Readers Weigh in on Presidential Oversight, Pricey Shul Fees and Interfaith Families

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Keep Politics Out of It

I read with great interest the letter taking considerable umbrage and professing great fear of President Trump’s “riding roughshod over a system of checks and balances” (“Politics From the Pulpit,” Sept. 21). It was an obvious reference to the president’s usage of 47 executive orders, a constitutionally guaranteed presidential prerogative that she considers a threat to democratic rule.

I wonder if the letter writer was so quick to register her displeasure as President Obama started on his way to 272 executive orders or, perhaps, as Bill Clinton progressed toward 308.

The writer, a self-professed supporter of Israel, also voiced concern of Trump’s “slandering the press.” I assume that referred to the same press that regularly slanders Israel by blindly accepting reports and posed photos generated by Palestinian sources, misrepresents Israeli actions with misleading headlines and, in some cases — The New York Times — still refuses to use the word “terrorist.”

The letter urges that rabbis share these concerns with their congregations. I can only hope that, unless our rabbis can display far greater objectivity than the writer and the mainstream media, they leave their political opinions at home and off the bimah.

Elliott Tessler | South Philadelphia

Dollars and Sense of Synagogue Services

There are many reasons for a Jewish person to not go to synagogue (“Need a High Holiday Seat Within Budget? These Are Free,” Sept. 14). The one that synagogues use is demographics. But that is a cover up for the large fees that are imposed on those wanting to be part of a synagogue.

Young people are in a predicament. Should they pay their mortgage, put food on the table, pay tuition for a private Hebrew school or finally pay for holiday seats and building funds?

This dilemma also exists among the elderly. With diminishing funds, they do not want to be put in a position of asking for a lower fee. If synagogues wish to continue to be part of Jewish society, they will have to get in step with the real world and recognize the fact that no matter if we are rich or poor, gay or come from a mixed family, we are all entitled to participate in a synagogue service if we choose to.

Gloria Gelman | Bustleton

Hitting Close to Home

The critical role that a supportive rabbi, congregation and non-Jewish spouse play when raising Jewish children must be stressed (“Interfaith Families Make High Holidays a Priority,” Sept. 14). Rabbi Elliot Holin, Reform Congregation Kol Ami in Elkins Park and my wife, Janine Pratt, played an extraordinary role shaping the Jewish identities of my daughters Maya and Lia Hyman. This is not unusual until you learn that my wife was raised Catholic, and Congregation Kol Ami and Rabbi Holin have been at the forefront of welcoming interfaith members since being formed in 1994.

Maya and Lia celebrated significant Jewish life cycle events at Kol Ami, including baby namings, B’nai Mitzvah and Confirmation Academy graduations. Each continued her Jewish education, with Maya graduating from the Jewish Community High School at Gratz College and Lia from the LAMED Program, a two-year joint leadership development program between Kol Ami and Temple Beth-Am. Both were selected for the Satell Teen Leadership Program. Maya is the past president of Hillel at The College of New Jersey and teaches religious school at a Reform shul near the campus. Lia was a camper for seven years at Camp Harlam in the Poconos.

Collectively, Maya and Lia have been in Israel five times. My wife is the first non-Jew to serve on the board of directors at Congregation Kol Ami.

Let’s continue to support interfaith families.

Bill Hyman | Elkins Park

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