Letters week of April 2, 2010



Praise for a Rabbi Who's Stuck by the Russians

Your April 15 cover story "The New Russian Revolution?" was both interesting and insightful. It's good to know that Federation, under the leadership of Mr. Leonard Barrack, has taken such a great interest in the Russian community.

I would like to point out that for more than 30 years, one rabbi has been at the forefront of Russian outreach. His name is Rabbi Solomon Isaacson.

He has dedicated his life to Jewish education, especially among the Russians, and is deeply involved with the RAJE Israel Fellowship.

It would be a travesty not to mention his name among the others who are doing so much for the Russian community here in Philadelphia.

Rabbi Akiva Pollack

Program director
RAJE Israel Fellowship

Thanks for Informative Article on Special Needs

The article "Opening Gates of Torah to Those With Special Needs," which ran April 15, reaffirms the evidence that Jewish organizations and religious institutions need to continue their support in helping educate children with special needs. The specialized education will assist the children in becoming functioning, productive adults in society.

Some years ago, I wrote about my grandson, Dylan, having the Jewish genetic disease Familial Dysautonomia. At the onset of this debilitating disease, life expectancy was estimated at 5 years of age.

However, Dylan will become a Bar Mitzvah at Old York Road Temple-Beth Am synagogue this June. Even though he is nonverbal, he speaks via a communication device. With the aid of his caring Bar Mitzvah teacher, Bruce Sham, Dylan will achieve a milestone in the life of a Jewish boy.

He still has a multitude of physical problems, but with the help of his parents, doctors, nurses and educators, he is continuing to work toward achieving the goals set before him.

Gloria Gelman

The Threat Doesn't Just Come From Neo-Nazis

I attended the "At the Gates of Hell: Liberation of the Camps" presentation at Gratz College on April 8, in commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps.

It was comforting to see such a large crowd there. But I have several observations and cautionary points that I think need to be made.

First, the average age of those in attendance was well north of 50. While recognizing the context of the Gratz presentation, I am nevertheless dismayed that the declining life expectancy of the members of the "greatest generation" happens to coincide with the growing number and stridency of Holocaust-deniers.

It's not only President Barack Obama who often appears to have no sense of Israel's post-Shoah history, and thus often succumbs to moral relativism where the Jewish state is concerned.

Far too many members of the "Millennial Generation" are also uninformed about — and therefore, ill-prepared to meet — the growing challenges to the security needs of Israel, not to mention the security of world Jewry.

I am dismayed that too many American Jews fail to see evil in anyone other than neo-Nazis. They need to wake up and stop worrying about the past, and prepare to address today's real and present existential threats.

If there are more than a billion Muslims in the world (and only 10 percent, or 100 million, of them are estimated to be Islamo-fascists), it is hardly the "mere" tens of thousands of neo-Nazis, skinheads and white-supremacist militiamen that imperil our country and U.S. Jewry.

William Wanger



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