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October 26, 2007

I Say Pizze, You Say Pizzi

As a long-time fan and admirer of Philologos, I am thrilled to have caught him on a minor inaccuracy (“One Bagel, Two Bagel?”, September 28). The plurals of Italian pizza and pasta are not pizzi and pasti, but pizze and paste. Being myself a very small-scale linguist of the Romance languages, it has always intrigued me that Italian used the nominative as the root form for the plurals of the nouns coming out of Latin, while French and Spanish went with the accusative.

Ole Thienhaus
Las Vegas, Nev.

Debating Gender

Former Harvard president Larry Summers is welcome at my home, too, so long as he allows for discussion and debate of his questionable premises as regards gender differences — which was not the case at the legendary meeting on the subject of women in science that took place in January 2005 (“Larry Summers Can Come to My House Any Time,” October 5). I know — I was there.

Sheila Tobias
Tuscon, Ariz.

Institutions Needed Too

So much of what Jay Michaelson writes in his recent column is spot on (“Memo to Michael Steinhardt: ‘Duh.’” October 19). We must invest in the periphery, because that’s where innovation will come from. We must empower each generation with the creation of programming that will speak to itself, rather than dictate programming from the top down.

And yet, I was highly uncomfortable with the overall implication that there is no value in investing in mainstream Jewish institutions. Why is the choice either-or? To expand on Michaelson’s analogy, wouldn’t a savvy investor put at least some of his money into Microsoft rather than putting it all into start-ups?

Yes, let’s invest in those young people who want to study Judaism in the woods while text-messaging on their iPod phones. At the same time, we need to help existing institutions adapt to the changing realities. In a “Big Tent Judaism,” as we at JOI call it, the goal is to add as many new entryways as possible.

There are a tremendous number of devoted communal professionals and lay leaders in established Jewish organizations who are not all “white, straight men over 50.” They have dedicated their professional lives to serving the Jewish community, and while they may not be the source for revolutionary innovation, they can (and must) bring about evolutionary change if the organized Jewish community hopes to grow in the 21st Century.

Paul Golin
Associate Executive Director
Jewish Outreach Institute
New York, N.Y.

A History of Coverups

The October 12 article “Armenian Genocide Bill Considered” notes the opposition of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

This is not the first time the State Department has tried to cover up a genocide. In 1933 an Austrian-Jewish writer, Franz Werfel, wrote a book about the Armenian Genocide, “Forty Days of Musa Dagh,” which contained a number of none-too-subtle warnings about the dangers of the growing Nazi movement.

The book was an international bestseller (although the Nazis banned it), but when MGM to agreed to do a film version, the State Department threatened reprisals against them on behalf of the Turkish Government, and, incidentally, on behalf of the Nazis.

Not content with emboldening the Nazis, our State Department did its best to bury news of the Holocaust as it occurred. They went so far as to sabotage a plan to rescue 70,000 Romanian Jews.

When today’s Secretary of State is fighting the Armenian Genocide Resolution, she is continuing the State Department’s policy of acquiescence in genocide.

Greg Arzoomanian
Providence, R.I.

Tutu’s Blindness

I agree with the October 12 editorial that Archbishop Desmond Tutu should be allowed to speak at any venue without Jewish obstruction. That being said, Tutu, a man of great stature, has made some erroneous and mean-spirited statements.

During the height of the latest intifada, I had the privilege of being with the Archbishop in a small audience of local religious leaders. Tutu was asked about his read on the situation in Israel. He responded with empathy for both sides, Jews and Arabs, who are suffering. But then he went on to say, “It is remarkable, and terrible, when people like the Jews who have had such awful things done to them, turn and do what was done to them, to others.” I was dumbfounded by his comparison of the Israeli military response to Islamic terror with Nazi genocide. I brought this to his attention then, and later through correspondence, and received no reply.

Tutu has the right to speak and the right to his opinions. We also have the right to consider him to be morally blind on the issue of Israel.

Rabbi Jonathan Miller
Temple Emanu-El
Birmingham, Ala.


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