September 22, 2018

Letters to the Editor: Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz, Centrist Jews and American-Israelis

They Let Us In

Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz implied that those of us representing Beth Emunah Messianic Synagogue were there by deception. I personally submitted the application for the booth at the festival, and filled out all the required information, including the complete name of our synagogue. The coordinators of the event did not question it. 

We are very offended by Kravitz’s comments in his column. We do not consider ourselves missionaries, nor did we do anything at the festival other than have friendly conversations with people who stopped by our booth, just like all the other people staffing booths. We did not distribute fliers outside of our booth, we did not lure anyone into any conversations, nor did we go to other booths to try to convince other people to believe what we believe. If they had questions, we responded.

Barbara Miner, Board chair of Beth Emunah Messianic Synagogue

From the Bleachers

In 1947, three of my Crown Heights yeshiva schoolmates and I decided we needed to go see our Brooklyn Dodgers play (“A Message to Centrist American Jews: Time to Speak Out,” May 22). We knew our parents would not support this enterprise, so we would have to earn the price of admission by doing extra errands, with additional help from an allowance if we were lucky enough to get one. It took us months, but we made it. 

We knew the price of admission to see our beloved Dodgers did not entitle us to enter the field of play. It did not grant us permission to manage the team, and we had no authority to argue the umpire’s decisions.

When E. Robert Goodkind and Martin J. Raffel move their family to Sderot and become part of the community, then and only then will their schemes be taken seriously. While they remain spectators in the bleachers, perhaps they should be practicing the wave … and learning how to cheer for the home team.

Jerry Daniels via fax

Figures Disputed

Didn’t political commentator Shmuel Rosner read the previous week’s Jewish Journal cover story by Jared Sichel on American-Israelis, where demographer Ira Sheskin estimated the number of Israeli-born U.S immigrants as 137,000? Rosner states in his follow-up column: “There are hundreds of thousands of such Israelis — 600,000 to 700,000 according to most estimations” (“Is Honesty the Best Policy With Israeli-Americans?” May 22).  

I don’t know where Rosner gets his estimations of Israeli immigrants to the U.S., surely not from demographers who have researched the subject. I know of no demographer who has ever ventured a number greater than 200,000 Israeli-born immigrants in the U.S. as their highest estimate. I have recently crosschecked Sheskin’s estimates using the 2013 Pew Survey of American Jewry and found 140,000 Israeli-born immigrants in the U.S.

Pini Herman via email

Israeli-Americans

Having lived in Israel for five years, during which I integrated into the country and learned Hebrew, I have a few suggestions for Israelis who make the U.S. their home (“The Israeli-Americans,” May 15).

Living in a foreign country requires knowledge of its culture and norms. The Israeli-American Council (IAC) is a useful bridge between Israel and America, and I wish it had existed when we first came back from Israel. When we returned, my husband and I realized that to raise Jewish children, simply valuing Israel is not enough to avoid assimilation into the predominant (Christian) culture. America doesn’t have a nationwide celebration of Jewish holidays. It is up to Jewish parents to join a synagogue and to encourage their children to join Jewish youth organizations and camps. These can be costly, but don’t be too proud to investigate scholarships. We did. Today we are proud donors to our wonderful shul, Beth Am.

Another reason for Israelis to become active members of Jewish organizations is that many of today’s American Jews don’t support Israel the way their parents did. Having the kind of unwavering support for Israel that an influx of Israelis would provide would, in my opinion, increase support for Israel within the American community.

Thank you to IAC for its extensive efforts in supporting Israel and Israelis (and the Jewish community as a whole), and many thanks to the Jewish Journal for publicizing this worthy publication.

Gabriela Litov, Los Angeles