Letters | Dec. 19, 2019


Not serious enough about Chanukah

“Getting Serious about Chanukah” (Dec. 5) refers to the “historical, biblical origins of Chanukah.” The books of 1 and 2 Maccabees, which tell the foundational story of the holiday, are not part of the Hebrew Bible at all. They first appear in the Apocrypha, post-Biblical Jewish writings that did not make it into the Jewish canon, though Catholics do consider them part of their Bible.

When I visited Addis Ababa in 1989 to advocate for the emigration of Ethiopian Jews, among the gifts I brought for the children were pencils inscribed “Happy Chanukah.” Because Ethiopian Jews were not familiar with post-Biblical Jewish texts, the children had no familiarity with the holiday.

Chanukah is far from being “a collection of biblically inconsequential festival evenings.” Maybe “getting serious about Chanukah” should include understanding the fascinating story of how the holiday began and evolved over generations.



The writer is rabbi emerita of Adas Israel Congregation in Washington.

Fueling the fires of BDS

Barbara Green has written a long-overdue piece about how Israeli soldiers have resorted to overly repressive tactics against Palestinian civilians (“Israel and U.S. Jews must break their shared silence,” Voices, Dec. 12).

Although Palestinians have launched over the years many acts of violence against Israeli civilians, there is still a difference between justice and revenge. Ignoring this situation only fuels boycott, divestment and sanctions movements worldwide.

Many Israeli senior military officials over the years have advocated
what is referred to as a Gaza Marshall Plan. It is acknowledged that there is at least a 40 percent unemployment rate among Palestinians living in Gaza. However, any economic development plan intended to reduce acts of violence has always been rejected by the Netanyahu-led government. They fear that any construction materials used in such a plan will be exploited by Hamas for military use.

Such paranoia on the part of the Israeli government is counterproductive. Israel is supposed to be an oasis of democratic values in a hostile region. International public perceptions that contradict this endangers Israeli security more than the actual military threats it faces.


The IDF is acting to protect Jews

In “Israel and U.S. Jews must break their shared silence,” Barbara Green urges everyone to speak out the whole truth regarding “the violence of Israeli policy in the West Bank.” I agree that we need to speak the whole truth. Unfortunately, much of the truth seemed to be absent at the event Green attended. Jews in Judea and Samaria live within an Arab population that is hostile to them. In Hebron, for example, the Jews are surrounded by Arabs, and without IDF protection they would be murdered. That is precisely what happened in 1929 when 67 Jews were murdered by the Arab population, and the rest had to flee.

The IDF needs to implement tough measures, sometimes even involving teenagers, like the 15 year old mentioned in the article, in order to protect the Jews.
Sadly, we have seen Arabs as young as 13 stab Jews. Unfortunately, many left-leaning groups including Breaking the Silence believe that the only
solution to this problem is to remove the Jews from the hostile Arab population. Why should any Jew be forced to leave their home just because the Arabs do not want them there?

Jews have every right by international law and their historic attachment to the land of Israel to live anywhere in the land of Israel. If the Arabs have a problem with Jews living among them and encourage violence, why is it the Jews who should be punished? If we want to know the whole truth, these are the questions that we should be asking.

Silver Spring

Here’s how to destroy Israel

While Breaking the Silence recruited four former members of the IDF to tell their stories of bad Israeli soldiers, the group is silent about the tens of thousands of IDF soldiers who have served honorably and risked their lives not only to save fellow Israelis, but to avoid harming Palestinians (“Israel and U.S. Jews must break their shared silence,” Voices,
Dec. 12).

Breaking the Silence, J Street and Americans for Peace Now, referenced as sponsors for the event, are only interested in railing against isolated cases of abuse by Israelis. They are silent on terrorist attacks, rockets, invasion tunnels and the calls for the destruction of Israel. The IDF stands between the Palestinians and the safety of Israelis.

Breaking the Silence and the others are silent on what would happen if the
so-called occupation ended. Are Israelis safer since the withdrawal from Gaza? Are even Gazans better off? Ending the so-called occupation would mean no Jewish access to the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and the cave of the Patriarchs. It would create a barbaric state based on the bigotry of “No Jews Allowed” and still calling for the destruction of Israel.

By never criticizing Palestinians they are supporting Palestinian goals to kill Israelis and destroy Israel.

Silver Spring

How do Jared and Ivanka do it?

The fine Dec. 5 article “Babies get bilingual at Fairfax playground” explored the importance of exposing young children “to the Hebrew language from an early age and all the benefits of dual language.”

Compare this to the choice made by First Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, who identify publicly with Orthodox Judaism and affiliate with Chabad.

Instead of hiring an Israeli nanny to teach their children Hebrew, the frum power couple employ an individual to tutor their offspring in (Mandarin) Chinese.

What sort of message does this send to Jewish parents in America about the importance of the lashon hakodesh (the “Holy Tongue” of Hebrew) in raising knowledgeable American Jews? That future commercial business interests trump pride in Jewish religion, heritage and culture?

Reisterstown, Md.

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