Editorial & Opinion

Finally Speaking Out


I was pleased to read that many in the haredi community joined together with other fellow Jews in protesting the actions of extremists, who recently spit on, cursed and terrorized an 8-year-old girl for failing to live up to their own modesty standards (“In Beit Shemesh, Modesty Wars,” Dec. 30). This clearly demonstrates that most haredim deplore the actions that have occurred.

Extremism In Beit Shemesh


Extremism has reared its ugly head in Beit Shemesh (“In Beit Shemesh, Modesty Wars,” Dec. 30).

And it comes from those who milk our country the most, who do not pay taxes because work is not part of their vernacular, who do not serve in the armed forces and who have the audacity to impose their archaic behavior on others.

I am reminded of the time my wife and I were traveling around Israel in search of a house. Upon arrival in Beit Shemesh, a big sign on one of the porches confronted us. It read, “non-religious not wanted here.”

A Shanda


It’s really a shanda (shame) that ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel attack Orthodox Jews for not living up to their standards (“In Beit Shemesh, Modesty Wars,” Dec. 30). It’s not bad enough that millions of Muslims want to eradicate the world of Jews.
I can’t remember from my yeshiva days anywhere in the Torah or the Talmud where it says “thou shalt spit on and/or stone any Jew who does not dress or act to your liking” ...  especially if they’re 8-year-old girls on their way to yeshiva.

Distressed By Hooligans


As a pulpit rabbi and as an Orthodox Jew, I am deeply distressed by the harassment and violence that has been perpetrated by the hooligans of Beit Shemesh, Israel (“In Beit Shemesh, Modesty Wars,” Dec. 30).

All of their despicable actions are diametrically opposed to our Torah, Jewish tradition and the teachings of any and all Jewish leaders.

So that my silence not be misconstrued as passive acceptance of their horrid behavior, I condemn it in the strongest terms — as do the vast, overwhelming majority of Orthodox Jews all over the world.

Defends Controversial Yeshiva


Joshua Mitnick’s article, “Amid Settler Crackdown, Hilltop Town And Its Yeshiva Still Defiant” (Dec. 23) raises alarms about, in his words, the “hilltop youth” the “vigilantes” and the “fringe group of settlers marauding through Palestinian villages and [engaging in] mosque burnings.” There is great controversy over whether or not the government is cracking down sufficiently on these “Jewish terrorists” led by their rabbis who are “inciting the youth.”

Attention To Special Needs


We would like to thank Jonathan Mark for his article, “More Needed For Special Jews” (Dec. 16), which described the Ruderman Conference and some of the wonderful work being done in the Jewish community in relation to individuals with disabilities. It is inspiring to learn that so many communities are interested in creating more fully inclusive environments for all of their members. We also cannot agree more with Felicia Herman about the importance of including a conversation about disabilities in every Jewish communal conversation.

Inclusive Jewish Community


Thank you for spotlighting the enormous contribution that philanthropist Jay Ruderman is making to raise the consciousness of the world Jewish community about our obligation to include and support people with disabilities as full members of our community (“More Needed For Special Jews,” Dec. 16).

Acts Of Kindness


I felt it important to respond to the essay by Avram Mlotek, a caring, wonderful young man who has brightened my ailing, frail brother’s life through his songs, warmth and Yiddish communication (“My Lunch Breaks With Joe,” Back of the Book, Dec. 30).

Deinstitutionalizing Abuse

Special To The Jewish Week

A school social worker called me recently. She wanted to ask me a question but asked if she could remain anonymous. She knew that I just published a book on the topic of abuse in the Jewish community and had heard me speak about some of the research I was doing at a professional meeting. What she went on to describe was unfortunately not unique. A student in her school had told her that one of his teachers was touching him inappropriately.

Michael J. Salamon

When Universalist Truths Are Particular

Special To The Jewish Week

Candlelighting, Readings:
Shabbat candles: 4:25 p.m.
Torah: Genesis 47:28-50:26
Haftarah: I Kings 2:1-12
Havdalah: 5:29 p.m.

Few biblical prophecies have generated as much heat as this week’s blessing of Judah: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet.” The verse following, however, adds the caveat, ad sheyavo shiloh, and therein lies the problem.

Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman
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