Letters week of Feb 19, 2009



'Brainwashing' Reference Offends Aish HaTorah

What a shame that the article about Rabbi Noach Weinberg ("Aish HaTorah's Founder Viewed as a Visionary," Feb. 12) ended in such poor taste, suggesting that Aish HaTorah "brainwashed" people.

My organization and I are shocked and offended that this comment was included in an article meant to pay tribute to him.

Rabbi Weinberg's life was one of tireless dedication to the Jewish people. As the JTA story properly states, he was a Jewish leader who affected hundreds of thousands of people in his efforts to turn back the tide of assimilation.

This is how the Exponent concludes their tribute to him? By accusing him of running a cult?

Your irresponsible message that any person who decides to live a more committed, observant lifestyle is "brainwashed" is slanderous to tens of thousands of highly educated, successful Jews around the world.

We are truly in a sad state of affairs when our internal Jewish prejudices and ignorance lead us to conclude that Jewish education which results in deeper Jewish commitment is inherently cultish. Isn't that the purpose of Jewish education?

If a Jew decides to increase his or her commitment to kashrut, Shabbat observance, learning Torah, sending their children to day school — shouldn't we call that a victory for the Jewish people?

From this article' s logic, then I guess I am brainwashed, as well as the Aish board of directors, students and synagogue members.
Rabbi Yaakov Couzens
Aish HaTorah Philadelphia


She's Not Brainwashed; She's Better Educated

I was saddened to see that the Jewish Exponent is creating a negative image of Aish HaTorah ("Aish HaTorah's Founder Viewed as a Visionary," Feb. 12) by equating learning Torah with brainwashing.

I have been involved in Aish for many years, learning Torah and being part of a Jewish community that truly cares about the continuation of the Jewish people. Through my classes and the relationships I have developed, I have clarified and solidified what it means to me to be a Jewish woman.

Knowing who I am and what I believe has enabled me to be the best wife, mother and community member that I can be.

I am not brainwashed. I am educated.
Julie Savitch


The Stimulus Package: It's Nonkosher, at Best

Your news and editorial pages are already indistinguishable from the rest of the pro-Obama media.

Endorsing the stimulus package (Editorial, Feb. 12) cannot be camouflaged as either consistent with Jewish values (as the selected quotation from the ideologically biased Reform movement asserts) or Jewish volunteerism (for no local group was wiped out, as the Bernard Madoff scandal destroyed philanthropies elsewhere).

One effort to restore balance could have been to quote the analysis of the legislation by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (www.cbo.gov).

As opposed to creating 4 million new jobs by 2011 — the rhetorical claim of the socialist/Democratic Party — the proper figure is 1.2 to 3.6 million jobs.

The CBO also predicts a reduction in the long-term Gross Domestic Product in later years, which will be reflected in lower wages rather than lower employment, "as workers will be less productive because the capital stock is smaller."

This one additional factoid speaks volumes as to the true intent and impact of this nonkosher pork.
Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D.


The Bill's End Result? Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

Regarding: " Lobbying for Recover:" (Editorial, Feb. 12), George Bernard Shaw, a Fabian Socialist, observed that "a government that robs Peter to pay Paul can be assured of the support of Paul."

A Democrat president and a Democrat-controlled Congress promote a stimulus bill with unprecedented trillions of dollars in spending and debt.

It robs Peter (the forgotten taxpayer) and then receives the predictable support of Paul (Jewish charities).
Bob Guzzardi
Bryn Mawr


Omission in Story Points to a Significant Problem

It was very exiting to read the article "Barrack Academy: Education for the 21st Century" (Federation page, Jan. 29).

The piece stated that the school is committed to academic excellence. In proof of this point, it was noted that 25 percent of the class of 2009 are National Merit Scholarship finalist or semi-finalists.

This achievement is indeed impressive.

However, I take issue with something that has not been open for discussion. The school does not take students who are average scholastically or fall below average.

While Federation funds a great portion of the budget, many families (including some clergy) that cannot send their children to Barrack.

Until a few years ago, I served on the school's board and was a member of the coaching staff for more than 25 years. I have witnessed firsthand how painful it is for the families who believe in Jewish eduction and yet cannot send their children to this school.
Edward S. Snyder


Ethical Wills Distill Values for Future Generations

Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman's Torah commentary ("Plagues Are Like Death, Death Is Like a Plague," Jan. 29) called for full respect of a dying person's human spirit.

One way to respect the person's spirit involves an ethical will. In Judaism, ethical wills are personal documents that pass on life lessons and values to the next generation.

A classic example is the ethical will of Judah ibn Tibbon, who wrote in the 12th century to his son Samuel: "Let books be your companions; let bookcases and shelves be your pleasure grounds and gardens. … . If your soul be sated and weary, change from garden to garden, from furrow to furrow, from prospect to prospect."

Ethical wills allow our personal values to remain vibrant for the next generation.
Nathan Weissler
Chevy Chase, Md.


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