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Ms. Rochelle Brand’s ‘Tradition’ Response

Editor’s note: Due to an editing error, we printed the wrong response under Rochelle Brand’s name in last week’s Word Prompt (for the word “Tradition”). Below is the correct response. We apologize for the error.


Tevye asks “Why do we do it? Because it is our tradition!” How often does that question come up, and is that answer enough for the inquisitive mind? Tradition is defined as beliefs or behaviors passed down from one generation to the next within a family or religious context. How effective is the adherence to tradition in keeping the next generation Jewish? Being in the Diaspora for thousands of years has both enriched and diluted our traditions. There is more mixing of cultural customs (Ashkasfard), but as recent Pew surveys can testify, there is less adherence to the actual mitzvot and a growing number of Jews with no religious identity.

My brother Heshy, who is now the bearer of many of our father’s traditions, shared with me that the solution to this was handed down to us by King Solomon in Shir HaShirim (The Song of Songs) Chapter1: Verse 7 poses the question: How will I survive, how can I work and yet find time to rest without losing my Jewish identity? And the eighth verse provides the answer: “If you do not know… go forth in the footsteps of the sheep and pasture your kids beside the dwelling of the shepherds.”

The Targum explains that to safeguard our religious identity it is necessary to follow the traditions of those before you (like sheep). However, this will only last for future generations if you also pasture your kids beside the dwellings of the shepherds, that is – only if you give your “kids” a Jewish education. Adherence to traditions will fade away if there is no understanding of why we do what we do. Our greatest challenge now is to enable all parents to afford a Jewish education for their children. Investment in Jewish education will help ensure the continuous commitment to our Jewish traditions based on knowledge.

Why do we do this? Because being educated is a Jewish tradition.


Fund the Police

The front-page article (“July Fourth Shooting Rocks Quiet Jewish Suburb,” July 8) by Aryeh Werth was indicative of the dangerous, bombastic, explosive world we live in.

That six people were killed while attending a parade in Highland Park, Illinois, spotlights how unsafe every one of us is. Another 24 were injured in the shooting, including many Jews. Meanwhile, millions of scared Americans are afraid this can happen in their city.

The injustice of a crazed and antisemitic attack must be a wake-up call that “defund the police” doesn’t work. Biden must fund more police and spend federal money to help states put criminals away in jail, while also building and enhancing all police departments with cops who can arrest and book criminals who will be sentenced accordingly.

And police officers should be given more ability to use their power to help bring about a safer America – one arrest at a time.

Otherwise, I’m afraid, it can only get worse.

Raquel Hanon
Via email


Beyond ‘Orthodox’

Thank you for the fascinating supplement (July 1) on the Lubavitcher Rebbe commemorating “Gimel Tammuz,” a day that many chasidim see as an opportunity to connect or reconnect with the Rebbe.

One aspect of the Rebbe’s contribution to Yiddishkeit may not be fully understood by the frum world – those who were born and raised in an environment of Torah and mitzvos, and that is the notion that the Rebbe and his predecessors emphasized, that a mitzvah is for every Jew, religious or not. I grew up with mostly Jewish friends but I can only think of one whose family kept kosher (separate milk and meat dishes at least) – and that only seemed odd. Not once did I think it had anything to do with me but must simply be a holdover from some family tradition. If you weren’t Orthodox you didn’t do things like that. You didn’t light Shabbos candles, etc., and I never even heard of tefillin or Shavuos and knew very little about Shabbos. Along came some Lubavitchers and talked about doing the mitzvot l’maaseh as if they are as relevant to me as to them, whether or not it went along with committing to the whole program. We had no idea.

Barbara C. Cohen


Kudos for Supplement on the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Appreciation to the editors for producing such a superb and multi-faceted supplement in tribute to the Rebbe, you guys deserve (at least!) Shlishi and Shishi and Maftir.

Halevai that it should reach some of his envious detractors.

Cheilchem l’Oraysa.

Uri Kaploun


Are the Inmates Running the Asylum?

Regarding the article “CUNY Faculty Members Please for an End to Antisemitism on Campus,” (July 1), the fact that the professors need to plead for an end to antisemitism at New York City’s university is simply crazy. City College (CCNY) and the CUNY system have a long Jewish history, with countless alumni and professors enhancing the university and educating generations of Jews and non-Jews who may not have been able to afford Harvard or Yale but many of whom were just as qualified. What’s happened to this college system that they’ve bowed to woke liberalism that goes along with antisemitism and abandoned academic freedom, critical thinking, and respect for facts?

Could it be that when they started open enrollment back in the 70’s they lowered the standards for mental competence so much that the morons are running the show and, as they say, the inmates are running the asylum?

Shimmy Eidels
Via email


Recall Ben & Jerry’s Kosher Certification

Upon hearing of Unilever’s decision to sell its Ben & Jerry’s Israel operation to Avi Zinger (“Licking Ben & Jerry’s”; “Ben & Jerry’s Settlement is a Victory,” July 8), its licensee in the Jewish state, my initial reaction was that our boycott of the brand could now end. However, I quickly saw the error inherent in that reaction. In truth, all Unilever did was to divorce itself of the headache that Ben & Jerry’s had become. Unilever is off the hook, but Ben & Jerry’s American line is not.

Rather than reconsidering its disdain toward Israel, Ben & Jerry’s doubled down by suing Unilever. Further, employees are now reportedly encouraged to watch anti-Israel videos. And so, the boycott of Ben & Jerry’s must continue, but I believe there is a greater way to discomfit the company.

I am calling upon the Kof-K to refuse to renew its kosher supervision contract with Ben and Jerry’s. How is it possible that one of the world’s largest, most respected kashrus agencies is not taking a stand on a matter of such importance to the Jewish community? I cannot believe that the income, or the prestige, that emanates from this one account is so vital to the Kof-K. I say to the Kof-K leadership: Inform Ben and Jerry’s that effective with the end of the contract year (kosher certificates are issued annually), you will no longer endorse a company that contributes to antisemitism.

The loss of kosher certification will do way more to financially harm Ben & Jerry’s than the ongoing boycott, for a few reasons. First, Orthodox Jews are not the only folks who buy kosher products. Muslims seek the kosher symbol, and so do individuals who associate kashrus with healthier products. Additionally, many stores give prime shelf space to supervised items. The loss of supervision may significantly impact Ben & Jerry’s product placement.

Will Ben and Jerry’s seek another certification? Probably, but I hope that once the Kof-K has divorced Ben and Jerry’s, other agencies will stand in unison to proclaim that Israel is not for sale.

Some have argued that kashrus agencies should stick to supervision, that the views or actions of food companies should not be grounds for termination of certification. This notion holds no water. For example, what if a manufacturer created an ice cream called “We hate Jews”? Is there any chance that a kosher certifier would attach its seal to this product? By discriminating against Israel, Ben & Jerry’s essentially endorses antisemitism. How, in good conscience, can the Kof-K justify maintaining supervision?

All this pertains to Ben & Jerry’s American line. If individual Ben & Jerry’s ice cream parlors support Israel, we should buy at those establishments (as long as the product remains kosher). And of course we should patronize the product in Israel, where, due to Avi Zinger’s courageous stance, Unilever did the right thing. In the same vein, I say to the Kof-K, “Do the right thing.”

Avi Goldstein
Far Rockaway, N.Y.


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