Letters, the Week of July 14, 2016

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Readers discuss Graterford’s synagogue and explicit imagery.

Memories of Graterford’s Dismantled Synagogue
Regarding the June 16 article, “SCI Graterford Dismantles Synagogue,” I want to add some information. I would go to Graterford every Wednesday in the early 1980s and visit the 10 or so Jews that were prisoners.
After the destruction of the Torah in the room where we met, we went to see the warden. We pointed out that the Christians had a large church at the far end of the prison. The Muslims had the entire basement as their religious space, with the Shiite, Sunni, Farrakhan and American Muslims each having their own office. He gave us the balcony of the Christian church, removed the seats and walled off the room.
We repaired the old cabinet that held the Torah and found a Torah in a Jewish nursing home in North Philadelphia. I had a bimah made in five sections at my upholstery shop in Narberth and brought employees to Graterford to install it.
At the prison, I met WWDB-FM radio commentator Irv Homer, who was visiting a young man on death row. I took Homer to the empty space that was to be our temple. He got on the radio that day and started to talk about the two guys building a synagogue in a prison, and contributions came pouring in, mainly from the Christian community.
I might point out that it was the American Muslim Society who protected the Jews in that prison. They believed that Jews were their Semitic brothers and no one harmed any Jew in that prison for fear of reprisal. It took a few years to complete the furnishing of the temple, and we started to have monthly visits from a rabbi.
I am so sorry that the synagogue is closed. I know that the Jews in that prison are, too.
Donald Goldberg | Laguna Woods, Calif.
Poor Taste Displayed by Front-Page Image
The Exponent’s small graphic image of a Star of David superimposed over a handgun that accompanied a front-page gun-control story on June 7, “Local Jews Taking Issue with Guns, Too,” left me confused, to put it charitably. The meaning of this editorial decision demands explanation.
Consider that this image follows by a few days the Donald Trump image of a Star of David shape accompanying a graphic accusing Hillary Clinton of corruption, along with her photo and a bunch of dollar bills.
The Exponent’s graphic image could be perceived to report that the Jewish community now supports the widespread availability of guns to massacre children in classrooms, audiences at movie theaters, three visitors to Jewish facilities in Kansas, police officers at police-brutality demonstrations, Orthodox teens on a New York City bridge and, of course, staff employees at a Jewish Federation office in Seattle.
I trust that this graphic was an error in editorial judgment — an astonishing, sloppy error that could readily insult and offend the very Jewish community you were hired to cover.
Bruce S. Ticker | Northeast Philadelphia

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