August 30, 2007
‘Widows’ speak, Shmuel of Arabia, Bush of Texas, Arabs of Israel
Web extra! Letters from Paul
I was shocked by Rob Eshman's solution to the "problem" facing 30-40-something Jewish women not for its outlandishness, but for its compassion and simplicity ("Our Hindu Widows," Aug. 10).
At the dawn of Creation, God knew it wasn't good for a human being to be alone. By any halachah, a woman who values her Judaism, who knows God and Torah, does not need a Jewish man to live out her Judaism or her maternal desires or to produce and raise Jewish children. Here's the real truth - she does not need a man at all. While this article spotlights heterosexuals, there are many capable, devoted Jewish lesbians raising healthy Jewish families without a man in sight. Some find Jewish women to love, others do not. Must we now ascertain the religious affiliation of sperm?
Those who decry interdating and intermarriage because it will not result in Jewish children are counting genes and assuming that genetics influence religious identity and behavior. Far better to use Torah to encourage a world in which gay and straight people pursue love, justice, and peace with a life partner who accompanies them on a Jewish journey [rather] than one in which we use Torah to punish those seeking to fulfill a mitzvah.
Name withheld upon request
As a personal recipient of Rob Eshman's generosity of spirit, I do not doubt his good intentions when he suggests that we find ways to facilitate matches between older Jewish women and non-Jewish men. In this matter at least I do, however, question his judgment.
Jewish leaders believed that the way to hold onto Jews was to reduce standards and make Judaism "more accessible." Every time it was tried, we hemorrhaged more Jews.
In other words what Eshman and others continue to suggest is the reason why what hasn't worked hasn't worked is because we have not yet done enough of that which repeatedly hasn't worked.
I fear that Eshman's noble desire to encourage rabbis and communal leaders to create "pathways for inclusion" to bring non-Jewish men into the Jewish fold would end up being nothing more than a series of "Reno Conversions" that would further divide the Jewish people.
Subject:Intermarriage ("Our Hindu Widows," Aug. 10).
I dealt with several Jewish dating services.
Received 9 calls from Jewish women.
All of them asked the same three questions, while not in the same order, the very FIRST questions were.
1. What do you drive?
2. What do you do?
3. Where do you live?
Regarding the editor's note in response to Jack Wertheimer, where Rob Eshman wrote, "Nowhere did I advocate for intermarriage." Let's get real here. Dating/interdating leads to marriage/intermarriage. Isn't that the idea of dating? You didn't have to say it, it was very much implied.
Please help to keep Judaism alive. The Jewish Journal used to publish a much better Jewish Singles Calender/Event Listing. Last week's calendar featured one Jewish Singles event. The Jewish Federation used to e-mail weekly the "Jewish LA Singles Newsletter." It was great, however that e-mail stopped a few months ago.
As I said last week, "Try being part of the solution instead of helping to decrease our numbers." I'm sure I'm not the only who will appreciate it.
Name withheld upon request
Shmuel of Arabia
I strongly agree with David Suissa's point that Arabic was a major Jewish language in which many of the seminal works of Judaism were written ("Shmuel of Arabia," Aug. 24).
Other than the Jewish thinkers and works he mentions ("Guide to the Perplexed" and the "Kuzari"), there are many more, like the writings of Rabbeinu Bahya ibn Asher and Rabbeinu Bahya ibn Pakuda, author of the "Duties of the Heart." Furthermore, normative Judaism as we know it today was, more than anything, a product of Iraq, more specifically the Babylonian Talmud. So, even when works were not written in Arabic, Arab culture influenced Jewish thought and law.
Unfortunately, this fact has been and still is very much suppressed by the Ashkenazi establishment - here and, even more, in Israel. Hence, I was very happy to see that there are still enough people who take pride in their Arabic-Jewish heritage. And I hope that this is the true meaning of the Shass-slogan: "le hakhzir 'atra la-yoshna" (To bring back the Golden Age). Kul al-sharki'in kvayssin!
Wishful Thinking for the Bush Legacy
When will leftist wishful thinking ever end ("Help Bush," Aug. 24)?
When will you ever realize that the Palestinians are not a nation but a dysfunctional conglomeration of hateful clans?
When will you ever realize that the Palestinians, the world's largest charity case, cannot form a viable economically stable state? And the only possible solution is a confederation with their brethren in Jordan and not another non-viable Arab country that spawns hatred and violence. Wishful thinking over the past 60 years got us to this predicament and only brings about false expectations and the perpetuation of our struggle.
Betzalel "Bitzy" N. Eichenbaum
So nice of Rob Eshman to worry about the Bush legacy. There will be many things to remember concerning this inept president. The Iraq war, which is one of this nation's greatest catastrophes. The failure to respect our civil rights and the separation of church and state. The disregard for the environment. And, so far as the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation is concerned, Bush has stood on the sidelines for six and a half years. What will he do now with the Arabs sill dedicated to destruction of the Jewish state? That legacy should have been impeachment for transgressions far greater than Clinton.
Edward L. Koblitz
Rob Eshman's editorial expresses a panicky insistence that it is now so auspicious to establish a Palestinian state that this time it will work, because Arab Sunnis are worried about radical Shiite Iran ("Help Bush," Aug. 24).