Letters to the editor April 26
Unite for Pollard
As one of many concerned citizens of Israel, we feel that the American Jewish community can help in being the decisive weight needed to end Jonathan Pollard’s outdated prison sentence, in the hope that we all will give our unconditional strength in ending one man’s punishment and prison sentence for a crime for which we believe the price has been paid for. Leaving him one more day in jail is a slow, cruel death beyond the realm of justice.
In the working of the American justice system all other prison sentences handed out to people who perpetrated similar or worse breaches of national security have ended with all the offenders out of jail in considerably less time than Pollard’s never-ending sentence. The present American government cannot justify keeping Pollard incarcerated forever.
The vast majority of President Obama’s predecessors, including key figures from the American establishment that spearheaded Pollard’s arrest in 1986, have advocated to free Pollard, stating that he has done his time. Pollard is a human being. Being Jewish, we are obligated to stand for equal justice for all human beings, especially when their prison sentence is not equal to other offenders of the same, or even worse.
The whole issue of Pollard is so far past its expiration date; it is from another day, another century and era. It is irrelevant and outdated and becoming no more than an unnecessary injustice and a continual insult to the very justice system it represents. Pollard has paid the price.
If the Jewish community, before the elections, unites totally for Pollard’s release, using both its voting power and political potential to achieve this, we believe Pollard will be released.
Philippe Gideon Ben Yacov
Column strays off issue
Michael Zigmond, in his April 12 rebuttal piece, “The case for a West Bank settlement boycott,” joined the commentators’ polemics on the continuing saga of Israel-Palestinian relations.
Professor Zigmond tried hard to address the main issue — the problem of the settlements and the continuing occupation of the West Bank. But he could not stay on the issue, and had to paint Israel as a total villain by throwing in Gaza, Lebanon and “flaunting of international law” (the barrier?). Here is where the credibility of the “pro-Israel” liberal Jewish American organizations is lost.
The issue is a two-state solution, but it cannot be advanced as long as the process of expanding settlements is not checked. For the open-minded Jews and other proclaimed friends of Israel to be truly constructive, and affect a change of policy in Israel, they have to gain the trust of the “silent majority” in Israel. After five bloody wars and nonstop terrorism, it is superfluous to ask the Israelis not to be paranoid about security issues.
Showing sympathy, understanding and support on security matters may allow a dialogue on the other issue — the occupation of the West Bank. It was Yitzhak Rabin, who truly understood the intricacies of the Israeli-
Palestinians relations, [who] vowed to pursue peace as if there were no terror, and crush terror as if there were no peace.
On behalf of Strong Women, Strong Girls, we extend sincere appreciation and gratitude for the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh’s exceptional generosity and community-minded response to help our organization.
Our largest community event of the year, Jump into Spring, involves bringing together hundreds of elementary school girls from around Greater Pittsburgh for an annual jump-rope-a-thon and program celebration. The event had been scheduled to be held on the University of Pittsburgh campus Saturday, April 14.
Faced with the challenges associated with the current rash of bomb threats on the campus — potential evacuation during the event, event cancelation or worse — we reached out to JCC CEO Brian Schreiber to inquire whether the JCC had space available and would be willing to let us move the event to the facility. Without hesitation, Brian said yes. Brian and the entire JCC team made logistics of moving the event with under a week to go proceed smoothly
This response is an example of how the JCC is reaching out, beyond its own community, to truly be a community center.
As a former board member and longtime supporter of the JCC, I was thrilled with the agency’s response to this situation and was proud to share our community center with hundreds from the Strong Women, Strong Girls community last weekend.
(The author is national director of development and communications for Strong Women, Strong Girls.)
Thank you, Chronicle, for the April 5 article “Yiddish schools, camps preceded Hebrew-speaking successors,” by Toby Tabachnick, which described the outstanding contribution to American Jewish history made by Fradle Pomerantz Freidenreich, an accomplished author, educator and researcher.
An enthusiastic audience — Jews and non-Jews, young and old, academic and lay — heard Fradle’s lecture at Rodef Shalom Congregation on Wednesday, April 11. The talk was remarkable on two levels: It revealed the significance of Yiddish education in the growth of a vibrant North American Jewish community, and it demonstrated the value of interagency collaboration by six Jewish organizations, which brought this inspiring speaker to Pittsburgh.
(The authors were co-planners for the event.)
Remarks trivialize program
Yom Hashoa is our annual commemoration to remember and to honor the victims and the survivors of the Holocaust. It is a communitywide observance, open to all.
Each year the theme is different. This year, the children and their rescuers were memorialized. Other years, it has been the liberators, or specific Jewish communities in Europe.
However, the focus is always the same — the victims and the survivors. One day in the Jewish calendar is devoted to remembering and to honoring.
One day that should not be trivialized by the mention of anything else — not the work of the Jewish Federation. Not the names of individuals who contribute money. Not an appeal for money.
These remarks are an insult and a desecration to the memory of all those individuals whom we have come together to commemorate.
Let’s reach out
I have been a member of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox synagogues in Pittsburgh. My children attend Conservative school, Orthodox shul and Lubovich summer camp.
I teach at Community Day School and have taught at Hillel Academy and the JCC.
I proudly claim a grandfather as a founder and past president of Temple Emanuel, a great-aunt as a past president of Beth Shalom, and a great-grandfather as the shamash of Shaare Torah, way back when it was still in the Hill.
Rabbis (Mark) Mahler, (Michael) Werbow and (Daniel) Wasserman have been my rabbis at different and important times in my life, and I feel connected to all of them.
The Tikkun L’eil Shavuot at the JCC and the Yom Haatzmaut celebration are two of my favorite events every year, for, as people always note when they move to Pittsburgh or when they move elsewhere and see how we contrast with other Jewish communities, we Jews in Pittsburgh get along pretty well indeed.
I am enriched by my deep connections to diverse Jewish institutions in Pittsburgh.
It is for these reasons that I was so disappointed not to see more Jewish diversity at Community Day School’s recent Yom Hashoa program and groundbreaking ceremony for our project, Keeping Tabs: A Holocaust Sculpture. This is an important and inspiring project, and your excellent coverage beforehand made me proud of my school and eager to show my Jewish friends who are not affiliated with CDS just how much we offer to the larger Jewish community. I hope that they will get involved and, at the very least, come to visit once the sculpture is finished.
Mostly, I hope that, as time goes on, we Jews in Pittsburgh continue to reach out across denominational lines in all kinds of ways. We all have a lot to teach and plenty to learn.