If anything, the six-year sentence given Rabbi Barry Freundel is far too lenient in light of the multiplicity of his abuses and the fact that he used his clerical collar as the key to his crimes. Having said this, Seth J. Frantzman (“The misguided cult of forgiveness of the ‘peeping rabbi,’” Terra Incognita, May 18) is wrong on two counts.
Frantzman is surprised that so many other rabbis have been advocating leniency and repentance rather than incarceration for Freundel. He should consider the very real possibility that the push for leniency is motivated by “There but for the grace of God go I.”
Clerical abuse – not just of women, but of children, and not just sexual malfeasance, but fiscal impropriety – are commonplace in the rabbinic profession, often covered up for a variety of reasons.
Frantzman’s assertion that “someone caught peeping... in the time of King Solomon would have been executed” is dead wrong.
As the son of Bathsheba and King David, Solomon himself was the product of a union that began with a peeping tom spying on another man’s wife as she bathed.
Our tradition goes into contortions to rationalize David’s behavior and/ or emphasize his repentance – the very solution being proposed by so many of Freundel’s colleagues.
Often, rabbis have inordinate, if not absolute, power in their communities.
The leap from self-importance to droit du seigneur is only as great as the likelihood of getting caught.J.J. GROSS
Jeremy Sharon’s “Fifty members of one family to convert to Judaism after 1960s conversion invalidated” (May 15) was published the same day that Rabbi Barry Freundel, prominent in the politics of conversion in both American and Israel, was sentenced to prison for criminally abusing his role.
The timing is meaningful. Sharon’s article shows us the great value that converts add to the Jewish people: A single convert in the 1960s added 50 observant Jews to our community! Chances are, the original convert was not initially haredi, as the progeny are today.
Converts have long strengthened Judaism in profound ways.
Ruth, from whom King David is descended, is the best-known, but there are many others: Shmaya and Avtalyon’s ancestors were converts, and they were Hillel’s teachers.
Rabbi Akiva’s father was a convert.
In the Middle Ages, some well-known members of the Tosafists (12th-14th century European scholars) were converts or their descendants.
The message is as clear as the book of Ruth, which we will read on Shavuot: We should embrace those who wish to join the Jewish people. They are a blessing. But rabbis must be careful to avoid oppressing them with excessive obstacles and requirements.RENEE GARFINKEL
Eric. R. Mandel (“American religious pluralism is an Israeli national security issue” Comment & Features, May 18) gropes desperately for the authenticity of liberal American Jewish rabbis after the majority Israeli electorate left them farther adrift from the dock.
He remonstrates about potential alienation of religiously affiliated liberal Jews from Israel and threatens prospective political harm to Israel should they pull back support.
I refute this.
Religiously affiliated liberal Jews number fewer than two million out of 320 million Americans.
Their influence is declining at the rate of their mortality. Their next generation, mostly intermarried, is close to Jewishly illiterate and even less concerned about anything Jewish.
On the other hand, there are more than 80 million American evangelicals who often, in even one mega-church, demonstrate more passion for Israel than all the Jews of a city. Exemplified by Christians United for Israel, they carry the Zionist torch to Congress.
Yet Congress loves Israel despite these Jews and evangelicals. It does so because it is the right thing to do.GERSHON DALIN
The writer is the retired national executive director of the Israel Christian Nexus, whose mission, according to its website, is to “educate Christian and Jewish communities and the general population about the crucial role of Israel.”
Contrary to Eric R. Mandel’s assertion, Israeli leaders might better reflect that while American Jewish support is not inevitable, it is most certainly God-given.
I don’t claim to have any inside track on why God wants us to maintain American Jewish support.
But Mandel might expect some awareness of the demographics in America, where the Orthodox comprise the only growing segment of the Jewish population. Interestingly, he omits any reference to them.
Adopting “more inclusivity, outreach and pluralism” presents great social risks if applied to the State of Israel. The government here should focus on managing those risks and have faith that on security issues, the Commander of Supreme Commanders will do Her bit.ROGER COHEN
Netanya Tall order
In response to reader Rabbi Uri Themal’s “Miraculous revelation” (Letters, May 18), on our first visit to Israel in 1968, my husband and I stood side-by-side at the Western Wall and prayed together. Forty- seven years later, we pray that one day soon we will be able to stand side-by-side to pray together on the Temple Mount.JACKIE ALTMAN
Netanya A little class
Does the staff of The Jerusalem Post think that describing associates of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “cronies” is appropriate (“Netanyahu cronies vow he will lead foreign policy,” May 17)? It’s bad enough that your op-eds reek of disrespect for political leaders on both sides, and for the country’s institutions, but in a news story on Page 1? Have a little class! ZVI FINK
Others’ shame, too
With regard to “Dutch shame” (Editorial, May 17), the Netherlands is not the only country that discriminates against expats living here. The British government, not quite an equal-opportunity friend of Israel, refuses to increase pensions for British citizens living across the Green Line.
We have been living in Judea for close to 10 years. No matter how often British pensions have gone up, we have remained at exactly the same amount.
I wonder if Palestinian expats are experiencing the same prejudice.
Somehow, I doubt it.CINA COREN
Your editorial reminds me of the time my late mother, who received a UK pension, moved to an old-age home situated on Bethlehem Road in Jerusalem.
We informed the UK authorities of the change of address and received a reply that her pension rights had been canceled because she was now living in occupied territory.
It took much correspondence and a detailed map in English to convince them that Bethlehem Road is well inside Jerusalem – even pre-1967 Jerusalem – and that its name merely indicated the town it led to. Eventually, the pension was restored.
While the two stories are not comparable, they illustrate how an ignorant bureaucrat has the power to ruin someone’s life.GEOFFREY PREGER
On the morning of Tuesday, May 5, I sent my soon-to-expire American passport to the US Embassy in Tel Aviv for renewal. I used registered mail. Here is the final report from the “Track and Trace” feature on the Israel Postal Company’s website: “The postal item was received for mailing at the Yaakov postal unit in Rehovot on 05/05/2015.
The postal item was delivered to its destination on 13/05/2015 via the Embassies postal unit in Tel Aviv Yaffo.”
Eight days to travel 30 kilometers.
That’s 0.156 kph. I’d accuse them of employing carrier tortoises, but that would be unfair to tortoises.NATHAN POMERANTZ