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Letters Week of Dec. 15, 2005

December 15, 2005
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If Abortion Rights Are Curtailed, What''s Next?

As a 79-year-old male, it is highly unlikely that I''ll ever need an abortion. Still, I find the positions of the Bush/ Reagan crowd very distressing, and against the spirit of the American nation as originally conceived (Cover story: "Activists Look to Law in Abortion Debate," Dec. 1).

Our nation was born in the spirit of freedom. Freedom of the individual citizen was of absolutely paramount importance to the framers of our constitution. The very first order of business after getting that document ratified was the Bill of Rights, whose first eight amendments spelled out our specific freedoms, and whose ninth read, "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

How we opt to live our lives is specifically that right "retained by the people." It is not government''s right to order. Constitutionally, it is none of their business.

Abortion is merely the most visible aspect of the phenomenon of government being pressed to overstep its authority by zealots who feel within their rights to tell us how we should live.

If they can enforce their will on this issue, what will their next point of call be?
David Perelman
Elkins Park

''Ain''t I a Woman,'' Too? Groups Don''t Speak for Me

In reading your Dec. 1 cover article, "Activists Look to Law in Abortion Debate," I could not help but feel irritated as a religious woman who knows that halachah is strongly against abortion on demand.

What if I were to take Bonnie Margulis'' statement, remove "abortion" as a subject, and replace it with "slavery?"

She says that if someone is against abortion, then don''t have one. One could have just as easily said during the Civil War, if you''re against slavery, don''t own a slave.

And why does Phyllis Snyder of the National Council of Jewish Women claim to speak for me? She says that "everyone" feels abortion should be available.

Really?

I don''t feel it should be, and as Sojourner Truth would have said, "Ain''t I a
woman?"
Annette Ravinsky
Washington Township, N.J.

''Secular Conversion'' Idea: A Gesture of Contempt

Is Leonard Fein running out of new ideas, or is he a victim of a failing memory?

In his Dec. 1 column, he dusts off a proposal he first put forward in June of 2000, suggesting again that we find a mechanism by which non-Jews can convert to Judaism without religious requirements via a "secular conversion" (Opinion: "Faith: It Cannot Be the Only Path to a Peoplehood!")

He asks, "Is there not something awry in insisting that the only door through which one can enter Judaism is a door marked ''religion?'' "

He sanitizes his gesture of contempt for the sensibilities of religious and many secular Jews, and for the concept of the unity of the Jewish people, by asserting that, "De facto, this seems to be what the Reform movement is doing."

Does Union of Reform Judaism leader Rabbi Eric Yoffie agree? I doubt it.
Robert I. Lappin
Swampscott, Mass.

In Israel, It''s the Courts That Create Change

In his column on the re-alignment of Israeli politics, Jonathan Tobin omits an important fact (A Matter of Opinion: "Feeling the Tremors From Afar," Dec. 1).

It has been the Israeli Supreme Court that has altered the social landscape in Israel far more than the Knesset.

There are unlikely to be any significant changes for Reform or Conservative Judaism created by the Knesset - but watch out for the courts!
Jay M. Donner
Philadelphia

''Tis the Season Not to Freak Out Over Wishes

Concerning the annual bellyaching about Christmas celebrations in the public domain (A Matter of Opinion: "Oh Holiday Tree! Oh Holiday Tree!" Dec. 8).

My hope for this season is that we can all refrain from being aghast at a well-meaning gentile neighbor/co-worker or friend who wishes us a "Merry Christmas."

While I''m on the subject, wishing someone "Happy Holidays" when you know exactly what the other person''s religion is has gone too far as well.

Wish them a "Merry Christmas," for heaven''s sake!

This is not Warsaw in 1939. American Christianity is not transplanted from Eastern Europe.

As Jonathan Tobin wrote, Jews have thrived here not in spite of American Christianity, but also in part because of it.

As a people, we have withstood many more threats then being wished a "Merry Christmas," or having to endure Christmas songs and decorations at the mall.

My 6-year-old knows he''s Jewish, and I don''t fear he''ll be converted by eating Christmas cookies at his public school instead of "holiday" ones.
Saul Needle
King of Prussia

Stop Whining! Freedom of Religion Means Just That

Jonathan Tobin''s column demonstrates what happens when the law confuses freedom of religion with freedom from religion (A Matter of Opinion: "Oh Holiday Tree! Oh Holiday Tree!" Dec. 8).

To me and, I imagine, to America''s founding fathers, freedom of religion means everyone is free to practice his or her faith as long as that person does not impinge on somebody else''s religion.

Having a creche or a menorah in a public place is no big deal. It is certainly no worse than having carols jammed down one''s ears.

Regarding the display of menorahs, no Christian should object to celebrating the defeat of the Greeks by the Maccabees, for without their victory, Judaism in the holy land would have disappeared. So, if roughly 200 years later a new religion was destined to arise, it would have been entirely different from what is today called Christianity.

As for the whining of Jewish liberals, they should concentrate more on their own Jewishness, rather than on others'' Christianity.
Sydney Davis
Jerusalem

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