On Closer Inspection

Right diagnosis, wrong patient (“Misleading with Contempt,” May 13). David Samuels, the author of The New York Times piece cited, is a long-standing implacable foe of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action who has even supported, in print, an Israeli air strike against Iran.

As J.J. Goldberg notes in his Forward analysis “What That Ben Rhodes Profile Really Tells Us About the Iran Deal”  (May 12): “The article is long and  engaging and manages to slip almost unnoticed between  direct quotes by Rhodes … and Samuels’s own observations. For example, although it’s been widely reported that Rhodes denies Rouhani is a moderate, he never actually says that. It’s Samuels who puts ‘moderate’ in quotes and makes it a critical factor in ensuring the deal’s public acceptance — and by implication, its legitimacy.”

Samuels has clearly spun his presentation to paint the Obama administration in the worst possible light. The editorial’s outrage at “a level of chutzpah that is downright offensive” has much more to do with Samuels than with Rhodes and qualifies as an apt characterization of the (lack of) integrity of Samuels’ journalistic practice.

Read ‘My Promised Land’

I can’t believe that any Jewish Democrat or Republican could be sympathetic toward the Palestinians for killing Jews in Israel (“Israeli Lives Matter,”  May 13). What are the Jews doing to these poor souls that justify the Palestinians’ murderous actions? I will be glad to argue with any Jew who has that attitude, providing that person has read “My Promised Land” by Ari Shavit, because until you read that book, you can’t understand what the real situation is with Jews in Israel

Engage at Myerberg

I enjoyed your Insider Focus on Seniors and would like to share with Jewish Times readers that the Edward A. Myerberg Center offers many programs which promote mental and physical health for older adults.

Research shows that older adults who engage with others and receive intellectual stimulation will stay healthy and at home longer. To help members of our community age in place, the Myerberg Center offers more than 150 fitness activities, academic classes, art programs and trips each year, a men’s club, a women’s club, support groups and medical education.

Our welcoming community full of supportive staff members, talented professors and friendly members offers something new every day for adults 55 and older.

‘Narrow-Minded Destructive Logic’

Sadly, I was not at all surprised to read that Agudath Israel of America opposes the Child Victims Act, which would eliminate the statute of limitations for child sex abuse offenses. This narrow-minded and destructive logic has long been a dangerous and destructive force in so many Jewish communities.

The statement from the Agudah that this bill would open up institutions to “ancient claims and capricious litigation” is indicative of their lack of focus on the top priority: the safety of our children. Perhaps these schools that are on “shoestring budgets” should be forced to close down if they care so little about preventing abuse and protecting our kids. To a victim of sexual abuse, the impact of abuse is not ancient history. It follows them throughout their lives and it often takes year of therapy to deal with the damage done by perpetrators.

We gather on Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the year, to talk about caring more for one another so we can bring the Messiah and have our Holy Temple rebuilt. Caring about our children and the impact of abuse is a good place to start. Let’s ensure the safety of the next generation and continue to reach out to survivors of abuse.

 

Boos? What Boos?

In “Biden, Kerry Defend Administration’s Legacy at J Street Event” (April 22), the JT made the highly misleading statement that Biden “was booed at the AIPAC Policy Conference” in contrast to the applause he received at J Street. I attended the AIPAC Policy Conference and was present during the vice president’s speech. I heard no boos whatsoever.

To the contrary, the vice president received standing ovations on his entrance and exit and during his address. It was clear that AIPAC attendees warmly welcomed him. And, as he related his long history of participating in policy conferences, it was evident he felt comfortable and among friends.

Yes, there were a few lines where the audience was mostly silent, particularly when Biden alluded to the Iran nuclear deal that AIPAC strongly opposed.  In a crowd of 18,000, it is conceivable that a few people booed (although I did not hear any), but to characterize his reception as being “booed” is utterly unfair and a distortion of what occurred.

Simply Put, Anti-Israel

The JT drastically understates the issue in “Blaming the ‘Liberal-Left’” (April 29). The self-described progressive wing of the Democratic Party in the U.S. and similar parties in Europe aren’t so much soft in their support for Israel as they are anti-Israel. You can see this on university campuses, at meet-and-greet events, at donor receptions. It is quite possible that there will be an explicitly anti-Israel plank in the Democratic Party platform. Outside the U.S., the situation is more extreme with the Labor Party leadership in Great Britain becoming so anti-Zionist that it becomes obvious anti-Semitism.

Voter Registration, Clarified

Voter Registration,  Clarified

I would first like to commend the JT’s Marc Shapiro for capturing our accomplishments during the contentious 90-day legislative session in “Looking Back on the Maryland General Assembly” (April 22).  I would like to clarify what was written on the Universal Voter Registration Act.

As originally introduced, the bill would have automatically registered all eligible voters in Maryland. This version of the bill was defeated on the Senate floor. A similar bill (HB 1007) passed the House of Delegates but was subsequently  reworked on the Senate side. Sen. Steve Waugh, a Republican colleague, and I spent countless hours modifying the bill in the final days of session.

The significantly amended bill, known as the Freedom to Vote Act, will make it much easier and more accessible to register to vote. It increases the number of government agencies that will be able to register voters and establishes an “opt-in” rather than an “opt-out” system. The revised bill passed the Senate unanimously.  With such bipartisan support, it is very likely that Gov. Larry Hogan will sign the bill.

Thank you for covering the successes of the legislative session and for helping to inform the residents of Maryland.

Misplaced Bravo

In a JT April 8 editorial, “Trump Stands by His Man,” you complement Donald Trump for standing by his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who was arrested and charged with simple battery for grabbing a female reporter. You also gave him a “Bravo!” for standing by those loyal to him. In the same issue, you ran an article by Melissa Gerr entitled, “On the Watch for Child Sexual Abuse.” She reported on a video of adult survivors recounting their stories of childhood sexual abuse that happened within their Orthodox Jewish communities “committed by camp counselors, rabbis and other authority figures, some of which lasted over years.”

Who deserves the bravo? The member of a community who is loyal to the rabbi or another authority figure? Or the member of a community who speaks out to protect victimized women and children?

Blind obedience of those loyal to the leader has not worked well for the Jewish community in past generations.

An Innovative Man

The JT’s cover for April 1 prominently displayed the window of my late cousin’s pharmacy on exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Maryland and highlighted the story  inside, “Beyond Chicken Soup.”

M. (Morris) L. Cooper was a maternal cousin of ours. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, my mother often took me to Cousin Morris’ pharmacy on North Avenue, where I had occasion to look over the array of chemicals and drugs with which Morris had stocked his pharmacy. His pharmacy was further distinguished by his collection of ancient and modern mortars and pestles that were on display, his impressive array of Schwartz apothecary cabinets and his sale of leeches for medical purposes. My  purchases there formed the nucleus of my home laboratory.

In retrospect, it was not surprising for me to have chosen — years later — to apply for admission to the pharmacy program at the University of Maryland. My acceptance was followed soon after by my  enrollment in laboratory courses that introduced me (and my classmates) to the mysteries of pharmaceutical compounding. Our introduction began with conducting an inventory of our individual laboratory lockers. On inspection I found that each of our lockers had been supplied with a mortar and pestle that had been invented by Morris Cooper. (Morris had been granted a patent for his unique mortar and pestle, which was due to the mortar’s cylindrical shape and flat bottom along with a matching pestle. This made the process of mixing or grinding very efficient in contrast to the standard mortar and pestle that had a rounded shape.) Morris also patented  a device to facilitate extemporaneous compounding with gelatin capsules. Obviously, Morris was quite innovative.

My thanks to the JT for its article on the Jewish Museum’s medicine exhibit and for giving me the opportunity to add some additional comments on one of the more prominent pharmacists of mid-20th- century Baltimore.

A Jew’s Obligation

In a JT April 1 editorial, “More Than a Women’s Issue,” you don’t defend Jewish law and you always find fault with the Rabbinate.

First, Hashem recognized that marriages could be dissolved in a divorce. The Torah stipulates that a husband writes a bill of divorce, known as a get, which means that he frees his wife from the marriage and permits her to marry another.  It also allows him to remarry in the eyes of Hashem.

Some Christian religions, on the other hand, never recognize and forbid the granting of a divorce. Today, couples are forced to seek relief from secular authorities, often ending in bitterness. The get process is not meant to be adversarial. Since the marriage was sanctioned by the laws of the Torah, a divorce can only be granted by the laws of the Torah.

A husband who so blatantly refuses to grant a get not only has contempt for his wife, but also dishonors Hashem’s name under the chuppah. Therefore, he should be regarded and  labeled as a scoundrel.

The woman, when she sees her attorney should insist  that a get clause be stipulated unconditionally in the decree before the final settlement.  If the attorney doesn’t consider it serious enough or feels it is unnecessary; she should find another lawyer. Some rabbis warn that if this is not done, it would be harder to obtain a get after the fact.

It is most unfortunate that our society discontinued the use of the stock and pillory.  A recalcitrant husband deserves to be placed there until he grants a get.  What the JT should do is publish the names of those who refuse to grant a get.

The obligation of the Jew is to always defend and not to ridicule or slander the laws of Hashem’s Torah and the land of Israel.