Letters the week of June 11, 2015


Readers lament the end of an era at the Exponent, argue against the focus on the threat of climate change as opposed to anti-semitism and ask for the Israel Celebration to be brought back.

Jewish Leaders Unaware of Climate We Live In
I’m just incredulous at what provokes outrage in our present-day Jewish leadership (Opinion, “Ancient Torah Speaks to Today’s Climate Crisis,” May 14). On the one hand, we have periodic outbursts of virulent anti-Semitism, including killings, beatings and constant verbal assaults on both the streets and on the campuses of all Western countries. Israel is under constant attack by radical Islamists, Iran is on the verge of obtaining nukes by which it can fulfill it’s threat to wipe Israel off the map, and we have an American president who at best is apathetic about supporting the Jewish state.
On the other hand ,we have a very dubious and a very theoretical threat of global warming that, despite the canard of 97 percent support of scientists, likely doesn’t exist.
Two hundred and fifty rabbis just sent a letter not on the rising threat to their fellow Jews but rather on the nebulous threat to the climate. On a scale from 1 to 10 of the danger to the world and to the Jews, climate change deserves a 1 and the rising anti-Semitism a 10. The response of these rabbis indicates the inverse.
Steve Heitner | Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.
Find a Way to Bring Back Israel Celebration
For several years, Volunteers for Israel was among the pro-Israel vendors who proudly celebrated Israel’s birth at the Federation-sponsored Israel Day. It was always the best venue to showcase our unique program, greet alumni and attract future volunteers who wanted to stand with Israel, in Israel, on IDF logistics bases.
Like local officers of the Zionist Organization of America, (Kvetch ‘N Kvell, “Out at Home: Baseball No Way to Fete Israel,” May 21), we were surprised and very disappointed to learn that the festive, community-wide celebration of Israel’s founding had been downsized to a stadium parking lot. We were not even notified of the change. The result was a lost opportunity for the Jewish community and Israel at a time when Jewish pride and positive media coverage about Israel are sorely needed.
 We add our voice to those organizations and friends of Israel urging Federation to find a way to restore Israel Day to the prominence it deserves.
Carol Stein and Beverly Cohen | Co-Directors
Volunteers for Israel, Philadelphia Region
Lamenting the End of an Era
I am horrified to read that the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has dismissed the entire editorial staff of the Jewish Exponent, including its editor Lisa Hostein, in order to “save money” by turning editorial management over to a non-Philadelphia corporate media-management outfit.
Ms. Hostein has for the last six years transformed the paper from a blind-eyed screed for a small segment of the Philadelphia Jewish community to a much juicier (and Jewcier) expression of and stimulant to Jewish creativity. Her institution of the weekly column "Rabbis Uncensored,” written by a wide variety of Philadelphia-area rabbis, has been one example of a ruach chadashah — a new breath, a new wind, a new spirit of grassroots Jewish energy.
The Federation claims that its agreement with Mid-Atlantic Media requires it to surrender appointment and control of its editorial staff (and therefore policy). A new managing editor is to be hired. How does that save money? Could not they have insisted the new deal include continuing the award-winning tenure of Ms. Hostein?
This decision is especially sad, given the recent advent of a new Federation CEO who herself has seemed to be open to a much deeper vision of the Federation and the Jewish community that it tries to serve. I hope that deeper vision can survive this blow.
Arthur Waskow | Director, the Shalom Center


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