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Letters Week of Sept. 10, 2009
Where Do We Find God? It's Not in Destruction!
While it's true, as one of my colleagues has pointed out in the Jewish Exponent, that throughout the ages, prophets, philosophers and mystics have wondered where God might be found, the answer, I don't think, is in the destruction of the two temples in Jerusalem, and certainly not in the Shoah (Torah Portion: "Darkness Has Always Led to Greater Strength," July 30).
The massacre of hundred of thousands of Jews by the Babylonians and the Romans is not a lesson for us, in the 21st century, of where God is to be found. And during the Holocaust, for the 1.5 million children who were gassed and burned -- to say nothing of the other millions of innocent men and women who did not experience any Divine intervention -- that is not where I, as a rational human being, would think we would hear whispers, as my colleague quoted: "I'm here -- I'm your God."
On the contrary, what we heard was silence -- a deafening silence!
Rabbi Seymour Prystowsky
Congregation Or Ami
Verbal Violence Can Only Lead to Greater Strife
I've been reading a number of letters in the Jewish Exponent from so-called "pro-Israel" people insulting those who see a different way for Israel than the one being implemented currently. These letter-writers have questioned "peaceniks" dedication to Israel as a Jewish democratic state and even our connection to the Jewish people.
If I remember correctly, the rabbis taught that Jerusalem fell through disrespect and hatred of Jew for Jew. Are we to repeat this scenario again?
We may disagree, but I believe that the commandment of "Ahavat Israel" is a primary commandment. We can't love each other if we harbor such depths of hatred and disdain for those who disagree with us within our own community.
Using the epithets "leftists, rightists, anti-Semites, self-haters, Nazis" does not resolve differences, nor does it lead to reasonable solutions.
It's too easy to argue by insult. It is, in fact, verbal violence that prevents discussion and civil discourse. These issues need rational discussion.
We all want Israel to survive as a democratic state, though we may have different ideas about how best to achieve this goal. We may also disagree as to what being a "Jewish state" means. But democracy can't function if there is hatred and disdain for differences.
Every side believes that what they propose is best for Israel's survival. In our youth, we dreamed of the Jewish state as different and better than the "others." Unfortunately, it has become like the "others" with disregard for the poor, for the stranger and for the other.
We fight about religion, boundaries and peace. These are the age-old patterns we had hoped would disappear. Please recall that, after our catastrophe of the mid-20th century, we must respect and be civil to each other if we are to survive.
Professor Paul G. Shane
Because It's Blood Libel, Apologies Are Necessary
A front-page article in the Jewish Exponent reviewed a story published in Aftonbladet, a Swedish newspaper, which described how Israel Defense Force soldiers supposedly murdered Palestinians and harvested their organs ("Organ Ordeal: Did Sweden Fumble or Israel Overreact?" Aug. 27).
The reporter, describing the strong condemnation by the Israeli government, provided a complete account, including the response by a Jewish group in Sweden and a news report in Ha'aretz. The conclusion was that Israel overreacted; clearly, the freedom of the press is untouchable.
So Jews are supposed to ignore any slander no matter how harmful? This story is a blood libel, plain and simple, activated by the lies and criminality of the Palestinians. The dissemination of such material is barbaric and deserves condemnation not only by Israel, but also by Swedish officials.
And if the person who wrote the story had any scruples, he would offer an abject apology for his biased report.
Incidentally, the Palestinian family that originated the blood libel later admitted that they didn't say what they said.