September 25, 2018

Many Pitched In for Camp

Many Pitched In for Camp

As reported in the article “Ugandan Jews Get a U.S. Camp Counselor Experience” (Aug. 26), we recruited 13 people from our Jewish community in Uganda, called the Abayudaya, to work as counselors at Reform overnight camps this summer. While the article portrayed the positive experiences we had, we would like to correct some important oversights about the help that made this possible. 

Kulanu, Inc. (kulanu.org), a nonprofit that supports isolated and emerging Jewish communities all over the world, mentored us as we started the process that resulted in this camping program. Harriet Bograd, the president of Kulanu, introduced us to Bobby Harris, the director of Camp Coleman in Georgia, who employed us as counselors in 2015 and advocated for this program with the Union for Reform Judaism camp movement. (In fact, we were staying at Harriet’s house when the author of the article interviewed us.) 

For 21 years, Kulanu has supported our community in so many ways: helping to create two schools in our community that the counselors have attended, bringing Shoshanna to the U.S. for speaking tours, working with the camps to help them meet our needs so far from home, and offering hospitality before and after camp. We are also extremely grateful to Rabbi Jeffrey Summit of Tufts University Hillel, whose yearly fundraising for scholarships has enabled many of the counselors to attend university, unthinkable without his help. Once again, we send our sincere thanks on behalf of all the Abayudaya community to everyone who helped make this summer so special and memorable for us. 

Shoshanna Nambi and Sarah Nabaggala

via email

 

Political Posturing

The whole issue of a burqini ban is a distraction from the ideological challenge (“Ban the Burqini?” Aug. 26). But look at the fools who take such superficial actions: politicians who want to show they are doing something, be it ever so superficial and unconstitutional (probably even in France), but are too gutless to pick up the ideological gauntlet and really do what is necessary to defeat ISIS and other enemies. After having lived in Europe for around 25 years, I especially wouldn’t expect any different from their leaders.

Christopher Arend

University of California, Berkeley

 

‘Reality’ of Israeli Situation

I read Rob Eshman’s column and was glad to see he mentioned “reality” (“At the Center, Battling Left and Right Extremism,” Aug. 19). Your reality is that Israel should end the “occupation.” I think the reality is that the “occupation” has nothing to do with Islam’s war against the West. Of course, to the politically correct left, the only problem in the world is the construction of a house in Jerusalem.

As far as the peace process goes, Israel has never declared war on an Arab county. If they would end their incitement and raise a generation of normal people, peace would break out. Why would I care if some other political body had sovereignty over Hebron, or Joseph’s tomb if I could go there like a German goes to Paris?

Philip Brieff

Jerusalem

 

In a Pickle Over Kosher Issue

Perhaps Dennis Prager should have responded to the woman in Factor’s Deli with the following: “It probably would be more correct to simply say that you keep a kosher home, which is different than saying, ‘I still keep kosher,’ since in our tradition we draw no distinction as to time and place” (“Is Kosher All or Nothing?” Aug. 19). 

Yes, people who observe the laws of kashrut in their homes but who eat in non-kosher restaurants certainly should not be criticized or accused of hypocrisy. Rather, they should be encouraged to take the next step, which after all is what Judaism is all about: namely, striving to increase our observance of Jewish law, custom and practice, which is a lifelong endeavor for all of us. 

Bruce Friedman

Los Angeles

 

Dennis Prager cites examples to make his point. I have an example to make mine. Several years ago, I phoned a prominent Jewish celebrity who was about to receive honors from my organization, asking if she was, in fact, Jewish. I explained that I had read an interview in which she was quoted:  “Jesus Christ is my Lord and savior.” I asked if that was correct because we didn’t want to embarrass her or us if she wasn’t Jewish.

“Of course I’m a Jew,” she said. “I was born a Jew.  My parents are both Jewish.  My God, I had a bat mitzvah.”  

“How does that jibe with Jesus being your Lord and savior?” I asked. “It’s my choice,” she replied. “Jesus was a Jew. And, I’m Jewish.  Always have been. I’m as good a Jew as anyone. In fact, my mother and I are going to Israel in a few months.”

The celebrity had every right to define her Judaism on her own terms. My organization had the right to disagree. We withdrew the award. We felt that her route to serenity was not something a Jewish organization should enable and accept as kosher (pun intended).

There’s an old line comedians will cite that if you have to explain a joke, you either didn’t tell it correctly, it was a bad audience, or maybe it wasn’t funny in the first place. Explaining “kosher” on Prager’s terms, no matter how many analogies he employs, doesn’t make his argument. It ain’t funny. And, it’s a disservice coming from such a well-respected Jewish icon.

Joe Siegman

Los Angeles