Letters July 13, 2017

More benefits of PJ Library

The Jewish Federation brings PJ Library to life in Greater Washington, offering ways for families to connect Jewishly with their children and the larger community (“PJ Library spurring Jewish connections in NoVa, elsewhere,” study says,” July 6). Federation is involved in PJ Library not because we are in the Jewish book business, but because we are dedicated to Jewish connection and community. PJ Library encourages families with young children to move beyond cuddling on the couch for story time to step out into their Jewish community to connect with Jewish life. We are very proud that our investment makes this possible.

The Washington Jewish Week’s story on the recently released national PJ Library study highlighted some of the benefits that PJ Library has brought to our community, but as the implementers of the program, we feel that more needs to be shared.

For many, PJ Library is a gateway to the Jewish community. Locally, 43 percent of PJ Library families have one parent who was not raised Jewish and who may find that they need help to impart Judaism to their children in a fun and meaningful way. PJ Library and Federation provide the tools that allow parents to create a Jewish environment for their families.

Over the years, we have built meaningful relationships with 43 community partners, including Jewish community centers, synagogues, day schools, preschools and agencies, ensuring that PJ Library in Greater Washington is able to serve our community as a whole. Together, we reach and connect with families across the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia through programming that speaks to the diverse ways in which they live their lives and express their Jewishness.

We know that as these families meet one another and make friends, they are more likely to remain connected to Jewish community in the future. That’s our goal, and that’s our success.

LIZA LEVY

Co-president, the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

Respecting Kotel decision

I agree with the Washington Jewish Week editorial that Israel is a heritage for all Jews, but decisions must lie in the hands of Israel’s elected government (“Israel’s gov’t crashes into the Wall,” Editorial, June 29). The Israeli government may not represent American Jews, but who do American Jews represent? Israelis are the bulwark against Muslims, who would destroy Israel and deny all Jews the right to pray at the Western Wall. Israelis open their homes to Jews, seeking refuge around the world. Who are American Jews protecting and saving?

One of the harshest critics is Reform Rabbi Rick Jacobs, who regularly bashes Israel on the so-called occupation. Earth to Jacobs — the Wall and Temple Mount are claimed by the Palestinians as occupied territory. Were Israel to give up the area, no Jew would be allowed to pray there, as it was before 1967. Jacobs would prefer no Jew pray at the Wall than let the Orthodox remain in control.

The argument is not about every Jew being allowed to pray, which they are, it is about power and organized prayer intended to stick it to the Orthodox, as one arriving at a seder taking out a ham sandwich and proclaiming his Judaism. If organized Jewish prayer is the goal, then why not move the prayer service to the Temple Mount? Ah, but that would be disrespectful of Islam and would result in violence. Disrespecting Orthodox Judaism is OK, but not Islam. So much for “Jewish values.”

The left complains about Israeli democracy, but when Israel’s elected government goes against them, they want to disenfranchise Israelis and demand that they should decide. If you don’t like the results of Israel’s democracy move to Israel. Until then, respect and accept Israel’s duly elected government.

MELVIN FARBER

Silver Spring

Kotel issue distorted

The article “Prayers for pluralism at Kotel crushed” (June 29) should have had more fact checking than the press release from liberal Jewish groups or articles in like-minded liberal press. These headlines and stories distort what actually happened, and do not address the monthly disruptive protests, led by Anat Hoffman and the Women of the Wall, continued in violation of the 2016 agreement — protests that insist not that egalitarian prayer be permitted, but replace the traditional prayer spaces.

As a factual matter, the status quo remains unchanged: Egalitarian prayer has existed since 2000 at the Robinson Arch, and continues to exist, although the area remains largely unused (though much more accessible, from the Dung Gate). Visitors from all over the world, including the United States, come to the Kotel to pray, except for the monthly disruptive protests.

The 2016 agreement was to (1) enlarge the largely unused egalitarian prayer area (that continues), (2) connect the Robinson’s Arch complex, including its archeological (Davidson) gardens, to the Western Wall complex (now suspended) and (3) form a new group of men and women to administer the area that would specifically exclude any Orthodox participation. Israelis were to bear the full cost of the American Reform and Conservative demands.

As an American Jew who supports Israel, I cannot understand conditioning that support on changes is religious practices of Israeli Jews, or in demanding that the Orthodox not only accept the Reform and Conservative movements — which they have — but to expressly legitimize the revisions of those movements, which would violate the fundamental Orthodox beliefs unchanged for thousands of years.

ROBERT BERMAN

Vienna

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