December 12: Schechter and gays

Former official left the movement because of belief that people were in violation of Halacha by pushing for gay ordination.

Schechter and gays Sir, – The article about Jerusalem’s Schechter rabbinical school (“Rabbi quits Schechter seminary over exclusion of gays,” December 9) was unfortunate.
Although centering on the resignation of Rabbi Tamar Elad-Applebaum, your reporter apparently felt compelled to go ahead immediately with the article without talking with her at all (she “did not answer her phone on Thursday”), relying instead on “several sources” – not named, but well-known malcontents – who “verified the story.”
According to one of these sources, Schechter reneged on a promise to ordain homosexual students. Unless it can be proven that such a promise was explicitly made, it seems to me that a libel action (or din Torah) against such a source might be in order.
Similarly, with the allegation that Rabbi Prof. David Golinkin “rejected openly gay students who applied for admission next year,” the so-called sources then add the outrageous allegation that he “wanted to investigate the sexual identities of those already enrolled at the seminary” – which is a baldfaced lie.
Another strange statement observes that both the JTS (New York) and Ziegler (Los Angeles) Conservative seminaries accept gays while Schechter does not, but omits the similar policy of the Conservative Seminario in South America. In other words, two Conservative seminaries have chosen to follow one part of the movement’s Law Committee while two follow another part, demonstrating our pluralistic approach.
Finally, the article cites “other members of the movement” – again heroically anonymous – as claiming that two other senior officials had left Schechter in the past three years. If your reporter had done a diligent follow- up, he might have discovered that one former senior official had left the movement for exactly the opposite reason, feeling that several of its key people were in violation of Halacha by pushing for gay ordination.
JAC FRIEDGUTJerusalem The writer has served as treasurer of the Schechter Institute Song and the IDF
Sir, – In your editorial “Women’s battle” (December 9), it should be clear that no one is against women singing in the army. The problem is that religious male solders are forced to listen when it is against their halachic education and upbringing.
If the army wants to increase the number of religious and haredi young men who do army service, it will have to take their halachic standards into consideration.
YITZCHOK ELEFANT Dimona The writer is chief rabbi of Dimona
Why the ethnicity? Sir, – The Politics section in the December 9 Post (“Facing the enemy within”) was very clear and to the point, including the photographs of our leading politicians. However, I cannot understand the need to mention that their rivals are from Tunisia, Iran and Morocco.
Is it not time for journalists and their newspapers to refrain from such provocation? LEON CHARNEY Yehud
Everyone’s constituency Sir, – Depicting the issue of inequality within Israel toward its Arab minority is certainly justifiable (“Jews and Arabs living side by side,” A Different Perspective,” December 9). I would also emphatically emphasize the urgent need to promote the Arabic language, history and culture within our educational system.
However, it behooves Arab- Israeli MKs to address the many serious social issues and concerns of their constituents instead of treacherously collaborating with enemies of their country. This would go a long way toward easing existing prejudices, resentment and tensions within both communities.
Sir, – Jay Bushinsky is undoubtedly correct in his main point, that Arab Israelis are to a certain extent discriminated against. However, the careful reader will see that the discrimination cited by Bushinsky is private, not legal.
It is quite difficult to order individuals not to be careful in dealing with a minority that has been known to kill with knives, guns, bombs and cars. When there is peace, equality will be much easier to achieve.
As far as the employment statistics Bushinsky cites, without evaluating the appropriate qualifications, a similar argument could prove that the US discriminates against women because there are no female players in Major League Baseball.
Turkey misportrayed Sir, – I did not recognize the portrait of Turkey given in the recent column by Douglas Bloomfield (“Turkey: Friend or foe?,” Washington Watch, December 8).
Bloomfield quoted Dan Schueftan’s analysis that the Republic of Turkey is “spreading its own brand of radical Islam” throughout the region. Quoting only Schueftan, he suggests that Turkey is an enemy of Israel and no friend to the United States.
Such assertions are malicious and without factual support. It is sad that Bloomfield accepted them without question or critical thinking. It looks as if it took a serious effort to portray Turkey as a radical Islamic state, in total denial of the fact that it continues to serve as a source of inspiration for the rest of the Muslim world, particularly North African and the Middle East, with its secular, democratic character.
Turkey is committed to the ideals of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who put it on a path of prosperity, democracy and freedom.
It was the first majority Muslim nation to recognize Israel and is host to a large Jewish community that has flourished for more than 500 years.
While relations between the governments of Turkey and Israel are strained due to the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, many aspects of the historic friendship between the two peoples remain in place.
We have also set the record straight by declaring that these measures were taken in reaction to the policies of the government of Israel and by no means targeted the Israeli or Jewish people.
Turkey is proud of its longstanding alliance with the United States, its membership in NATO and its contribution to NATO’s operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere. We are a welcoming and friendly nation, confident in our freedoms and our open culture.
Bloomfield’s readers deserve better than this fact-free account.
NAMIK TAN Washington, DCThe writer is the Republic of Turkey’s ambassador to the United States
‘Post’ is confused Sir, – In “Scary US views” (Editorial, December 6), The Jerusalem Post criticizes America’s stance that concessions would, “after decades of incitement,” lessen hatreds. It says “Israel’s isolation has not deepened as a result of anything that it has done (besides existing).”
But these decades rebut claims that the Palestinians won’t build their state and prefer to destroy Israel’s. Instead, they show Israel’s relentless settler expansion – now 550,000 – preventing a viable Palestinian state.
Suppose the Palestinians put 550,000 settlers in Israel. Who would we think threatened whose state? But this is just what Israel does to them.
As historical fact, this perpetuates hatred, including inexcusable and bestial atrocities by extremists against Jews. Tragically, the Post confuses this detestable abomination with its historical cause, and with the withdrawal that would help engender its decline and disappearance.
As same historical fact, settlement expansion worsens relations with a United States that tries to help. It has isolated Israel and traumatized its security.
What is frightening is not American views, but the Post’s impenetrable thickets of denial.
JAMES ADLERCambridge, Massachusetts