Letters to the editor May 27

Letters to the editor May 27

Specter was ‘rare centrist’
Your May 20 article, “Specter lost ground in areas with Jewish voters,” asks, “Why is that?”
Specter was that rare centrist who voted mostly blue and sometimes red. And he paid the price of alienating the left -leaning liberal Jews who are holier than all others. I live among these, who also hope to give Palestinians a “fair break.” Israel is anxious to do so, with peace.
Sometime back, at an American Jewish Committee annual convention in Washington, Specter was asked from the floor of 600-700 attendees, “How come Jews don’t vote for you?” Specter’s retort, “That is because they are waiting for Franklin Roosevelt to come back.” My friends need wait no longer.
Howard E. Braun
‘USYers’ were the collateral
Brandt Gelman described many Shavuot evening offerings in his May 20 story, “Staying up to study with Pittsburgh’s Jews has its rewards.” However, I would like to highlight some amazing learning he missed.
I certainly could go on about the all-night learning the adults did at Congregation Beth Shalom. However, I want to focus more specifically on what was going on at the other end of the hall.
After their participation in the community learning, just under 30 “USYers” (members of the Conservative youth group United Synagogue Youth) continued with their own all-night study. Their self-led sessions ranged in topic from “Is God’s Judgment Always Correct” to “Where does the Torah Come From” and “A Comparison of Conversion in Reform Conservative and Orthodox Judaism” to name just a few.
This tikkun was the idea of the teens, planned by the teens and run by the teens.?I am amazed by their dedication.  It reminds me of the midrash that states: God only agreed to give us the Torah when the Israelites announced that their children would be their collateral.  May we all be worthy to have guarantors such as these.

Rabbi Michael Werbow
Squirrel Hill

(The author is the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Shalom.)
Thomas, Kagan stances remembered
In Lee Chottiner’s May 20 article, “Specter lost ground in areas with Jewish voters,” he did not mention two events that some voters may have considered.
One that I will never forget was [Specter] being the point man in the Republican effort to confirm Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court. His relentless questioning of Anita Hill on her sexual abuse accusation certainly led to [Thomas’] confirmation. Thomas has proven to be less than what is expected of a Supreme Court justice.
Also, Sen. Specter was one of the few negative votes when Elena Kagan was nominated by President Obama to be U.S. Solicitor General. When asked recently if he would vote to confirm her for the Supreme Court, he was noncommittal.
Maybe some people didn’t forget when they cast their votes.

Leonard Weitzman