Perpetuating the stigma

While Ms. Frolich seemed to take a very negative view of the article “Frum Times in Teaneck High” (Letters, “How dare you?,” January 19, responding to “Frum times in Teaneck High,” January 12), it was also an unrealistic one, and as a self-described educator, she should know better.

She should know that not every Jewish child fits the mold of a Jewish day school student. She also should know that the Jewish day school system obviously has flaws that make it impossible for some children to flourish as well as impossible for some parents to afford. The Jewish day school system may work for most frum children, but not all, and we should applaud the parents interviewed in the article for doing what was best for their children.

Ms. Frolich should apologize to these children for perpetuating the stigma placed upon them for simply not fitting the mold.

Beatrice Baum

Frisch oversteps its boundaries

I write today to express my shock at the actions of the Frisch School as described in a January 17 article in Haaretz, wherein the school administration orchestrated a student letter-writing campaign to President Trump in response to his decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem. (See this week’s paper, page 12). As most readers of the Standard know full well, I have been a longtime advocate of American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the relocating of our embassy to Jerusalem. I personally wrote a public statement applauding this action last month.

However, I am also a passionate advocate for church/state separation. I believe that religious institutions should refrain from overt political activity. Moreover, I am deeply concerned that when a school administration “suggests” that students take a political action, going to the extent of disseminating a draft of a letter, that the students’ ability to exercise their free will is severely limited.

The Haaretz article mentioned that the students were encouraged, but not required, to write letters to President Trump. The unstated implication is that the school did not overstep the boundaries of church/state separation. For me, the issue is not merely a question of whether the Frisch School’s action was within the letter of the law, but rather to raise the question of whether as American Jews who have been beneficiaries of the protection of the American Bill of Rights for the past 240 years, we do not have a responsibility, in the spirit of Jewish law, to insure that our communal institutions, be they synagogues or particularly our schools, build a fence around this sacred principal of American life, so that even the appearance of stepping over the line is protected.

Rabbi Neal I. Borovitz
Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Avodat ShalomRiver Edge

Imagine a unified nuclear Korea

I was gratified to find an article about Dr. Tom Grunfeld, an expert on East Asian studies who has spent time in North Korea (“Know your enemy,” January 19). Hearing a firsthand account of conditions there contributes to a better understanding of the people and culture north of the 38th parallel and south of the Yalu River.

Dr. Grunfeld’s account of the North Korean nuclear program jibes with my experience. I did business with South Koreans in the nuclear field for many years, as well as the IAEA in Vienna. The latter was doing a credible regulatory job up to the time that President George Bush Jr. destabilized nonproliferation. In 1992, the North Koreans veered away from the NPT framework and started to ramp up their clandestine development activities.

Meanwhile, there is a well-established nuclear industry in the South. Twenty-four power reactors there produce one third of the country’s electricity. Nuclear medicine is in widespread use at public and university hospitals. The only thing the South lacks is a nuclear weapons program.

Russia, China, India, and Pakistan have nukes. Is it so far fetched to imagine a united nuclear Korea? It is possible that the games being played in Korea next month are all about reconciliation of a people united for the past 4,000 years, and divided only for the past 73 years. A mere speck in time. The Koreans want to send a signal to China, Japan, and the rest of the world. When you see a Kia or Hyundai on the road here, think about Korea on a par with France and England. When Korea unifies, Japan will go nuclear in response.

This genie is not new. America uncorked the bottle 73 years ago. And we won’t be able to bully the genie back into the bottle. The only rational way out is talking, with a renewed focus on global nuclear nonproliferation.

Eric Weis