Ever stop to ask the salary of the woman washing dishes on Shabbat in your neighbor's home, or the gentleman mowing your friend's lawn about his vacation, or the nanny raising the children down the block whether she had time to sit down for lunch today? If you did, you most likely discovered an unpleasant situation of inadequate pay, few or no breaks, no paid sick or vacation days and perhaps even bullying or verbal abuse. But how can it be? Those employers (neighbors) seem so nice, and their domestic workers always seem to be smiling and content.
Started amid great hope five years ago, Yale University’s Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism (YIISA) closes its doors this month surrounded by disappointment and suspicion. The academic study center, only one of two based at American universities that focus on millennia-old hatred of Jews, was created at a time when, by all accounts, anti-Semitism was on the rise worldwide. In recent years, a growing amount of anti-Semitism has taken root in the Islamic world, if not, as some scholars claim, in Islam itself.
In a little more than three months the United Nations General Assembly may be asked to take up a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence, which Palestinian leaders hope will set the stage for a genuine state. That hope is dangerously misguided; the Palestinian effort to use the international body as an alternative to engaging in direct, bilateral negotiations can only make statehood harder to achieve and increase the likelihood of renewed violence.
The article about the Henry Street Settlement (“New Music, Old Setting,” May 27) was a fine, brief history of this fabled institution. But it does not mention the old Music School, which was located around the corner from the Playhouse, at 8 Pitt St., before the Abrons Art Center was built.
Thank you for Jonathan Mark’s wonderful article about Rabbi Baruch Pollack (“A Teacher’s Magic,” May 27).
In 1953, I was a scared/excited first grader at the Lubavitcher Yeshiva in the Bronx, with Rabbi Pollack as my rebbe. Even after almost 60 years, I remember him well for the kindness warmth he exhibited to us, his young (and first) students, as well as for the love he so clearly had for all of us. He knew that essentially all of us were the hopeful first children of Holocaust survivors who remained steadfast in their faith.
“Jewish Secularism’s Moment,” by Steve Lipman (May 20), details the startling results from the latest surveys that show that as many as 37 percent of America’s Jews now check off “no religion” when asked to express their religious preferences. This percentage has doubled in the last 20 years and is indeed most noteworthy.
Most of that population has moved into secular humanism and Lipman commendably has included quotes from the significant leaders in this area to address the challenges involved in developing Jewish secular humanist identities.
In regard to Francine Klagsbrun’s Opinion article, “Especially on Mideast Issues, Words Do Matter” (June 10), the author says that for those “who care about Israel there is every point in knowing the facts.” In our hyperpolarized political world, choosing isolated facts out of context does a disservice to the truth and moves the parties to more intransigent positions. The author correctly points out that President Barack Obama said a return to 1967 lines with land swaps does not mean a return to the 1967 lines.
One of the most painful and disturbing articles I have read in many years regarding Jews and Israel was “Alienation From Israel Hitting Liberal Seminaries” (May 6).
Calling these students “bright, decent, thoughtful and deeply Jewishly committed” is not merely specious, but solidly false, contemptible, despicable and detestable, as are the attitudes of the students mentioned.
As officers of the Israel Center of Conservative Judaism, in Flushing, Queens, we are writing to inform the readership of The Jewish Week about the very positive experience we have with our female rabbi, in an egalitarian Conservative congregation. We are a community made up of both young and old members who enjoy learning and growing with our rabbi.