Letters | Synagogue Membership, Gun Violence and More


Engaging Millennials

Having read quite a bit about millennials’ disdain for the synagogue model and financial barriers to synagogue membership, I don’t believe the one-year-free model (“Remove Millennial Synagogue Participation Barriers,” Aug. 29) is the answer to engaging those who feel the synagogue does not offer what they are seeking.

How will the congregation and other shuls adapt to what millennials are seeking — providing a sense of community and spirituality that is very different from what their parents sought? Beyond this, lessening the financial barrier for one year does not address the long-term financial barriers; rather, it becomes a marketing tool to bring individuals in the door. The question is: How do you intend to keep them there?

Rachel Ezekiel-Fishbein | Elkins Park

Membership Not a Priority for Many

First, anyone can come to synagogue on Shabbat without being a member. The only time it matters is High Holidays. If High Holidays are the only time you want to come, even a free membership wouldn’t get you there any more often. All synagogues will make financial provisions for those really in need. Unfortunately, there are those who don’t see membership as a priority in their lives and blame the cost.

Synagogues have expenses just like all businesses. They have a building to maintain, heat, air conditioning, electric and payroll, just to mention a few.

The problem with Conservative Judaism is not the cost, but rather the lack of interest. Many young Jews are satisfied to say they are Jewish without making the commitment to synagogue community.

Shelley Geltzer | Holland, Pa.

History Revisited

I must express my surprise that Mort Klein, the national president of the Zionist Organization of America, could put President Donald Trump ahead of Harry Truman, who helped create the state of Israel, or Richard Nixon, who oversaw the resupply of the Israel Defense Forces during the darkest days of the Yom Kippur War (Kvetch ’N’ Kvell, Sept. 5).

It seems like an obvious oversight and an inaccurate assessment of history to me.

Drew Dubester | Huntingdon Valley

Fighting Gun Violence

In response to “Local Israelis Reflect on Gun Laws, Gun Culture” (Aug. 22), the Israeli government has gotten it right in terms of protecting its citizens against gun violence. It’s a stark contrast to our government.

What will it take for our government to do the same? How many more innocent lives will be lost due to gun shootings/gun violence? When will common sense gun safety laws be adopted? I’m so frustrated. Other than writing to our elected officials, and voting in our upcoming elections, what else can a concerned individual do?

Paula Lowenthal | Ambler

Understating BDS

The anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is far more harmful and dangerous than is asserted by Myron Bassman (Kvetch ’N’ Kvell, Aug. 15). BDS is a carefully planned operation to isolate Israel and bring about its demise.

Israel is labeled as an apartheid society, committing war crimes and stealing Palestinian land. Israelis are depicted as invaders, oppressors and human rights abusers — so they should be shunned.

BDS tactics include:

Boycott — Pressuring individuals (through letters/visits/shaming) not to go to Israel. Their targets include government officials, actors, musicians, authors, sports teams, conferences, academic visits, organization bookings. This goes two ways: Israelis are not invited or included in international competitions, conferences, visiting professorships, think tank meetings.

Divestment — Banks and pension managers are urged to unload stocks /monies and no new money to finance Israeli companies, or to buy Israel Bonds.

Sanctions — Get the United Nations to denounce Israel, embargo important items, prevent Israel from getting needed weapons and other goods to weaken it and inflict great economic damage.

Reps. Ilan Omar and Rashida Tlaib’s unembarrassed call for Congress to endorse BDS is anti-Semitism on steroids.

Roberta E. Dzubow | Plymouth Meeting

Covfefe Logic

I reject Jack Elbaum’s (“Don’t Use Tragedy to Win Political Points,” Aug. 15) covfefe logic. Is there anyone — outside, perhaps, of the online denizens of 8chan or the ZOA — who believes that if Hillary Clinton had won the Electoral College as well as the popular vote, that the alt-right white supremacists cockroaches would have felt so gloriously emboldened as to crawl out of the woodwork to stage the deadly “Unite the Right” Charlottesville rally in 2017?

In short, Elbaum’s analysis displays — as someone recently said — a “total lack of knowledge.” Sad.

Brad Shaw | Columbia, Maryland

Caring About Israel

The assertion was recently made in this section that “most moderate, centrist and progressive Democrats care about Israel” (Kvetch ’N’ Kvell, Aug. 15), a contention that, though assumed by some and wished for by others, is disputed by the most recent Pew and Gallup polls on the subject. That is, unless the “care” referenced is that very special kind of “care” reserved for Israel by Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Though many lovers and defenders of Israel are, and have long been, loyal and generous supporters of the Democrat party, it must now, unfortunately, be recognized that their sentiments are no longer shared by their party’s trending new majority — a majority, led by the aforementioned triumvirate of BDS supporting anti-Semites, that will surely influence Democrat platforms and actions into the future.

To delude oneself otherwise, though perhaps momentarily consoling, fosters a complacency that can only prove detrimental to the interests of Israel and, by extension, the Jewish community. Hopefully, realization of this condition will spur that party’s substantial and influential Jewish support base to exercise all means available to amend this disturbing reality.

Elliott Tessler | Philadelphia


  1. Brad Shaw has has solved the problem of right-wing extremists in America. Elect democrats , and only democrats to the presidency and the crazies will crawl back into the woodwork. The proposition that if Hillary was in the White House the “unite the right” Charlottesville rally would never have occurred is so absurd that it enters the world of fantasy. The far-right isn’t emboldened by the present occupant of the White House, to the contrary they dislike him. He’s pro-Israel, in their minds therefore pro-Jew, he’s condemned antisemitism on numerous occasions, and even worse, his kids and grand kids are Jews. To put this is very simple terms, if these nuts ever gain power in America, the president will quickly follow his children into the gas chamber, and don’t think for one minute he doesn’t know it.
    Mr. Shaw’s letter explains why many Jews vote democratic, even as that party veers to the extreme left, and is now being invaded and slowly taken over by antisemitism. To many democrats Jew hatred can only exist on the right, since fascism has successfully been labeled as such. So as they obsess about a very small number of far right-wing groups who have no power in the Republican party, they ignore and often support the squad and their sizable and growing number of supporters in Congress. Radicalism on either the right or the left is the enemy of Jews. When either extreme gains power Jews become the scapegoat for all of the ills of society. Mr. Shaw, a Hillary victory in 16 would only have emboldened the cockroaches on the alt-left.


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