Maryland Took Anti-Iran Lead

Regarding the JT’s reporting of AIPAC 2014, readers should know that action dealing with the Islamic Republic of Iran was taken at the state level in 2013 (“Iran Tops Agenda,” March 7).

House Bill 877, which I sponsored along with 57 delegates, and Senate Bill 811 make Maryland’s procurement law restrictions automatically consistent with the most stringent U.S. sanctions when dealing with Iran.

The Baltimore Jewish Council, coordinating with other groups, played a key role in helping obtain passage with unanimous votes in both the House of Delegates and the state Senate.

Delegate Dan Morhaim (D-District 11)
Owings Mills

Israel Not the Only Problem at Hadassah

Why are you not reporting on the ongoing financial problems at Hadassah Hospital (“Hadassah’s Woes Continue, Feb. 28)?

You are doing a disservice to past, present and future donors by not reporting on the strikes and nonpayment of wages to employees. Blaming it on the Israeli government does a disservice to the owners of the hospital, namely Hadassah.

Ken Birnbaum
Baltimore

A Personal View on Marriage

More than 64 years ago, a Jewish male and a gentile female met (“Intermarriage a Disappointment,” Feb. 7). After spending time together for nearly a year, they really wanted to get married. She made a list of things that should be observed if they could have a happy life together: marriage done by a rabbi; membership in a Reform synagogue; major Jewish holidays observed; a bris for a son and a naming for a daughter; and Hebrew school and bar and bat mitzvahs for the children.

It was so difficult to find a willing rabbi to do the wedding; we felt the ceremony would have to be done at City Hall by a judge. But fortunately for us a brave and caring Reform rabbi felt it would be a loving and respected union.

We have been married for more than 63 years and have children, grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

At times, there are heartbreaking things in everyone’s life. At times, there are wonderful and happy occasions spent together as a family.

Isn’t it a life that is true for all of us?

Buddy and Jean Carton
Baltimore

Boycotts Much Ado About Nothing

A recent news item quotes a Knesset member from the Labor Party as saying that if Israel does not quickly agree to the creation of a Palestinian state, Israel will have “an image as a state worthy to isolate” (“Not Losing Sleep,” Feb. 14).

Yet, Gallup’s annual world affairs survey, conducted in February, found that fully 72 percent of Americans have a “very favorable” or “mostly favorable” view of Israel. By contrast, only 19 percent think favorably of the Palestinian Authority.

Israel is not isolated — at least not here in America, where it counts most. Israel’s decisions in the negotiations should be based on its national security needs, not on fear of a boycott movement that is more smoke than fire.

Moshe Phillips, president
Benyamin Korn, chairman
Religious Zionists of America
Philadelphia Chapter

State Bill Ill-Conceived

Israel’s policies toward its Palestinian residents is nothing short of outright racism (“Jewish Organizations Face Off,” Feb. 28). It humiliates men, women and children at checkpoints; its civilians beat, shoot and kill civilians; it steals their land to make room for those making Aliyah and all along screams “anti-Semitism” anytime people of conscience, Jews and non-Jews, challenge these practices.

The anti-boycott bill in the Maryland Senate will punish higher academic institutions that support a singular academic association — the American Studies Association — that showed courage by resolving to boycott Israel because it continually persecutes Palestinian scholars.

This bill should not be brought up even for a vote. It condones racism.

Miles Hoenig
Baltimore

Rabbi’s Message Hits The Mark

What an inspiring message from Rabbi Ari Israel about respecting fundamental differences while forging common goals and positively challenging each other (“A Lesson in Communal Relations,” Feb. 27). This is the underlying mission of Limmud Baltimore, an entirely volunteer-driven nonprofit organization, which is now in its third year.

At its core, the Baltimore Jewish community is richly diverse, chock full of different opinions about Jewish practice, thought and belief. Like Rabbi Israel’s nuclear family, a profound understanding and acceptance of each member’s unique differences fosters strength of the overall unit. We at Limmud Baltimore, through events and the development of programming, aspire to create community unity. To Jews who might not otherwise meet or interact, we offer the opportunity to celebrate Jewish study, culture and identity in a warm and welcoming environment.

We invite Rabbi Israel and the entire Jewish community to join us on Sunday, March 23 for a Taste of Limmud workshop at the Owings Mills JCC and at Goucher College on Sunday, Sept. 7 for our third annual LimmudFEST.

Cheryl Taragin
Baltimore

Letter Presents Flawed Reading of History

I had to read Mr. Cohen’s letter several times to truly understand the mistaken information about the land of Israel’s place for the Jewish people (“Why the Need for a Nation-State?” Feb. 21). If, as Mr. Cohen says, a Jewish state was needed to give us self-awareness and security, why Israel?

Go back in history and you’ll see that Israel belonged to the Israelites — the equivalent of the Jewish people — thousands of years ago. This is well documented by archeological findings along with biblical sources. Even their coined money was named the shekel, as it is today.

The Israelites were driven out of their land against their will by outside forces. There are songs depicting them sitting at the riverbanks of Babylon crying as they remembered their home in Zion, another name for Jerusalem. It is misleading to say, as our enemies do, that it was only the Holocaust that had demonstrated the need for a Jewish homeland. The yearning began a long time ago.

Of course, the Holocaust made it clear that it’s time to go back to our roots in the land of Israel, which Mr. Cohen calls by its Hebrew name, eretz yisrael. It’s a known fact that there were Jews who stayed there throughout the generations and had never left the country. As for the rest of us, where else will the people whose forefathers and foremothers lived there go if not to their own home?

It adds insult to injury to say that any place will do. No one can change history. All one can do is go back and learn it for himself or herself.

Ada Grodzinsky
Baltimore

Keolis Already Came Clean

In the debate over the much-anticipated Purple Line, it’s been forgotten that Keolis has satisfied the 2011 legislation’s two conditions for being allowed to bid on transit projects (“Purple Line Under Scrutiny,” Feb. 21). The first condition was that Keolis issue an apology to Holocaust victims — which the company did. The second condition was that the company come clean by making its archives available and turn over its records to a neutral arbitrator.

Keolis complied, and after a year of diligent research, the arbitrator ruled in 2012 that the company had satisfied both conditions of the 2011 law for coming clean and was therefore entitled to bid on transit projects. Although Keolis wasn’t awarded the 2012 contract, the company complied with the 2011 law and is a qualified bidder.

Why does Maryland have to revisit this issue and sponsor new legislation that imposes additional conditions, such as paying reparations, for allowing Keolis to bid? What message does additional conditions so soon after a company has complied with a recent law send to the business community?

Jeffrey H. Marks
Baltimore

Let’s Not Forget Industrial Hemp

Aside from the question of the legalization of hemp for human consumption, perhaps the United States will grow more accepting of industrial hemp (“Candidates Game for Decriminalization,” Feb. 21).

This is a natural product whose production and usage in the U.S. has suffered all of the years of opposition by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

Dave Weintraub
Baltimore

Be Grateful!

With all due respect, how ungrateful are the Hyatts to their new home and the place that gave them a venue to continue to watch the Baltimore Ravens (“Jewish Geography Tackles the Super Bowl,” Jan. 31).

They should have been pulling for their new neighbors and the Denver Broncos, not the Seattle Seahawks. That’s just my opinion.

Sonny Taragin
Baltimore