Synagogue's Recovering From 'An Act of Violence'
On behalf of the Germantown Jewish Centre, I want to thank you for your prominent coverage of the fire that extensively damaged our building (Cover story: "Shul Regroups After Suspected Arson Incident," Jan. 24).
This fire was an act of violence against our community, the effects of which we will continue to feel for a considerable time. Our early-childhood program and religious school have been displaced. Our synagogue's multiple davening communities have needed to adjust to the limitations of the prayer spaces still available in the building. The full range of our social-action, adult-education, social and youth programming have been curtailed as we try to get our building restored.
Yet we are grateful. No one was hurt. We have received many expressions of support from neighbors, our Jewish community and the city. And we appreciate the immediate professional response from the Philadelphia Fire Department.
We are a strong, vibrant community that will survive this trauma. If anyone would like to assist us in getting back on our feet, we would welcome contributions to: The Germantown Jewish Restoration Fund, 400 W. Ellet St., Philadelphia, PA 19119.
Joshua Z. Goldblum
Germantown Jewish Centre
Local Girls Rule Maccabi's 'Fútbol Feminista'
We were pleased to see your article on the recent Pan American Maccabi Games (Sports & Players, "They Manage to Triumph in a Land Where 'Fútbol' Remains King," Jan. 17). On the whole, the article provided solid information regarding many of the teams' victories and their experiences in Buenos Aires.
It was nevertheless disappointing to see that the majority of the focus was on the boys teams. As the parents of a participant on the women's open soccer team, which also won a gold medal, we couldn't help but notice that many of the girls' and women's medal-winning teams were not mentioned.
Among these were a silver for the open-beach volleyball team, as well as numerous gold, silver and bronze medals in juniors gymnastics and juniors, youth and open tennis, a gold medalist in the open half-marathon and a gold for the juniors female soccer team.
In Argentina, where "fútbol feminista" is not widespread, the American women, like the men's soccer players, also were looked upon with awe by their South American competitors.
Nancy and Michael Hacker
Cherry Hill, N.J.
Life-Saving Gifts Should Be Treated With Respect
Organ and tissue donation is more than a sterile, clinical subject; it involves generous donors and their families, recipients who clung to life and thousands of others who still wait. Your recent article (Health & Science: "Organ Grinders," Jan. 24) did not illustrate that importance, even from the very beginning.
The headline for the story, "Organ Grinders," in the form of a pun showed little respect for the gravity of this issue, and demeaned the trust of the families and the health-care professionals who make life-saving transplants occur.
Since 1974, the Gift of Life Donor Program has approached organ and tissue donation -- the issue itself and the people involved with it --with the utmost reverence, because we know how critical this issue is to help save lives. We also work closely with the donor families to support them in their loss, and celebrate their courage and altruism.
I'd like to encourage readers to join our efforts. Judaism fully supports organ and tissue donation as an ultimate act of kindness, a means of saving a life when we have the opportunity to do so.
In the end, all of this comes down to the simple but important task to save the lives of the more than 5,400 of our neighbors waiting in this region for a transplant. Learn more about donation and sign up today at: www.donors1.org .
Howard M. Nathan
President & CEO
Gift of Life Donor Program
Legitimate Questions Deserve Some Answers
The unfair and untrue allegations about Sen. Barack Obama's religion and education should not be allowed to distract from legitimate question concerning other aspects of his actual history and associations (A Matter of Opinion: "The Audacity of Criticism," Jan. 24).
It is only very, very recently -- as part of a candidacy for national office -- that he has spoken up in favor of Israel and against Louis Farrakhan. The sincerity of both pandering actions is very questionable in light of his previous failure to speak up for Israel or Jewish causes.
It is not only legitimate, but imperative, to probe the background of a would-be president.
New York, N.Y.
No Fair to Compare Arab and Jewish Extremists
Letter-writer Jacob Miller would compare Jewish extremists with Arab extremists (Letters: "Nothing Wrong With Salty Talk That Tells the Truth," Jan. 24).
Let me see if I understand this correctly. Arab extremists are those who indiscriminately slaughter Jews and others. Their murderous escapades are in the news every day.
Jewish extremists are those who believe that Israel should survive and camp out on hilltops. American Jews who support Israel's right to exist -- and do something to help ensure that right -- are termed "stooges" by Miller.
Lastly, Mr. Miller appears to want to align himself with those who don't want American Jews to have a voice through their lobby.
Amazing! But unlike his treatment of those with whom he disagrees, I won't call him any names.