Letters to the editor June 19

Letters to the editor June 19

Tiller was a martyr
The choice of words that the anti-choice movement has been using for the last four decades ultimately instigated the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Maria Vitale’s letter (“Doctor’s murder condemned,” June 11) called abortion “violence” and referred to “pre-born children.” This is exactly the type of language that caused the violence that she claims to have opposed. Words really do matter.
If a person who is opposed to abortion is also predisposed to violent behavior, this type of rhetoric is bound to incite such a person to act in defense of his beliefs. This man visited Web sites such as the one hosted by the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, the organization for which Ms. Vitale speaks. One statement that repeatedly appears on the PPLF Web site is “Planned Parenthood has killed [sic] 3.5 million children [sic] by surgical abortion since 1970.” This is mighty provocative.
Dr. Tiller was a selfless physician who was committed to helping women who were in dire straits. Late-term abortions occur in the most horrific circumstances, such as in the case of anencephaly (no brain) or lack of other vital organs. Sometimes continuing a pregnancy endangers a woman’s life, and she has no choice but to terminate. Dr. Tiller saved women’s lives, and in the end, he was a true martyr.

Debbie Levy McKenney
Squirrel Hill

Special needs partnership
The Chronicle’s coverage of the Agency for Jewish Learning event on Sunday, June 7 (“Speaker focuses on Jewish children with special needs”), was greatly appreciated.
In the article, honoree Joan Charlson was identified as founding the special needs program at the Jewish Family & Children’s Service. In fact, the program at JF&CS was founded in 1996, and Joan was engaged as the special needs coordinator following the departure of Dr. Judith Braggins in 1999.
Following the grassroots efforts of parents and professionals in the mid-1990s, the Special Needs Task Force of the United Jewish Federation focused the community on the unmet needs of Jewish families and their children with special needs. In 1995, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation’s “Healthy Jewish Community Project” confirmed this need and granted funding.
A larger task force was created of professionals, parents and rabbis led by JF&CS and the Jewish Community Center. They envisioned a strategic plan called the Jewish Care Coordination Program to develop and implement services for Jewish families and their children with special needs.
Funding was also allocated to the Jewish Education Institute (now Agency for Jewish Learning) for the development of inclusive educational services and programs in area synagogues.
A collaborative spirit guides the relationships among the agencies that promote the inclusion of all members of our Jewish community. We know that Pittsburgh’s Jewish agencies and community will continue to work together in this spirit to provide innovative services to Jewish people with special needs.

Terry Feinberg Steinberg
and Laurie Gottlieb
Squirrel Hill

(Editor’s note: The authors are respectively the director for special education services at the Agency for Jewish Learning and the director for marketing and annual fundraising at the Jewish Family & Children’s Service.)

Cairo speech lauded
The Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee welcomes President Obama’s speech in Cairo, which sought to reorient the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world. We praise his firm commitment to the “unbreakable” and “strong bonds” between Israel and the U.S. and his clear condemnation of Holocaust denial, Israel bashing and anti-Semitism.
We are disappointed, however, that the president did not speak more forcefully about the danger of a nuclear Iran to Israel, moderate Arab nations and the United States. Having said that, we are excited to know that the president shares the PAJC’s vision for a more just and peaceful world, working to ensure “greater protection of religious freedom and respect for democratic values.”
We believe that the security and well being of the Jewish community is connected to that of all groups in America. Consequently, PAJC works hard to support democracy and pluralism, promote intergroup relations to achieve social harmony and cohesion, and build coalitions to advance shared interests.
We are especially encouraged to know that, like us, the president believes in the power of interfaith dialogue to build bridges between peoples. Our Caplan-Lieber Human Relations Award, Catholic-Jewish Educational Enrichment Program, Christian-Jewish, Hindu-Jewish and Muslim-Jewish dialogues have all contributed immeasurably to reduce stereotyping, anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.

Deborah Fidel

(Editor’s note: The author is executive director of the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee.)

Paper assailed on Obama’s record
I believe that it was in a late April issue of The Jewish Chronicle that you devoted a large portion of the front page as a positive assessment of Barak Obama’s first 100 days in office written by a Democrat politician, who happens to be Jewish. I also happen to be Jewish and one of a minority of Jews who is a Republican by choice. Reading Wendy Wasserstein’s quoted article made me wonder as to the intellect of The Jewish Chronicle’s staff.
Are you aware that during our new president’s 100 days serving our country he contradicted many of the vows he promised his voters who elected him. Let’s start with his promise of removing all service personnel from Iraq immediately upon his taking office. When, in fact, he extended their stay for 23 months. What about his ending the Patriot Act, which he reinstated soon after becoming president? The people imprisoned at the base in Cuba were released and sent to their countries where they were tortured and imprisoned and in not such comfortable accommodations as they enjoyed in Cuba. He also told the American people while campaigning that he was going to have “change” in Washington — another lie. He’s appointed lobbyists and donors as members of his staff, and they are presently holding high positions.
If you can be open-minded as a member of The Jewish Chronicle staff, I would think that you owe it to yourself and to your readers to learn the truth about our president. If you noticed, I chose not even to mention his position on Israel.

Barbara Berns
Palm City, Fla.