Sinai, like Chanukah, is a miracle

Chanukah, the festival of miracles, is upon us. I have been a Sinai board member for many years, but your article about the founding of Sinai Schools (“The chesed just flowed,” December 4) reminded me what a miracle it was to have such a revolutionary idea — inclusionary education for children who had until then been disenfranchised — take root and grow. And what a miracle it is that this tiny class has grown into eight schools, that it has changed thousands of lives over the years.

Each of these student’s successes is a miracle, and each of us can help perpetuate that miracle by doing our part in making these dreams and miracles happen.

So now, as we remember the miracles of Chanukah thousands of years ago, I urge every member of the community to kindle the lights once again to help continue to create miracles for all of the children of Sinai by supporting Sinai’s annual campaign.

Just as a group of three parents with an idea and need 40 years ago lit a spark that ignited a vision of miracles that led to the establishment of Sinai Schools, so too may we pledge to continue to keep that vision and dream and miracle for all students to receive a Jewish special education that meets their needs.

Chanukah sameach to us all.

Esther Lerer
Vice President, Sinai Schools

Seriously, Rabbi Boteach?

Rabbi Boteach seems to me to be confusing religion/faith, power, and trust in valid science. (“Prayer is an antibody and faith is a vaccine,” December 4.)

The science/medical experts have concluded that the amount of time spent in a bicycle or liquor store, and the number of social interactions there, is generally going to be comparatively much less than the time and social interaction that will occur in a communal prayer service. And considering a prayer service’s religious importance, they do indeed allow it and therefore kept it limited to what they deem to be a hopefully safe number without taking too much risk. (Knowing full well that today everything is a risk.) In fact, they did not shutter churches, synagogues and mosques.

I agree with Boteach that Pope Francis “knows more than most that prayers are … deep seated human needs.” When I pray at home, my home becomes “a house of prayer.” And I trust that my God sees it that way. If some people need further consolation by knowing that there is a minyan praying in my synagogue, I accept their need. But it is not a better substitute than my devotion. (In the case of my synagogue. 10 human beings over the age of 13, regardless of their gender, are considered to be a minyan.)

If I believed that God paid more attention to the faith of the minyan than to my singular prayers in this time of crises, how could I also believe that he/she meant that saving a life is the most important value that a human being can have?

Those same brave medical professionals and scientists whom the rabbi lauds, who are working to save our lives (and whom I’m sure are not socializing or singing prayers and are knowingly risking their lives for him) are the ones who have come up with guidelines, based on their knowledge and experience. At this moment they are concerned about the saving of lives, potentially millions of them. I’m sure if it were up to them, they would rather not have the power to influence people’s personal rights and desires.

As for pitting Governor Cuomo vs the Holocaust — nice try pulling out the Holocaust card. What he says has no bearing on the substantial points that he made that I have commented on here.

Zelda Greenstein

Enough with the platitudes, Rabbi Boteach

Rabbi Boteach never fails to amaze, and his op ed, “Prayer is an antibody and faith is a vaccine,” did not disappoint.

Besides the usual self aggrandizement and name dropping (this week a governor, a major news outlet, and two popes — a possible record) he proceeds to chastise Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York for his attempt to ban groups of more than 10 to 25 people in houses of worship. One could argue that the ban should have included other venues. Fair enough.

But Rabbi Boteach seems to see this an an attack on faith itself. This is ridiculous. It was an attempt to control the spread of the coronavirus and nothing more. The CDC and health officials all have recommended limiting group gatherings, and yet there are Satmar weddings being held with thousands of maskless guests crowding into the wedding venue.

Can we blame Governor Cuomo for his attempt to get people to behave rationally?

Rabbi Boteach then says that “the role of religion is to tell us that amid the horror show, we’re all going to make it.” Really? I was under the impression that religion should guide us in living a moral, ethical life, not to serve up platitudes during times of trouble. I do not need Rabbi Boteach’s pat on the head for reassurance, as though I were a child who cannot think for myself and do what is right for my community. And that means, for now, staying home, just as Governor Cuomo recommends.

Susan Fishbein Druck

Will Trump leave Biden a war?

In “Will Trump leave Biden a war in the Middle East?” (December 4), the author, Ron Kampeas, paints a picture of President Trump, with or without Israel, attacking nuclear facilities in Iran. Trump is painted as setting fires regarding Iran to sabotage Biden’s presidency. If anything, it is Biden, the policies that he and the Democrats have stated that they will take, that may precipitate a conflict. Attack plans by Trump are not new. Plans for strikes against Iran have been or should have been in the books, since the Obama administration. They should and must have been upgraded in the years since.

The assassination and most probably more before the Biden inauguration will occur. They will put Israel, the U.S. and the world in a better position for peace than before any deals that Biden has promised to make can take place. With his presidency, we are told that he will reenter the Nuclear Deal that he and Obama negotiated and that he strongly fought in favor of. A deal that has many secret codices that are still unknown. He stated that he will remove sanctions imposed by Trump and will renegotiate the terms of the deal. The big problem with that is that leaders in Iran have stated that they will only return to the original 2015 deal. They will not negotiate a “New Deal”. They will not remove any violations of the original deal and will have no need to under the new president.

Kampeas infers that a U.S. strike would be illegal according to international law since Iran states that it does not have a nuclear weapons program. That there is no nuclear weapons program can be disputed by evidence in the material brought back to Israel after their raid on intelligence and nuclear facilities in Iran. We see by the development of I.C.B.M. systems and the increase of the amounts of nuclear material being upgraded that this is false. Our nation is governed by our laws, not by International Law. Trump is the Commander-in-Chief of all U.S. Armed forces. If he orders a strike, it will be carried out. He will act in what he believes is the best interests of our nation.

As the incoming president, Biden, can expect that neither Netanyahu nor any other foreign leader will say anything publicly to “get on his wrong side”. I am sure that behind the scenes he is getting a far different picture.

Most probably many of the higher ups in the military, nuclear and weapons programs of Iran are continually looking over their shoulders. With the election of Biden, there will be more actions to delay or sharply cut back on their military and terrorist programs in Iran and throughout the world, taken by the U.S. and/or Israel before he takes office. Any war that breaks out at this point of time will be due to the anticipated actions of Biden, not to a legacy desired by others.

Howard J. Cohn
New Milford

Our democratic system prevails

I rejoice! We will no longer have to hear lie after lie about the election being a fraud and about illegal ballots. Donald J. Trump soon will be gone.

President-elect Joe Biden won by 306 electoral votes (51.38% of the popular vote) and Trump won 232 electoral votes (46.91% of the popular vote).

December 14th is when the Electoral College votes for the winning candidate selected by the voters of the respective states. This is followed on January 6, 2021 when a joint session of Congress records the vote of the Electoral College. Mike Pence, as vice president, presides over the ceremony. The final number of tallied counts for president and vice president are read aloud by the the Vice President and the election is formally concluded.

The inauguration on January 20, 2021 is when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in at the Capitol Building and officially assume their office.

Our democratic system prevails.

Grace Jacobs
Cliffside Park

More about Teaneck’s Holocaust memorial

“It happened here” (December 4), about the Enslaved African Memorial Committee and the Northern New Jersey Holocaust Memorial & Education Center, nicely explained the EAMC’s mission but did not give much information about the Holocaust Memorial & Education Center or the crux of the Memorandum of Understanding that we signed with the EAMC. The Township of Teaneck has allocated an outdoor area of 35’x35’ to both the EAMC as well as the Northern New Jersey Holocaust Memorial and Education Center on the Municipal Green that already houses a World War II Memorial, a Korean War Memorial, a Memorial to the victims of 9/11, as well as one to Sara Duker Z’l”. The goal is to establish a Garden to Nurture Human Understanding that will attract visitors from all over the State of New Jersey and beyond and teach them what happens when fascism and racism take hold of society. The Holocaust Memorial will focus on commemorating the victims of the Shoah as well as creating comprehensive programs for Holocaust education. The EAMC Memorial will focus on remembering victims of slavery that was perpetuated right here in our community.

The Memorandum of Understanding that was signed last month is historic in the sense that it is the first time that a Jewish group and an African American group will collaborate to create memorials and collaborative educational programs on the same campus. The memorials will be supported with a designated room in the Teaneck Public Library along with use of the auditorium for public events and presentations.

While each group will solicit funding from their respective communities, we will also work together on joint fundraising opportunities from major foundations as well as creating educational programs that will show the commonalities of both tragedies. One major objective is to address the present day plagues of rising racism and anti-Semitism across the country and globe. Studies have shown that holocaust education is an effective deterrent to antisemitism and given the fact that New Jersey was second in the country in antisemitic occurrences in 2019, the need for such a memorial and education center is greater than ever.

We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a Garden where large swaths of the regional community can come and learn about the Holocaust and Enslaved Africans and pay tribute to the victims. The EAMC has been successful in securing grants towards their goals and we need our amazing community to support the project in a meaningful way to make it a reality.

For more information, or to donate please go to www,nnjholocaustmemorial.org.

Steve Fox
Co-chair, Northern New Jersey Holocaust Memorial & Education Committee

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