Letters: Hate and Barrack

1

We’re Not Born to Hate

Joshua Runyan’s column (“How Do You Learn to Hate?” Feb. 21) raised an important issue as he celebrated the birth of his youngest son. A baby is, as he posited, the embodiment of a tabula rasa, a clean slate, on which much will be written, by his parents, his family, his community and so on.

So how does an innocent child grow to be a mensch or a white supremacist (G-d forbid)? As Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 70-year-old musical South Pacific put it so cogently in their song “You’ve Got to Be Taught to Hate”: “You’ve got to be taught from year to year, it’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear … you’ve got to be taught.”

Racism is not born in you — it happens after you’re born. Was a 4- or 5-year-old dressed in a KKK robe born hating black people and Jews? Was a 10-year-old from Westboro Baptist Church holding a sign that reads “G-d hates fags” born hating gay people? No and no — they were both “carefully taught from year to year.”

Rachel Garber | Philadelphia

Barrack Alums Support Unions

We are a Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy alumni family that values human dignity, worker’s rights and social justice. We learned about the importance of unions through the lifelong dedication of our grandfather Leon Shore, who was one of the founders and leaders of the Philadelphia Teachers Union.

We were lucky enough to learn in the homey walls of old Akiba. Since changing the name and location, the only connection that we have is the teachers. Learning at Barrack is unique due to the teacher’s support and commitment. The ethical working conditions, provided to the teachers through the union, is precisely what enabled them to give it their all.

We are deeply concerned about the board’s decision to nullify the union (“Barrack Board to No Longer Recognize Union,” Jan. 23). It was a point of pride that our private school had a strong union. In Elon’s 13 years of teaching, he can attest that staff are strongest and more dedicated when unionized. In order to express our Jewish values of honoring work and labor, we should have a union. Dissolving the teacher’s union is hypocritical and a poor example for a Jewish institution.

We could never send our children to a school that was involved in union busting. Happy teachers who are secure in their jobs and able to take risks in their teaching create a warm school environment. That is where we want to send our children.

We hope the board rethinks this decision, and we stand in solidarity with the teachers.

Elon Shore ’01 | Princeton, N.J.

Mira B. Shore ’06 | Philadelphia

Doron Shore ’12 | Botswana

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