State Rep's Power Stems From Many Sources
You buried the lead in your recent article questioning State Rep. Josh Shapiro's effectiveness in the upcoming legislative session (People and Politics: "The Once-Lofty Shapiro; Has He Been Brought Down a Few Pegs?" Nov 26). You chose to needlessly fret over what will become of Shapiro (D-District 153) without the title of deputy speaker, one that was created specifically, and temporarily, for him.
Shapiro never derived his power from his position as deputy speaker. His power is a result of his commitment to reform and his refusal to adhere to the status quo if it does not make sense.
His passionate pursuit of government accountability is what sets him apart from other legislators, and has resulted in more accomplishments in three short years in the legislature than many of his more senior colleagues.
Indeed, his call for Rep. Bill DeWeese (D-District 50) to resign was anything but a roadblock; it was another solid example of how Shapiro demonstrates real political courage, puts his constituents' needs first and disregards politics as usual.
What more could you want from your legislator?
Robert D. Fox
Only One Man Thinks It's Fraud? Not Exactly True!
I am pleased that you reported on Philippe Karsenty's long quest to label the al-Dura affair what it really has always been -- a total fraud perpetrated on the world by the France 2 network (Cover story: "Footage From France 2: Newest 'Blood Libel,' " Nov. 26).
However, I strongly disagree with the caption you chose to put under the front-page picture, which read: "One man insists the entire incident was staged."
In the beginning of his efforts, Karsenty may have labored alone. But through the years, he steadily gained supporters, culminating in his acquittal by the French appeals court in 2008.
The extensive chronology and the available video can be viewed at: www.theaugeanstables.com/al-durah-affair-the-dossier/  al-durah-chronology/.
The author of this site is Richard Landes, professor of history at Boston University, who's been involved in Karsenty's efforts over the past years.
Don't Just Pray to Fix the Climate; Take Action!
Rabbi George Stern's opinion piece, "Climate Change Should Have Israelis Perspiring a Little" (Nov. 26), highlights the very serious effects climate change will have on Israel.
As Stern explains, global warming will jeopardize Israel's beauty, comfort and very security. In short, one of the many adverse consequences to Israel will be that its desert cannot bloom without a stable source of water.
As Americans who care about Israel, we can do something meaningful to help (albeit in a relatively small way). Since climate change affects the entire world, people taking positive steps here can make a difference everywhere. And as Jewish Americans, we can do this by starting with our synagogues and Jewish communal buildings.
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings in this country are responsible for 39 percent of carbon-dioxide emissions -- more than the entire transportation sector. Yet nearly one-third of the energy used by commercial buildings is often wasted. This provides us with a tremendous opportunity.
Philadelphia synagogues are already doing their part. In the past five years, many synagogues have conducted energy audits to identify ways to reduce their emissions. The Reconstructionist synagogue, Mishkan Shalom, has been recognized as an EPA Energy Star congregation.
Mishkan's environmentally conscious building utilizes the best of green technology: energy-efficient windows, extensive insulation, motion sensors throughout the building and Energy Star-qualified office equipment.
As a powerful symbol of the congregation's environmental commitment, the sanctuary's Ner Tamid is solar-powered.
The efforts of congregations like Mishkan Shalom can help avert more damage from climate change. In fact, the EPA reports that reducing energy use by just 25 percent in America's more than 300,000 houses of worship could prevent the emission of more than 5 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
This is the equivalent of taking more than 1 million cars off the road.
James A. Rosenstein
President, Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey Chapter of the American Jewish Committee
Member, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Energy and Environment Committee
Must the Bush-Bashing Continue After Election?
In his letter to the editor, Harvey Schwartz is not content just to revel in Barack Obama's victory (Letters: "Thanks to George Bush for Helping Elect Obama," Nov. 26).
He must also continue the mindless Bush-bashing that has characterized so much of the verbiage spewed from the venal left. He uses adjectives such as short-sighted, egotistical, incompetent, arrogant and divisive to vent his limitless hatred of the president.
Little does he realize that his letter defines the word divisive. In other words, the brainless abuse that began eight years ago continues unabated.
In a few weeks, Barack Obama will assume the mantle of power, and we will get the opportunity to see his policies in action. We will soon find out if this brilliant new leader has more than smooth talk, the right color and a compliant media in his arsenal.
Now that Schwartz's "Chosen One" is our new leader, racial division will end, and meaningful dialogue with the moderate leaders of Russia, Venezuela, Iran and North Korea can begin.
If the radicals on the left are correct, we will see an era of peace and tranquility ushered in. Race divisions will disappear, and the seas will begin to subside.
If they are wrong, our economy will worsen, and the despots of the world will enjoy an era of dominance over the West.
Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.