Letters week of Sept. 7, 2006



More Than One Road to Quality Jewish Education

While I understand the enthusiasm and passion for day schools (Editorial, Aug. 24), I am dismayed that the Jewish Exponent would not have included synagogue schools as a powerful alternative.

Having served for 16 years as headmaster of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman Jewish Day School, and for five years as the educational director of Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park, I think I'm able to take a broad view that there are many roads to the palace of Jewish identity, learning and commitment.

You do the educational system of the Jewish community a great disservice by privileging only one approach to Jewish education. While day schools can be places of excellence, synagogue schools can reach out to the whole family, weaving a rich tapestry of formal learning, worship, and informal family activities that can be as powerful and life-shaping as any day school.

As a product of a fine synagogue school myself (Temple Sinai in Dresher), I can testify to the success of a holistic approach to Jewish education to shape the neshamah of Jews.

Rabbi Steven M. Brown
William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education
Jewish Theological Seminary New York, N.Y.

Disappointment in Israeli Failure Cannot Be Hidden

Should American Jews speak up about Israeli policy (A Matter of Opinion: "Something Less Than Victory," Aug. 24)?

I cannot possibly express the depth of my disappointment in the Israeli government right now. I feel that Israel has simply given up.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated that Israel's main goals in the war were the unconditional release of the soldiers and the disarmament of Hezbollah. He's now negotiating for the soldiers' release, and Hezbollah is not planning to disarm.

Yet the Israel Defense Force will be withdrawing from Lebanon, and hoping that a group of "Boy Scouts" masquerading as the Lebanese Army will do the job for them. All that death and destruction on both sides of the border — for nothing!

Actually, it's worse than nothing. Israel is in a more precarious position now than it has been since 1948. The Arab world sees that Israel is not as strong as it once was. They see their goal of eliminating it as an imminent possibility.

I still love Israel, and I'm extremely proud and lucky to be Jewish. However, I no longer have any confidence in the Israeli government.

As I write this, I'm fighting back tears. They are tears of sadness, disillusionment and disappointment.

I pray daily for peace, but the Arab world does not wish to allow it, and the Israeli government's recent actions and inactions serve the Arab purpose — not the Jewish or Israeli one.
Jeffrey N. Penfil
West Chester

I Heard the Rockets — Now Listen to My Opinion

I disagree with Jonathan Tobin's statement that Americans Jews have no right to be critical in a public way of the Israeli government (A Matter of Opinion: "Something Less Than Victory," Aug. 24).

I lived through this war with my brother, who lives in Nahariya, as do his children and grandchildren, the latter of whom spent many weeks in bomb shelters.

If that wasn't enough, the stress of hearing rockets fall all around you — and feeling your house shake — put a perspective on the war for me.

My response, among other things, was to pull out my checkbook many times over, and support, support, support.

I have been doing that for probably 40 years now. Who do the calls of distress go out to but to the American Jews?

I think I have earned a right to voice my opinion about the way the war was handled.

The truth about what happened to Israel hurts, but it must be faced.
Doris Blum
Los Angeles

Extremists Run the GOP, Not the Democratic Party

I feel compelled to express my extreme dismay at the Republican Party advertisement that ran in the Jewish Exponent on Aug. 17, blaming Sen. Joseph Lieberman's primary loss on the Democratic Party.

The Democratic voters of Connecticut voted to rebuke him because of his position on the war in Iraq.

I am a Democrat, and a fervent supporter of Israel. It is ludicrous and insulting to say that the Democratic Party has been taken over by the extreme left. But then again, maybe the Republicans are projecting.

The Republican Party is under the control of the extreme right. The vicious attacks engineered by the likes of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney are beyond what is moral and ethical.
Marcy Plaum

Don't Let Hezbollah Win: Plan a Trip to Israel!

We recently returned from a magnificent week in Israel.

We were part of a group of 36 adults and children, friends and family of Omri Dorani, celebrating his Bar Mitzvah. We had a wonderful time touring every day and celebrating every night. We felt and were absolutely safe.

The only negative factor we encountered was the fear of those in the Israeli tourist industry. Every tour guide, cab driver, hotel worker, shop-keeper — all expressed concern that American Jews would postpone or cancel their planned trips to Israel.

The first six months of 2006 broke records for tourism, and reservations indicated that the second half would surpass that.

Our message is: Please travel to Israel! Reconsider, if you have put plans on hold. Israel needs you right now.

Are we going to allow Hezbollah to hurt Israel more?
Lana and Bernie Dishler
Upper Gwynedd



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