Letters to the editor: 12/25
Pollard a hero
In the Dec. 11 edition there was a letter from someone from Morris Township, N.J. Why? Are you so short on local letters to the editor?
The only thing right about that letter was your title “No pardon for Pollard.” Jonathan Pollard’s biggest crime was that he was born Jewish.
After he was convicted, two FBI spies were discovered. These men did some of the actual crimes that he was convicted of doing. Both of their sentences were less than Pollard’s. The information that Pollard gave Israel should have been given to an ally. Because of this information and Israel’s actions, Iraq did not have an atom bomb.
The self-hating Jew, Casper Weinberger, Secretary of Defense under President Reagan, persuaded Reagan and then the first President Bush not to pardon him. Jonathan Pollard should be a Jewish hero and if he dies in jail he will be another Jewish martyr.
Who is paper for?
As a proud and spiritually fulfilled member of a wonderful Reform congregation, I am writing to voice my agreement with the recent response of the Reform Rabbis of Greater Pittsburgh to The Chronicle’s efforts to stoke the fires of controversy in Monroeville and the entire local Jewish community.
The hostility toward Reform Judaism evident in some of the letters and comments written to The Chronicle reflect the disappointing reality that The Chronicle’s stance has encouraged the very divisiveness it purports to decry. The Chronicle’s editorial states that “it might be hard to believe in this day and age that there is an organization out there that wants to offer programs simply for the sake of expanding one’s knowledge of Judaism — but there is.”
It is obvious in this statement that The Chronicle is not just supporting Chabad against a real or imagined unfair attack; it is actually taking a stance favoring Chabad over other approaches to Judaism, which it implicitly slanders.
To me this is far more divisive than a rabbi’s comment in a temple bulletin about Chabad’s potentially recruiting or soliciting from among her synagogue’s members. I thought The Chronicle was for the entire Jewish community. Was I wrong?
Foundation explains process
It is with great sadness and a sense of disbelief that we learn in particular about the many charities that fell victim to the alleged Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Bernard Madoff. As the Chair of the Investment Committee of United Jewish Federation Foundation, I am pleased to report that we had no investments in any Madoff fund.
At the UJF Foundation, we take a long-term investment horizon in order to provide the growth of assets necessary to provide for generations to come. This policy comes with the risks of the market in the pursuit of long-term gain. These risks are not only fraud, such as in the Madoff affair, but also the basic investment concerns such as economic, market and company risks.
To manage those risks, we diversify across a wide range of investments. We reduce the risk a single investment may have on the Foundation’s assets. We have an independent 18-member volunteer oversight committee comprised of leading economists, as well as experts in the area of business, finance and investments that provide objectivity to the investment of the portfolio. We employ an independent investment advisory firm, so that the advice we receive has no conflicts of interest.
The mistakes made in the Madoff scheme, center on two fundamental issues. The first was poor due diligence. The second was too much concentration in a single investment strategy with little control or oversight. The UJF Foundation has worked hard to properly invest the assets entrusted to them through a sound investment policy, proper monitoring, independent advice and sound diversification.
(Editor’s note: The author chairs the UJF Investment Committee.)
Observations on discourse
I have never looked forward so eagerly to the arrival of my Chronicle as I have in these several weeks since the Great Monroeville Mudsling began. I declare, even the slaughter in Mumbai seems to have done little to dampen the ardor of the partisans.
I do admire such devotion to a cause. Of course there was the paranoid tirade that started it all, but the reaction, in large part more abusive of the entire Reform movement than supportive of Chabad, was hardly less amusing.
And then the counter-deluge, the most memorable example of which began by decrying the attacks on Reform Jews, then segued seamlessly into censure of Conservative. Good, good, let’s not neglect anyone, please.
I was enjoying myself immensely until this past week’s installment, though, which gave me a moment of panic when I saw that the long piece of commentary was written by a whole panel of Reform Rabbis: Would these [rabbis] feel it incumbent upon them to take a higher tone? Would they, in fact, refuse to join the fray and instead adopt a maddeningly conciliatory line?
Happily, I was not disappointed. Although the letter began with mealy-mouthed musings on the oneness of Israel (hypocrisy always adds such a delicious flavor to such proceedings), in the end they stood entirely by their woman, not scrupling to repeat and even expound upon the calumny that began the whole fracas.
Now, one important question remains: Has anyone considered how to pull the Reconstructionists into the melee? I think we could use some new material.
Don’t point fingers
No one would like to see this matter put to rest more than I, but I felt compelled to respond to the “rebuttal” signed by area Reform Rabbis in the Dec. 18 issue regarding Chabad of Monroeville and Temple David.
The rabbis should be careful when throwing words like “libel” around with regards to letters in response to Rabbi Symon’s initial statements, particularly when once again, they have accused Chabad of “recruiting” and “soliciting” members of other area synagogues. This is simply untrue and I can state this from my own personal experience.
No one who is otherwise spiritually fulfilled at a synagogue leaves when another opens its doors nearby. I suggest that any synagogue that does lose members in this way look inward to discover why their members are dissatisfied and strive harder to meet their needs.
Pointing fingers and finding scapegoats is not a productive solution to this problem. It may also be possible that liberal synagogues are simply not for everyone, and that is simply a fact and no one’s fault.