Editorial & Opinion

Yom Kippur’s Slap In The Face

Special To The Jewish Week

Human gestures are almost always ambiguous. A man with hands raised toward the sky could be praying, cheering or the victim of a hold up. Without the context and the intention, one cannot know.

So what are we doing when we beat our chests in the confessional of Yom Kippur? Is it self-punishment, an attempt through a long day to keep ourselves awake akin to slapping one’s own face, or perhaps ritual theater? 

Humanism Vs. Traditional


Eric Herschthal’s “Well-Versed” blog post in The Jewish Week, “Humanism: Or, What’s Missing From Orthodox Judaism,” echoes a more subtle and eloquent article by Rabbi Shai Held in Haaretz (“Religion’s most urgent problem”). 

Both challenge religion in general and Orthodox Judaism in particular to embrace a more humanistic and broad-minded view towards “the other.”

Cruel Act


In his Opinion article “The Sacrifice of Isaac: A Father’s Ignoble Act” (Sept. 30), Isaac Herschkopf is right on target. And, by extension, the painful cutting of an eight-day-old helpless baby boy is cowardly and cruel. My grandson was still writhing in my arms 20 minutes after they gave him the wine to “dull” the pain. And I was surrounded by a dozen men all congratulating the father and myself as if we had done something noble.

Chappaqua, N.Y.

Arab Minority


Like the biblical prophet Bilam in the Torah, Robert Cherry sets out to castigate “Zionist” Israel but winds up with an extraordinary, long list of Israel’s herculean, expensive efforts to uplift its Arab minority (“Zionist Policies Towards Israeli Arabs,” Opinion, Sept. 23).
Yes, “Zionist” Israel was established by the League of Nations (ca. 1921) and the United Nations (1947) as the homeland of the Jewish people. It will continue to be that.

Outside The Tent


I read with interest the report by Stewart Ain concerning the release of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer (“Shofar Blast For Released Hiker,” Sept. 30).

I found it incongruous that the warped remarks made by them at a press conference, which were reported in the Wall Street Journal and in many other venues, were not deemed newsworthy by The Jewish Week.

Defining ‘Occupation’


 President Mahmoud Abbas in his recent United Nations speech clearly enunciated what he and what the Palestinian leadership mean by “occupation” (“New Pressures Seen In Bid To Re-launch Peace Talks,” Sept. 30).

He stated, “What I will take to the UN will be the suffering and concerns of our people that have taken place over 63 years living under the occupation.”

Sixty-three years subtracted from 2011 equals 1948, which is when Israel was created by the UN.

Koch Motives


So first Ed Koch spends two months urging the Jewish voters of the 9th Congressional District to vote against the Democratic candidate, David Weprin — an observant Jew whose positions on Israel and record of service to the Jewish community are indisputably solid.

Koch’s goal was to “send a message” of displeasure with the Obama administration’s Middle East policy. 

Comforting Words


I’ve never written you [to Jonathan Mark] before, but “Days of Awe” (Sept. 30) pushed me to my keyboard. I lost my wife six months ago after a tough four years with cancer. Your piece was the Shabbos Shuva drasha [sermon] I really wanted to hear.

A Dear Friend


Thank you very much for Jonathan Mark’s moving article about my very dear friend Matt Fenster (“Days Of Awe,” Sept. 30).
I think he really captured and relayed to the reader the special nature of Matt’s neshama (soul). The article has helped foster continued discussion in the Riverdale community about Matt and helped the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale (CSAIR) community deal with our collective grief.

Moving Article About Days Of Awe


Thank you, Jonathan Mark, for writing the moving article about Matt Fenster and his courageous struggle (“Days Of Awe,” Sept. 30).

I did not know Matt, but learned of his illness last year through a donor drive. I was moved by his circumstances and sent a check. I remember asking myself, why him? Why does one get this adversity? We all get challenges, but they hopefully make us stronger. But his challenge was insurmountable. And it seemed to happen to a nice guy, one of us.

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