Letters | Oct. 10, 2019


A volunteer should love his labor

I read Eli Reiter’s “Birthright should pay its non-Israeli trip leaders” (Voices, Sept. 17) with great sadness. He says that volunteer leaders should be paid, saying it will “send a message to Jewish teachers across the world that their work is valued.” He talks about how much time he spent troubleshooting and being available and the amount of work
involved. He glosses over the fact that his housing and meals were paid for.

The saddest thing to me was Reiter’s negation of the value of volunteerism. Volunteers put in countless hours of hard work. The projects they choose to work on should be labors of love. I worked as a volunteer for B’nai B’rith Hillel for years, stuffing envelopes, putting educational kits together and whatever was needed. I once painted a life-sized model of a Jewish Civil War veteran that had been on a tour and needed quite a bit of love to make him presentable again. I worked as a volunteer counselor in a free clinic. I have volunteered for 26 years with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, working in a hot kitchen with participants so we could teach visitors about various cultures.

Perhaps Reiter should take a second look at his idea of volunteering. If he found the work so onerous, why did he go on Birthright a second time? And maybe he should ask himself why volunteer labor should be less valued than paid labor.



Pogrom? No. Czar? Yes.

The WJW editorial “The brotherhood of 5779” (Sept. 26) noted New York Times columnist Bari Weiss found an important distinction between pogroms of the past that were government-instituted attacks on Jews, and where the authorities looked the other way, and the Tree of Life mass shooting in Pittsburgh. In Pittsburgh, she said, the authorities and security services ran to help, and all the local communities acted as one to support the Jewish community.

President Donald Trump criticizes anti-Semitism, yet he is correctly criticized by the ADL for disbanding the unit in the Department of Homeland Security that tracks domestic terrorists like the Pittsburgh attacker.

Further, as did the Russian czars, he rules by divide and conquer. He stokes hatred against Jews for being “disloyal” if they vote against him. He uses other labels to denigrate other minorities. His purpose? Make people feel isolated and vulnerable. He touts himself as a savior. Savior or cynical manipulator?

Silver Spring

‘Seinfeld’ more than ‘even Steven’

In answer to the question “Is ‘Seinfeld’ still ‘fresh’ in 2019, like Netflix says it is?” (Arts, Sept. 26), a resounding “YES.” I can’t tell you how many people refer to “Seinfeld,” or use a Seinfeld-ism, not even realizing where it originated. “Chocolate babka,” “Jewish rye bread,” “master of my domain,” “they’re real and they are spectacular,” “Festivus” and so many more references.

There is a situation from a Seinfeld episode that is appropriate for every aspect of life. Even if someone never saw the show, they can laugh at a quote because the line is applicable and hilarious.The show was genius and will always be fresh — the characters are as human as we are.

Tucson, Ariz.

Chirac’s unprecedented admission

The Oct. 3 issue of WJW makes no mention of the passing of former French President Jacques Chirac. Unlike any of his predecessors, Chirac publically recognized French complicity in deporting thousands of its Jews to Nazi death camps. Two months after taking office in 1995, Chirac gave a speech where he said “These dark hours forever sully our history and are an insult to our past and our traditions. France, the homeland of the Enlightenment and the rights of man, a land of welcome and asylum, on that day (July 16, 1942) committed the irreparable. Breaking its word, it handed those who were under its protection over to their executioners.” Until 1995, no French government official ever addressed this painful subject.


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