I Met Sarsour, and She’s Wonderful
A recent letter to the editor asserted how horrible Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour was in her hatred of Jews (“Jewish Embrace of Refugees Is Dangerous,” March 23). Well, I met her March 11 at the Council on American Islamic Relations banquet at the Springfield Country Club, and she is a firebrand — but only for the right of Muslims to exist and practice their religion in this country without being bothered.
Sarsour was the keynote speaker at the event, which was attended by 800 Muslims and a few non-Muslims. I was invited by the local CAIR chapter’s president, Osama Al-Qasem, who I know socially.
Sarsour was superbly dynamic and smart. She said how she had gone to the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C., and that it made a profound impression. She and another Muslim raised $150,000 for repairs of the desecration of Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia.
The letter writer said how terrible it was that Sarsour was one of the organizers of the Women’s March in D.C. He called her an enemy. I respect his misinformed opinion, but the gracious reception I and other Jews — included my rabbi from 43 years ago in Coatesville — attending the CAIR event didn’t appear to be anything special. It was just the way things are.
Sensible Jews should extend a hand in friendship to American Muslims, as they do to us.
Alan M. Gold | Doylestown
Though Not the First, High School Initiative Badly Needed
I was very pleased to read about the opening of LMAHH, the joint effort of four Main Line Conservative synagogues to open a supplementary high school (“Area Synagogues Hope Combined High School Approach Pays Off,” March 23).
I laud the work of my friends and colleagues involved in the endeavor. However, readers should note that this is not the first time such a school has existed in Philadelphia. Beginning in the 1940s, the Conservative movement’s Board of Jewish Education operated a network of regional Hebrew High Schools, including Cyrus Adler in West Oak Lane and later Elkins Park, Julius Greenstone in the Northeast, and M. David Hoffman in Wynnefield and later, the western suburbs. Under the leadership of Dr. William Lakritz for much of this period, these six-hour-per-week high schools prepared teens for confirmation and later study at Gratz College.
In 1987, the regional high schools became branches of Gratz College’s Jewish Community High School. The brainchild of Dr. Uziel Adini, enrollment peaked around the turn of the 21st century at 1,000 students in more than a dozen branches. My doctoral dissertation noted the social connections that crossed between these schools, Camp Ramah in the Poconos, and the Philadelphia and Hagesher Regions of USY. Sadly and for various reasons, Gratz’s branches closed in 2015, in part because synagogues insisted on keeping their high school kids in their own shuls, even when the paltry attendance made for less than ideal learning environments.
Yasher kochachem to the participating congregations and their leadership for reviving such an important institution!
Michael Schatz | Elkins Park