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Remembering Union City

Having read about the YJCC in Washington Township recently (“What happened? August 14), If was not surprised with its closure. I am well aware firsthand of the way a community’s changing dynamics and fluctuating needs range from intense vibrancy and growth to potential demise. Reality is that life does not stand still, and change is inevitable. The survival of the fittest reigns supreme.

Having grown up as the daughter of Rabbi Harold Hirschman z”l, who was both the rabbi of Temple Israel Emanuel in Union City for more than 40 years, starting in the late 1940s, and a notable rav in the Yeshiva of Hudson County during its existence, I can personally attest to the gradual shift of population, as the once-vibrant Hudson County Jewish community migrated to northern New Jersey and Rockland County.

For all those who can remember, Temple Israel Emanuel, on 34th Street, was a replica of the first synagogue in the United States, in Rhode Island, with its top balcony overlooking the men’s section and Aaron Kodesh. It was an active synagogue, with the Jewish Community Center around the corner and an elementary school, the Yeshiva of Hudson County, serving Jewish families in the surrounding areas, including West New York, Bayonne, North Bergen, and Jersey City. I witnessed first hand the dwindling of a modern Orthodox synagogue whose constituency literally was reduced to barely a minyan on the High Holidays. The changing demographics became obvious. The Yeshiva of Hudson County eventually metamorphosed into the Rosenberg Mesifta of North Jersey in River Edge, which we all know is now soaring, with a healthy student body of more than 1.000

We were fortunate to have the Klausenburg Mesivta Sanz’s rebbe take an interest in Union City, and finally it took over both the vacant shul and the massive JCC building for its shul and mesivta needs. Because of the Klausenburgs, Yiddishkeit is once again thriving in Union City. Who could have predicted that? I have only accolades for the Klausenburg Mesivta Sanz of Union City; it is a warm, caring, and genuine community of people who deserve all the hakaras hatov in the world. Today the Klausenburg community lives amicably alongside the dominant Cuban population in the enclave of Union City.

By the way, anyone who wants to catch a minyan traveling via the Lincoln Tunnel to or from NYC is welcome to daven with the mesivta Community — they are the most gracious, friendly, sincere community, welcoming all to come daven with them, whether it be for Megila reading on Purim or for Selichot during the month of Elul.

Change is inevitable, whether it’s planned or not. I hope that the YJCC community accepts its fate, with the underlying hope of re-opening.

And kudos to Jerry Nathans for setting up a new home for the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey (“From garage to basement to museum,” July 30). I’ve already sent memorabilia and pictures to commemorate the once flourishing Jewish community of Union City.

Ruby Kaplan
Teaneck

Shmuley and Shlufman are wrong

I read the August 21 op eds by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and Daniel Shlufman. Shmuley purports to give Senator Booker room to make up his own mind about how he should vote on the Iran deal, while Mr. Shlufman tells us to follow the leader. Rabbi Boteach never gives Cory a chance. The title says it all: “Cory Booker would never vote for Iran over Israel.”

After basically giving us a blow-by-blow narrative of their longstanding friendship, he ultimately gives Cory no choice. No matter how he tries to hide it, the rabbi essentially says to Mr. Booker that if he votes for the Iran deal, he is a turncoat to his Jewish friends and contributors and to the State of Israel, and, of course, to him, his devoted friend.

Mr. Shlufman gives us the illusion that our Jewish leaders, or at least the ones he agrees with, know best, and we should just support their viewpoint and pressure our political representatives to vote against the Iran deal. In essence, both rabbi and JFNNJ board member are pressuring us to let our members in Congress know that the whole of the Jewish community stands united behind them as they vote against the deal.

Nothing is farther from the truth. Yes, there is a lot of discussion and disagreement in the Jewish community on this issue, but certainly there is no unity. Mr. Shlufman is taking the same tactic as our federation took a few weeks ago, when it sponsored a “briefing” by AIPAC, Mr. Netanyahu’s mouthpiece, on the Iran deal at Temple Emanuel in Closter.

This was no briefing. It was a rally against the Iran deal, with no opportunity for anyone in the audience of 700 who attended to ask questions. I am particularly disturbed by Mr. Shlufman’s statement: “It is also time to note that when 70 percent of those under the age of 30 did not support last summer’s Gaza war, we cannot yet allow those who do not have the maturity or the understanding of the facts of this deal to dictate the position of the Jewish people.”

I don’t know where Mr. Shlufman gets his statistics, but this is such nonsense. On the one hand, we constantly make grand statements that we want our young people to be involved. On the other hand, we tell them, don’t bother. You don’t know anything anyway. We, the experienced ones, know better, and you should follow us. I remember that I dreaded the day that the United States, under the leadership of President Bush, invaded Iraq. I thought it was wrong, and I spoke out about it, but the impression was that the Jewish community supported the invasion because it was good for Israel. At least that is what our experienced elders told us. No one will admit to supporting this now, because we all know now how destructive and wrong that invasion was.

I am an Israeli-born cantor, and at my congregation, Beth Rishon in Teaneck, I feel that I have an obligation to speak out on issues, whether my congregants agree with me or not. As clergy, I am expected to lead, not follow. And, in fact, on the issue of the Iran deal, probably many of my congregants agree with Mr. Shlufman. But, at least, there is room for dialogue.

Our Jewish tradition has taught us that follow the leader is not always the best policy or the best direction. I prefer making up my own mind on this most important issue, and I hope the rest of the Jewish community in Bergen County does the same.

Cantor Ilan Mamber
Franklin Lakes
Former board member, Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey

What’s up with the poll?

We are survey experts and once in a while we notice disturbing survey results. These are the statements at question:

“April 27, 2015 — American Voters Back Iran Deal By Wide Margin, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds” and “August 3, 2015 — American Voters Oppose Iran Deal 2-1, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds.”

Really? How is it possible that American voters changed their minds so quickly and fundamentally?

It turns out they may not have, but the questions asked were different. In particular, the question asked in the April poll was a leading question:

“As you may know a preliminary agreement was reached in which the United States and other countries would lift major economic sanctions against Iran, in exchange for Iran restricting its nuclear program in a way that makes it harder for it to produce nuclear weapons. Do you support or oppose this agreement?”

In other words, the meaning of the Iran deal was laid out for the voters, instead of letting the voters decide what it meant.

In the August poll the question was neutral:

“Do you support or oppose the nuclear deal with Iran?”

Quinnipiac University pollers did not issue a retraction of the earlier survey, nor did they discuss how they changed the question for the August survey.

A similarly leading question on Iran was used in a poll commissioned from Social Science Research Solutions by the LA Jewish Journal. It asked:

“As you know, an agreement was reached in which the United States and other countries would lift major economic sanctions against Iran, in exchange for Iran restricting its nuclear program in a way that makes it harder for it to produce nuclear weapons.”

They got a result very similar to the April Quinnipiac poll. There has been no retraction or discussion of the question in the Jewish Journal.

As they say (though nobody knows who said it first): “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Eugen Tarnow
Fair Lawn

Iran and ‘Death to Israel’

Mr. Lerman’s wishful thinking (Letters, August 21) ignores the reality of Iran’s full support of terrorist groups throughout the world. Handing them 150 billion dollars to further their goals makes no sense. I wonder which part of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” Mr. Lerman does not understand.

He closed his letter with the comment (totally irrelevant to the Iran issue) “…..his (Netanyahu’s) pro-settlement policies are not helping.” So, “pro-settlement policies” are part of the cause of Israel’s problems? Ah, yes. If only those settlements did not exist, there would be peace throughout the peace-loving Arab world.

A Palestinian state will be just another Arab Muslim terrorist state dedicated to the destruction of Israel. To the Arabs, all of Israel is on “occupied” land. This issue is not solely about Judea and Samaria (the so-called West Bank). The issue is the very existence of the tiny, beleaguered, fantastic Jewish homeland.

Israel can take care of the Palestinians. Israel can survive the bleeding-heart leftist Jews. I’m not so sure it can survive a nuclear Iran, with its “Death to Israel” goal. This is the sad reality.

Charlie Bernhaut
New York City

Please, Mr. Booker …

Senator Cory Booker stated that the CJPOA is very flawed (“All eyes on Booker,” August 28). His concern that there is no reasonable alternative does not make any sense to me. I am very concerned that he is allowing political considerations to influence his decision in this vital debate. If this is so, I have lost confidence in him and he will never see my vote again!! I urge him to have courage and vote no what he acknowledges is a bad and dangerous deal.

Jerrold Terdiman MD
Woodcliff Lake

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