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Letters Week of Sep. 13, 2007
Community Must Find a Way to Fund Day Schools
I applaud Jonathan Tobin for his analysis of day-school education, as described in "Golden Ticket to Oblivion" (A Matter of Opinion, Aug. 30).
As a day-school administrator, I have seen firsthand how the high cost of tuition is a crippling obstacle for many Jewish families considering enrolling their children.
Throughout our country, communities are grappling with these problems. In some areas, there have been successes, as in Baltimore, where $16 million in additional direct scholarship assistance has been granted, and in Houston, where $2 million was raised.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia is to be applauded for considering a plan to help make day-school tuition more attractive through a financial voucher system. However, as of yet, there is no indication that the money for such a project is available.
The time has come for philanthropists to rally together in support of day schools. Our community must encourage parents who desire to send their children to day schools, and the community must make every effort to help stabilize and fund these schools so that the doors remain open.
Tobin concludes his essay with an observation about the popularity of funding Jewish museums, and makes a dark allusion to a time when "curious visitors ... would one day have to visit museums to see what a Jewish community looked like."
The architects of the Holocaust sought to destroy our people and preserve artifacts of our history within museums.
How ironic would it be if, because of our failure to support day schools today, we had nothing left to show of our community -- save for museums -- tomorrow?
Rabbi Ira Budow
Abrams Hebrew Academy
Germans, Not the French, Invented 'Anti-Semitism'
Asaf Romirowsky is incorrect when he says that La France Juive by Eduard Drumont introduced the term anti-Semitism to the world (Advocacy Corner: "The Latest Fashion: Anti-Semitism Reborn," Aug. 30)."
The term "anti-Semitism" was coined by Wilhelm Marr in his 1879 book Der Weg zum Siege des Germanentums über das Judentum ("The Way to Victory of Germanicism over Judaism"). This book predates La France Juive by seven years.
Marr's thesis stated that Semitism (Jewish influence over German culture and commerce) was a product of Jewish emancipation in Germany and something to be fought.
He created what he called the Anti-Semitic League. Thus, members of the league were against the Semitism as defined by Marr or "anti-Semites."
Furthermore, France is hardly the birthplace of anti-Semitism, modern or otherwise. This dubious distinction belongs elsewhere.
Not to put too fine a point on it, although France can never claim that she's been a friend to the Jewish people, France was the first country in Europe to grant civil rights to Jews in the 18th century.
Toni L. Kamins
New York, N.Y.
Ursinus Among Schools Fighting Against Boycott
It is important to note that as president of Ursinus College, some 30 miles from Philadelphia, I also signed the petition circulated by the American Jewish Committee to condemn the proposed British academic boycott of Israel (City & Suburb: "Colleges Join Petition Rebuking Brit Boycott," Aug. 30).
Ursinus, which is proud that our chair of the board of trustees was recently honored with an American Jewish Committee's National Human Relations Award, stands strongly in support of the statement of Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University, with the unanimous endorsement of the executive committee of our board.
If the Bible Says It's So, Then It Really Is!
Hershel Shanks writes that Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor with an Orthodox Jewish education, accuses the Jews of "the first intentional and explicit genocide" (Opinions: "Feldman's 'Genocide' Charge Cannot Go Unchallenged," Aug. 30).
This is based on Exodus 17, where we are told the Amalekites attacked the Jewish stragglers on the flight from Egypt.
On the Lord's instruction, Moses sent Joshua to fight the Amalekites, who were, on orders of the Lord, exterminated.
Is it genocide when you fight an enemy who has attacked you? How wide a net is the term genocide supposed to cast? Does one ignore the orders of the Lord?
Professor Feldman cannot possibly measure up to the intellectual standards of his university or his yeshiva.
Equally deficient is Hershel Shanks, who dances about with Feldman's thesis before finally coming to the issue -- that the Lord's orders are to be obeyed.
If the Bible is deemed divinely created, then it must be accepted in toto.
Prayers for Year of Peace for the State of Israel
On the eve of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur 5768, as we sanctify the Jewish New Year, we eagerly look toward the prospective peace.
A special year ahead of us -- in addition to celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the modern State of Israel -- this year also marks 90 years since the Balfour Declaration; the 110th anniversary of the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland; and 60 years since the partition resolution of the United Nations.
Unfortunately, despite international recognition, the people of Israel still struggle to live in peace and security.
However, the state and the people, on the eve of the 60th anniversary, are thriving. The Israeli economy continues to reach new peaks. The Jewish head is inventing new patents, and travelers from all over the world visit our streets.
During these High Holidays, we will also pray with the families of our abducted soldiers for their immediate return.
From Israel to Philadelphia come warm blessings and prayers for a sweet and prosperous New Year.
Consul General of Israel