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Letters to the editor

Brouhaha over Israeli policies overblown

Tempest in a teapot! Mountain out of a molehill!

Much ado about nothing! The overblown brouhaha in the Chronicle over the last several weeks about access to the Western Wall and the Orthodox monopoly on conversions is precisely that. The demands of members of the Reform and Conservative movements are suspect, to say the least. They react with all the anger of someone who has not been invited to a party they never really wanted to attend in the first place.

Their concerns are political. not religious. Those not Orthodox, with few exceptions, only attend their temples and synagogues as social centers. They go there not to worship, but out of a sense of ethnic solidarity. When in Israel, they go to the Western Wall, not to worship, but as a tourist attraction.

If Judaism has a future, it is with the Orthodox (and I am not Orthodox). Among American non-Orthodox, the intermarriage rate is 71 percent. Clearly, in a few generations, there will be hardly any non-Orthodox Jews left. Only the Orthodox truly maintain the faith, and, by their high birthrate, may manage to preserve some semblance of Judaism. Leave them in peace. They are at the Wall to worship, in the tradition they have been observing for nearly 2,000 years.

Where is this sudden religious fervor coming from? The pseudo-indignation being expressed has little to do with religion, and everything to do with political correctness. At my own Reform temple, about 5 percent of the congregation shows up on Friday nights, and, as already mentioned, they come to socialize, not worship. This is, of course, a generalization, but a very valid one, applying to the overwhelming majority of those who belong to Reform and Conservative congregations.

As for conversions, space inhibits a discussion here, other than to note how minuscule the problem is. How many annually seek conversion?

Israel is beset with multitudes of serious, existential problems. Those who would withhold support from Israel over these trivialities are despicable. They would deliberately seek to weaken Israel over issues that in the real world mean absolutely nothing to them.

Lee Levin

Leawood, Kansas

Actions don’t reflect tikkun olam

Missouri Gov. Greitens can talk all he wants about tikkun olam (Chronicle, July 20), but his actions hardly represent this concept. Consider his recent veto of a bill providing funds for in-home health-care assistance, a program designed to allow recipients to remain in their own homes, or his support for pro-business/anti-union/anti-worker legislation. 

As for his so-called “pro-life” stance, he is entitled to his own opinions, but anti-abortion legislation is an attempt to impose Catholic/evangelical standards on members of other faiths, including Jews, whose views on abortion are far more nuanced.

He does not deserve a pass on these issues just because of his Jewish identity. 

Stu Lewis

Prairie Village, Kansas