December 18, 2013
As I write this, a person was just shot dead at the Short Hills Mall while holiday shopping with his wife. One day earlier, the nation commemorated the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings, when 20 elementary school students and six educators were murdered. In recent years, we have witnessed a profoundly distressing series of mass shootings in schools, shopping malls, theaters, houses of worship, and elsewhere. The Jewish community itself has experienced this violence at community centers, Jewish federations, and elsewhere. These violent and horrific acts shock our conscience and country.
Yet, on Dec. 11, NRA board member Scott Bach invoked the Holocaust when criticizing Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop’s new gun control measures. “His grandparents were Holocaust survivors,” Bach told an interviewer. “So you’ve got to wonder why he is not getting it.”
Mayor Fulop is one of the youngest mayors in New Jersey. He is Jewish. To conflate the mayor’s concern over gun proliferation and gun safety withhis family’s suffering in the Holocaust is perverse. While Bach is entitled to his point of view on guns, there is simply no place in our society for demagoguery that seems purposefully intended to stir religious and other passions that have nothing to do with a legitimate debate over firearms.
Fulop has requested that gun manufacturers bidding on municipal contracts respond to a survey about gun safety issues. He says he wants municipalities to use their purchasing power to influence America’s gun-safety conversation.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, there has been a proliferation of remarks comparing gun control legislation in the United States to policies upheld by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. In January, the ADL called on critics of gun control legislation to stop using references to Hitler and the Nazis. “The idea that supporters of gun control are doing something akin to what Hitler’s Germany did to strip citizens of guns in the run-up to the Second World War is historically inaccurate and offensive, especially to Holocaust survivors and their families,” wrote ADL national director Abraham Foxman.
As we remember the children and adults murdered in Newtown, Conn., Mayor Fulop should be commended for his efforts to draw attention to an industry that permitted too many guns to be available to too many people. And while responsible debate on this issue is welcome and necessary, that does not mean people can make irresponsible comments just because they disagree.
Roger B. Jacobs, an attorney, is past chair of the Community Relations Committee, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. The views he expresses are his own.
December 18, 2013
My husband and I read and discussed the op-ed “When a Torah sage proves all too human” by Rabbi David Greenstein (Oct. 31). The final sentence states: “[W]e cannot hope to successfully respond to this challengeif we do not first confront it honestly.”
I am going to address this comment.
• How can it be that Torah is at fault for how we, as individuals, choose to act? Are we not each responsible for our own actions?
• The speech of one individual, no matter how high-placed the individual might be, does not negate the teachings, or the value of those teachings, of our tradition. The value of our teachings is not negotiable currency that changes when conditions or individuals change; the value is what it is — basic and unswerving.
It is important to emphasize that we are each responsible for our own actions. It is also important to emphasize that, despite the actions of any particular individual, the value of Torah and its way of life remains solid. No individual’s actions can negate what is taught by our sources. We cannot judge a book by its cover or toss out an entire barrel of apples for the one that is not good. The wealth of Torah remains strong. It is there for us all.
Carol B. Shichman
December 18, 2013
We are writing to respond to Larry Lerner’s letter questioning the process by which the Community Relations Committee of Greater MetroWest publicly questioned the administration’s interim agreement with Iran on nuclear enrichment (Letter, “Put it to a vote,” Dec. 12). According to Mr. Lerner, the CRC has not conducted a “full discussion” and instead created policy by “fiat that follows the Netanyahu line.”
We write as the immediate past chairs of CRC and its Iran subcommittee chair.
Mr. Lerner, to our knowledge, has not attended any of the Iran subcommittee meetings in the past several years where our CRC policy and strategy are thoroughly discussed and vetted. As a past chair of CRC in Central, Mr. Lerner certainly knows this. Instead, he has chosen to publicly complain that the CRC’s policy statement on the conditions for lifting sanctions did not undergo the proper process. Mr. Lerner should be aware that the CRC’s current and past leadership all reviewed, edited (disagreed in part), and changed the statement before it was issued. And not every reaction by the CRC has to be approved by the CRC membershipbefore a public statement is issued. That is the responsibility of leadership and we are confident that it was discharged properly here.
As to the content of Mr. Lerner’s criticism, we note that the “guidelines” we advocated were, in the main, the same guidelines established in numerous unanimous UN Security Council resolutions (with the affirmative votes of both China and Russia) over the past decade requiring, as a bare minimum, that Iran stop all enrichment activities as a condition to negotiations over lifting sanctions. The Iranian government has been caught lying about its activities and refusing to permit UN-sanctioned inspections to uncover the truth about its intentions. On this background, Mr. Lerner supports the Obama administration’s “hope” to induce the Ayatollah to negotiate a deal to “roll back its nuclear progress.” Good luck with that. The lesson of history is that whenever the Jewish people have been induced to trust malevolent despots, from Roman rulers to the totalitarian giants of the 20th century, we have suffered. Grievously.
We wholeheartedly support the process and outcome of CRC chair Gordon Haas’s leadership on this issue over the past two years. We invite Mr. Lerner to attend the strategy and policy meetings where we vet new issues with the full committee, as we did most recently with Syria’s chemical weapons and gun control. Better yet, come and voice your opinions in our subcommittees, which all CRC members are open to join. Our Iran position on the interim negotiations reiterated our ongoing position on Iran that has been the same for the past six years and consistent with Jewish Federations of North America, which is for the complete dismantling of Iran’s nuclear capacity.
David Lentz, immediate past CRC Chair
Merle Kalishman, former CRC Chair
Jim Daniels, CRC Stop Iran Task Forec
December 18, 2013
I would like to add some comments to the op-ed piece on gun control in the Dec. 3 Jewish News (Monmouth, “The love of guns stymies common sense”).
As a species, humans are motivated much more by emotion than reason. The safest people have no guns. If you own a gun, you are 22 times more likely to attempt suicide than a non-gun owner. You are seven times more likely to shoot a family member in an argument or be shot by a family member than use a gun against a criminal. You are four times more likely to have a gun accident than to use a gun against a criminal. Yet these facts do not deter the gun enthusiasts. As Spock, the logical Vulcan, would say: “Fascinating.”
Michael I. Frischberg
December 18, 2013
It is unjust for Jonathan Pollard to be in prison for 29 years while just recently Mojtaba Atarodi, who spied for Iran, was released after only two years. Those individuals who feel the same should call the White House at 202-456-1111 and ask for Christmas Clemency for Pollard. This is imperative for people who care to stick up for someone who, at this point, is being punished because of his religion.
December 18, 2013
Equating the interim agreement with Iran to the appeasement of Hitler in 1938 is like comparing apples to oranges.
There was no State of Israel in 1938. Today, Israel is the most potent military force in the Middle East. Although Israel will not confirm or deny it, most military experts believe it has nuclear bombs and the ability to launch them if necessary. Israel also has an intelligence network second to none. Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly declared that Israel will attack Iran if it feels its security is threatened with or without America’s approval.
In 1938, America was not the financial and military power it is today. Sanctions initiated by President Obama have caused severe financial hardship on the Iranian people, leading to the election of a more moderate leadership. The president’s threat of military intervention if Iran does not abandon its ambitions to build a nuclear bomb has led to an agreement freezing enrichment of uranium above what is needed to fuel a nuclear reactor. As part of the agreement the United States has agreed to ease, not eliminate, the sanctions. The agreement calls for stringent inspections to ensure that Iran lives up to its commitments under the agreement. President Obama insists the military option is still on the table if Iran tries to circumvent the agreement.
Israel and Saudi Arabia have voiced their strong opposition. President Obama has expressed understanding of Netanyahu’s skepticism but has assured the prime minister that when the final agreement is reached there will be stringent safeguards preventing Iran from developing a bomb.
The agreement enjoys support in the United States and most of the world. The people are saying, give the new leadership in Iran a chance. War should be the last option, not the first.
December 11, 2013
Re “Has U.S. lost touch with Mideast reality?,”
Jared Silverman’s excellent piece (“Has U.S. lost touch with Mideast reality?” Nov. 7) is in need of a comprehensive book, given the vastness of the subject.
Let it be said that John Kerry’s constantly repeated mantra that Jewish settlements are “illegitimate” is based on totally ignorant premises. They are undoubtedly devoid of knowledge of international law and history.
At an absolute minimum, they need to become acquainted with UN Resolution 242. The crafting of this resolution was done under the scrutiny of a Democrat President, Lyndon B. Johnson, not short on history or such meaningful words as “secure and recognized boundaries.”
Professor Eugene Rostow noted that following a “just and lasting peace,” Israel was to withdraw its armed forces from “some of the territories, which included the Sinai Desert, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”
Stephen Schwebel, former judge of the International Court of Justice, addressed the presence of Egypt and Jordan during the period from 1948 to 1967. He concluded that Israel had a better claim on Palestine, including all of Jerusalem, than did Jordan and Egypt. Australian jurist Julius Stone agreed on this as a fact of territorial rights under international law.
In regard to the refugee problem, on Nov. 17,1958, Abba Eban, addressing the UN, declared, “The Arab refugee problem was caused by a war of aggression launched by the Arab states against Israel in 1948. If there had been no war against Israel, with its consequent harvest of bloodshed, misery, panic, and flight, there would be no problem.”
December 11, 2013
Re “Israeli writer urges settlement withdrawal,”
In the NJJN’s recent article about author Gershom Gorenberg’s appearance at Temple B’nai Abraham (“Israeli writer urges settlement withdrawal,” Nov. 14), Rabbi Clifford Kulwin was quoted as saying, “I don’t think they [Israel’s founders] would approve of what this has evolved into even though they were the ones who laid the groundwork for it happening.” The “it” to which Kulwin is referring is the religious influence on politics in Israel.
The problem with this position lies in the founders’ fundamental purpose of establishing a Jewish state and maintaining a Jewish majority: To provide a safe haven for Jews around the world in their historical homeland. The founders of Israel recognized that a Jewish state must be intricately tied to our biblical right to the land, the religious laws that make us Jews, and the political authority invested in a sovereign Jewish government. As it says in the declaration, “It will be based on freedom, justice, and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel.” It does not in any way imply that a modern Jewish state of Israel should be totally divested of its religious history and tradition. The founding fathers of Israel recognized that by establishing a Jewish state in the land of Israel, there were certain responsibilities to our heritage that must be maintained, particularly after that heritage had been targeted for destruction by the Nazis.
Demanding that Israel be both a Jewish state and a democracy is rather paradoxical. As Gorenberg mentioned, you can’t have the entire land of Israel, a Jewish majority, and a democracy in the real world.
So what should the State of Israel prioritize for itself and its future? Being a democracy which, by American terms, necessitates a division between religion and state? Or being a Jewish state with a Jewish majority in the biblical land of Israel, as it was intended to be by its founders and by the hopes and dreams of Jews around the world for millennia? If one wishes to detach religion from a Jewish state, and with it, all our religious responsibilities and traditions, why not purchase a stretch of land in some other part of the world where Jews can be as safe and free to live their lives as the non-Jews surrounding them?
I believe the future holds a major reckoning for the State of Israel in terms of its priorities and defining values. Ultimately, time and God will effect a shift away from the democratic and toward the divine definition of a Jewish state.
December 11, 2013
I want to take a moment to thank Alexandra Jackman, an incredible teen and community leader, for her participation in a recent MetroWest Madrichim, Shadow Training Workshop. Alex joined the final session and shared her video, A Teen’s Guide to Understanding and Communicating with People with Autism, with a group of teens who are engaging as one-to-one shadows with children with special needs in inclusive settings.
Alex’s message of understanding,acceptance, and inclusion fits perfectly with the goals of MetroWestABLE and we are proud to have her as a member of our community. Kol hakavod to Alex! For more information on the shadow training program, Alex’s video, or other community supports for individuals with special needs, contact 973-929-3129 or email@example.com.
Rebecca Wanatick, MEd
December 11, 2013
I’m writing to thank the JCC MetroWest for installing a hearing loop in the spinning room. Since this loop has been installed, it’s been an amazing experience to hear the instructor in a darkened room with loud music.
The Hearing Loop is a special type of sound system for use by people with hearing aids or cochlear implants. It provides a magnetic, wireless signal that is picked up by the hearing aid when it is set to “T” (Telecoil).
I use two cochlear implants and am totally deaf without these behind-the-ear speech processors. When I am in a spinning class, all I need to do is change the programs of my speech processors to “T” and I can hear 100 percent of what’s being said.
If someone wears two hearing aids that have the “T” switch on them (most behind-the-ear hearing aids have this switch on them, not the in-the-ear hearing aids), the hearing aids will work as receivers. If someone has a hearing loss but does not wear hearing aids, there is a portable loop receiver that the spinning instructor can give out with headphones. All one has to do is ask for this accommodation.
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