December 18, 2009

Published December 09, 2009, issue of December 18, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Talk to Me Before You Label Me, Says Chelsea Clinton’s Future Uncle

Your December 11 article “Chelsea Clinton Will Join Diverse Mezvinsky Clan” briefly discussed me (an uncle of Clinton’s new fiancé) and my views regarding Israel.

You could easily have contacted me and asked me directly about my views but chose not to do so. Instead, you sought for comment a former academic colleague of mine and a second, extremely negative and biased source, affiliated with the group Campus Watch.

Calling me “anti-Israel,” as your article did, because I have criticized some specific Israeli policies and am opposed to political Zionism is misleading and inaccurate. Calling me “the left of left among intellectual scholars,” as Campus Watch’s Asaf Romirowsky did, is vague and also misleading. Moreover, his charge that I use my Jewish background to attack Israel is untrue.

I would have at least had an opportunity to explain all of this had I been contacted regarding the article.

Norton Mezvinsky
New York, N.Y.

Service Serves Us, Too

We applaud the Forward’s recent editorial about the importance of high-quality, effective service that also educates volunteers about the root causes of domestic and global issues (“Not Only for Ourselves,” December 4).

We agree about the dangers posed by poor-quality service and service learning programs. At the same time, we believe that effective service programs have a range of positive impacts. These include tangible benefits to communities served, volunteers’ lifelong commitments to civic engagement and social justice, and a deepened Jewish framework for understanding and actualizing those commitments.

The fact that the Jewish community or Jewish identity is strengthened by such service should not be the primary goal of service programs, but is a welcome and important outcome.

Ruth Messinger
American Jewish World Service

Jon Rosenberg
Repair the World
New York, N.Y.

The Forward editorial “Not Only for Ourselves” raised important issues about the community’s increasing investment in Jewish frameworks for service. These endeavors can’t be viewed as just another effective vehicle for Jewish identity building. They must first and foremost be about the Jewish community making real contributions to repairing the world.

Having said that, it’s simply wrong to think that people who engage in something as challenging and profound as authentic service will not come away shaped by their experience, and I regret that the editorial may have left some readers with the mistaken impression that I believe service shouldn’t be about shaping who we are as individuals and as a people. Quite the opposite.

Jewish frameworks for service are important precisely because they reject the idea that service is exclusively to the benefit of any one group of people. A commitment to serve, especially on a communal level, ought to make a difference not only in the world, but also in the community that undertakes it. For how can we ever sustain the efforts required to achieve justice if we do not learn how to see seeking justice as a part of who we are?

Rabbi David Rosenn
Executive Director
Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps
New York, N.Y.

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love.
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.