In a letter on February 22, in response to a column by my dear friend Rhonda Rosenheck (“Dear Israel: An open letter of concern,” February 15), Paul Jeser claims that Ms. Rosenheck is a shviger, a derogatory Yiddish expression for a hypercritical mother-in-law. Mr. Jeser misses the mark.
The truth is that Rhonda has lived in Israel. Her students, those who attended the Schechter Regional High School in Teaneck, have become olim. Several have served in the IDF. My own daughter made aliyah and now lives in Jerusalem, thanks to the deep love of Israel inculcated under Rhonda’s leadership.
Mr. Jeser also alludes to Rabbi David Hartman, z”l, holding him up as an example of someone who never criticized Israel. That’s not entirely true.
In “A Living Covenant,” Rabbi Hartman writes, “[I] had the privilege of participating in the rebirth of the Jewish people in Israel, with its joys and sufferings, its hopes and disappointmentsâ€¦. The task of the covenantal Jew now is to show that we can build a Judaic society not by resorting to dogmatism and legal coercion, but â€¦ by means of the compelling example of the way we live our daily lives. We must avail ourselves of â€¦ education and must not deceive ourselves that religious legislation can in any significant way alter the character structure of a people.”
Rhonda Rosenheck is a role model of how to live a covenantal life. According to Rabbi Hartman, she is surely on the right side. I join with her, with Natan Sharansky, with Yair Lapid, and with so many others who recognize that the Kotel is a place for all Jews, regardless of gender, denomination, race, or origin.