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Letters week of Mar 11, 2010
Modern Jewry Remains a Delicate Balancing Act
Robert Leiter's article (Books & Writers: "Equal, Yet Different," March 4) about the tension between adapting to the majority culture in communities around the world, while also trying to preserve a unique Jewish religious identity, is a subject that has always fascinated me.
It explains the peculiarities of American Judaism, in which we try to navigate between Jewish values and often conflicting contemporary culture.
The rise of egalitarian practices, women's religious participation and their changing roles in society, a new emphasis on tikkun olam and many other facets of Jewish American culture represent our attempts to fit in with democratic ideals.
We hardly recognize that some values are not compatible with traditional religious life, such as the authority of the rabbi in the community versus the synagogue board that hires that very rabbi.
Judaism is not democratic, yet we have reformulated our practices to make them compatible with American life -- and we barely realize it.
There Should Be a Chorus of Protest Against Abuses
I'm baffled as to why American Jews who do not live in Israel, have never served in its military, and don't pay taxes feel that they have the divine right to "criticize" and discuss what is "best" for Israel.
But that's not the point that letter-writer Gary Erlbaum ("Paper Got It All Wrong When It Comes to J Street," Feb. 18) and those of us who attended the recent Z Street event are trying to make.
American universities are monolithic in their tilt to the left. Moreover, vast sums of Arab money donated to create Muslim studies have joined to create an often hostile atmosphere for pro-Israel students. Many students talk of harassment and fear of grade retaliation if they dissent.
I would like to know why there is not a loud and steady drumbeat of protest from the American Jewish community about this prejudicial treatment toward our youth.
I would also like to hear a loud, sustained protest against the Islamic use of their children as bombs; against Hamas for subjugating its own people; and against the dictatorial states of Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Iran. I would like to hear U.S. Jews rise up and protest the subjugation, murder and rape of women in these countries and elsewhere.
Surrounded by a sea of enemies, lambasted by a global hostile press, what does Israel gain from Jewish criticism?
National Women's Board
Republican Jewish Coalition
Corrupting Us All: View of 'Everyman' Hurts Jews
I expected a more insightful commentary than Michael Elkin's brief mention of the Oscar-nominated film "An Education" ("Golden Locks," Feb. 4,). I felt that he glossed over an insidiously anti-Semitic portrayal.
David, the "sleazy slime of a lying Lotharlo" played by Peter Sarsgaard is not "Everyman," but every Jew. His Jewishness is not just mentioned in passing, but emphasized repeatedly.
Consider that he:
· Sets out to seduce Jenny, a 16-year-old high school girl;
· Obtains his wealth by displacing old people from their homes as he "busts" their neighborhood by moving in "undesirable" blacks;
· Walks into an old lady's home and steals a valuable artifact -- and then has the chutzpah to justify to Jenny why the theft is really for the good;
· Uses his wealth to seduce not only Jenny, but her parents -- the backbone of the English working class, guiding their daughter to a better life; and
· Lures Jenny into deceiving her own parents via a scheme to forge a book dedication; and
· After promising marriage, turns up living an innocuous ordinary life already married with a child. And what's more, he has committed his dastardly deceptions many times before -- even leaving some young girls pregnant.
He is a caricature for all Jews, taken right out of Hitler's propaganda manual: misbegotten wealth, sneaky, thieving, lying, deceiver, and using that wealth to take advantage of the innocent and trustful.
Richard S. Levine