Letters, Feb. 18, 2015


Another ‘vaad’ not needed
The Beltway Vaad article (“Orthodox leaders create new council,” WJW, Feb. 12) was not really a
surprise if we think about it. I mean, people often have their own agenda when implementing change. Personally I have always been of the thinking, “If it ain’t broke …

Now one could argue that two vaads are better than one. Oy oy oy. Maybe the argument for another vaad could be the Jewish people needed a second vaad because the first one wasn’t functioning as it should. You know what I mean – not meeting the needs of the Jewish people. Well, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

[President Barack] Obama built his campaign eight years ago on fooling many of the Jewish people. Unfortunately, I was one of them. He kept saying we needed change. And look how much change he has done for the Jewish people. Don’t get me wrong, I do thank G-d for the release of Mr. Gross, but why did it take five years? Back to the reasons why we don’t need another vaad.

Change is not always a good thing. I once asked a great rabbi why I couldn’t do something and he replied, “Because it is written so in the Torah, and we don’t question Hashem.” So I believe we have one Torah and one vaad. I know there is only one vaad. Do you?


Rabbi [Uri] Topolosky said in this article the Beltway Vaad was created to fill a need currently not being filled. What needs have not been met by the Vaad of Greater Washington, I ask? Mishagas. This goes back to agenda. Maybe there is a reason that no one was able to be reached from the Washington Vaad, other than there was no time before the article went to print. You think?

I happen to know the rabbis on the Washington Vaad. They are the most upstanding rabbis/citizens one would ever wish or have the honor of knowing.

I have nothing against the rabbis who believe they have created another vaad. Possibly, I believe they could put their efforts toward a better project. Jews everywhere are living in fragile times. Personally, I would like to have a crisis-youth center for Jews in the Greater Washington community, and maybe it could be called Beltway Youth and Crisis Center.

All I am saying is the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington, Vaad Harabanim of Greater Washington, has proven itself time and time again to be outstanding throughout a period of many, many years. So why all of sudden do we need to create massive confusion?
Silver Spring

Praise for lawyer article
This is a fantastic piece! (“‘Street Lawyer’ mixes law and hip-hop,” WJW, Jan. 29)
From WashingtonJewishWeek.com

Evict rabbi
Evict him and have him pay for the eviction proceedings (“Rabbi Freundel won’t vacate synagogue-owned residence,” (WashingtonJewishWeek.com, Jan. 29)
From Facebook, Washington Jewish Week page

Criticizing Obama

I suppose that when the White House (administration) referred to (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu as “chicken sh*t,” (“White House tries to quell outrage after unnamed officials insult Netanyahu,” WJW, Oct. 30) that wasn’t such a breach of protocol. It seems as though we have a “teenager in chief” who is horrified and offended at much of what Israel does to defend itself, but when Saudi Arabia celebrates having a new king with a few beheadings, not a word from the White House.

There are some legitimate concerns that (President Barack) Obama, with his vast experience in the Middle East, and (Secretary of State John) Kerry, are making mistakes in connection with Iran. Rather than draw in members of Congress who might be helpful — and who will be necessary for any legislative changes that might be needed to implement a deal — and listening to other views, this administration feels that they know everything, and nobody understands the Iranians like they do.
From WashingtonJewishWeek.com

Vice consul aided Chagall
In his book review (“We’ll always have Paris, WJW, Jan. 29), Alan Elsner noted that Marc Chagall was arrested by the pro-Nazi Vichy authorities in France in early 1941, but “the U.S. consul in Marseilles helped secure Chagall’s release and then got him to America.” Actually, the U.S. Consul General in Marseilles was unhelpful to Chagall and other Jewish refugees seeking visas to the United States. It was a vice consul, Hiram (Harry) Bingham IV, who defied his superiors and intervened to bring about Chagall’s release from prison.

Bingham secretly assisted the American journalist Varian Fry, who arrived in France in 1940 on a mission to rescue artists and intellectuals, many of them Jews, from the Vichy regime and the Nazis.

They rescued more than 2,000 refugees, mostly by smuggling them across the Pyrenees Mountains into neighboring Spain. By helping Fry, Bingham was knowingly endangering himself. Note that the Czech consul in Marseilles, Vladimir Vochoc, was jailed by the Vichy authorities for helping anti-Nazi activists flee France, and spent two months in prison before he managed to escape; the Brazilian ambassador to France, Luis de Souza Dantas, was arrested by the Nazis in 1943 for issuing visas to refugees, and was deported to Germany; and the Mexican consul-general in Paris, Gilberto Bosques, was arrested and placed under house arrest because of his efforts to help Jewish refugees.

Furious German officials complained to the State Department about the Fry-Bingham rescue effort. The U.S. was not yet in the war and the Roosevelt administration sought to maintain friendly ties with the Nazis; so Secretary of State Cordell Hull cabled the American ambassador in Paris to order Fry to cease all “activities evading the laws of countries with which the United States maintains friendly relations.”  When Fry refused to comply, the Roosevelt administration in early 1941 revoked his passport and transferred Bingham to Portugal (and then Argentina), putting an end to their life-saving work.
Dr. Rafael Medoff
Director, The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies

Netanyahu speech
In the debate over whether Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu of Israel should give an address to Congress at the invitation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Republican leader John Boehner (“Congressional Dems facing tough choice,” WJW, Feb. 12), the real issue is not whether Israel can survive another two years of a hostile Obama administration, but whether Israel can physically survive an Iran with breakout nuclear capability that has threatened on numerous occasions to “wipe Israel off the map.”

[President Barack] Obama has expressed his open hostility to Netanyahu on many occasions, taking a conciliatory tone towards Islamic extremism that began with his speech from Cairo in 2009 that preceded the so-called “Arab Spring,” and has supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as well as apparently being prepared to accept the concept that Iran deserves the right to maintain the ability to produce enriched nuclear material that it claims is for peaceful purposes.

There may be genuine differences of opinions between allies, but on such a life or death issue for Israel, that equally threatens the Sunni Islamic American allies of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, there can be no compromise.  In effect, the Obama administration has chosen to take a hostile attitude towards the supposed break of protocol of not getting prior presidential approval for a speech to Congress, and forced Netanyahu to choose.

But, this is no choice, Netanyahu must make his case against a bad agreement with Iran, after 10 years of futile negotiations.  He owes it to his people and his conscience to do all he can to stop the Shia Islamic extremist state from gaining the ultimate weapon.
Netanya, Israel

More cohesion needed, not proliferation of leadership groups
The suggestion that the formation of a new vaad “is all positive and not intending to create tension or conflict” seems to be open to interpretation, once the objectives of the new organization are reviewed. (“Orthodox leaders create new council,” WJW, Feb. 12).

The new vaad members believe that local rabbis should be empowered to do their own conversions. Members will continue to provide kosher certification for restaurants, and will add the new requirement for brides and grooms to sign a rabbinic prenuptial agreement prior to their wedding. While some of these aims may well represent positive moves, they indicate a lack of satisfaction by the members of the new vaad with the current vaad, the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington.

The Washington Jewish Week regularly includes reports on the declining numbers of affiliated Jews, suggesting that we need more cohesion, not a proliferation of leadership organizations. We wish the new vaad well as it gets established, but I fear that conflicts will soon be apparent.

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