September 22, 2018

Letters to the editor: Women in the bible, Cruz control and more

Donors and Pinatas

Rob Eshman’s column (“Cruz Control,” Jan. 22) was brilliant! More Jews should read about Ted Cruz and others like him who share an erstwhile “love” for Israel … Donors and pinatas … excellent description … Thank you. Your columns (mostly) never fail to surprise and inform your readers. 

Sandra Berube via email

Trumping Trump Together

I just caught Rob Eshman’s column, “Jews Against Trump” (Dec. 11).  Let me offer you another Yiddish/Hebrew reaction to your article: “Mazel tov!

Daniel K. Weir, Washington, D.C.

Political Penance in Iowa

I read Marty Kaplan’s piece (“The Idiocy of the Iowa Caucuses,” Jan. 29), and as a lifelong Iowan, I have to say (other than the headline), I couldn’t agree more. Clearly the math isn’t in favor of Iowa going first and, as far as “tradition,” Iowa going first is about as historically significant as a Gerald Ford campaign button.

Iowans (other than media owners) are sick to death of the TV commercials and phone calls at dinner. We look forward to the end of every four-year cycle like some sort of existential springtime when we celebrate the end of long-suffering misery.

We’re nice people. How did this happen to us?  What did we do to make God so angry?

David Miller, Mount Vernon, Iowa

Who Is the Prototypical Jewish Woman?

Danielle Berrin (“Real Housewives of Politics,” Jan. 29) assumes that the public reputation of longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin changed from glowing to glowering based on the infidelities of her husband, Anthony Weiner. Berrin writes that Abedin in this regard is just a victim like her boss, Hillary Clinton. 

Berrin gives not a single shred of evidence where Clinton has been insulted over her husband’s womanizing nor the very credible accusations of sexual abuse, including rape. Mrs. Clinton has rightly been grilled over her claim to be a feminist who believes that any woman claiming sexual predations should be heard, while she personally has ridiculed, dismissed and even threatened women who have attested that Bill Clinton sexually intimidated or assaulted them. It is a fair question.

Berrin then makes the astonishing leap in claiming that Jewish tradition also has a record of “women-shaming,” ignorantly stating that Eve and Lilith are “the Bible’s two most prototypical women.” Lilith appears nowhere in the Five Books of Moses, and is referred to only in the Talmud as a wild and harsh precursor to Eve. This is a repugnant form of “Jewish-shaming.” The truly prototypical biblical Jewish women are Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel, Ruth, Esther, Deborah, Miriam, Yael and others. Their heroism, bravery, moral clarity, wisdom and actions of self-sacrifice are lauded throughout our sacred writings and the commentaries. However, this doesn’t fit Berrin’s narrow and uninformed worldview.

Judy Gruen via email

Berrin responds: If I failed to give a shred of evidence about the ways Hillary Clinton has been maligned because of her husband, forgive me. The examples are numerous and unceasing — “She’s not a victim, she was an enabler,” Donald Trump told Fox just last month — I assumed I didn’t have to state the obvious. 

To claim that Jewish models of women are only heroic makes us feel good, but is not faithful to the negative stereotypes that have existed throughout Jewish history in texts written almost entirely by men. Lilith, who appears in the Bible in Isaiah, and throughout other traditional sources, is just one example of a biblical woman who needs to be reinterpreted and reclaimed. 

Sometimes, the view that wants to see only the best in our tradition — and our political leaders — can appear narrow and uninformed. 

Cool Cover

Your cover story on cool Jewish LA (“50 Reasons Why L.A. is America’s Coolest Jewish City, Jan. 15) was great: a nice blend of humor and real information. I thought your cover was one of your best ever; really capturing something of our essence and aspirations. Please identify the three people in the photo. Who are those cool Jewgelinos?

I would only amend your Happy Minyan entry (No. 35) to read that the “Simpson’s” connection is cool (though still no appearance by Rabbi Krustofsky), but what is really cool is that we get to hear a thought-provoking, inspirational drash from David Sacks most every Shabbat and Yehuda Solomon’s amazing davening.

Jeffrey Hutter, via email

Editor’s note: The shofar-blowers at Nashuva’s annual tashlich ceremony on Venice Beach are, from left, Myra Meskin, Jared Stein and an unidentified improviser.