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Letters Week of June 23, 2005
Proud to Be Part of Place With Different Opinions
I was glad to see my synagogue, Congregation Mishkan Shalom, mentioned in your article on the controversy at Weaver’s Way Food Coop (Cover story: “Vegging Out: Boycott’s on Hold,” May 26).
As was noted, members of the Northwest Philadelphia Jewish community take a range of positions on the proposed boycott of produce from settlements.
The same is true at Mishkan Shalom. Members such as Steve Masters and Mordechai Liebling took public positions against it.
Still others were involved in the organization of the boycott. These members included Susan Landau, who was recently honored by Mishkan for contributions to our community.
Although we never lack for passionate voices, Mishkan Shalom did not take an institution position on the Weaver’s Way controversy because such a position would imply a congregational consensus that does not exist.
I am proud to be a member of a synagogue that encourages open discourse, even when what is said is sometimes difficult to hear.
Congregation Mishkan Shalom
What’s the Point? Only That She’s Jewish?
Concerning your article about Sandra Forman, the new national president of the National Rifle Association (People & Politics: “New NRA Prez ‘Never Met a Gun’ She Disliked,” June 9), let me make sure I get it.
Should we be proud of Sandra Froman simply because she is the Jewish president of a nationwide organization?
Apparently, it matters not whether this organization acts for the common good. And it matters not whether our children should be proud of the work of this organization.
Only one thing matters — that a Jew heads the group.
I cannot wait to read more congratulatory articles about other fellow members of the tribe.
Charles F. Forer
Movement’s Revival Rests on Faith and Outreach
Thank you for Jonathan Tobin’s perfect piece, “Mixed Messages of a Movement” (A Matter of Opinion, June 9).
Behind the scenes, the organized Conservative movement is showing signs of revival — and outreach is a clear part of the process.
While a dynamic Conservative movement is some years away, survival is not the issue, as Tobin reminds us.
Faith is bedrock. The rest is procedure.
Ramy I. Djerassi
President, Mid-Atlantic Region
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
It’s a Tough Balance, but Someone’s Got to Do It!
As the outgoing president of a Conservative synagogue, I read with interest Jonathan Tobin’s column about the difficult balancing act facing Conservative Judaism (A Matter of Opinion: “Mixed Messages of a Movement,” June 9).
Tobin is right — that with questions of intermarriage, Conservative Jews have trouble squaring inclusive outreach to families of mixed marriage with the inability of a Conservative rabbi to marry such a couple.
But after two years of immersion in these and similar issues with our rabbi, officers and ritual committee, I could not be prouder to have been a Conservative Jewish leader.
As I recently wrote to my congregation, while we officially practice “conservative” Judaism, our Judaism is really the most “liberal” form.
Our diverse community includes the observant, the non-observant and many variations in the middle. While we adhere to tradition, we respect the need for flexibility and creativity to meet today’s realities.
Our priority as Conservative Jews needs to be inclusion: encouraging the unaffiliated to join, adapting our traditions to modern circumstances, finding new ways to inspire love of Judaism, and introducing Torah and mitzvot to those new to such things.
Is there irony in the picture of a Conservative synagogue, hungry for membership, refusing to marry an interfaith couple, but calling them upon return from their honeymoon to welcome them to join?
Of course. However, this dilemma reflects the extremely noble struggle for balance — for preservation of heritage while recognizing modernity.
Leonard A. Bernstein
In Israel, Two Movements With Similar Stands
I’d like to comment on Jonathan Tobin’s no-nonsense column, “Mixed Messages of a Movement” (A Matter of Opinion, June 9).
Tobin writes: “In contrast to the Orthodox and the Conservatives, the Reform movement accepts children of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother as Jews. And while some Reform and Reconstructionist rabbis speak openly of opposition to intermarriage, the movements do not formally disapprove of rabbis conducting interfaith ceremonies.”
I recognize that his article was focused on American Jewry. Nonetheless, the denominational landscape looks even more interesting when you consider the following:
• The Reform movement in Israel does not accept patrilineal descent.
• Reform rabbis in Israel (like Conservative rabbis in America) are prohibited from officiating at intermarriages.
So in America, the Reform movement is to the left. But in the global perspective, I wonder where things are headed.
Rabbi Chaim Galfand
Raymond and Ruth Perelman Jewish Day Schools
Make It a Three-Syllable Word — Like in Hebrew
I have noticed in the Community Calendar section the Hebrew word “Parsha” when referring to the weekly portion of the Torah.
At first I thought it a typographical error, then when I saw it repeatedly, I thought not. I am not a spelling freak, but the way you spell it, it’s a two-syllable word, and cannot be pronounced properly.
In actuality, it is a three- syllable word — “pa-ra-sha.”