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No, Rabbi Boteach, Trump’s not good for Jews

In reference to Rabbi Boteach’s June 8 column, “Is Trump good for the Jews? It’s an easy yes” — yes, I believe the U.S. embassy should be in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. I hail Nikki Haley for her unwavering support for Israel in the United Nations. But other than that, saying Trump is good for Jews is despicable.

Using the shortcomings of biblical characters as an excuse for Trump’s outright immoral behavior is ridiculous. We Jews are moral people (though there are exceptions — Bernie Madoff, Trump’s mentor Roy Cohen, among others). Our Torah exhorts us to be kind to others, to be honorable, and to take care of God’s creation.

Trump is in no way honorable or kind, nor does he care about God’s creation, our planet, as demonstrated by his withdrawal from Paris climate accord. He has cheated his workers, cheated students, abused women and the disabled. He violates our Constitution. He lines his pockets, using his office for himself and family. He supports bigots and despots, has fanned racism, and may very well have committed treason. Most recently has shown no humanity by separating children from their parents at the border. To use Congresswoman Pelosi’s word, this is “barbaric.” His policies hurt the poor. This list could be greatly expanded.

As a Jew, I find it offensive to be linked to Trump!

Ilana Kantey
Fort Lee

Awaiting the rabbi’s next column

I await, with bated breath, a column by “America’s Rabbi” Shmuley Boteach condemning Donald Trumps’s policy of separating children from parents at the Mexican border. Hopefully, Sheldon Adelson will give the good rabbi permission to take a stand against this immoral practice.

Gerald Fischer

Teaneck Holocaust memorial will be a gateway to learning

I was pleased to see coverage of the proposed Holocaust memorial and the proposed memorial for enslaved Africans in last week’s paper. I feel that a few things were not fully fleshed out. From the perspective of the Holocaust project, we are planning for this be a memorial and an education center where visitors from all over the region will come and with the use of augmented reality, be able to learn, explore, question, and discover information about the holocaust.

As mentioned in the article, we are not trying to build a new museum but on the exterior part of the project, we will have a reading rail that when you point a smart phone or tablet to specific markers, the app will bring you to a web page that explains that concept or historical fact or question. We want visitors to ask questions and explore the answers. We want this to be the place where schools, shuls, churches, and other groups come to learn about the Shoah and while they are here, they will be able to learn about the plight of enslaved Africans across the Municipal Green and visa versa.

The other parts of the memorial will be a central sculpture which will be determined by a competition of designers and architects as well as a memorial wall where community members can memorialize the names of family members who were killed in the Holocaust. To make it more region-centric, there will be testimonials and artifacts from local survivors accessible in the library along with a multi-level curriculum that we will design in cooperation with other holocaust educational organizations.

Donations to help this become a reality can be made at nnjholocaustmemorial.org.

Steve Fox – co-chair
Northern New Jersey Holocaust
Memorial & Education Center
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More on healthy living

Rabbi Engelmayer has, as usual, written an instructive piece on how to live a good life ( “Healthy living, the Torah way,” June 15.) In it, he cites seven guidelines that his physician (Doc A, we know who you are) has given him. They are all excellent and we should follow them. But he has left out one more, which might trump all the others.

Full disclosure. I spent the better part of my professional life in the healthcare industry. Along the way, I met a number of experts in cardiology. One, who shall be known as Dr. Z, stands out. Among other things, he was the head of cardiology at Yale University medical school.

Dr. Z counseled that good heart health is always about risk factor reduction. Among the primary risk factors are exercise, diet, stress and smoking. The evils of the latter have been well documented. But the issue of stress has been overlooked and poorly understood. So, Dr. A failed to include it in his instructions to our dear Rabbi.

There are two kinds of stress. One is the momentary effect of being blindsided by something extremely unpleasant such as a car accident, or getting a phone call at 5 am in the morning that your mother’s house has a burglar alarm (that happened to me recently). The other kind of stress is long-term and environmental. It involves your lifestyle, your occupation, and the circumstances of family life.

When, for example, you find yourself in a troubled work environment, when you worry about keeping your job, when keeping your job requires you to live with great stress, all of this can have a profound impact on cardiac function. A significant fraction of myocardial infarctions (aka “heart attacks”) are triggered by stress.

I believe that our sages recognized this reality in two ways. The observance of Shabbat is all about re-charging our emotional batteries. We extract ourselves from ordinary life and enter a different time and space. Stress is removed, at least for a day each week.

The other mechanism that copes with stress is daily prayer. When we engage with the divine, when we daven the Amidah or sing Psalms, when we pray for shalom, we are administering an antidote to the toxins of daily life. Some of us are fortunate enough to do this one, two or even three times a day. Personally, I find wrapping myself in a tallit every morning creates a powerful feeling of calmness and serenity.

For others, meditation, yoga, walking, gardening or just reading a good book can produce the same result. Talk therapy (chatting with a friend) is another way to vent pressure. Dr. Z’s favorite stress reduction method is long distance running and exercise, which also achieves stress reduction, over and above the obvious physical benefits of making the human machine hum like a Swiss clock.

So, to my dear rabbi: Don’t forget about stress. And, by all means, do something about it. We should all examine what produces stress in our lives – and beyond compensating for it (with prayer, meditation etc.), seek ways to reduce it.

Eric Weis
Wayne, NJ

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