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Letters Week of Aug. 24, 2011
'Gold Medal' Experience for Jewish Athletes
I just experienced the JCC Maccabi Games, which were held last week in Philadelphia. The Kaiserman JCC, once again, has led the way for the Maccabi movement, combining all the details that are required with great social programs and high-quality, life-changing experiences for more than 1,200 athletes, plus a few hundred coaches.
Led by Beth Segal, games director; Farrell Borine, executive director; and Dave Dossick, assistant games director, in partnership with co-chairs Adam Sherman and Steve Rosenberg, the steering committee handled many thousands of details in a most professional way. Overcoming the challenges of the weather was no easy task, yet they were able to do it.
From the tzedakah project, known as Days of Caring and Sharing, to the well-organized sports with terrific venues, the games were truly a "gold medal" experience. (Philadelphia also had wonderful host families.)
Kol Hakavod to everyone involved in putting the games together. The residual effect on the participants, as well as on all the volunteers and the community itself, will last for many years to come. You have created a model that will be hard to replicate and it paves the way for the future.
Chazak Ve'amatz: Be strong and courageous!
Jews and Baseball: One Unbeatable Combination
I really enjoyed Michael Elkin's Aug. 18 cover piece, "A Major League Passion," about Jews and baseball, probably because the connection has long interested me.
My sense has been that in spite of many attempts to look for special links based on some unique aspects of Judaism, this love affair had more to do with the fact that during the period that Jews were defining themselves as Americans, baseball was one the most defining of American activities. While urban Jews certainly played basketball, only baseball grabbed the national imagination.
I wonder if we interviewed Jewish high school and college students about what sports they are passionate about today, football and perhaps basketball -- although not in Philadelphia today -- might outweigh baseball.
When I was in high school in the New York suburbs, my Jewish youth group was given a dozen tickets to New York Rangers games. There were very few takers. I'm sure that wouldn't happen today.
This Will Be a Fight That Could Take Centuries
Despite my knowledge of, and my healthy respect for, Rabbi Gary Charlestein in his rabbinic role, I find his observations in the paper to be on an entirely different plane than the realities on the ground that we face in the Arab-Israeli War (Letters: "Letter Writer Dismissed Very Need for Dreamers," Aug. 18).
Anyone who is even minimally aware of the causes and details of that conflict knows that it is not a simple matter of people being nice to each other. Rather it is an existential battle between one side's rigid, deeply ingrained, life-controlling religious teachings that no non-Muslim state (especially a Jewish one) can be tolerated over a Muslim one, that any land that was once Muslim must always belong to Muslims and that the Middle East is for Muslims only. And remember, they have been willing to fight to the death for these ideas for centuries (as they did against the Crusaders) to achieve the goal of destroying Israel. Israel's goal, on the other hand, is simply to live in peace and security among her Muslim neighbors.
We all wish it were different, but the Muslim/Arab mind-set prevents any other scenario. We are cursed to fight this battle for as long as it may take -- even for centuries.
Dr. H. Zigerman