(photo credit: Courtesy)
Relevant on radicals
Sir, - Ruthie Blum's interview with Steve Emerson, like many of her preceding ones, was wonderful and insightful ("'Jihad is jihad,'" September 21). She has a great ability to ask pointed questions and expose a side of an issue that is really enlightening. I look forward to more interviews with people of interest, and to her insight in extracting from these interviews things that are relevant to us all.
Sir, - What a great interview! We need more writers like Ruthie Blum and speakers like Steve Emerson, who aren't afraid of being politically incorrect. The truth about jihad and Muslim radicals is that they are out to take over the world. They want us to believe in Islam, and only Islam.
Emerson speaks of President Bush's convictions. It is hard to hold on to what you truly believe when you are constantly being advised otherwise. Bush sees the evil, but can't beat it alone. He hears the threats from Ahmadinejad and believes them - as we all should. It would have been interesting to hear what Emerson has to say about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia University.
Finally someone has pointed out the fact that the emperor has no clothes: Abbas has no power, and even if he is propped up, he will be Arafat No. 2, playing the same game, getting friends, arms, money and still being anti-Israel.
Bottom line, will it come to a great religious war, Islam vs the Judeo-Christian world? Jihad does not seek the destruction of Israel alone.
Sir, - Thank you to Saul Singer for his beautiful thoughts on Madonna, Kabbala and the Talmud ("Madonna, meet the Talmud," September 21). He lovingly expressed appreciation of something very precious to me. He cast a positive light on Madonna and our tradition without the usual hate, smallmindedness and cynicism prevalent among us.
I hope Madonna, and also those who enjoy defaming celebrities, will read this column and act on it.
Sir, - We are all proud and glad that Reform has restored Zion, returned to Jerusalem, accepted Zionism and the kippa, and other aspects of tradition ("Reforming Reform," Michal Lando, September 21). But I beg to demur that "a siddur may be the best barometer we have to test the waters." I would suggest that Reform should be more proud of its great library in the Hebrew Union College building, which puts the Orthodox and the Masorti to shame. I would take pride in the Reform olim and the work Reform rabbis are doing to make our marital laws more fair and equal as between the genders.
As important as prayer is, none of the Jewish denominations should be judged by their prayer books. What is more important than what we mouth in our respective services is the action, the ethics, the behavior and morality of our private and public lives.
Liturgy and sacred music are beautiful things, but on Yom Kippur - and all year - and in the long run of history, we are judged by what we did for Jewish life, community, our State of Israel and our destiny.
Sir, - "Reforming Reform" showed that Reform is returning to a liberal form of traditional Judaism. In the Washington area, between Silver Spring and Chevy Chase, Maryland, at East West Hwy. and Grubb Road in the late 1970s, Rabbi Ian Wolk at Temple Shalom was doing the same thing; he was even thinking of putting in a mehitza at Temple Shalom, a Reform congregation. It sounds like a little of Rabbi Wolk has come into the whole movement.
Now I believe that if and when Conservative Judaism abroad again becomes a traditional movement (Rabbi Samuel Mallinger in 1980, at Temple David in Tampa, Florida, described Conservative Judaism as sugar-coated Orthodoxy), the liberal branch of Conservative Judaism will join Reform Judaism.
Or will the Conservative movement perhaps take up the Lubavitcher baton of the post-Schneerson era and follow Chabad's lead in redefining Judaism back to the pre-Akiva era?
CCC and CEPAC: For change
Sir, - "Power to the people" (Gil Hoffman, September 7) may inadvertently have conveyed the impression that the Citizens Empowerment Public Action Campaign, CEPAC, founded by Elaine Levitt, is the first organization to press for electoral reform.
There was one organization that preceded CEPAC by 22 years. I refer to the Concerned Citizens Committee, founded by Zelda Harris (I was co-chairman) in 1985. It labored diligently for over a decade, organizing scores of thousands of petitions, lobbying government and Knesset members and trying to prevent the electoral tragedy that besets us today.
We failed because the final arbiter of whether such a reform could be enacted in the Knesset - where the smaller coalition and opposition parties, fearing that the law calling for constituency elections, would imperil them - voted against the bill.
That is the situation today. With all due credit to CEPAC and its laudable endeavors, there is no possible way to bring about reform unless the larger parties put aside their differences and jointly vote for this desperately needed change.
Sir, - From your September 21 Veterans column "Celia Goodman, 81": "On the same day and at the same hour, 93 Bais Ya'acov girls who were being prepared to be prostitutes for the Nazis committed suicide in Auschwitz rather than succumb to this fate. Goodman's father received a letter from these girls, asking that someone say Kaddish for them. Goodman's father said Kaddish for the... girls every year. Sixteen years later to the day and hour, he died, as Goodman believes, 'of a broken heart.' Her brother and all of Kibbutz Shluhot, which he helped found, continue to say Kaddish and a special prayer on that day."
This story of the girls is unsubstantiated, to say the least, and no Holocaust historian can find a shred of evidence as to its authenticity. Dubious material opens documentation of the Holocaust to deniers.