Letters Week of May 18, 2011


One letter writer states that it is wrong to call the Armenian tragedy a 'genocide' while another insists that Stiffel seniors deserve a lot better from all of us.

Wrong to Call Armenian Tragedy a 'Genocide'
As a longtime Philadelphia resident — and a Turkish American who believes in a long-term, close and warm relationship between Turks and Jews — I was disappointed to read Rabbi Albert Gabbai's one-sided article on the Armenian tragedy (Editorial & Opinions: "It's About Time to Recognize the Armenian Genocide," May 12). I agree that we should all be more informed about the Turkish/Armenian tragedy, but the information has to be the whole truth.

Since he is a rabbi and grew up in Cairo, I am sure that he has heard of the "Armenian revolt" against the Ottoman Empire prior to World War I. What is described as genocide was, in reality, a reaction to this armed revolt of Armenian Ottomans against their own government and fellow citizens.

After the failed uprising, Ottoman officials deported the Armenian Ottomans in the hopes of diffusing an increasingly bloody civil war. By any definition, deportation is not genocide. Unquestionably, in the course of this deportation, innocent Armenians perished, as did innocent Turks and Kurds during World War I.

Speaking of getting more informed, I did not see in this article any mention of the killings of the Turks, Kurds and Muslims by the Armenians during their revolt.

It should be noted that Turkey opened all its archives on this issue to the world. Therefore, I believe that this controversial matter should be studied scientifically by the historians, and that the matter should not be decided by politicians, parliaments or by religious leaders, such as Rabbi Gabbai.
Ibrahim Onaral

Stiffel Seniors Deserve a Lot Better From Us
My heart is breaking over the news of the closing of the Stiffel Senior Center in South Philadelphia (Cover story: "Changes in the City Landscape," April 28).

While I understand the reasons and the financial bottom line, I am left with the feeling that we, as a community, have let down a truly extraordinary group of Jewish seniors. Those Jewish people who remain in South Philadelphia deeply love that community, and have stayed loyal to a neighborhood that is the birthplace of many a Philadelphian.

The plan in place for transition is responsible and admirable, but not realistic. How many of these folks have the stamina to spend hours on paratransit to go to the far Northeast?

Is there no creative financial thinking that could save this beloved institution? The Jewish community of South Philadelphia has given us so much. These people deserve better from us.
Rabbi Cynthia Kravitz
Lafayette Hill

Community Can't Let Stiffel Center Just Close
I am a 92-year-old Jewish woman who has lived in South Philadelphia my entire life. I was very shocked and dismayed to read about the proposed closing of the Stiffel center and urge the board of the Klein JCC to reconsider this decision.

I am housebound due to severe vision and mobility issues, and depend upon the Stiffel to provide me with tasty, inexpensive kosher meals through its "Cook for a Friend" program.

Folks at the center also send me baskets on Passover and other Jewish holidays. It makes me feel secure to know that they are a presence in the community.

I understand that there are not so many Jewish people remaining in South Philadelphia, and that many of the people serviced by the center are not Jews. But I believe that this is a positive thing that goes to the heart of our Jewish tradition and beliefs. It is a mitzvah to help all people, not just Jews.

Let's do everything we can to save the Stiffel!
Ruth Rosenfeld


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