August 23, 2007
Jews, Arabs, widows, animals, minyans and more
Eric Yoffie badly misunderstands the purpose of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) ("'Jews Only' Land Plan Counters Israel's Values," Aug. 10). The JNF was established in order to facilitate Jewish settlement throughout the Land of Israel, through myriad coins that Jews the world over dropped into their little blue boxes for this express purpose. There are plenty of places for non-Jews to live in Israel, but the Jewish people acquired these plots for Jews.
Yoffie's claim runs counter to the very core of Zionism of re-establishing the People of Israel in the Land of Israel and, thus, must be flatly rejected.
Zionist Organization of America
I guess Amotz Asa-El is too young to remember that thousands of Arabs chose to remain within the State of Israel ("Israeli Arabs Prove Part of Problem Not Solution," Aug. 17). Unfortunately, from day one, they were always mistreated and remain second-class citizens.
They were duped into believing the promise of equality in Israel's Declaration of Independence. Now Asa-El considers them enemies of the state. For him the concept of a Jewish democracy is obviously gone, to be replaced by a Jewish republic, similar to an Islamic republic such as Saudi Arabia. Only Jews are to be welcome in Israel.
Is it a good idea for half of the world's Jews to isolate themselves when there are hateful neighbors with nuclear weapons?
Martin J. Weisman
The week your article "Our Hindu Widows" (Aug. 10) was published was also the week that I launched a new venture, Frieda's Table, focusing on single, eligible Jews in their 30s and 40s.
As a woman who met my bashert late and had my children just under the wire, I am keenly aware that I might not have been so lucky. I also know that many events for Jewish singles are devoid of Jewish content, and that Jewish singles are still treated with condescension. The meet-markets and even singles services can be very alienating.
I am starting simple: Shabbat dinners with equal numbers of single men and women hosted by loving couples and holiday parties and gatherings with uplifting Jewish content -- ushpizin and appetizers under the stars in a sukkah, a Purim ball and megillah reading.
The project is named for my Aunt Frieda -- a beautiful, brilliant woman who remained single until she was 40.
No one I have ever met had her energy. In her 80s, Frieda developed Alzheimer's. She reached the stage where she didn't know the names or identities of her children and husband. Yet, in her last days, she always remembered to ask me: "What's the story with you and Craig? Are you two getting married?"
I married him. In tribute to that and to Frieda, I am channeling her energy for bringing people together. If others would like to help, I invite them to contact me.
Rabbi Debra Orenstein
I appreciate that Julie Fax mentioned our protest in her thoughtful Aug. 10 article about the Orthodox Union's (OU) "Halachic Adventure" ("Gourmet Kosher Brings Out Fear Factor).
I would like to explain why we protested, because it was not only against the OU's feast involving 15 courses of rare and exotic kosher animals. It was also against the failure of the Jewish community to recognize that animal-based diets and agriculture violate basic Jewish teachings on taking care of our health, treating animals compassionately, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources and helping hungry people.
It is past time for the Jewish community and other communities to put the many moral issues related to our diets on their agendas, and we will continue to respectfully protest and challenge them until they do.
Richard H. Schwartz
College of Staten Island
Amy Klein describes her mixed-seating synagogue as a place where men caress women, promoting a social scene that is little better than a singles bar ("The Rule of Three," Aug. 17).
The implication of Klein's piece is obvious. For the sake of her own self-respect, she should eschew the temple meat market. She should consider attending a synagogue where women are truly honored. A synagogue with separate seating, where men and women are given the opportunity to pray without distraction. A synagogue where, even after prayer, appropriate standards of modesty are maintained between men and women.
She may discover this independence to be both elevating and liberating.
The Karliner Rebbe famously said, "I know where to get fish for Shabbos, and I know where to get chicken for Shabbos, but where can I get Shabbos for Shabbos?"
David Suissa wonderfully portrayed the Happy Minyan as a place where every week a person can find Shabbos for Shabbos. ("The Blissful Minyan," Aug. 10).
Underplayed, though, was the starring role Mogen David continues to play in the life of the L.A. Jewish community. When the Happy Minyan was homeless, it was Mogen David which opened its doors and welcomed us in. Thanks to its continuing support, the Happy Minyan remains a safe haven where Jews of every religious bent can find a way to connect to their souls.
I am not a political scientist, but let me see if I can enlighten Raphael Sonenshein ("Islamofascism and the GOP," Aug. 10). You see, the term "feminazis" was a joke, while the term "Islamofascism" is meant to describe an ideology for which conversion is punishable by death, Jews are the sons of pigs and monkeys and Christians are infidels.
It is meant to describe the principles behind stonings and beheadings from Darfur to Thailand. The Islamofascists know what their goal is in this fight; it seems that it is only the Democrats and their counterparts in the world who scoff.