Letters to the editor December 10
Abortion issue in health care rapped
The imbroglio over the health care option is strewn with many obstacles. Some are of real concerns; others entail politics and religion.
The abortion issue is one of the most obstreperous. Most religions have a poor record of providing equal rights to women. Catholicism, Islam and Orthodox Judaism are hostile and others also discriminate. Some branches of Protestantism fall into the same pattern. In general all religions have some restrictions from formerly burning widows with their deceased husbands to opposing divorce under any circumstances.
Let us put aside and pass health care for all regardless of sex, income or prejudice.
Reader draws ‘encouragement’
I was interested in and troubled by Lee Chottiner’s Dec. 3 column, “What do we owe our intermarried congregants,” in which he notes a stupefying and outrageous sequence of events at a synagogue outside this area: a rabbi refusing to play any role in comforting the family of a Jewish woman who is now the widow of a gentile man. Mr. Chottiner notes that although weeks had passed since the passing of the individual, the rabbi has now reached out to the family. Certainly, though, the damage has been done.
I draw encouragement from Mr. Chottiner’s conclusion, that if we purport to welcome interfaith families to our synagogues, there is a duty to serve them, and that a failure to do so will “reinforce the notion among non-Jews that ours is a dogmatic, legalistic religion with no sense of empathy.” Furthermore, by failing to acknowledge that an interfaith relationship or marriage is neither an illegitimate choice nor an action to be mourned (and one which is now made by a majority of Jews), we serve to perpetuate a state of hostility within Judaism and to drive away committed members of our faith.
Membership and revenue are consistently declining even in synagogues that were once extraordinarily successful. Are we prepared for and willing to accept the ramifications of adopting policies, which further diminish our numbers?
Oren M. Spiegler
Upper St. Clair
Day school crosses denominational lines
Thank you for last week’s report about nationwide trends in Jewish day school enrollment (“Jewish school enrollment up — census,” Dec. 3). Your report shared the findings of an AVI CHAI census showing Orthodox day schools with strong enrollment figures nationwide, and mixed results for non-Orthodox schools.
Since the report refers to community day schools and Solomon Schechter schools in particular, I wanted to share a few clarifying facts with regard to our local situation:
• Pittsburgh’s Community Day School is a Solomon Schechter Day School that acts, in many ways, as a community day school. We are inclusive and pluralistic, offering Pittsburgh’s Jewish families the substantive brand of a Schechter school with the welcoming embrace of a community school.
• Evidence of our progress in this regard is our steadily increasing diversity. We are currently comprised of about 5 percent Orthodox, 1 percent Reconstructionist, 45 percent Conservative, 27 percent Reform, and 19 percent unaffiliated students.
• In spite of demographic and economic challenges, Community Day School has robust class sizes in each grade, averaging 31 students (two sections) per grade in grades K-8.
These data point to the crucial role Community Day School plays, along with Hillel Academy and Yeshiva Schools, in Pittsburgh’s broader Jewish community.
Avi Baran Munro
(The author is the head of Community Day School.)