How easy from afar
Sir, – I read “Why young US rabbis lean to the Left on Israel” (Comment & Features, April 17) expecting to find an answer to that perplexing question. Instead, I discovered a Los Angles rabbi who doesn’t provide an explanation, but rather an idealistic vision of Israel needing to love its enemies.
Israel is roughly twice as large as Los Angles County, with 50 percent less arable land. While the rabbi lives safely and without worry, he criticizes our zoning laws and checkpoints as having a “negative impact on human dignity.”
He is cavalier in his disregard for our security and appears to be oblivious to the reasons for those necessities.
It is easy for Rabbi Perlo to preach peace and love, but facts are facts.JOEL HANDELMAN
Sir, – Scott Perlo writes that he and like-minded American rabbis are “waiting for the moment when peace becomes a possibility.”
Two things are wrong with his approach. First, these rabbis are not waiting. They are badgering Israel to behave as if peace were here even though we are still at war.
Second, when peace does become a possibility, Israel will have no need to turn to such California dreamers – even the most demonized of right-wing Israeli leaders, Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon, pursued peace for all it was worth when they thought they saw a chance.MARK L. LEVINSON
Sir, – In his attempt to defend the left-wing stance of young American rabbis, Scott Perlo provides a depressingly revealing picture of the state of American Jewry.
The thrust of his argument is that when the time comes for true peace, the only ones who will know it will be these young rabbis.
What a relief! Thankfully, the willful blindness of everyone living here will be cured by these rabbis, who at all costs will have maintained their moral clarity, their sublime sensitivity and their sagacious awareness of the moment to be seized.
What is so depressing is the lack of connection with, awareness of, and indeed, the lack of faith in the Jewish people that comes through loud and clear. Rabbinic Judaism is all about the majority, the klal. In this piece there is no awareness, let alone respect, for that klal.
Has the rabbi no understanding of the yearning of the people of Israel for peace? Has he no developed sensitivity to the duality that suffuses life here – the willingness to stoically do what has to be done to survive to that point when a true peace might actually be possible? One senses that such sensitivity does not exist among Perlo and his colleagues because it is all too messy, too ambiguous, too morally difficult to tackle. It is much easier to retreat into absolutes, platitudes and goals.
And in that sanctimonious retreat, Perlo and his colleagues are willing to put the Jewish people in harm’s way in order to preserve their moral vision.DOUGLAS ALTABEF
Rosh Pina Holy box score!
Sir, – I have always been a great admirer of Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, of his eloquent speaking ability, his Torah knowledge and his many other attributes that are too many to mention. But as an avid sports fan myself, my admiration for him has now reached new heights (“My daily wrestling match,” Comment & Features, April 17).
The rabbi has once again shown his ability to combine his his great spirituality with important and earthly matters.MARK BERNSTEN
Sir, – I have a suggestion to cure Rabbi Emanuel Feldman of his baseball-score-seeking obsession.
Rabbi, if you were to become a Chicago Cubs fan (like I am), the time
checking the scores and reading about the incredible action on the field
would be limited to a very few minutes. This way, you will be free to
move on with your day fairly quickly.
I think being a true Cub fan was encapsulated many years ago when I sat
at Wrigley Field on Opening Day to watch the Cubs, and someone held up a
sign that read, “Wait ‘til next year!” He got it.
Rabbi Feldman, it is not too late to become a Cubs fan! ZE’EV M. SHANDALOV
Ma’aleh Adumim Real weekend
Sir, – Silvan Shalom’s crusade on behalf of a two-day weekend creates an
opportunity to help heal one of the most divisive aspects of Israeli
life – namely, the perceived need and implicit greed of those who wish
to keep their businesses open on Shabbat, and the diehard antipathy this
causes among religious extremists (“This country really needs a real
weekend,” Comment & Features, April 17).
With Sunday as a day off, a law can be enacted that gives every business
and entertainment venue a mandatory choice between being closed either
from Friday evening to Saturday evening, or from Saturday evening to
Such a law would effectively thwart any accusation of religious
coercion. At the same time, it is highly likely that most businessowners
would choose to be closed on Shabbat, if only to cash in on the
spending dollars of those who are Shabbat-observant.
Net, net, Israel would finally have a Shabbat break that promotes harmony and gives all of us a day of rest.J.J. GROSS
Jerusalem That is hot
Sir, – In your April 17 issue, a letter titled “Fusion is the way”
suggests that fusion power can be achieved with efforts similar to those
that brought about the currently used atomic fission reactors.
Over 50 years of fusion research have shown that this is not so.
The essential difference is that atomic reactors generate their neutrons
(to heat water to steam, which then is jetted at a turbine to generate
electricity) from already radioactive Uranium 235. The technical
challenge there was to slow down or cool down the freely available
neutrons so they wouldn’t reach a critical mass and explode.
The challenge confronting the fusion process is to make the
hydrogen-helium or deuteriumtritium gas bubbles hot enough for the atoms
to reach the speed needed to fuse when they collide.
Present estimates are that the required temperature is 800 million
degrees. After 50 years of research, laser heating of these miniature
H-bombs has reached only 3 million degrees at a current cost of roughly
$5 billion per year.
It’s not so easy. That’s why all the countries of the world except the US have backed away from this problem.EUGENE SUCOV
The writer, now retired, was manager of fusion research and development at Westinghouse Research Labs
Not so nice
Sir, – Thanks go to Shelly Weinreb for her simple and terse letter to the editor (“She’s nice, huh?,” April 17).
Weinreb noted that Shmuley Boteach failed to point out that Samantha
Power, advisor to President Barack Obama, had suggested that the
“billions of aid to Israel might be better spent in building a
No doubt, the same Samantha Power has influenced Obama to ignore the
pleas of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, many
US congressmen, and many others to free Jonathan Pollard. Obama’s
failure to do so, and his shallow Passover greeting to us – that we
should “alleviate the suffering, poverty, injustice and hunger of those
who are not yet free,” shows that his third Passover Seder at the White
House is a monumental, colossal and deceitful farce.LEONARD KAHN