Mixed Messages

Dear Editor,

At a recent melaveh malkah in Manhattan, Agudath Israel Executive Vice-President Chaim Dovid Zweibel railed against the National Football League for its help in defeating an Arizona bill that would have permitted businesses to refuse, on religious grounds, to cater to gay and lesbian couples. (An example would be a photographer who is asked by a gay couple to take pictures at their “marriage” ceremony.) By threatening to pull the 2015 Super Bowl from Arizona, the NFL successfully exerted its considerable economic clout to force Arizona’s hand.

I applaud Zweibel’s stand; however, I don’t comprehend how it squares with the Agudah’s decision to honor State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos at its upcoming Five Towns community event. After all, it is Skelos who, along with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, must shoulder the blame for the legalization of gay marriage in New York.

After Silver shepherded a gay-marriage bill through the Assembly, Skelos, who claimed to personally oppose same-sex unions, allowed a gay marriage bill to come to a Senate floor vote, despite the fact that he knew it would pass. The result? Not only has immoral marriage become the law in our state, but other states have taken New York’s lead and passed similar laws. It is not unreasonable to say the Skelos’s selling out of morality will lead, in the near future, to national gay marriage.

It may be true that Skelos is a strong supporter of aid to yeshivos, as stated in an advertisement for the upcoming Agudah event. And Skelos certainly deserves praise for that support. However, his steering of the Senate toward a pro-gay-marriage vote should render him ineligible to receive an honor from an organization that purports to stand for traditional morality.

Avi Goldstein

Far Rockaway

J Street

Dear Editor,

J Street was so named to offer other options for peace and to challenge JINSA leadership for establishing peace in Israel. JINSA is located on K Street in Washington, DC. The J Street Organization disagrees with the prevailing Israeli government about settlements, making peace, and security for Israel. They have turned out to be more sympathetic to Palestinian demands than to Jewish requirements for security.

J Street has finally been exposed by Dr. Charles Jacobs, a person of integrity whom I met several times in Boston. Your essay in the February 21 edition hit J Street in the proper places. J Street is as useful as chametz before Passover.

Your essay exposes J Street as Zionist opposers and Palestinian supporters. J Street should be relegated to the backburners of history and ignored. They are like Shabtai Zvi and should be treated as such.

Sid Krimsky

To Your Health

Dear Editor,

Rabbi Hoffman’s column in the February 28 edition was well thought out and addressed the important concept that what constitutes a medical sakanah does vary with time and place. As you know, acknowledging a change in reality is not a new concept in halachah.

Rava’s statement on the chiyuv to drink on Purim is immediately followed by the story of Raba and R’ Zeira. Rabbeinu Efraim (as brought by the Ran among others) says that this story is brought to negate the halachah previously brought in Rava’s name.

Yasher koach Rabbi Hoffman for writing the column and yasher koach to you for keeping this topic alive before we G‑d forbid see a tragedy.

Marc J. Sicklick, M.D.

Real Change?

Dear Editor,

I found ironic your front-page February 28 picture caption, “Fed up with Washington’s sluggish efforts on the economy, jobs, and health insurance, Bruce Blakeman . . . has announced his candidacy for Congress to replace the retiring Carolyn McCarthy.” Someone should inform Mr. Blakeman that it is the Republican Congressmembers whom he wants to join that are primarily responsible for that sluggishness, working to do everything possible to have President Obama fail, rather than for the best interests of most Americans, voting against and sometimes filibustering legislative proposals that they previously supported and in some cases cosponsored.

I wonder what policies Mr. Blakeman supports that differ from those of the G. W. Bush administration that converted a major surplus to a major deficit, created very few jobs, and left our country on the brink of a depression.

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

From Long Beach

To Woodmere With Love

Dear Editor,

I would be remiss not to respond to the recent letter, “A Tree Grows in Long Beach.” As a former Long Beach resident, HALB alumnus, and parent of three HALB students, I could not take more pride in the institution that HALB has evolved into over the past 59 years. HALB has, baruch Hashem, flourished, and is in need of a facility that can provide much-needed classroom and multipurpose space to enable our students to realize their full potential. After extensive strategic review, the school has determined that we have the resources and opportunity to address this critical issue.

We remember and are most grateful for the dedication and perseverance of the pioneers who founded our yeshiva. It is true that the present building in Long Beach is not just mortar and bricks; however, the true essence of its soul is the intellectual, physical, and spiritual development of the next generation. HALB is not uprooting a tree, but is replanting one in fertile soil where it will be able to continue to grow and thrive.

We will uphold Rabbi Friedman’s proud mission and provide our children with academic excellence founded on love of Hashem and commitment to halachic Torah. Inspiring our students in an atmosphere of dignity and instilling in them ahavat Yisrael and devotion to religious Zionism and Medinat Yisrael is the ultimate revenge against those who seek to destroy us. On the eve of my HALB graduation, Rabbi Friedman shook my father’s hand and congratulated him. With no words spoken, they both knew that my presence on the stage was their triumph. We look forward to Rabbi Friedman joining us at the ribbon-cutting of our new facility in Woodmere, where we can thank him for his groundbreaking vision and show him how we have lovingly preserved his legacy of raising and educating our children to be Jewish in practice and perspective.

Sharon Ederson Frieling

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