Letters to the editor: 11/4
We must pull together
I want to thank The Jewish Chronicle for the editorial you printed in the Nov. 27 edition in support of the new Chabad House opening in Monroeville (“Chabad helps enrich Jewish communities”).
When I first moved to the Pittsburgh area almost 20 years ago I was a member of Temple David in Monroeville and had the friendship and support of a wonderful Jewish community. I was on the board and active on several committees for several years. My own journey in Judaism led me to Lubavitch and I am a member of the Pittsburgh Chabad community. I have been blessed with visiting and experiencing over 20 Chabad communities in the United States and seeing Jews of all paths supplementing and enriching their Jewish experience at Chabad while being involved in other congregations.
Having a Chabad in Monroeville should be a win-win situation for the community and I look forward to hearing good news from the meeting between Rabbi Schapiro and Rabbi Symons.
At a time when the entire world Jewish community is stricken by the tragedy of Mumbai, now more than ever as the children of Abraham and Sarah we need to pull together as Jews no matter what level of Torah and Mitzvahs or community action we adhere to. As we are in the month of Kislev may all of us, wherever we daven or experience our faith and heritage, feel the light, freedom and blessing of the Chanuka season.
Chabad coverage assailed
The Chronicle has completely blown out of proportion a statement that Rabbi Barbara Symons made in Temple David’s bulletin.
In Reform Judaism, we try to make the temple a second home, and the congregation a second family. The rabbi has every right to express concerns to this “family,” either from the pulpit or in the temple bulletin, without being ostracized and put through the wringer by the local Jewish press. Nothing that Rabbi Symons stated in the bulletin was untrue. It identified real congregational concerns when Chabad has entered the community.
The Chronicle not only broadcasted a “family” issue, but placed the article on the front page of its Nov 20 edition, which not only took the discussions out of the temple, but stoked the fires in the Jewish community. Your latest edition, in an editorial, further unfairly ridicules Temple David and Rabbi Symons over a “personal message in the Temple David Bulletin.”
In Temple David, members have voiced their opinion both pro and con on Rabbi Symons’ letter. Such discussion is very much encouraged by both the temple and the rabbi. This is where the issue should have stayed. From what The Chronicle has done, based upon a “personal message,” does a rabbi or a congregation need be concerned about what is stated in sermons?
My husband, daughter, granddaughter and I attended the Kristallnacht program presented by the Holocaust Center.
In the first half of the program, Jud Newborn spoke on The White Rose Society, a small group of Germans who lost their lives resisting the Nazis. The second half consisted of Newborn giving his personal picks of people he dubbed “White Rosers of today,” people who “speak truth to power.”
His choices drew a moral equivalency between the Scholls, real heroes who risked their lives, and a collection which included 1) an American woman who lost her job because she took a photograph; 2) a woman who opened a beauty salon in Afghanistan; 3) Olympians who risked losing lucrative contracts by protesting the Chinese Olympics; and 4) an organization of Israelis and Arabs who had a family member killed by “the other side” — making actions taken by terrorists equal to those taken in self-defense or by mistake.
It’s bad enough to attempt to make equivalencies between the Holocaust and other genocides but to do so using the examples he did was insulting to the survivors in the audience and demeaning to the memory of the non-Jews who lost their lives to protest Nazism.
As we saw in Mumbai, this week, and as we have seen over and over again, Jews are targeted solely because they are Jews. This is what Kristallnacht was about and this is what we should never forget.
Simone (Sheindel) Shapiro
Sheldon (Shmuel) Shapiro
This is not the first time that Berel Sholom Tzvi has used your opinion page to viciously attack Reform Judaism (so much for Jewish values) and this time I feel compelled to respond.
I grew up in a large Conservative synagogue in Pittsburgh. I would have left there, disenchanted by the High Holy Day displays of furs and jewels and the discomfort I felt with the second class treatment of women and girls, if the place had not pushed me out by canceling permission for my BBG (B’nai B’rith Girls) chapter to meet there. They wanted to start a USY chapter.
If not for Reform Judaism, and Temple David in particular, I do not know if I would have returned. For me, Temple David provided what Chabad has apparently provided for others: a welcoming place of Jewish worship, learning and opportunity for spiritual growth and service.
As an active member, I would like to make some clarifications. First, our High Holy Day services are not about fundraising. You would no doubt be comfortable worshipping with us, should you choose to learn about Reform Judaism instead of blindly attacking it. The rabbi does not earn hundreds of thousands of dollars. With all the extra time she puts in, we might be embarrassed if it was an hourly rate.
We have never turned anyone away who could not afford dues. More importantly, Temple David recognizes volunteerism as every bit as important as financial support of the Temple. I felt shut out and alone at my previous congregation. Here, my knowledge and love of Judaism has blossomed.
I am not afraid of Chabad; why, Berel, are you afraid of us?