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Letters week of Dec. 28, 2006

December 28, 2006
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Fattah Backs Resolution on Iran Holocaust Denial

Rep. Chaka Fattah strongly supports House Resolution 1091, which was approved with no dissenting votes on Dec. 8, "condemning in the strongest terms Iran's commitment to hold an international Holocaust-denial conference."

Rep. Fattah believes the Iran Holocaust-denial conference to be abhorrent -- a ploy by pretend scholars and racists to debase the historic, horrific truth of the Holocaust and its victims.

The Jewish Exponent wrote that he was absent from Washington that day (City & Suburb: "Leaders Express Outrage Over Iran's Holocaust-Denial Conference," Dec. 21).

Rep. Fattah took official leave that day, and filed an extension of remarks for the Congressional Record, stating that he would have supported the resolution had he been present.

The congressman previously voted to condemn Iran's threats against Israel and to condemn Iran's violation of international nuclear nonproliferation obligations.
Ron Goldwyn
Deputy Communications Director for Congressman Fattah
Philadelphia

 

Gerrymandered District Enabled Gerlach to Win

The headline of a Jewish Exponent story asks, "How Did Jim Gerlach Dodge Disenchantment Bullet?" (People & Politics, Dec. 14).

Here's the answer: He runs in a district -- the 6th -- that heavily favors him. It is a district that was built for him, so that he wouldn't have to worry about any Democratic rivals.

This district is so lopsided that even the Supreme Court of the United States agreed, but of course, it would not overturn the gerrymandering that went on because of states rights.

Jim Gerlach cares neither for Lower Merion nor the Jewish people who live there. He basically cares only about himself and maintaining his seat.

Lois Murphy, while not running the best campaign, worked harder, and is more honest than any candidate I've encountered in many years.

And her beliefs were not something she just developed yesterday.

I've been around as long as the State of Israel, and I feel there's not a politician in this country (except perhaps in the deep South) that doesn't support Israel. To use that, as Gerlach and the Republicans did, as a political issue is insane.

I hate to keep fighting over this election, but facts are facts.

Gerlach won because of one thing: gerrymandering.
JoAnn Erfer
Wynnewood

 

The Real Sodomites? The Tax-Cutters, Not Gays

In his opinion piece about the Conservative movement's decision on allowing gay rabbis (Opinion: "To Those Halachic Conservatives: Go Orthodox!" Dec. 14), Rabbi Avi Shafran, the spokesman for Agudath Israel of America, observed that "the Conservative decision may technically claim to preserve the biblical prohibition on sodomy."

This is a statement that no one knowledgeable in Judaica could possibly write, especially for a Jewish audience.

In Christianity, sodomy means same-sex intercourse. But for the Torah and rabbinic literature, sodomy (Hebrew: midat sdom) means "abuse of the poor."

Genesis 18:20 does not itemize the misdeeds of the denizens of Sodom and Gomorrah. The only elaboration is found in Ezekiel 16:49, where the sin of Sodom is specified as a lack of support for the needy.

Thus, according to the worldview of the Torah (both written and oral), Republican fiscal conservatives who balance the budget on the backs of the poor (especially while providing tax cuts for the wealthy), and Delaware Valley businesses who exploit the poor, are the true Sodomites -- not same-sex couples.

As to the prohibition of homosexual activity in Lev. 18:22, it is included among a list of outlawed sexual relations, which (Lev. 18:24) "defile the land." Close, "strict constructionist" analysis of this text plausibly indicates that such "defiling" is experienced as more ritual and cultic, rather than moral, in nature; and only apply to residents of the Holy Land, rather than all communities, everywhere.

Shafran's blatant misuse of language -- substituting Christian for Jewish vocabulary -- is inexcusable, and borders on sacrilege.

Instead of composing snippy, mean-spirited opinion columns, he could make better use of his time by becoming reacquainted with the correct terminology and content of the Tanach and Talmud.
S.R. Cohen
Pikesville, Md.

 

The Struggle to Provide Housing Wasn't Easy

I was pleased to see your piece on TIKVAH/AJMI: The Advocates for the Jewish Mentally Ill (Focus on Community: "Support Group Provides Hope and Quality of Life," Dec. 7).

We have long sought recognition for our cause, and this article does justice to our efforts.

TIKVAH/AJMI has from its beginning tried to provide a warm and welcoming environment for our very vulnerable population, which now totals more than 200 people.

One of our earliest endeavors was to provide housing designed to meet their needs.

To accomplish this, we had to fight an uphill battle.

I'm glad to say that one of our members who has been in the forefront of this struggle to provide accommodations for our members was Mike Sloan.

Because of his success and the help of many others, we now have a house fully occupied by TIKVAH members.
Harvey Schwartz
President, TIKVAH/AJMI
Philadelphia

 

Be Careful When West Meets East in the South!

Your article about Chile (Travel & Leisure: "Chile's Hot Happenin' Capital," Dec. 7) stated that it "lies in the southeast of South America."

Take a look at a map and you'll see that it is in the southwest Pacific side of the continent.
Thalia Cohen
Boynton Beach, Fla.

 

 

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