Letters the Week of October 24, 2013


Why the creation of a mikvah must be a community effort; why a story in the paper just repeats the mistakes of the past about the Palestinians; and why patrilineal descent should be a no-brainer.

Mikvah Must Be Community-Wide Effort

I read with interest the Exponent’s Oct. 17 front-page coverage of efforts to construct a mikvah in the Center City area. This Jewish communal need was discussed in 2009-10 by the Strategic Planning Committee of Congregation Mikveh Israel.

While the need for a mikvah in Center City was clearly recognized, a number of caveats were noted. Your recent coverage touched on several of them. There was concern that a mikvah not be located within any particular synagogue so as to avoid the project becoming subject to the particular practices and procedures of a denomination or stream, including the use for conversions.

A true community mikvah should be planned and directed by a community-wide group of rabbis and interested individuals with the advice of experts in Jewish law to make certain that it adheres to protocols that will allow for wide use. It would be unfortunate for this important project to become something less than a true community-wide endeavor.

Burton D. Morris | Harrisburg

JTA Article Simply Repeats Errors of the Past

The failure of the Oslo Accords can primarily be told via the story of how Western and Israeli advocates of peace deliberately and repeatedly turned a blind eye to Palestinian incitement.

Throughout the 1990s, Palestinian leaders told the West what it wanted to hear in English while singing a different tune in Arabic with regard to Israel’s legitimacy and encouraging terrorism. Unfortunately, the same mistake is being made again. It is in that context that the JTA story about Palestinian Media Watch (“Nonprofit Keeps Eye on the Palestinians,” Oct. 17) should be understood.

While PMW has kept the world informed about what is being said in the official Palestinian media, it appears that the same peace advocates that whitewashed Yasser Arafat in the 1990s when he played this double game are repeating their errors. As even JTA admitted, the Palestinian media routinely honors terrorists and broadcasts incitement. There is no way, as PMW’s critics allege, to take this “out of context.”

It is unfortunate that JTA chooses to buy into the spin offered by PMW’s critics rather than reporting about a Palestinian culture of demonization of Jews and idolization of terrorists that continues to stymie peace. That the Exponent chose to run this skewed piece rather than material that stuck closer to the truth is even more unfortunate.

Gary Erlbaum | Ardmore

Debate on Patrilineal Descent: It’s a No-Brainer

The Conservative movement has addressed more complicated issues than patrilineal descent. This one should be a no-brainer.

When individuals are called to the Torah, they are called by their name as the son/daughter of his/her father. Whether or not one is of the priestly class is determined by the father.

In light of this, I would hope that there would be a stronger gesture toward gender equality. It appears that either parent should be able to determine the lineage of their child in light of the appearance of both fathers and mothers in interpreting the Bible.

I hope leaders of the Conservative movement debate this question in light of what Torah and tradition state, not what “they” think.

Maurice Feldman | Wyncote


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