Letters to the Editor: Betrayal, Politics and Faith
Editor’s Note: Our October cover story, “The Music Man,” focused on the musical legacy of Shlomo Carlebach. We mentioned the controversy surrounding his behavior toward women, but many of our readers found this insufficient. The following is just one of the numerous letters we received.
A Questionable Legacy
I was shocked to see the laudatory article about Shlomo Carlebach. While it is true that he leaves a legacy of transcendent music and storytelling, he also leaves a legacy of inappropriate fondling of women. He betrayed the trust and admiration of young girls. When some went to their parents, teachers or camp directors, they were admonished for misunderstanding his intentions and scolded for telling such a story about this wonderful man.
This is not lashon ha-ra; it was well known at the time and documented in Lilith magazine years ago. This was not “womanizing”; if it [happened] today he would probably be doing jail time. It is impossible to tell his story without including this side of it. Men whom we love and admire are capable of acting in vile ways.
There are those of us in the Jewish community who struggle to address sexual and domestic violence in our community. It does not bode well that Hadassah lauds a known abuser without acknowledging the abuse.
Marcia Cohn Spiegel
Rolling Hills Estates, CA
A Scottish Jew
I am sorry that “The Jewish Traveler: Glasgow and Edinburgh” (October issue) did not include the name of the scholar and teacher David Daiches, who died in 2005. His 1956 autobiography, Two Worlds: An Edinburgh Jewish Childhood (University of Alabama Press) was an eye-opener to many Jews in the United States. Daiches’s story of growing up a rabbi’s son among the Scots was delightful reading.
Eleanor Nadler Schwartz
New York, NY
Senator John McCain referred incorrectly to an Iraq-Pakistan border, which does not exist, when he meant to say the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. However, Jay Michaelson, in “Election Forum: (Your Choice) for President!” (October issue), accuses McCain of talking about an Iran-Pakistan border. This border does exist. Thus, Michaelson made a similar mistake!
Dr. Ira M. Sheskin
Coral Gables, FL
You asked your respondents to focus on “issues of concern to Jewish voters.” Clearly the most important issue is Judaism itself and our freedom to practice it. Given the vagaries of publishing, I am assuming that your respondents wrote their presidential endorsements before the appointment by Senator John McCain of his running mate, Governor Sarah Palin. I think her candidacy changes the parameters of the debate.
Her public statements and the few glimpses of her that we have been allowed indicate that hers is a Christ-centered worldview and that she believes in the primacy of that religion over all others.
If there is any more frightening issue of concern to Jewish voters than the possible erosion of the free exercise of religion, I cannot imagine what it might be.
On Knowing God
Rabbi David Wolpe’s “Commentary: Question of Faith” (October issue) impressed this reader with the spiritual élan vital in his exposition of God, faith and the meaning of religious life. I absorbed from his commentary that to hope is to know God, to participate in the social-traditional community provided by religion is to know God, and to understand that life has purpose is to know God.
I thank Rabbi Wolpe for his message to us searching souls that God is hope, social participation and a meaningful life.