End Jew on Jew Bias
I’m an avid reader of many periodicals and newspapers. I’m a Jew, though I’m not Orthodox. I read The Jewish Press every week even though its content is directed more toward Orthodox Jews. It is rare that I come across an article in anything I read that impresses me so much that I actually cut it out to keep. I was so moved by Kylie Ora Lobell’s article (“Your Jewish Observance Is Between You And G-d,” Jan 6), I read it three times and then cut it out. I read it to my congregation at our next Shabbat service and it was extremely well received.
Inter-religion bias is rampant, no matter the religion or the geographical location. The same can be said for intra-religion bias. Sunnis hate Shiites and vice versa. Catholics hate Protestants and vice versa. Methodists hate Baptists. In Judaism there is bias between denominations as well. Non-Orthodox may see Orthodox Jews as fanatics. More observant Jews see the less observant ones as non-Jews. It’s something I call religious snobbery.
But Ms. Lobell’s article hits right at the heart of the matter: no matter the religion, one’s religiosity is between the individual and their G-d. It’s no one else’s business. A Reform Jew is no less a Jew than the most observant Orthodox Jew. And an Orthodox Jew is not a crazy fanatic.
We Jews need to stick together and show each other the love that the Torah tells us to give to each other. Let’s not let the religious snobbery get in the way.
Palm Beach, Fla.
Accommodation vs. The Good Fight
Thank you, Dr. Yaakov Stern, for your kind words and much gratitude for reinforcing to Jewish Press readers the imperative to practice the mitzvah of ahavat Yisrael as we join together in productive conversation (“With No Malice Aforethought,” Letters, Feb. 17).
Rabbi Broyde’s Op-Ed of February 17 maintains his position advocating accommodation as a mechanism for Jewish survival. He quotes Rabbi Moshe Feinstein’s derasha and then concludes that the function of the United States does not include establishing morality and that “America is neither a Christian nation nor a Judeo-Christian one. All people and all faiths are welcome. That is why we have prospered as Jews.” My thoughts are that respect for Jews in America, just like support for Israel, has its roots in a Christianity that acknowledges the Biblical injunction to bless the Jews.
There is no doubt that America has welcomed Jews and enabled them to prosper with rights, opportunities and freedoms far greater than experienced in any Diaspora in the last 2,000 years of our exile. However, up until the 1960s, America was indeed a Judeo-Christian nation, with G-d’s name mentioned in our courts, on our currency, in our founding declarations and constitutions, in our pledge of allegiance, and in our classrooms. Public school children used to sing, “You can pray on Saturday or Sunday, it is always music to His ears.”
We do indeed now have a state religion. It is called atheism, the “belief” that there is no G-d. Our children are proselytized and indoctrinated in its tenets, from public school through university. Some of this faith’s “commandments” are beliefs in transgenderism, CRT [Critical Race Theory], global warming, gun confiscation, and abortion on demand. Its practices include genuflecting to the ruling elite while bestowing upon them privileges in grateful thanksgiving for their role in securing the equity of the masses.
Rabbi Broyde mentions “countless examples of state power used to advance a coercive moral value from Christianity to communism or fascism.” I would suggest that he add to the list those who would pack the Supreme Court and open the borders to millions of new voters in order to secure one-party rule, a la California and New York.
I agree with Rabbi Broyde that accommodation is sometimes the winning strategy. Rabbi Broyde cites Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai’s salvation of Yavneh. Furthermore, as the adage goes, “He who runs away today lives to fight another day,” and also, “Discretion is the better part of valor.”
Yet, historically speaking, accommodation has not always been the answer. The Uganda Scheme of 1903 offered refuge to the persecuted Jews of Eastern Europe, bypassing Jewish return to “Palestine.” Russian delegates to the Sixth World Zionist Congress of 1903 rejected the plan. Theodor Herzl commented: “These people have a rope around their necks, but they still refuse.”
In 1948, Israel declared statehood knowing full well she would be attacked by seven surrounding and well-trained Arab armies. And again, in June 1967, mass graves were dug in Israel to cope with the anticipated casualties of what many feared would be a second Holocaust and the end of a 2,000-year-old dream after just 19 years of independence. Israel could have surrendered and petitioned for religious and economic freedoms in exchange for political independence. They chose to fight.
Rabbi Broyde’s arguments are not without merit. However, we exiled Jews should not be preoccupied with the notion that “the encouragement or support of any conduct that legalizes discrimination… is a bullet that kills on the rebound.” What is the “end game” of American Jewry, in this case, of Modern Orthodoxy? Are we to spend the next ten, twenty, or fifty years continually rejecting our opportunity to return home to Eretz Yisrael even as we develop tactics for survival, tactics which sometimes identify us with practices that are anathema to Judaism? Hashem is bringing the exile to an end in order to protect His name from being desecrated by these and other actions. If indeed America were to practice legalized discrimination against Jews, it would force us to finally make aliyah. There are worse punishments.
Great Neck, N.Y.
Give Haley a Chance
Nikki Haley is the first declared 2024 presidential candidate since Trump. (“Nikki Haley Launches U.S. Presidential Bid,” Feb 17). She enters the race as a long shot – well behind both Trump and the presumed candidacy of DeSantis. As a former governor and ambassador to the United Nations, Haley has a mix of executive and foreign-policy experience that makes her a plausible presidential candidate with a respectably conservative record. Haley will have questions to answer on her shifting stances on Trump, some blemishes on her policy record (especially on spending), and what foreign-policy direction she foresees for the party. Those are debates worth having. More worrisome, in a party that needs to move beyond Trump, is the possibility that she will divide the field and allow Trump to win renomination over the objections of a majority of Republican voters. At the same time, no one has a right to the nomination, and Haley deserves a chance to make her case.
Oak Park, Calif.
Hochul Should Hit the Ground
I’m sure “Albany Beat” Marc Gronich will have a great future story dealing with why Governor Kathy Hochul always has to travel via private state planes or helicopters for trips around the state. Hochul could complete her trips downstate via Amtrak with connections to NYC Transit Subway or Long Island, or Metro North Rail Road train to her final destination in Metro New York. Upstate, there is Amtrak service to Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo. Just like ordinary New Yorkers who travel with a laptop or other communication devices, she can still be working and staying in touch with her office while riding any public transit or sitting in the back seat of any state vehicle.
As senator, President Joe Biden was known as Amtrak Joe. He commuted from his Delaware home to the Capital via Amtrak on a regular basis for decades. Why can’t Hochul emulate Biden? Forget the helicopter and private airplane trips around the Empire State. Set an example for others. Show your support for transit just like Biden and become Amtrak Kathy.
Great Neck, N.Y.
With Friends Like These . . .
There are organizations in America that claim they are pro-Israel but receive funding from Israel’s enemies and Israeli and American leftists. They claim to be pro-peace and pro-Israeli development but take positions hostile to Israeli security. Two examples are J Street and the New Israel Fund.
J Street advertises itself as the “Political Home for Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace Americans.” Their website claims “J Street organizes and mobilizes pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans who want Israel to be secure, democratic and the national home of the Jewish people.
However, the first thing this website notes is “At least 10 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 others wounded, Palestinian officials said, in a gun battle between Israeli soldiers and armed Palestinian groups in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Wednesday.”
This is a quote from the New York Times, which is no friend of Israel. There was no mention of the Israelis killed the day before as they left Sabbath services. Basically, what they are calling for is a repeat of the Israeli troop withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. In addition, calling it “the Israeli-occupied West Bank” is the exact Palestinian narrative.
The New Israel Fund is also no friend of Israel. Its website notes: “NIF’s grantees are leading social change in Israel. Our grantees work on behalf of social and economic justice, advocate for the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel.”
The real goal for these organizations and many Palestinians is reflected in their motto, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free.” That doesn’t seem to leave much room for the Israelis.
Protest Rallies Needed
Perhaps it is times for all Jews to learn from our Black brethren. We need massive rallies and protests until the politicians get the idea: No more anti-Semitism!
Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg