Letters Week of Nov. 22, 2007

Want the 'Next Big Idea?' How About Shabbat?

Contrary to the suggestion of the Jewish Exponent's editorial page, I remain unconvinced that increased funding for Jewish day schools should be the "next big idea" to ensure continuity ("Education's Our Only 'Next Big Idea,' " Nov. 8).

Certainly, funding for Jewish education on all levels should remain a top priority. But perhaps we should consider another "idea," one that's certainly not new: Shabbat.

What if we were to re-create our community centers complete with dining facilities to provide Shabbat meals? Imagine Jews of all denominations, affiliated and unaffiliated, coming together to share in the delight of a Shabbat dinner.

This could serve as a major gateway into the Jewish community. And how about starting with the Gershman Y on the Avenue of the Arts?

I can think of no better way to breathe new life into this venerable Jewish institution and our tired Jewish community.

The great Zionist thinker Ahad Ha-Am wrote, "One can say without exaggeration that more than Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews."

We can discuss how to best keep Shabbat with each other later, but for now, let's find another way to welcome Shabbat into our community.

Eric S. Cantor

Argument Against Tutu: A Product of Cynicism

Jonathan Tobin reports that Archbishop Desmond Tutu "thundered" that "one day you" — the Jews, according to Tobin's misinformed reading — "will implode." Tobin then pontificates that whether this is "anti-Semitism or merely a lesser variety of hate speech" (A Matter of Opinion: "Dancing With Desmond Tutu," Nov. 8) is a question to be debated.

He writes this all the while ignoring the context of the archbishop's remarks (in fairness, he does provide access to a transcript).

Those who actually read Archbishop Tutu's remarks may find his words to be politically biased in favor of ending the "occupation," which he certainly does not hide, but they will also see that his words are grounded solidly in his own understanding of the Judaic roots of social justice and activism.

Tobin further remarks that "the fact that he spoke about the supposed sins of the 'Jews,' rather than the State of Israel, was interesting."

Tutu's remarks were very clear on the fact that the actions he condemns are on the part of Israel's government (which he never does refer to as "sins"), and not those of the Jews as a collective entity.

Tobin's blatant libel of Tutu — disappointing as it may be — is hardly surprising.

The fact that he singles out a man who has devoted his entire life to peace and nonviolence — a man who was instrumental in bringing an end to apartheid in South Africa — serves only to demonstrate how cynically Tobin seeks to exploit fears of anti-Semitism in the Jewish community.

Nathan M Miller
Amherst, Mass.

No Fooling About Tutu's Anti-Semitic Rants

Jonathan Tobin is not sure whether Desmond Tutu's anti-Semitic rhetorical rants are worthy of response, now that we have the summit at Annapolis to contend with (A Matter of Opinion: "Dancing With Desmond Tutu," Nov. 8).

But long after Annapolis goes the way of Oslo and Camp David, Tutu and his ilk — such as Eugene Bird, the controversial president of the anti-Semitic Council of the National Interest, both of whom were given a forum at the University of Pennsylvania — will continue planting the seeds for another generation of intellectual anti-Semites.

It is mind-boggling when the Anti-Defamation League — the primary bean counters of anti-Semitic acts — gives Tutu's tirades a pass. Yet, it was reassuring when at least one undergrad walked out of the graduation commencement in 2003 when Tutu started to speak.

It's good to know there are college students out there who refuse to be fooled, unlike the ADL's venerable Abe Foxman.

Leonard Getz
National vice president
Zionist Organization of America

Israeli Officials Should Speak Out for Refugees

In the Jewish Telegraphic Agency's report about a major conference seeking justice for Jews forced to flee from Arab lands after 1948, I was shocked to read that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni think it's "premature" to raise this issue with the Palestinians (Israel & Mideast: "Olmert Says Go Slow on Refugee Rights," Nov. 8).

The historical truth is that hundreds of thousands of Jews became refugees during and after the struggle to create Israel. But the world is only interested in the Palestinians, who have been kept in refugee camps to be used as props to delegitimize Israel, rather than be given new homes, as was the case for Jews.

It is a sad day when the leaders of Israel are so timorous and unwilling to speak up for the rights of Jewish refugees when they are, at the same time, willing to "acknowledge the suffering of the Palestinians," as the story says.

Robert Goldberg

Elkins Park, Take Note: Don't Mess With Texas!

In response to the letter by David M. Levy ("Rudy Who? Bring Clintons Back to the White House," Oct. 25), I am an ex-Philadelphian who has lived in Texas for many years.

I'm amazed that Levy would accuse anyone of bias. His statement, "But what can you expect from someone writing from Texas?" shows a bias equal to or worse than that of the person he's attacking.

He tars all of Texas with the same brush. Should we attack Levy because he lives in a state that elected and re-elected Rick Santorum? Should we say, "But what can you expect from someone writing from Pennsylvania — or from Elkins Park?"

Joel P. Smith
San Benito, Texas



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