September 15, 2005
Thank you so much for Robin Podolsky's thoughtful analysis, "Response a Disgrace -- Not a Tragedy" (Sept. 9).
Her insightful distinction between the natural disaster of hurricane and flooding, and the "human disaster" -- the abandonment of the Gulf Coast's poor, immigrant, elderly and most particularly people of color -- reminds us once again of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's admonition: While we are not all guilty, we are all indeed responsible for the well-being of our neighbors, whether they be friends or strangers. And as Rob Eshman helps us see, we would be far better served if our present government shared that sense of responsibility.
Armed and President
I applaud the courage of the NRA in its appointment of a Jewish woman as their new president ("She's Armed and President," Sept. 2). After serving in the Israel Defense Forces, it became clear to me that the modern State of Israel was essentially founded upon two things: God and guns. It is unlikely that we would be seeing rioting in New Orleans if more weapons were placed in the hands of law-abiding citizens. Let us distinguish between guns in the wrong hands and guns in the right hands.
Rabbi Ari Hier
You will, no doubt, receive much mail about Joshua Runyan and Idan Irvi's article about Sandra Froman.
She is clearly wrong. I was a rifleman in the 70th Division during World War II and qualified with the M-1, the carbine and the .45-caliber pistol.
Anyone waking up to find an armed intruder in the house is at a disadvantage. The intruder, if armed, is alert and dangerous. The sleeper wakes up groggy.
And to be armed with a revolver? Nonsense. I was on the firing range often enough to see how inept most people are with a handgun.
Froman is offering dangerous advice. The fact that she had been aggressive and ambitious enough to get herself elected as president of the National Rifle Association (NRA) gives her away. Take the time to meet and become acquainted with NRA members and you will not want many of them as friends.
What Froman needs is not a gun, but a good psychiatrist. Or, if she cannot master her fear of intruders (how many are there?) she would be better advised to buy a shotgun.
What James Besser misses in his article is that there are many Christians who support Israel and have serious concerns about Israel's security, yet who are neither Pat Roberston nor Jerry Falwell ("Links to Christian Zionists Pose Perils," Sept. 2). Because one questions the wisdom of the disengagement, should not mean that the questioner himself represents an obstacle to peace. A very sizable percentage of the Israeli population itself has been asking the same questions out of pure desire to protect Israel from further attack.
While Christian Zionists may have their own reasons to oppose further unilateral withdrawals, Christian theology varies from group to group and should not be the concern of the Jewish community. Support for the secure future of the State of Israel is our concern. Contrarily, the divestment campaigns of the Presbyterians, Anglicans and Lutherans have been built on latent anti-Semitism and it is simply ludicrous to suggest that they have emerged because some Christian Zionists happen to be anti-abortion and the Jewish community has not condemned their views.
I enjoyed reading Rob Eshman's impressions of his recent visit to the Latter-day Saints Temple in Newport Beach ("Inner Sanctum," Sept. 2).
Contrary to the opinion expressed in a recent letter to this forum, Latter-day Saints most definitely believe in literal, inerrant truth. If we did not, we could not justify listening to modern-day prophets or sending tens of thousands of missionaries throughout the world.
One obvious inerrant truth is that God lives. Other inerrant Latter-day revelations of interest to Jews include the belief that Elijah did return to earth again during Passover (in 1836), that Moses received two revelations on Mt. Sinai (only one of which is contained in the written Torah), that priesthood authority must be received through the laying on of hands (smicha) and that God has honored and will continue to honor the covenant that He made anciently with the House of Israel.
While I have never claimed inerrancy, it is an axiom in my mind that there is no Christian church as doctrinally linked to Judaism as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This would not be so if we believed that divine revelation to prophets is inherently flawed. Many thanks to The Jewish Journal for allowing me to clarify this important principle. Shanah tovah to the local Jewish community from your Latter-day Saints friends.
Bracha Malkin states with admirable clarity and forthrightness the logic motivating the empathy manifested by many Jews in Israel and America for the Gaza settlers (Letters, Sept. 2). She makes a far more compelling case for commiserating with the settlers than any other I have heard.
At the same time, by bringing to light its underlying psychology, she shows exactly what is wrong with it. Malkin explains that self-love and exclusive concern with one's own legitimate interests constitute a necessary stage on the road to moral development.
I completely agree. But what in a child is a case of normal development is, in grown people, a case of arrested development. It is heartening that members of the Jewish community can demonstrate concern and respect for their Jewish neighbors, even those with whom they strongly disagree.
Malkin, who happens to be our next door neighbor, exhibited just such respect in her response to David Myers -- the author of the original Aug. 26 article and my husband -- and I feel the same respect for her.
But if Jews cannot extend beyond concern for their own legitimate collective interests and show respect and concern for others, it is hard to escape the implications of Malkin's analysis. A history of victimization is no excuse for failing to advance beyond a state of moral childhood. After more than 50 years of statehood, and thousands of years of peoplehood, if not now, when?
Nomi M. Stolzenberg