Knowing Your Aging Parents’ Wishes

I would like to thank Janet Kurland and Gail Lipsitz for their article on conversations you need to have with your aging parents (“Five Key Conversations With Your Parents,” May 2). These are all issues my sister and I have discussed with our parents — and they are sensitive issues that have to be handled with patience and care. It is important to ask these questions. It is important to understand your parents’ needs and wishes while they can express them clearly.

Roslyn Zozzie Golden
Baltimore

Living with Right-Wing Hate

The JT’s April 25 editorial, “Rethinking right-wing extremism,” was enlightening and spot-on in highlighting the fact that “since 9/11, right-wing extremists have killed more people in this country than ‘extremists motivated by al-Qaeda’s ideology.’” Of course, you would never know that to be the case from listening to Robert Goldberg’s beloved Fox News (Your Say, April 18). Quite the reverse. For example, most recently Fox programming rallied behind racist tax cheat Cliven Bundy, whom it championed as a poster boy for states’ rights.

The JT editorial referenced the Southern Poverty Law Center, characterized by the Forward as “the country’s most prominent legal and investigative organization targeting hate groups.” As reported in a Washington Post column by Dana Milbank, according to the SPLC, “Bundy’s sentiments align closely with the Posse Comitatus movement … who based its anti-tax position on a belief that the levers of national power were controlled by Jewish bankers.”

The local angle in all of this is that the SPLC was a particular bête noire of WBAL’s late anti-tax “rav,” Ron Smith, who, among other antics, would go out of his way to belittle SPLC founder Morris Dees Jr. for the latter’s “Jewish” middle name, Seligman. Dees is a Southern Christian. Smith accused Dees of exploiting his middle name in fundraising efforts in order to mislead possible Jewish donors that he was himself Jewish.

Luke Sanders
Parkville

Humbled, Honored by Leo Bretholz

On April 27, the Baltimore Jewish Council hosted its annual Yom HaShoah commemoration at Beth Tfiloh. It was a moving reminder of the tragedy of the Holocaust and a tribute to the survivors and their families. The JT article (“Legacy of Loss,” April 18) reminds us of the importance of keeping that history alive.

In the ceremony, Tova Tenenbaum recounted the late Leo Bretholz’s story of flight and survival, and then Sen. Ben Cardin told of Mr. Bretholz’s efforts with the Maryland General Assembly in 2011.

Legislation was introduced — we were all sponsors of Senate Bill 479 and House Bill 520 — which would require any entity bidding on a state transportation contract to disclose specific information about its role in World War II deportations. This mainly applied to the French railroad SNCF, which transported thousands of Jews to death camps, and from which Mr. Bretholz escaped.

Mr. Bretholz came to Annapolis to testify, and we were proud to be able to take the extra step of introducing him in the House and Senate to the entire General Assembly. His presence was key to ensuring that the bills passed unanimously.

Leo Bretholz died in March, but his efforts and legacy, along with that of all other survivors, will live on. We were humbled and honored to meet him and to support him on these important issues.

Del. Dan Morhaim (District 11)                                             
Del. Dana Stein (District 11)
Del. Sandy Rosenberg (District 41)
Del. Kirill Reznik (District 39)
Sen. Bobby Zirkin (District 11)

Neglectful Editorial

The editorial “The knockout of Ali” (April 18) states that Brandeis University made the right decision and could have avoided the contretemps just by doing due diligence before inviting [outspoken critic of Islam] Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was clearly unacceptable. It suggests falsely that Daniel Pipes [also an outspoken critic of Islam] and Ali are at odds, that only the “right” protested the disinvitation and ignored Brandeis’ history of inviting anti-Israel honorees.

It makes no mention that Ali has been under a death threat since 2004, when the murderer of Theodoor Van Gogh [a Dutch film producer/director who worked with Ali to produce “Submission,” a movie that criticized the treatment of women in Islam] wrote on a note attached to Van Gogh’s chest with a butcher knife that Ali would be next.

The editorial also neglects to mention that CAMERA just honored her at its April meeting, but then the Baltimore Jewish Times probably considers CAMERA one of those right-wingers.

Jeff Levin
Pikesville

A Hillel home run

As our son’s four years at Johns Hopkins University come to a close, we have been reflecting upon his experience (“Bonds that Bind,” April 25). Baseball has always been an enormous part of his life, made all the more meaningful by his connections with coaches and teammates, but we never anticipated that he’d make a connection with Hillel through baseball.

And while he has formed connections with Hillel in non-baseball related ways, kudos really go to Rabbi Debbie Pine and assistant director Jon Falk and their staff for finding and welcoming Jewish students wherever they may be — on the field and off. The Hopkins Hillel is wonderfully inclusive and offers wide opportunities for student involvement and initiative. We cannot say enough positive things about its efforts to strengthen college students’ Jewish identity, whether or not they play baseball.

Shelly and Jeff Hettleman
Pikesville

People over property … always

The wisdom of our precious Torah sages always bears repeating.

With reference to the safety and welfare of the State of Israel and its inhabitants, the apparent choice is between the hawkish territorialism and revanchist, one-state pro-settler agenda of Marc Caroff and the Zionist Organization of America (Your Say, April 11) and the courageous and nuanced “land for peace” optic of the great Joseph B. Soloveitchik (of blessed and sainted memory), the illustrious Rav.

For rabbinic Judaism, people come before territory — or, for that matter, property. Halacha speaks of pikuach nefesh and knows nothing of pikuach cheftza.

In sobering comments all the more remarkable for having been made during the period of euphoria after the triumphant 1967 war, the Rav made it clear that when it comes to the matter of land, it is the people of Israel who are holy, not the land. The people of Israel — their welfare and well-being, safety and security — take precedence. In the Rav’s own words “Our Judaism is not a religion of shrines; that as dear as [even] the Western Wall is, the 2 million lives of Jews [the population of Israel in 1967] is more important.”

Like any authentic Jew, privileging people over property and peace over lebensraum, I proudly side with the Rav over Caroff and the ZOA.

Issachar Friedmann
Baltimore

Fighting a language barrier

In Avi Rudolph’s column “American Jewry must reclaim Hebrew” (April 25), the key word is “American.”

Joke: What do you call someone who knows multiple languages? A multilingual; What do you call someone who knows two languages? A bilingual; What do you call someone who knows only one language? An American.

Joke: An American is someone who, when he goes abroad, forgets who the foreigner is.

Joke:  An American is someone who, when In Paris, can’t figure out why people there refer to a window as a fenetre.

Americans, by nature, are foreign language aversive, expecting the rest of the world to accommodate them by speaking English. This is why Rudolph’s well-intentioned project is doomed to failure.

Steve Weissman
Baltimore

Give Levinson his due

I enjoyed reading the article about Paul Reiser (“Still Funny After All These Years,” April 25), and I look forward to seeing and hopefully meeting him at BHC’s Night of the Stars. However, having gone to school with film director Barry Levinson and having followed his climb to fame, I respectfully point out that “Diner” was not the first of a trilogy tribute to Baltimore, as stated in the article, but the first of his four films about his hometown. The others were “Tin Men,” “Avalon,” and “Liberty Heights.”

It’s comforting to know that Baltimore “will always hold a special place in Paul Reiser’s heart.” Perhaps some of us will be able to show him why we feel the same way.

Dr. Ira Kolman
Mount Washington

For Jews, a Russian threat

When confronted by a foreign crisis, my first concern is whether it is better or worse for Jews in the region (“Compromise of sorts in Ukraine,” April 25). Certainly, while troubling, the unprovoked action of Russia in seizing the Crimea did not directly affect the Jewish population of that area, instead fulfilling an anticipated long-term goal of Vladimir Putin.

However, now the new threat to Eastern Ukraine independence from Russia does threaten the indigenous Jewish presence in that region with the specter of pogroms reminiscent of the Cossacks in the massacre of Jews in 1904 and 1905. Unfortunately, the more recent record has not been more tolerant, as Ukrainian units collaborated with Adolf Hitler during the Holocaust, and after World War II Stalin murdered thousands of Jews.

For the sake of peace in the region, I would hope that a combination of pressure and biting sanctions would bring at least a temporary armistice between the two parties without impacting unfavorably against the dwindling Jewish population in Crimea, Ukraine and Russia.

Nelson Marans
Silver Spring  

People, Not Territory, of Vital Importance

The wisdom of our precious Torah sages always bears repeating.

With reference to the safety and welfare of the State of Israel and its inhabitants, the apparent choice is between the hawkish territorialism and revanchist one-state, pro-settler agenda of Marc Caroff and the Zionist Organization of America (Your Say, April 11) and the courageous and nuanced “land for peace” optic of the great Joseph B. Soloveitchik, of blessed memory, the illustrious Rav.

For rabbinic Judaism, people come before territory or, for that matter, property. Halachah speaks of pikuach nefesh, “saving a life,” and knows nothing of pikuach cheftza or “saving property.”

In sobering comments all the more remarkable for having been made during the period of euphoria after the triumphant 1967 war, the Rav made it clear that when it comes to the matter of land, it is the people of Israel that are holy, not the land. The people of Israel – their welfare and well-being, safety and security – take precedence. In the Rav’s own words: “Our Judaism is not a religion of shrines. … As dear as the Western Wall is, the two million lives of Jews is more important.”

Issachar Friedmann
Baltimore