August 17, 2019

Letters to the editor: Time to die; Gun control; Anti-Zionism

Determining Time

Dr. Neil Wenger’s intriguing opinion piece about the need for some patients to accept that it is “time to die” overstates the comparison between Moses’ death and what happens in contemporary ICUs (“When it’s Time to Die,” Oct. 9). 

Moses was the greatest prophet ever. When God declared that it was his time to go, there was no questioning the clarity or definitiveness of that command. The same cannot be said today, not merely because there are almost always accepted interventions that can prolong — or even save — lives, but also because the meaning attached to the life saved is open to interpretation. Today’s decisions are thus excruciatingly difficult and very different from the death of Moses. 

Wenger argues that aggressive end-of-life therapies don’t preserve the patient’s humanity and are thus not “befitting a human.” But whether that is so, in the case of Moses’ death, it was left up to God. Today, our struggle is to find God’s direction, which may sometimes legitimately include doing everything possible to try to save or prolong life and avoid any chance of hastening death. Our rabbis appreciated this struggle. That’s why they told us that it is “against your will you are born … against your will you will die.” We should also acknowledge that complexity.

Rabbi Jason Weiner, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Spiritual Care Dept.

Remembering a matriarch 

Thank you for printing Rabbi Laura Geller’s tribute to Rabbi Regina Jonas, the first female rabbi (“A Collective Effort to Remember the First Woman Rabbi on her Yahrzeit,” Oct. 2). For all women who must place themselves in the stories of “mankind” and live with presumed male pronouns when we speak of rabbis, leaders, community elders … how refreshing to know that women such as Rabbi Jonas were providing necessary comfort to our families’ souls during the Shoah.

And thank you, Rabbi Geller, for picking such an appropriate yahrzeit for Rabbi Jonas.

Yes, Shabbat Bereshit!  How appropriate to mark the beginning of remembering this great soul.

Aviyah Farkas, Los Angeles

Shotgun Logic

I disagree with almost everything Rob Eshman writes, but he was spot-on about gun control in the Oct. 9 issue of the Journal. Politicians who cower before the NRA and allow more guns on the streets aid and abet the horrible massacres perpetrated by the deranged, and Eshman correctly points out that strict gun control laws would greatly reduce deaths by gunfire. On this subject, my friends on the right have taken leave of their senses.

Chaim Sisman, Los Angeles

Jew-hater or Angry Neighbor?

I am a Jew and I am a Zionist. The Palestinians who act against Jews in Israel are acting not because they are Jews, but because they are Zionists. Thus calling it “Jew-hatred” only helps to invoke the historical hatred Jews have suffered under, mostly under Christianity. 

This is a fight between two national movements, one which has a state, and another group that could have had a state, had it accepted the partition plan in 1947. Certainly, when it comes to the religious shrines like the Temple Mount, the successionist elements of Abrahamic religiosity becomes prominent and the clash between the rightists among the Zionists on the Temple Mount is who is supreme, the Jewish or the Muslim “Abrahamics.” 

Because of this, in 1967, when the Temple Mount fell into Israeli hands, Moshe Dayan himself, the hero of the ‘67 war, ordered an Israeli flag removed because he realized that Israel’s fight is not with the 1.2 billion Muslims in the world, but the much smaller Palestinian national movement.

Today, many rightists among the Zionists believe they should assert their claims to the Temple Mount, overlooking the rabbinical prohibitions based on the uncertainty of the location of the “Holy of Holies” site where no Jew dare tread because of its ritual sanctity.

I don’t believe this is a matter of who is right or who is wrong, but who is rational and who is irrational. Right now, it appears that the irrationals are winning.

Jerry Blaz via

David Suissa responds: Anti-Semitism very often veers into anti-Zionism. But even if you wanted to separate the two, there are countless examples of blatant Jew-hatred throughout Palestinian society. To cite just one recent example from official Palestinian TV: “Humanity will never live in comfort as long as the Jews are causing devastating corruption throughout the land.” If you want to see more examples, check out the website for Palestinian Media Watch.