Omitted

In your article about organizations that help those in need (“A Helping Hand,” Nov. 25), you seem to have ignored those organizations that help the Jewish community such as Ahavas Yisroel Charity Fund and Gevuras Yarden, among others.

Hillel Eli Markowitz
Baltimore

Still Going …

I am writing in reference to two items in Nov. 15 issue. One is a letter written to the editor by Michael Rodels in which he states that he ordered something from Attman’s and was told he could not eat it there and that they would not give him a refund. The second item is the article about Dr. Bert Miller (“Dirty, Smelly Jew”) who had taught in Baltimore County Schools for 40 years. After working at New Town High School, he retired in protest prior to a termination date in order to maintain his retirement benefits. After all these years of teaching, he is suing the county to have his name cleared and the ability to work again. Of course, he is claiming anti-Semitism among other things. In this day and age, it is hard to believe that these things are happening to these gentlemen. I would think by now we would have gotten over the many prejudices that so many people have.

Judy Stern
Baltimore

We Don’t Get To Vote

The article, “Analysis: Global Jewish Shuk,” in the Nov. 15 issue presents a real conundrum. In the seeking of religious rights, there are those who wish to sit where they want, pray where they want and dress the way they want. In so doing, they trample on the rights of those who want to sit, pray and dress the way God wants. A religion, like a family and a school, is not a democracy. We don’t get to vote.

Leah Lando
Baltimore

Must-See Exhibit

I just visited the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and saw an exhibit of Iraqi Jewish artifacts (“Who Owns Iraq’s Jewish Past?” Sept. 6). The backstory is that American soldiers in 2003, after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, found a cache of Jewish religious and communal papers and books in one of the flooded rooms in the secret police headquarters in Baghdad. These artifcats, 2,700 years old in 26 metal boxes, were plundered from Jewish synagogues and centers during Saddam Hussein’s rule. Realizing the importance of the find, they called the National Archives, which came to Iraq and attempted to preserve as much as possible. They did a remarkable job. In this small exhibit is only a tiny representation of the richness of this community, including prayer books, Talmud books, Torah scrolls and pictures of Jewish communal life. Unfortunately, the American government has promised to return the items to Iraq after the exhibit concludes on Jan. 5. I would advise all those who can to visit the remarkable exhibit. A few feet away from this exhibit is the rotunda exhibiting the signatures of this county’s founding fathers who penned the basis of our religious and national freedom —namely the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Ken Birnbaum
Baltimore

Beth El’s Satellite Program Is Perfect Fit

Anyone living in Carroll County who is interested in instilling Jewish values and providing an enriching Hebrew School experience to his or her children must consider Beth El’s satellite program at Westminster or Eldersburg (“In The Neighborhood,” June 14). My two children attend, and I can personally attest to the high quality of the program. Included are holiday rituals, music, customs, prayers and Hebrew instruction. Throughout the curriculum and whole-school activities, values are taught such as tikkun olam (repairing the world), shalom bayit (peace within the home and family) and tzedakah (charity and justice). In our school, I am personally acquainted with all of the teachers; and not only are they parents and grandparents themselves, they also are warm, caring and knowledgeable instructors. Class sizes are just right for creating a warm, unintimidating atmosphere while having enough students to give the feel of a class united within a school. The Hebrew school experience includes Shabbat celebrations, holiday parties, field trips, arts and crafts and community mitzvah projects. The class times are convenient; weekday evenings work much better for us than the typical Sunday, although there is a Sunday option for older grades. The flexibility really reflects the needs of today’s busy, busy families.

Tuition is reasonable. There are many families in Carroll County that struggle financially, and assistance is needed if all Jewish children are to attend this wonderful program. Currently, there are no rabbi-led congregations in Carroll County or Jewish Community Centers, as the Jewish population is interspersed around the county, with the largest numbers in Westminster and Eldersburg/Sykesville. It’s comforting to have the affiliation with a large, successful congregation/school such as Beth El, and it’s very convenient to have classes just down the street. I believe Beth El’s satellite Hebrew schools will be a future focal point for the Jewish community in Carroll County and a major draw for families in Baltimore County and City looking to move out to this lovely area. Just as Reisterstown and even Owings Mills were once considered “way out there,” they are now well-known Jewish areas and part of the greater Baltimore Jewish community that is so diverse yet intertwined. I am sure that Eldersburg and Westminster will continue to grow as important neighborhoods, and the more students attending the schools, the better. Outreach and funding will promote growth in establishing and maintaining this very important institution.

Sheri Uffer
Carroll County

Unjust Incarceration

I have known Elsa Newman for a while (“Judaism Behind Bars,” Nov. 15). We are pen pals and enjoy exchanging books we’ve read. I have visited Prisoner No. 921975 at the women’s jail on Brock Bridge Road in Jessup, Md. I know her situation. It’s not unlike my own or that of thousands of moms and kids. I urge you to do an investigative piece on how a mother can end up in prison for seeking help from the family court. I understand that the same court that handled her divorce was involved in the prosecution. Here is her website and the peti- tion: justice4elsanewman.com and thepetitionsite.com/5/Free-Elsa-Newman/. From these sites, you can learn more about her unjust incarceration.

Kathy Lee Scholpp
Maryland

No Response?

It is worthy of comment that there has been no response to S.R. Cohen’s cogent letter (“Sad to Say,” Oct. 23) emanating from Rep. Andy Harris, either personally or his office, and no mention from Bob Ehrlich, Richard Vatz or other of his supporters. One would have, at the very least, expected an effort to explain the cover-up/suppression of the Jewish identity of Dr. Harris’ wife. Harris has children. How are they being raised?

If in Europe anti-Semitism has taken the form of bans on infant religious circumcision and ritual slaughter, then here in America, it is being expressed, in a veiled manner, via opposition to universal health care; the latter is a mainstay of Jewish law and Israeli practice. For example, locally, on right-wing WBAL talk radio, there is the singling out of Health Policy special adviser Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel for special opprobrium with regard to the ACA.

In my memory, I cannot recall any Maryland congress member acting in as cavalier a fashion as Harris has done in this matter, in deliberately dismissing the concerns of the Free State’s Jewish citizens, as recorded in their organ of record, the Baltimore Jewish Times.

Steve Weissman
Baltimore

Maybe More Dire

Regarding the recent article on Greek anti-Semitism and the survey that was conducted (“Perception Is Reality,” Nov. 22), I suggest that a similar survey be conducted in Pikesville but substituting the word Jew for Greek or black or Muslim. Do you think the results would be any different? Maybe more dire.

David L. Fisher
Pikesville

Alive And Well

I read the JT’s article on anti-Semitism (“Anti-Semitism Is Alive And Well,” Nov. 22), and it brought back a speech that [Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and political commentator] Charles Krauthammer gave when he was honored by the Anti-Defamation League. I, of course, do not remember his entire presentation, but the last few lines of his speech remain etched into my meager brain. He said, “When the last survivor of the Holocaust is gone, when the last perpetrator of the Holocaust is gone, anti-Semitism will be alive and well.”

The reasons they give are as old as time itself.

Irving Distenfeld
Pikesville

Worried For Funerals

I am writing to express my deep concern about the $1.4 billion merger of the largest and second-largest funeral services companies in the U.S., Service Corporation International (SCI) and Stewart Enterprises, Inc. If this merger takes place, some of my constituents in the Washington, D.C. area could see an overwhelming increase in standard funeral costs.

Since 1999, SCI has acquired its second-, fourth-, and fifth-largest rivals, severely reducing competition in several major urban markets. As SCI’s market share has increased, the quality of its service unfortunately has not. Consumer complaints have included deceptive sales practices, unexpected charges and fees, sales of single burial plots to multiple individuals, the burying of loved ones in the wrong plot and even the exhumation and disposal of bodies in oversold cemeteries.

In … 2005 … the FTC noted that the preferences of ethnic and religious minorities limit their choice to facilities providing the customs and rituals appropriate to their specific needs. Aside from African-Americans and Chinese-Americans, the consent decree named Jewish Americans as a community likely to see adverse effects from a loss of competition. Such adverse effects are precisely what my constituents fear they will suffer if SCI is permitted to acquire Stewart.

In the Washington, D.C.-metropolitan area, Stewart owns the Hines-Rinaldi Funeral Home, the only low-cost funeral home that performs certain sacred Jewish rituals. Under a contract with the Jewish Funeral Practices Committee of Greater Washington, Hines-Rinaldi currently provides traditional Jewish funerals at a price that is almost $4,000 less than the next lowest-priced (SCI-owned) funeral home. Hines-Rinaldi also respects the traditional Jewish 30-day mourning period by waiting 30 days to bill bereaved families — a service that no other home in the area currently provides. These affordable and culturally appropriate services will almost certainly vanish if Hines-Rinaldi comes under SCI control. Moreover, if SCI acquires Hines-Rinaldi, it will control the four funeral homes that conduct over 70 percent of Jewish funerals in the D.C.-metro area.

The proposed SCI-Stewart merger affects an industry in which consumers must make financial decisions during times of profound emotional distress. Anti-competitive effects will take the greatest toll on low-income populations and on smaller ethnic and religious groups whose choice is already limited. I ask that the FTC carefully consider the detrimental effects that Jewish families in the Washington, D.C. area currently anticipate.
Brian E. Frosh
(D-Mont.)
Maryland