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Letters Week of March 17, 2011

March 17, 2011
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It's Quality Public Schools We Need, Not Vouchers

Your March 10 cover story asked, "Do Vouchers Make the Grade?" The answer: a resounding "no."

While your article claims that Jewish points of view about vouchers are changing, it did little to dispute the concerns progressive Jewish supporters of public education continue to raise.

The $9,000 per child vouchers intended to fund private education will hardly make a dent in the tuition at most quality private schools, including Jewish day schools, those same schools ADL executive committee member David Pudlin says we must make accessible to needy children. Given that these vouchers would only be available to families making up to $22,000 a year, it is doubtful their recipients would have the means to pay the additional $6,000 to $16,000 for tuition.

Thus, it is likely that the only schools these vouchers would make accessible are Catholic ones.

It is clear that the Jewish leaders quoted, like many of us, are frustrated with the failures of our urban public-school systems. What is unclear is why they believe vouchers are the solution. Their newfound support feels more like giving up than problem-solving.

Rachel Ezekiel-Fishbein 
Elkins Park

How Dare Obama Say Israel Doesn't Want Peace

President Barack Obama recently met with about 50 Jewish community representatives from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. According to a recent JTA article, he reportedly urged Jewish communal leaders to speak to their friends and colleagues in Israel and to "search your souls" over Israel's seriousness about making peace.

It is an outrage for this man, this president, to question Israel's seriousness about peace. Obama is the first president since perhaps Jimmy Carter to place blame for the lack of peace on Israel.

No one wants peace more than Israel -- a nation of Holocaust survivors, a nation that lost one out of 100 citizens during its War of Independence (an amount equal to America losing about 3 million soldiers now), a nation where most have experienced the tragic loss of loved ones, friends or classmates due to terrorism or wars caused by their neighbors.

Friends and supporters of Israel should keep all of this in mind when the 2012 presidential election is upon us.

Don Sable 
Elkins Park

Reader Remembers South Philly, and a Pharmacist

I enjoyed Robert Leiter's inspirational story about his father, as well as Ms. Gratz, called "Paging the Good Doctor(s)" (Books & Writers, March 3).

Being a woman of a certain age and having lived the first 18 years of my life in South Philadelphia (Sixth and Sigel streets), I remember Ms. Gratz well. I believe her first name was Rose, and the pharmacy was at Seventh and Mifflin. My mother took me there when I had a speck in my eye; Ms. Gratz graciously removed it.

She was a lovely lady, very helpful to all who had questions or problems. My good friend also reminded me of the soda fountain in the store, and all those great ice-cream sodas and milkshakes we had there.

Just had to say thank you for my trip down memory lane.

Della Katz 
Huntingdon Valley

It Wasn't Easy for Jews to Get Into the Ivy League

I enjoyed Robert Leiter's book review "Paging the Good Doctor(s)" (Books & Writers, March 3).

As readers may or may not know, in America, Ivy League universities and the medical profession in general actively discriminated against Jews and other ethnic/religious minorities, such as Catholics, at least through the 1950s.

So gaining entrance to an Ivy medical school such as the University of Pennsylvania, as Leiter's father did, posed quite a challenge.

I say that because, if you check out the yearbooks of colleges of osteopathy during that period, you will find that they are chock-a-block with Jews and Italians -- i.e., qualified individuals whose background excluded them from gaining admission to regular medical school.

S. Rex Cohen 
Baltimore

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