I was very disappointed to see your Jan. 23 edition did not have any coverage of the retirement announcement of Northern Virginia Rep. Jim Moran (D). The 24-year member of Congress had many disputes over the years with the local Jewish community over Israel issues and other matters and his comments blaming the Jewish community for the Iraq war were major national news in 2003. It would have been nice to hear what some of his critics — and even some of his supporters — in the pro-Israel community thought about his decision to step down.
Thriving Conservative shuls
I’m not sure what Andrew Apostolou’s research sample was for his piece “Can Conservative Judaism Recover” (WJW, Jan.9) but there are several Conservative synagogues in Greater Washington that are thriving, rebounding, and even growing, in addition to Tifereth Israel. The renaissance happening at my own congregation, Har Shalom in Potomac, is but one such example.
Apostolou’s generalized assumptions about “religious vapidity and leadership vacuity” disparage the vibrancy that exists in many synagogue communities, and the talent and depth of their rabbis, cantors and educators.
Mr. Apostolous’s analysis of the intermarriage situation is also off-base. Intermarriage is a reality in the American Jewish community that cannot be addressed solely by conversion. While I am a great proponent of conversion to Judaism, I do not believe that we mimic Reform by giving serious thought to the roles non-Jewish spouses and parents might occupy in synagogue life. Many of these people (who may or may not eventually convert) are active promoters of their own spouse’s and children’s Jewish life, education, participation, etc., and they support their family’s synagogue affiliation with their time, money, and presence.
Each synagogue will interpret differently how to honor and welcome these
non-Jewish family members, but to imply that conversion is the only authentic response is myopic. One niche that Conservative Judaism uniquely occupies is steadfast loyalty to Jewish tradition along with concomitant serious
engagement with people across the spectrum of religious practice and identity.
RABBI ADAM J. RASKIN
Congregation Har Shalom, Potomac
In its latest misleading presentation, J Street states: “Kerry is serious about peace. Is Netanyahu?” (WJW, Jan. 2). Thus, it is the Israeli leader, not anyone on the Palestinian side, whose commitment to peace is questioned. This, during the same week Abbas and the Palestinian Authority welcomed the release of Palestinian murderers as an integral part of the negotiation process, hardly a confidence builder.
I hope that, with appropriate American facilitation, an agreement can be achieved, freely acceptable to the Israeli government and a majority of its people, which assures Israeli security.
But for J Street, in its effort to provide cover for the Obama administration pressure on Israel it consistently hopes for, it has almost always been “blame Israel first.”
One can believe in two states — and that borders and security arrangements should not be imposed on Israel. Many regard the Obama administration’s foreign policy record as mixed. Its desire for a foreign policy “win” could result in intense pressure on Israel to make a bad deal. This is all the more reason for mainstream Israel supporters, in contrast to J Street, to be vigilant regarding administration efforts, and not be the administration’s lapdog.
J Street still criticizes Israel’s Operation Cast Lead and its ground incursion against Hamas in Gaza in 2008 after years in which thousands of rockets from there had been fired into Israel. How many more thousands of rockets and civilian Israeli casualties would it have taken for J Street to support a sufficiently strong response?
Instead, it called for a cease-fire within a week, before the conclusion of this justified act of self-defense. Rabbi Eric Yoffie, a leader of Reform Jewry and two-state supporter, condemned J Street’s position as “morally deficient” and “appallingly naive.”
Its naive approach remains a much greater threat to Israel’s future than Netanyahu’s approach, for all his faults.
With the article “Kerry is serious about peace: Is Netanyahu?” (WJW, Jan. 2), Alan Eisner, the spokesman for J Street, has defined that organization as being
anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. Certainly Mahmoud Abbas has not been forthcoming in the recent negotiations, refusing even to make the slightest of concessions, while Netanyahu has offered the Palestinians a viable state at the urging of Kerry.
Kerry has not played an impartial role in the negotiations, siding with the Palestinian Authority at every step. His recently suggested final peace agreement has been presented to a number of U. S. senators touring Israel and has been met by the individual senators, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), with a negative
response, as obviously it demands much of Israel and little of Mahmoud Abbas.
The Palestinian Authority has not laid the foundation for peace as terrorism continues at an exponential pace and hatred is constant, both in the schools and the media.
J Street with its plan for the future, including only a short-term presence of mixed forces in the Jordan Valley and its attacks on the present government of Israel, has demonstrated its true character.
The editorial “A Christian awakening” (Jan, 9) stated, “Arab Christians score higher than Israeli Jews on academic achievement tests.” May we have the source, degree of “higher” and statistical significance of this assertion? There should at least have been an “According to…” preceding it.
From the editor: The conclusion is from a report by Israel’s Central Bureau of
Statistics and was cited in publications including the Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303849604579278722657163880) and the Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/01/05/protecting_israels_christian_minority_marmur.html)
Correction for the “Diet Doctor” article last week, Dr. Mennen wants to add:
Although metabolic changes begin for many women at around age 40, actual menopause does not start until later in the 40s for