Letters | Jan. 23, 2020


‘Get’-withholding husbands should be dead to us

Cheryl Kagan is right that the plight of agunot needs to be ended (“2020 is the year Maryland will finally help ‘chained’ Jewish Women,” Voices, Jan. 9). However,
the way to do that is not to have the Maryland General Assembly (or any secular body) pass laws, but for the Orthodox community make men who refuse to give their ex-wives a get face serious consequences and not remain respected members of the community.

For centuries, Jews who did nothing other than fall in love with and marry someone who was not Jewish were banned and presumed dead. Men who refuse to give a get, much less blackmail or extort, need to be told that they will face the same fate. After sitting shivah, their “widows” will be free to remarry.

It is time for the male-dominated Orthodox community to police itself and for everyone else to stop letting them to continue to get away with it.



Shaare Torah’s vote clarified

Thank you for your profile of Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, whom I consider to be both my friend and teacher (“Fearless Leader,” Jan. 16). Unfortunately, there is a misleading statement in this otherwise well-researched article. Shaare Torah did not vote recently “to allow non-Jewish family members to hold leadership positions” at our synagogue. The purpose of the vote was to grant membership privileges to non-Jewish partners of
Jewish members.

As members, these individuals are eligible to vote in congregational elections and may participate in, and be elected to lead, certain committees unrelated to religious life. They may not, however, assume executive leadership positions at the synagogue.


Don’t underestimate the power of pride

The Jan. 9 editorial “What is Jewish Pride?” minimized the impact of AJC’s #Jewishandproud campaign, asserting that “hashtags and photos” could not make a serious difference and noting that it played on “rosy notion(s) of Jewish pride.” These assertions largely miss the forest for the trees.

The campaign, which followed our landmark survey of American Jewish
experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism, galvanized support and unity and heightened awareness in at least 60 countries across the world; urging our community to stand up and our allies to reject anti-Semitism and provide support.

Jews cannot fight anti-Semitism alone. Only with the support of opinion leaders,
elected officials and allies from across the religious and ethnic spectrum will we succeed in marginalizing anti-Semites and providing security for our community.

Of course, hashtags on their own will not stop anti-Semitism. We will now to continue our important work to raise awareness about anti-Semitism and work collaboratively with our partners to find solutions. Thanks to #JewishandProud, we have a lot more allies to aid with this challenge.

Director, AJC Washington DC Region
Associate Director, AJC Washington
DC Region

Don’t write off the Neil Simon lovers

The glowing profile of Mosaic Theater Founding Artistic Director Ari Roth (Last Word, Jan. 9) threw some serious shade on playwright Neil Simon. We learned that Roth views Simon as an inferior writer and that he celebrates the “winnowing away” of the Jewish theater audience who appreciated his canon.

Presumably these folks have gone to their reward in Olam Habah (the World to Come). Now the Washington-area’s Jewish theater audience is much more sophisticated and refined and no longer has an “appetite for schmaltz and pandering.”

Indeed, much to his satisfaction, the audience may now be primed to uncritically receive the plays produced by Roth’s “Voices from a Changing Middle East” festival.


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