January 3, 2003
As Senator or President, Lieberman’s Pro-Israel
How sad that after all of the accomplishments and gains that American Jews have made during the last 50 years without hiding their religion, there are those who are still insecure about a presidential candidate such as Senator Joseph Lieberman who is proud of his faith — and who still worry about the latent antisemitism that his campaign might fuel (“For Some Joe Fans, Fears Replace Cheers,” December 20).
As for Israel, it’s one thing to decide to vote for President Bush because of his staunch support of Israel and the Jewish people during the last two years. However, it’s unfair to say that Lieberman would automatically be more even-handed toward Israel because of his religion; this ignores his unblemished record of support for Israel and his deep concern about other issues that affect the Jewish people.
American Jewish voters historically have voted for candidates because of their stand on issues, rather than because of their race or religion. How ironic it would be if Jewish voters rejected Lieberman as a candidate because they felt he was too Jewish.
I am very worried that once in the Oval Office, Senator Joseph Lieberman will not turn out to be a friend of Israel. Sad but all too true, Israel has had the most problems with the United States when dealing with Jewish foreign policy officials. Lieberman’s current visit to Israel exemplifies the problem. He publicly told Prime Minister Sharon to be prepared for some serious arm-twisting from Washington over the settlements after the war with Iraq. We must be very, very careful about whom we support. The future of Israel is on the line.
Ron Rubin’s assertion that Senator Joseph Lieberman, if elected to the presidency, “would try to be more evenhanded than if he weren’t Jewish” ignores not only the senator’s long record of out-front support for Israel, but his well-deserved reputation for putting principle ahead of politics.
Like most Americans, Lieberman supports a strong American-Israeli relationship because he believes that the United States should stand by a reliable ally that shares America’s basic values of liberty and freedom.
Throughout his career — from refusing to campaign on the Sabbath to taking on Hollywood and chastising his friend and his party’s leader, President Clinton, about the Monica Lewinsky affair, to pledging not to run against the man who made him his running mate, former vice president Al Gore —Lieberman has done the right thing, whether politically convenient or not. There is no doubt that he will bring this same principled leadership to the presidency.
New York, N.Y.
Editorialist Leaves Lott To Explain
I am amazed that the Forward would attribute Senator Trent Lott’s resignation to the efforts of “conservatives of conscience” (“Jewish Groups Largely Mum as Lott Furor Mounts,” December 20).
When I read some of the scathing attacks on the Mississippi senator coming from the writers in the online edition of the conservative opinion magazine National Review, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. In the days prior to Lott’s departure readers of the National Review Online were treated to numerous homilies on how neoconservatives, and by definition President Bush, were the greatest defenders of civil liberties in our country. One writer even reached back to the legacy of liberal Jacksonians, such as President Martin van Buren, and claimed it as his own.
To somehow employ the memory of the man who in his capacity as a rising Democratic politician in New York instituted the first black suffrage in the nation as a means of enhancing the Bush agenda is as honest as an ultra-Orthodox publication urging its readers to return to the heritage of early German Reformers.
From Envoy to Rabbi
I applaud Nir Barkin’s decision to become a part of the process of bringing Israelis to a pluralistic vision of Judaism, and wish him great success (“Marketing Israel, Buying Into U.S.-Style Pluralism,” December 6).
However, Barkin is not the first shaliach, or emissary from Israel, to choose to become a Reform rabbi. In 1983, Aryeh Azriel was ordained by the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati.
Azriel had been a shaliach to the Chicago Jewish community during the early 1970s. He spent several summers at Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute, the Reform movement’s summer camp in Oconomowoc, Wis. He also served as a teacher at B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim in Glenview, Ill. In both places he helped to inspire a generation of kids who have made aliya or become professionals and clergy in the American Jewish community — including myself.
After his return to Israel he came to a similar decision as Barkin, and enrolled at HUC. His path led him to return to the United States and seek a pulpit here. He has served Temple Israel in Omaha, Neb., for many years.
Director of Education
Congregation B’nai Israel
Opinion columnist Gil Troy criticizes Americans for being “addicted to the media’s simplistic… black and white stories,” yet his views are precisely those of a biased conservative intellectual who sees the bogeyman in everything that is progressive, radical, intellectual, psychological — all code words for everything that is liberal or left leaning (“Reluctant Belligerency,” December 20).
The focus on campuses today needs to be, as it was during the 1960s, a critical review of wrong-headed American policies of both Democratic and Republican administrations.
Long Island City, N.Y.
Keep Gay Rabbi Ban
The decision of the president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism to ask the rabbinic leadership to reconsider its ban on homosexual rabbis impacts not just the Conservative movement, but the entire Jewish community, for it constitutes yet another departure from our faith as it has been understood throughout the centuries (“Conservative Chiefs Push To End Gay Pulpit Ban,” December 20).
Rabbi Elliot Dorff, rector of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, is nearly correct in equating his support for removing the ban on gay and lesbian rabbis to his support of the ordination of women as rabbis two decades ago. The difference is that when the Conservative movement chose to ordain women as rabbis they were breaching 2,000-year old rabbinic prohibitions. The acceptance of homosexual rabbis, however, breaks with the Torah. While ignoring a rabbinic decree is a serious breach of Jewish law, intentionally defying a biblical prohibition is an attack on the core of our faith.
The Conservative leadership should take pause before taking another step that will strain the ties that bind us.
Rabbi Ronald Price
Executive Vice President
Union for Traditional Judaism
Aside from halachic issues, if the Conservative movement would like a preview of some of the problems associated with homosexual clergy, let them look at the Catholic Church.
Cooking Our Goose
Rashi was right in his objection to paté de fois gras (“What Am I, Chopped Liver? Truth Is, It Could Always Be Worse,” December 6).
The production of goose liver creates a living hell for the goose, which has food stuffed down his throat, often with a plunger, and often to the point where its liver bursts.
In some countries, the goose’s feet are nailed to the ground so that it cannot move and escape its fate. It boggles the mind to think that anyone has to eat food that is the product of such cruelty. It was a pagan, Plutarch, who said, “Oh what a world of pain we create for a little taste upon the tongue!” Isn’t there enough good food on this earth to eat without having to torture an animal for it?
“The Jewish Vegetarian Year Cookbook”
Who Wears the Pants?
Wearing pants in the winter here in Minnesota signifies a desire to preserve one’s tukhes without having it freeze over solid (“Up In Arms Over Gals’ Two-Legged Attire,” November 29).
Summer can be blazing hot, and women come to shul in a variety of “respectable” short suits, pants, jumpers and sandals. What is important for us is that we are a Sabbath-observant congregation, with a full house even when no bat or bar mitzvah is scheduled. We want to be there, regardless of how we are dressed. Advice columnist Wendy Belzberg should ask herself, “Why would we want to be part of a club that wouldn’t want us as members if we wore pants?” Or, more succinctly, “Does God really care?”
St. Paul, Minn.