An Achiezer Thank-You

Dear Editor,

I just wanted to write a note of thanks to an incredible group of people, the Achiezer volunteers:

Yes, there were jokes and comments about all the work and incredible hours that you all put in behind the scenes, but in all seriousness it’s no laughing matter. It’s already back to business as usual with volunteers driving, stocking, counseling, and budgeting various Achiezer clients throughout the day.

Mi K’amcha Yisrael.

We are humbled at your support and your willingness to do whatever it takes to ease the pain or difficult plight of someone else. We look forward to our continued special work together and only hope that before long we will be beyond the days of endless tzaros and Achiezer will not have any of its “work” to do.

We welcome your further involvement, and urge you to be in touch with myself, Eli, Shalom, or anyone else if you are able and willing to get involved in any other capacity.

Boruch B. Bender

Marcus Got It Done

Dear Editor,

I would like to publicly thank Rabbi Nahum Marcus for his dedication to children in the Lawrence School District and to support his reelection to our local school board.

A few years ago, our family had serious issues with the school district concerning services that my daughter needed from her public school, and the district refused to provide them.

Nahum Marcus was a big help to our family. He promptly returned phone calls and quickly replied to our e-mails. He helped us navigate a school system that we were unfamiliar with.

Today, my daughter receives those necessary services. This is a tremendous help to her and to our family. I hope Rabbi Marcus continues to serve on our school board for many years and that he continues to be an advocate for all children and families in our district.

Devorah Rosenzweig


Our Man, Hatten

Dear Editor,

It’s our lucky day. Hooray! Hooray! How often do we get to vote for a candidate of integrity, and proven experience, who is articulate, rational, and dedicated to the well-being of all segments of the community?

I know Michael Hatten! I believe in Michael Hatten! He has proven himself as a viable school-board member in the past and will do it again, in an exemplary manner.

There is no doubt in my mind that Michael Hatten deserves your support on May 21.

William Muller


Dear Editor,

As a longtime neighbor and friend of Michael Hatten, I want to wholeheartedly support his candidacy for school board. His lengthy experience in managing diverse schools and his devotion to all students in the district make him the best candidate for the position. During his former tenure on the school board, Mr. Hatten exhibited fiscal responsibility, while at the same time showing sensitivity to and protecting special-needs children, as well as all the other children in the district, both public and private. When he first joined the board, it, and the district, were rife with dissent and controversy. He left a legacy of a more placid and stable district. Mr. Hatten should be given the opportunity to continue his prior efforts. The children of the district will be the beneficiaries.

J Hirsch

A Vote For Tova

Dear Editor,

I have known Tova Plaut for many years. She is an amazing daughter, wife, mother, and friend. Her dedication to her family is paralleled only to her dedication to the community. From the races she runs to raise money for Chai Lifeline to her tireless work with Achiezer, Tova has proven again and again that she is someone you want on your team. As a member of the school board, Tova will be able to bring her dedication to another level. Our children need a strong advocate like Tova. On May 21, I will be voting for Tova and I hope all of you will too.

Jenny Lent

Elect The Best

Dear Editor,

We definitely need more community-minded individuals on the Lawrence Board of Education. That is why I hope an overwhelming majority of people from our community turn out once again on Tuesday, May 21 to elect Dov Herman and reelect Nahum Marcus.

For the past six years, Rabbi Marcus has been our community’s most vocal, most independent advocate on this school board. Rabbi Marcus stands up for better education and is truly a champion for all of our district’s special-needs children and their families.

Dov Herman and his wife Vickie are the parents of five children. She is a public-school special-education coordinator, so Mr. Herman has a great understanding of how to best help our special-needs children, too.

Additionally, Mr. Herman is a very experienced building inspector and successful small-business owner. He is the best candidate to help the school board assess our district’s building infrastructures and grounds.

I think Mr. Herman and Rabbi Marcus are the best people to serve our community and to do what’s right on our board. On Tuesday, May 21, skip over the rest and elect the best. Vote Ballot Line C.

Moshe and Dina Teichman


One Mistake Too Many

Dear Editor,

I am one of those 4,155 people who voted to protect our community from a school board deal to overdevelop the Number Six School property. That referendum did not end our board’s intention to sell the school. It simply restarted the process.

Once the school board election is over, this board will seek new bids for the 5.7-acre school property and enter new sale contracts. No one in our community wants our school board to repeat past mistakes or its egregious errors in judgment.

But there are no guarantees. So, we must act now to elect school board trustees with better, more ethical judgment. That is why I support Rabbi Nahum Marcus for reelection and newcomer Dov Herman for election to a vacant board seat.

Rabbi Marcus was the first school board trustee to stand up against that terrible deal to sell the Number Six School. For his outspokenness, other board trustees excluded Rabbi Marcus from their deliberations.

Dov Herman was a founding member of the Community Coalition of the Five Towns (CC5T) that helped to make public the hush-hush deals behind the Number Six School sale. Without people like Mr. Herman, our community would be saddled with that terrible mega-medical center.

Mr. Herman and Rabbi Marcus are men of good character and judgment. I am voting for them on Tuesday, May 21 because I truly believe they will work for me and my family, for my neighbors and our community. I encourage all District 15 residents to vote for them too!

Francine Frechter


In My Own Words

Dear Editor,

In last week’s editorial, a quote was attributed to me that was disturbing on two fronts. One, that I don’t remember authorizing the release of any quote made in a private conversation. And two, my comments were clearly misunderstood and therefore the quote was incorrect. What I find most troubling is that I have often shared in these very pages thoughts on contemporary issues that I have received from my rebbeim, and I would have been prepared to express them in my own words rather then be misquoted. A phone call or e-mail would have provided that confirmation.

The article expressing my actual thoughts on this topic can be found on the cover in this week’s issue.

Rabbi Aryeh Z. Ginzberg

A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

Dear Editor,

In response to the articles in reference to Dov Lipman, I listened to Dov Lipman speak a few weeks ago in Beth Sholom in Lawrence. His presentation was most impressive. He made it evident that he feels communication between the various factions of Israeli society can break walls and build bridges. His experiences, which highlighted how dialogue has opened new vistas of understanding in the Yesh Atid Party, is indeed a step in the correct direction. However, my euphoric view of Dov Lipman was tempered when I did more research and truly understood some of the views and opinions that accompany the quest for recognition and understanding from the secular segment of the Israeli population.

If he only wanted to break down the barriers and walls of animosity and distrust, I believe there would be no issues from the “chareidi press,” whether here or in Israel. However, coupled with the “shared values” he shares with the American or Israeli Orthodox camp, it seems Dov Lipman seeks to pervert Judaism in certain implementations of his views in other areas. That is why he is seen as dangerous. Especially when he is cloaked in the image he projects of an enlightened member of the chareidi camp.

I listened to his speeches, some several times, to make sure I understood his points. After doing my research, I must confess Rabbi Ginzberg and Rabbi Lipschutz do have a very valid point. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He lacks a true mentor or posek with whom to consult. He promotes amending halachah in ways that even the sources he quotes do not advocate. He wants to accept as Jews those that have no intention of being shomer Torah and mitzvos.

When it comes to sharing the burden, why are he and Yesh Atid only focused on the chareidim who are learning? What about the other segments of Israeli society who use various reasons to avoid army service? Is it only chareidim who are guilty? If he had contained his views to the “opportunities for all demographic groups,” as Mr. Katz admired, without trying to alter halachah, maybe he would not be vilified in the chareidi press in or out of Israel. Maybe his breath of fresh air would have been a turning point. Now he has erected new battling points that once again widen the divide between the secular and chareidi camps.

Eliezer Cohen


Shmuel Katz Responds

Dear Eliezer,

First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to write and share your opinion. You presented your comments with very few editorial comments (one exception being your claim that Rabbi “Lipman seeks to pervert Judaism”), refraining from the rhetoric and sensationalism that was part of my criticism in last week’s paper.

However, I must disagree with most of your characterizations. Chareidi leaders have routinely attacked any politician or leader who has attempted to build bridges between the chareidi and non-chareidi public (religious or non-religious). Case in point: former MK Rabbi Chaim Amsalem, who was forced to leave the Shas party because he dared suggest that kollel students who are not cut out for the intellectual demands of continuing to learn be encouraged to find jobs. I quote a Jerusalem Post, Nov. 21, 2010, article in which Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was quoted as saying, “These are not the voices of Torah but against it,” and “Whoever tells yeshiva boys to go to work is lacking in faith in our Torah.”

Rabbi Amsalem is definitely a chareidi, yet he was vilified by his party and ultimately was forced to form his own party for the new elections, losing his seat in the Knesset when the party failed to acquire enough votes to qualify for the Knesset.

As for who should be recognized as a Jew, I am unclear on exactly what you referred to. However, rather than being a simple black-or-white, yes-or-no issue, I must again refer to the recent experiences of Rabbi Amsalem. Another criticism of Rabbi Amsalem was his support for a program recognizing soldiers who converted via the IDF conversion program as Jews. However, the truth is that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef issued a lenient ruling in this matter, allowing such recognition; he only toned down his support because of pressure brought by other chareidi leaders (Israel National News article of April 14, 2011).

You criticize Dov and the Yesh Atid Party for their insistence that chareidim “share the burden” without concern to other segments of society. This too is simply incorrect. The YA party wants all of us to share the burden, not just the chareidi population. However, there is no segment of the population for which there is no framework set up to have them “share.”

The vitriolic criticisms, which this week included the incredibly revolting and despicable act of a Jew comparing remarks made by another Jew to those made by Hitler, were actually sparked by an issue you did not cover in your letter. They were made because Yair Lapid, whom I do not support politically, had the audacity to suggest plans to enable chareidi schoolchildren to be taught what your children in America get taught every day–the tools with which they can go out and find a trade and support themselves. Was his rhetoric over the top? Yes. He apologized. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a similar apology.

You did raise the issue of military service. The National Religious have regular army and yeshivot hesder. The non-religious have regular army. There are programs and whole departments of people whose jobs are to chase after draft-dodgers. Are there people who get away with it? Of course! No system is perfect. Yet the vast majority do participate and serve their part. It is only the chareidi sector in which an overwhelming majority of the population has regularly enjoyed an exemption.

As I wrote last week, the rest of the country has voted that this exemption can no longer be extended as it currently exists. Yesh Atid and Rabbi Lipman have proposed a plan to implement this change over a several-year period. It is a plan. It may become law. The fact that plans are being proposed to draft chareidim is not due to a specific focus, but the total lack of any plan or policy in this area. True leaders propose solutions.

And I am not saying that I support the Yesh Atid solutions. Yet I am saying that I respect them for trying to suggest them as possibilities.

My point last week was that instead of continuing to be totally irrelevant while at the same time noisy and sensationalist, someone who speaks for the chareidi public (which you, Eliezer, insist that Rabbi Lipman does not) should do some actual leading for a change, instead of simply posturing. Speak to the leaders you named in your letter and suggest that they lead. Otherwise, they are simply ostriches in sheep’s clothing.

Shmuel Katz


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