Remembering Mike Adler

I was moved by the outpouring of stories and reflections on the life of my dear friend, Mike Adler (“Combining creativity, kindness, and steel,” September 25). It is true that one life can make a difference. Mike’s life certainly has made a difference for all who were fortunate enough to know him and call him a friend.

Mike Adler was a visionary, and a man very much ahead of his time. Mike took his own bold path to deal with his aphasia, the speaking difficulty that often results from a stroke or other brain injury. Seeing there was a void in aphasia therapy, in 2003, with his wife Elaine by his side, he embarked on a journey to establish, empower, enhance, and enrich the lives of those victims of aphasia — and he never looked back.

As Mike would say, “Aphasia is loss of speech, not intellect.”

Today the Adler Aphasia Center in Maywood is the benchmark of innovative aphasia treatment in our state and around the country. It is Mike’s legacy. Because of Mike, people with aphasia can learn to speak again, to laugh again, and to hope again. On a personal note, he gave hope to my sister, Frances, and to so many others.

Mike Adler, your life has made a difference. I will miss you, but I know you live on in the hearts of all of us who had the privilege and honor to know you.

Loretta Weinberg
Senator, District 37
NJ State Senate Majority Leader

Versailles, not Munich

In “The Iran deal” (September 25), Rabbi Menachem Genack again makes a comparison between 2015 Iran and 1938 Nazi Germany. The Munich Pact and JCPOA are both, in Rabbi Genack’s opinion, historic miscalculations. Munich resulted in the Second World War. The JCPOA will, therefore, result in another great conflagration.

This view reflects an incomplete understanding of history. It may be useful to consider a slightly earlier time, such as the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

In his authoritative review of the rise of Nazi Germany, “The Twenty Years’ Crisis: 1919 — 1939,” historian Edward Hallett Carr shows that the extreme sanctions of the Versailles conference resulted in the rise of extremism in Germany. The German people, impoverished by debilitating reparations, responded to the nationalist and xenophobic preachings of Adolf Hitler. Madness ensued, characterized in the Nuremberg rally of 1934. By the time of Munich in 1938 and the Sudetenland aggression, the die of war had already been cast.

Iran and today’s world are on a different path. Religious extremism in modern Persia arose in reaction to colonialism and a half-century of Western involvement in the area. From the overthrow of Mohammad Mossedegh’s Iran government in 1953 to the CIA-backed 1963 coup d’état in Iraq, Persia was primed for the rise of another form of extremism, leadership by radical Shiite clerics. For over 30 years, they have distracted their people by blaming the Great Satan, America. Even so, Iranian society is becoming increasingly Western. But the regime survives. Sanctions have, if anything, made the Shiite clerics stronger, even as the Iranian populace has suffered the economic consequences.

The JCPOA is unlike what happened in Munich. The latter was a bilateral agreement. England was trying to stave off war with Germany, buying time to re-arm (something for which the Chamberlain government is never given credit). Part of that had to do with American supplies of materials. The Allies were preparing for war, based on their assessment of Germany’s superior military strength (demonstrated in the 1936 Spanish Civil War). Munich was  just a piece of that puzzle.

Today’s JCPOA is an international agreement. The West has the power to destroy Iran. Together with Russia, NATO more or less surrounds Iran. The current agreement preserves sanctions, which can snap back if Iran fails to live up to its end of the deal. Preserving the status quo, with punitive sanctions typified by the Treaty of Versailles, has merely led the world to the brink of a nuclear showdown. No one can say with certainty that Nazi Germany might have never arisen if Versailles had not occurred. But If the JCPOA works (something which remains to be seen), the world may be able to avoid another Sudetenland.

Rabbi Genack is a preeminent authority on kashrut. I respect and follow the OU hecksher. But when it comes to history, I choose to follow historians like E. H. Carr who have been able to synthesize the hard lessons of the 20th century. Engagement, not isolation, is the way to avoid catastrophe. Even Moshe Dayan said that we have to talk to our enemies.

Eric Weis

No to Rabbi Boteach

I want to add my voice to those who have complained about Rabbi Boteach’s columns. Rabbi Boteach is a would-be politician (who recently ran as a Republican candidate for Congress), an apparent spokesman for Sheldon Adelson, and propagandist who communicates his views through advertisements and activism. It also is unpleasant to be constantly exposed to his self-aggrandizement, his self-anointment as “America’s Rabbi,” and his constant bragging about his friendship with well-known people.

His column has no place in the Jewish Standard. I strongly urge you to cease publishing his self-serving column.

Henry D. Ostberg

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rabbi Boteach addresses the question of his Republican affiliation in his column.

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