Schachter got it right
Several individuals wrote to take issue with Abby Wisse Schachter’s editorial “An open letter to President George W. Bush.” I would suggest that they re-read the section where she talks about the importance of words: “Thank you for calling evil by its name.”
After the terrorist attacks in Mumbai on Thanksgiving weekend, it was disheartening to see what our local and national newspapers left out of their Sunday editions. The Washington Post did not mention the targeted attack on the Chabad Center. The New York Times did not mention that, among the attacks — both arbitrary and planned — a Jewish institution was one of the selected targets. There was no reference to the fact that Jewish people were bound and murdered inside — no names, pictures, or sense of the humanity of these individuals.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published an editorial decrying the terrorism “in the streets and hotels of Mumbai”— here, the planned attack on Jewish people was not even
Fortunately, television and online sources filled in these glaring gaps. It was primarily nonprint sources from which we learned about the beautiful, selfless young Jewish couple murdered in their Chabad House and about the miraculous rescue of their baby. It was not newspapers that presented the eloquent, moving words of interviewed Chabad rabbis. If we had relied on newspapers, we would not even have known that Jews were targeted and murdered.
There is one thing that President Bush got right, and that was “calling evil by its name.” Abby Wisse Schachter wrote to thank him for his courage in condemning terrorism unconditionally.
In her letter of Dec. 25 December, “Pollard a hero,” Sybil Treblow not only expresses her disagreement with a recent letter, but asks why The Chronicle would print a submission from someone from Morris Township, New Jersey. I respectfully reject that facet of her challenge.
There are a number of legitimate views on any issue and many means of expressing one’s opinion. A newspaper that wishes to be fair and to provide a variety of food for thought to its readers will not adopt a policy of journalistic nativism.
Throughout my long quest to express my views in periodicals throughout the United States, some of the publications to whom I have submitted material have informed me that it will be virtually, if not completely, impossible for someone from outside the area to be published. Thankfully, the number of magazines and newspapers that have adopted this restrictive policy is small. Some out-of-area publications are most generous to me. I am writing this essay on the third consecutive day in which letters of mine have appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News.
The Chronicle would diminish itself if it issued a blanket edict that only Allegheny County writers will be considered for publication. I wonder if Ms. Treblow would have criticized Chronicle policy if she had agreed with what the New Jersey writer had to say.
Oren M. Spiegler
Upper St. Clair
The Reform Rabbinate has spoken in the Dec. 17 column, “In Rebuttal: Chronicle assailed for position on Chabad, Temple.”
“We believe that people have a right to belong to the religious institutions that they desire without being called, visited or solicited to leave and support other places of worship and learning,” the piece said.
This is laughable. All movements, including the Reform movement, engage in consumer driven marketing. While I deplore this, I also recognize reality. What did the Reform movement think it was buying with its advertising, Web site and public relations budget?
This rabbinical statement appears to request that no one contact Reform Jews including the AJL and the Kollel. In the free market place of ideas, the days of a movement congregation franchise are gone. Any wall that the Reform movement erects will be swiftly breached.
The denial of reality is especially ironic since the 2000-2001 National Jewish Population Study (NJPS) found only 42 percent of the members of Reform congregations were raised as Reform Jews. Where does the Reform movement think its members come from?
How is the current model working? Jack Wertheimer writing in the June 2008 Commentary Magazine reports:
“In 2000, fully 70 percent of Jews saying they were raised Reform were not members of any kind of synagogue, a figure that holds steady across the generational board: among older Jews, baby-boomers, and the so-called gen-x and gen-y populations. Seventeen percent of individuals raised Reform do not identify with the Jewish religion, period.”
This age of consumer driven Judaism affects all movements. Ironically, the good news is that it rewards those congregations that know what they believe in. Therefore, I suggest that a good starting point for congregations is to work on themselves and not worry so much about the
Lee R. Golden