February 16: Haman & Amalek

On progressive Jews and charities.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Haman & Amalek Sir, - In "The Amalek syndrome" (UpFront, February 9) Samuel G. Freedman suggests that Alvin Rosenfeld's report on "progressive" Jewish intellectuals' anti-Israel positions is an example of the "Amalek syndrome." Most Passover celebrants understand the agenda behind the traditional, self-contradictory, remembrance of Amalek, whose memory is to "be blotted out from under Heaven," not as quenching nonconformists among themselves but as remembering that every generation of the Jewish people has external enemies. Prof. Freedman, who describes himself as a "political Zionist," accuses Rosenfeld not only of an attempt to suppress discussion and "invalidate, delegitimize and disenfranchise" the objects of his immediate criticism, Jacqueline Rose, Michael Neumann, Tony Judt and Tony Kushner, but also of effectively disempowering young Jewish intellectuals on college campuses who "yearn" for a "chance to openly dissent about Israel" without being "banished from the Jewish community." No such sanctions are recommended by Rosenfeld's report, which is thoughtful, extremely well-informed, academically precise and free from the "demagogic" tendency Freedman imputes to it. It is not easy to meet on its own intellectual ground. Hence the outcry against it: Apparently freedom of opinion is limited to the side against which Rosenfeld engages in debate. Freedman opens by referring to Purim. It might be apt to recollect that in the Book of Esther the main danger is not the military attacks of an Amalek, but the scheming of Haman, an anti-Semitic politician in the Persian capital. LEONA TOKER Hebrew University Jerusalem Trendy charity Sir, - I was delighted with your heartwarming "Teens make charity trendy" (February 1). It is certainly time such wonderful philanthropic activities were given exposure in the Israeli press. Alyn Pediatric and Adolescent Rehabilitation Center in Jerusalem has been fortunate enough to benefit for many years from creative "Mitzvah of Love" projects organized by bar/bat mitzva-aged youngsters in Israel and worldwide on behalf of the physically challenged children entrusted to our care. These youngsters do not simply donate a portion of the monetary gifts they receive: They go out to raise thousands of shekels, dollars etc. by organizing fund-raising events involving family, community and friends - special sales, sponsored walks and dances, cycling-a-thons, etc. Alyn Hospital also salutes those wonderful and caring youngsters in Israel and the world over whose efforts go beyond their bar and bat mitzva years. The Alyn International Charity Bike Ride - now in its 8th year - sees a growing number of Israeli and overseas 16+year-old participants, all of whom have to raise the minimum $2,000 from family and friends. The innovative ways in which they do so speak much for their future in both business and tikkun olam! Readers interested in organizing an event in celebration of a bar or bat mitzva, or any family occasion, to support Alyn's goal of turning disabilities into abilities for the children and young adults in our care, please call Alyn Hospital Public Relations and Resource Development Department, Tel: (02) 6494-224. BRENDA HIRSCH Alyn Hospital Jerusalem