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Letters to the Editor Week of Nov. 23, 2005

November 23, 2005
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High School Text Presents Biased Portrait of Conflict
In light of the recent series in the Jewish Exponent about the content of American educational materials about Islam and the Middle East ("Islam and Education," Oct. 27, Nov. 3 and Nov. 10), we thought your readers would be interested in an analysis of a current text by two retired social-studies teachers:

World History: Patterns of Interaction by Roger Bock, Linda Black, Larry S. Krieger, Phillip Naylor and Dahia Ibo Shabaka was used in all world-history classes in the Philadelphia public high schools in the 2004-05 academic year.

Generally speaking, the students are presented with a pro-Arab position pretending to be evenhanded. They are asked to come up with solutions that seasoned diplomats have yet to realize.

The text fails to give the Israeli position from a long-term historical vantage. Israel's legitimacy is also questioned. The recognition by both the League of Nations and then the United Nations is overshadowed by the use of the term "seized" to describe Israeli actions, and the use of terms such as "Palestine" and "Palestinians" as historic entities, despite the fact that use of these terms is only a recent development.

The maps don't show Israel in relation to the entire Middle East and Arab world. And the Palestinians are pictured as having a struggle for a homeland that the Israelis refuse to concede when repeated offers have been made - and rejected - since 1936.

Philip Rosen
Eleanor Weinglass

Philadelphia

Rabbis: Strive to Include, Not Polarize, Congregants
I wish to respond to your Nov. 10 cover story, "Politics and the Pulpit: Perfect Fit or Pure Folly?"

I was deeply distressed to read that some members of Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park have chosen to leave that synagogue because of its rabbi's sermonizing.

I read frequently in this newspaper of the grave concerns our community leaders have regarding the ever-lowering number of Jewish families that belong to a synagogue.

Rabbis and synagogue leaders should be striving to make their synagogues places where all Jewish people, regardless of their political or social beliefs, feel comfortable.

For a rabbi to promote his own political and/or social views to such a level that congregants feel alienated is a disservice to the synagogue.

It also severely damages the Jewish community as a whole.

Ken Bloom
Willow Grove

Keep Watch, Be Careful: Predators on the Loose
Rabbi David Kaye is the newest member of a notorious group of rabbis, cantors and teachers who have violated the principles of their faith, exploited the confidence of their students and betrayed trust of their communities (Nation & World: "Rabbi Resigns After NBC Links Him to Internet Sex Sting," Nov. 17).

Kaye's television debut as a sexual predator once again shines a spotlight on the need for the Jewish community - and all communities, for that matter - to confront a seedy and sordid reality.

We must actively and vigilantly carry out the responsibility to care for and protect the most vulnerable.

The sad reality is that while most members and leaders of our community are decent and trustworthy, some are not. And unfortunately, those types don't wear signs around their necks that proclaim, "Watch Out! I'm a Predator."

Unfortunately, a cursory glance at the headlines of Jewish papers in the past few years reveals that ostensible piety, seeming scholarship and perceived compassion are not safeguards against indecency and impropriety.

As distasteful and disillusioning as it is, Kaye's case reminds us that we must be a bit guarded in our relationships.

Education and awareness programs for all members of our community, especially for children, that educate and empower people in dealing with such issues as sexual predators, Internet hazards, child abuse and boundary issues will go a long way in making our community a safer place.

Rabbi Mark Dratch
JSafe: The Jewish Institute Supporting an Abuse-Free Environment
West Hempstead, N.Y.

Day-School Seeking Info on Founder's Work
In celebration of our institution's 60th anniversary, we are trying to locate individuals who were helped or saved by Rabbi Eliezer Silver, our school founder, during or after World War II.

Anyone with information about the rabbi or those he helped can call 513-351-7777; e-mail: rabbiesilver@juno.com; or write to: CHDS, c/o Rabbi B. Travis, 2222 Losantiville Ave., Cincinnati, OH.

Rabbi B. Travis
Cincinnati Hebrew Day School

Teachers Chose Different Options at Study Program
On Nov. 6, the Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education sponsored a conference featuring Dr. Howard Gardner, creator of the theory of multiple intellengences (City & Suburb: "Famed Theorist Stresses Utilizing the Idea of Multiple Intelligences," Nov. 10).

There were nearly 1,300 teachers in attendance. Some 970 of them were religious-school, early-childhood and day-school teachers.

Your article noted that "roughly half of the teachers skipped the second half of Gardner's talk to attend one of the 27 workshops."

The teachers did not "skip" the second half.

Auerbach CAJE - in agreement with the school directors of the supplementary schools and early-childhood schools - chose to provide teachers with an option. They could either listen to Gardner for all three hours, or listen to him for 11?2 hours and then attend a workshop on a specific Judaic area that would focus on implementing activities utilizing multiple intelligences.

Although your article concluded with a negative comment from a participant about Gardner's presentation, the 1,000 evaluations we received were overwhelmingly positive.

Deborah Gettes
Conference chair
Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education

 

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