Letters week of April 23, 2009

Piece on Gays Not Worthy of the 'Jewish Exponent'

I regularly read and enjoy your weekly newspaper. I usually find most of the articles to be beneficial and enlightening, reflecting the diversity of the Jewish community in Philadelphia and the surrounding area.

It was with great disappointment, then, that I noted the April 9 cover story "Young, Gay, and Devoted to the Cause." Notwithstanding the fine literary quality of this work which I've come to expect from the Jewish Exponent, I remain gravely concerned about the content of this piece.

I cannot reconcile in my mind the obviously supportive depiction of homosexuality reflected in the article with the clear fact that God forbids such behavior in the Torah (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, etc.).

I understand that, in our current political climate of "tolerance," anyone who voices concern about homosexual behavior is quickly labeled a "homophobe." Risking this abused and overused label, I must again state that homosexual behavior and a Torah-observant life are irreconcilable, regardless of the obvious zeal and support displayed by the young people and their families.

A thousand rabbis coming from multiple backgrounds may dismiss my concern, but the Torah calls homosexuality an abomination before God.

Yosi Fuller
Messianic rabbi
Beth Emanuel Messianic Synagogue

'West Side Story' Article Sounds Like Bad Parody

We are former Philadelphians and continue to receive your paper. I have always enjoyed your insightful coverage of domestic and world affairs, as well as the editorials and articles of most of your writers.

Michael Elkin, on the other hand, seems bent on turning his "On the Scene" column into a Jewish parody. This would not be so bad if he just stuck to the facts, but his "schtick" cheapens rather than enhances his writing.

I usually take it with a grain of salt, but the April 9 "West Side … Tzimmes," made me gag. I often share items of interest with friends and colleagues. How could I possibly do that with changed names such as "West Side Tsuris" instead of "West Side Story," Tony turned into "Totskele," "Yids and the Shaig …" instead of Jets and the Sharks, and the worst offense — "Why is this rumble different from all other rumbles?"

I am well aware that the story line for the famous Leonard Bernstein musical was first conceived with Jewish gangs against Catholic ones, but that does not support Mr. Elkin's reporting. It's not only in poor taste, but downright tacky.

The Exponent is an excellent paper with perceptive, well-written articles. It is unfortunate that "On the Scene," in its current format, does not match that level of quality.

Edina Lessack
Sanibel, Fla.

Much Praise to Hallmark for Its Television Movies

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Michael Elkin's "On the Scene" article, "Poles Apart," in the April 16 issue, which dealt with the recent Hallmark Hall of Fame TV film about Holocaust rescuer Irena Sendler.

The last 2009 Hallmark Hall of Fame film, "Loving Leah," was a beautiful film about a young Orthodox Jewish widow.

And, in 2008, Hallmark did a very poignant film, "Front of the Class," about a Jewish boy who learned how to cope with his Tourette's syndrome and then became a school teacher.

So, kudos to Hallmark and to Mr. Elkin!

Bernice Kaplan

History of His Haggadah Revealed at Last

I read Robert Leiter's article about the Szyk Hagaddah (Books & Writers: "Everything Is Illuminated," April 9) with great interest.

I received one as a Bar Mitzvah gift. Obviously, it is not an original, but it was printed in Israel in 1962.

I have always looked at it in amazement every year at Pesach.

Thanks to the piece, I now know something of the history of its origin.

Ted Harrison
Sent via e-mail


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