Letters week of May 3, 2007



Author Says Book Questions Authenticity

In his letter, Micah Sachs criticizes my book Dear Rabbi, Why Can't I Marry Her? and its review by Robert Leiter ("Biased, Offensive Books Don't Deserve Praise," April 19).

I take issue with the accusations stating that praise for my book implies "denigrating sincere converts," "dignifying intolerance" and "supporting attitudes that diminish the community."

Apparently, Mr. Sachs didn't read my book. Nowhere is there anything but full acceptance for a sincere convert who has gone through a proper conversion. One of the aims of the book is precisely to help the sincere aspiring convert realize his or her dreams in an authentic way.

Mr. Sachs wants me to tolerate his value system while not tolerating mine. This reminds me of the fellow who spoke for an hour about the value of silence. My book is not against conversion; it is against artificial conversions.

Mr. Sachs also criticizes that Mr. Leiter and I "find it a positive sign that a Jewish man broke up with a Catholic woman who was willing to create a Jewish home and raise Jewish children, and possibly even convert, as if each partner's personal happiness is less important than the maintenance of Jewish purity."

This is not a matter of "personal happiness vs. Jewish purity." It is a matter of choosing between sacrificing one's personal preference in order to follow God's will, or sacrificing God's preference in order to satisfy one's personal desires.

That's never an easy call, especially when love comes into the picture.
Eliezer Shemtov
Montevideo, Uruguay

Mainstream Groups — They Hardly Seem 'Pushy'

I enjoyed Jonathan Tobin's review of "The Accomplices," and having seen the play myself, found it very moving and important. I agree with most of what he wrote (A Matter of Opinion: "Who Were the Real 'Accomplices'?" April 19).

However, in his introduction, he wrote about "the assertive voice of contemporary Jewish political activism" that some consider to be "too loud, too brash and too pushy."

To whom is he referring?

I am unaware of such groups, except for fringe groups like Americans for a Safe Israel, AMCHA and the Zionist Organization of America. They get very little or no coverage by the media, thus their influence is very limited.

His reference to the "take-no-prisoners" cornerstone of "the lobby" again mystifies me. If it's AIPAC, the group is known for its position of rubber-stamping the Israeli government, and considering the government's actions since 1993, that means appeasement, the expulsion of Jews and the giving away of Jewish land.

None of this is very different from what we saw in the actions of complicit Jews during World War II.
Helen Freedman
New York, N.Y.

The Real Headlines Need to Center on Iran!

Jonathan Tobin missed the target in his otherwise elegant column, "Who Were the Real 'Accomplices'?" (A Matter of Opinion, April 12).

He rightly notes the cowering of Rabbi Stephen Wise and other prominent American Jewish leaders of the Holocaust-era who were afraid to speak up for their brethren in Europe. But when it came time to speak up for Jews in the former Soviet Union, leaders of that era did answer the call.

Tobin urges Jewish leaders of today to likewise speak out and take action, but he disappoints by highlighting Darfur. The very real and horrific crisis in Darfur has gotten headlines and front-page exposure, while Iran's rush to develop and possibly use nuclear weapons against Israel is typically downplayed or buried.

The media may whine about the "all-powerful" Jewish/Israel lobby — a truly false canard — but we must not be intimidated into silence by such accusations, lest millions more of our brothers and sisters be annihilated.
Steve Feldman
Executive director
Zionist Organization of America
Greater Philadelphia District

Time to Make a Stand About Gun-Control Laws!

Who didn't feel profound sorrow after hearing about the mass shooting at Virginia Tech?

I harbor no criticism for the reactions of the school administration or the Blacksburg police. But you bet I condemn the ineffectuality of gun laws in this country!

The pitiful legislation on the books does so little to regulate the purchases and use of weapons. How is it possible that a 23-year-old undergraduate with a documented history of severe mental instability was able to buy two semi-automatic guns within the past few months?

We hear our leaders talk so much about protecting our country against acts of terror. Meanwhile, we allow guns to be sold and kept — and kept put in the open — with so little regard for the lives of our children and teachers.

In speaking of this mass killing — which occurred on Yom Hashoah and took the life of Holocaust survivor Liviu Librescu — is it irreverent for Jews to say, "never again"?

The gun lobby speaks softly and carries a big pile of money. We have to form a stronger, bigger, anti-gun lobby.

Let's tell Congress, the president and our representatives in Harrisburg: Pass better gun-control legislation now — to bring some sense of peace and safety to our communities!
Eleanor Levie
Pennsylvania public-affairs chair, National Council of Jewish Women

B'nai B'rith Deserves Credit for Food Program

While I am flattered that a Jewish Exponent article credited Allan Stock and me with the founding of Project H.O.P.E. — Helping Our People Everywhere — we can only take credit for establishing and coordinating the program in the Philadelphia region (City & Suburb: "Project H.O.P.E. Tackles Hunger at Passover," April 19) via our Liberty Region chapter, of which I am a past president.

Project H.O.P.E. is a program of B'nai B'rith International's Center for Community Action. This year, we proudly celebrated our 10th anniversary of supplying Passover food to needy, elderly and isolated Jews.
Samuel Domsky
Project H.O.P.E.




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