Letters to the editor December 5
Displeased with paper
I am extremely displeased to see that The Jewish Chronicle once again appears to be more of a Rupert Murdoch newspaper than a Jewish community one.
The Nov. 21 headline “Obama to Blame for loss of U.S. Credibility Abroad” is not only absurd, it also promotes a right-wing talking point. We all know that President Bush didn’t exactly leave office with a glowing overseas record. He was responsible for starting two wars, with the Iraq war being waged on erroneous intelligence. That might have done some damage to our credibility abroad.
There are certainly differing opinions of how President Obama is dealing with Iran as well as Syria. I for one like the idea of avoiding war and I am not alone in that thought.
I believe it is the obligation of our community newspaper to present a full range of opinions. President Obama has been treated disrespectfully on more than one occasion in this newspaper. With President Obama receiving 70 percent of the Jewish vote in the last election, I would argue that he should be treated with at least the same degree of respect President Bush was.
(Editor’s note: The Nov. 21 headline read, in its entirety, “WSJ columnist: Obama to blame for loss of U.S. credibility abroad.” The news story accurately reported the positions expressed by Wall Street Journal columnist and former Jerusalem Post Editor Bret Stephens, who spoke at a local Jewish community event. His positions do not necessarily reflect those of the Chronicle.)
Rabbi’s decision lauded
Congratulations to Rabbi Chuck Diamond and the Tree of Life-Or L’Simcha Congregations for taking the bold step of agreeing to marry interfaith couples. What are the others afraid of?
In 1982, my wife and I were married in Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church in McKees Rocks, and later that evening we were married under a chupah by a rabbi from Congregation Rodef Shalom in Youngstown, Ohio. We had two marriage licenses, two wedding ceremonies, two sets of wedding rings and two marriage contracts.
On Friday nights, we are at Temple Emanuel, and my devout Catholic wife knows the Hebrew. On Sunday morning, we are at Holy Ghost Church, and I know the Slavonic rite.
For 32 years, we have worked the Jewish Federation telethon, and we are members of the Lev Society. Furthermore, my wife and I have been the committee that represents Israel at the Pittsburgh Folk Festival since 2005. In those eight years, we have touched 33,773 people, including 8,254 school children. That has done more to improve Jewish-gentile relations in Pittsburgh than the Federation and all of its agencies combined have accomplished in 101 years. Furthermore, we made most of those school children actually say the word shalom.
The Torah does not say that a Jew cannot marry a gentile. The Torah says that your children should not marry: The Hittite, Girgashite, Amorite, Canaanite, Perizzite, Hivite, or the Jebusite. (Deuteronomy 7:3), or an Ammonite or a Moabite (Deuteronomy 23:4).
Those peoples have not existed as identifiable communities for almost 3,000 years. These prohibitions are meaningless today.
All religious traditions are superficial manifestations of a person’s intent to be holy. The traditions are superficial, but the intentions are genuine. If you do not respect another person’s intent to be holy, why should they respect your religious intentions?
In Numbers 12:1, Miriam and Aaron challenge Moses’ authority to speak for God, and they criticize Moses for marrying a Cushite woman. God rebukes Aaron and Miriam, and sternly explains to them that Moses is truly special. Then Miriam is struck with leprosy. All of Israel could not move for seven days until Miriam was cured of her leprosy. That is how God deals with Jews who criticize Jews who marry gentiles.
Unless and until the Pittsburgh Jewish community welcomes the interfaith couples openly and without reservations, the Pittsburgh Jewish community is going nowhere.
I an thrilled to learn that Tree of Life-Or L’Simcha Rabbi Chuck Diamond, my former Taylor Allderdice High School classmate, will perform interfaith marriage ceremonies (“Diamond to perform interfaith weddings with TOL-OLS backing,” Nov. 28). It was a long time coming.
He stated the case perfectly in saying what has typically been widespread rabbinic practice, “ … the policy is to be as welcoming as possible before the wedding and after,” but as for the wedding day, “ ‘well, sorry, we can’t be involved.’ ” It makes no sense.
My wife and I were married one beautiful sunny winter day at St. Petersburg Beach, Fla., Jan. 2, 2002. We selected this arrangement as our second choice as it was not possible for me to be married in my synagogue unless my wife went through what was essentially a process of conversion. Even if it had been our wish for her to complete the regimen, there would not have been sufficient time for her to complete it before the event.
The story reports that the Jewish intermarriage rate is an enormous 58 percent (and it is still climbing). We can debate whether that is something lamentable, but we cannot debate that it is rampant. As more rabbis come to participate in interfaith marriages, there will be a greater likelihood that those like me, individuals with longstanding Jewish ties, will maintain them and not become alienated from our synagogues and our faith.
Upper Sr. Clair