November 22, 2016: Reacting to Trump

Once again – and I believe I represent a core constituency in the movement – I must speak up to say that there is a dissenting voice among committed Conservative Jewry.

November 21, 2016 21:15

Letters. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Reacting to Trump

With regard to “Conservative Jews ‘unable to remain silent’ on Bannon” (November 20), some years ago, I was asked to approach the administration of the Conservative movement on behalf of a group of Conservative rabbis living in Israel. My task was to inform the administration at the Jewish Theological Seminary, in their name, that not all Conservative rabbis were politically Left.

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For a Jewish religious movement to be drawn into a controversy regarding the political appointments of the president-elect is wrong to begin with. For the leadership of the movement to allow itself to be influenced by the growing hysteria on the Left without a wider vision of concrete Jewish interests and the issues and implications of the positions they are taking over time is foolish.

Once again – and I believe I represent a core constituency in the movement – I must speak up to say that there is a dissenting voice among committed Conservative Jewry.


Regarding “Israel’s Right strengthening alliance with Trump gov’t” (November 18), one issue now being advanced to attack Stephen Bannon, US President- elect Donald Trump’s choice for his top White House adviser, is derived from statements made by Bannon’s ex-wife in a child custody dispute.

As one admitted to the bar in the United States for 30 years, I hasten to note the notorious non-objectivity of allegations made by parties in the course of a domestic-relations lawsuit (particularly assertions relating to child custody). Such statements must be taken at an absolute minimum.


Petah Tikva

Court’s abuse of power

Regarding “Rabbinical Court to reopen divorce case after two years” (November 20), the unnamed woman in the article suffered excruciating emotional pain when her ex-husband was put into a coma after a motorcycle accident. She then suffered through the trauma of coming to the realization that he would never regain consciousness. Then, she suffered the trauma of having to go through a get (religious divorce) from a man she still loved.

Now, the Supreme Rabbinical Court wants to rescind the get and abuse and traumatize her yet again. In addition, it seeks to impugn the integrity of the rabbinical court in Safed.

This is the abuse of power and abuse of fellow Jews, and is prohibited by Torah law. And we wonder why the Messiah has yet to arrive?

Ma’aleh Adumim
The writer is a rabbi.

Proportionally low

The Polish ambassador to Israel, Jacek Chodorowicz, claims that Poles far outnumber people from other countries honored by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations (“Polish ambassador lauds Warsaw’s ties with Jerusalem,” November 20). As a survivor from Poland who posed as a non-Jew, I would argue that this is misleading. It could be true numerically, but not proportionally.

Taking populations into account, Poland is way down the list. The Yad Vashem figure for Poland is 6,600. Holland, by comparison a tiny country in size and population, has 5,400 Righteous Among the Nations.

The Danes saved all their Jews.

Most Bulgarian Jews were saved.

In just one area of France, Le Chambon sur Lignon, over 5,000 Jews were sheltered and not a single one was betrayed. This could never have happened in Poland, which was, by far, the worst country in all of Nazi-occupied Europe for a Jew to find himself in.

Poles killed far more Jews than they saved during the war, and carried on doing so all over Poland for almost two years after the liberation.


Sinister connotation

The beautiful French city of Evian- les-Bains certainly makes one think of bottled water (“Evian’s appeal is in the water, and much more,” Travel Trends, November 20). To students of the Holocaust, however, Evian has a far sinister connotation: In the very Hotel Royal that Patti Nickell mentions, the notorious Evian Conference took place in July 1938.

As the Nazi noose was tightening around hundreds of thousands of German and Austrian Jews who sought to escape, the entire world shut its doors. At the initiative of the United States, which had refused to raise its immigration quotas but wanted to show a semblance of concern, delegates from 32 countries met at Evian to discuss the plight of these Jews.

Despite meaningless words of sympathy, only two countries agreed to accept a small number.

The conference ultimately proved to be a victory for Hitler, who showed that the whole world was indifferent to the fate of the Jews.



Unrealistic targets

I used to be one of those whom Aliza Lavie and Dov Lipman address in “A message to Diaspora Jews” (Observations, November 18), and can testify that theirs is a serious misperception of these overwhelmingly non-Orthodox people.

Their reason for not making aliya is not because “the Israeli government has failed to create an atmosphere” in which they can “feel completely at home” – they do not come because they misconstrue Jewish identity as an ethnicity, like Italian-Americans or Irish-Americans, and as such dissolve in the melting pot. The classical Jewish religion that produces the immortal Jewish identity plays no role in their lives.

When Israel is a taboo subject in their temples, as Lavie and Lipman note at the outset, it is bizarre to advise “encouraging aliya.” The number of Reform and Conservative Jews here is statistically insignificant, and hundreds of thousands more making aliya is a fantasy. It is also unreal to encourage Diaspora Jews to “educate and inspire” their children to “understand the importance of the Jewish state and encourage all children to explore aliya upon reaching adulthood.” The parents don’t understand and never made aliya; now Lavie and Lipman expect them to advise aliya for their children? Israelis would do well to face the reality that the non-Orthodox are going the way of the Sadducees, Essenes, Boethusians, Karaites and Samaritans. Orthodox Jews in the Diaspora are the only stream producing the next generation of Jews, and therefore are the principal candidates for aliya.

Better to encourage Diaspora Jews to return to classical Jewish beliefs and behaviors. Then they will have a reason to come here to live.


‘Pro’ vs. ‘anti’

“Prophetic vs. protective American Jews: What constitutes ‘pro-Israel’?” by Eric R. Mandel (Comment & Opinion, October 25) points out that you can be pro-Israel and still care about Palestinians.

It spurred me to think about “pro-Palestinian.”

The only time I hear this term used is in reference to demonstrations that are actually anti-Israel.

Nothing “pro” about it. It leaves no room for positive support; only hatred of Israel.

Isn’t giving a Palestinian a needed job in Israel pro-Palestinian? Is treating her in a Israeli hospital not pro-Palestinian? Are the countless Israeli offers of peace deals (that go on to be rejected) not pro-Palestinian? Don’t all those people in the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria and all those horrible refugee camps deserve a chance at happiness rather than being steered by their leaders from childhood to a lifetime of only one aspiration: to seethe with hatred and to die killing Jews? Will there ever be positive pro-Palestinian efforts by their own leaders and sympathizers to give them what every person needs: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? No one on that side is sticking out his neck to be a martyr.


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