Letters | July 29, 2020


No to waivers

Regarding “Want to pray with a synagogue minyan? Sign this COVID-19 waiver first” (July 23): The policy of requiring negligence liability waivers is an example of overreach on the part of those synagogues requiring them. And to require them for participation in outdoor services where each congregant is wearing a mask and is socially distancing from everyone else is just silly. In fact, the policy has nothing whatever to do with personal safety; its only goal is to protect the synagogue from a very unlikely event. Requiring negligence liability waivers from their congregants is a hostile act treating their own members as adversaries.

And it’s all so unnecessary. In any negligence case, the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff. Assuming that a congregant would want to sue his synagogue, exactly how is it that he can prove that he contracted the virus that causes COVID-19 due to the negligence of a synagogue? At the very least, a plaintiff would have to show that he contracted the virus at a synagogue event and that the synagogue failed to exercise due care. If either element is unproved, the case fails.

The appropriate thing to do from both a human perspective as well as a legal one is to simply have congregants sign an acknowledgment that we are in the midst of a pandemic and that the congregant acknowledges that even with proper safety precautions that it is possible that the congregant may be exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. Liability waivers are simply unnecessary and do not speak well of those congregations requiring them.



Lay off of the Holocaust words

Regarding “Shame on Nancy Pelosi for endorsing Ilhan Omar” (Voices, July 23): I agree with Farley Weiss that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should feel shame in her endorsement of racist and anti-Semitic Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). But I believe that Pelosi’s embrace of shame should not be limited to her endorsement. Just a few days later, Pelosi labeled federal law enforcement officers as “storm troopers” demonstrating not only her ignorance of the Holocaust but also a shameful lack of sensitivity to the emotional and historical anguish of the Jewish community.

Let’s also add House Majority Whip James Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) calling federal officers a “Gestapo police force” onto the Hall of Shame. Mr. Clyburn, you were wrong a year ago when you brushed off my feelings about the Holocaust as less “personal” than that of Omar. You may have apologized for your comments, but obviously you understand very little.

For me and many others who lost siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents to the murderous actions of the Gestapo storm troopers in the Shoah, we have horrifically clear definitions of what these words mean. Whatever we think of the recent actions of federal law enforcement, is there anything beyond the politicization and weaponization of the Holocaust that suggests such correspondence?

To my fellow Jewish Americans regardless of your political leanings, I ask that whenever we are abused by the trivialization of the Holocaust, we come together, we reject thoughtless comparisons, we speak out forcefully as part of a resolve that the memories of the 6 million and implications of their loss are forever
precious to us.


Convince me, Democrats

I was pleased to read that there is now a Jewish engagement director for the Biden campaign (“Keyak shares Biden campaign’s plan to get Jewish vote,” July 23). However, the seven interview questions left me wanting more context and challenging insight. Particularly, when the same WJW edition contained an opinion piece condemning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for endorsing Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in her Democratic primary challenge.

Why were there no questions asked of Keyak that addressed the anti-Semitic remarks, without genuine apology, of Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)? Indeed, Omar recently sent a letter to her supporters highlighting financial support offered to her challenger by “Wall Street.” Coincidentally, only Jewish sounding names were listed. Let us not forget the watered down Resolution 183 passed by the House. Rather than specifically condemning anti-Semitism which was the original intent, it condemned all forms of hate. Is it not appropriate to ask Keyak of the developing 2020 Democratic Party Platform and what its stated positions may be regarding the BDS movement and supporting the defensive needs of Israel?

How does the increasing pull to the left influence the Democratic platform positions? I am an independent Jewish voter struggling with the distasteful political climate of today. Keyak rightly addresses the increasing anti-Semitism in this country but places all blame at the feet of our current president. Perhaps, but please convince me and other independent Jewish voters that hatred of Jews is not increasingly emanating from the Democratic party as well.


Nasked questions

Regardless of one’s personal politics, there are important questions that the Biden campaign’s Jewish engagement adviser, Aaron Keyak, should have been asked. Questions such as: What does Biden plan on doing to address the rising tide of anti-Semitism in the Democratic party and will his administration’s effort to “repair the damage” that they say the president has done to the peace process include moving the U.S. Embassy back to Tel Aviv? Instead, we had a page of party advertising disguised as journalism.

Silver Spring

Oy, the anti-Semitism

I am writing in response to the laudatory review of the mini-series “Unorthodox” (“Watch ‘Unorthodox’ just for Shira Haas’ incredible performance,” July 23). I began watching “Unorthodox” because I generally enjoy Yiddish and German language cinema.

I must say that, unfortunately, some of the characters mumbled their Yiddish lines as though they had learned the language in correspondence school. More important, however, is that the series is filled with anti-Semitic tropes.

Contemporary anti-Semitic propaganda attempts to present Jews as the true Nazis, often depicting the star of David as a swastika.

Consistent with this idea, the series presents the Haredi Satmar community of Brooklyn as a pseudo-Nazi regime that has surrounded Williamsburg with a metaphorical electrified fence (the eruv) to prevent anyone from escaping. Within this Yiddish concentration camp, the rebbe deploys his goon squad of “Moishes” to intimidate dissidents and subjugate women.

The heroine, Esty, escapes Williamsburg and flees to Germany, depicted as a wonderful and welcoming land. Esty’s escape to Deutschland seems designed to transfer the burden of Nazism from the Germans to the dreadful Jews themselves. In Germany, Esty finds personal liberation in the lovely Wannsee (Hitler is nowhere to be found) and beds a handsome German lad who, unlike her schmucky Jewish husband, is able to satisfy her. This juxtaposition evokes the hoary German myth that only the lusty German “stallion” can please the passionate Jewish “mare.” It is also worth noting that in the entire series, almost all the Jewish characters are malignant and disgusting while everyone else is warm and gracious.

I recognize that “Unorthodox” was written and produced by Jews and is based upon a memoir by a Jewish author. Jewish self-loathing, however, is hardly a new phenomenon.


A nice buzz

Regarding “The buzz over the book of Deuteronomy” (D’var Torah, July 23: Without bees (Devorim), the beauty of nature would cease to endure. Without words (Devarim), communication would cease. May we always have Devorim and Devarim to beautify and guide our existence. Fabulous article! Yasher Koach.

Yorba Linda, Calif.

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