In contrast to many other Jewish publications, the Forward highlighted the struggle for public workers’ rights and dignity in Wisconsin. Your front-page article noted that 16 rabbis have publicly supported the unions (“In Madison, Only Some Jewish Voices Are Heard,” March 18).
The Shabbat service conducted for 150 participants by four rabbis in the State Capitol is remarkable. This outward show is impressive and provides an optimistic counterpoint to J.J. Goldberg’s opening line in his otherwise fine column about changing views of liberals regarding labor. “That empty, hollow sound you hear is the sound of the American Jewish community ignoring the big showdown in Wisconsin” (“When Liberals Turn Their Backs on Labor, America Loses”).
That 16 Wisconsin rabbis, and presumably many of their congregants, have been open in support is not a hollow sound. Goldberg is correct that squabbling at Kiddush clubs about public-sector unions is not happening. Perhaps this is because there is little about which to squabble. It may be a given that Jewish persons and organizations do not subscribe to the insulting politics of division and hostility put forth by Wisconsin’s governor. There have been no official words of support for the governor from the organized American Jewish community, and that lack of support is a welcome empty, hollow sound to me.