February 17, 2020

Letters to the Editor: Jews and Democrats, Fighting Anti-Semitism

Jews and Democrats
A Sept. 6 letter under the headline “Jews Who Vote for Democrats” condemns President Donald Trump for saying that Democrats are anti-Jewish, but Trump is right: For the first time in decades, some elected and other influential Democrats are blatantly anti-Semitic, and party leaders are afraid to condemn them. Blaming Trump is a distraction because anti-Semitism became acceptable on the left a decade ago, when radical Muslim student groups began poisoning the minds of young people against Israel.

If Democrats want Jewish funding and votes in 2020, they must strip Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) of their committee assignments and reject K-12 curricula that maligns Israel and Judaism.
Rueben Gordon, via email

Fighting Anti-Semitism
Gil Troy omitted an obvious way to combat anti-Semitism (“The Rise of Anti-Semitism, and What to Do About It,” Aug. 30). Pay to publish the “Famous Jews” column in widely circulated newspapers and magazines. It might do well to run those columns in newspapers in Idaho and Montana, centers of white supremacist organizations. 

The column should have a header that Jews were important in making America
great and continue to do so.
Myron Kayton, via email

Lessons From a Case in Which Wife Not Granted a Get
Here are three lessons that can be learned from Meir Kin (“Protesters Descend on Local Shivah Home of Man Who Refuses to Issue Wife a Get,” Aug. 30):

First, in extreme cases of get-refusal, beit din should seek venerable halachic solutions such as voiding a marriage. This is crucial, especially in the Diaspora, where there are no state law enforcement powers to coerce get refusers to give the get.

Lonna Kin received a p’tur (halachic ruling that the marriage was void) from the International Beit Din (IBD) in 2017. 

Second, family members who aid and abet a get refuser should be denied any amenities from the Jewish community, even the rites of burial, in accordance with the sanctions of Rabbeinu Tam.

Third, a Jewish prenuptial agreement should be required at every wedding. Chazal understood that only if every wedding were preceded by a ketubah, even weddings of wealthy women, no stigma would be attached.
Esther Macner, via email 

Seder Table Guests
I had never heard of excluding non-Jews from the seder table, so I was surprised to read that for some people, this is a “thing.” (“OK to Invite Non-Jew to Passover Seder?” Aug. 23). Throughout my childhood, we routinely invited to our seder one or more of the Catholic children who lived next door. Among other things, the mystery that was the Jewish neighbor was lifted, at least somewhat. Later, we hosted a group of our daughter’s non-Jewish college friends for a seder. Maybe they understood us a little better.
Nothing helps us understand “the other” more than the opportunity to be witness to our traditions and rituals. When I was invited to decorate a Christmas tree, it was nice to be included but it didn’t change who I was. We have nothing to hide and everything to share. Our dining tables make good classrooms.
Sandi Gilbert, Calabasas 

Synagogue Membership Is Worth It to Her
With my children and grandchildren grown, I find it’s important to be a member of Valley Outreach Synagogue (VOS) for over 30 years (“As a Mom, Synagogue Dues Are Worth the Cost,” Sept. 6).

This is the longest relationship in my life and I will continue to sacrifice certain things to gratefully pay my dues.

VOS has been the one constant “family” through the years for me.
Jacqueline Callan, Tarzana

Resurgence of Judaism
Yasher koach to Chabad for leading the way for Jewish resurgence: from Hawaii to New York and around the world (“Optimistic Signs About Future of Jews in the U.S.,” Sept. 6). Who says that traditional Judaism is dying? Reminds me of that “ancient” Time magazine cover headline: “Is God Dead?” I don’t think so.
Enriqué Gascon, Westside Village

The Mass Shooting in Texas
The high-profile, major advertisers who have so greatly benefited by shaping the values of our society through the choices we make can help lessen the horrors guns visit upon us by listing, in all media, the names of senators and House members who are financially supported by the NRA. Shaming these so-called representatives (85% of Americans say they want gun control yet those in a position to change this do nothing about it) will loosen this lobby’s stranglehold on common sense and help bring about a healthier nation. President Donald Trump should lead this fight.
Hal Rothberg, via email

Valerie Harper: Trailblazer for Jewish Characters on TV
Valerie Harper, who died Aug. 30 at age 80, wasn’t Jewish. However, she was a trailblazer for the portrayal of Jewish characters on television.

On “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Harper originated a television archetype in Rhoda Morgenstern as the lead character’s friend who is expressly identified as Jewish. This dynamic was followed to varying degrees in “The Wonder Years,” “Weeds” and “The Big Bang Theory.”

When Harper’s Morgenstern became the lead character in “Rhoda” beginning in 1974 — television’s first female lead who was identified as Jewish since “The Goldbergs” (1949-57) and first Jewish lead of either gender since “Bridget Loves Bernie” — her success opened the door for “Barney Miller,” “Taxi,” “Northern Exposure” and “Seinfeld.”

Harper also portrayed Israeli prime minister Golda Meir in the film “Golda’s Balcony” (2006).
Stephen A. Silver, San Francisco 

Calling Out BDS
A letter in the Aug. 30 edition said, “… Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who shouted out his hate for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement …”

What’s wrong with shouting out hatred for those who support BDS? If the pro-BDS movement gets its way, Israel will no longer exist. I would hope that all Jews would shout out their hatred for these people.
Paul Jeser, via email


In a story about the dedication of a renovated sanctuary (“New Space, New Light, New Sanctuary at Temple Beth Am,” Sept. 6), the amount of the Ganzberg lead gift was incorrect. It was $2 million. Also, the ark was dedicated by the late Lou Colen. The space was renovated by San Francisco-based architecture firm Herman Coliver Locus.

To clarify, in “RBO: The Rabbi Who Eschews Conventional Gender Pronouns” (Sept. 6), Rabbi RBO Bat-Or was a butcher, not a kosher butcher, in New Haven, Conn. RBO entered rabbinical school at the age of 55. The rabbi, who keeps kosher, no longer uses Rachel in per name.

Now it’s your turn. Submit your letter to the editor. Letters should be no more than 200 words and must include a valid name and city. The Journal reserves the right to edit all letters. letters@jewishjournal.com.