Letters to the Editor: December 4, 2014


No Sephardim on Vaad
Great to see Rabbi Shemtov on the Vaad (“Chabad rabbi joins D.C.’s Vaad,” WJW, Nov. 6). Still there is not one Sephardic rabbi on the Vaad, and there hasn’t been one for 12+ years. The Vaad rejected Rabbi Maroof based on Barry Freundel’s objection to Rabbi Maroof. Many people talked to members of the Vaad, but no substantial reason could be offered. In light of the person who openly objected, only one reason stands that explains why Rabbi Maroof was never accepted.
From washingtonjewishweek.com

Notable omission
Very glad to see the Vaad becoming more inclusive and hope this portends an attempt to welcome into the fold other Orthodox rabbis who hold pulpits at Orthodox congregations in the area, regardless of where they were ordained (“Chabad rabbi joins D.C.’s Vaad,”
WJW, Nov. 6). The exclusion of two of our area’s most prominent shuls is a notable omission.
From washingtonjewishweek.com

Thanks for the crossword
Thank you for placing the crossword puzzle in your newspaper. I usually read the d’var Torah first, but then try to work out the puzzle. I read the articles as the paper is now in front of me on the kitchen table all week. More advertisements seem to get read, too. Maybe it might be a good idea not to give the answers until the following week’s paper, as the paper will stay out in front of people and so be looked at more. That’s the way it worked this week for me.

Anyway, thank you for the puzzle. I hope others appreciate and the time, space and the expense to the paper you have made to have it.


Nonsensical statement
The following statement in your publication is nonsense: “I know that Rabbi Freundel and Rabbi Herzfeld have had strong disagreements when it comes to interpreting Jewish law and have had a different approach when it comes to how to perform their duties as a rabbi. I recognize there is a lot of deep-seated anger and mistrust between the Kesher and Ohev communities that stem from these disagreements.” (“Freundel scandal exposes tension between Orthodox synagogues,” WJW, Nov. 6).

There is no “deep-seated anger and mistrust” between the communities.

After Rabbi Herzfeld revived Ohev, Kesher became its main feeder of new families. There was no “deep-seated anger and mistrust” when the president of Kesher spent a Shabbat at Ohev Sholom. People from each synagogue visit the other frequently.

The tensions stemmed from the fact that the rabbi of Kesher was a bully. Rabbi Freundel grasped opportunities to divide the community by seeking to undermine Rabbi Herzfeld. Rabbi Freundel also sought to have a local nonreligious body drop its support for gay marriage by falsely claiming that 30 years earlier it had promised it would never take such a stand. Rabbi Freundel never hid his relentless desire to overawe any person he saw as a possible rival, whether Rabbi Herzfeld, Rabbi Maroof, or a lay Jewish institution.

Rabbi Freundel also allegedly exploited his converts and abused his power over them. The Kesher board was unaware of Rabbi Freundel’s bullying. The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and the Vaad Harabanim of Greater Washington (Vaad) failed to take sufficient action when confronted with concerns about Rabbi Freundel’s conduct. The only anger and mistrust that exists is toward the Kesher board, the RCA and the Vaad for failing to discharge their duties and for allowing this bully and fraud to thrive.

We tell converts that they must accept the yoke of the commandments to join the Jewish people. Perhaps these institutions could lead by example and accept their responsibility for failing to protect some of the most vulnerable members of the community.
Washington, D.C

Hatred on the Temple Mount
Imagine a Christian entering a synagogue, anywhere in the world, for any purpose with peaceful intent. Imagine a Jew entering an American church or many mosques with similar intent. Can anyone understand these scenarios leading to violence, even if the nonmember of the host religion prays silently? Would any government condone that violence?

Consider the current Temple Mount violence in that light. The very idea of a Jew walking around outside al-Aqsa was the excuse for the murder of many Israelis in what was called the Second Intifada, and the current Arab refusal to allow freedom of religion is just more of the same intolerance.

Rabbi Alana Suskin writes in favor of preserving the present situation (“On the Temple Mount … Keep the status quo,” WJW, Nov. 6, 2014), but how peace is possible in the face of this hate is difficult to see.

It’s parenthetically important to explore the unspoken conflict between Suskin’s opposition to religious freedom on the Temple Mount, and her colleagues on the left who support increased freedom for Jewish women at the Western Wall, a legitimate demand against extremist Jewish intolerance.
Needham, Mass. 

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