Letters the Week of Jan. 27, 2011



We Need a Grassroots Movement for Judaism

In the United States, Jews are outnumbered by Christians at a conservative ratio of 10:1 nationally. How is our culture supposed to keep up with the ever-expanding Christian society and not have our voices drowned out?

We need a robust grassroots movement across the nation, and maybe even the world, to introduce people to Judaism and bring in new members. Building multimillion-dollar museums is not a solution, especially when you have to go through what's akin to airport security just to get to the gift shop.

According to the Jan. 20 edition of the Metro newspaper, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley was quoted as saying, shortly after his inaugural ceremony: "Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister."

We are desperately losing the battle. I hope Jewish leadership has some sort of solution at hand.

Jason Kaye

It's Not 'Who Is a Jew,' but 'Who Is a Rabbi'?

I read Jason Miller's article with great interest (Editorial & Opinions: "Is Gabby Giffords Jewish Enough?" Jan. 20). However, I believe he missed the main point.

Matrilineal descent was not proclaimed at Sinai. Historically, in the Diaspora, the rabbis had to deal with this problem, and declared that, since maternity is very seldom doubtful, a child's Judaism was determined by the mother. Biblically, this was not always the case.

Today's problems in this arena revolve not around the question of "Who is a Jew," but of "Who is a rabbi"!

There's a political struggle going on in Judaism among the different branches of the religion. It is the same struggle that has taken place throughout our history. Rabbis enshrined themselves as the inheritors of Moses' leadership and formed their own guilds. Anyone who rocked the boat was ostracized. Even Moses ben-Maimon was vilified for some of his writings.

Many members of the extreme religious right are still trapped in the 17th-century shtetl mode. They do not comprehend that Judaism is more than a religion. It is a rich civilization, with its own history, land, language, customs, music, poetry, literature and, yes, many political points of view.

In every culture/civilization, there should be room for believers of different stripes, even non-believers. This is why those who deny a Jewish identity to so many who wish to live as Jews are mistaken.

After all, given what Jews have endured — and are still enduring — at the hands of strangers, why would anyone who had a choice want to be a Jew?

Daniel Aldouby

The Wish to Demonize Overcame All Reason

Within an hour of the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords (Cover story, "Folks Talk of Giffords' Religion, Openness and Responsiveness" Jan. 13), liberal pundits and Democratic politicians were placing the blame for this horrendous act on a climate of hate. Of course, this climate was created by the usual leftist scapegoats — Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. I'm amazed that they left out Dick Cheney and George Bush.

You would think that these pundits would at least have waited a respectable amount of time so that they could say that they'd done some research, but the desire to demonize their enemies overwhelmed reason.

The truth is that the shooter was mentally ill, had no political motivation whatsoever, and had no connection at all with anyone named above.

The people who tried to use this terrible act to advance their own political agendas are the ones who are setting up a climate of hate. As usual, the hate is on the left, and so is the scapegoating.

Steve Heitner
Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.



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