Please no more from Rabbi Boteach

The Jewish Standard has, over generations, earned the respect of the Jewish community because of its unwavering commitment to the totality of the Jewish world. Jews come in all shapes and colors and hold a wide range of religious, social and political beliefs. One unifier is our love for Israel.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s last article “And hate the sinner too” (June 21) is little more than a poorly researched, childish polemic against any Jews who disagree with his political opinions.

How dare he accuse “Liberal” Jews of “lovingly excusing evildoers” and being “unwilling to hate evil”? My father was orphaned and my brother and I hate the killers as do all Jews, no matter liberal or conservative.

I ask the Standard to re-examine its allowing Boteach to spread his political extremism in your excellent paper, and especially in such a prominent place on your editorial page.

Sadly, Boteach has descended from religious leader to become an attack person against liberal or progressive Jews. Hashem knows that we have enough enemies looking to hurt us without Boteach’s spreading nonsense in an attempt to divide us.

Boteach has become an embarrassment to our community. Please do not allow him to spread his scorn for most American Jews in your fine paper.

Herb Steiner

Default to joy

In your editorial “On Jewish journalism” (June 28) you take the opportunity to explain how the St. Louis Arch reminded you of the McDonald’s Golden Arches (I am more reminded of a Star Trek (original series) episode when Kirk/Spock/McCoy are transported to the past, but that is neither here nor there).  You then go on to make an association with “lousy fast food” and threw in an ‘eeewwww’ to further make your point.  McDonald’s represents jobs, entrepreneurial activity, social interaction and low-cost food for those who choose to patronize it.  Why be a food critic in an editorial about Jewish journalism?  

The Gateway Arch is a monument to the westward expansion of the United States.  Hmm.  Broken treaties with Indians.  Japanese internment camps (although, sad to say, South Jersey also had a Japanese internment camp).  The exploitation of the Irish and Chinese immigrants in the building of the railroads.  Not exactly our proudest moments.  I bet those immigrants would have appreciated an occasional Big Mac and a Shake (since they were not subject to kashruth), not to mention eight-hour days, coffee breaks, maximum six days of labor each week, etc.  That’s every bit as much an eeewwww factor for those of us who have studied the history.  One person’s inspirational view is another person’s recollection of oppression.   So why discuss the Gateway Arch in an editorial about Jewish journalism?

Instead, why not celebrate Jewish journalism, and the inspiration of the Gateway Arch if you are so inclined, with the fine examples of Jewish expansion in the Jewishly impressive cities west of the Arch:  St. Louis itself, Kansas City, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis (Greater Twin Cities), Albuquerque, Phoenix/Scottsdale/Tucson, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc.  I’m sure there are many other wonderful (if small) Jewish communities worth celebrating between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean and even in Alaska and Hawaii.  Share with us the Jewish newspapers of those cities, and any award winning articles or journalists from those or other places, not to mention other vibrant schools, activities, movements and rabbinic or lay commentators/columnists who bring insight, understanding, and inspiration to our co-religionists west of the Mississippi!

I spent 26 years as a Jewish journalist, exploring the resources of American Jewish life. East. West. North. South.  Synagogues and JCCs/Ys and summer camps and retreats and Hillels and educational or travel opportunities and delis and bakeries and historic sites and libraries and gift shops and street fairs and conferences and publications/media and Federations and museums.  And, if at all possible, I’d get hold of the local Jewish newspaper where I visited and devour it.  

Reb Nachman of Bratislav told us to “never despair.”  He also told us that “All the world is a narrow bridge, and it’s important not to fear.”  Keep writing.  Keep publishing.  Keep the information flowing.  Keep striving.  And, as much as possible, set the default tone to joy.  

Make a joyful noise!

Betty Singer

Think about a donor-advised fund

Your recent bar/bat mitzvah section highlighted opportunities such as tzedakah drives, mitzvah projects, and financial education as ways to make the bar/bat mitzvah preparatory year both fun and meaningful. 

As another innovative approach, families are combining all of these elements in a single solution by establishing a charitable or “donor advised” fund in the child’s name. It provides an ideal framework for learning about hands-on philanthropy and Jewish values. 

How does it work? Some kids start a fund with Jewish federation using gift money. Parents or grandparents also might add to or start a fund in the child’s name. Once the fund is established, federation’s volunteer center and endowment foundation staff will help you and your child learn about charitable causes and volunteer opportunities that speak to their specific interests. 

With a donor advised fund, charity is ongoing. The child can request distributions from their fund to charities of their choosing (certain legal restrictions apply). The fund can last for many years, even into adulthood, so that as a child’s interests and knowledge evolve, the basic framework is already established. And since the account will be invested for tax free growth, the child also learns the basics about the power of saving, investing and taxes. 

Something to consider.

Robin Rochlin

Ms. Rocklin is the managing director of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey’s endowment foundation.

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