Letters 12/19


Helping special-needs kids
We were pleased to see “Day schools seek to accommodate special-needs students” (WJW, Dec. 5). We recognize the unique contributions of SULAM in the community, and we applaud the work of this fine program in addressing special needs. We wanted to share information about the work that the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital, the only Jewish day school in Washington, D.C., is pursuing on this front. At JPDS-NC we are leading an effort to address the special needs of students facing physical challenges as we strive to adhere to our mission of embracing diversity and fully responding to community needs. While this form of special needs work is different from that of SULAM, it is certainly in the spirit of making our school as open as possible to students with diverse needs such as mobility challenges.
The project will include several key changes designed to make our school welcome to all individuals. While our ultimate goal is to install an elevator at the north campus to allow access to multiple levels of the school building, the project includes broader measures to make the building more accessible and welcoming to students, parents and visitors with special needs. Indeed, this effort to enhance access to our school has made our entire school more sensitive to special needs, and we have incorporated accessibility measures to the greatest extent possible into the renovation of our new playground on the south campus as well as in our hallways, doorways, bathrooms, and stairwells. The accessibility initiative is part of a comprehensive campaign to advance the school on multiple fronts over the next several years.
We are proud of the work that JPDS-NC has begun and we invite the entire community to examine the full diverse needs of our young children and their families who seek a day school education.
Director of institutional advancement, Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital

Where are the protests?
After the Holocaust, we all cried out “Never again!” We assumed this would apply to all mass killings and genocide, not just to Jews. Can we now in good conscience blame the rest of the world for not coming to the aid of European Jews in World War II and then ignore the plight of the Syrians, of whom 120,00 have already been slaughtered and millions more displaced or homeless? Where are the protests? Where are the denunciations, offered with the same passion that we apply to other concerns?  Where are the angry editorials in WJW? Are these lacking because the president is a Democrat and American Jews are overwhelmingly Democratic? Can it really be true that support for President Obama and his policies trumps our traditional values of justice and compassion? If so, all I can say is: “For shame!”
Silver Spring

No war, no displacement
The article “Pessimistic on peace” (WJW, Dec. 12) states: “[j]ust 36 percent of Israelis believe their country has a moral responsibility to seek a solution to the plight of millions of Palestinian refugees.” This high percentage speaks volumes about the Jewish people.
President Obama declared at Cairo that, “For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers — for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond.” But there was no displacement brought by Israel’s founding. There is nothing in U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181 that required anyone to move. Nothing. The theme is a Jewish state, an Arab state and minorities with rights respected in both states. Further, Israel’s Declaration of Independence is consistent with 181. Read these documents; free yourself from the revisionist history imposed on the world.
Displacement did occur. It resulted from the war started by the Arabs, in violation of 181 and the U.N. charter. Palestinians fled from their homes for various reasons but the war was the common basis for all the displacement. No war, no displacement. The disaster for the Palestinians who fled Israel was caused by the Arabs starting and losing this war, and the awful treatment they received in the Arab nations. The moral responsibility for a solution belongs to the Arabs.
That 36 percent of Israelis feel this responsibility speaks to the humanity of the Jewish people, their moral sense of responsibility toward their neighbors, and their philosophy that action is required to ease the plight of others.

Enough already
To COPMA and its supporters — enough already. As a long-time supporter of and participant (as an actor) in Theater J, I can assure you that Ari Roth is not anti-Israel and neither am I. Ari has never — as that group’s leader suggests — questioned Israel’s right to exist. I won’t dignify such an outrageous and ridiculous attack with any further defense of this specious argument.
What COPMA is asking for is censorship of the worst kind. I lived through Vietnam when those of us who spoke up were attacked as anti-American and even further back when members of my own family were hounded by McCarthy and his ilk. Don’t turn the clock back.
Picketing is not the answer. As COPMA members already know, Ari has turned The Admission into a reading and discussion piece, rather than mounting a full production as originally planned. He has extended an olive branch of compromise; will you do the same? Understanding different points of view can only be liberating. Rather than picket, I urge you to come to a reading and discussion session and join in the conversation.
The arts must be free to tackle controversial subjects. Through art we can express difficult and sometimes painful themes and address the full gamut of issues — especially those needing a public platform to promote and advance mutual understanding. Let the readings be a marketplace where all voices may be heard.
Silver Spring

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  1. Barbara Rappaport’s letter is greatly appreciated, as are the hundreds of letters of support and record-breaking donations we’ve been receiving to support Theater J’s “Voices From a Changing Middle East” festival this spring. One important correction: The presentation of Motti Lerner’s new play, “The Admission” will not be a reading; it will be a bare-bones workshop staging — for 16 performances — reduced from the originally scheduled 34 full performances. The workshop presentation will be prefaced with context of what kind of dialogue our workshop is seeking from the audience, and will conclude with spirited conversation about the art and the issues raised by it in a series of probing, well-balanced panels. The performance of the play will allow for a full voicing of the play following a rich 4-week rehearsal process. While we’ll forgo a fancy set (the play calls for 6 locations, we’ll only use a few chairs, a single table, another table “offstage”) and have only a suggestion of costumes, the essence of the play’s voice will be well heard by the audience, fully invested by the actor with a powerful command of character and ownership of the text; even as that text continues to be refined throughout the workshop process. As the play has become richer during the course of this community controversy (absorbing many of the arguments articulated), so too will the workshop benefit from curious or concerned members of our community coming to experience the work in person; responding only after the artists have presented their nuanced, deeply explored performance. Those artists take solace in Barbara Rappaport’s expression of solidarity.


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