Memories and connections

I was born and raised in Paterson, attended and graduated from Yavneh Academy, and personally knew David Goldberg and his family (“Torah tales from Paterson,” November 20). Mr. Staretz sat next to my father in shul, and Mrs. Staretz was the most amazing person, who could cook for 400 children every day with no effort. And the food was always superb!

The Sussmans and Kossmans lived around the corner from me and we always interfaced with one another. I find this story to be fascinating, and thank you for bringing alive this great segment of American Jewish history. Almost every person you mentioned in the article I knew personally. I cherish these memories of a wonderful Jewish community of a bygone era. May their memories always be a blessing among the Jewish people and all of humankind.

Rabbi Simon H. Feld
Chaplain, Jewish Home at Rockleigh

Everyone looked away

So Jonathan Pollard is finally free after having served 30 years in prison — and little thanks to co-religionists who did little, if anything, to help free him. Yes, yes, we agonized and sympathized and probably prayed — but we said “Well, he’s guilty” and that was true. He was indeed guilty and never should have done what he did. And never more were Standard readers so well informed about Pollard’s guilt as when a Standard reader’s letter to the editor, about two years ago, painfully listed all of Pollard’s transgressions. What that reader did not do was take his research one step further, to discover that Pollard had confessed fully, thus freeing the United States government of the need to hold an open trial. And because Pollard confessed, the government was spared the need to produce the documents he stole in an open court. Those documents would have caused the United States government considerable embarrassment vis-a-vis its Middle East allies.

So, as a reward for confessing and sparing the government the need to hold an open court trial, the prosecution and Pollard’s lawyer came to a plea deal: 10 years in prison. Readers should know that 10 years in prison is not nothing. It is 3,060 days of repetitively trying to cope with almost unbearable living conditions, one day at a time, in the midst of others suffering similarly, many of whom would have been decidedly hostile because that’s who makes up a prison population. And that is only part of the agony.

But Caspar Weinberger, then a member of Reagan’s cabinet, was reported to have been outraged at the “leniency” of the proposed punishment and contacted the judge in the case to protest. The judge, knowing whereof his bread was buttered, ignored the plea deal and sentenced Pollard to life in prison without parole.

So what did we co-religionists of Pollard do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. “Well, he’s guilty,” we all said and we pushed the problem out of our minds and went about our business and our lives. And no one looked further into the case. We’re all busy — we have so many problems of our own —the guy should not have done this, etc., ad infinitum. So we never bestirred ourselves to do anything about a brother who had been grievously dealt with.

And “you are your brother’s keeper”? That had no relevance to us — most sadly, not the first time about who we are supposed to be, but are not.

So Pollard is free now, having spent the best of his years in prison. And what a sad commentary it is on the rest of us.

Miriam Moskowitz
Washington Township

Pray for Bibi

It is with great dismay that I read Rabbi Englemayer’s attack on Prime Minister Netanyahu (“Bibi unleashes the danger of unbridled ambition,” November 6). In these times of crisis, should one undermine an Israeli leader of great courage who has earned the confidence of his people? Is political correctness that important?

In reply, I’d like to offer something that appeared about a year ago in the pages of the Jewish Standard. It too was written by a rabbi, and although I cannot recall his name or recapture his eloquence, I always will remember the spirit of his words. He cautioned those who were then attacking Netanyahu. He urged us to unite as one Jewish people; to respect the wishes of the Israelis, who are on the front lines of the struggle to preserve the Jewish homeland; and to contemplate with awe the overwhelming burdens of office carried by the prime minister. He asked us to pray that God give Netanyahu the strength to prevail.

Naomi Steinberger