Antisemitic flyers stuck to menorah
Antisemitic flyers stuck to a menorah at Shalom Le Yisrael in Carmichael said "Hitler was right," Oct. 20 2021. (Boris Tsiprush)

OU goes too far on Impossible Pork; No such thing as messianic ‘synagogue’; We all need ‘Fiddler’; etc.

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OU: Can I watch Porky Pig?

Thank you for your thought-provoking JTA article siding with the Orthodox Union’s decision to consider Impossible Pork to be nonkosher, even though all of its ingredients are kosher and plant-based (“Why Impossible Pork should not get kosher nod,” Oct. 15 in print).

The logic of the decision hinged on the pork labeling of the product’s brand. Wouldn’t this logic similarly forbid all vegetarians from eating Impossible Pork (and the Impossible Burger, for that matter), because of the meat inference of the labeling?

If the mere word “pork” now makes it inedible, then would the paintings by the British artist Francis Bacon now be unseeable? If, as is argued by a few, Sir Francis Bacon was the real author of the Bard’s plays, then is “The Merchant of Venice” now unwatchable? In any case, wouldn’t the first syllable in “Hamlet” now make Hamlet absolutely indigestible?

Does the brilliant flamenco singer Camarón de la Isla (Island Shrimp) suddenly become unlistenable? Are Jewish girls who think they wear “pigtails” to be shunned, or shorn? If the OU were to reverse its decision regarding Impossible Pork, could one then be allowed to consume it with a spork?

After reading that piece, I couldn’t bring myself to read the other J. article about Alexander Hamilton’s Jewish identity, since a real Yiddishe kop would have surely changed his name.

Jan Padover
San Francisco

All offenses are not equal

I’m appalled the J. would publish a JTA article (“In a shift, Conservative movement publicly lists the rabbis it has expelled and suspended,” Oct. 25) by Asaf Shalev with an opening paragraph that lists sexual assault, membership dues and performing intermarriages as equivalent examples to suspend/expel rabbis.

How in the world can anyone write something so disrespectful to survivors of sexual assault?

The article went on to list the sexual offenses some rabbis have been expelled for and includes a couple rabbis cited for marrying interfaith couples. How insulting to your readers in multiple-faith marriages to have their union listed alongside assault. This is so offensive on so many levels. Be better.

Vivien Braly
San Anselmo

Not a synagogue

I found your article on the attack on the “Messianic synagogue” to be sad, but not for the reason you imagine (“Messianic synagogue near Sacramento targeted with antisemitic flyers and vandalism,” Oct. 22).

So-called “Messianic Jews” are in no way, shape or form Jewish. They have been repudiated by every bona fide Jewish organization on the planet. To call their church — which is what it is — a synagogue is not only insulting to Jews, but also misleading to those who might not be sure what this Jesus-believing group actually is or what they stand for.

Mark Snyder

‘Barbarity’ of circumcision

With regard to circumcision, I find the many philosophical, religious, political and medical arguments for and against circumcision very interesting but, at least for me, irrelevant (“These Jews want to normalize not circumcising — and they want synagogues to help,” Oct. 8).

The reason is simple. When my son was born three decades ago, I decided to have him circumcised.

Rabbi Shira Stutman discusses circumcision during a class for converts to Judaism at the Sixth and I Synagogue in Washington, DC on December 5, 2013.. (Photo/JTA-Linda Davidson-The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Rabbi Shira Stutman discusses circumcision during a class for converts to Judaism at the Sixth and I Synagogue in Washington, DC on December 5, 2013.. (Photo/JTA-Linda Davidson-The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Why? Given that I am a progressive Jew, and an atheist, I can only say that at that time I had some sort of belief in the value of tradition. However, I will never forget how my baby looked when the nurse returned him to us. He was white as a sheet. He looked like a ghost. I swore that if I ever had another son, there was no way I would have him circumcised. The barbarity of the procedure was plain to me, and no amount of rationalizing could ever justify another circumcision.

Ronald Glas

Googlers should be ashamed

The J. article about Ariel Koren and Gabriel Schubiner broke my heart (“Jewish Googlers play key role in push to cancel $1.2 billion Israeli contract,” Oct. 22).

Do they not know the history of Israel and the constant attacks on Jews by the “Palestinians”? They choose their “Palestinian” friends over Israel. They could have had their own country in 1948 and many times since, but refuse because they want to clear Jews from river to sea in Israel.

Koren and Schubiner should be ashamed. I hope their quest to end the Google-Israel deal is a complete failure. They should seek forgiveness which they won’t get from me.

Jill Maleson

We all need ‘Tradition!’

Ms. Irene Katz Connelly of the Forward, I can’t believe I’m doing this, as it’s not my style, but I am so bothered by your review in J. of “Fiddler on the Roof” that if I don’t express myself, I will be plagued by your written account all day! (“I went 26 years without watching ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ My first viewing was underwhelming — until it wasn’t,” Nov. 4)

My first thought is that you must not enjoy musical theater, TV shows like “Glee,” or Disney movies. Fantasy for an hour or so is not your thing. OK, not everyone can morph into escapism for a few minutes. You must need to be real, in the moment, mindful of your exact existence at all times. I get that.

What I don’t get is your naive review of the music, lyrics and choreography of one of the greatest plays/movies of all times.

Tevye and Golde sing "Do You Love Me?" in "Fiddler on the Roof."
Tevye and Golde sing “Do You Love Me?” in “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Unlike you, I have, over the decades, watched the movie 25 to 30 times, and I have seen “Fiddler” on stage in various cities with a variety of actors who have never failed to touch the hearts of all in attendance, Jews and non-Jews.

And here is the problem I have with your opinion of one of the most important stories in Jewish culture: “Fiddler on the Roof” is the heart of the Jewish people!

It is our story to tell — not that other cultures haven’t lived the same experiences — but it is at the core of storytelling for our history, and therein lies my biggest beef with you: It is the best vehicle to ensure our young people know where they come from!

Your parents (not wanting to insult them) failed to give you a big Jewish lesson: Without knowing where we come from, we can never truly know or understand where we are going. It’s age-old Judaism: It’s passing down the stories! It’s repeating them generation after generation after generation.

And here’s the punch: It’s all about legacy. Forget the stocks and bonds and big bank accounts, jewelry and condos. Leave a legacy of your/our history via storytelling to your loved ones.

No one does it better than Tevye.

Sandra Taradash
Walnut Creek

Trump had the right idea

The J. editorial “California-Israel partnership is a model of diplomacy” (Oct. 27) and the accompanying article on the kidney exchanges between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (“Historic kidney exchange between Israel and UAE started at Stanford”) are moving reminders of our human capacity to overcome differences and achieve something better for all.

However, while both articles are clear that this progress “was made possible because of the 2020 signing of the Abraham Accords” neither gives any credit to or makes any mention of President Trump, whose leadership led to this most significant advancement toward regional peace in 25 years.

While a greater sense of fairness and objectivity is in order as a matter of course, this deep antagonism toward Mr. Trump may be having harmful consequences to the Jewish community in at least one other significant area of concern. In December 2019, President Trump issued an executive order directing the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education to act on the discrimination complaints of Jewish university students.

As we increasingly focus on the growing antisemitism around us, we must recognize that it is Jewish university students who are among the most vulnerable of our community and have been so for a very, very long time.

It is beyond sad to think that the Jewish community might be failing to use the incredibly powerful enforcement mechanisms of the federal government due to a loathing for all-things-Trump. Unfortunately, that conclusion appears reasonable in the absence of contradictory evidence.

If the reality here is otherwise, then someone should enlighten me.

However, if the community is declining to use available federal assistance to help Jewish university students, then let’s all try to correct this deficiency forthwith. Those who need help the most can only benefit from the lawful intervention of the federal government.

Steve Astrachan
Pleasant Hill

Must support Israel. Must.

Thank you for Oren Jacobson’s opinion piece “My fellow progressives are always asking me if anti-Zionism is antisemitic. Here’s what I tell them,” (Oct. 29).

First, Jewish identity transcends adherence to Judaism as a faith. In the words of a Camp Achva song, “Jewish is a people, a nation, a law and a land and a civilization.” In Israel, after nearly 2,000 years of enduring oppression, pogroms and genocide as a powerless diaspora community, Jews have regained self-determination in their ancestral homeland. To oppose Israel’s right to exist is to deny Jewish history and peoplehood.

Moreover, ending Israel’s existence as a Jewish state would entail the ethnic cleansing and killing of Jews on a scale so vast as to merit the name “Holocaust II.”

Criticizing Israel’s policies isn’t antisemitic, but condemning Zionists is. As Martin Luther King Jr. observed: “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking antisemitism.”

In an Oct. 13 op-ed in the Washington Post, Elisha Wiesel wrote that his father, the Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, “understood what it meant to live in a world without a Jewish state, and he saw the anti-Zionist movement for what it was: an extension of millennia-old antisemitism, which unfortunately is becoming more common and acceptable today.”

He noted that Israel faces blood libels and vitriol from people “without a trace of compassion for the Israeli people facing violence and terrorism.”

Echoing his father’s famous admonition to President Reagan against visiting West Germany’s Bitburg cemetery, Wiesel called on “well-intentioned people” to recognize that if a movement tolerates “the antisemitic poison” of anti-Zionism, “that place is not their place.”

Those who truly honor his father’s legacy of defending human rights in Kosovo, Darfur and Cambodia must support Israel, too.

Stephen A. Silver
San Francisco

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