Yosef editorial assailed
The editorial about Shas and Rav Ovadia Yosef was wrong on both counts. It referred to Shas as a “niche party.”
Shas was formed to combat racism against Sephardim. The ruling elite in Israel were embarrassed by Sephardim. Shas gave them a voice and continues to fight racism. It has pursued a social justice agenda to feed and educate the poor. That is the reason that it draws voters who are neither Sephardi nor religious. Its vote total is far greater than its base. It currently has two fewer seats than the Labor Party. It is hardly a niche party. Your proposed electoral reform will not silence the Shas campaign to end racism so easily.
As for your denunciation of Rav Ovadia Yosef, he holds no position in Shas. He does not derive his authority from a political party.
Rav Ovadia Yosef is the Posek HaDor, the decider of Jewish Law for this generation of Sephardim around the world. His authority is based solely on the power of his intellect. His influence extends to Ashkenazim who also want to know his thinking even though we are not bound by his decisions.
The editorial’s truncated pseudo-quote of Rav Ovadia in English — a language he does not publicly use — devoid of context, is a shoddy unprofessional practice. It implies exact language. The editorial took a secondhand translation and passed it off as a quote. Rav Ovadia was addressing people who are familiar and comfortable with the words of the Bible, which is replete with the language of
G-d taking revenge on the enemies of the Jewish people. Rav Ovadia was speaking in the context of the suffering of Jewish people from Egypt to Spain to the present day. His audience understood his call for divine justice even as The Jewish Chronicle saw it as a call for genocide. While the Jewish Chronicle finds him embarrassing, those who are fluent in the national language and literature of the Jewish people do not.
Your cavalier and uninformed attack on Sephardim in general and a Torah sage in particular is not worthy of this newspaper nor this holiday season.
(Editor’s note: The editorial in question made no attack on Sephardic Jewry. Rabbi Yosef is recognized as the spiritual authority of the Shas Party.)
Where’s the thanks?
It was with great shock that I read that Dr. Tzipi Gur was no longer at the AJL (Agency for Jewish Learning). How harsh a statement to read!
Dr. Gur, who is known by all of us in the community as just “Tzipi,” was the face and heart of the AJL, and anything else that related to promoting Jewish education for children, professionals and adult education. I remember Tzipi from The Hebrew Institute, where she was my children’s teacher and then again when they attended SAJS. Her name always came up as a fantastic educator whom they admired. They were not the only children fortunate enough to have had Tzipi as a teacher. To this day they still think of her as someone who took the AJL from infancy to a top-notch institution of learning.
As early education teachers, we attended conventions, retreats, lectures, and workshops on Israel and how to teach children about Israel, and the list goes on. Thanks to her, high school students were able to travel to Israel and Poland to learn about the Holocaust. In addition to that, Tzipi ensured that non-Jewish educators and professionals from the public schools also took these trips to gain a better understanding of the Jewish experience during the Holocaust in order for them to better teach their students.
Adult education was promoted with previously unheard of numbers of people attending. Years ago she developed programs to honor outstanding educators, which is only now starting to occur in the public schools.
Tzipi made all of this possible for many of us who otherwise could not have afforded to participate in these educational opportunities. Her hard work, caring, dedication and enthusiasm carried over to our classrooms. She made everything possible — all you had to do was ask.
Tzipi dedicated her life to Jewish education and it is time for all of us in the community to honor her. The AJL and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh need to recognize Dr. Tzipi Gur’s accomplishments and hopefully inspire others to follow in her groundbreaking footsteps.
Fern S. Moscov
(The author is the director emeritus of the L. Harold and Mary W. Kirkell Preschool of Congregation Beth Shalom.)
JTA story rapped
The Sept. 6 JTA report on the efforts of “Jewish groups” to combat “anti-Muslim bigotry” fails on two accounts.
First, anti-Muslim bigotry hardly exists in the United States by any objective standard. Anti-Jewish hatred remains far more common, according to the FBI. Second, these “Jewish groups” wasting their time and communal dollars are few in number and “far left” in outlook.
Americans of all backgrounds continue to demonstrate incredible restraint when it comes to the treatment of
Muslims, despite 9/11, the U.S.S. Cole attack, the Fort Hood massacre, etc. The National Council of Jewish Women is wrong to throw around the word “Islamophobia,” as if people who fear Islam somehow have an irrational phobia. What is the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s agenda for attacking a bigotry that nobody can find?
We Jews and Americans — and as every Israeli knows — have everything to fear from radical Islam. Radical Islam is more than a religion; it is a culture and a way of life. Radical Islam wages violent war against democracy and Western values.
I urge all citizens of the 23rd House District to exercise tolerance of our Muslim neighbors as individuals, but to remain strong and virulent against the adherents of radical Islam, here in Pennsylvania and around the world.
By the way, the Sept. 23 cartoon equating Jewish settlers with Hamas in undermining Abbas in “peace” talks is either just stupid or worse, Jew hatred. Maybe the Religious Action Center can speak out against your running it.
(The author is the Republican candidate for the District 23 Seat in the state House.)