Letters the Week of Feb. 10, 2011



How About Vouchers to Cure Every Social Ill?

I read in the arguments in the Jewish Exponent — pro and con — about school vouchers, and I am now convinced that we need them (Editorial & Opinions: "Will Vouchers Empower Parents and Students? Or Will They Limit Their Freedom of Choice?" Feb. 3).

But why stop there? How about a voucher to choose new parents if the old ones aren't doing the job? How about a voucher to replace an abusive or deadbeat father? How about a voucher for a safe home, a safe neighborhood, a decent before-school breakfast, a good work area in the home, and a voucher for friends and relatives who care?

I kid, of course. I do not think that school vouchers are the answer. We need a lot more to fall into place before going down that road.

If I am correct in my assessment, the most ardent voucher proponents are on the political right: free enterprise; unions are bad; smaller government; pioneer mentality; no government handouts needed. The whole mantra.

Interestingly enough, those same people are not against subsidies when it comes to money going their way.

One writer who has already decided to send his children to Jewish day school, vouchers or no, would welcome a windfall subsidy. Why not? I would, too.

If the argument were about education, I would take an open view. But it is not. It is about politics — about added revenues for private schools, about would-be fat cats eating from the voucher trough, about vested interests.

Harrisburg, your decision awaits.

Asher Stutman


We Must Work to Ensure That Chaplaincy Continues

It pained me deeply to read the cover story in the Feb. 3 issue, "Crisis Care," which dealt with the dire situation of Jewish chaplaincy in the Greater Philadelphia area.

At a time when our population is aging rapidly and the number of people who are in need of professional spiritual care is increasing exponentially, we learn that Jewish Federation cut its funding for part-time hospital chaplains.

The National Association of Jewish Chaplains — with a membership of more than 600 serving in settings as varied as hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, rehab centers, mental-health facilities and hospices — clearly sees the need for chaplains, both certified and accredited, to increase in number, not decrease.

Funds must be found to help our people deal with illness, crises and life's difficulties.

This is not a luxury; it is a necessity!

Rabbi Yaacov Rone
National Association of Jewish Chaplains
Whippany, N.J.

Deals With Dictators Don't Lead to Democracy

Pundits from The New York Times to The Toronto Star have not missed an opportunity to either blame Israel for the turmoil rocking the Middle East, or argue this is more reason for further Israeli concessions.

From the Roman conquest two millennia ago until 1948, there was no Israel. There were also no independent, liberal, democratic Arab states.

Today, even a cursory look at the region, from Iran to North Africa and Sudan, shows a sea of oppression, dictatorships and daily affronts to personal rights, but little democracy.

No concession by Israel can change that.

As for supposed Arab concern for the "Palestinians," that, too, is bogus.

If the Arabs really cared about their Palestinian cousins, they would have dissolved UNRWA generations ago and resettled them in new homes where they could start productive lives, rather than keeping them displaced.

We could only wish there was something Israel could do that would turn the Middle East's dictatorships into tolerant democracies and bring enduring peace.

Unfortunately, facts on the ground suggest otherwise.

As Egypt's current turmoil demonstrates, deals with dictators cannot be counted on to survive the next revolution.

John R. Cohn


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