February 12, 2009

Letters

Published February 03, 2010, issue of February 12, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Don’t Forget Yiddish

Your editorial on the need for Hebrew in order to sustain Jewish life in America is particularly surprising coming from the Forward, which throughout its 100-plus year history, and even today, has as a core mission sustaining and advancing Yiddish as a culture and a language (“Taking Hebrew Seriously,” January 29).

Although the language of Jews in America is really English, the need for Jews in any country to sustain a culture does require some association with a Jewish language. If one desires the focus of that culture to be Israel or religious Judaism, then Hebrew is relevant. But I believe that, without rejecting Israel-centered or religion-centered Jewish identity, there remains a secular Jewish identity which, although in every country uses the national language as the principal means of communication, has a common root in Yiddish that serves as a culturally binding force.

Hebrew is fine, but to neglect the influence and ability of Yiddish to foster a sense of Jewish identity is short-sighted — especially for the Forward.

Robert A. Kaplan
President
Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring
New York, N.Y.


Healing the World Begins at Home

In your January 29 editorial “After the Earth Moved,” you identify an “inner struggle” that many American Jews face, to wit, “How much should they support other Jews, and how much should they give to causes in the wider world?” You resolve the question with the answer that American Jews should not make an “either/or” decision; they should “do both.”

I take no issue with that assertion. I agree we should do both. However, the question of “how much” posed in your editorial remains unanswered.

Assuming each of us has limited resources, then how should we divide those resources? There is a subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) battle going on for Jewish hearts and minds on this front. On one side is what I call the universalist camp. On the other side is the Jewish mutual responsibility camp. Neither camp is exclusively universal or exclusively Jewish regarding those whom they assist. But each side does favor either universal or Jewish needs over the other.

So which approach should a Jewish donor or volunteer favor (not exclusively but substantially)? I place myself squarely in the Jewish mutual responsibility camp.

We are called to be a “light unto the nations,” so that other peoples will learn from our example and improve the ethical, caring relationships within their own communities and nations. We need to put a greater portion of our individual resources toward our own community members’ needs, not because of some tribalistic self-centeredness, but because if other people see how we take care of our brothers and sisters, perhaps they will follow our lead and all communities will benefit. I would suggest that a greater focus on the particular is the faster route to tikkun olam — repairing the world — than the chaos of trying to respond to each and every need in a world of unfathomable and unlimited needs.

This does not mean that we should ignore crises such as Haiti, Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Asian tsunami. The issue is not either/or, but rather how much and to whom. And, how can we most effectively help not only our own but all?

Gary O. Aidekman Madison, N.J.

Letters to the editor may be sent via e-mail to letters@forward.com or mailed to the Forward, Attn: Letters to the Editor, 125 Maiden Lane, New York, N.Y. 10038. Shorter letters stand a better chance of being published.


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!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • 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.