In Search Of Peace
Racism Comparison Unfair
I am very troubled by groups like
the one in your article "Promoting
Peace" (Feb. 24, page 16).
Any peace negotiations with the
Palestinians (and their Middle East
supporters) must take place only after
that group (1) recognizes and accepts
Israel as a legitimate state; (2) imme-
diately stops teaching hate of Israel
and Jews to their children; and (3)
ends state-sponsored terrorism.
It is unfortunate that so many Jews
treat with sympathy these "peaceniks"
who want talks and negotiations
without at least those three conditions.
Learn from the Oslo accords —
history is the best teacher.
I am concerned that Robert Sklar's
Editor's Letter "Freedom Riders" (Jan.
27, page 3) implied a direct similar-
ity between gender seating on spe-
cific and limited Israeli bus routes in
haredi Orthodox communities and
discrimination based on racism as in
the case of Rosa Parks.
Linking the issues so directly may
have created an unfair and inaccurate
impression of the majority of those in
the Orthodox community and their
sincere religious beliefs. The column
missed an opportunity to help bridge
an understanding between different
sectors of the Jewish community.
Religious men and women in haredi
communities believe that they are
not permitted to touch a person of
the opposite sex unless they are mar-
ried. Since both sexes have the same
restrictions, providing special reli-
gious accommodations on certain and
limited public bus routes is far from
the same thing as racial or sexual
discrimination as your editorial com-
ment seemed to imply.
The balance between accommodat-
ing traditional religious needs and
civil rights is a delicate one in Israel.
While I am not justifying abusive
behavior or aggression, insensitivity to
customs in certain communities also
My hope is that a more balanced pre-
sentation of the issue will help reduce
the tension between different parts of
the Jewish community — which will
result in more volunteer cooperation in
finding solutions rather than active defi-
ance or abusive behavior.
Irving W. Ginsberg, Ph.D.
As the new executive director and a
newcomer to the Detroit area, I was
excited to see so many current and
past Tamarack Camps' campers and
staff members highlighted in the Feb.
10 issue of the JN.
The issue included Sam Appel,
Celia Shecter, Hayley Mandell, Mia
Gordon, Fran Wanetick, Caryn Zeitlin
and many others.
I am confident that their years of
camping and working at Tamarack
Camps was a significant factor in
becoming involved in the Jewish
community. Skills they acquired as
Tamarack staff members serve them
well as they assume leadership posi-
tions on their respective campuses.
Tamarack Camps trains our com-
munity's future leaders.
Steve Engel, executive director
Tamarack Camps, Bloomfield Township
A Powerful Papal Act
ith his theological
the papal edict "is especially signifi-
repudiation of Jewish
cant because it deepens and gives his-
guilt for Jesus' death,
torians context crucial in having the
Pope Benedict XVI puts to rest a
doctrine expressed in Nostra Aetate
haunting cloud hanging over the
translated down to the pews."
In his new book, according to JTA,
He gave Catholics and other
the pope goes on to raise pertinent
Christians scriptural evidence
questions: "Now we must
affirming a position the
ask: Who exactly were Jesus'
Church took 46 years ago:
accusers? Who insisted that
that the Jewish people can-
he be condemned to death?"
not be held forever responsi-
Benedict writes in a passage
ble for the crime of deicide –
about Roman governor Pontius
a charge that caused millions
Pilate condemning Jesus to
of Jews to suffer through the
death. Noting that the Gospel
ages. The statement by the
of St. John states it was "the
German-born pope, given his
Jews," the pope asks, "How
stature, no doubt will help
could the whole people have
buck anti-Semitism and Jew-
been present at this moment
hatred – but only to a degree.
to clamor for Jesus' death?"
The pontiff makes the case in a
John's use of the term, the pope
brand-new volume of his book Jesus of
writes, "does not in any way indicate
Nazareth-Holy Week. But let's not do
– as the modern reader might suppose
handsprings. It took six years for the
– the people of Israel in general; even
pope to absolve Jews collectively for
less is it 'racist' in character. After all,
John himself was ethnically a Jew, as
His pronouncement will advance
were Jesus and all his followers." What
John meant by "the Jews,"
but he remains the pope who
Benedict writes, was the
in 2008 sought to restore a
priestly "temple aristocracy."
conversion-of-Jews prayer to
In another passage, Benedict
Easter Week services featur-
explicitly rejects the notion
ing the old Latin mass. The
that the Gospel expression
Vatican later offered a "toned
"His blood be on us and on
down" version of the prayer,
our children" meant an eternal
which still suggested salvation
curse against the Jewish peo-
was only possible for Jews who Pope Benedict ple. Instead, the pontiff writes,
converted to Christianity.
"It means that we all stand in
In 1965, the Second Vatican
need of the purifying power of
Council's Nostra Aetate (In Our Age)
love, which is his blood. These words
declared to be a false teaching the corn-
are not a curse, but rather redemption
mon belief that the Jewish people as a
collective criminally killed Jesus. That
landmark document revived Catholic-
Even Stronger Ties
I appreciate Pope Benedict XVI right-
The pope denies the Gospel claim
ing a 2,000-year-old wrong. Now
that Jews working in the Temple col-
he should apologize for the relative
laborated with the Roman authorities,
silence of the Catholic Church during
thus leading to Jesus' execution.
History contends that Pope Pius XII,
A Key Act
who died in 1958, did little to reduce
Full papal exoneration was neces-
Jewish suffering amid Hitler's fury. The
sary. Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein of the
Vatican maintains that Pius, on track
Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal
to beatification, the last step before
Center put it well: "Some faithful are
canonization, worked outside the lime-
most impressed by authority. Others
light to aid Jews.
want to be convinced."
If Pius indeed wherever possible
Anti-Defamation League national
"spared no effort" in intervening on
director Abraham Foxman is a
the Jews' behalf, either directly or indi-
Holocaust survivor and Hidden Child
rectly, the Church should have no rea-
by virtue of being baptized as a child
son not to open private archives before
and presented as a Catholic. He said
bestowing sainthood on him.