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Letters the Week of August 20, 2009

August 20, 2009
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Why Are Gays Relegated to the 'Back of the Bus'?

I was disheartened and even disgusted to read the only coverage of the vicious murders of two young gay Israelis, who were brutally gunned down at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center in Tel Aviv, on Page 35 of the Aug. 6 Jewish Exponent in your "News in Brief" section.

This is certainly not a news brief, and most definitely should not be relegated to the back section of this paper. This is a front-page story! Jews murdered by a terrorist -- yes, that is front-page news.

I guess it is appropriate for the Exponent to place this story next to the obituary section, as that is the only part of the paper that even recognizes us.

To this day, some 15 years after being made aware of this issue, the Exponent still does not recognize the life cycles of gay and lesbian Jews, including the "holy grail" of gay marriage/unions. We are only recognized in death. Like pariahs, we continue to be relegated to the "back of the bus."

This only promotes continued anger, frustration and despair among the gay and lesbian community, and does nothing to bring us closer to the mainstream of Jewish life, let alone active donors to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

Will the day ever come that our local Jewish paper recognizes us as full citizens of the community? I continue to hold out hope, but that hope fades with each passing edition.
Lee Rosenfield
Lambertville, N.J.

Not About Right and Left, but About Rights of Jews

It is ironic that the editorial in the July 23 Jewish Exponent ("A Hunger for Civility") discussed Jewish divisiveness as leading to tragedy, while in the same issue there was a false and divisive news story whose premise was that building in eastern Jerusalem is being led by right-wing Jews (Israel & Mideast: "Pressure Points: Goal Is to Lead Way to Peace").

This JTA article mentions that the land in question was purchased in 1985, but omits a salient point that the purchase was under the auspices of then Prime Minister Shimon Peres, whom the article later refers to as "on the left."

The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations -- a group that comprises Jewish entities that span the breadth of the political spectrum -- recently came out strongly in favor of Israel's right to build anywhere in Jerusalem -- east, west or otherwise.

The statement said, in part, that the Conference of Presidents "has long advocated and supported the unity of Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel. We find disturbing the objections raised to the proposed construction of residential units on property that was legally purchased and approved by the appropriate authorities."

We would like the Jewish Exponent to clarify that it is not "right-wing Jews" causing dissension, and that rights exist for the Jewish people to build anywhere in the unified city of Jerusalem.
Leonard Getz
National vice president
Zionist Organization of America
Philadelphia

T-Shirts Can Summon Pride in Public Education

I have noticed your recurring advertisement to readers for the opportunity to order T-shirts emblazoned with logos of Philadelphia public schools.

As a college student who has worked at one of those schools, I think of the challenges that many students in Philadelphia face. These include a lack of resources, bullying, violence, high dropout rates, a deplorable achievement gap and stretched faculty.

Has the Jewish Exponent considered taking a part of every T-shirt cost and making a donation to these schools or the district? A fitting example of such social action can be found in an Exponent article published in April about 2andC Cares, a nonprofit founded by former residents of the Second and Cheltenham neighborhood in West Oak Lane.

They are raising funds for their alma mater, Finletter Elementary, which no longer has a functioning library. My father graduated from Finletter, and I am thrilled that his former neighbors practice tikkun olam as a testament to the pride they have in their public education.

When we wear these shirts, I hope we can think of the present while remembering the past.
Shira Cohen
Moorestown, N.J.

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