’s Up to Us

A very big yashar koach to Rabbi Raphael Fuchs for his column “How The Riots Are Setting The Stage for Mashiach.”

He’s correct that we’ve seen mass disrespect for the governments in this and other countries. No longer are people afraid of the police, who are being disrespected by our elected officials.

May we soon merit the coming of Mashiach, but for him to come, we need to fix ourselves first. May this be the last Tisha B’Av observed as a somber fast day.

Steven Katz
West Palm Beach, FL

 

Spirited Debate

As a proud new subscriber to The Jewish Press, I would like to commend you for publishing the spirited arguments of Rabbi Chananya Weissman’s critics regarding his views on aliyah. I would also like to commend Rabbi Weissman for his courage in submitting himself to them.

This kind of interchange, I truly believe, is how we Jews over the ages have sharpened our “yiddishe koppen.

Ed Yitshaq Levenson
Delray Beach, FL

 

Be a Mensch

I was pained to read about the negative interactions that Yaffy Newman and Maayan Zik, two frum African-American women, experienced with other so-called frum Jews.

I despise labels – perhaps due to the wonderful upbringing I was privileged to have. Everyone was warmly welcomed into my home – no matter his color or creed. We never labeled anyone.

I’ll never forget when I was about six years old: My mother had recently given birth. It was erev Shabbos and, busy with my little sister, she nearly lost track of the time until Rachel saved the day. It mattered not that Rachel was an African-American non-Jew. She understood how important Shabbos was to us and therefore insured that we wouldn’t forget to properly welcome it.

I went to an integrated public high school which educated 3,500 students. It was known that I was a frum Jew, but it mattered not to my friends of various colors and religions.

The bottom line is that when a person is a mensch, there is no need to label or protest. All one needs is to relate to all members of the Jewish community as Jews made in the image of Hashem!

Anything less is a chillul Hashem.

Penina Metal
Suffern, NY

 

Likes the New Column

I want to commend you on your new column, “The Last 7 Days in Israel,” by Rabbi Ben Packer. I enjoy his presentation of the latest news. The personal comments he interjects are amusing and interesting.

Marcia Friedman

 

David Weprin: A Misleading Quote

The quote attributed to me in last week’s “Albany Beat” column is an inaccurate mischaracterization and should be retracted.

I have been a strong supporter of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s leadership since the beginning, supporting his election as leader of the Assembly in 2015 during one of the most challenging periods in the history of the chamber and, since then, have appreciated the many initiatives he has taken on behalf of my constituency.

Speaker Heastie has brought together a very diverse conference by taking input from all members regardless of seniority or stature in the Democratic Party. With his leadership, he has ushered in an era of transparency and trust in which members can be reassured that the things that matter to New Yorkers have a place in the Assembly Chamber regardless of popularity or proximity to power.

I have been proud to have the Speaker’s support in passing a number of measures for my constituency in recent years, including on such issues as safeguarding religious freedom in prisons and discrimination against religious attire in employment.

He has also supported my efforts to aid the diverse organizations in my Assembly district, securing funds for groups fighting poverty in Jewish communities and increased security for non-public schools, including yeshivas.

Speaker Heastie’s leadership was also integral in the enactment of the Josef Neumann Hate Crimes Domestic Terrorism Act, brought to the floor and passed early this year after the horrific and reprehensible terror attacks in Monsey, NY last December.

The incorrectly-attributed statement in Mr. Gronich’s column could not be further from the truth. The Assembly as an institution has greatly benefited from Speaker Carl Heastie’s leadership and I, among many others, appreciate the improvements he has brought to our chamber.

New York State Assemblyman David I. Weprin

 

Marc Gronich responds:

Assemblyman David Weprin does not specifically address any inaccurate mischaracterization in the column I wrote in last week’s issue of The Jewish Press (page 20). Assemblyman Weprin does not explicitly say which words need to be retracted.

That aside, readers of my column should not think I have an adversarial relationship with Mr. Weprin. I have no ta’anos with the assemblyman. Oftentimes rifts develop between a reporter and an elected official. I can say that is not the case here.

I have covered government and politics for 40 years with an unblemished record and I view Mr. Weprin to be a well-respected, honest, truthful, trustworthy assemblyman. Mr. Weprin, unfortunately, missed the point of my column.

During my interview with him, I specifically said I was not writing about the person sitting in the Speaker’s chair but of the Speaker’s chair as an institution – a symbol of one of the highest-ranking positions in government.

Mr. Weprin has a unique perspective on this matter as his father, Saul, z”l, served as Speaker of the Assembly from 1991-1994 and, like his son, was an example others should aspire to be.

That can’t be said for Saul Weprin’s predecessor or successor: Mel Miller and Sheldon Silver. Both men were forced to resign from the Speaker’s post when they were charged with a felony in separate cases. As for the present speaker, I have called him Silent Carl in the past, naming him after Calvin Coolidge who was known as Silent Cal.

Speaker Heastie might have supported Mr. Weprin, as the assemblyman writes in his letter, but that was not the point of my column. The point of my column is that the Speaker’s chair, as an institution, was tarnished by Silver and Miller.

Maybe Speaker Heastie should speak up more about how he has polished up the institution as Mr. Weprin so eloquently wrote in his letter. Let Speaker Heastie, Silent Carl, do his own talking. Peace. Kol tuv.

 

Ask Jared Kushner

The mastermind of the Sbarro massacre, Ahlam Tamimi, continues to enjoy total freedom in Jordan, despite the appeals of American Jewish organizations that he be extradited to America.

Why has the New Jersey Jewish community not approached Jared Kushner to get President Trump involved? After all, we all know of the president’s extraordinary tendency to meet Jewish desires and needs. We also know of his fondness and admiration for his son-in-law.

Alex Rose
Ashkelon

 

Call Her!

Mi k’amcha Yisrael! Last week, I received a phone call from the yeshiva I attended as a bachur, Yeshiva University, asking me how I was coping during these turbulent times.

I was quite literally shocked that I received this call as it’s been over 40 years since I graduated. I was truly touched by the gesture. And if Yeshiva University can make this call despite the tens of thousands of graduates it has, what’s our excuse not to call someone we haven’t heard from since the pandemic began?

Rabbi Mordechai Bulua

 

Why Aren’t We Marching?

Thanks you, Rabbi Chananya Weissman, for bringing up crucial issues in your op-ed two weeks ago on assimilated Orthodox Jews. But since you mentioned chillul Hashem in it, let me ask you:

Isn’t it a huge chillul Hashem for pride parades to march through Yerushalayim? Doesn’t getting rid of this abomination in our holiest city deserve our utmost attention? Shouldn’t we worry about that first?

I’m not, G-d forbid, speaking against our holy land or our G-d-fearing brothers there. I’m calling out the government of Israel – especially the prime minister and the mayor of Jerusalem – for allowing such a disgrace to occur in the holiest of cities.

Why aren’t there mass protests against the government? Shouldn’t we take to the streets?

Chaim Spira

 

Keep Hate Crimes on the Books

Three weeks ago, Professor Walter Block wrote an op-ed proposing that hate crimes be struck from the criminal code. He argues that the hate a person feels when committing a crime should be irrelevant to his punishment.

But the reason the perpetrator of the horrific Chanukah attack in Monsey, for example, deserves to be tried for a hate crime is not because he felt hatred while committing the crime, but rather because he only targeted the home as a result of the Jews inside.

I believe hate crime law is necessary as it recognizes that some people are targeted simply because they belong to a certain group. Some perpetrators target a person only because of what he is.

Faye Fox
West Hartford, CT

 

Don’t Forget the Holocaust

On Tisha B’Av, we must remember, not only the destruction of our holy temples, but also the cold-blooded and premeditated murder of our parents and grandparents by the Nazis.

We lived in Europe for hundreds of years. We were good citizens. We obeyed the laws of the land. Then came the Holocaust. Six million of us – including one and a half million children – were murdered.

The six million kedoshim never had a levaya or a kever. Their graves are in heaven and in our hearts. Z’chor v’al tishkch. Remember and never forget.

And say to Hashem: “We know that we have sinned, but we are still your children. Have rachmanus of on us and bring us the ge’ulah shleimah bimheira v’yameinu.

Michael Weiss

 

No, Judaism Does Not Believe in Abortion Rights

Last month, the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) issued “The Jewish Case for Abortion Rights” and called on rabbis to sign it. Since this statement is a distortion of Judaism, we at the Jewish Pro-Life Foundation feel compelled to speak up:

1) Nobody has the right to kill anybody. Killing is only justified if it’s necessary to save someone. If a fetus is endangering its mother’s life, and the only way to save her is killing the fetus, aborting the fetus is mandatory.

It should be noted, though, that fewer than one percent of abortions in the United States and Canada are performed to save the life of the mother.

2) Rights in Judaism are given by G-d. A fetus, from the moment of conception, has the right not to be prevented from continuing to live and grow in utero. All of us have the duty to enforce this fetal right (Leviticus 19:16).

In February 2019, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) stated, “We support every woman’s legal right to make decisions about and have control over her own body.” But nobody has the moral right to kill another human body.

3) While it’s true that some poskim have permitted abortions even when the baby doesn’t pose a mortal threat to its mother, invoking their name in relation to the NCJW statement is questionable. Among other reasons, they never spoke of an individual “right to abortion,” let alone suggested that abortion be endorsed or encouraged as a matter of public policy.

4) Jews should rejoice, not complain, that “the conversation around abortion has been driven by Christians.” That’s because Christians correctly recognize that their morality is rooted in the Torah.

Both we and Christians reject what the late Pope John Paul II called a “culture of death” with respect to abortion or euthanasia.

The Board of Directors,
The Jewish Pro-Life Foundation

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