“Having had enough of Donald Trump, voters in 2022 chose to go with experience in their candidates. That’s exactly why Florida governor Ron DeSantis was successful in his reelection”
Admit You Don’t Know [Guestlines / Issue 937]
I really enjoyed Rabbi Efrem Goldberg’s “Guestlines” article this week about questions without answers. I’m the kind of teenager who seeks the truth, and has a question on just about every statement that comes out of a teacher’s mouth.
Sometimes I like the answers I receive, but other times I’m left more confused than before. It’s unsettling to receive a half-answer to a hashkafah question. So I beg teachers, if you aren’t sure what to answer me, please simply say that you don’t know.
With respect and appreciation to all caring, dedicated high school teachers, who may never know the tremendous impact they have on their students’ lives,
An anonymous student
Don’t Assume [The Beat / Issue 937]
In Rabbi Guttentag’s article, headlined “Conservative with Reservations,” he made the correct and well-noted point that Torah and American conservatism are not necessarily identical in general nor necessarily in perfect agreement on any particular issue. Therefore, we, as Torah Jews, should look to our sources in Torah shebichtav and Torah shebe’al peh to see how we should approach any given issue, rather than conservative editorialists of other-than-Torah background.
This is certainly correct, and yasher koach for making this point.
Rabbi Guttentag also said, and I quote, “Can anyone imagine that Chazal — endlessly cautious when it came to pikuach nefesh — would have had any patience for NRA drivel like ‘guns don’t kill, people do’?” There is something off-putting in the certainty of this sentence, the confidence that not only is his opinion correct al pi Torah, but that there can be no serious debate.
Yet there are those among us who think that this statement which Rabbi Guttentag characterizes as “drivel” is correct, and that Chazal would have recognized it as such. I am one.
I am open to conversation with Rabbi Guttentag about this, and may of course be wrong. But let’s not assume the conclusion by assuming the identity of Torah ideology with the leftist position on this topic.
Ramat Beit Shemesh A
Conservative with Certainty [The Beat / Issue 937]
Mr Guttentag seems to have omitted some key points in his article decrying the so-called “embarrassing byproduct of the Orthodox world’s increasing identification with the Republican Party.”
The writer argues that the staunch support of right-wing policies and unwavering loyalty to conservative thought perhaps contradict some of our own mekoros as people of faith, or more importantly, as religious Jews. While there certainly may be truth to that sentiment, the examples brought in the article seemed to be a bit lacking in context.
As frum Jews, we are no strangers to suffering. Persecution has pursued us through the generations unrelentingly, which in turn has molded us into a nation of faith and compassion. Yet suggesting that we ought to support illegal migrants flooding our nation’s borders in the name of benevolence, seems to be a bad case of misplaced sympathies.
The problem frum people have with illegal immigration is the crime, drugs, and lawlessness that come along with it. Gangs, organized mobs, and drug cartels take advantage of a poorly protected border and bring their vile and dangerous ways to our communities. Remind me again of what our grandparents would have thought of this?
And speaking of the gun debate, most frum people would probably not feel comfortable carrying a gun in their back pocket. Yet we certainly are grateful for the second amendment that protects its citizens against a tyrannical government.
And yes; “Guns don’t kill, people do” most definitely rings true. As a current resident of Israel, I see countless frum Jews who must carry a weapon in self-defense. We are unfortunately all too familiar with car rammings, stabbings, suicide bombers and the like. So guns don’t seem to be the problem. Evil is.
Next on the list is abortion. I’m not sure what the author was referring to when suggesting that halachah doesn’t march in lockstep with the pro-life movement. It doesn’t have to. But we certainly have far more in common with pro-life activists who believe in the value and sanctity of human life than we do with extremists on the left, who view the pre-born as a burden to be cast away if inconvenient.
Perhaps Mr. Guttentag will rethink the way he views “Torah Jews spouting conservative talking points” as an “embarrassing phenomenon” and see them for the smart and dignified people they truly are.
Esther Goldy Breier, Yerushalayim
MBD Music Fever [50 Years and Counting / Issue 937]
I went to visit my friend Berel in Mostly Music to tell him that I have MBD music fever! I used to own a collection of MBD records and tapes, and now I started buying up CDs. (No, I’m not into downloading or buying flash drives. Sorry, I’m not that sophisticated.)
I couldn’t believe it when Berel told me that there were no more copies of the Double Album featuring “Daagah Minayin,” produced by Sheya Mendlowitz. There were, however, a few copies of such classics as “Hineni” and my favorite, “Neshama,” which was arranged by Moshe [Mona] Rosenblum back in ‘73-‘74, and was just as nice back then as Yoeli Dickman’s music on Shloime Daskal’s Hartzig 3, where he sings “V’ani Tefilasi” from that album’s opening song.
I have been following MBD for a yovel shanim, hopefully ad meah v’esrim. I enjoyed classics such as I’d Rather Pray and Sing, Hold On, Let My People Go, Tamid B’Simcha, Jerusalem: Not For Sale, Maaminim Bnei Maaminim, English Classics, Moshiach, Kumzits album and video, Memories, Tzaaka and his latest album, Hashpuos.
Mordechai Ben David and Avraham Fried are the “Kings of Jewish Music” in my eyes (or is it ears?). So in case you see me drumming on my dashboard waiting for the traffic to clear in Boro Park, you can be sure I’m listening to Neshama.
Rabbi Moshe Shochet
MBD Down Under [50 Years and Counting / Issue 937]
I have just excitedly read through your feature on MBD’s amazing 50-year career.
MBD was a constant guest artist on the Australian chassidic music scene. Chabad Youth, under the producer Mr. Saully Spigler, used to organize a yearly chassidic song festival. Composers would enter their songs and eight of them were performed live, with the audience voting for the best three songs.
One year I had the incredible honor of performing “My Zaidy” for the first time to Aussie audiences. There was huge applause, and then I performed my own song, “Adir b’Meluchah.”
At the end of the evening I won first prize (no doubt due to “My Zaidy’s” warm-up song). A part of the prize was the chance to perform as the opening act for the next year’s show with MBD in both Sydney and Melbourne. What an awesome honor it was to perform alongside the king of Jewish music!
As we were backstage warming up for the full-house concert in Melbourne, I peeked into MBD’s dressing room. In his bag were hundreds of cassettes (remember those?) that were going to be sold at intermission. Also in the bag was a bottle of menthol eucalyptus with tissues to make sure the nasal passages were clear to sing well.
The best part of appearing with MBD was his exuberant smile and friendly rapport with the performers and the audience, which I will never forget.
Those were great musical years, where the rehearsal was recorded with the 20-piece band under the baton of David Honig. The recording was then mastered and pressed onto vinyl, which were sold on the following Motzaei Shabbos.
And what did I sing with MBD? None other than “Someday We Will All Be Together.”
Keep reporting the great music!
Educator and entertainer, Sydney, Australia
The Ramat Eshkol I Saw [Inbox / Issue 937]
The “classic Ramat Eshkol couple” who wrote into the Inbox with the claim that 20 years ago most of the residents of Ramat Eshkol were nonobservant Jews has a limited awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of the Ramat Eshkol of the last 20 years plus.
My two married couples lived in the Rechov Paran area as a yeshivah family for the years between 2005 and 2012. We visited and spent a lot of time there.
During the time we were there the main shul, Beit Yaakov, was filled to capacity with Hebrew-speaking congregants. The women wore beautiful head coverings and the men davened with fervor and learned in the side library. Shabbos groups were huge, and every Shabbat, the rav or visiting scholar spoke in front of a large crowd. The niggunim, zemirot, and shirah were heard everywhere. The large beit sefer for girls, “Noam,” was located down the steps toward the park. On Purim I took my grandchildren there for a play, masquerade and carnival.
What I saw was a diverse yet united kehillah with a few black suits on Shabbos while the majority of men wore white shirts sans jackets, the children in shorts and sandalim — yet far from what anyone would call a non-observant Jew.
It has changed considerably since then. The older couples have joined their married children living in Yehudah and Shomron, Shaalavim, Gush Etzion, Maaleh Adumim, etc. The Noam school relocated to Maaleh Adumim and educates over 500 talmidot there. The neighborhood has shifted, as many do, from National-Religious to newbie yeshivish.
Kol hakavod to the “Growth Curve” series and personally, I would raise money to help Benny remain in Eretz Yisrael.
Mrs. Caren V. May
Voters Chose Experience [Outlook / Issue 936]
Columnist Yonoson Rosenblum’s review of the 2022 midterm elections could have been an opportunity to better understand the Democrats who won in swing states, defying the polls and conventional wisdom. Instead, we were treated to ad hominem attacks unbecoming a veteran writer.
Rosenblum described Pennsylvania’s Senator-elect John Fetterman as having “never held a job until he was 46.” I suppose working for his father’s insurance firm in his youth doesn’t count, but it sure counted for Donald Trump. Later, Fetterman taught GED classes to disadvantaged students and mentored orphans, which gave this son of privilege experience with less fortunate members of society. With a graduate degree from Harvard, he still found time to work with children while serving as mayor of a small town.
In his review of Arizona’s Senate race, Rosenblum did not even name the Democratic victors who will serve as governor and senator. Were their names not newsworthy enough to be mentioned in the column? The re-elected senator happens to be a Gulf War veteran and former astronaut, who nearly lost his wife to a gunman brandishing a Glock-19. The governor-elect is a former social worker who served as a state legislator and the state’s secretary of state. Their names are Mark Kelly and Katie Hobbs.
What do these three Democratic victors have in common? Experience in government, ability to deliver results in swing states. What do the Republican losers — Dr. Mehmet Oz, Blake Masters, and Kari Lake — have in common? The opposite; having never served in government, they have no experience in crafting policy or authoring legislation.
Having had enough of Donald Trump, voters in 2022 chose to go with experience in their candidates. That’s exactly why Florida governor Ron DeSantis was successful in his reelection, as depicted by your graphic design team.
West Hempstead, NY
Family Tradition [For the Record / Issue 936]
I wish to thank the writers of “For the Record,” Yehuda Geberer and Dovi Safier, for their excellent article paying tribute to Rav Simcha Soloveitchik.
On a personal note I wish to point out, however, that there is no mention in the article of Rav Simcha ztz”l holding any teaching position in the United States after his arrival there. It is our family tradition going back many decades (and which I personally heard in my childhood) that our grandfather, Rabbi Yehuda Dov Galinsky ztz”l, rav of Colchester, Connecticut, and later of Sha’arei Tzeddek in Coney Island, New York, was a talmid (together with his brother Rav Yaakov Galinsky, later a prominent rav in the Lower East Side) of Rav Simcha in New York.
Rav Simcha taught them first at RIETS and later, due to disagreements with its administration, in a small yeshivah or chaburah that Rav Simcha opened on his own. Rav Simcha was mesader kiddushin at my grandparents’ wedding as well.
Rav Simcha’s name is mentioned with reverence in our family’s tradition and we were therefore extremely excited to see a beautiful feature dedicated to his memory.
Ephraim Z. Galinsky
Not Like a Parent [The Kichels / Issue 936]
I was very happy to read this past week’s Kichels about Chaviva being asked to take care of her siblings, but not to be “the boss of them.”
As an oldest child with younger siblings, I feel that parents will often need to take care of things outside of the house and they will call upon us older children to assist with everyone else at home. However, the Kichels this past week shed light on the fact that we older siblings are sometimes not given the ability to be in charge the way a parent is. This makes for long nights for us, especially on school nights.
I truly want to thank you for all of your great Kichels comics, but this week’s in particular was really amazing and appreciated.
A 15-year-old still waiting for his parents to come home
Afford It or Not [When Rebbi Was Young / Issue 933]
Having had the zechus of being Rabbi Kunda’s secretary for over 20 years, I would like to add some facts to the article about him.
Rabbi Kunda was fun-loving and an erliche, sincere person who always looked out for the underdog. He accepted boys into camp who needed the warmth of caring counselors and rebbeim. If someone asked him for help and he only had a nickel in his pocket, he would still manage to give them a quarter. Money never was an obstacle in helping others, whether he had it or not (most of the time he did not). His eishes chayil Naomi supported and guided him throughout.
Having typed all the scripts (with all my children hanging onto every word) it was fun to relive the tapes in the article.
Yehi zichro baruch.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 938)
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