Don’t knock ‘open’ Orthodox
I was disappointed in a recent letter to the editor responding to an article about Rabbanit Dasi Fruchter’s announced endeavor to begin an Orthodox congregation in Philadelphia (“Coverage of open Orthodox needs to be skeptical,” Aug. 16). The writer felt the need to gratuitously criticize the Washington Jewish Week for not criticizing “open” Orthodoxy.
Fruchter is a marvelous spiritual leader and her endeavor should be applauded. The comments are not only irrelevant to the article, but show a lack of understanding about the nature of “open” Orthodox shuls.
Modern Orthodoxy encompasses congregations with various “hashkafic” (philosophical) outlooks. Those differences notwithstanding, “open” Orthodox shuls, and specifically Beth Sholom Congregation and Talmud Torah in Potomac, demonstrate a commitment to “halachah” (Jewish Law), mitzvot, learning, Talmud, davening, Israel and spirituality that often sets the standard in the greater Orthodox movement.
While an “open” Orthodox shul may not be the right flavor for everyone (some of my best friends go to other Orthodox shuls), the letter writer’s desperate request for unnecessary critique shows a lack of experience with the breadth of Orthodoxy.
If he (or anyone else) wishes to spend a Shabbat with us in Potomac, I know our hospitality committee can accommodate. Mount Airy is not too far. Come and be part of our community. Experience our davening. See our teen minyan and our vibrant Sephardic minyan. Be a part of the numerous learning opportunities, including Daf Yomi. After being a part, then one may have the basis to express critique.
Predictions of Democratic demise unfounded
A recent letter to the editor cites the British Labour Party’s hostility to Israel as the future position of the Democratic Party in the United States (“Democrats following path of British Labour,” Aug. 16). Nothing could be further from the truth.
Every time legislation concerning Israel has come before the U.S. Congress, the vote in the Senate has often been something like 95-2 in support of Israel and the vote in the House of Representatives has often been something like 400-10. Supporters of Israel have racked up these kinds of overwhelming margins for the last 20 or 30 years. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken to joint sessions of Congress several times and has gotten 20 or 30 standing ovations each time from both Democrats and Republicans.
More than 40 state legislatures have overwhelmingly voted against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, and anti-BDS legislation has been signed by governors of both parties. Support for Israel is rock solid in both the Democratic and Republican parties.
Leftist opponents of Israel have been predicting a decline of support for Israel for decades. There is exactly zero evidence that this has taken place.
Jewish peoplehood goes beyond religion
A recent letter to the editor purports that Judaism is only a religion, just like Protestantism and Catholicism (“American Jews’ nation is the United States,” Aug. 23). This is the basic premise of the American Council for Judaism, with which the author is associated.
For me and most Jews, this is only one part (albeit a very significant part) of a more nuanced and expansive enterprise we call Judaism. The Tanach tells us that we were a people before we were a religion. We have 4,000 years of culture, history, language, literature and an unbroken desire in our hearts for a homeland in Eretz Israel, all of this in addition to religion.
When I travel anywhere in the world and meet a fellow Jew, there is an instant bond not because of our religious values — which typically differ a lot — but because we are part of the same people.