Letters the Week of April 24, 2014


Letter writers attempt to explain the husband of a terrorist victim's identification with the attackers, promote the importance of understanding the dangers of Jewish genetic diseases and ponder the significance of the term "Jews of no religion."

Does Author Identify With Wife’s Attackers?
David Harris-Gershon’s wife was a victim of terrorist violence, one of thousands of Israelis and others killed or maimed over the past several decades as part of the Arabs’ nearly 100-year war to prevent and then destroy Israel (Headlines, “Synagogue Moves Forward With Controversial Speaker,” April 17). It is unfortunate, but not inexplicable, that he would identify with his wife’s attackers, much as hostages come to identify with those holding them prisoner. Sometimes called the Stockholm Syndrome, after bank employees held hostage in 1973, the International Classification of Diseases has a diagnostic code for this, 995.81, “Adult Physical Abuse.”
Terrorists, like those who carried out the bombing at Hebrew University, are routinely honored by Palestinian Authority leaders who pay stipends to their families, demanding their release from prison to even talk about peace. That is not how a government responds when it wants to discourage behavior it rejects, further evidence that failure to find peace is their fault, not Israel’s, which does not deserve to be targeted with boycotts, divestment or sanctions.
But there is good news for Harris-Gershon, who said he “believes firmly in the idea that Israel should be a Jewish, democratic state.”
It already is.
John R. Cohn, M.D. | Philadelphia
Need to Get the Word Out on Genetic Diseases
I was elated to read the informative article in Inside magazine about the many Jewish genetic diseases (“Pass/Fail/Pray,” Spring and Summer).
My grandson is 17 years old. Unfortunately, he has Familial Dysautonomia, one of the Jewish genetic diseases. The medical cocktails that he takes 24/7 keep him functioning and alive.
On a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being the worst case, he is a “10.” When he was first diagnosed, I sent letters and literature to every rabbi in Philadelphia and the surrounding communities.
My purpose was to make them aware of this disease. I offered to come and speak to their congregations. I heard back from only one rabbi. In order for some of the rabbis to become aware of this disease, it took a rabbi to have a child with the disease. I hope this article will educate the rabbis, the doctors and the Jewish population. Testing is available. Knowledge is a wonderful educator. 
Gloria Gelman | Philadelphia
Jews of No Religion? Maybe There’s a Reason
Ralph Bloch complained about the meaninglessness of the category “Jews of no religion” in the recent Pew survey (“Jews of no Religion? Such an Oxymoron!,” March 20).  
In that same issue, same section, Shneur Zalman Auerbach used transliterated Hebrew letters for the city of McLean in Virginia to “prove” that Jews for Jesus are the modern incarnation of our old biblical enemy, the Amaleks (“Villain Amalek Still Around — in Virginia”).
I don’t know whether the Pew survey counts a Jew for Jesus as being part of the “Jews of no religion”category, but, given the fantastic nonsense of Auerbach, I can see why some Jews might want to be Jews of no religion.
Steve Mendelsohn | Penn Valley


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