What Are Our Priorities?

Dear Editor,

Your comments on the recent scandals involving observant Jews are appreciated. Regrettably, they neglect to delve into the real crime being committed, and that is the tremendous negative impact upon individuals, especially young people. How are they to understand these violations of G‑d’s law by upstanding, distinguished roshei yeshiva, pulpit rabbis, popular communal leaders, yeshiva teachers, and chief rabbis? These leaders presented images of righteousness, wearing the proper garb, holding the right religious attitudes and opinions, and yet, inwardly living a lie. How is it possible for so many to have fallen to such low levels of ethics and morality? With all the Torah learning taking place in our community, how have we sunk so low?

In approaching answers, we need to consider the following. Are our priorities mistaken? Are we sincerely committed to living a life based on Torah values, in both our private and public lives? Do we really understand G‑d’s commandments to be honest in all our endeavors? Are our schools and shuls, rabbis and rebbeim, providing opportunities to meaningfully discuss ethics, morality, and appropriate social interaction? Do we appreciate Hashem’s directive to be a light unto the nations and not just a light unto ourselves? These queries are just the tip of the iceberg.

We have had numerous assemblies concerning the Internet and tznius. Where is the public outcry and Torah proclamations concerning theft, embezzlement, greed, arrogance, religious hypocrisy, perversion, and other sins? We need to come together as a community, laypeople and rabbis, roshei yeshiva and teachers, men and women of all ages and experiences, to develop various approaches to lifting us from the tragic abyss.

The Five Towns Jewish Times can serve as a springboard for action. I welcome your comments at muttil@verizon.net.


Marvin Leff

Zero Tolerance
For Miscreants

Dear Editor,

You eloquently explained your paper’s reticence about reporting on misdeeds of local people and, in particular, those misdeeds of local rabbis. In essence, the less repeated the better. While silence in the Jewish media and synagogues to such inappropriate behavior has a long tradition, I believe such behavior and concern for the transgressors is outdated and not in line with the very parshiyos we leined the week of your editorial (“Not Covering the News,” May 23). The ishah sotah was being accused but not convicted of a crime. At most, she was alone with someone her husband told her not to be with. There were no witnesses that she transgressed any Biblical prohibition. Had there been, the beis din would have handled the case. She is publicly humiliated, and one reason for this public ceremony is to discourage others from such conduct. See Rashi, who states that nazir is next to sotah to caution us not to imbibe excessively.

Turning to modern-day miscreants, many of my fellow congregants and I found it patronizing that other rabbis and board members attempted to obfuscate and bury some serious wrongdoings when the rabbi of our shul abruptly quit. These cover-ups just allow people to get away with bad behavior time and time again because our community keeps sweeping it under the rug.

Similarly with people accused of economic crimes. They deserve our condemnation so other people should know that we, as bnei Torah Jews, do not condone these acts. “Innocent until proven guilty” is for the jury once empaneled; it has nothing to do with how we as a community should react prior to any conviction. People are arrested and many sit in jail prior to their conviction and this does not violate the innocent-until-proven guilty rule. We need to be proactive.

In this very community, I know of people who continued to commit more crimes because no one called the FBI earlier to report them. Just last week in Lakewood, another major schemer who was out on bail pending his first trial was arrested in the interim for defrauding more of our lantsman. Yet your paper and our leaders have nothing to say about those people we apparently so wrongly put our faith in to be our moral compasses or the role models for whom we ask our children to rise upon their entrance.

Yeshiva University just avoided, by the skin of their teeth, being a defendant in a hundred-million-dollar lawsuit for abuse in its high school 20 years ago. That institution has adopted a zero-tolerance policy; maybe your paper should also.


Alexander Novak

5TJT Top 30

Dear Editor,

I have received considerable reaction to my article regarding rock icon Roger Waters and his crusade against Israel (“The Dark Side of Roger Waters,” April 25 issue). I am flattered that the editor subsequently saw fit to comment on Waters’s Israel obsession and on his general failure to dissuade significant performers from playing in Israel (May 16 issue).

I do disagree regarding the motive behind Waters’s malevolent stance toward the Jewish state. I don’t think it has anything to do with the Jews’ rejection of Jesus, especially since Waters has never shown himself to be particularly religious. I believe, rather, that Waters sees the Palestinian Arabs as underdogs who have been expelled from their homeland, and he is choosing to side with the perceived underdog. Waters wrongly refuses to address the entire Middle East picture, including the fact that Israel is the ancient homeland of the Jews; that Jews have lived in the Holy Land continuously for thousands of years; that Israel has been under repeated attack by its enemies since the day it was founded; and that Israel’s ongoing attempts to reach a final peace are unfailingly rebuffed.

Because Waters is a rock star, I had framed my article in terms of the 20 albums that I would take with me if I were to be marooned on a desert island. The article included a smattering of these albums. Interestingly, many of those who reacted were more interested in determining my entire list than in the article’s political thesis!

In an effort to satisfy these requests, I have undertaken to select the truly outstanding records that I would take with me. While the article mentioned multiple albums by bands such as the Beatles and Pink Floyd, I have decided that in order to achieve a representative sampling of rock’s best, the list should be restricted to one album per artist. Further, I have excluded live albums and greatest hits recordings, and I have extended the list to 30 albums.

The following compilation is fluid; that is, it is subject to change at whim. The list is in no particular order, and of course it is not impervious to criticism. But at the end of the day, it is my list! So here goes: 1. The Beatles: Abbey Road; 2. Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon; 3. Renaissance: Scheherazade and Other Stories; 4. Steely Dan: Aja; 5. Fairport Convention: What We Did on Our Holidays; 6. Triumvirat: Illusions on a Double Dimple; 7. Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Trilogy; 8. Heart: Dreamboat Annie; 9. Fleetwood Mac: Rumours; 10. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: Deja Vu; 11. The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers; 12. Paul Simon: Graceland; 13. Simon & Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Water; 14. Dire Straits: Love Over Gold; 15. Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life; 16. Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks; 17. Blood, Sweat & Tears: Child Is Father to the Man; 18. Al Stewart: Past, Present and Future; 19. Derek and the Dominoes: Layla and Assorted Other Love Songs; 20. Billy Joel: The Stranger; 21. Beach Boys: Pet Sounds; 22. Eagles: Hotel California; 23. Queen: A Night at the Opera; 24. Kate and Anna McGarrigle: Love Over and Over; 25. Donald Fagen: The Nightfly; 26. The Who: Who’s Next; 27. Led Zeppelin: IV; 28. Bruce Springsteen: Born to Run; 29. Dan Fogelberg & Tim Weisberg: Twin Sons of Different Mothers; 30. The Grateful Dead: American Beauty.

I do believe several live albums deserve honorable mention: Santana: Moonflower (actually a combination of studio and live songs); Wings: Wings Over America; The Allman Brothers Band: At Fillmore East; The Jerry Garcia Band: After Midnight: Kean College, 2/28/80; The Band: The Last Waltz; and Kaveret: Kaveret in the Park. Finally, for a little Jewish music, I would add The Diaspora Yeshiva Band: Land of Our Fathers and Safam: Sons of Safam.

Admittedly, any such list will invite criticism (what happened to Genesis? Jimi Hendrix? The Moody Blues?). Fair enough, but when one is pinned down, one has to make choices. I welcome alternate lists, which can be emailed to me at israelintegrity@gmail.com.

Avi Goldstein

Far Rockaway

Achdus For Achiezer

Dear Editor,

I have been a resident of the Five Towns community for many, many years. We have long since heard all the different analogies: One side of the 878 versus the other; east of Rockaway Turnpike versus west of Rockaway Turnpike; HALB and South Shore as one side of the world, Darchei and Siach Yitzchak as another side of the world; and finally, Far Rockaway and Bayswater people can’t come together with Cedarhurst and Woodmere people . . .

Well, I was one of the more than a thousand people at the Achiezer dinner last night at the Sands. The cross-section from all walks of life was beyond belief. Black hats, no hats, modern, and modern Orthodox all together in one room in an incredible display of communal achdus. No, Achiezer is not a school or an institution with a parent body, yet it was inspiring to see so many different kinds of people all feeling that they belonged to this model of chesed that we should all be so proud of. I also learned how many of my own neighbors and friends are proud to call themselves “volunteers” of Achiezer, as throughout the evening this community was given a clear display of how much chesed is going on in our streets. As I stated, I have lived here for many years and I am proud to have witnessed what I humbly believe was the first time that our community has truly joined together as one.

Kudos to Achiezer (and our favorite family pediatrician, Dr. Schlusselberg, who was the emcee) and to so many who have made chesed the “in” thing to do in our community.


Judith Kohn-Siegel


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