Not Shocked At Separate Section

Just a few days ago I was present at the funeral of a friend of more than 70 years. We grew up together, and both served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War. He was buried in a veterans’ cemetery in South Florida in the next available gravesite.

I somewhat lamented the fact that in Baltimore, Jewish traditions are observed and that there is a separate section for Jewish servicemen at the Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery (“Shocked,” Dec. 20). I am not shocked at all by this procedure, although I saw where Mr. Fisher is coming from. It’s all in the way you view a particular matter.
Howard H. Ottenstein
Delray Beach, Fla.

Finding Flavor

I loved the Dec. 20 issue of the JT. After reading Eli Schlossberg’s article, “Jewish Food: What’s the Next Big Thing?” I was reminded of an interesting cookbook, “The World of Jewish Cooking” by Gil Marks. The author uses pictures and the history of each food to give “flavor” to our ancestors’ dishes.
Lynne Selznick
Pikesville

Etz Chaim Gets Down

Thank you for the stunning and genuine portrayal of the Etz Chaim Center (“Tree of Life,” Nov. 29). We love what we do, and we’re so proud and happy to let people know that Jewish hearts everywhere are being touched. Just as the article was going to print we had an epic event that I thought your readers would love to know about. Organized by two passionate 20-somethings who grew up in Baltimore, WOW!’s Chanukah Experience brought about 100 young Jews to The Get Down dance club on the eighth night of Chanukah.

We took over the entire club and decked it out with sufganiyot and driedels, poker tables, a photo booth and our own DJ. When the lights went out, we gathered everyone together, lit the candles, sang the blessings and handed out presents. The unity was palatable, and the authenticity of the moment charged the place with Jewish pride like nothing else could.
Rivka Malka Perlman
Baltimore

Focus On What Makes Us Strong

As a participant in the Union for Reform Judaism’s biennial conference in San Diego, I was quite surprised at the editorial that questioned what was next for the movement (“Lingering Questions For The Reform Movement,” Dec. 20). Rather than reaching out to those of us who were at the conference — there were many from the Baltimore and Washington areas — you chose to comment in a vacuum. You should have rather focused on the Saturday morning worship that celebrated the end of Rabbi David Ellenson’s leadership of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the appointment of Rabbi Angela Buchdahl as the senior rabbi at Central Synagogue in New York City, the participation from the lay leadership of the affiliate organizations in the Torah service and the varied workshops with teachers from many different streams of Judaism. Instead, you focused, strangely, on the sale of one of our floors of our New York offices.

As an active member of the Board of Trustees of URJ and a member of all of the movement’s financial committees I can say that the sale of the offices in New York was part of a long-term strategy and that the space that was sold was excess space. The $1 million additional investment in youth was overwhelmingly supported by the leadership of URJ and was discussed and voted on prior to the sale of the space. The investment in youth programming would have occurred whether or not the office space had been sold.
Aaron Bloom
Baltimore

Bacon Bits. Really?

I’m a longtime reader who was shocked to see a recipe calling for “real bacon bits” in the pages of the paper I love so much (“Start Your Ovens!” Dec. 13). Although I’m not Orthodox, I find it offensive to suggest to Jewish readers that they use real bacon in their food. Even though a sidebar offers kosher substitutes, shouldn’t a Jewish publication hold itself to a higher standard?
Selma Klein
Baltimore

Grammatical Style Not Promising

I note that [JT Editor-in-Chief Joshua Runyan called his] Dec. 20 introductory piece “A Promising Future.” I hope that it is. However, the ending of two phrases with a preposition (“Jewish leaders grapple with” and “a terrific team to work with”) and the annoyingly incorrect use of “hopefully” do not bode well for the quality of writing in future editions.

Because I am well aware of the prescriptive- versus descriptive-language debate, that language rules are always bending and that not everything written need be formal prose, I will refrain from decrying the overuse of contractions, the beginning of sentences with conjunctions and the beginning of thoughts with the meaningless “there.”

I would hope that just as the JT “bears a tremendous responsibility” to inform, inspire, engage and entertain, it also has a responsibility to present well-written articles. Indeed, that is what I would like to see in my community publication, one to which I have subscribed for many years.
Tzipora Sofare
Owings Mills

Modern-Day Amalek

Marc Shapiro’s fine story of “Latkes With A Side Of The Lord” (Dec. 13) highlighted the targeting by Jews for Jesus of the vulnerable, lonely, young and confused on the University of Maryland campus. In the piece, Ruth Guggenheim [director of Jews for
Judaism] went so far as to categorize the Messianics as “spiritual predators.”

We have encountered such predation before [with the] the singling out the stragglers of the Jewish people for attack; it is in the Bible. “Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. They met you along the way and attacked all your stragglers from behind when you were tired and weary” (Deut. 25:17-8).

As noted in an article in the JT’s sister publication, the Washington Jewish Week (“Messianic Challenge,” Sept. 25), Stephen Katz, the North American director of Jews for Jesus, worships at the McLean Bible Church. MBC is a Northern Virginia-based evangelistic ecclesiastical conglomerate. It is headed by Senior Pastor Lon Solomon. MBC is extremely proactive in regional efforts to proselytize Jews, including on college campuses. Through such pernicious activity, MBC has established itself as the modern-day Amalek. … An old biblical enemy has resurfaced in modern garb. How will Jews respond?

S. Auerbach
Bethesda, Md.

Ignorant Or Ignoring?

I’m a member of the community here, and I was shocked and dismayed by your editorial, “An Alternative To Peace?” (Dec. 13). … Whining about all the bad things that will happen to Israel if it doesn’t make a comprehensive peace is the same lame argument from J Street, to which I would bet you are a card-carrying member. I’m also curious as to who at the JT approves editorial content. You either are ignorant of the last few offers over the last 15 years to the Arabs for a settlement, or you chose to ignore them. …

Every piece of land from which Israel has withdrawn has been overtaken by Islamists, who point thousands of rockets and launch attacks at Israel. You think that by creating another state the same isn’t going to happen? Your view is shared by only a fraction of the Israeli population.

Marc Roffman
Baltimore

BBYO: The Jewish Youth Organization for You

Post bar or bat mitzvah, many Jewish teens and their parents struggle to keep the fires of Jewish life burning — fires that were sparked at b’nai mitzvah. Through community events and synagogue outreach, teens can continue their involvement in the Jewish community; however, many Jewish teens never find an environment in Judaism that fits his or her lifestyle and personality.

What teens and their parents may not realize is that a fantastic option for Jewish life exists right here in Baltimore in BBYO, a youth organization for eighth- through 12th-grade Jewish teens. This student-led youth organization fosters Judaism and leadership in teens through various events, from social-action initiatives to athletics to purely social get-togethers, such as movie nights. BBYO Baltimore, part of the larger Northern Region East, is home to various chapters for area teens, both male and female. BBYO consists of two separate but related units — Aleph Tzadik Aleph (AZA), the “fraternity” for young men, and B’nai B’rith Girls, the “sorority” for young women.

Members of BBYO not only connect with a rich history — nearly a century’s worth — but also experience the Jewish community with other teens.  BBYO Baltimore can be a way for a Jewish teen to stay connected with friends from middle school after moving on to high school, to meet Jewish teens from across Baltimore and the country and to have fun at dances, sports events, larger BBYO conventions and other types of programming. During this school year, BBYO Baltimore hosted a pre-screening of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and held its annual Sweetheart Heartthrob SnowBall dance at the Radisson Cross Keys; and it has run events for teens nearly every week. The value of BBYO varies from person to person. For some, BBYO is a fun way to meet up with friends on a Saturday night; for others, BBYO has been an accepting, nurturing environment in which to grow.

“When I’m with my BBYO friends, I never have to pretend to be someone I’m not,” Matt Lipsey, a junior at Carver School for Arts and Technology and the BBYO Baltimore Council godol (AZA president), said.  “BBYO has transformed me from a shy eighth-grader with few close friends into a confident young man with close friends from all over the world.”

Like Matt, many teens have been touched by the power of a Jewish youth organization, and they have been inspired to continue a Jewish lifestyle beyond high school because of their experience with BBYO.

For more information about BBYO Baltimore Council, contact Danielle Hercenberg, BBYO’s Baltimore Council program director, at bmore@bbyo.org or 410-559-3549.  To register for membership, visit b-linked.org and select “become a member.”

Max Sterling and Ilana Kornblatt are seniors at Pikesville High School. Max is a member of Gideon AZA, and Ilana is a member of Chana Senisch BBG.

Shocked

Earlier this month, I attended the funeral of a close friend, Irv Chait, at the Garrison Veterans Cemetery. I was shocked to find that Jewish veterans are buried in a segregated location in the cemetery. If it is right that they serve, fight and die with all other veterans, it should certainly be acceptable that they be buried among their comrades.

David L. Fisher
Baltimore