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Letters the Week of Feb. 3, 2011
Still a Lot of 'Gray' Areas to Performing in Israel
I found the article on whether or not Macy Gray was going to perform in Israel quite insulting to her (News Brief: "Macy Gray to Play Israel as Planned," Jan. 27).
Even though her fans on Facebook told Ms. Gray to boycott Israel, she still decided to perform there.
Sharon Singer, of the Israeli Consulate of Philadelphia, got advocacy groups and colleagues to put in positives responses.
But, at the end of the article it says it doesn't really matter because after all, she is not the Rolling Stones.
I don't get it. They should be congratulating Ms. Gray, not demeaning her.
Sent via e-mail
Who Is a Jew? Is It Really Giffords or George Allen?
I should like to note a delicious historical -- and religious -- irony in commenting upon Rabbi Jason Miller's article (Editorials & Opinions: "Is Gabby Giffords Jewish Enough?" Jan. 20).
Whereas Rep. Giffords (D-Ariz.) may not be considered Jewish so as to merit receiving an aliyah in many synagogues, interestingly enough, in those same (Orthodox) venues, former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) actually does.
Allen's maternal grandparents were Tunisian Jews. His mother, who survived the Holocaust, converted to Episcopalianism, and Allen himself was baptized and raised as a Presbyterian.
In the strictest Orthodox interpretation of halachah (Jewish law), one can never leave the fold -- i.e., convert out of Judaism. Since Allen's mother was Jewish, then is he.
When the issue of his Jewish ancestry arose in the 2006 Virginia senatorial campaign, Allen heatedly denied it, despite evidence brought forth by Jewish media outlets.
Today, Allen, running to regain his old Senate seat, in an obvious calculation to curry Jewish votes (he lost the 2008 race by a mere 10,000 votes), is embracing that family history.
Indeed, according to a Jewish Telegraphic Agency item, when he addressed Chabad Lubavitch's National Jewish Retreat this past August, he openly acknowledged that he thought that the repudiation of his Jewish heritage contributed to that election defeat.
The bottom line: The common-sense understanding of the subject of Jewish identity is that Rep. Giffords is Jewish, and Sen. Allen is not; but the fervently halachic verdict is that Rep. Giffords is treif, while the Confederacy-loving, cowboy-boot-wearing Allen is kosher.
The rabbinic term that comes to mind in describing this parochial legal farce is chasid shoteh, a "righteous fool."
A Strong Jewish Woman, Also a Hadassah Member
Thank you for the cover story on Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords ("Folks Talk of Giffords' Religion, Openness and Responsiveness," Jan. 13).
Her dedication to the Jewish people was pointed out in the article in so many instances. She, like many other Jewish women, are on the side of justice for all.
The one fact that you neglected to mention is that she is a life member of Hadassah: The Women's Zionist Organization of America. Hadassah is a charity of women and men who work for the betterment of society.
I hope that she continues to mend quickly, and is able to carry out her ideas about the rights for everyone to exist in a fair society.
Vice president of education/ programming, Hadassah of Greater Philadelphia