Letters Week of Dec. 27, 2012


Readers react to opinions that God had reasons why the Connecticut shootings took place, and the co-authors of a book on media bias respond to criticism of their work. 

God Had Nothing to Do With Tragic Shootings

After the traumatic tragedy in Newtown, Conn., some of our clergy have tried to console the bereaved by assuring them that God had reasons for it to have taken place (Cover story: “Explaining What’s Not Explainable,” Dec. 20).

I suspect that many of the mourners and others in the community derived little comfort in hearing that the murders that had just occurred were part of God’s plan. This kind of theological thinking has horrific implications. To accept the notion that God planned this slaughter — or had the power to intervene, but didn’t — is enough to cause one to despise God and religion. We do not do our congregants a favor by positing a God who actively intercedes in our lives. The Holocaust should have put an end to that kind of thinking.

Our immediate task now is to do God’s work by assisting those families who so desperately need us, and by finding ways to prevent such shootings from recurring.

Seymour Prystowsky, Rabbi emeritus Congregation Or Ami, Lafayette Hill

Connecticut Shootings Were Not an Act of God

With all due respect to Rabbi Jablon (Cover story: “Explaining What’s Not Explainable,” Dec. 20), I want to take strong exception to his statement, “We believe God has a reason for everything.”

For me this falls into the category of a theological obscenity. It reminds me of the Evangelical preachers who, after Hurricane Katrina, said it was a punishment by God of the Church for not opposing homosexuality more steadfastly. Others said it was a punishment visited on George Bush for supporting Ariel’s Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza.

I want no part of a God who would act in such a way. What one man did in Newtown, Conn., was not a plan of God; it was the free will choice of a single human being who chose to do unspeakable evil. We know it was his choice, because when he heard the first responders approaching, he chose to kill himself rather than be captured. This was not part of God’s unknowable plan.

At the least, we need to say that God chooses to limit God’s self in allowing human beings free will. To attribute the immense suffering caused by this lone murderer to God’s plan is blasphemy.

Rabbi Steven M. Brown,  Program officer AVI CHAI Foundation, New York, N.Y.

Authors Disagree With Letter Writer Over Book

Morris Olitsky’s letter (“Book Has Heart in Right Place but Makes Mistakes,” Dec. 13) claims that, in our book, Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-to-Z, the emphasis on the importance of calling Judea and Samaria “Judea and Samaria” distracts attention from fighting the media’s mislabeling as “occupation” Israeli presence in “what most people know as the West Bank.”

We disagree with Mr. Olitsky’s view that “occupation” is biased but “West Bank” is not. Media terms that delegitimize Jewish homeland place names, as well as a Jewish presence there, have to be fought. Both are embraced in the “rampant lies and distortions” Mr. Olitsky decries.

What’s critical is that we all focus on the language war now being waged, and on the media’s entire lexicon of misleading terms that work together to paint a distorted portrayal of our Jewish homeland of Israel.

Lee S. Bender and Jerome R. Verlin, Co-authors


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