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Letters week of Sept. 9, 2010

September 9, 2010
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No One's Turned Away Because They Can't Pay

I read with great dismay the article titled " 'Paying to Pray': Can You Get Around That?" (City & Suburb, Sept. 2). This article -- and its offensive headline -- only serves to perpetuate the all-too-prevalent myth that synagogue membership is for High Holiday tickets only.

Membership in a synagogue is about being part of a sacred community, 365 days a year. It is about educating our children, forming relationships, and being a part of the Jewish community.

In fact, at Old York Road Temple-Beth Am in Abington, we do not charge "dues"; we assess our members a "synagogue commitment," because as synagogue members, we support the Jewish community and its institutions (including, I might add, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia).

Moreover, we will never turn anyone away for lack of ability to pay, so the very idea of an article on finding a place to "pray for free" is completely unnecessary.

Joanne Kleiner Levin
Old York Road Temple-Beth Am


Labor Committee: There's Still Lots of Fire Left in It

Rumors of the Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee's imminent demise are exaggerated (Cover Story: "Worries Abound on Labor Front: Will Longtime Group Survive?" Sept. 2).

Since hearing of the decision by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia not to renew our annual allocation, the committee's board of directors has developed a plan of action to secure the organization's future. We will emerge more focused on our core mission to advance the shared social and economic agenda of the Jewish community and the labor movement, become more financially self-sustaining, and expand our programming to attract a wider audience.

March 25 of next year will mark the centennial of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in Manhattan -- a tragedy that sparked decades of legislation that shifted dangerous, poverty-level jobs to family-sustaining, middle-class occupations.

The Labor Committee plans to commemorate the fire, as well as annual events like the Labor seder, to highlight the relevance of the struggles for justice to the Jewish community.

Many of us are beneficiaries of these struggles waged by our parents and grandparents. Our group has ambitious plans, even if, for a time, we cannot afford a full-time executive director.

We will continue the fight for new generations of workers who are underpaid and overworked, and join those who share our ideals.

Jeff Hornstein
Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee


Opinion-Writer Had Right Idea: Two-State Solution

Rabbi Charles Kroloff's piece ("Recognize the Power of This Time, and Its Potential for Change," Sept. 2) is right on track in calling upon readers to tell the Obama administration and Congress that we know that a two-state solution is in the best interests of Israel, the Palestinians and America.

The piece also correctly states that we must assure our elected officials that they will have a reliable base of support when they take bold steps to further negotiations.

The most effective way to do this is by joining the e-mail list of J Street -- the pro-Israel, pro-peace political voice of American Jews, which already includes 160,000 individuals.

Harold Jacobs


He Not Only Knows Adam, He Graduated With Him

I grew up in Northeast Philadelphia reading the Jewish Exponent. And I very much enjoyed reading Michael Elkin's great article about screenwriter Adam Mazer (Cover story: " 'Don't Know Jack' -- but Maybe You Know Adam?" Aug. 26).

I also graduated from George Washington High School in 1985 with Adam.

And I lived in Cherry Hill, N.J., during the Rabbi Fred Neulander trial, and am looking forward to Adam's perspective on that troubling saga.

Thanks again to Mr. Elkin for continuing to make the Exponent interesting.

Cliff Stein
Senior Director
Football Administration & General Counsel
Chicago Bears

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