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Letters week of Jan. 17, 2008
Another Local Resident Declined Christian Bible
The article on church-state separation and education was very interesting (City & Suburb: "Religion in the Schools: Debate Never Falters," Dec. 27).
However, Ellery Schempp, whose complaint led to a change in the law, was not the only one who chose not to listen to prayers in public school.
My father died on Jan. 1, 1939, the year I was graduating high school. Our family sat shivah for seven days, so I had a lot of work to catch up on.
In homeroom, the teacher started reading the New Testament. I didn't plan not to listen. But I kept doing homework.
The teacher called me up to her desk, and I just said, "I do not have to listen to the New Testament."
Like Schempp, I was sent to the principal's office and forced to apologize to the teacher. I was 17 at the time.
Not too long ago, I wrote to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and told him my story. I never heard from him.
Bertha Chirlin Roth
Give Special Honor to the Rabbis Who Honor Torah
I appreciated the article on Yeshiva Tiferes Avigdor (City & Suburb: "New Yeshiva Gets a Warm Welcome Despite a Damp, Drizzly, Day," Jan. 3).
It's important for the Jews of Philadelphia to learn about new growth, ongoing learning opportunities and activities in the Orthodox community.
I was disturbed, however, by the lack of respect shown to the rabbis in the article.
It is customary in the secular press to use a person's title the first time the name is mentioned, and thereafter only to use the last name.
However, when referring to our rabbonim, it is more fitting to use their titles each time that they are mentioned.
This is not only for the kavod -- the "honor" -- which they personally deserve, but it gives kavod to the Torah of Hashem, which they represent.
Leslie J. Frank
Why Does Money Seem to Beat Out Experience?
I enjoyed reading Jonathan Tobin's column urging voters to concentrate on presidential candidates' qualifications and views on foreign policy (A Matter of Opinion: "Foreign-Policy Presidency Roulette," Jan. 3).
I, too, wonder why voters fail to "think straight about the one thing we elect presidents to do."
As a passionate backer of the short-lived candidacy of Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), I find myself at a loss as to why money won out over experience.
It's not right. I can't change it, but I don't understand it.
Susan Attinson Stephens
There's Nothing Wrong With Being a Christian!
I have watched in amazement as many have attacked Gov. Mike Huckabee for his unashamed affiliation as a Christian (A Matter of Opinion: "Should We Fear Faith?" Dec. 20).
He simply presents himself as a Christian; it is inseparable from him and it's who he is.
Huckabee also speaks to the issues concerning Christians. Apparently, that is a problem for some people. He doesn't say he will convert the country to Christianity, or that he will administer the country for Christians only.
Tobin also had a problem with Huckabee's Christmas message. That shows how completely out of touch with the real world the writer is.
Christmas affects everyone in America, whether you celebrate it or not. Nobody in government makes people celebrate Christmas. Nor would Huckabee.
Israel Wields Dominant Power, Despite Terrorists
According to The New York Times, Palestinian attacks on Israelis declined in 2007 and were the lowest since 2000.
Figures credited to Israeli intelligence show that 13 Israelis were killed by attacks in 2007, seven civilians and six soldiers (in spite of the 1,263 Kassam rockets and 1,511 mortar shells fired at Israel from Gaza in 2007).
In 2006, 24 Israelis were killed. In 2002 -- at the height of the intifada -- 426 Israelis were killed.
B'Tselem, the Israeli human-rights group, reported that Israeli forces killed 373 Palestinians in 2007, 290 in Gaza, 83 in the West Bank, and 53 among them children.
Some 35 percent of these dead were allegedly not involved in hostilities.
In 2006, 657 Palestinians were killed, including 140 children. A good 54 percent of these dead were also not involved in hostilities.
This means that in 2006-07, the Israelis killed 1,030 Palestinians, whereas 37 Israelis were killed.
Regardless of Hamas or other extreme groups, Israel wields dominant power.
As such, now is the time to pursue peace. Isn't that what Judaism teaches us?
Robert B. Gidding
Can't Compare 'Illegals' to Ellis Island Immigrants
It seems that the Jewish Exponent is at it again -- confusing illegals and sliming Republicans (Editorial: "Immigration Pandering, Jan. 3).
Let's look at the facts.
Millions of illegals, not immigrants, have been pouring over the Southern border for years. Many come to improve their lives and in the process, aid the American economy.
And some don't. To point this out is not racism, but rather an attempt to clarify the problem. Illegals bring drugs across the border to feed the American epidemic; some are terrorists; and some come with the belief that parts of the United States belong to Mexico.
At present, we have at least 12 million illegals in this country. In certain communities, they overload schools and emergency rooms, and cause great problems for the police in those areas. Added to this is the fact that they make a mockery of the laws of this country.
The Exponent continues to interchange the terms "illegal immigrants" and "undocumented workers," and compare them to the legal immigrants that came into our country 100 ago. People who entered via Ellis Island went through medical checks, required someone to sponsor them and followed U.S. laws. They should not be compared to the illegals who are coming across the border.
Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.