New rabbis’ values

It was interesting to read about the new rabbis in the community (“Welcoming new clergy,” August 24). However their plans for their synagogues sounded so ephemeral. And there was hardly a mention of Jewish services, Israel, or — gulp — God. Maybe these rabbis should lead their congregants to the protein and veggies of prayer and Jewish responsibility before feeding them sugary “Jewish values.”

Gila Berkowitz

Remembering Ilan Mamber

On behalf of the Temple Beth Rishon Board of Trustees and our entire congregation, I would like to sincerely express our heartfelt thanks for your support and compassion regarding the loss of our beloved Chazan Ilan Mamber.

We were so appreciative of the respect you demonstrated in your publication following Ilan’s premature passing. Chazan Mamber was indeed “A Force of Nature” (August 10) who touched so many lives within our congregation and throughout Bergen County.

Joanne Palmer captured his essence so well in her article on Ilan’s amazing journey. Your commentary and publication of his obituary enabled many of us to reflect on what a deep loss it was for our extended community.

The rabbis tell us that a legacy of a good name is the highest crown one can attempt to achieve in life. Chazan Mamber earned that legacy and you communicated this fact to the world. What better way than to honor a man who gave every ounce of his energy in making his life worth living and inspiring others through his music. With our continued gratitude, we thank you.

Esteemed Cantor Faith Steinsynder has accepted the position of interim cantor at TBR. Her love and respect for her dear friend and colleague will help carry Ilan’s passion for teaching and music through this coming year. Cantor Faith will be joining Rabbi Beni Wajnberg on the bima during the High Holy Days at Beth Rishon. Our congregation feels blessed to have these two consummate professionals cradle us during this difficult period.

We look forward to having your publication support and report the new chapter in the history of Temple Beth Rishon. May we both go from strength to strength and always remember the mitzvah it was to have Chazan Mamber in our lives.

Michael Goldberg
President, Temple Beth Rishon, Wyckoff

Trump’s right about the PA

In his article, “The White House buries the era of even-handedness. Now what?” (JTA, August 31), Ron Kampeas seems to opine against the Trump desire to “reframe the parameters of the conflict.” I, instead, believe that it has been long overdue to “reframe the parameters.”

President Trump is attempting to do what generations of presidents have refused to do, and it is not a matter of even-handedness. It is a matter of redefining reality. He must deal with a president for life in Abbas, one who, we are told, must not be pressured too much or he will be replaced by Hamas, a far more dangerous situation. 

No one lives forever, and he will be replaced sooner or later, but while he is still here he is not speaking out against or condemning terrorism against citizens of Israel. In fact, he or members of his party are encouraging it. Trump is attempting to change this through the withholding of funds that are used by the P.A. to encourage and support terrorism, following the mandates of the Taylor Force Law.

Why should the Arabs work to bring their fellow Palestinian Arabs to a point where they can be self-sufficient when the world and the U.S. maintains funding to UNWRA? These refugees are the only similar group who instead of having their numbers decline and be absorbed in their nations of refuge, have increased over 500 percent and will continue to do so unless there is a change of parameters. UNWRA’s actions or lack thereof perpetuates the problem. The only way to force change is by cutting off funds. If other nations pick up the slack, then at least the U.S. is no longer wasting our dollars.

The recognizing of Jerusalem as the capital and moving our embassy there did not drive the Arabs away from a peace table they weren’t sitting at, it just provided an excuse not to go. If it wasn’t the embassy, they would find another excuse.

If the PA collapses now because of the actions of the Trump administration, better now than after an Israeli pullback from the territories across the Green Line.

Why are they living under military occupation? Very simple: they lost a war that the Arabs started and they refuse to seriously work out a peace treaty that can be accepted by the Israelis. They believe that time is on their side and they are willing to wait ad infinitem until they get what they want, the eventual elimination of Israel.

If President Trump is able to reframe the parameters of the discussions and policies concerning the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflicts, we may very well be able to see progress toward the end of the impasse. A large part of any successes will depend on his not being undercut by those who are so against him that they will do or say anything to sabotage his efforts. His enemies must not provide the Arabs with excuses not to sit down and negotiate.

Two interesting sidebars; (1) Are the many anti-Trump manifestations encouraging the PA to believe that they will be rid of him at the end of one term and they should just wait and see? and (2) According to the U.N. definition of who is a Palestinian refugee, we may soon have a Palestinian refugee sitting as a member of the U.S. Congress.

Howard J. Cohn
New Milford

Thank you, John McCain

Watching the memorial service fit for a president, and listening to John McCain’s voice that came through his grieving daughter, Meghan, one couldn’t help but be moved by her heart-wrenching tribute to her father. Meghan McCain’s subtle stab at President Trump, for which she received applause, is worth repeating when she said, “The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.” It was touching to see all the people who came out to pay their respect.

Her father gave a lifetime of service both in war and as a senator. He is an American hero. How great to listen to two former presidents, George Bush and Barack Obama, who were opponents of the senator, give their moving tributes and their subtle swipes at the current president. The memorial was a message to the American people celebrating our country.

As John McCain said in his letter to his daughter, “Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.”

The Jewish holidays that we are observing this month brings to mind what we learned; that on Rosh Hashanah “the Book of Life is opened, and in it is inscribed the fate of mortal man. On Yom Kippur, the Book is sealed — man’s destiny being decided. We are also told that on Yom Kippur, the almighty forgives (if repentance is sincere) man’s sins against Him; but man’s sins against his fellow men can be forgiven only if he makes atonement to the individual harmed.”

The word “repentance” comes to my mind. I thought what would it have taken for the president of the United States to pick up a phone and apologize to Cindy McCain and the family for the cruel, insensitive remarks that he made about Senator John McCain. He showed no remorse or wrongdoing for his insensitivity but went about his usual tweeting and playing golf the day the country watched the funeral proceedings of Senator John McCain.

What a small man Trump is!

To remember John McCain, you can read Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” It was one of the Senator’s favorite books, and its hero, Robert Jordan, influenced the way the senator conducted his life.

May our country’s hero rest in peace.

Grace Jacobs
Cliffside Park

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