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Letters Week of April 21, 2011
If There's a Scarcity, It's Not in New Jersey
In response to the letter by Janna Walsh ("Why Is There a Scarcity of Truly Inspiring Rabbis?" April 17), I realize she was referring to the Reform movement, so I cannot comment on what she said directly.
However, I can say that my shul, Temple Beth Sholom in Cherry Hill, N.J., has a long history of inspiration and teaching from the bimah. It began with the late Rabbi Albert Lewis, who pioneered the approach of Torah dialogue, rather than sermons each Shabbat.
Our current senior rabbi, Steve Lindemann, and our assistant rabbi, Micah Peltz, are both masters of posing questions. They weave the comments of the congregants into their responses and then pose further questions for us.
By the end of the reading, they have left us with a sense of how the Torah continues to speak to each of us.
Cherry Hill, N.J.
Teens Bypassed When It Comes to Special Needs
I was pleased to read the story on OROT, the initiative for special education in the Jewish day schools (Education Section: "Learning-Disabled," April 14), but I remain very concerned about the lack of high school options for many OROT students. Our Jewish high schools are rigorous and want their students to succeed, but that must not come at the cost of excluding children from the community.
I understand that these schools believe their programs are not designed to help special-needs children succeed. But that is exactly the point of OROT -- to create programs within existing schools that enable these kids to thrive. The schools need not do this alone; OROT will partner with them.
I am proud that our Jewish day schools set high academic standards. I would be even prouder if they welcomed all children and families who want a Jewish education. We must create excellent, competitive schools that elevate inclusion as a central value.
Board member of OROT
Op-Ed Offered a Welcome Embrace of J Street
Thank you for "Finding a Place for Passionate Debate on the State of Israel" (March 24) by Rabbi Anna Boswell-Levy encouraging debate within the tent. It certainly has done so, as this is my first letter ever to the Jewish Exponent.
I believe my opinion -- representing an undying love for Israel and a sincere wish to be proud of her as a humane democracy -- is the majority one in this country; but unfortunately, too, I am often silenced by vitriolic put-downs from both the right and the left -- the latter is where I count myself on most issues -- such as the recent letter comparing J Street with Jews for Jesus.
I have joined J Street because it expresses my long-silenced hope for an Israel at peace. This is also a group where my young-adult children can find a pro-Israel group they can call home, without checking their values at the door.
Leader Questions Rabbi's Affiliations, Statements
I strongly praise the new head of the Union for Reform Judaism Rabbi Richard Jacobs' work to help victims of war, famine and massacres in places like Chad, Darfur and Haiti (Nation & World: "Reform Leader's Goal: Construct a Bigger Tent," March 31). I am also heartened to have read Rabbi Jacobs' statement elsewhere that "the connection to Israel is a vital part of Jewish life."
But I am concerned that he is a member of the Rabbinic Cabinet of J Street, which recently opposed sanctions on Iran, and urged President Barack Obama not to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning as "illegal" Jewish homes and communities in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.
Jacobs is also a longtime board member and advocate of the New Israel Fund, which is a leading promoter and funder of entities that advocate boycotting, divesting from, and imposing sanctions upon, Israel.
I hope my fears about his association with these groups will prove wrong, that he will take a strong stand against those who delegitimize Israel, and that his alliances will not factor into URJ policy decisions.
Morton A. Klein
Zionist Organization of America