Letters to the editor December 19

Letters to the editor December 19

Hypothetical history

Regarding the Nov. 14 book review, “What if Anne Frank’s sister, Margot, survived? Book poses question,” I would like to thank Hilary Daninhirsch for her review of “Margot,” and for her pointing out Ellen Feldman’s book, “The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank,” as another example of a novel imagining the survival of a different resident of Anne Frank’s secret annexe, in that case Peter van Pels.

I would add that Philip Roth’s “Ghost Writer,” in a secondary plot line, toyed with the premise that Anne Frank herself had survived the war and was living in America under an assumed identity.

Ah, the allure of hypothetical history!

Laurie Zittrain Eisenberg

Squirrel Hill

Charity beyond home

I was bemused to read Abby W. Schachter’s discussion of tikkun olam (“Time to redefine tikkun olam,” Dec. 12). She assails the “left-liberal” definition of tikkun olam, saying, “there appears to be nothing wrong with the world that Judaism does not command us to fix.” She then proposes a charity-begins-at-home model, and wraps it up with an anecdote that suggests that it also ends at home.

The child in her story demurred at being kind to her own sister — it seemed like a totally new concept to her — as a first step to repairing the world, and since she wasn’t able to take that step, she took no steps. Perhaps if kindness to those at home had been expected and taught, it wouldn’t need to be a project, and the child could have been encouraged to address her efforts to the greater circle of community. That is the way it has always been in my family.

In the 1970s, they used to call my type of Jew “bleeding-heart liberal.” The response to that was, “better a bleeding heart than no heart.” I’m not content to wait for messianic deliverance — too many people are suffering now — and I think that a community that looks outward to help others, rather than inward to benefit only itself, is a better, kinder community. The “I’ve got mine, who cares if you get yours?” attitude is alien to my understanding of Judaism, and of humanity. We are all one people on one planet, and caring for each other is how we heal the world — one person at a time, perhaps, but not confined within the walls of one house.

Naomi Weisberg Siegel

Fox Chapel