I joined my daughter on the J-SITE bus to attend the Effie Eitam lecture at Hillel last week. J-SITE handled the event well, preparing the kids that the speaker may have radical views, which do not necessarily represent the views of Hillel or J-SITE. I understand that J-SITE will continue discuss the lecture with their students this week.
What a fantastic experience for our youth to face the emotional irrationality of the protesters they will meet soon at university and in life. Should we educate our youth only in the views of politically acceptable factions in Israel? That would not be preparation. And who should decide what is acceptable? Who should decide what speech deserves to be heard?
All speech must be public and debated — hate speech included. How conditional are some people’s ideas of freedom!
These kids are the flower of our community, the next chain in the link of our heritage. They are not in preschool. These are young adults and can consider for themselves the validity of information.
We as a people have had a long voyage. We have suffered greatly and achieved successes, both in Israel and in the Diaspora. Effie Eitam is a legitimate hero, who rescued Jewish hostages at Entebbe, fought valiantly to buy precious time in the Golan in the Yom Kippur War and helped prevent the withdrawal from Gaza, with which he disagreed, from developing into civil insurrection. His goals are ours, though his methods may differ: a safe and secure Israel.
Radical views in Israel are a dime a dozen. Passions in the Middle East run deep. I want my children to know as much as possible about our heritage, I want them to think deep thoughts about our options and about those who oppose us.
Iran an ignored threat
It strikes me that given the controversy surrounding Effi Eitam last week and his appearance at the Hillel Jewish University Center, what he was there to talk about got drowned out. Because of the messenger, the message was not heard.
I find this most unfortunate. Eitam was a powerful speaker on the threat to Israel from a nuclear Iran. It appears to me that the Jewish community, because of our differing views on the whole Palestinian-Israeli conflict and who is responsible for what, is missing the greatest danger facing the Jewish state right now. The possibility of Iran having nuclear weapons to attack Israel and supply its surrogates, Hamas and Hezbollah, is positively chilling. The Jewish community needs to be united and actively engaged first and foremost on this alarming issue.
The United Jewish Federation in Pittsburgh established an Iran Task Force to educate and agitate for more action to respond to this crisis. The local group composed of member organizations from the Jewish and non-Jewish community, elected officials and various religious and lay leaders works cooperatively with United Against Nuclear Iran, a national advocacy organization. Please visit our Web site — irantaskforce.org — for more information on what you can and must do.
Because of our preoccupation with the conflict between Palestinians and Jews in the Middle East, we are not seeing clearly enough the giant shadow that is looming over both peoples.
(The author is a co-chair of the Iran Task Force of Pittsburgh.)
Exhumation case to continue
I would first like to personally thank Oren Spiegler for his passionate, well written letter (“The suffering were afflicted,” Feb. 4). I wish that the rabbis and the president of the board of directors of Poale Zedeck synagogue held the same compassion and sympathies for our family's dilemma.
I consider a rabbi to be a rabbi, regardless of how they practice their faith. Their job is to teach, guide and comfort their followers, regardless of how strictly we adhere to our religion. I have spoken to several other rabbis, although not Orthodox, who have said they would have allowed us to move our father, so that he would rest along with our mother and brother. Our mother died last week, never knowing for sure if this would ever happen. As the rabbi who performed her service said, my mother fulfilled her promise to our dying father, who asked her to take care of the kids. She not only took care of them in life, but also made the choice to take care of them in death. She made her very tough choice to be buried with her youngest son, so he would not have to be alone, rather than be with her husband, whom she has waited to be with for 45 years, and missed so deeply.
My brother, sister and I will move forward to pursue this legally, as we promised our mother we will do everything in our power to fulfill her last, dying wish. We hope the judge feels as Mr. Spiegler does, that our parents and brother should be together, in a resting place of our choosing, not a synagogue that has no personal connection with them.
Shelly Tobin Frankel