We Need Help

I am writing to you because I have been aware of Elsa Newman’s story for a long time (“Judaism Behind Bars,” Oct. 25).  I am involved with Mothers of Lost Children and have been actively seeking justice for Elsa and the other mothers who have lost custody of children they are trying to protect. I am a Jewish woman who lost custody. The court would not allow my daughter to attend Hebrew school or Temple, even though she wanted that too. There are so many injustices, and the legal abuse is deafening.  Please help us tell the story about this injustice.  The leadership council reports that 58,000 children are taken from fit, loving mothers.  I urge you to look into this event that many are calling a holocaust, where children are routinely taken from mothers trying to protect themselves and their children. Children are dying at the hands of their fathers, and no one is listening. Thank you so much for calling attention to Elsa’s story. Elsa is up for probation, and we need help to free Elsa Newman.

Melissa Barnett

Magic In Morocco … This May

I read with great interest Mayan Jaffe’s piece, “Magic In Morocco” (Dec. 6). Although going to Israel is a great way to learn about Moroccan Jewish culture, since almost a million Israelis are of Moroccan descent, there is no better way to learn than to go to the source. It is for that reason that Beth Israel Congregation in Owings Mills has put together a Jewish Tour of Morocco (May 4 to 12, 2014) with a dedicated educator from Da’at Travel that will include four cities, Casablanca, Fes, Rabat and Marrakech. We will be learning about how the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee cares for the elderly Jewish population, we will be having Shabbat dinner with members of the Marrakech Jewish community, and we will be visiting the only Jewish museum in the Arab world. Those joining us will witness what was referred to in the JT article as a vibrant country, a remarkable exotic destination and a millennia old Sefardic community.

Rabbi Jay R. Goldstein
Beth Israel Congregation

A Letter To Hague

On Nov. 19, a Jewish woman in Britain, Mindy Wiesenberger, sent the following letter to [British Foreign Secretary William] Hague. The letter has been published in many newspapers, including The Times of Israel, and I would like to share it with the readers of the Baltimore Jewish Times.

“Dear Mr. Hague,

You have stated that if Israel tries to defend its population through a ground offensive in Gaza, ‘it risks losing the sympathy of the international community.’

“Let me tell you something about the sympathy of the international community, Mr. Hague. My father was liberated from Buchenwald concentration camp in 1945, having lost his entire family but gaining the sympathy of the international community at the time. After six million Jews had been annihilated at the hands of the Nazi regime, the international community had plenty of sympathy for the Jewish people. There is always plenty of sympathy for victims.

“Israel doesn’t need the sympathy of the international community. What it needs is to defend its citizens.

“When as a tiny country it gained its independence in 1948 it had to absorb 800,000 Jews who were thrown out of Arab lands in the Middle East, and it did so without fuss and with dignity, giving them shelter and a place of security in which their children could grow up to become productive citizens. When Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria tried to destroy Israel in 1948 and again in 1967, they took in hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs, but did they give them dignity or shelter? No, they left them to rot in refugee camps in order to maintain a symbol of grievance against Israel and use them as a political tool against the Jewish state. What has arisen in those camps is a complicated situation, but it is what has led to Gaza today.”

Kenneth Wolfson

Petition For Elsa

Elsa Newman, loving mother and successful attorney, has been imprisoned in the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women for 11 years for a crime she did not commit (“Judaism Behind Bars,” Oct. 25). Her situation is one of the most monstrous examples of what is happening to mothers and children in family courts across the country.

We created the Battered Mothers’ Custody Conference in 2003 with the goal of hosting a national public forum to address the many complex issues facing battered women as they strive to protect themselves and their children during divorce, custody and visitation litigation. The 2011 Annual Battered Mothers’ Custody Conference dedicated its official session to Newman. In the program, this is what we write: “There are far too many battered mothers who have unjustly lost custody of their children for us to list here, but there is one whom we’d like to spotlight and honor this year. … A group of attendees are asking Maryland Gov. [Martin] O’Malley for clemency for Elsa Newman. Help us with prayers and signing the petition. Help free Elsa and all the mothers who have sacrificed so much for the safety of their children.”

We know what Elsa faced, because we faced it too. We know Elsa is innocent, because we were criminalized too — all because we sought to protect our children in family court. Family courts are poorly educated in the areas of child abuse and domestic violence. They rely on stereotypes and the testimony of highly paid “experts” to make divorce and custody decisions.  Each year, they order 58,000 children to be torn away from their mother/primary caregiver and ordered to live with their abuser. Abusers, being highly skilled in deception and manipulation, appear charming, calm and collected in court. Mothers, traumatized and frantic in the knowledge that their children are being abused, are labeled “hysterical.”

Please visit justice4elsanewman.com and/or sign the petition to free her at thepetitionsite.com/5/Free-Elsa-Newman.

Mo Therese Hannah, Ph.D.
Liliane Heller Miller
Co-founders and chairs
Battered Mothers’ Custody Conference

Here We Go Again

The damage from electrical devices: First it was microwave ovens, then power lines, then cell phones. Now it is smart meters, according to the president of Maryland Smart Meter Awareness. Congratulations to the Baltimore Jewish Times for presenting both sides of the debate (“Smart Meter Debate Rages On,” Nov. 15). In retrospect, BGE should have replaced the meters without any fanfare. If asked, “Why the replacement?” they could have answered, “To improve the distribution of electricity and the reduction of costly meter readings.” I believe that anyone who opts out of the change should pay a monthly fee to BGE for their “personal” meter reading.

Joseph Trost

Quick Clarification

Marc Shapiro’s article, “Ralph Jaffe Declares Gubernatorial Candidacy” (Nov. 22), was the best article ever written about the Jaffe Movement to get rid of all the corruption in Maryland politics. I would like to make a clarification pertaining to the number of votes I received and the money I spent on the votes.  Here are the facts for the two elections in which I ran for office. In the 2010 election for governor, I spent $450 and received 19,517 votes. In the 2012 election for U.S. Senate, I spent $280 and received 3,313 votes. For both elections combined, I spent $730 and received 22,830 votes. Per dollar, I received more votes for these two elections combined than anybody else running for elected public office. If elected, I am committed to giving the tax-payers of Maryland a 100 percent accounting of how every dollar is spent.

Ralph Jaffe

Well Deserved

“Tree of Life” is very impressive (Nov. 29). I have been involved with Etz Chaim since May, and have found it to be a valuable resource for growth. The organization is a place where Jews of all strains can sit together and feel welcome. Etz Chaim enriches Baltimore and builds bridges. The recognition received in the article is well deserved. I encourage others to benefit from all that Etz Chaim has to offer.

Daniel Hoch

Don’t Jeopardize Progress

The success of U.S.-Iran negotiating efforts demonstrates that when our nations commit to serious diplomacy, historic progress is possible (“Analysis: A Closer Look At The P5+
1-Iranian Agreement,” Nov. 29). The United States and Iran are in reach of a deal to guard against a nuclear-armed Iran and a devastating war. Congress should not sabotage this diplomatic victory with new sanctions and saber rattling measures that would jeopardize the progress our diplomats have worked so hard to achieve. I hope Sen. Ben Cardin and Sen. Barbara Mikulski vote against new sanctions, and will publicly support these efforts toward a diplomatic resolution of the decade-long standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.

Julia and Donald C. Erickson


The nuclear deal brokered by the United States and Iran in Geneva is historic. Just as the agreement to peacefully disarm Syria of its chemical weapons demonstrated, diplomacy makes the world a safer place. Now comes the hard part: U.S. diplomats are working to secure a final agreement to prevent war and a nuclear-armed Iran. I hope my senators and representative will publicly support these efforts and oppose calls by some in Congress for more sanctions. The Friends Committee on National Legislation has more on supporting this unprecedented deal: fcnl.org/iran.

Robert S. Lawrence

Anti-Semitism Is Alive And Well

Congratulations to Maayan Jaffe on her editorial on anti-Semitism (“Anti-Semitism is Alive And Well,” Nov. 22). Growing up in 21208 or 21209, or even 21217, or upper Park Heights or lower Park Heights or
Forest Park can be very blinding and narrow. And suddenly the real world hits one when it is time to go to college. Wow, there are people other than Jews. And, for the first time in one’s life, the terror of anti-Semitism is there. It can be very subtle, but it is there. What about the anti-Semitism of Jew against Jew, because one’s skirt is too long or too short or one’s arms are exposed or one’s black hat is different from another? And what about the Jew who is anti-Semitic against another who is not as religious and not even considered a Jew? Or the non-religious Jew who believes that observant Jews are living in the past? To me, Jew against Jew is the worst form of anti-Semitism.

My husband grew up in a very small town — one of 60 Jewish families — where he learned to take the long way home from school for fear of being beaten up again. Two years ago, he was asked to talk on graduation day at that same school he attended then. He didn’t want to because “they didn’t like me then, so why should they like me now?” He was convinced by a few people to do it. However, a week before the graduation he got a snail mail telling him he was “uninvited” to talk with no explanation. My guess was that he probably was uninvited because they had him confused with another Dr. Morton, whose parents owned the only department store in town, and they accidentally asked the poor Jew who lived in the city.

Toby Mower