May 28: Shavuot thoughts

while I agree with Mr. Rosenberg that we have lost the agricultural component of Shavuot, I strongly reject his suggestion that "the secular kibbutzim have it right."

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Shavuot thoughts Sir, - "Are learning and cheesecake enough?" (May 27) about the way the Orthodox celebrate Shavuot surprised me. Stephen Rosenberg talked of a lack of enthusiasm among our children as Shavuot approaches, saying the focus on Torah learning speaks only to teens and adults, and not to younger children. I invite Mr. Rosenberg to visit my home in which, like thousands of others throughout Israel and the world, our children are gearing up for theirspecial night of learning. My five-year-old daughter cannot wait for her special time with me, during which we will read about the Sinai experience through a special children's book with pictures. My seven-year-old daughter is excited about reading her new Bible to me, presented to her in school in honor of the holiday. My nine-year-old daughter will make sure to sleep on Thursday afternoon so that she will be awake to read chapters of her Bible with me late at night. My 12-year-old son is close to finalizing his schedule for the entire night of learning, with slots reserved for learning Mishna with me, reviewing Talmud on his own, and attending classes in our synagogue geared toward children. So, while I agree with Mr. Rosenberg's observation that we have lost the agricultural component of the holiday, which the Torah emphasizes, and maybe we should explore ways to incorporate that into our celebration, I must strongly reject his suggestion that "the secular kibbutzim have it right." The continuity of the Jewish people has always and will always depend on Jewish education and Torah learning. RABBI DOV LIPMAN Beit Shemesh Hollywood & Jewish drama Sir, - Eli Kavon's wish for movies about Jewish history and Jewish heroes is timely, and to the point. I once took a stab at writing a screen treatment for the NILI story, about the Jewish spies who gathered intelligence against the Turks for the British in Palestine during WWI. The story of Avshalom Feinberg, whose bones were discovered under a date palm after the Six Day War and reinterred on Mt. Herzl in a hero's ceremony is unparalleled. It's the stuff of truly majestic drama. And Jewish, of course. Hollywood has produced only two Zionist movies, both in the early 1960s: Exodus and Cast a Giant Shadow. We should employ this statistic when anti-Semites claim that Hollywood is run by Jews ("Revelation denied: The scandal of Jewish ignorance," May 27). YONATAN SILVERMAN Tel Aviv Connect and disconnect Sir, - Samuel Freedman's "Letter to the Ambassador" (UpFront, May 15) implied a disconnect between himself and Ambassador Michael Oren. Oren is willing to put his American birth, accent and experience at the service of Israel. Freedman seems to want Israel to comfort the third generation of American Jews who are hazy about the Yom Kippur war and the Mideast's rights and wrongs. During the Second Commonwealth, the Jews in Babylonia thought they were superior to the Jews in Eretz Yisrael and put their Talmud above the Jerusalem Talmud. The minority of Zionists came back with Ezra to build the Second Temple. Herzl was opposed by Reform assimilationists and by Orthodox Messianists. Today Israel rests on those who want it to be Jewish, not on those who thought the state was a mistake to begin with, one which must now be rectified by making it non-sectarian orbinational. M. MENDELSSOHN Jerusalem Love banner Sir, - What better PR to affirm the reason for Israel's existence than banners strung across major highways and thoroughfares everywhere, especially in Jerusalem, proclaiming in all languages: "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." This would present the Israelis with a continual confirmation of why the state exists, and reaffirm Israel's raison d'etre to the rest of the world. SHELLEY MINANEL Los Angeles Kemp, a rare gem Sir, - Jack Kemp's involvement with the Jewish community started much earlier than reported in the many well-deserved tributes to this remarkable man. In the summer of 1971, the freshman in the House of Representatives from an area with very few Jewish voters assumed a major role in the struggle for Soviet Jewry. An interfaith coalition of area youth groups sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Buffalo collected signatures throughout the city in support of Soviet Jews. Kemp joined in the effort and assumed a major role. That September, he arranged for a delegation of three teenagers - a Catholic, a Protestant and a Jew - to go to Washington and meet with a Soviet diplomat in the embassy of the USSR. As chairman of the Federation Committee for Soviet Jewry, I joined the group. Our meeting at the embassy did not go well. The Soviet diplomat turned to the two non-Jewish students and said he could not understand how such good, authentic Americans could join with Jews to spread lies about the Soviet Union. Kemp, his voice raised, retorted: "How dare you talk about our American youth like that! How can you make distinctions between Americans?" After a few more tense minutes, we were ushered out. Jack Kemp was a real tzaddik. His involvement had no purpose other than doing what was right. He was a rare gem in politics, with not a hint of self-righteousness or self-importance. He will surely be missed ("Jack Kemp leaves pro-Israel legacy," Douglas Bloomfield, May 14). SHALOM BRONSTEIN Jerusalem