Letters week of Oct. 28, 2010


Article Helps Illuminate the Way for Federation
The opinion piece in the Oct. 21 Jewish Exponent, "It's an Abundantly Clear Mission, So Let's Not Complicate It," was compelling and right on target. It really points out the flaws in the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's allocation of our volunteer resources and leadership.

As a long-standing, involved member of the community, I remember my entry into campaign leadership in the early 1970s. We were all a team, focused on the goal of raising funds and meeting needs. None of us spent much time on the process of allocations, although nearly all of us focused on the ultimate disposition of funds, with Israel and Jewish poverty being paramount.

Equally as important is that the path to communal leadership lay through active campaign involvement. That's how true leadership was defined then, and that's what made our Federation what it was — a unifying force in the community and a powerhouse in raising the necessary resources. Some of the best campaigners later became the titular lay leaders of Federation.

I hope to once again see our Federation assume its rightful place in the community. Let's all make that happen together.
Marvin Demchick
Lafayette Hill

Blind Faith: Hardly the Path for Modern Jews
In the Oct. 21 Torah portion, Rabbi Joshua Runyan wrote that "the Torah requires us to … willingly obey the commands of the Almighty, even if they seem beyond the pale." He was commenting on the story where God demands that Abraham sacrifice his son, Isaac.

It is time that we were honest with our congregants, and taught that the Torah is a human document written over many centuries, and not meant to be an historical work. It contains myths, legends, poetry and in many, but not all, cases, lessons in morality.

We do not affirm that gluttons should be put to death, nor do we agree with the Torah when it states that Jews who gather sticks on the Sabbath should be executed.

Is there any Jewish person today who believes that God could demand of a father to sacrifice (literally) his child? And if there is, is there any Jewish parent who would actually commit the act?

Religion is not taken seriously by many of our people. One of the reasons is that we are irrational in our thinking and teaching. Blind faith is no substitute for mature thought. The age of medievalism is over!
Seymor Prystowsky
Rabbi emeritus, Congregation Or Ami
Lafayette Hill

Don't Believe All the Spin About Sestak and Israel
I am a proud Jew and retired U.S. Naval officer who served on Joe Sestak's staff from 1999-2001. I have been troubled by the attacks against him, and hope that Jewish voters in Pennsylvania can see past the spin.

I can personally attest to Joe's strong support for Israel, including its right to exist and its place as a home for the Jewish people. My conviction is based primarily on personal discussions, but also my knowledge of his work on "Deep Blue" (the Navy's anti-terror task force), and my work as a liaison officer to Israeli defense attachés from 2003-06.

We need someone with his expertise in the Senate.
David S. Steigman
CDR, U.S. Naval Reserve (ret)
Alexandria, Va.

Ads Have Painted Wrong Picture of Pat Toomey
Recently, there's been a barrage of campaign ads in the Jewish Exponent concerning the anti-Israel positions of Pat Toomey and Joe Sestak.

The ads against Toomey focus on his votes against aid for Israel. Those bills contained foreign aid for many others, including the Palestinians and Egyptians. Toomey has said he would vote for a bill that would mention only Israeli aid.

Among other anti-Israel positions, Sestak signed a letter with 53 others in Congress demanding that Israel remove the blockade of Gaza. Most unbiased observers agree that this would mean more firepower for Hamas. Sestak has also criticized only the Israelis for the recent flotilla flare-up.

I hope my Jewish brethren who care about Israel will note the distinctions when they vote.
Jerome Cantor


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