No magic data points
Regarding “Synagogues hesitant to reopen despite vaccine rollout” (March 25):
We appreciate your spotlight on synagogues and the work our colleagues have done to keep their communities relevant during the pandemic. So many congregations shifted to Zoom adult education, religious school on-line, training hundreds of seniors on how to use the computer, and much more. Beyond your profiled synagogues are dozens of synagogues (not all of them Orthodox) who have managed to hold some version of in-person services, programs and lifecycle events for months.
The question is not “whether” or “when” to reopen, as if we are waiting for a magic data point. The question is only “how” to implement appropriate protocols to keep those who wish to enter our buildings safe. Our experience hosting in-person Shabbat services has taught us that (1) it is possible to operate safely, in a modified way, even during a pandemic; (2) the process of “reopening” will be gradual, as there is considerable distance between keeping doors closed and returning to “normal”; and (3) we would benefit from the collective wisdom of the larger community.
We invite our community leaders to convene the discussions that will bring us further along the winding path of return.
RABBI MICHAEL SAFRA
B’nai Israel Congregation, Rockville
RABBI GREG HARRIS
Beth El Congregation of Montgomery County, Bethesda
She was still the first female Jewish mayor
I read with interest the article about Allison Silberberg’s bid for reelection to mayor of Alexandria (“Alexandria’s former mayor enters race,” April 8). For those interested in some historical perspective, it is worth noting that Silberberg was not the first or even the second Jewish mayor of Alexandria. Henry Strauss, a charter member of Beth El and of the B’nai Brith Mount Vernon Lodge, served as mayor of Alexandria from 1891-1897. Leroy Bendheim, a descendant of Beth El charter member Leopold Bendheim, served as Mayor from 1955-1961.
A lot of betrayal for a GS-12
It is time to dispel the myth that Jonathan Pollard’s life sentence was disproportionate or draconian, as described in Jonathan Tobin’s April 1 opinion piece, “Ignore Jonathan Pollard’s Terrible Advice.”
That Pollard spied for a U.S. ally is insignificant. His crime was not that he spied for Israel, but that he spied against the United States. Moreover, the sheer volume of the intelligence documents he stole was extraordinary, enough to fill a 6’ by 10’ room by his own assessment. In his December 1999 New Yorker article about the Pollard case, Seymour Hersh wrote that Pollard had betrayed elements of four major American intelligence systems.
In the end, Pollard was a low-level GS-12 analyst who had no idea what America’s intelligence community was providing to Israel. Jonathan Pollard’s life sentence was entirely just and remains so given his complete lack of remorse.
CDR. EDWARD B. NAIDAMAST