Sled races are cruel to dogs
I was disappointed to read the sports feature about Blair Braverman, the first Jewish woman to complete the Iditarod sled-dog race (“Dog Lady,” March 28). I believe that Braverman provides good care to her dogs, and does not condone abuse within the Iditarod world.
However, this “sport” is inherently cruel and dangerous for the animals, prior to, during and after the race. While it is true that many dogs enjoy running with their people, these racing dogs obviously have no choice in whether or not to participate in the often life-threatening Iditarod experience. Human athletes have the ability to choose or decline participation in all true sports.
Living conditions for these dogs are often inhumane, as is the race itself. Many dogs are seriously injured, and deaths occur every year. One could easily argue that involvement in the Iditarod violates Torah commandments regarding compassion for animals, and the tenet of tikkun olam. While I applaud Jewish firsts in most endeavors, this one makes me sad.
SHIRLEY CHARNEY FELDMAN
Blumenthal story should have been about pride
I was eager to read your reporting about my congregation’s rabbi, Jacob Blumenthal, being hired as the new chief executive of the Rabbinical Assembly (“Gaithersburg rabbi picked for top job,” April 18). His appointment to this critically important role is a testament to both his numerous accomplishments as a congregational rabbi and the respect he has earned from his rabbinical colleagues. A native of this area, he represents the kind of local kid does good story for which all of us in the Greater Washington Jewish community could and should take pride.
Instead, your coverage focused on the hardship Shaare Torah faces finding Blumenthal’s replacement. Talk about burying your lede!
In many ways, Blumenthal will be irreplaceable for our congregation. Without his guidance and leadership since the very early days, it is doubtful that we could have evolved into the community we are today. It is hard to imagine Shaare Torah without him. That said, as my co-congregant David Frieman stated in the article, we have already begun the process to identify his successor and I am confident that the leadership of the synagogue will be successful in that endeavor.
Focusing on the impact Blumenthal’s departure will have on Shaare Torah is akin to if back in 2008 the Chicago Tribune had reported Barack Obama’s election to the presidency exclusively in terms of what it would mean to the Illinois congressional delegation. Such reporting would have missed the larger and far more important story.
Blumenthal is going to be missed by Shaare Torah, but his ascension to this role means his impact will be far greater for both the Conservative movement and the Jewish people as a whole. I am very proud of his accomplishment and wish your reporting had been focused appropriately.
Be Jewish. Get a shot
I am appalled at the spread of measles within the chasidic communities (“Synagogues bar the unvaccinated,” April 18). Judaism stresses health, and Jews’ refusal to be inoculated is a danger to us and is in contradiction to Orthodox boards of rabbis.
Hopefully, those who are foolish will gain sense and not be responsible for an epidemic.
RABBI PHILIP WENDKOS
$3.8 billion earns a say in Israeli politics
In his April 25 letter “Supporting Israel = pro-Israel,” Warren Manison insists that “being pro-Israel should mean supporting what the people of Israel want, not what American Jews want. It is wrong for American Jews to interfere in Israeli politics. They should make aliyah, participate in the Israeli electoral process and place their children in the IDF protecting the Jewish state.”
So, why doesn’t he make aliyah? As to “It is wrong for American Jews to interfere in Israeli politics,” decision-making and responsibility go hand in hand. Thanks to lobbying by the American Jewish community, Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. aid: $3.8 billion. If the United States helps pay Israel’s bills, Americans — including American Jews — are entitled to a say in Israeli affairs.
JOHN H. WILCOX