August 16, 2007
Some boo the Hindu that you do so well—others, not so much
Your response to interdating
(Page 4 - Previous Page)And women who are so Jewishly focused that their rabbis tell them whom to date sound like women who should re-evaluate who's in charge of their lives -- themselves or the rabbi.
You can marry anyone you love, ladies. Your kids are Jewish if you are. These rabbis surely know that.
Los Angeles i just wanted to thank you for writing that article. sometimes, it feels like being part of a persecuted minority. or, if not persecuted, at least ignored. i used to just be attracted to jewish guys and assume that i would marry one. now that im 44, i realize how hard it is to just find a kindred soul, jewish or not. and i cant tell you how many people say that they know great women and they wouldnt even CONSIDER setting me up w/1 of their guy friends.
anyway, thanks, for highlighting this issue...
Name Withheld upon Request
I write to express my indignation that you attributed views to me that are nowhere in the article you used as your foil. This is what you wrote: "Get women out of schools and workplaces and into marriage beds sooner, said Wertheimer." I did say the latter, but tell me where in my article I urged women to leave school and the workplace? In fact, I said just the opposite: I noted the phenomenon of Orthodox women who do achieve a high level of education and participate in the labor force, but nonetheless marry and have children at higher than replacement levels. Had I written what you claim I "said," I would not have gotten public support from female and male feminists who expressed their disgust at the (willful?) misreading of my article when it first appeared.
As to the substance of your piece: you now want to solve the problem of women who cannot find Jewish husbands by encouraging them to intermarry. A good deal of the reason they cannot find Jewish husbands in the first place is because Jewish men intermarry at higher rates than do Jewish women. So you just want to keep the vicious cycle going. Good luck. But in the future, try to hold yourself to the same standards of accuracy as, presumably, you hold your writers.
Professor Jack Wertheimer
Jewish Theological Seminary
New York, N.Y.
Editor's Note: I did partially misread Wertheimer's essay, and I apologize.
He returned the favor by misreading and misstating my solution. Nowhere did I advocate for intermarriage. I advocated for interdating, and for rabbis and others to create pathways toward inclusion and conversion for the non-Jewish male partners.
Jack Wertheimer and I are both happily married, so it is easy for us to say to an aging cohort of Jewish women, "good luck." But his solution as I understand it is for more and better wishful thinking, and mine takes into account the very real pain of these women, and the immediate choices they must make. He understands of course that even if these men don't convert, the women will still bear beautiful Jewish children, which hardly strikes me as part of any vicious cycle.
I'm enjoying Rabbi Dietch's commentary ("Blessing a Curse," Aug. 10). She helps me connect each week's message to my life.
None of the countries surrounding Israel would ever allow a Jew to own a piece of their land ('Jews Only' Land Plan Counters Israel's Values," Aug. 10). But this doesn't bother Rabbi Eric Yoffie. What bothers Yoffie is a law passed by the Knesset that prevents precious Israeli land, already owned by the Jewish National Fund and bought with money donated by Jews after the Holocaust, from being sold to non-Jews, many of whom don't recognize the Jewish state and would love the opportunity to act as a Trojan Horse.
It's pretty easy for Yoffie to sit comfortably in the United States and preach to Israel about democracy and discrimination. There are no Qassam rockets flying over his head nor air raid sirens disturbing his sleep. The members of Knesset, however, understand that they have the unique task of balancing democracy with survival.
Raphael J. Sonenshein accuses assorted Republican presidential candidates and neoconservative ideologues, aided and abetted by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), of lumping together "Sunni, Shias, Hezbollah and Hamas" into a chimera called "Islamofascism" ("Islamofascism and the GOP," Aug. 10). In contrast, according to Sonenshein, the large majority of American Jews who continue to vote Democratic wisely understand the United States should withdraw from Iraq so that we can better hunt down Al Qaeda in the Afghan-Pakistan border region.
Sonenshein's expertise is not the Arab and Muslim world, but let's credit him with a better grasp of its geopolitics than indicated by his misidentification of the partisan geography of the U.S. Senate, where Vermont's independent Bernie Sanders and Connecticut's moderate Lieberman would not want to be mistaken for each other. Yet I cannot escape the suspicion that Sonenshein is less preoccupied with removing Osama bin Laden from the wilds of Waziristan than with ending George W. Bush's reign in the White House.
Soon Dubya will retire to his ranch, but global Al Qaeda, the Iranian mullahs, Hezbollah and Hamas, despite the distinctions, will not abate their shared hatred of Jews, Israelis and Americans.
Sonenshein also commends the wisdom of American Jews who are "deeply concerned that American Muslims harbored anti-Semitic attitudes," yet don't want to "isolate American Muslims" like Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota. The problem is that Sonenshein's dialogue with Ellison, if there is one, seems to be all one way.
Ellison may have convinced Sonenshein that President Bush, who is fighting in Iraq to maintain a Shia-dominated government, wants to sell $20 billion in arms to the Saudis and holds the record for shoeless pilgrimages to mosques by an American president declaring Islam "a religion of peace," is somehow an Islamophobe.
Yet Sonenshein failed to teach Ellison not to equate Bush with Hitler and the 9/11 attacks on America with the Reichstag fire. Ellison then recanted but without conviction.
Islamofascism may indeed not be the best term to apply to the phenomenon, but Sonenshein ought to analyze in less partisan terms the global threat posed by many millions of Muslim Shias, as well as Sunnis, who admire Bin Laden, while detesting the values of modernity and pluralism upon which American, Jewish and Israeli survival depend.
The extremists and their sympathizers are not a majority among the world's billion Muslims, but the menace they pose won't be ended by withdrawing from Iraq or by getting Bin Laden or by Democratic cheap shots against the most botched war since JFK and LBJ got us into the Vietnam War.
The American people are waiting for a convincing blueprint -- not recycled isolationist appeasement -- about how to do better. Americans Jews ought to demand the same from the Democrats.
The brief note, "Hitler Listened to Music by Jews," in the Aug. 10 issue, stated that when Capt. Lev Besymenski died at age 86, "his daughter, Alexandra, brought the box of some 100 LPs to Germany's Der Spiegel magazine."
Given that how LPs were not made commercially available until 1948, how could Hitler have played them in 1945?
Either JTA made an editing error and should have said "albums," or else they really weren't what the article said they were. A box of 100 78-rpm albums would have to be a very large box weighing quite a lot. Even LPs would need more than a large box.
I read with great interest your story on serial blogger Luke Ford ("Interview With a Serial Blogger," Aug. 3). His postings seem to be the electronic equivalent of publications like National Inquirer; its articles and Ford's stories should be taken by any reasonable person with a large grain of salt.
On the other hand, I find it interesting that the other side is represented by Rabbi Meir Kagan's idea of lashon hara in his book, "Chofetz Chaim." I find that the rabbi is quoted in Web sites like Jews Against Zionism and apparently declared that "Zionists are the descendants of Amalek." Assuming that this declaration is true, then perhaps the attackers of Ford should worry less about lashon hara and worry more about simple hypocrisy.
I tried without success to find value in your article about the blogger -- any value that is, let alone Jewish value. Had this appeared in a tiny box somewhere in the back of your paper, even then I don't think it would have been worth anyone's time, effort, dollars for salary, etc.
But to make it a cover story? What were you thinking?
I think your paper has reached a new low. Please concentrate on Jewish values in the future.
The real test of a righteous person is if they will continue to maintain their stand or position, regardless of the social pressures of friends, public opinion or the situation itself.
When mean-spirited Cathy Seipp, a blogger who spent the last five years of her life attacking everybody she came in contact with, recently died, her friends, all supposed champions of freedom of speech, jointly decided that nobody is allowed to dare criticize, satirize or parody her.
They pressured Web site operators, ISP's and threatened lawsuits in order to remove parody and satire about this woman, who had viciously attacked politicians, journalists, teachers, administrators, bureaucrats, parking lot attendants and waitresses -- again, anybody she came in contact with. They continued by writing hit pieces and creating obscene and lewd Web sites about the very person whose parodies about Seipp they had gotten taken down.
Luke Ford was the only one to stand up and defend freedom of speech. He questioned how the same people who cherished their own journalistic freedoms could conspire to deprive somebody else of the same rights. He defended that person's rights to parody, satirize and criticize, regardless if the subject was alive, almost dead or dead. He did this even though he had been close friends with many of them.
How dare he do such a thing? He was now a traitor.
Maybe a traitor to them. But a true friend of freedom of speech and a rare find -- a man willing to stand on his principles despite the consequences.
A recent 400-page U.N. report found that animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. That's more than cars and all other forms of transportation combined. We have a moral imperative, as responsible humans, to find ways of reducing our impact on the environment. We, as Jews, should be in the forefront of this effort.
The Torah mandates that we care for our bodies and the earth. It promotes compassion for animals and, while it permits the eating of flesh, cautions against carnivorous gluttony. It also has very specific rules about the treatment and slaughter of animals.
The easiest and most direct way we can help the planet is to switch to a plant-based diet. Instead of cutting down on flesh products and moving toward a plant-based diet, which would dramatically reduce greenhouse gases, this obscene, self-indulgent, halachic adventure" actually glorified and sanctified gluttony ("Gourmet Kosher Brings Out Fear Factor," Aug. 10).
In answer to Ms. Gruenbaum Fax's question about whether we should be focusing our efforts on Darfur and other pressing humanitarian issues (as the American World Jewish Service and others are doing), the answer is "yes." But we must simultaneously find ways to salvage the portion of our planet we have not yet destroyed.
If the promoters of this event truly want to uncover and preserve pieces of our heritage, why not work with Jews around the world to preserve their native languages and restore lost ones like Ladino, while simultaneously teaching them ways to reduce our impact on the planet?
In her piece, Ms. Gruenbaum Fax asks the question, "Are we such gluttons that we need our best minds finding more carnage pious Jews can rip apart with their teeth?" Yes, apparently some of us are, and, I would argue, not our "best minds".
Rina Deych, RN
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