To the Editor:
Since the June 12 kidnapping of three Israeli students in the West Bank by Hamas, the world’s press seems to be complying with a total gag order on the story. Now that Palestinians are affronted by Israel’s search methods, that is what is being covered. But what is overlooked, again, is the lack of moral equivalency between the terrorists’ kidnapping of three innocent boys and Israel’s attempt to rescue them quickly in a hostile environment.
At the Jewish Federation’s Thursday night Solidarity Rally, several speakers spoke about compassion. Some pointed out Israel’s compassion for Palestinians and other Arabs in enforcing strict limits on military engagements, so as not to injure civilians, and treating over 100 Syrian refugees per month, plus the granddaughter of Ismail Haniya, Prime Minister of Gaza, and Amina Abbas, wife of the Palestinian Authority president, in Israeli hospitals. Others said this crisis should teach us the importance of compassion.
The kidnappers are terrorists who committed a dreadful and inexcusable crime. Pres. Abbas condemns the act and offers Israel help in search for the boys. But his people are dancing jubilantly in the streets. If the terrorists succeed in widening the rift between Palestinians and Israelis, it will be to no one’s advantage but their own.
We should try, even in this frightening crisis, to seek peace. I take my guidance mostly from the Israeli movie “The Gatekeepers,” which presents interviews with the last six retired heads of Shin Bet, the agency with the primary responsibility for maintaining internal security in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. The consensus of these experts was that what is needed is more compassion. One spoke of a Palestinian official who told him that what the Palestinians want is not peace, but for Israelis to suffer as much as they perceive they have. To bring clarity to the problem, we must recognize that there are two incompatible narratives of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Even before Israeli security forces began their intensive search of the West Bank, the people were celebrating the “successful” kidnapping. Since Israel has turned the West Bank upside-down, arrested several Palestinian leaders, and shot some rioting Palestinians (which situations are under investigation by Israel), Palestinian resentment and spite has only increased. The heads of Shin Bet strongly questioned whether Israel’s sometimes harsh investigation methods were helping our cause or making peace impossible.
We should expect Abbas to do his utmost to maintain control and decorum among his people. Perhaps the Israeli government should spend more energy on trying to snatch peace from the jaws of terror than proving that the Palestinians cannot control themselves and just want the destruction of Israel as the Jewish homeland. Perhaps this could begin with a change of tactics in investigating security risks and crimes. Perhaps that recognition of the Palestinian narrative and some more cooperation may loosen some tongues that can provide either Palestinian or Israeli security forces with the information they need. In this way, our hoped for outcome, the safe and speedy return of the boys, could become a step towards peace.
To the Editor:
I’m responding to the possibility of a “kosher bar” opening in the Teaneck area.
I think that people are simply not aware of the enormous toll taken by alcohol and drugs on our youth and families. Young lives are ruined and families are being shattered by the irresponsible use of alcohol and by drugs, including marijuana.
If we value the lives of our children and the wholesomeness of our families, we should find ways to discourage drinking and drug use. A kosher bar, where people can assemble to drink is giving the diametric opposite message.
Youngsters emulate grownups. We should not promote drinking by having a kosher bar.
Abraham J. Twerski, MD
To the Editor:
This past week marked the 40th anniversary of our living in Teaneck and of our membership at Beth Aaron. That’s a long time in one community. We came with our 7-month-old son, not knowing other young people. We’ve seen the community change from one with no kosher restaurants, bakery, butcher, or mikvah to one with so many choices to shop and eat, and with a large modern mikvah. Our children all grew up here and participated in youth activities both in town and Beth Aaron venues.
Beth Aaron started in one congregant’s home and then moved to someone’s basement. As the congregation grew, services were in the Eugene Field School, the present Board of Education building. Then Dr. Stuart Litwin, who practiced at 950 Queen Anne Road, offered his office for services. When he decided to move, the house and office were purchased and became the permanent home of Beth Aaron. The small membership all participated in each other’s smachot. We couldn’t wait to welcome new families. As we outgrew the space, many renovations took place, until the building was knocked down and a new shul was built. Beth Aaron became known as the friendly shul, and we were all there to help each other. We had faith that the shul and community would grow, and so it did.
Each of our three children married started families and decided that Israel was really the place to live. One by one, they made aliyah. Grandchildren came, but we were 6,000 miles away. So, we made the decision to join them and make aliyah, too.
It will be very bittersweet leaving the friends and community that we love when we depart on the July 21st Nefesh b’Nefesh flight, but with that comes the excitement of moving to Israel to be with our children and grandchildren. We will miss Teaneck very much. When you are in Israel, please call or visit: 201-203-8311 American Line; Cell 053 - 624 – 6584.
We’ll leave the light on for ya!
Barbara and Kal Feinberg
To the Editor:
When I count the many perks of my job, “encounters with extraordinary women” is one of the prominent ones. In recent years I have become an ardent admirer of four Orthodox women from Beit Shemesh, Nili Philipp, Eve Finkelstein, Miriam Friedman Zussman, and Rachely Yair Schloss. Last Tuesday they gave their testimonies in our court case against the municipality of Beit Shemesh for failing to remove the modesty signs that are lining the streets of Beit Shemesh.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has issued a report that declares such signs discriminatory and illegal. Nevertheless, the municipality continues to give excuses for why the signs have yet to be removed.
Mati Chuta, the city’s Director General was questioned on the stand by our lawyer, Orly Erez Likhovski:
Orly: Why are you not ordering the city inspectors to take down the signs?
Chuta: “The city has to be managed with great sensitivity towards the different communities, removing the signs is not a priority for us at all…it causes unnecessary disquiet…when I weigh these issues, I put the signs aside… There’s no point in removing the signs. As soon as we take one down another comes back. It’s a very expensive endeavor…We have no way to deal with it.”
Orly: “What steps have you taken to implement the Attorney General’s report?”
Chuta: “I haven’t seen the report, I haven’t done a thing”
The city’s spokesperson Matti Rosenzweig was also questioned. He claimed “Women can alleviate the insult caused to them by simply removing it from their agenda. The minute women turn the signs into a symbol, they aggravate things.”
The four women were given the opportunity to tell the judge how the signs affect them. Their testimonies showed that to avoid causing offense and to respect religious sensitivities, women are asked to relinquish far more substantive rights. These women demand to know why they should they be the ones to bear the cost of the religious needs of a group of extremist Haredi men. They are asking the judge, the municipality and Israeli society to take notice: the placing of signs in public spaces demanding that women observe extreme modesty standards is hurtful, it’s illegal and it should be stopped.
In a Bat-Mitzva we bless the young girl, May you be like the foremothers of Israel who built our nation. There are many ways to build the sovereign Jewish state of Israel. Nili, Eve, Miriam, and Rachely are the foremothers on the front lines of the struggle for a sane Beit Shemesh. There will, one day, be a sign in Beit Shemesh commemorating their audacity, sisterhood, and unique contribution to their home town.
Chairman of the Board for Women of the Wall