Letters: Torah and Ilhan Omar

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Believing in Torah, Even As a Nonbeliever

In a March 1 letter about “tikkun olamism,” Steve Mendelsohn opines, “But for us Jews who believe that there is no creator of the universe … the challenge is to figure out what in Judaism is the baby and what is the bathwater. Unfortunately … the closer we look, the more bathwater we see.”

I respectfully suggest to Mendelsohn there is much in the Torah to grasp onto, even for nonbelievers. The Ten Commandments was a step into the future for humanity. Whether dictated by God or conceived by humans, it was the first statement in history asserting that all people should be free. It established the sanctity of marriage and motherhood, codified civilized behavior and also created weekends.

Consider the astonishing image of the Red Sea parting: Whether it really happened or not, nothing else in literature comes close to it. And the sea didn’t part so Romeo could reach Juliet, or Odysseus could get home; this indelible image was solely for the purpose of freeing slaves. If not God, what do we call such inspiration?

Perhaps we Jews have been most fascinated by God because we can never truly know God. But we do know that sometime, between 25 and 3,500 years ago, a small tribe called Israelites decided that idol worship is useless, human life is sacred and people must be free. They envisioned these beliefs as a covenant with God, and whether God really spoke to them, or they just imagined it, as they gazed up at the billions of stars, it made them feel like they were part of it all, special in the universe, comforted and empowered. And we’re Jews today, because our families have been keeping that covenant ever since.

We can all believe in that.

Rueben Gordon | Encino, California

In the Best Interest of Jews?

The treasurer and a founding member of the board of the Jewish Democratic Council of America wrote an opinion column (“Does Omar Understand Impact of Her Words?,” March 7) exposing U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitism. I’m 100 percent behind the JDCA on this.

But then she writes that the Jewish community in Minnesota “has welcomed and provided support for so many refugee groups including the large Somali population.” Now, how does this help Jews? How does the JDCA think that the Somali population is going to vote? For candidates that support Israel, or for more Ilhan Omars?

Is it too much to ask for Jewish organizations like the JDCA to promote what’s in the best interest of Jews?

Zachary Margolies | Philadelphia

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