A response to Rabbi Boteach

I do not intend to reply to Rabbi Boteach’s ad hominem attacks, this time against me, and turn the columns of this paper into a ring for him and me to duke it out (“Responding to a rabbi’s attack,” November 27).

Rabbi Boteach asks why I am “obsessed” with him? I am not. In fact, I think the only one who is obsessed with Shmuely is Shmuely. Perhaps that is the core of our divergence.

Suffice to say, I disagree with his portrayals. Boteach’s assaults on me are the very behavior that was the impetus for me to call him out. Clearly, I am the latest in an ever-growing list of people whom “America’s Rabbi” has in his crosshairs. Considering the source, I will wear it as a badge of courage.

Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner
Temple Emanu-El of Closter

Robust defense divinely sanctioned

The book “Our Promised Land” by Charles Selengut levels criticisms at the settler movement for the religious basis of their “extremism” (“The new Jews,” November 27). Selengut’s thoughts are flawed from the start. The very impetus for the modern State of Israel derives solely from our religious views and texts. The secular aspects came much later. The Israeli Defense Forces actions are just as religiously substantiated as those of the settlers who attempt to defend themselves, because the act of a robust defense of our people is divinely sanctioned.

The perception that Jews did not see violence, when needed, as a legitimate means of protection was a foreign concept to our ancestors. The Jews did not shirk from battle with the Amalekites, Canaanites, Philistines, Greeks, and Romans. In fact, the Jewish rebellions of 66 C.E., 117 C.E., and 132 C.E. were major undertakings, supported by the majority of the Jews against the vile predations of the Romans. Only with exile and defeat did we become the doormat of history. This lowly status yielded 100,000 dead at the hands of the Cossack Chmielnicki, tens of thousands dead at the hands of the Catholic Crusaders, and millions dead at the hands of the Germans.

The Jews who live in the “settlements” have the right to defend their families and homes in any and every way possible, especially when the government of Israel fails to protect its citizens (which was the case under various governments). Please note that Arabs view the settlements as including all areas in which Jews live. The 1948 border is simply a joke, as they clearly state that they want the entire land.

Jerusalem is considered a settlement. The Golan Heights is a settlement. And all the Jews stabbed and murdered since the beginning of the state by Arabs are considered settlers. To think otherwise is a sad leftist delusion. It is a religious imperative of the Jewish people not to commit suicide, nationally or individually. There is nothing wrong with the Jewish pride that says we will be like normal people and not lay down to the slaughter ever again.

This is the Jewish truth.

Scott David Lippe, M.D.
Fair Lawn

USCJ’s support of college students

We were very pleased to see your coverage of the 2015 USCJ convention and the Shoshana S. Cardin Award winner Eric Leiderman (“Asking the Right Questions,” November 20). I did want to clarify one point, however, regarding USCJ and our support of college students.

USCJ still runs several Israel-based programs to support young Jewish adults, including Nativ, a college gap year and leadership training program; Yozma, a gap-year program for students with disabilities; and the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, which offers a 9-month gap year and accredited study abroad programs for college students.

At our just completed 2015 convention, we held a college leadership training for more than 20 emerging college leaders to equip them with strategies to engage Conservative Jewish life on their campuses. Some of the biggest universities in the United States were represented, including the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Maryland, Princeton University, Northwestern University, and SUNY Binghamton.

This demographic is a priority for USCJ and we are continually exploring how to improve our outreach efforts.

Rabbi Steven C. Wernick
CEO, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
New York, NY

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