Clarifying the fortress mentality
While we at Temple Micah appreciate the article you published on the Temple Micah Storefront Project (“Is the Jewish future in a storefront? Aug. 29), I would like to take a moment to correct a misimpression that the article conveys, namely that we consider synagogues to be buildings “designed” to be “fortresses.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Marshal Sklare described the American Synagogue as an “ethnic church” in the 1950s. By this, he meant that synagogues were places where Jews could feel comfortable in and retain the distinctive cultural features of their Ashkenazic Jewish heritage.
By the 1990s American synagogues had to a degree taken on a fortress mentality in struggling to maintain this ethnic flavor and combatting the acculturation that was transpiring. This led to a rebirth in synagogue life where synagogues reconceived themselves as spiritual centers, which entailed dialogue and conversation with the wider cultural environment. This led to worship renewal, a new theology of healing, re-invigorated commitment to social justice and revitalized education on all levels.
The Micah Storefront Project will extend this re-inspired spiritual center definition of the synagogue by carrying it outside the actual walls of the synagogue building. In doing this, we are expanding the very definition of synagogue. We fully believe that synagogues stand at the vibrant critical center of Jewish life and will continue to do so for many years into the future.
RABBI DANIEL G. ZEMEL
The future is on Seven Locks Road
Regarding the revelation in the Aug. 29 story “Is the Jewish future in a storefront?”: “…it’s easier in some ways to wake up and bring your kids to an ice cream shop than to synagogue.” It is pertinent to note that on any given Saturday, on a short stretch of Seven Locks Road in Potomac, between Postoak and Gainsborough roads, one can see dozens of children walking to the area synagogues. None look unhappy, none look sleep or ice cream deprived. So, if one is really questioning where the Jewish future is, the answer lies on that short stretch of Seven Locks Road.
This powerful country must do the right thing on immigration
The Washington Jewish Week “Letters to the Editor” section shouldn’t necessarily be a tit-for-tat forum, but it is fascinating (and disappointing) that people will try to defend the indefensible Trump immigration policy. There is enough precedent and direction in our sacred texts to support the humane care of the stranger.
The most powerful and wealthy country on this planet, more than 325 million strong, certainly has the capacity to handle the surge of immigrants at the southern border and process those individuals standing in line and going through the standard process to enter this country.
Inhumane, unsanitary detention centers and the continued separation of families are unconscionable under any circumstances.
Yes, the immigration dilemma is complicated, but that isn’t an excuse to deviate from doing the right thing for the right reason. And, yes, what we read and study in synagogue should inform our actions.