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July 6, 2007

Sleep-away Camps Offer Both Fun and Education

When deciding to which camp to send their children, parents do not, as a June 27 article asserts, have to choose between a summer of sports, games and other enjoyable activities and a summer steeped in Jewish tradition and culture (“As Kids Head to Camp, Parents Ask If They’re Having Enough Fun”).

To the contrary, parents need not be forced to prioritize between two months of recreation and leisure for their children and a powerful opportunity for them to live Jewishly. By their vary nature, Jewish sleep-away camps integrate fun and interesting experiences with Jewish learning and practice.

In fact, they offer an impressive array of options, programs and activities that appeal to every denomination and varying levels of Jewish involvement. Specialty camps that synthesize Jewish and Israeli themes with the performing arts, sports and other topics of interest to Jewish youth are proliferating and thriving across the country.

I would argue that there is an important synergy between the recreational and the religious aspects of a Jewish camping experience. Indeed, each informs the other.

Children exposed formally and informally to inherently Jewish values — a sense of right and wrong, fair play, kindness to others — tend to embrace these principles while they are participating in their athletic, arts and other fun activities. The result is a profoundly impacting experience unlike any other camping environment.

Jerry Silverman
Foundation for Jewish Camping
New York, N.Y.

Theologians Among Us

Opinion article Elliot Cosgrove asks where all the theologians have gone; he may not realize that he answers his own question (“Where Have All the Theologians Gone?”, June 15). As long as one of us asks the question, Judaism is still in the fray.

The start may be slow, but as Cosgrove affirms, the minds of our theologians are currently preoccupied with other matters.

Perhaps it takes time for the new crop of Jews to work through to topics that ultimately matter more. The criterion for Jews is whether the question is being asked.

Cosgrove’s article reminds us of the remarkable route Jews may take as we strive to make contact with God. He make me confident that the question will take seed.

Nathan Adler
Rome, Ga.

El Paso Not the Biggest

By any measure recorded by the Census Bureau, El Paso is not America’s largest border town (“‘Nazi’ Comments Spur Debate in El Paso,” June 22).

El Paso is not the largest American border town, regardless of whether one counts the population of the city itself, the metropolitan area, the urbanized area (another measure recorded by the Census Bureau), or the urban area including the other side of the border (for example, one could combine El Paso with Juarez, Mexico).

Depending on how one measures it, those distinctions would clearly go to either Detroit (metropolitan or urbanized areas) or San Diego (city population). In terms of urbanized area, El Paso would even be lower than Buffalo; Buffalo is the 38th biggest, El Paso is the 54th.

Marc Jerusalem
Oak Park, Mich.

Boston Mosque Keeps Questionable Company

The David Project never objected to the construction of a mosque here in Boston, but was concerned about the connection some officials of the Islamic Society of Boston have to supporters of hatred and terrorism (“Lawsuits Dropped, But Battles Over Boston Mosque Continue,” June 29).

At the large community meeting recently called to discuss the matter, we heard from Sheikh Ahmed Monsour, an Islamic scholar who fled his native Egypt after being persecuted for leading an Islamic reform movement. Monsour used to attend the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Cambridge, and he found there Saudi literature full of hatred for Jews, Christians and the United States.

When he complained to the press, he was sued, along with the David Project, by the Islamic Society of Boston. Monsour told the large, mostly Jewish crowd that though he has fatwas against him and his family, he was not afraid, and that they should stand with the moderate American Muslims against the extremists who are taking over American mosques. He got a standing ovation.

Those of us who were sued, 17 defendants in all, garnered evidence through depositions and subpoenaed records that deepens our concern about the radical ideology and connections to supporters of terrorism of the Middle Easterners, mostly Saudis, who own and control the mosque. We also uncovered evidence showing that the charges against us were wholly unwarranted. The Islamic Society of Boston dropped the case, for no consideration, when key officials were about to be deposed under oath.

We all scream about wanting to see moderate Muslims stand up. Here one did, and we stood with him.

Charles Jacobs
The David Project
Boston, Mass.

Be Wary of Likud Leader

It is utter pretension for Benjamin Netanyahu to imply that he would have handled the war in Lebanon any less aggressively, or any less as a classic battle of nations with lines of defense, than Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did (“Likud Leader Looks the Part of Prime Minister on Tour of Washington,” June 29). Netanyahu’s rise in the polls in Israel seems more a nostalgic reminiscence for the days when Israel appeared to have more control over its destiny, such as when the PLO was forced to operate out of Tunisia.

The parallels between Netanyahu returning to power after Olmert and the rise of George Bush to power after Bill Clinton are almost too frightening to consider. You would think that Israelis would be sophisticated enough not to re-elect an aggressive-sounding shoe salesman who transformed Israel from a nation of equals to a two-tiered economy of haves and have-nots. The mind boggles at what Netanyahu might do to the Israeli judiciary.

Ben Burrows
Elkins Park, Pa.


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