Nitpicking the High Holidays (High Holy Days?)

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Maybe Tikkun Olam Needs Fixing

A recent article reminds us of the Jewish ethical imperative to try to make the world better (“New Year to Start with Renewed Sense of Tikkun Olam,” Sept. 14). However, some don’t remember Hillel’s notable aphorism — “If not now, when?” — actually begins by stating that one should be for himself. Only then does it add the responsibility to care for others.

Unfortunately, in this imperfect world, some Jews and organizations have taken positions that help people and causes they perceive to be worthy, but in reality are antagonistic to Jews, and thereby engage in ways that are detrimental to the majority of the Jewish community and Israel. Like the Constitution, tikkun olam should not be a suicide pact.

Dave Olim | Ambler

Holy Nitpicking

I’m not certain honey and apples create a wild holiday atmosphere and I am sure fasting does not engender feelings conducive to pleasure (“Interfaith Families Make High Holidays a Priority,” Sept. 14). So I question the designation High Holidays over High Holy Days.

Yes, it’s nitpicking, but it is an itch I’ve been scratching for years.

L’Shanah Tovah 5778.

Ralph D. Bloch | Rydal

Politics From the Pulpit

At a time in the Jewish year when synagogues are most full, I consider it a moral necessity to address political issues (“Politicized Sermons? Depends on the Rabbi,” Sept. 14). Jews are never free of peril, as much as we regularly pray for peace and security during our services. So to purposely overlook an opportunity to educate worshippers about our delicate status in this country and the world is, to me, irresponsible.

Next to God, what can be more important than our democratic principles and who is protecting them? Right now we have a president who is slandering the press and trying to run roughshod over a system of checks and balances, as if he is king. Is this not worthy of mention to a full house of congregants during a time of personal reflection when we can thank God that our democracy enables us to freely gather and support Israel. The Holocaust ended — I am a child of survivors — but hatred and violence have not.

Some rabbis may fear offending congregants. But it is during these increasingly troubling times that rabbis should take a courageous moral stand and speak out in defense of our democracy.

Ruth Laks | Yardley