Letters week of Dec. 27, 2009

It's a Moment of Pride for the Entire Community

The announcement of the Staub-Spitko wedding in your Dec. 3 issue — the first ever in the Jewish Exponent to acknowledge a same-sex marriage — represents a proud moment for the Jewish community and for the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

I applaud the paper's change in policy, which now includes gay and lesbian couples among those invited to share the joyous news of their unions.

We at RRC are especially proud that this "first" dealt with the marriage of Michael Spitko and Rabbi Jacob Staub, Ph.D. — an RRC alumnus and an anchor of the college who chairs our department of medieval Jewish civilization, and who has led our outstanding initiatives in Jewish spiritual direction since the early, pioneering days.

Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Views on Gay Marriage Were Misconstrued

In response to my letter of protest regarding publicizing gay unions ("Reader Ready to Cut Ties to Paper Over New Policy," Oct. 22), Dr. Joel Steinberg responded with several errors in his Oct. 29 response ("Writer Takes Exception to Decision to Sever Ties"). These ideas were echoed in Edina Lessack's letter of Nov. 12 ("About Gays, the Doctor's Views Seem Backward").

My displeasure in publicizing gay unions in a Jewish newspaper arises out of the need to set a Jewish standard of marriage and family — a bedrock value of our people.

This has nothing to do with "compassion." Compassion is paramount in interpersonal relationships. In the macro-world of public policy, one must be more concerned with "standards" over "compassion."

Dr. Steinberg states: "Surely, it is scientific fact that sexual orientation, like right or left handedness, is biologically determined."

I believe that gender identification is much more plastic. In ancient Greece, where homosexuality was acceptable, most men of means would invest their sexual energy in a "boy lover." Male sexuality is extremely undifferentiated.

If society is tolerant of the gay lifestyle, more will opt for it. The ideas expressed in both letters affirming a "gay gene" is "feelings-based" and "junk science," not scientific fact.

Ronald J. Werrin, M.D.
Bala Cynwyd

Article Overlooked Those Who Add All the 'Ruach'

Thank you very much for the article titled "Movement to Examine Needs of New Era" (Cover story, Dec. 3). As a product of the Conservative movement and as a current rabbi within it, I am aware of the difficulties we face, and yet, I have hope that if all strands of the movement can come together, the future will be bright.

As I read through the article's many points, I couldn't help but notice that the word "cantor" was never mentioned. You talk about rabbis and lay leaders, and while you do make mention of "clergy," the gift and importance of the cantor was absent.

At a November panel sponsored by the Jewish Theological Seminary that preceded the movement's December conference here, there were "clergy," but it was Cantor Elizabeth Shammash who stood out as the most eloquent, thought- provoking speaker.

It is also important to note that the HaYom coalition mentioned in the article is made up of rabbis, cantors and lay leaders — another time it was left out. I don't mean to nitpick, but it behooves us not to forget that without music, we are left without a soul.

Rabbi Joshua Kalev
Tiferet Bet Israel
Blue Bell

Enough Is Enough: It's Demeaning, Not Funny!

"Curb Your Enthusiasm," the HBO sitcom, is bad for the Jews. Susy Essman (Arts & Entertainment, "If You Knew Susie … ," Nov. 5), for example, offers little but coarse language and a string of low-life profanity. Is this funny? Should she be honored in a family-oriented Jewish paper?

As for Larry David, how does he think non-Jews will view us when he desecrates Christian holy objects?

Don't we have enough anti-Semitism as it is?

Philip Rosen, Ph.D.


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