Letters the Week of Nov. 26, 2014


Interfaith marriage, tensions in the Middle East and Philadelphia teachers' struggle to negotiate with the city's School Reform Commission over health insurance costs, were on readers' minds this week. 

Interfaith Marriage Cannot Be ‘Wished Away’
Kudos to our Jewish Exponent for fulfilling its mission to present the kaleidoscopic and dynamic nature of our ever-changing Jewish community (Cover, “New Paths to Outreach,” Nov. 13).
With an empathic understanding of the deep sense of loss at the heart of recent letters to the editor, including “This Is What It Means to be Jewish?” on Nov. 20, a different perspective may be helpful. What can be seen through this growing phenomenon of interfaith marriage is the likelihood of better Jewish tomorrows. 
Interfaith marriage cannot be wished away. It is an ever-growing and permanent component of our Jewish reality. Our challenge is to welcome with open hearts, open arms and a respect for personal choice all who may wish to enter our open doors, explore and be moved by the beauty of our faith.
Risks indeed abound. The greater risk is to turn our backs to the opportunities that can result from the changing landscape. Our Jewish DNA is comprised of preservation, adaptation and mutation. All are embodied in the present dynamic of our people and our faith.
Rabbi Mayer Selekman | Chair, InterfaithFamily/Philadelphia Advisory Council
Deeds, not Words, Needed to Defuse Mideast
Your Nov. 20 editorial, “Fueling the Fire,” pointed out that Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas is guilty of “inflaming tensions” in the days leading up to last week’s Jerusalem synagogue massacre. Likewise, Secretary of State John Kerry said the massacre was “a pure result of incitement,” and he called on the Palestinian leadership to “take serious steps to restrain any kind of incitement.”
Secretary Kerry’s words would carry more weight if they were backed up by deeds. The incitement has continued; the Obama administration must act. It could, for example, reduce the $500 million in aid that it sends to the Palestinian Authority each year. It could declare that P.A. representatives are not welcome to visit the United States until all incitement stops. But so long as the administration continues to do nothing, the P.A. will have no incentive to halt the incitement.
Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn | Board members, Religious Zionists of America
Teachers Willing to Pay Some Health Costs
On Nov. 6, the cover article titled, “Wolf’s Win Spurs Hope, Concern in Community,” didn’t fully present my position. The article said I was “fighting the Philadelphia School Reform Commission’s move to cancel its contract with the teachers and no longer pay full health insurance for teachers.” I and the other members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers continue fighting the SRC for a fair contract and fair funding for our students.
Throughout negotiations with the SRC and the School District of Philadelphia, the PFT was more than willing to contribute a reasonable percentage to the cost of our health insurance. This was one of the points the PFT was willing to concede in an effort to attain a contract between its members and the school district. While the PFT has been ready and willing to negotiate terms of a new contract, it is those in the district who are looking to decimate collective bargaining.
Jackie Shahar | Philadelphia 


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