Letters Week of Sep. 29, 2005

K.I.'s Support for Israel Evolved Over 60 Years

While I welcomed the Jewish Exponent's decision to run a story on our congregation's new Israel program, I am concerned that it (City & Suburb: "Once a Holdout, K.I. Now Stands Behind the Jewish State," Sept. 15) seems to have left readers with the wrong impression about K.I. and Israel.

K.I.'s shift to a pro-Israel position is hardly new.

Beginning with his appointment as senior rabbi in 1949, Bertram Korn openly supported the State of Israel, as have all of his successors.

Under Korn there was a congregational trip to Israel, the hosting of Israel Bonds dinners and the purchase of an ambulance for Magen David Adom.

Thus, adding Israeli flags to different venues in our building several years ago represented the continuation of a long-term trend, not a radical break in the views of the vast majority of members at K.I.

If the headline had stated that K.I. continues to intensify its support of Israel – instead of implying that attitudes had only recently changed – readers and K.I. congregants would have understood our evolution as a synagogue more clearly.

In any event, K.I. has been and strongly remains part of the pro-Israel, Zionist mainstream in American Jewish life today, and it looks forward to hosting more pro-Israel programs, to making Israel connections for our students, and to advocating for the Jewish state now and in the future.
Rabbi Lance J. Sussman
Senior rabbi
Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel
Elkins Park

Record of Support: Much More Than Flag!

As a lifetime member of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, I am distressed at the tone of the article on the congregation's support of Israel (City & Suburb: "Once a Holdout, K.I. Now Stands Behind the Jewish State," Sept. 15).

In going back to Rabbi William Fineshriber, who had philosophical reasons for not supporting the creation of Israel, the article skips over 55 years to 1949, when he retired.

Since then, the congregation has been led by Rabbi Bertram W. Korn, Rabbi Simeon J. Maslin, and now, by Rabbi Lance J. Sussman.

During this period, the congregation has conducted bond drives, congregational trips to Israel, and supported it from the pulpit and membership.

Does the mere placing of a flag on the pulpit justify the headline on this story?

It seems this places more importance upon a symbol than upon action and conviction, and is a misreading of K.I.'s modern position.
Louis B. Dietz

Interfaith Couple's Story: Antithetical to Teaching

What was the Jewish Exponent thinking when it decided to run a story that essentially validates intermarriage?

What did the editors find newsworthy about the union (complete with an Arabic wedding contract) between an American Jewish woman and a Sudanese Muslim man?

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's vision statement speaks of "inspiring participation in Jewish life and learning."

What is so inspirational – to Jewish readers – about the tale of the Jewish wife of a non-Jewish husband, who both will fast on Ramadan, which commences on the first day of Rosh Hashanah this year?

As the principal of a Hebrew day school, it has been my life's work to educate Jewish children and instill in them a sense of identity that is essential to the continuity of our people. Intermarriage is the greatest threat to Jewish continuity we face today.

Sensationalizing and romanticizing it is irresponsible reporting.
Rabbi Ira Budow
Abrams Hebrew Academy

Who Made These Guys Authorities on Our Law?

Thank you, Jonathan Tobin, for the piece on what happened in Gaza after Israel left (A Matter of Opinion: "Unwanted History Lessons," Sept. 15).

Mention might also be made of the fact that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas justified the destruction of the Gaza synagogues since all holy objects were removed.

Who made him an authority on Jewish law? The Rambam says that even when destroyed, the ruins have sanctity.

Also, one of the reporters on Palestinian Authority TV mentioned that mosques are different from synagogues because they have a distinctive architecture, which is holy.

Obviously, this man failed to note a responsum of the Hatam Sofer (Rabbi Moses Sofer), who stated that synagogues may be built in any and all architectural styles.
Rabbi Milton H. Polin

After Holy Items Leave, Building's Just a Building

There's been a lot of criticism of the Palestinians for tearing down the remaining synagogues in Gaza (A Matter of Opinion: "Unwanted History Lessons," Sept. 15). While there are issues to confront, this isn't one of them.

As Jonathan Tobin noted, Israel had promised to tear down those buildings, but reneged on that promise.

Second, a synagogue is not a holy place once the Torah scrolls, siddurs and other ritual objects have been removed. It is simply a building.

Let's not shoot ourselves in the foot by arguing this case.
Don Weinshank
East Lansing, Mich.

If Only the Incas Knew From Jewish Penicillin!

In response to a certain claim last week, I'd like to set the record straight ("Letter Writers Should Really Quit the Kvetching," Sept. 22).

Healthy recipes are great. But just as I believe you won't find a chopped-liver recipe in an Asian cookbook, Jewish food in the Exponent should not be the exception, but the rule.

Since you like beans so much, a wonderful cholent would be wonderfully healthy – and Jewish, too!

And when you stated that "the health benefits of quinoa have been enjoyed as far back as the Incas," my question is to ask exactly where are the ancient Incas now?

If they had sipped a flu-fighting chicken soup or eaten some protein-rich gefilte fish, they might still be here now.
Nanette Schriftman
Huntingdon Valley



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