Letters the Week of June 6, 2013


One letter writer is accused of spreading "lashon hara" while another defends ZOA from peceived criticism.

Letter Writer Spread Lots of ‘Lashon Hara’

In a May 30 letter to the editor, “Reader Finds Kohelet’s Participation Troubling,” Michael Cohen states “Torah and halachah do not believe in ‘free expression.’ They believe that all speech is holy and that in addition to halachic content, speech should be fashioned and indeed curtailed by the guiding principles of tzniut (modesty), lashon hara (slander) and nivul peh (profanity).”

The citation mentioned is taken out of context within a presentation about a value that is widely shared in the Orthodox community and advanced by many of its rabbis — namely that, along with our fidelity to the halachah about homosexual behavior, we are not allowed to legally discriminate or spread hatred.

As for my statement that our students compete with one hand tied behind their backs, this is for precisely the reasons the writer advocates — both the halachah and the general Jewish values that are reflected in our students’ presentations.

Finally, Kohelet Yeshiva does participate in poetry slams with other yeshiva high schools and recently hosted an event with other yeshivot that focused on themes related to Yom Yerushalayim.

Perhaps a more careful investigation by the author of the letter would have resulted in less lashon hara.

Rabbi Elchanan Weinbach, Head of School Kohelet Yeshiva High School

ZOA Is Not ‘Hawkish’; It’s Rational Centrist

Thank you for your interesting article “ZOA Lobbies Against Aid to Egypt, Palestinians” in the May 3 issue about ZOA’s Mission to Washington.

Nevertheless, it inappropriately stated that ZOA is “hawkish.” Is demanding that Palestinians abide by their Oslo agreements to arrest terrorists, end incitement in the media, schools and speeches, and not ally themselves with Hamas “hawkish”?

Is demanding that Egypt honor its Camp David Accords to have normal trade relations with Israel, allow its citizens to attend Israel conferences, visit Israel as tourists and put Israel on Egyptian maps “hawkish”?

Hardly. It’s rational centrist and appropriate. You also cavalierly stated that “most of ZOA’s members lean Republican.” Not only has there never been a survey on this, but in my experience, ZOA members are balanced between Republicans and Democrats.

Morton A. Klein, National President Zionist Organization of America

We Agree: Day Schools Must Connect to Israel

Rabbi Ira Budow discusses the importance of fostering deep and personal connections between Jewish youth and Israel, according to his opinion piece “Day Schools Should Foster Collaboration with Israel” in the May 23 issue. We agree. In the San Francisco Bay Area, a four-year pilot project to improve Israel education in 11 Northern California Jewish day schools recently concluded. Among its foci: collaboration of Jewish day schools with counterparts in Israel. We have documented the program at www.basis­israeleducation.org.

Jewish LearningWorks (the central agency for Jewish education in San Francisco) led the initiative, with funding from the Jim Joseph Foundation. The iCenter provided expertise.

David Waksberg, CEO, Jewish LearningWorks
Chip Edelsberg, Executive Director, Jim Joseph Foundation



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