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July 31, 2009

This They Call Leadership?

It was more than a little dismaying to read of the meeting between a delegation of representatives of Jewish organizations and President Obama (“Jewish Leaders Give Obama No Push-Back on Settlement Freeze,” July 24).

Not one person there had the courage to point out that Israeli settlements have never been a problem, and that the issue of those in the West Bank is completely artificial: Before 1967, there were no such settlements, yet there was no peace; and post-1967, settlements in Sinai were not a problem when Egypt signed its peace treaty with Israel, nor were those in Gaza an obstacle when Israel unilaterally withdrew from there.

Nor did anyone apparently point out to the president the distortion of Jewish history, and the history of the State of Israel, contained in his Cairo speech, and which seems to lie near the heart of his attitude. The Jewish communal leaders failed to point out that the connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel dates since time immemorial, and was recognized in major international law instruments antedating the Holocaust.

By not even noting the conscious omission from the invitation list of two very significant organizations — the National Council of Young Israel and the Zionist Organization of America — no doubt because they would have upset the pre-determined result, those who were there became accomplices to the White House’s machinations.

Is this really the best leadership the American Jewish community can produce?

Harry Reicher
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Tuning in to WEVD To Learn a Little Gemara

There’s a lot more to say about the photograph of men studying Talmud that accompanied your July 17 article “Luftmenschen Take to the Airwaves” than your caption explains.

It is actually a photograph of my father, Rabbi Pinchas M. Teitz, giving the initial broadcast on January 17, 1953 of “Daf Hashovua, the Talmudic Seminar of the Air.” This pioneering program, which ran on WEVD for 36 years, introduced the use of modern media for teaching Talmud. It was broadcast on stations in the United States and Canada and even reached Russian Jews through Kol Israel Lagolah.

For more on “Daf Hashovua,” see “Learn Torah, Love Torah, Live Torah” (Ktav, 2001), my biography of my father. I still meet people who remember the radio being turned on at 9 o’clock on Saturday night to hear “Lomir lernen a blat gemara!” — let us learn a page of Gemara!

Rivkah Teitz Blau
New York, N.Y.

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