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Opinion: Letters
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Godot in Yiddish

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I was pleased to see the positive review of the Yiddish “Waiting for Godot” at Manhattan’s Castillo Theater (September 27). We already have tickets and are very much looking forward to seeing it. I would just add a few corrections:

The Yiddish title of the play is “Vartn af Godot.” In the review, the Yiddish title is incorrectly rendered as “Varten far Godot,” which actually means “Waiting in front of Godot” — clearly not the intended translation.

Omitted from the review is the fact that English and Russian supertitles are provided; therefore, you don’t have to speak a word of Yiddish to attend, understand, and appreciate this unique version of the classic play.

 

Gitl Schaechter-Viswanath
Teaneck
 
 

Is Adelson a hero?

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Rabbi Shmuley Boteach praised Sheldon Adelson in his recent column, which mentioned an event on genocide where Adelson gave the introductory remarks (“As money grows, rabbis shrivel,” September 20.)

It is unfathomable how a man like Adelson can be honored this way, when his bully-pulpit newspaper Israel Hayom consistently incites xenophobia against African asylum seekers in Israel, including those fleeing genocide in Darfur.

Adelson’s newspaper runs story after story labeling Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers as “illegal infiltrators” and “economic migrants.” Israel Hayom sensationally stokes hate with blanket portrayals of Africans as a violent criminal element.

The Adelson/Boteach event on genocide at Cooper Union in New York on September 29 was subtitled: “Do the Strong Have a Responsibility to Protect the Weak?” The answer to that question, both from a human rights perspective and from a Jewish perspective, is a definitive yes.

As party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, Israel must stop returning refugees to dangerous situations without allowing them to have their legal claim for asylum heard and evaluated. Within Jewish scripture, one of the most repeated Jewish commandments is to care for gerim, the landless sojourners who seek refuge among us.

If Rabbi Boteach is serious about genocide, he should call out Adelson for his insidious rhetorical role in the mistreatment of African asylum-seekers in Israel who have fled genocide and other atrocities.

Joshua Bloom

Director of Israel Programs, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

New York, N.Y.



Shmuley Boteach responds:


Sheldon Adelson is the largest single donor to Yad Vashem and countless Holocaust educational programs worldwide. As someone who has contributed $200 million to Birthright alone — with its mandatory visits to Yad Vashem — Mr. Adelson has arguably exposed more young Jews to the Holocaust than anyone else.

Now the Adelsons have partnered with me in ensuring the world properly commemorates the Rwandan genocide, sponsoring the event I organized this past Sunday that attracted over 1,000 people, and brought together, for the first time, Elie Wiesel and Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Every country makes a distinction between asylum seekers and economic immigrants. Israel must of course do its utmost to welcome those fleeing genocide and murder, and I personally discussed with Prime Minister Netanyahu allowing 5,000 Syrian refugees into Israel.

Approximately 70,000 Eritrean and Sudanese citizens took advantage of what was an open border between Israel and Egypt, and crossed into Israel. The Israeli Refugee Status Determination Committee checked thousands of cases and apparently found a minority to be asylum seekers, with the others registered as economic migrants. While I wholeheartedly agree that Israel should open its doors to those fleeing genocide, illegal immigration on the part of workers remains as controversial in Israel as it is here in the United States, and will continue to be debated by Israel’s citizens and publications.

 
 

Vote for Tedesco

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Bergen County is fortunate in that the former Mayor of Paramus, James Tedesco III, is running for freeholder on November 5. He is leaving a tremendous legacy in Paramus.

The Generelli Sports Plaza, affordable housing near the major shopping mall in Paramus, and Bocci Court at the Senior Center, with new chairs, new rugs and up-to-date kitchen for the 21st century. The July 4th parade which Gov. Jon Corzine attended each year during his governorship, updating and repairing the band box at the library, with concerts every week during the month of August, the mayor’s luncheon at the Electric Union Hall, upgrading the Paramus golf course with champion competition, a kiddy golf course and putting green; upgrading Paramus pool for all Paramus residents, and ticket purchase possible for surrounding neighbors, computers available at the Senior Center and library for every one to use.

A few years ago there was a concerted effort to eliminate the blue laws. His famous words, “over my dead body,” put a quick stop to this silly and foolish attempt.

He was born and grew up in Bergen County, and I believe he is familiar with every street and legislator in Bergen County. He can bring his forward-looking determination, expertise, and experience to the Freeholders Board.

Respectfully, I urge my friends, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, to elect James Tedesco III to the Board of Bergen County Freeholders.

 

Irving Gall
Paramus
 
 

Update from Moishe House

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We at Moishe House Hoboken would like to thank the area organized and local Jewish community for funding and supporting MH Hoboken.

Moishe House Hoboken was founded in January 2007 and has been creating unique Jewish programs for young adults from all parts of New Jersey. While the majority of MH Hoboken’s programming has been in Hoboken, community members originally hail from all over New Jersey. From Fair Lawn to Florham Park, Bergenfield to Bloomfield, Millburn to Mahwah, Elizabeth to Englewood, our community members are sons and daughters of New Jersey’s Jewish community (with a few transplants to our great state and NYCers mixed in).

From the early days, we have been able to grow by working with local stakeholders and an amazing cadre of participants, and that quickly became an ever-growing community. From the on-the-ground Jewish presence, the United Synagogue of Hoboken, to the Jewish federations of Northern New Jersey and Metro West, we have had amazing institutional partners. We have been proud to work with the federations and USH on joint programs, from celebrating Yom Haatzma-ut to working with the federation shlichim (emissaries from Israel), from having spiritual salons facilitated by the USH rabbinic interns to volunteering on Super Sundays.

When, on April 26 this year, the Jewish Standard printed a piece on MH Hoboken’s potential closing (“Closing down the House?), these local stakeholders, as well as the Leo Rosner Foundation, the independent UJA Campaign of Hoboken/JFNA Network of Independent Communities, and the Maimonides Fund, decided to invest in young adults. For USH, itself the only outpost of shul life in a region not known for well established Jewish community and for the Northern New Jersey and MetroWest federations, whose catchment areas do not extend to Hoboken, to come to our aid speaks volumes about their commitment to a bright Jewish future.

Just as importantly, many of our Moishe House community members answered the call for monetary support and deepened their investment in organized Jewish life. We recently honored our local community donors at our first annual MH Hoboken gala.

New Jersey’s young adults come and live in Hoboken and Jersey City. At MH Hoboken they are stakeholders in a vibrant community that offers home cooked (or sometimes catered) Shabbat meals, celebrations of the chaggim, interesting Jewish speakers and more. We in MH Hoboken, both community members and residents, thank the New Jersey Jewish community for continuing to support us as we pioneer and build a Jewish young adult community.

 

Joshua Einstein

Founder, former resident

Stephanie Goodman, Stephanie Premeslaar

Residents, Moishe House, Hoboken

 
 

Assad and Hitler

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Most Americans have forgotten (“Striking at Syria,” September 13). Assad used gas against children and women and men. It reminds me of actions Adolf Hitler took against Jews. We all know the hate Syrians and Iran have for us Jews.

This connection between Assad and Hitler is never brought up in the media. Why are Jews silent about this ? The use of gas cannot be tolerated. Assad must be brought to justice. God protect Israel ! God bless America !


Editor’s note

Maggie Seidel, Rep. Scott Garrett’s (R-N.J. 5th Dist.) communications director, took strong exception to our describing the Constitution Caucus as conservative in “Striking at Syria” (September 13). She says that it is merely a caucus, that it once had a Democratic member, Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, who left it over a Obamacare, and that it is open to all.

We stand by our reporting.

Erwin Mayer
Westwood
 
 

His heart’s not bleeding

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In response to Shammai Englemayer’s September 13 column (“My children are dying): Enough with the bleeding hearts.

None of us want to see war. We don’t want anyone to be gassed and the use of chemical weapons by Assad earns him the death penalty. But the Torah predicted that the warlike and murderous people who inhabit the Middle East would have “their hand against everyone,” including each other.

At the moment, they are killing each other in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and who knows where else. These are the same people who murder their daughters who have had the misfortune of getting raped. These are the people who rejoice when a suicide bomber goes into a Jerusalem pizza store and kills innocent men, women, children and infants. These are people who have killed and maimed so many of our soldiers. These are the same people who stood across the river from the collapsing World Trade Center towers and danced and congratulated the perpetrators.

Yes, God does not want levity and singing when his children are dying, but he is the same God who demands that we eradicate evil. If it wants to eradicate itself, even better.

 

Arthur Aaron
Fort Lee
 
 

Kumbaya, my lord…

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I read Aseel Saied’s op ed essay, “Palestinian gets close to ‘other’ in pro-Israel internship” (September 6), with absolute disbelief. Had it not been for the date at the bottom of the page, I would’ve thought that I was sailing down the Hudson with Pete Seeger and Joan Baez, singing about giving peace a chance or goodwill toward men, etc. A kumbaya moment if there ever was one! This Moslem teenager, whose parents worked for the PLO, had recently interned for Americans for Peace Now and came away from her experience with the mistaken idea that peace between Israel and the Palestinians could come about, ex nihilo.

But what was so shocking was her last statement: “If you come to Ramallah, I’ll be happy to show you around.” How utterly absurd! How naïve can one get? Does she not know that if a Jew enters Ramallah they would be tortured, lynched, and dismembered in a matter of moments! Is this teenager so out of touch with reality? How did the Standard even print this junk?

 

Herbert Burack
Teaneck
 
 

Unkosher red herring

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Rabbi Shmuley Boteach would not approve of women praying at the kotel while wearing a tallit or tefillin (and what authority does he have to approve or disprove this? Why, the same authority that Eli, the high priest at Shilo had to condemn Hannah!) because this would open “the door to every group demanding a special place at this holiest of sites….” (“Religious blessing and spiritual blasphemy,” September 6.)

Well, the Kotel is not a holy place — did God call it “holy”? Where? Though we Jews regard it as sacred — it is the Temple’s outer wall — God never did. Judaism has no holy stones. Only pagans have them! Doing mitzvot imparts holiness, and wearing a tallit, because it has tzitzit, is holy work.

But Jewish women are not a “group,” as Rabbi Boteach calls them. They are our mothers, daughters, sisters, and teachers.

And last but not least, what other groups ask for the permission to wear a tallit at the Kotel?

This red herring ain’t kosher.

Rabbi Yossi Feintuch
Columbia, Missouri
 
 
 
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