Let the killer rot for life

I read Rabbi Boteach’s piece the other day and then reread it. He calls for the death penalty for the perpetrator of the slaughter in Pittsburgh (“The Pittsburgh killer deserves to die,” November 9).

I think he is very wrong. The death penalty has not been shown to stop crime or deter. In the end, no matter how much he denies it, the rabbi wants his pound of flesh.

Putting Bowers to death accomplishes, what? Justice? Hardly. The 11 dead are not coming back. We mourn them. Better to stop the hate that triggers people like him. To put Bowers to death gives the neo-Nazis a martyr, a banner-waver and a hero. I think the best way to treat him is to put him in a black hole of a cell, make him watch videos of the founding of Israel, and forget him. Solitary confinement is punishment fitting for him. Find what set him off, stifle that, and you bring justice to the Jewish people.

The more we look at the root causes of this type of anti-Semitism the better off we are as a people. Flip over a rock of the haters, the Klansmen, the neo-Nazis, and let the American people see what is simmering in their own backyard. Stop politicians from saying there are good people on both sides, as in Charlottesville. Shine the light on the criminals! Show the truth!

As for his interpretation of the movie, “The Finale,” I feel he missed the point of Eichmann’s playing on the vulnerabilities of his captors. Rather than humanizing him, the film makers revealed him to be a monster manipulator, lying to save his own skin, and at every turn, the paradigm of evil that helped create the machinery of mass extermination. Not inhuman. Very human! But that is the evil in us when hate and insanity take over. When our fears are manipulated for some other purpose. Weren’t the German people supposed to be the most rational and civilized in Europe?

As for Israel and its problem with terrorists, put one to death and how many children pop up willing to be the next “martyr”? Frankly, I think the Israeli military has it right.

Harry Katz

Keep your guns at home, please

I would like to tell Mark Altschul that there is much beauty in his memories and sentimentality in the images of him and his Zayde (“Why I came to synagogue with a baseball bat on Shabbat — and why I’d rather bring a gun,” November 9). Yes, the world has changed in many ways, and not enough in some other ways.

To be clear, though, you speak as president of the board but not on behalf of the board or congregation. I do not share your view or recommendation for individuals within synagogues to bear arms and I would NOT feel safer knowing congregants or board members were carrying concealed weapons.

“My friends and a lot of other JDLers from across the country went to Skokie, Illinois, to oppose the Nazis who had threatened to march through that Jewish neighborhood,” he wrote. Carrying a gun to daily worship where a deranged bigot may come at a random time does not compare to showing up to a march where danger is announced. It is not a valid comparison.

He also writes: “The suggestion that more restrictive gun laws will cure anything is misguided.” I would say the suggestion that civilians carry guns, at this point in history, to defend themselves, is misguided.

I understand he goes to the range to practice shooting. Knowing how to shoot a gun is different than knowing how to use one.

Statistics on civilians owning guns… there are way more people who are hurt or killed by accidental home shootings than have been hurt by these horrible and despicable acts of hate. In most instances of institutional shootings, even armed guards are killed when a random shooter appears on the scene.

FACTS on gun violence in America in 2018:

Over 12,000 deaths not counting the 22,000 suicides. Over 49,000 injuries. (https://www.gunviolencearchive.org)

The number of people killed in mass shootings: 84

Driving your car or owning a swimming pool (3,000 deaths per year) puts you at a greater risk of death than praying in your temple.

Owning and shooting more guns is not the answer. Elect officials who will squelch nationalism. Use your voice and your brains at this crucial time in our American history. Try not to conflate ideas and incidences. Please, please do not follow those whose flawed logic leads to increased rage and violence.

Heidi Skolnik
Bergen County

The writer sits on the board of the Jewish Community
Center of Fort Lee; Mr. Altschul is its president.

Just let’s support each other

I just read the opinion piece by Rabbi Kirshner and am disheartened to hear the rabbi question whether to give fellow Jews siddurim for their shiva minyan (“The community also has obligations to the synagogue,” November 9). Especially in light of what happened in Pittsburgh, we all should focus more on the Jewish teaching of “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh ba-zeh” ( all Jews are responsible for each other ) and less on whether a fellow Jew is a member or not.

Jen Lewis
New City, N.Y.

Foxman is unfair to Trump

In “A demagogue who threatens democracy” by Joanne Palmer (November 9), she reiterates some of Abe Foxman’s perceptions concerning President Trump’s beliefs and policies. When Palmer quotes from statements made by Foxman and presents his views on many issues, it causes one to wonder, is this man serious? How far will he go to spread his biases concerning his anti-Trump creed?

It’s interesting to learn that, according to Foxman, Trump “broke all the taboos” regarding “The social structures against overt anti-Semitism, as well as other forms of hate speech and general coarseness…” The results were Pittsburgh, we read. While he (Foxman) does not “blame” Trump for the Pittsburgh shooter, he does hold him “accountable.” Somehow I fail to fully comprehend the difference.

Before Pittsburgh, according to Foxman, Trump didn’t understand the gravity of anti-Semitism, but that changed. “Before this, he gave anti-Semitism a hecksher.” What a false and dishonest statement. Trump has many times issued statements condemning anti-Semitism, white supremacists, and other bigots. These are often not given the prominence they should, perhaps because they do not project the image that many in the media wish to stress regarding Trump.

Mr. Foxman, a supposed student of history, is quoted as stating that in our nation there was “Simmering racist feeling, but there was no flashpoint until Trump.” Is this a new “birther” theory that overt racism was born with the advent of Donald Trump into our political system? Did Trump’s rhetoric legitimize what bigots have done?

The article continues with President Trump’s views against immigrants, forgetting to qualify his use of the word i-l-l-e-g-a-l in his comments. Do liberals find the word illegal so offensive that they cannot allow it to flow past their tongues? Other words have been given anti-Semitic connotations when used by Trump, “globalist” and “nationalist.” “Jews are globalists,” Foxman states, but in reality Jews do not have a monopoly on “globalism” even though Foxman names three Jews to prove his point. When painting Trump as a “nationalist,” it seems many liberals append the word “white” before it and make reference to the Nazis and white supremacists. The choice of photographs by the Standard illustrating this article prove my point. Many have linked this administration with 1930s Germany and our President with Hitler, and although it is not done directly in this article the path is sublimely roughed out.

I’ll end with a quote which I found very amusing earlier in the article concerning how Trump “…was so comfortable with Jews that his daughter married a Jew and converts.” Sort of like “some of my best friends are…”

Howard J. Cohn
New Milford

Bravo, Padre Roberto

My wife and I recently returned from a Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey-sponsored trip to Sicily. The trip was fantastic, but the highlight of the journey was our visit to the ancient town of Agira, where the Jewish population vanished in 1492 when all the Jews of Sicily were expelled.

Once we reached the city, we were packed into small cars that climbed the narrow and serpentine streets to the top of the mountain, where we were to visit the town’s main Duomo. When we reached the church, we were greeted by Padre Roberto, the parish priest. Padre Roberto welcomed us and brought us inside the church to show us the “Aaron ha Kodesh” that originally had been located in Agira’s synagogue during the early 15th century. Padre Roberto and other local priests had discovered this treasure near the church, restored it, and placed it in a prominent position in his church for all to see.

Agira is an obscure, poor town, way off of the beaten path, and is not regularly visited by Jewish tourists. There have not been any Jews living in Agira for more than 500 years, yet Padre Roberto made the effort to preserve this invaluable Jewish treasure. When I asked him why, his response was simple. “We are all children of God, and I was put on this earth to promote brotherly love.” It was of paramount importance for him to respect all religions and do all that he could to make sure that Sicilians understood that the Jewish community was once an vital part of Agira.

We should be grateful that there are many other people in the world who share Padre Roberto’s perspective on humanity. Bravo Padre Roberto.

Seth Buchwald

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