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Mitzvot clarification

I would like to thank the Jewish Standard and Abigail Klein Leichman on such a wonderful well written article on the nursing home clothing project that I am involved with (“Dressing the needy,” July1). It has brought public awareness of the project; just this past week since it was published numerous more people have approached me regarding donations. I am happy that many more recipients will benefit as a result.

There is one point, however, that I would like to clarify. I had mentioned in the interview that there are two types of mitzvot — between man and God (Shabbos, kashrut, etc.) and between man and man (treating your fellow man well). I wanted to say that they are of equal importance. The point I wanted to make was that sometimes people are strict with the mitzvot between man and God and lax with the mitzvot between their fellow man, and that is wrong. I believe that both types of mitzvot should be pursued with equal zeal

Unfortunately I miscommunicated this in the interview and the article said that I believe the mitzvot between man and man are more important. That is not my belief, and I wanted to clarify it.

Dr. Sam Carr
Fair Lawn

Thank you, Mr. Wiesel

Elie Wiesel A”H was a unique and inspiring individual, whose experience during the Holocaust influenced him to not only fight to perpetuate the memory of the 6 million Jews who died, but also to speak out against all genocide.

I was fortunate to videotape an interview with him a number of years ago, and recounted to him how my father A”H had last seen him at the late Benjamin Meed’s birthday party in Florida. Ben was the head of the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization — my father worked with it for more than 40 years. It was the group most responsible for creating large public Holocaust commemorations in New York.

Elie’s passing signifies yet another end of an era of survivors who overcame unthinkable odds and spent their lifetimes making sure that the world would not forget.

My father was my biggest role model for keeping the lessons of the Holocaust alive, and he, along with Elie Weisel and Professor Yaffa Eliach, who I studied with at Brooklyn College, were my heroes. It was their eloquence and determination never to let the world forget what happens when racism and tyranny are allowed to go unchecked that kept a moral conscience on an otherwise immoral world.

We will miss Elie Wiesel terribly. May his memory be a blessing.

Steve Fox
Teaneck

Mr. Fox is co-chair of the Teaneck Holocaust Commemoration Committee and the Northern New Jersey Holocaust Memorial and Education Center, which is to be built in Teaneck.

In education, basics first

Mr. Adam Poswolsky must have interviewed a small select group of millennials, because most are interested in getting a job that enables them to exist on their own while living with parents, sharing an apartment with others, etc. His do-gooders are a vast minority who probably can afford to live as do-gooders (“How might we engage students?” July 1). As for learning, basic tools are needed before problems can be solved.

Omitted from today’s teachings are the importance of geography and civics. Knowing how children learn is a priority. Individual and group goals are desirable for learning. The path to achieve these goals does not always involve problem learning. If adults cannot solve world problems, can elementary students do so?

The young lady who has solved some of the mysteries of cancer growth had a basic learning experience and from that expanded through personal interest and challenge to achieve her goal. The problem solving came after basic learning, not as part of basic learning. All of course is dependent on the target student population.

Shel Haas
Fort Lee

Mr. Haas has been a teacher, school principal, high-level administrator, and curriculum writer for the New York City Board of Education, specializing in mathematics.

What happened to civility?

In today’s political climate, we witness how it has become commonplace for political candidates to name-call and use insults. This is no way to win an election. They would be better served to run on issues covering domestic and foreign concerns. Name-calling is harmful and degrading and definitely not presidential. I don’t recall any other time in our history, how low the debates among the Republicans were. The candidates resorted to thuggish, unprecedented behavior.

I am disgusted by the lack of civility that exists in our modern day discourse and am looking for a candidate with values and principles who will best serve our nation.

Think of all the nastiness and disrespect that is permeating our nation’s discourse. For example, how despicable it is for a candidate for the office of president to make racist statements? What does this teach our children? Where are the good and qualified people to seek election? My answer to that is who wants to be placed in a position of name-calling and the spewing of lies?

To me, the most ugly, harmful display of disrespect was shown toward President Obama during one of his State of the Union addresses, when he was shouted down by a Republican lawmaker who yelled, “You’re a liar!” Such incivility was disgraceful, insidious, and dangerous.

I quote from my favorite book, “A Code of Jewish Ethics, Vol. 1” by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, and from my Torah teachings as follows:

“The Rabbis explain that while the Torah’s commandments were revealed and became binding only at the time of the revelation at Mount Sinai, the obligation to act with courtesy and civility toward others originated with Adam and the creation of humanity. God could imagine humankind existing for thousands of years without the Torah, but He could not imagine human beings existing without the need for civility.”

All Americans should be concerned about the lack of civility in today’s political climate.

Grace Jacobs
Cliffside Park

In support of Donald Trump!

Ben Cohen “Orlando atrocity highlights America’s divisions” (June 24) would have been much more meaningful if he had stuck to the facts and not concentrated on ad hominem attacks on Donald Trump and those who may support him. Mr. Cohen should have stayed with the Islamist angle instead of emphasizing his dislike and animosity toward Donald Trump. Falsehood and childish attacks will not win over those who are not already in one’s camp.

He starts off with the non-factual statements that “hundreds” were wounded by a legally purchased assault rifle in the hands of the Islamist gunman. The wounded numbered 53 and the weapon used was not an assault rifle, although it was purchased legally.

We are then informed that on one side we have those for gun control and on the other side, “Trump and his rainbow coalition of the angry, cheated, and the merely racist.” Really? This is the composition of Trump’s supporters? Whether Mr. Cohen recognizes it as such, the Islamist threat is a domestic issue. Anything affecting us within the borders of the U.S.A. is a domestic issue. Although there should be some restrictions on gun ownership, this may make ownership and possession of an illegal weapon harder and more expensive to acquire. It will not make it impossible for those desiring to acquire one  from getting one.

We now learn that according to Mr. Cohen, Putin is “the one foreign leader idolized by Trump.” This idolization will in turn lead to more power for the Russians, the Iranians and Assad in Syria as the policemen in the Middle East. Could Mr. Cohen please explain how this will be different than what is happening now in the area under President Obama? Cohen then presents the choice for the U. S. voter between having a former KGB leader to form the new paths that will be taken in the Middle East or “a reality TV star whose hair will fall out at the first crackle of gunfire.” It’s not easy to dispel the logic of this argument presented by Cohen unless one has the ability to discern the difference between the sun and the moon. Better ad hominem than facts or reason.

We then are presented with the choice between, “one (candidate) compromised by her past record, the other a vulgar neophyte…” It would have been informative for him to let the reader know why he considers her “compromised by her record” but that would be expecting too much. “Vulgar neophyte,” another sophomoric choice of terms.

The thrust of his opinion piece was to further demonize Trump and not to present light to the issue. The polarizing of the people is being fed predominantly by the Obama administration, their allies and the American media.

Mr. Cohen would have better served himself and his readers by using his skills as a writer to compose his words and facts in a way to deliver his message in a logical manner, devoid of ad hominem attacks.

Howard J. Cohn
New Milford

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