Praise from Brooklyn to Brazil
As someone who travels to Eretz Yisrael several times a year, I always look forward to Rabbi Leibel Reznik’s articles about what’s “new” in the Old City of Yerushalayim. Please prod him to write more articles. By the way, more than once I have seen frum tourists traipsing through the Old City with a copy of Jewish Action folded under their arms.
Congratulations on your excellent, thought-provoking magazine. There is nothing like it for the Orthodox readership.
Brooklyn, New York
I read the spring issue of Jewish Action and was extremely impressed by the quality of the writing, the depth of the articles and, above all, the freedom of speech that is evident. I am very happy to be a subscriber.
São Paulo, Brazil
Tzadi or Tzaddik?
I enjoyed Ari Zivotofsky’s “What’s the Truth about…Tzadi?” (spring 2003). I have a nephew who attended the Stoliner Yeshiva in Borough Park (where they translate everything into Yiddish). When he was about four or five years old, he was taught the aleph-bais. When he learned the final letters, the rebbe taught the class ende mem and ende peh—and then, groisse tzaddik (lit. a big tzaddik)!
Honoring the Rav
Congratulations on an outstanding spring issue. The most exciting articles were those honoring the Rav. In recent times, it has been a source of frustration to see our revered Rav co-opted by unworthy individuals and groups. Celebrations of the Rav’s yahrtzeit have served to advance initiatives and themes that were anathema to the Rav. Whether his acceptance of, and spectacular achievements in, secular studies warrant calling him the leader of Modern Orthodoxy, is moot. The Rav saw himself as the heir of Reb Moshe, his father, and of the seminal figure of the Torah world, his grandfather Reb Chaim. To claim that he was the patron saint of Modern Orthodoxy reduces the importance of the Rav, his innovative Talmudic analyses, his presentations of Jewish philosophical thought and his vital and dynamic leadership of the American Jewish community.
Indeed, if anyone is to be considered the motivating force behind the Rav’s interest in secular studies and, by extension, the father of Modern Orthodoxy, it is the Rav’s maternal grandfather, Rabbi Elyahu Feinstein. Reb Elya’s entire family was highly learned in all facets of contemporary culture. However, the family members did not see their success in secular studies or in business as a world apart from their Torah lives.
Rabbis Hershel Reichman and Haskel Lookstein have done a great service to the Orthodox world by describing an intellectual Torah giant who graced our generation with his learning as well as his understanding of the American milieu. There is no doubt that the Rav single-handedly saved hundreds of American Jewish young men from leaving Torah life. While we were students at Yeshiva College, some of my classmates and I would wander around the campuses of New York University and Columbia University and speculate on what glories of secular education we were missing. However, after several years of the Rav’s shiurim and philosophy lectures we found all the intellectual excitement we needed.
Regardless of where the Rav’s intellectual explorations took him, he was perpetually explicating a Talmudic sugya and justifying a difficult Rambam. He made it abundantly clear that he saw secular studies as the handmaiden of Torah.
May our learning his Torah be zechut for his holy neshamah.
Morton J. Summer
Monsey, New York
More on Orthodox Rescue
Regarding the debate between Efraim Zuroff and David Kranzler (“Orthodox Rescue Revisited,” spring 2003), I would like to relate the experiences of my father, Rabbi Jack Tauber, z”l, who served as director of immigration for the Vaad ha-Hatzalah. As David Kranzler noted, not all those who were affiliated with the Vaad were ultra-Orthodox. My father’s outlook was Centrist Orthodox. While his views towards Zionism were compatible with those of Mizrachi, he was closely aligned with the Zionist Revisionists, having served as the personal secretary to Ze’ev Jabotinsky and as the rabbi of Camp Betar. He related to me how the Vaad attempted to rescue a simple man in Europe. The man was not a rabbi or a person of any standing, yet the Vaad worked tirelessly to try and rescue him. They secured an invitation for him to lecture at an American university, falsified an educational background and teaching career in Europe and even provided a course syllabus for the Department of Immigration.
New York, New York
More on Heroes
Adam Jessel’s article (“Unsung Heroes,” spring 2003) is a well-written and honest description of some of the people that I have worked with in my kiruv undertakings–men who have homosexual attractions, yet still strive to follow the Torah with regard to their sexual expression. I have encountered individuals who were able to change their primary sexual orientation and get married. I also know someone who tried, with the help of a psychologist, to change his sexual orientation but did not succeed. And I know a few individuals who do not wish to attempt to change their orientation. Those who cannot, or will not, change admit that living a celibate life is a difficult challenge, yet they also feel that there are great spiritual benefits. One person told me that living a celibate life has deepened his relationships with his male friends and his relationship with Hashem.
“Unsung Heroes” serves as a reminder that we should respect and support those who are striving to fulfill the Torah under difficult circumstances.
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen
Important Resource for Olim
Jonathan Udren (“The New Olim,” spring 2003) failed to mention the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI), the largest and oldest English-speaking immigrant association in Israel for aliyah and kelitah.
For over fifty years, our expert kelitah staff has advised thousands of olim on everything from buying an apartment to finding a job. Our airport volunteers meet new olim upon their arrival in Israel and guide them through the official processing.
When the Treasury Department tried to implement a new law that would have amounted to double taxation for Americans and discouraged aliyah, AACI led the difficult but successful fight against it. AACI has always fought and continues to fight for the rights of olim.
When the first planeload of Nefesh B’Nefesh olim arrived, AACI helped process the olim at the airport and organized an information seminar for the group in Beit Shemesh/Jerusalem where many of them settled.
For more information about our services, call 972-2-561-1181, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our web site at www.aaci.org.il.
National Board President
The spring issue of Jewish Action carried an ad for Bumble Bee tuna stating that Bumble Bee was the only national brand of canned tuna certified Kosher for Passover. Manischewitz’ Season tuna has also carried the OUP (Kosher for Passover) designation and has been sold nationally for many years.