Letters | Grammar, Politics and the Muslim American Society


Ticked off About Verbs

I feel the need to reiterate the request to have your writing staff refrain from using the term Bar/Bat “Mitzvahed” as a verb. That is an offensive term to me and I hope to many other committed Jews. I do not like to see this term used as a verb.

A Jewish person becomes of age to become a Bar/Bat Mitzvah and its purpose is to accept the awesome responsibilities as a Jew. Please don’t trivialize this by making it seem like Jews are being minted in a factory assembly line way through their respective synagogues.

Gail Schwartz | Philadelphia

Jewish Values Not Conservative

Jerry Stern (“Letters,” May 23) has a marvelous sense of humor.

Positing that “Jewish values are more at home with conservative beliefs … the core ideology of the Republican Party,” he asserts that it is “conservative judges who are defending Jewish liberties under assault….” In point of fact, it is the Republican-controlled state legislatures in the South and Midwest that have recently enacted a near-total abortion ban which happens to be unequivocally anti-halachic; and therefore anti-Jewish, and thus irrefutably anti-Semitic. Not to mention a blatant violation of American Jewry’s First Amendment right to religious freedom.

Stern also decries how “Democrats perpetuate a cycle of dependency on government subsidies by promoting the expansion of programs like welfare and Medicare…” Jewish religious law considers health care a universal right — not a privilege nor mere commodity. Indeed, according to research conducted by former Philadelphian Rabbi Alan Yuter — a Republican, by the way, with advanced Orthodox ordination — it even prefers a single-payer system, which is what the citizens of the state of Israel today enjoy. And it works quite well. In terms of Stern’s “Jewish values” argument, how could it possibly be that what is good enough for the Holy Land is not good enough for the United States of America?

Wojo Cohen | Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Judaism Engages With Needy

A recent letter to the editor (“Letters,” May 23) wondered why some Jews do not support the party of Trump. Setting aside for now a party led by a person who lies repeatedly, denigrates immigrants (except for two of his wives), attacks the free press (“fake news”) etc., here are a few reasons why someone might support a different set of beliefs.

“Uphold the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and befriend the stranger, providing food and clothing … for you were strangers in the land of Egypt (Deut. 10:18-19). “There will never cease to be needy ones in your land … I command you: open your hand to the poor and needy… ” (Deut. 15:11). There are almost countless quotes like this in the Tanakh.

A more complete translation of the eighth (and highest) level of charity from Maimonides is “… help a fellowman to support himself by a gift, or a loan, or by finding employment for him, thus helping him to become self-supporting.”

For me, these are examples of what we pray for at the time of a brit milah (bris) for the 8-day-old: “good deeds.”

When I think of Torah and Judaism and how to live, I prefer to engage with the needy and others and not push them away.

Ted Tapper | Merion

Jewish Republican: An Oxymoron?

A letter by a “Jewish Republican” from our wealthy suburbs claims that Jews do not fit in with “Democratic values” but instead are naturally aligned with Republican ideology (“Jewish Values Conservative, Not Democratic,” May 23). He then identifies liberal thinking with opposition to Jewish practice. What nonsense.

It was Republican ideology that changed immigration laws to keep our people out and at the mercy of the racists in Europe. The same Republican meme is alive and well today with the administration’s border wall rant and their wink and a nod toward our perennial enemies as shown by Charlottesville.

Despite its sometimes conflicted past race politics, the Democratic Party has empowered our people as immigrants, as well as the Irish and Italians who emigrated here with us. And is still seeking to help other “huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

That was then, this is now. If there ever was an ideologically pure conservative Republican Party, that mask has long since been torn away. Fiscal conservatism? Look at the Bush and Trump tax cuts, the pointless and expensive wars. Saving money for the government has only occurred under Democrats. Republicans like the writer whine self-reliance instead of sharing their income with the ordinary people whose efforts contributed to it.

The term “Jewish Republican” is an oxymoron.

Howard Brooks | Philadelphia

Explanation Is Disingenuous

No one should be taken in by the Muslim American Society (MAS) Philadelphia chapter’s disingenuous explanation (“MAS Philadelphia Responds to Controversy,” May 23) for uploading its video of Muslim children singing about chopping off the heads of Jews. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have shown videos like this on PA TV for more than 20 years. It has now reached our shores.

As federal prosecutors have noted in court filings, MAS is an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, deemed a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Numerous Muslim reformers such as Dr. Zuhdi Jasser have testified before Congress to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. In 2012, convicted terrorist Adurhaman Alamoudi testified to the connection of MAS and the Muslim Brotherhood.

For the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Philadelphia to think that this hate can be reversed through a CAIR-conducted diversity training program is a smarmy insult to the Philadelphia community and the world.

Len Getz | Merion

More on MAS Philadelphia

Regarding “MAS Philadelphia Responds to Controversy” by Eric Schucht (May 23), one must ask: What is the controversy? What occurred was recorded and by all accounts translated accurately. It is beyond time for Jews to stop apologizing and whitewashing the anti-Semitic and violent rhetoric toward Jews increasingly overt in America today. We know how that story ends.

Of special insult was Rabbi Batya Glazer’s false moral equivalence of the performers’ vile speech and concomitant physical gestures with Jews, not knowing Hebrew, praising G-d in prayer or worship services.

As for MAS, the organization doth protest too much.

Lynne Lechter | King of Prussia


  1. I’m incredulous at the letters above connecting Jewish values with those of the Democratic Party. Is the blatant anti-Semitism of Ilhan Omar now a Jewish value? I was waiting for the moral outrage that Jews show at the slightest suggestion of racism against blacks, Hispanics and Muslims, to display itself in reaction to Omar’s “it’s all about the Benjamins baby” comment, but all I heard in response was silence. Unbelievable. Leader Pelosi tried to condemn Omar, but her supporters were too numerous, obnoxious and too rigid to permit that to occur. The eventual statement, written by Omar herself was little more than a joke and a whitewash of her bigotry. The bigots are taking over your beloved Democratic Party, and you’re silence in the face of abject racism and bigotry tells them that you’re allegiance to your party is greater than your allegiance to your race.


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