Call to Action

Whereas I am most appreciative of the coverage the JT gave the situation facing the Baltimore Jewish Community regarding the status of our cemeteries (“Honoring Those Who Came Before Us,” Dec. 18), I’d like to share a few observations.

When I came across the desecration of the German Hill cemetery I was in shock, and it was clearly a huge vandalizing of one of our holy eternal resting places. Such vicious vandalism went unreported to the media, and as I put so much time, effort and energy into bringing the whole situation to our communal attention, I think one article on the topic is insufficient and was contrary to my recommendations. I realize that the Jewish Times is in the business to sell its magazine; however, it also serves the community, and I would like to have seen an article on this topic.

Alarmed and concerned and in reaching out to various community businesses and people involved in the death-and-burial process, I was completely ignored, other than when I approached my cousin, Howard Gartner, who’s a volunteer with Associated Jewish Charities and who’s close with Mark Smolarz of The Associated. Having spent a huge amount of time reviewing major topics involved with our cemeteries and potential long-term solutions and sharing them with both Howard and Mark, we have made huge progress together.

Whether you address the progress and/or overall solutions we will be initiating, I would like you to know that we will be working closely with The Associated, the Jewish Cemetery Association and others to address all of these concerns.

Thank you for bringing to light this major issue we are facing. It’s a difficult topic for many to address; it touches on vanity and ultimately our own mortality. May we all merit healthy, happy and successful lives together and strive to protect and preservice the sanctity of our eternal resting places in Baltimore, which can no longer be left off our list of important projects.


> In “Honoring Those Who Came Before Us” (Dec. 18), Mikro Kodesh Beth Israel Cemetery is owned by Mikro Kodesh Beth Israel Cemetery Incorporated. The JT regrets the error.

Syrians to Mexico, Then to U.S. Citizenship

Regarding the Dec. 4 Your Say letter, “Heed These Words of Freedom,” I would like to offer some comments to letter-writers Delegates Sandy Rosenberg and Shelly Hettleman. You are both right. “The fight is not against Muslims or Islam.” The fight is against America by fanatical Muslims who have interpreted parts of their religion, giving them a rationale for killing all infidels (non-Muslims). Thus, we have ISIS, al-Qaeda, etc.

The government does not have the ability to vet 10,000 Syrians as proven by the Boston bombing and the San Bernardino shootings. Several U.S. security agencies, including Jim Colby, head of the FBI, have stated that they cannot assure complete vetting of the refugees.

The vetting problem can be solved, however, by sending the Syrians to Mexico, where they can enter the U.S. as typical illegal aliens, thus assuring their eventual citizenship.

Poll Question Screams Bias

Your political bias was astoundingly crystal in the manner in which you asked the question in the Dec. 18 Poll of the Week: “Do you believe Donald Trump’ s comments about Muslims traveling to and living in the United States disqualify him as a credible contender for the White House?” What presidential hopeful Trump called for was a “temporary cessation” of non-U.S. citizen Muslim visitors and immigrants until the vetting process can be clarified. Muslim U.S. citizens were not referenced or
inferred in any way.

The manner in which you asked the question is like asking, “When did you stop beating your wife?”  Why not ask, “In your opinion, is a temporary cessation of Muslim immigration and tourism from certain specific nations warranted until the vetting process can be resolved?” and not invoke Donald Trump? That is the appropriate question — not one that specifically undermines a presidential candidate of whom you disapprove. The vast majority of Americans agree that a temporary cessation would be wise at this time.  Do U.S. Jews agree with the rest of the nation?

As one of a growing number of Conservative Jews in Maryland, I am continually amazed by your glaring political bias. It would be amusing if the stakes were not so high, and sociopolitical repercussions were not so critical.

Please try to ask your questions more fairly.

Time to Reflect on Country’s Good

JT editor-in-chief Joshua Runyan’s Dec. 18 Opening Thoughts (“Reverse the Neglect”) brought tears to my eyes. It made me step back and remove myself from the mire and vitriol of the politics we are observing in our blessed country. It gave me pause to remove myself from the fear that outside forces have thrust upon us.

We need to take a deep breath and realize that although I worry about the future for my grandchildren, what we have in this country cannot ever be diminished in its value. Runyan so beautifully expressed this in his analysis of the White House. Indeed, it is not a palace but a house. “Its grandeur emanates from its history.”

Thank you for giving me the chance to remember just what my country means to me.

Boxer, Not Schayes: Are You Serious?

Why was there no coverage in last week’s JT of the death of Dolph Schayes, the greatest Jewish basketball player ever? Meanwhile, The Seen devoted extensive space to an athlete on a comeback trail in a dying sport, boxing? Why?

To be sure, Schayes has no local ties (although the cantor of Chizuk Amuno Congregation does have a photo of himself with Schayes); but then, that is also true of the boxer. So, why is the latter of interest? Perhaps because he is affiliated with Chabad, as is the editor-in-chief of this periodical?

As to the boxer’s comment (he’ s also a rabbi no less!) that “boxing is a very spiritual sport”: ridiculous. There is nothing spiritual about getting into a ring intending to beat an opponent’s brains out for recreational pleasure, if not profit. Nothing could be more anti-spiritual and un-rabbinic.

Honor Tradition!

In “The Chef with a Million Flavors,” (Nov. 27), Ben Rubin states that  his success is due to his ability to  redesign classic foods, “by waking  up the palate to new tastes” and by “trying to bring a diversity of spices, textures and flavors to the traditional Chanukah celebration.” I suggest his efforts be placed in “restoring” the original Jewish foods.

How about re-creating rye bread and bagels with a crunchy crust and some “body,” or hot corned beef from a steam warmer or blitzes that do not come frozen and tasteless. I don’t need a  “zucchini and feta latke” or a “yucca latke.” Just replace the thin over-fried latke presently offered to the public.

As an afterthought don’t create pareve substitutes for meat or dairy dishes. Leave traditional Jewish foods alone!

Shameful Omission

The JT’s “The Seen” (Nov. 27) kvelled over the presentation of the Presidential Medal of Honor to four Jews among the 17 awardees. As an afterthought, it also mentioned that the non-Jewish recipients included two baseball legends and two entertainers. Conspicuous by its absence was any reference to the honoree with the closest connection to Maryland, and especially the Baltimore area: none other than the longest-serving female member of Congress and Hadassah lifetime member, Sen. Barbara “Fighting Babs” Mikulski.

For shame, JT!

The Cost of Kosher

After reading “Kosher Kush” (Nov. 20), I must admit that the entire  concept of kosher marijuana fascinates me. I’m certainly not an expert on kashrut or what would or would not make cannabis kosher in any form.

But I am certain that it will most likely cost twice as much as its treyf counterpart.

The Ills of Animal Products

As president emeritus of JewishVeg (forerly Jewish Vegetarians of North America, JVNA), I was very pleased with the JT’s “Vegging Out,” (Nov. 27)

To reinforce its message, I believe  respectfully that Jews should consider how the production and consumption of meat and other animal products  violate basic Jewish mandates to  preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people and that  animal-based diets and agriculture are causing an epidemic of diseases in Jewish and other communities and contributing significantly to  climate change and other environmental problems that threaten all of humanity.

I believe it is essential that the  Jewish community address these  issues to help shift our imperiled planet to a sustainable path.

In addition, veganism is the diet for Judaism’s two ideal times, the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:29) and the Messianic, according to Rav Kook and others, based on Isaiah 11:6-9, “the wolf will dwell with the lamb … the lion will eat straw like the ox … and no one shall hurt nor destroy on all of God’s holy mountain.”