Letters the Week of Oct. 30, 2014


Readers voice their opinions on female leadership, last week's Torah portion, the Middle East conflict and old Jews telling jokes.

‘Long Way Baby’ Didn’t Go Far Enough
I was very pleased to read Lisa Hostein’s article in the Oct. 9 edition of the Exponent (Opinion, “We’ve Come a Long Way Baby, but Not Far Enough”). As a woman involved in the Jewish community for more than 35 years as both a professional and a lay leader, I have always been a proponent of more female leadership.
However, I was disappointed that your research and writing did not include Maddy Malis, the executive director of Federation Early Learning Services. Maddy was chosen to lead the agency professionally in 1999, well before the other women you spoke about. She still holds the position and has been a very successful agency head for 15 years. I am sorry that she did not receive the recognition she deserves.
Sandy Axelrod | Elkins Park
Torah Portion Had ‘Sin’ of Commission
The Oct. 16 Torah portion commentary (“Starting Again Without Illusion, With Hope”) described the creation narrative as one of “temptation, transgression and transformation.”
Not so. The word for “transgression/sin” never appears in the  Garden narrative. Adam and Eve are punished for disobedience, not for “sin.” For ancient Israel, “sin” is a specific, technical term referring to the breaking of a divine commandment. Obedience is not a divine commandment. It is not listed as one of the 10 commandments, nor is it categorized as such by the rabbis as one of the 613 ordinances. Cain is the first one in the Bible to sin, by murdering Abel, and it is in this incident that the word “sin” first occurs in the Bible.
Therefore, according to the biblical text itself, there is no such thing as “Original Sin.” That is a much later, Christian concoction promulgated largely by Augustine, which, sad to say, has gone on to contaminate some rabbinic — including contemporary Orthodox — thinking.
Stanley Cohen | Baltimore, Md.
‘Mixed Messages’ Editorial Missed the Point
Concerning the Exponent’s “Mixed Messages” editorial on Oct. 16: If you “can’t help but cringe on the timing” of Israel’s latest construction permits for new housing in Jerusalem, then you should stop editorializing on such matters. Jewish Jerusalem is under siege by genocidal Arab Islamists. It is for Israel to decide how best to defend itself against such barbarians through expressions of sovereignty.
Claude Schoenberg | Bala Cynwyd
We’ve Got Our Own ‘Old Jew Telling Jokes’
While reading Greg Salisbury’s article about “Old Jews Telling Jokes” (Lifestyle & Culture, “Marquee Matchup,” Oct. 19), I wanted the community to know we have a celebrity among us!
My dad, Bernie Leibowitz, age 93, is featured in the book, Old Jews Telling Jokes, on page 209 with his joke, “Sam and Molly.” He  can also be seen on The Old Jews Telling Jokes website.
My dad is a 1939 graduate of Overbrook High School and has lived in the Philadelphia area his entire life. He has always provided great laughter and amusement to his family and friends with his sense of humor and his impeccable joke-telling!
I, along with my family and friends, hope he will continue telling his jokes for many years to come.
Susan Leibowitz | Wynnewood


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