August 19: Out of the vacuum

Reform congregations certainly do welcome children of mixed marriages to be raised as Jews. Bless them for that.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Out of the vacuum Sir, - In "Sunday school" (Letters, August 15), Eliyahu Grossman begins with an unsubstantiated statement: "The majority of the members of a Reform congregation are intermarried and a good percentage of them are not Jewish." I challenge him to reveal the source of this allegation. As the former administrator of Temple Kol Ami, the largest Reform congregation in Broward County, Florida, I can attest that Mr. Grossman is grossly misinformed. He then builds his entire argument on this "fact," which lends zero credence to his views. Reform congregations certainly do welcome children of mixed marriages to be raised as Jews. Bless them for that. Mr. Grossman charges that "day trips to other places of worship" such as the Bahai Temple in Chicago teach children the "equivalency of religion." Well, I hope so. I lived very near to that temple and visited it often. We all need to learn that other religions deserve respect. American children, Jewish or otherwise, do not live in a vacuum. DENA RUBENS Metar Fond memories... Sir, - Marilyn Henry's "Prague mystery" (August 15) on the circumstances surrounding the death of Charles Jordan brought back a set of memories for me. In 1968, while in high school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, my friends and I petitioned the AZA organization (the Bnai Brith Youth Organization) to form a new chapter. Our petition was granted and our new chapter given the name "Charles Jordan" to honor the memory of a person who worked tirelessly on behalf of his fellow Jews in Eastern Europe and was murdered because of his work; which was what we were told at that time. I have very fond memories of my activities as a member of the Charles Jordan AZA chapter. BARRY HALPER Allentown, Pennsylvania ...of Charles Jordan Sir, - Marilyn Henry's op-ed kindled memories from the days of my first meeting with Charles Jordan in Budapest ca. 1950, and our subsequent contact and correspondence until his untimely, tragic passing. I got married on Lag Ba'omer 1967 in Brooklyn, just as the Six Day War broke out. Jordan was invited, but his office in New York advised that he had to leave on an urgent mission for Israel. I cherish the beautiful silver bowl he sent as a wedding gift. It is a pity Ms. Henry didn't know Charles Jordan; his was a charismatic personality of great charm and erudition; and based upon my reading and research, others were equally touched by him. I am inclined to think that, as an American, he repeatedly - and perhaps somewhat recklessly - courted great danger. But this in no way diminishes his towering stature in my eyes. OSKAR LUSTIG Brooklyn Sorting things out Sir, - An article on Pakistan's independence celebrations in the London Times On August 15 stated that in the aftermath of the partition of India "[within a] few days, an estimated 15 million people crossed the border as Indian Muslims fled to Pakistan and Hindus and Sikhs headed the other way. Between 500,000 and a million people died in the plague of violence that ensued. Hindu women committed suicide by jumping into wells to defend their honor. Trains pulled up in Lahore packed with the bodies of slaughtered Muslims." By comparison, the partition of Palestine nine months later was more like a schoolyard scrap. Why is the latter still perceived as the major source of instability in the world? If India and Pakistan have managed to sort out their much larger refugee problem, why have the much richer Arab states not done anything to integrate their Palestinian brothers - unlike Israel, which absorbed a more or less equal number of Jewish refugees from across the Arab world? ("Pakistan marks 60th anniversary of independence," August 15.) MARTIN D. STERN Salford, UK A Sudanese Christian speaks Sir, - Larry Derfner's article about the Sudanese refugees was wonderful ("Shame," July 12). I am afraid of our being deported to Egypt because there are no guarantees of our safety there. We Christians will have a lot more problems than Darfurians if we are deported: We will be in danger from the majority Muslim population, and Egyptian security will deal more severely with us than before. So the government of Israel should think twice before taking such action. I do not understand why the world kept quiet about a real genocide long taking place in the South [of Sudan], then in Darfur. All Muslims around Sudan, mainly supported by Darfurians, were killing us. God knows how many millions were killed and are now still dying in the South. We know we are alone and therefore we will return to the help of the God of Israel, the God we believe in, whose long arm will save us ("African refugee tent city in danger of being shut down," August 16). AKON ARIK MOU Eilat Hungry in Israel Sir, - They are sick, old and hungry in the land of milk and honey. What are we waiting for? For them all to be dead, and to then declare a national day of mourning? They are still living, here in Israel: Take care of them and honor them now ("Facing up to decades of neglect towards Holocaust survivors," August 16). FLORENCE ZIMMERMAN Ra'anana