I am writing because of shock, anger and profound sadness upon the news that Temple Emeth will be closing its doors come August 15. For the past six years, all three of my children have received an excellent education and a love for Judaism. My youngest child was in her last year of the program, so this sudden closure does not affect me in terms of her placement for next year, but it affects me as a human being. The way the president, Paula Dillon, Rabbi Sirbu, and the board of trustees went about informing the parents and staff about the closure was nothing less then deplorable.
An extremely cold, unfeeling email went out on Saturday night, May 17, informing parents that they “ apologize for the inconvenience” but the over-20-year-established school program would be closing at the end of the summer. No explanation was given — however, in the email they patted themselves on the back and took a dig at the Orthodox and Conservative community by saying how they have “adapted our curricula to the changing demographics and needs of the community.” Rabbi Sirbu himself is even quoted in a local paper as saying that since the school does not feed into the temple anymore, they see no need to continue it. It wasn’t until the next day that we found out the temple decided to rent the classroom space to the Bergenfield board of ed — a public school, not even in their town!
Yes, we understand the temple was having financial issues, but there is a way to go about closing a school — to be a mensch about it. That is to not close a school with only a few weeks left in the school year, where you have been running registration for the next year since October. When all surrounding programs are full. Where registration for public school has been closed for two weeks. When families have to now split their 2- 3- and 4-year-old children between 2 different school, because of space issues. Where teachers who have given you 10, 15 even 20 years of dedicated service will now be struggling to find jobs. Some of these teachers are the sole breadwinners in their family. How is it right to treat them like garbage? Board of educations are also not known for their snap decision-making — this process of seeking renters had to be going on for quite some time, at least months, perhaps years. Why did the temple allow registration at all? Had we been informed in September, or even January, that this would be the last year, people would be sad, but no one would have this sense of anger and injustice we are all feeling.
I am writing to express my feelings about the sudden closing of Temple Emeth’s Early Childhood Center. Last Saturday night, the board sent an email out to current and future parents stating that after 20 years, the early childhood center would be closing its doors in the fall. Many of us enrolled our children in November and were extremely shocked and saddened by this news.
We view ourselves as our own community, or even a family. With two children in Temple Emeth, I have forged extremely strong relationships with other parents as well as staff. The expression “It takes a village to raise a child” has come out of my mouth many times, and the best part is that I knew I had that built-in village in Temple Emeth. We truly feel as if our family is being torn apart.
Temple Emeth was so unique because Sharon Floch, the director, was flexible and understanding of every family’s needs. Now parents scrambling for spots in other programs are no longer afforded that luxury. The biggest embarrassment is that this was done so late in the year. Parents are not able to research programs and enroll where their children’s needs will be best met. Empty spots in programs are a rarity in late May. There is new economic hardship as many programs are significantly more expensive. I have experienced scheduling conflicts as plans for my other children were based on Temple Emeth’s hours for next year. Teachers are left unemployed and are seeking new jobs. They are literally in competition with each other for the few early childhood spots that are available.
The community has been so supportive. Many schools are opening new sections and doing everything that they can to accommodate entire classes so late in the game. Early childhood directors were answering their phones and emails late Saturday night and through the weekend. We even hope that they will employ some of our teachers to teach the new sections.
The Temple Emeth board should be embarrassed that they have abandoned their community. They are losing young membership. In the past I have made sure that my family has attended and supported the religious school’s events, such as the Purim carnival, because we were a part of this special community.
While this deal may have been necessary, the timing of it truly feels like a betrayal of the early childhood staff and students.
Eric Weis wrote a letter defending the French while ignoring the significant rise in anti-Semitism in France (“The French and the Jews,” May 23). He berated those who say the French are anti-Semitic. What would he call the Jews who were stabbed to death outside their synagogue on Saturday night? Perhaps Mr. Weis does not wear a kippah and prides himself on being a spiritual Jew. I know of too many Jews who lived there and state unequivocally that wearing a kippah in public is “asking for it.”
Ben Cohen’s opinion column (“A fearsome test for French Jews,” May 16) was both the “best of times and the worst of times.” (Hats off to Charles Dickens.) It was commendable that Mr. Cohen now realizes and reports that the French Jewish community is strong and surviving. His meeting with CRIF leaders parallels the same message that I heard from leaders of the French Masorti community last summer. Their view is that France’s problems are not unusual, that anti-Semitism pervades other parts of the world, and that for the most part, the lives of French Jews go on in a normal manner, just as ours do. That’s the good news.
The worst of times was that the Standard’s presentation was implicitly racist. The picture of the French comedian shows a grimacing, hateful person of color. While it may be true that Dieudonne (literally, “God-given”) Mbala Mbala is filled with hate, an image like this does nothing more than to incite and exacerbate racial tension and hatred. It has no place in a Jewish publication.
The French Jewish community is the third largest on earth. In the aftermath of the Shoah, France has become the de facto center of Jewish life in Western Europe. It is arguable that Jewish life in England (and certainly in Ireland) is less hospitable than on the other side of La Manche (aka the English Channel). It is incontrovertible that anti-Semitism is more endemic in places like Sweden and Hungary. What’s more, the last two French administrations (Sarcozy and Hollande) have been extremely supportive of their Jewish community. Hollande’s statements about Drancy and collective French guilt are a testament to morality and truth. Most recently, France’s position on Iran makes American foreign policy makers look like naive appeasers.
So why all this continued focus on France as the seat of European Jew-hatred? I suspect that it has to do with the Anglo outlook that permeates American society. All things French are suspect, ergo anti-Semitism in France must be worse than anywhere else on the planet. The French certainly have a part in the creation of anti-Francism. But it takes two sides to make this work, the hater and the hated. Let’s resolve to not engage in hateful attitudes. And if, God forbid, there is a shooting at a JCC here, or a skinhead rally, let’s hope that the French do not jump down our American throats. It would be only fair of them to do so.
Ron Kampeas’ May 9 article, “Whose fault is it?” reminds me of a story that explains whose fault it is.
Off in the not-too-distant future, the world finally has come up with a solution of how best to handle Jewish issues on the planet Earth. They build massive space ships, fill them with all kinds of supplies, and ship all the Jews off to the other side of the moon. About 25 years later, a delegation from Earth travels to the other side of the moon. After the perfunctory salutations, the Jewish leader asks the delegation what their mission here on the moon might be. The leader begins to tell the Jews that men and women of Earth are dying in the thousands from new ailments. There are no remedies. Businesses are failing in the billions of dollars because there is no guidance. Morals and ethics are concepts that haven’t been used in a quarter of a century. In short, Earth’s human population is self destructing — and it’s all the fault of the Jews.
The Roman emperor Hadrian lived almost 2,000 years ago. He had all the riches of the world at his beck and call. He hated the Jewish people. In one story, he punishes a Jew who failed to greet him, and then punishes another Jew who wished him well. When asked what the logic was for his punishing both men, he replied: “You wish to give me advice on how to kill my enemies?”
The Jews always will be blamed. There is never a good reason and there is never a way to get around it or away from it. Jewish hatred is millennia old and will not end anytime soon. It is hate for the sake of hate. So if the world body hates us anyway, then we may as well do what we need to do to safeguard our own lives by ourselves and for ourselves and to hell with what anyone thinks.
I would rather be alive and safe because I have been protected by Jews then living with a false illusion of safety from those who appear to be my friends.
Anthony Weiss’ May 3 page 3 story, “A ‘New Israel’ in Texas?” was enlightening and interesting. However, it ignored one historical and biblical tie, which is to the land of Israel itself. I personally found very interesting the idea of settling European Jews in the Alaska territories, which was the subject of an entertaining, sophisticated and quirky Michael Chabon novel, “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.” This novel, in large part a murder mystery and alternative history of the aftermath of World War II, centers around the fictional Jewish communities in Alaska. It is far more entertaining if the reader is a Yiddish speaker, or at least familiar with enough Yiddish phrases that have crept into the American English Language.
I didn’t mean for this letter to be a book review. I intended to point out that Mr. Weiss’ article neglects entirely the role of the land of Israel itself, where visitors can see the Valley of Elah, where David slew Goliath, and can visualize the confrontation; the road to Calvary, which Jesus was forced to walk, carrying the cross on which he was crucified; or the Temple Mount, where Mohammed’s mount, Al-Buraq, stood.
These are places that exist, even if the events around them may not be universally accepted. They don’t exist in Texas. A homeland is more than a long-term diaspora. It is a place that touches a person’s heart and soul.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations was absolutely correct in rejecting an application from J Street (“Who will set the table?” May 9).
Since its inception, the organization has seemed to define its policy positions as simply the exact opposite of the rest of the Jewish community. Its shadowy financing was shown to simply be a front for George Soros, whose ability to fund anti-Israel activities seems to know no bounds. J Street lied about receiving these funds. According to Federal Election Commission filings, dozens of Arab and Muslim Americans and Iranian advocacy organizations donated tens of thousands of dollars to J Street. The fact that our enemies donate to this group speaks volumes about its nature.
The Jewish community in America has a wide array of positions, but there are limits to any discussion. The BDS boycott movement is simply anti-Semitic in nature, yet it enjoys a dialogue with J Street. Iran has announced its intention to incinerate Israel, yet J Street serves as its apologists. The Goldstone report was probably the worst libel against the Jews since the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, repudiated even by its own author — but it was embraced by J Street.
The real damage and immediate danger of J Street is that it provides cover to any politician who now opposes any position of the rest of the Jewish community. While the political power of the American Jewish community continues to evaporate as our numbers and influence diminish, J Street has prevented us from speaking with a unified voice. Its opposition to the sanctions on Iran confused our allies and aided our enemies. In our world talk translates to bullets; sanctions can serve as armor; and defamation can damage as much as an earthquake.
J Street sadly provides no support to Israel and drowns out our community’s voice at home.
I thank you so very much for this tribute to Rabbi Simon Glustrom (“Up from the South,” May 2). Having been introduced to Rabbi Glustrom and his lovely wife Helen so many years ago, I have treasured their friendship throughout the years. I have enjoyed Rabbi and Helen’ combined sharing of wisdom, encouragement, and the embodiment of all that love brings to define the word friend. All that I have treasured, learning from my beloved grandparents and parents, are within these two blessed people. My love and gratitude go out to them, with all blessings.