Letters | Chanukah Greetings and the Executive Order

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Archbishop Offers Chanukah Greetings

As once again the Jewish community celebrates Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, please accept my prayerful best wishes and the neighborly greetings of the Catholic clergy and parishioners of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

In our day, burdened as we are by so many fears and oppressions, we might feel truly overwhelmed. In contrast, the feast of Chanukah highlights the victory over oppression which our Heavenly Father has bestowed.

May the light which comes from the menorah bring you a renewed sense of peace and freedom from oppression, especially religious oppression. May our two communities commit ourselves anew to bringing authentic heavenly light to our troubled times.

Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. | Archbishop of Philadelphia

Jews Are Not a Race

The recent decision to offer protection to Jews as a group is troubling in one specific way (“Jewish Community Reacts to Executive Order,” Dec. 12). Concluding Jews as a race is simply inaccurate. It is worth noting that in anticipation of modern theories that we see the concept of race as an artificial construct. The concept of race does not exist in Jewish law. Anyone who has been in Israel will verify that the Jewish population includes people of different colored skin and other racial characteristics. The same is true of Jews in the Diaspora. Jews have been defined as a people, an ethnic group, a religion and a religious civilization.

One thing is for certain: Jews are not a race.

Saul Philip Wachs | Rosaline B. Feinstein Emeritus Professor of Education and Liturgy, Gratz College

When Does Israel Criticism Become Jew Hatred?

There has been a great deal of controversy recently over President Trump’s executive order that Judaism falls within the protections of Title VI, which prohibits discrimination against individuals because of their race, color or nationality. The specific issue that this ruling encounters is when does criticism of Israel cross the line and become Jew hatred?

This line is clearly crossed when demonstrators depict Jews with offensive caricatures or fail to consider the unique challenges Israel faces in protecting itself from the thousands of terrorist attacks it has experienced, some emanating from its own citizens. It also crosses the line when Israel alone is vilified and countries that clearly violate human rights are not under assault. There have been no boycotts of Russia, China, Iran or Venezuela. Only Israel is boycotted, so the charge of Jew hatred is reasonable.

Saul Axelrod | Elkins Park

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