Bragging About 'Steals' Won't Help Folks in Cuba
The Jewish Exponent and Cantor Howard Glanz did a disservice to those who travel to Cuba on a regular basis, and struggle to get a license from the government to do so (City & Suburb: "On the Sly, Mission Accomplished: Folks Get Materials Into Cuba," Feb. 23).
It was not cute or clever to flaunt any circumvention of the law - either in this country or Cuba - in public as your account of his group's efforts did.
It is increasingly difficult to get a license to travel to Cuba. If travel is further limited, the repercussions for Cubanos will be unimaginable.
I have been to hospitals where there is little medicine for patients and medical clinics have almost no medication or equipment. Ration cards denote food allotments per month, but the shelves in neighborhood ration stores are nearly bare.
Eyeglasses at $80 per pair are difficult to purchase when the average Cuban earns $12 a month. Even when the money is available, the frames or lenses may not be.
Jewish Americans traveling to Cuba to visit Jewish communities, such as the one from Congregation Adath Jeshrun led by Cantor Glanz, are able to alleviate some of this distress.
We can help our brothers and sisters only if we can get to them, and the travel opportunity rests solely in the hands of our own government agency.
As such, we must conduct ourselves in a manner that reflects respect for the law.
Synagogue Role Model: People Helping People
Thank you for a great story on a Philadelphia-area synagogue group's efforts to deliver humanitarian assistance to Jews in Cuba (City & Suburb: "On the Sly, Mission Accomplished: Folks Get Materials Into Cuba," Feb. 23).
People helping people - that's what life should be about.
Jorge R. Gonzalez
If You Vote for Hamas, Don't Expect Any U.S. Aid
I subscribed to the Jewish Exponent even before I moved to Texas from Philadelphia 24 years ago.
I know you often publish very liberal ideas, but I read the article about Aaron David Miller's views on the Mideast with disbelief (City & Suburb: "Expert: Best to Wait Before Trimming All Aid," Feb. 9).
I don't know where he gets his ideas. For example, he asks: "Do you punish the Palestinian people for exercising their right to vote?" He thinks that we should keep sending money just because they're poor.
The Palestinians chose to vote for Hamas; no one forced them. If they agree with such ideals, let them reap the results of Hamas' behavior. If their leaders would spend their cash helping their people instead of attacking Israel, we wouldn't have to keep sending more.
Yes, we should push for fair and free elections, but America is not micro-managing the outcome. They chose freely; we have the same privilege.
Cutting off funds may or may not help their leaders make better choices. But at least we won't be supporting terror against Israel.
Ruth R. Berg
To the Falash Mura: It's Time to Come Home
Thank you for publishing a very informative article about the Falash Mura (Israel & Mideast: "Ethiopians Wait … and Wait … and Wait," Feb. 16).
Hopefully, it will get the Jewish community thinking about the best way to help these desperate people.
The best way to deal with this situation is for Israel to begin the process of actively bringing into its borders those Falash Mura who practice Judaism - and promise to continue to do so - by 2010.
There is now a question about whether these people are really Jews. But the claim that they are not ignores historical evidence, rabbinic proclamations, and the situation on the ground in Israel and Ethiopia.
The Falash Mura are indeed Jews, and eligible for immigration under the Law of Return, assuming they have given up Christianity.
These Jews converted to Christianity under the influence of missionaries, or to escape economic and social persecution. Even after converting, the Falash Mura were regarded as ethnically Jewish by their neighbors. They did not marry Christians, and often practiced Judaism in secret.
Judaism faced a similar situation after the Spanish Inquisition, and an analysis of the Jewish legal decisions of that time by modern rabbinic authorities in Israel concluded that Jews who convert to another religion - or their descendants - must be welcomed back into the Jewish community without regard for the reason of their return.
As the global Jewish population shrinks due to assimilation, intermarriage and a low birthrate, the last thing Israel can afford to do is ignore the pleas of these desperate people, who just want to express their Jewish identity by coming home.
Don't Compare Drunken Sailors to Politicians!
Jonathan Tobin was wrong to compare President Bush and the Republican majority in Congress to drunken sailors (A Matter of Opinion: "Who Gets Left Behind?" Feb. 16) because of the way they spend the public's money.
Nor would it be right to compare previous Democratic majorities, as Tobin also did, to sailors.
I've been a drunken sailor, and because I was spending my own money, I only acted that way on special occasions.
The government spends other people's money this way every day!
Yorba Linda, Calif.
Laugh-a-Minute Pleaser in Form of Cowboy Satire
Only Michael Elkin could convert the serious theme- discussable film "Brokeback Mountain" into a tongue-in-cheek satire, "Catskill Mountain" (Arts & Entertainment: "Ain't No Mountain Ethnic Enough!" Feb. 23).
His unique talent for double entendre is evidenced in this laugh-a-minute analogy.
A true Yiddishe "Tom" (or Michael) whet this reader's appetite. What a deliciously delectable article!