Letters: Cantors, Anti-Semitism, and More

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Don’t Forget the Cantors

I read with interest your article on High Holiday planning (“Rabbis and Leaders Plan for High Holidays,” July 23). Allow me to point out a significant omission: In the context of planning for these particular High Holidays, no single group of Jewish professionals is working harder than our cantors.

The creativity, the imagination, and the sheer hours of effort that the cantorate has put into the 2020 Yameem Nora’eem are unmatched by any other group. They have always been responsible for the incomparable music which is the essence of these observances. But this year, they have proved equally adept at mastering and innovating the technology which will make worship possible.


When you are moved by the Torah service, when you weep at hearing the Kol Nidre, when you are stirred to consider a better year ahead while listening to the Untaneh Tokef, chances are that it is a cantor or the cantorial tradition that is responsible for your reaction.

The word “cantor” was totally absent from the article, yet several of the houses of worship mentioned are served not only by distinguished rabbis, but by gifted and dedicated cantors — clergy — whom I am privileged to call colleagues. To you and your readers, a sweet and healthy New Year, enhanced by the music of our people and its guardian, the cantor.

Marshall Portnoy, cantor emeritus at
Main Line Reform Temple | Wynnewood

Don’t Forget Anti-Semitism

None of the six policy recommendations detailed in the op-ed “We Will Not Sit Idly By” (July 16) presented to the Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations say anything about anti-Semitism.

AJC should demand a statement of condemnation against the Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan for the demonization of Israel and the hateful rhetoric spewed against the Jews. Is it asking too much of AJC to represent the Jewish people in their fight against hate?  

Zachary Margolies | Philadelphia

Don’t Forget the Past

I had a similar, though more recent, experience comparable to Peter Whitman’s (“Recalling Injustice,” June 25). In 1965, when I was 10, my family was traveling on a “blue highway,” as my father often preferred, between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.  I spotted a motel sign featuring “colored cabins.” I remarked that the cabins must be painted nice, bright colors. My mother corrected me and explained the real meaning. This was in Maryland, not the Deep South, in 1965, well after Brown v. Board of Education.

The other day, my mother apologized for having bequeathed me some bad genes (those which cause arthritis). I replied that it was better that she instilled in me an excellent set of values.

Shelley J. Aronson | Philadelphia

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