Letters, the Week of May 18, 2017

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Jewish Ethics and the Motto, “Hate Has No Home Here”

I fully support the symbolic planting of trees of life represented by the lawn signs that say, “Hate has no home here” (“No Fan of Lawn Signs,” May 11).

Jewish ethics require that we take a stand against incitement to hatred and violence, whether in the form of a Hamas-sponsored children’s book or a white nationalist meeting featuring recordings of outstretched arms and chants of “Hail Trump!” These are two sides of the same coin, and Jews must reject these phenomena with all our hearts and all our might.

The lawn signs send the message that we will not look the other way in the face of a national threat to wisdom and lovingkindness. We will not be complicit. The threat that our current administration poses is not a “made-up enemy,” as one writer put it. Nor is it hypocritical to oppose an oppressor. As Elie Wiesel said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Cory F. Newman | Palymra, N.J.

Senatorial Congratulations

It gives me great pleasure to congratulate the Jewish Exponent on its 130th anniversary (“Exponent Has Served as Community Witness and Chronicler for 130 Years,” April 20). This is truly a remarkable accomplishment in the print business and is a testament to the importance of the publication.

The Jewish Exponent was Philadelphia’s first established English-language Jewish news weekly and was only the second such paper in the United States. The motto of the paper in 1887 was “A weekly journal devoted to the interests of the Jewish people” and that motto remains in place today. Though times have changed tremendously over the past 130 years, the Jewish Exponent remains a flagship publication.

Best wishes to all.

Pat Toomey | U.S. Senator

Hershaft Embodies Evolved Judaism

Your May 4 article about the wonderful Alex Hershaft was an eloquent tribute to the evolution of man from the worst levels of inhumanity to what we have the potential to become (“Survivor’s Life Experiences Prompted Animal Rights Advocacy,” May 4). It is perhaps no coincidence that a large proportion of animal rights leaders have been Jewish, including Nobel Laureate Isaac Bachevis Singer.

Some find it offensive to equate animal cruelty issues with human slaughter, as in the Holocaust. Yet I personally find very little difference. It is not “what” is killed — the miracle of life is no less in a bird, insect or whale than in a human. The concept that we think we have the right to take life from anything is something humans have convinced ourselves is our privilege. I disagree, as do Hershaft, Singer and many esteemed others.

Years ago, I knew a survivor of one of the concentration camps who never ate animals, because she related to being treated as something that did not matter. So she became a vegetarian after liberation. There is no more relevant testament than that.

Hershaft embodies the true spirit of evolved Judaism.

Arlene Steinberg | Philadelphia

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