Stein’s a Mensch; Stop the Attacks

I allow I have no vested interest, other than my appreciation of open space, concerning the proposal for the Chabad synagogue off Stevenson Road (“Associated Official’s Email Ignites Concern in Chabad Case,” Nov. 20). However, I am concerned about the charged, inflammatory rhetoric and what seems to me a misguided ad hominem attack upon a fine, upstanding man.

I know Dana Stein as my legislator and friend. Legislator Stein has been in the forefront of protecting our ecological and environmental interests as well as other progressive issues. He is easily contacted by any constituent and responds in kind.

Further, I know him to be a true mensch, someone with no malice aforethought in this or in any other issue.

To perceive this neighborhood’s opposition as anti-Russian or even anti-Jewish are arguments specious and fatuous. To understand this retort, simply imagine a church congregation petitioning the same. I suspect most strongly that Dana, as a local property owner merely, and the other well over 400 families (I doubt they are all Jewish) would just as intently attempt to thwart such a protocol.

Nay, it simply appears that this community wants to maintain the peace that they bargained for when they purchased their homes. Well, again, I cannot speak to that, but I can fully disavow personal attacks, completely wrong-headed, against one of the kindest, most compassionate persons I know, with a keen intellect, who exemplifies kiddush Hashem.

If those who wish this synagogue want to give their arguments, let them and their supporters do so with cogent views, not emotional flaws in reasoning.

North Oaks Is Indeed a Jewel

Thank you for your article on North Oaks (“Pikesville’s Jewel,” Nov. 20). As the family members of residents of that community, we cannot sing its praises loudly enough. Our parents not only live in a beautiful apartment, on a lovely property, in the midst of a Jewish atmosphere, but they are extremely well served by the caring and thoughtful North Oaks staff that is second to none.

Yes, their move from a Pikesville private residence to North Oaks was worrisome and anxiety-provoking for us all; yet our satisfaction level with everything that the North Oaks community brings is extremely high. We are grateful that this resource allows our parents to remain so close to us, yet live a stimulating, independent life. We thank the JT for highlighting this jewel in our community.

Put Safety First!

The JT’s Nov. 20 article “Associated Official’s Email Ignites Concern in Chabad Case” states that about 90 percent of the 150 to 200 emails that councilwoman Vicki Almond has received were in support of the Chabad synagogue in the Stevenson Road community.

Here is one that is not — and for safety reasons only. There are many bikers and walkers, including me, in this neighborhood.  Additional traffic and parking on this narrow two-lane road with hills and curves would be a disaster.

Religious liberty has nothing to do with this issue.  It was offensive to read that it is.  All of us were immigrants at one time, and most of us are Jewish.  The safety of my family and my neighbors is the only issue. I would be curious to know how many of Almond’s emails came from people who actually live in the neighborhood.

Heed These Words of Freedom

Both American and Jewish traditions support immigration.  To deny entry to our shores is to deny the opportunity that a free society provides to the outcast yearning to breathe free, to the stranger in a strange land. Those are the words in both the poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty and in Exodus 2:22.

“[The fight] is not against Muslims or Islam,” as the JT rightly editorialized. “Or, for that matter, women and children.” (“Grandstanding on the Backs of Refugees,” Nov. 27).

We do not deny entry to people of a particular nationality or religion. If we erect such barriers now, eventually they will not be limited to the others among us.

The Baltimore Jewish Council “welcome[s] those fleeing persecution in other countries … convinced that this can be accomplished without compromising the safety of our nation, which has always been a significant aspect of the United States refugee resettlement process.”

We agree. We must ensure, to the best of our ability, that proper screening takes place before people are admitted to this country.

Finally, we urge Gov. Hogan to provide the opportunity to succeed for all refugees who come to Maryland — the Free State.

Slanted Reporting?

In tone, the JT’s “Stevenson Chabad Hearings Come to a Close” (Nov. 27) came across not as reportage, but as advocacy. For example, loaded phraseology such as “shred the opposition’s arguments” reflects editorial judgment, not journalistic observation.

Sadly, Rep. Edwards Stands Alone

As a Maryland resident, I find it is unconscionable that Rep. Donna  Edwards could not find the strength, morality and wisdom to join with every one of her Maryland congressional colleagues to condemn the  incitement that led to terrorist acts being committed against Israeli civilians (“Maryland Delegation, Minus One, Signs Letter Condemning Palestinian Violence,” Nov. 17, online only). She apparently stands alone.

A Call to Action Against White Supremacy

As per Carl Berenholtz’s suggestion in his Your Say directed at me (“Heritage, Not Hate, is Behind Flag’s Display,” Aug. 14), I have done research about the Confederacy as well as today’s neo-Confederate movements.

Baltimore City is currently convening a special commission to review the city’s public Confederate monuments.  I attended its first public meeting  on Oct. 29, and the public is invited to two hearings at City Hall on Dec. 15 (5 p.m.) and Jan. 14 (10 a.m.).

I am paraphrasing Eli Poussen’s  report, from the Baltimore Heritage website that has been published on the city’s planning website.

One of the Confederate statues in question celebrates Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney (1887), a Maryland lawyer who was involved with the 1857 Dred Scott decision and who was an opponent of black freedom and a supporter of slavery. The statues up for debate were built from the 1860s to the 1960s, a period of  vehement racist reactions to black civil rights. The statues, some donated by the Daughters of the Confederacy, portray victorious Confederate soldiers waving the Stars and Bars. In my opinion, and that of groups working to take down Confederate flags from state buildings across our nation, these statues and that flag celebrate racism.

Berenholtz engages in a rewriting of Civil War history. This narrative portrays the Confederacy not as a slave-holder rebellion, but as a supposedly noble “lost cause” for states’ rights, which Berenholtz quotes  verbatim in his response to my letter. The Southern states’ secession declarations all focus on their rights to profit from enslaving people. You can easily read these declarations word for word online. No mention of states’ rights.

I implore the Jewish community to participate in this discussion of how we teach history in our country and who we choose to memorialize and why.  It is incumbent upon us to work against white supremacy and not silently go along with it.

The Problem with ‘Open Orthodoxy’

Shame on Rabbi Chaim Landau (“Women Rabbis: Saints or Vixens?” Nov. 13). Since when do Jews copy what “has been happening in the world of Catholic and Protestant clergy”? That sentence itself best describes what is wrong with “Open Orthodoxy.” Following the concept of  nihiyeh k’chol hagoyim (let us be like all the other nations) denies the  singularity of the Jewish nation as  G-d’s chosen people.

Left-Right Confusion

The photograph on the cover of the Nov. 6 edition of the JT, commemorating veterans, is backward (look at the Hebrew letters). During an inspection, any of us who proudly wore the uniform would have been reprimanded if our ribbons or insignia were on the wrong side.

JT Doesn’t Get It

The last time I checked, the Jaffe family has been a subscriber to the Jewish Times for more than 50 years. The last time I checked, I’m Jewish and live in Pikesville. The last time I checked, Pikesville is in the state of Maryland. The last time I checked, I am a filed Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Melissa Apter’s article “Meet the Press” (Nov. 13) brings home the point that the JT doesn’t get it.  People are fed up on the national, state and local levels. They are fed up with career politicians whose primary goal is to promote their own personal self-interests at the expense of their constituents. They are fed up with the media — writers who are supposed to report the whole story but take it upon themselves to inject their own biases and omit essential facts. Deliberate omission of the facts is tantamount to prejudice and partiality on the part of the writer and editor.

As a teacher and not a career politician, my candidacy is based on a movement that I started in 1992 when I became convinced it was time to get the money out of politics and to expose the dreadful consequences of keeping long-term phony career politicians in office.

Unlike the so-called two leading Senate candidates mentioned in the article, I do not take any campaign contributions because they are disguised bribes. My campaign stands on the principles of telling the truth all the time, not some of the time, and serving one term only, which enables me to be a public official whose only  intent is to be a good public servant.

It’s a shame the Jewish Times is part of the media’s bandwagon mentality that gives emphasis to the size of the candidate’s treasury chest or if the candidate is a career politician as  opposed to the candidate’s ethics and significant ideas.