A Western Afghanistan

Dear Editor,

You back the NRA’s idea of having an armed guard at each of our nation’s schools to protect the students from insane people armed to the teeth (From the Editor, January 4). The NRA is nothing more than a lobbying group for the gun industry, and the NRA’s only goal is to increase the profits of the gun industry. They could not care less about the welfare and safety of the American people. Unfortunately, there are people–almost exclusively right-wing–who fall for the NRA’s illogical nonsense.

President Ronald Reagan and three others were shot by 6 bullets fired in 1.7 seconds, despite being surrounded by heavily armed Secret Service agents.

Gabby Giffords and 12 others were shot, and 6 more killed, despite many people surrounding her being armed.

Recently, two New York City police officers were shot, despite being armed, by a person they were questioning.

So the idea that one armed person in a large school would be able to prevent a heavily armed psychopath from wreaking havoc is nothing more than a fantasy for the gullible, perpetrated by a group that wants nothing more than to see the sale of more guns.

To paraphrase the bumper-sticker aphorism that the NRA created and right-wingers are echoing, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to stop the bad guy from getting a gun.”

The NRA has fought diligently to make sure that every sick person can obtain the most efficient tools to carry out his most violent fantasy. The NRA’s “solution” to the problem they have created is to sell more guns, and to make the U.S. into a large armed camp where everybody must carry a gun at all times to protect themselves from other people carrying guns. In other words, a Western Afghanistan where schoolchildren in class and in the schoolyard must be protected by armed guards, worshippers must carry guns in their houses of worship, drunks in bars carry concealed weapons, and even relaxing at home a gun must be at hand.

No thanks. It is time to stop this insanity.

Carl B. Maltzman

North Woodmere

Building Bridges

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to “He’s in the Army Now” by Dovi Meles (January 11). I found this to be a very well-written, honest, and on-target opinion piece. It sounds to me like Mr. Meles marches to the beat of his own drum, traveling the path less traveled, and for that I applaud him.

I have my doctorate in clinical psychology and have used this to bridge the gap, so to speak. Over the past 20 years of working in the field of psychology, I have come to generalize the findings of my research of veterans into the general population. The most robust factor in emotional healing is the sense of affiliation and social support, be it relational or community-based. I have the privilege of working directly with the Department of Defense on various military bases around the globe conducting my workshops, pre- and post-deployment, for all branches of service.

In my life’s work, putting pieces of lives back together after having experienced life-changing events is vital to healing, and maintaining a positive perspective is the fuel which puts this all into motion. This is why I was so moved by what Mr. Meles so eloquently wrote in your paper about the importance of tolerance and moving closer together in order to form alliances and strength from which we will all benefit. He has, in a way, mandated that all people reach across the aisle and form an understanding and awareness of beliefs, culture, and religion. The only way we broaden our perspective is to open our hearts and marvel at our uniqueness and our similarities. I think his article is a call to action in which he has demonstrated how moving beyond the confines of our own minds and expectations opens a wide vista of endless possibilities. Great job, Mr. Meles!

Bridget C. Cantrell, Ph.D., NCC, CTS


Hearts Toward Home International

It’s Not A Science

Dear Editor,

In its response to Dr. Moshe Yosef Werzberger’s article several weeks ago, the NASI Project debates that with his premise of communal and self-improvement, “Surely the notion that Hashem wants us to improve isn’t cause to close down organizations that address the other issues you raise. Shalom Task Force, Bonei Olam, ATIME, RCCS, Chai Lifeline, to name just a few of the wonderful organizations . . .”

I fail to see the logic of that argument. Scientifically, it is possible to treat disease. Scientifically, it is even possible to create a child. Hashem has provided us with a great many options in the areas of health in recent years that have expanded our hishtadlus reach along with prayer to Hashem.

But is it NASI’s belief that marriages are scientifically grown in a lab?

Mathematical equations and statistics do not represent the interests of two individuals seeking each other. What does? Everyday people, no organizations necessary, introducing people to each other. That’s how it has worked for us for centuries, along with the common occurrence of men marrying younger women. Since Adam and Chava, men have been marrying younger women. It can’t suddenly become a “crisis” now.

While their motivations are noble, NASI is comparing dating with clinical science where it does not apply. I could understand if they decided to host dating events where singles can meet, but to say that younger girls will “ruin” the chances of “older” ones by being introduced into the dating world as though they were interloping snakes in an island ecosystem . . . that is not our Yiddishkeit. Certainly not mine. I choose to see wedded life based on spiritual compatibility rather than a numbers game.

Lea Weiss



Dear Editor,

This will be my sixth year attending the Sister2Sister/Leon Leif Fund Shabbaton for divorced Jewish women. Aside from the program and the opportunity to vacation and socialize, many women feel inspired by the support and unconditional acceptance. There are women who fly in from all across America, and even from Canada, Israel, and England! Many wonder why individuals such as Yehudis Robinson and Rabbi Greenblatt, amongst many others who put this event together, arrange this weekend in the first place. Some people wonder if this encourages divorce; others assume that Sister2Sister must screen the attendees to determine whether their situation warrants nurture and support.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Sister2Sister understands that many people were placed in a difficult situation, and others possibly contributed to their own predicament. Regardless of the cause, divorce is no picnic. No one would choose this life path, and no one is immune to some pain and suffering that must accompany one who travels this journey. Sister2Sisters message is: We are not here to judge you or your decisions; we are just here to help, because we are all Hashem’s children. Chesed at its finest!

Your Sister

Yeshiva Tuition Must Be Sustainable

Dear Editor,

Yeshiva tuition is spiraling out of control. One of three parents in the Five Towns is on some form of financial aid. This percentage has been steadily climbing over the last decade and shows no signs of slowing. But it wasn’t percentages that motivated me to help found Tiferet Academy, a yeshiva that champions a sustainable tuition model while managing to deliver a revolutionary, top-notch education. It was the individual stories of my friends.

Sitting around the Shabbat table with different families every week, the conversation became too uncomfortably familiar: People were living paycheck to paycheck and barely breaking even. Saving for a rainy day wasn’t something people were familiar with. Saving for retirement was practically unheard of. With every grade their children progresses, tuition rises, ratcheting up the pressure. I know of too many cases where marriages are crumbling under the financial stress. Worst of all, many of my friends are deliberately having fewer children, not because they don’t want more, but because they think the financial strain would become unbearable.

In late 2011, I learned about a new yeshiva opening in New Jersey called Yeshivat He’Atid, which planned to incorporate a cutting-edge educational model known as blended learning as part of their plan to help lower costs and bring the yeshiva classroom into the future. At a high level, blended learning allows for a blend of traditional face-to-face learning between students and teachers, and additional learning and assessment through technology.

Contrary to some misconceptions, blended learning does not “replace the rebbi with technology.” The opposite is true. The blended learning model champions the teacher—student relationship and gives the educator the toolkit needed to truly understand the student’s subject mastery. In the blended learning model, the teacher spends more quality individual time with smaller groups of students than in traditional classrooms. Even better, the teacher comes equipped with a point-by-point breakdown of where a student’s strengths and weaknesses are to every lesson. This simply doesn’t exist in traditional classrooms.

Blended learning helps yeshivas operate more efficiently in that more students can be serviced and the curriculum development costs are far lower.

Obviously, blended learning is just a small part of an overall solution and is, frankly, something that all schools should be exploring regardless of cost savings. It’s where the future of education is headed. But other, more drastic moves are needed. Schools must stop relying on forcing parents to cover the financial-aid needs of other parents. They must focus on building endowments to help keep tuition costs stable. They must find ways to cooperate with other schools to keep costs lower through bulk purchasing.

And after spending time with the founders of Yeshivat He’Atid and their wonderful head of school, Rabbi Netanel Gralla, a group of dedicated parents decided that we needed a similar option in the Five Towns. And so Tiferet Academy was born and will be launching in September 2013 with tuition prices that are substantially lower than other local schools.

Will Tiferet Academy solve the tuition crisis? Not by itself. But we hope it will pave the way for other schools to see what we’re doing, adapting some of our philosophies and approaches to sustainability. Together, with other yeshivas taking similar steps, we can start to significantly ease this crisis in Five Towns Jewish homes.

Avi Muchnick

Avi Muchnick is a founding board member of Tiferet Academy. Learn more about Tiferet Academy and apply for pre‑K—3rd grade at tiferet.org.

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