The pleasures of cleaning

“No ticket, no Torah?” (January 29) brought back many memories. I am a member of the Paramus Jewish Community Center/Congregation Beth Tikvah, and a retired dry cleaner.

Before I retired, every year I would strip all of our Torahs of their mantels and ornaments in the week before the High Holidays and meticulously clean them. The men who would hold them year round often would leave finger and handprints and soil on the mantels. As we clean our souls, before the High Holidays, I would clean our Torah mantels. It gave me deep satisfaction.

I also did our tefillin. That is a very difficult job. Besides the sweat marks, the unbraiding of the unauthorized braiding of the tefillin took many difficult hours. This was my pleasure, and part of my contribution to my synagogue.

Thank you for the memories and the pleasures of the memories.

Sheldon Berman

Why, Rabbi Senter?

There are several points I would like to respond to in the JTA story about Rabbi Senter of Portsmouth (“Once Orthodox, eclectic rabbi finds Conservative home in New Hampshire,” February 5)

First of all, there seem to be a rash of articles in a number of Jewish periodicals about Jews who leave Orthodox Judaism. I firmly respect all those who leave. Indeed, as much as I disagree with their ideologues, Cantor Bat Sheva Schecter and Rabbi Senter are doing something very positive if they can attract young Jews to affirm their Jewish identity. However, can’t this paper and others also have articles about Jews who become Orthodox? One gets the impression that Orthodox Judaism is dying from these articles. The surveys of Jewish life don’t support that.

Secondly, the move from Orthodox to Conservative by many rabbis is nothing new. From the 1940’s to the 1960s, it was a frequent occurrence as many rabbis wanted pulpits that could give a wider audience and perhaps a liberal theology. The fact that there are fewer today is indicative that Orthodox Judaism is holding its own.

Thirdly, there is a question why Rabbi Senter acted as a reference for a Muslim cleric who has expressed anti-Israel and anti-Jewish views in the past. Maybe he should not be deported, but someone else ought to provide him with the reference.

Lastly, one has to ask how isolated he and his family must be wanting to live a committed Jewish lifestyle as a Conservative rabbi. There can not be too many individuals observing the dietary laws at all or the various rituals of the Shabbat. If he has children, where are they educated? These questions should have been asked.

Alan Mark Levin
Fair Lawn

More on book banning

My first point in my January 29 letter to the Jewish Standard was that there is nothing wrong with disputing proposed Israeli legislation. In your February 5 issue, an articulate letter writer responded to me by doing just that. His central analogy is that just as many object to European Union and now U.S. demands to single out and label products as originating from the West Bank, so too should we object to Israeli legislation that singles out and requires allegedly nongovernmental organizations to disclose whether they receive most of their funding from foreign governments.

Your letter writer does not, however, compare the European Union and the United States to the Sudan, Korea, China, or Russia for instituting these disclosure requirements. In contrast — and this was the point of my recent letter — in a January 22 Jewish Standard opinion piece, Mark Gold and Hiam Simon, ran, with all deliberate speed, to compare Israel to some of the world’s worst tyrannies simply because the Knesset was considering this legislation. Gold and Simon even accused Israel of “banning books” merely because someone removed a book from a required high school reading list.

We now live in a world in which CBS can produce a headline, “3 Palestinians Killed As Daily Violence Grinds On” when the truth is that these unprovoked Palestinians attacked two innocent Israeli policewomen, killing one of them, and then the killers were shot in order to stop their rampage. The irony is that as more innocent Israelis are stabbed and bludgeoned to death every day, the world seems to get angrier at Israel, and to criticize Israel relentlessly and disproportionately, rather than point the accusatory finger at the society that proudly hails these murderers as heroes. I expect that lovers of freedom and democracy, and especially truth, would, at the very least, not think to mimic CBS by distorting the truth and by placing Israel in the worst possible light, as so many in the world are now doing.

Harry J. Reidler

Creation and superstition

Mr. Zinberg (“The sacred truth,” February  5) and others should read Exodus 2:4 and discover that there were generations of the creation of the heavens and earth in the “day” that God made the earth and the heavens. Notice the change in order. The assumption can be made that one was not subordinate to the others. The generations of the creation of the earth alludes to a long period of time. If a “day” was a long period of time, then the creation of its occupants took a long period of time. The Dinosaur Age was part of the development of the inhabitants of the earth. Hypatia, a great woman of her time, who was murdered for her beliefs, said the following: “Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fantasies. To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible thing. The child mind accepts and believes them, and only through great pain and perhaps tragedy in after years relieved of them. In fact, men will fight for superstition quite as quickly as for a living truth — often more so, since a superstition is so intangible you cannot get at it to refute it, but truth is a point of view, and so, is changeable.”

Shel Haas
Fort Lee

Cruz’s friend

I refer to the “Analysis” by Ron Kampeas “5 questions Jews should be asking after Iowa” (February 5).

Since Ted Cruz has emerged as a front-runner, it is important that the Jewish voters know that Ted Cruz has been endorsed by Mike Bickle, founder and director of the International House of Prayers of Kansas City. Bickle thinks God sent Hitler to hunt the Jews and suggested that millions of Jews were killed during the Holocaust because they didn’t accept God’s gift of Jesus. He further stated that Jews will be exterminated if they don’t embrace Jesus.

I realize that politicians aren’t responsible for all statements made by those that endorse them, but Ted Cruz publicly thanked Bickle for his endorsement. On Cruz’s campaign website, you can read where he says, “I am grateful for Mike’s dedication to call a generation of young people to prayer.”

Ted Cruz welcomed the endorsement from Bickle. If Cruz has any decency, he would not accept such endorsements. If he wants to be president of the United States, he has to be accountable and reject such statements.

Comments by Bickle are not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate. Ted Cruz is not the candidate you want as president and commander in chief of the United States.

Grace Jacobs
Cliffside Park

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