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August 15, 2008

Don’t Judge Orthodoxy By One Alleged Mistake

An August 1 article about Shmarya Rosenberg’s anti-Orthodox blog terms “one of the essential stops on the Jewish blogosphere” (“Blogger Focuses on Orthodox Foibles”).

If I understand correctly, Rosenberg jettisoned Orthodoxy because 20 years after seeking help for Ethiopian Jewry from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, he discovered the draft of a letter by the Rebbe that downplayed the endeavor. In other words, based on an unsigned draft that may or may not have been written by the Rebbe and that may or may not have been in context, Rosenberg reversed his life course and chose instead to broadcast Orthodoxy’s sins.

I highly doubt that the Lubavitcher Rebbe — whose emissaries across the globe have been involved in helping Jew and non-Jew alike through tsunamis and floods — would have disregarded the suffering of our brethren in Ethiopia.

Yet even if the charge is true, an error by a mathematician does not cast doubt on mathematics. Similarly, a mistake by a Torah giant does not undermine the truth of Judaism. I believe that great rabbis make errors, but this only proves that they are human.

As for FailedMessiah being an essential blog, it is fitting that the article was juxtaposed alongside an ad for a Tisha B’Av program hosted by a Chabad center. The Temple was destroyed by needless hatred, and the lashon hara — even if true — broadcast by FailedMessiah can only prolong our exile by fanning the flames of anti-Orthodoxy.

Avi Goldstein
Far Rockaway, N.Y.

All of Postville Suffers From Immigration Raid

I, too marched in Postville last week, and was struck by the devastating impact of the raid on the town itself (“Marching With the Faithful in Iowa,” August 8). Several Postville natives participating in the march emotionally explained to me what their town had suffered.

Over many years, the immigrant community had become a stable part of their economy, their religious life and the social cohesion of this village of 2,400. The detained Guatemalan and Mexican workers were their neighbors, their fellow parishioners, their friends. One man boasted that they had even introduced soccer to Postville; the town had joined the wider world.

After the raid, many of the remaining immigrant residents simply left town. Local businesses closed. One resident underscored the scope of the economic impact when he informed me that even the local Wal-Mart had taken a hit, losing more than 60% of its normal business the Saturday after the raid.

While certainly a difficult challenge, passage of real, comprehensive immigration reform in Washington would offer Postville and other communities greater protection of labor rights and a stable workforce to help develop local institutions and businesses. Next year, with a new president and Congress, our leaders will have a fresh opportunity to replace the chaos, exploitation and insecurity we witnessed in Postville with a rational legal immigration system.

It is imperative that we Jews continue marching in places like Postville and continue to press Congress into action.

Gideon Aronoff
President & CEO
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
New York, N.Y.

Naked Truth About Transsexual Rights

Under the guise of being tolerant and open-minded, opinion columnist Kathleen Peratis apparently considers people like me to be a bigot because I don’t accept that an estrogenized eunuch — in the case of a postoperative male-to-female transsexual — is a woman (“Get Used to More Davids Becoming Dianes,” August 1). And in the case of a preoperative transsexual, I am supposed to accept that a man who still has a penis is a woman just because he says so?

Sigmund Freud once said that a woman is a castrated man. What would he say now about a castrated man on estrogen being legally considered to be a woman?

Unless someone has been sexually misidentified at birth, a person who believes that he or she was born with the wrong sexual anatomy definitely has a problem — a problem located in the mind, not in the body, for the body is intact.

Rigid sex-role stereotypes greatly contribute to the problem on a societal level. In spite of the feminist claims of its adherents, the pro-transsexual argument is fundamentally anti-feminist, because it supports the notion that when one’s anatomy is in conflict with societally defined gender-appropriate behavior, it is the body, not the societal norm, that should change. Feminism has always asserted the opposite.

If a man who is in full possession of male anatomy believes that he is really a woman, that is a delusion on his part. Just because someone has a delusion doesn’t mean that I should be forced to participate in it.

It is not that person’s civil right that I do so — and I will most definitely not “get used to it,” as Peratis instructs. She may continue to admire the emperor’s new clothes, but I will continue to point out the naked truth.

Judith Antonelli
Brookline, Mass.

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