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September 5, 2008

Hezbollah Holds Keys To Power in Lebanon

Opinion writer Firas Maksad is surely right in asserting that many Lebanese deeply resent pervasive Hezbollah influence in their country (“All of Lebanon Is Not Hezbollah,” August 29). Unfortunately, they no longer have any ability to do anything about it.

Hezbollah has achieved absolute veto status over the government; it has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness and often shocking ability to violently cow any force seeking to confront it.

The institutions of Lebanon, including the army, are effectively in Hezbollah’s bloody hands. One need only note the obscene spectacle of the highest government officials declaring a national holiday and welcoming, with great honor, a vile child murderer like Samir Kuntar.

Maksad would do much better to rail against those who have savaged Lebanese liberty — Hezbollah, their Iranian backers, Syrian enablers and Lebanese collaborators — than carp about Israel’s necessary, if belated, recognition of the truly tragic denouement of the Cedar Revolution.

Richard Wilkins
Syracuse, N.Y.

There’s Still Hope for Landsmanschaften

I recently helped organize the 108th annual anniversary luncheon of my Landsmanschaft (“Last Call for Landsmanschaften? Aid Societies Fold as Old-Country Ties Fade,” August 29). Although we have been able to continue our social events on a limited basis, we, too, faced the problems described by the Forward.

However, we found a way to overcome them and still provide services to our remaining members.

After many discussions and a vote, we turned over our records, cemetery maps and other documents to the United Hebrew Communities of New York, a non-profit organization that specializes in handling these kinds of activities. They have a capable staff and their own building. They have been administering our burial and cemetery activities for us, allowing us to focus on our social events.

I’m sure that if any other Landsmanschaften need assistance, they can contact the United Hebrew Communities and learn more about how the organization can help them. There is no need for people to be stuck in limbo when it comes to receiving their burial benefits.

Herbert Latner
Vice President
Ottynier Young Men’sBenevolent Society
New York, N.Y.

But the Cow’s Hoof in Gelatin I Couldn’t Eat

Aaron Kagan helped bring back the memories and traditions of the Old World with his use of foods that I long ago tasted (“Beyond Blintzes: A Culinary Tour of Shavuot,” June 6).

I can still remember looking as a child at that strange jar of what looked like seaweed and wondering why someone would want to drink the brew, much less eat the seaweed floating in it.

My father, who was of Russian descent, told me that even though it might look a bit strange to a little girl from Brooklyn, I should at least try it. I took the plunge and just as Kagan described, the taste was tangy and not anything like I had expected. It was served many times in our household, as was borsht with sour cream. Some sort of gelatin with a cow’s hoof in the center also made it to the table, but that one I couldn’t bring myself to taste.

Thank you for bringing back such delightful and delicious memories and for giving me a recipe lost in our family long ago.

Ellie Cohen
Coral Springs, Fla.

Yiddishist Should Give Proverb Another Shot

Arts & Culture columnist Michael Wex quotes only the second half of a Yiddish proverb about whiskey in his August 22 column (“Bottoms Up!”). The missing half is a quotation from the High Holiday musaf repetition, with the second half functioning as a mock commentary.

In YIVO transliteration: “Odom yesoydoy mi’ofor vesoyfoy le’ofor”; beyne-leveyne is gut a trunk bronfn.” Translation: “Man’s beginning is from dust and his end is in dust; in the meantime a drink of whiskey is a good thing.”

Robert Rothstein
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Amherst, Mass.

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