If Not for God, Why Bother?
I was dismayed by Alan Gold’s statement that, “Orthodox Jews are all about God, but for the rest of us, Judaism is more about culture, history, tradition, teaching to question everything and make a better world and a civilization” (“An Atheist Jew,” Letters, April 11). This could not be further from the truth. I was fortunate to grow up in a very Conservative home in which Judaism was important. This laid the foundation for my questioning, leading me toward a daily observance of the mitzvot and keeping traditions.
We are approaching Passover, a holiday celebrated, at least tacitly, by the vast majority of American Jews. Why have a seder if you don’t believe in the one who redeemed us? The Torah, given to Moses from G-d, is a manual for how to live our life. It teaches us everything we need to know in order to make ourselves better people, thereby making the world as a whole, a better place. A person certainly has free will and may choose what he does and does not believe, but a little intellectual honesty would not go amiss here.
Jewish culture, history, tradition and, yes, even the concept of tikkun olam, are all rooted in our service of and closeness to G-d. If you’re not doing it for Him, why bother?
Susan Yitzhak | Philadelphia
Letter From the Archdiocese
As Jews throughout the world observe the solemn holy days of Passover, I would like to greet my Jewish sisters and brothers in the Philadelphia area. I would also like to extend to you the prayerful solidarity and neighborly respect of the parishioners and clergy of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Passover commemorates not simply Pharaoh’s decision to end the enslavement of the Hebrew people. This holy occasion recalls a singular manifestation of divine providence, an inspiring intervention of heavenly power on Earth. Passover taught the former slaves to have confidence in the will and power of their Heavenly Father.
This confidence must be renewed in our day. Our times are marked by many evils, like localized wars, continued poverty, societal divisiveness, and the sad plight of so many immigrants. Under these circumstances, hopelessness may overtake us. Instead, however, we must believe that the One who fulfilled His promises long ago will not abandon us today, if we turn to him in loving prayer, honest repentance and an ardent love of neighbor.
Once again, please accept my prayerful best wishes for many blessings upon you at this holy time.
Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. | Archbishop of Philadelphia