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Letters Week of July 09, 2009
Unexpected Problems Crop Up for Intermarried
In your article "Conservative Synagogues Shift Tactics on the Intermarried" (City & Suburb, July 2), you describe the struggles of local Jewish congregations as they try to find a role for intermarried Jews.
I am Jewish by birth, and my wife of seven years is Episcopalian, but utterly non-observant and fully supportive of raising Jewish children. Her family has been Episcopalian for hundreds of years, and so officially turning her back on her own cultural identity would be very difficult for her.
I was raised in a Reformed Jewish household with no regular observance of any sort, and I just barely made it through the small section I had to read for my Bar Mitzvah.
But several years ago, I began worshipping with one of the local Orthodox outreach groups and started to become more observant. I lay tefillin every day and have begun reading Torah. I also attend services (irregularly, but I'm working on it).
So imagine my shock when the group with which I'd been worshipping for over a year told me that my children couldn't enroll in its school unless my wife converted within a year.
Ultimately, I found another Orthodox group that agreed to educate my children; but suffice to say that with more than half of all Jews intermarrying, we need to find a better answer than "go away" when couples try to rectify the problems of intermarriage with serious Jewish education for their children.
Why Not Open a Camp, and Call It Arthur-Reeta?
Ever since the sad demise of Camp Arthur-Reeta -- the last true Philadelphia Jewish-community overnight camp -- articles praising the value of overnight camping and its role in fostering Jewish identity appear yearly in the Exponent.
It's lamentable that some of the very same leaders who allowed Arthur-Reeta to fade away after 75 years of service now join together in ranking overnight camping right up there with day schools and a trip to Israel as the best ways to foster Jewish identity.
Here's a challenge for any interested Jewish leader: Buy the camp land (it's available), and establish a new nonprofit Jewish-identity camp unconnected with any particular Jewish religious, political or philosophical stream.
Price it competitively, with lots of available "camperships." Staff it with real camp people who see kids as kids, as well as the future of the Jewish people. Make it noisy, sweaty, silly, fun -- and, at times, make it serious, too. But most of all, make it Jewish. And you might want to call it Arthur-Reeta.
Janice S. Wilson
Wait a Second; When Did GOP Become an Enabler?
I must take issue with the preposterous and defamatory statements made by Richard Saunders in the June 18 issue (Letters: "Seems Homeland Security Had It Right All Along").
Regarding homicidal events in Kansas and at the Holocaust museum in Washington, Saunders wrote that the GOP acts "in its role as apologists and enablers of extremists."
The Republican Party is no more responsible for the acts of deranged individuals like Scott Roeder and James von Brunn because of the political views it espouses than the Democrats are responsible for the killing, on average, of 13 Americans daily by illegal immigrants (according to recent statistics) due to that party's stand on illegal immigration.
In fact, I would also take issue with the automatic designation of an anti-Semite like Brunn as a right-winger.
Last time I looked, Republicans were for personal freedom and responsibility, small government and the rule of law. And their support for Israel has been unwavering.
Islamophobia: It's a Term Coined to Hide the Truth
Rabbi Marc Schneier and Russell Simmons write that racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are alive and well in America (Opinions: "Our Task as a Country? To Cleanse the Hatred from Within," June 18).
But does (and how can) the rabbi really believe that Islamophobia is in the same category and level as racism and anti-Semitism?