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Appreciating a wonderful evening

Thanks to Sheldon Wishna, arrangements were made for JBS’s closed-circuit TV production of the Kol Nidre service to be broadcast at Brookdale Leawood. There were about 15 “senior orphans” who watched the service.

As one of the “senior orphans,” I thought you should know we were spellbound for the entire two hours! We enjoyed the ambiance of the Temple, the warmth of the head rabbi, the speaking and singing voice of the Korean rabbi and the local cantor’s ability to engage the congregation. There are really no words adequate in either the English or Hebrew language to express our most sincere appreciation for a wonderful evening.

Todah rabah! May you be inscribed for a perfect 5776.

Patsy Dunn Shanberg

Leawood, Kansas


Gun situation out of control

I read Robert Cutler’s response to Ellen Portnoy’s article in The Chronicle shortly before learning about the tragic shootings in Oregon. I was deeply annoyed with his predictable support of gun control arguments. He clearly refuses to accept what Portnoy was trying to convey, and what President Obama echoed in his heartfelt statement after the horror in Roseburg.  

It is interesting that the sheriff of the county where the tragedy occurred in Oregon is an ardent opponent of gun control. In view of the carnage that has visited his home area, I imagine he’ll rationalize the reason for the tragedy, much like Robert Cutler and other gun enthusiasts do. However, the majority of Americans recognize that the gun situation in our country is totally out of control, and their arguments are no longer acceptable to our citizens’ safety.

I, like so many others, am so tired of this issue, and the inaction of our legislators. If our congressmen refuse to do anything about protecting our citizens, than maybe it’s really time to amend the Constitution. I’m not in favor of restricting people’s access to guns legally, but for those who harbor arsenals and automatic weapons that is something we can’t continue to accept in our society. We’re the only “advanced” nation that has this problem, and I am confident in believing that we’re not the only country that has citizens with mental health issues. 

Carole Plesser

Prairie Village, Kansas


Doing nothing is no longer an option

The recent letters in The Chronicle regarding the rights of gun owners compel me now to respond. No one in the movement to curb gun violence rejects the right of gun owners to own guns, UNLESS they are domestic abusers, convicted felons, people with severe mental illness or other individuals identified as potential threats to themselves or others. We are all well-aware of the Second Amendment — though imagine our forefathers did not envision the proliferation of guns in America today. Nor did they envision that their support of an armed militia, which was the clear interpretation until the 2008 Heller decision by the Supreme Court inserted the word INDIVIDUAL, would be abused as it is today.

Besides the horror of the mass shootings, which we see with depressing regularity, there is an average of 92 gun deaths DAILY. That number includes seven children and teens. Data shows children are more likely to be killed by a gun in the home than anywhere else. A woman’s chances of being killed by her abuser increase more than seven times if he has access to a gun, and the myth that having a gun in the home makes you safer is proven false by the fact that it is 22 times more likely for a gun to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide or accidental shooting than to be used in self- defense. 

I could quote statistics all day, and the NRA and gun rights folks would quote them right back. The reality is we do have a gun problem in this country, related to the culture of violence and the abundance of guns (one for every man, woman and child in this county.) It is clear we need a better system of background checks without loopholes. For those who say that many slip through these checks, as the Oregon shooter did, that does not mean we shouldn’t try to do something, since doing nothing can no longer be an option. Data has shown since the Brady Bill mandating background checks was passed in 1993, more than 2.4 million attempts to purchase a firearm have been blocked. Law-abiding citizens need not fear background checks, but we owe it to our children and grandchildren to work harder to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people, so they can be safe at home, at school, and in the community.

Judy Sherry


Grandparents Against Gun Violence


Mean-spirited characterization

Gratuitous would be a charitable way to characterize Benyamin Korn’s pot-shot at J Street (“A different take on Ann Coulter, Sept. 24). Mean-spirited is more apt. Please reconsider printing dreck like this.

Rabbi Scott White

Congregation Ohev Sholom


Opposing anti-Muslim rhetoric

Following recent remarks made by presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council (GKCIC) would like to remind the greater Kansas City area that we stand in solidarity with our Muslim friends, and are deeply saddened by these xenophobic and anti-Muslim statements.

Dr. Carson’s remarks are not an isolated sentiment. Another presidential candidate, Donald Trump, also recently refused to rebuke or correct a supporter at a town hall meeting who said “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. ... How do we get rid of them?” These incidents remind us of the urgent need for more education and engagement about world religions and culture in the Greater Kansas City area to dispel lack of understanding and bring an end to divisive rhetoric.

Today, we invite you to join the GKCIC in focusing our words, thoughts and deeds on promoting peace, inclusion and acceptance. Art Chaudry, GKCIC community adviser, reminds us, “We must stand united against hate speech. The foundation of interfaith dialogue is advocacy of tolerance and an embrace of diversity. We need to be strong against efforts to marginalize and paint a whole community with a broad brush of stereotyping and negativity. Let’s do the right thing in standing firm against Islamophobia.”

Barb McAtee, Baha’i Faith director of the Interfaith Council, says, “It is hurtful, anti-American, divisive, and should not be part of political debate.” McAtee further cautions that “...media who give airtime to these speakers and their hateful rhetoric are simply contributing to the problem.”

The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council celebrates the gifts of religious pluralism in our city because it is a celebration of the interconnectedness of all life. Whatever our individual faith traditions, we simply can’t imagine being separate. … We can’t imagine our lives without each other. We are growing a sustainable, pervasive culture of knowledge, respect, appreciation, and trust amongst people of all faiths and religious traditions in the greater Kansas City community.

The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council (GKCIC) is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, which has a board of directors that strives for inclusiveness. The Council is comprised of faith directors, as well as at-large directors, who belong to 22 distinct faith philosophies represented in the greater Kansas City area. Working through directors, alternates, advisers and friends, the Council strives to provide engaging and educational programs about the many diverse faiths and traditions represented in Greater Kansas City by joining religion, spirit and community. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council takes no position on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for office.

Rev. Mary Gibson McCoy


Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council

Todd Stettner

If you are like me, you were horrified at the scenes shown on the nightly news concerning the death of the young boy being carried from the shoreline by the Turkish policeman. My thoughts drifted to this scene as I sat in synagogue on Yom Kippur. The rabbi’s sermon focused on immigration to the United States and all the related issues. Resolving these issues is not as simple as some presidential candidates would like us to believe. More importantly, the rabbi was talking to the congregation about the Jewish values surrounding immigration. He pointed out that the Torah reminds us 33 times that we were once strangers in the land of Egypt. Even today, there are people who want to leave their homeland. Syrian refugees would love to emigrate to the United States or Europe, or just about anywhere they would be welcomed.

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A religious boy looks at a worker cleaning up debris from a rocket from Gaza which hit a parking lot next to an apartment building late 29 October in Ashdod, Israel, 30 October 2011. Egyptian officials said efforts to persuade Palestinian factions in Gaza to hold their rocket fire on Israel have failed, after a day of deadly, escalated violence that continued into early hours of 30 October. EPA/OLIVER WEIKEN

Not a single day went by during the course of 5775 when there wasn’t at least one terror attack perpetrated against Israeli civilians, IDF soldiers or other security personnel, whether by Palestinian terrorists operating from Judea, Samaria, Gaza and East Jerusalem, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda terrorists orchestrating attacks along the borders with Lebanon and Syria or ISIS cells launching attacks from Egypt’s terrorist laden Sinai Peninsula.

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Rabbi Binyomin and Gevura Davis

It was April 13, 2014.

Everyone in the Kansas City Jewish community remembers where they were when they heard about the shooting at the Jewish Community Campus. For us, it ranks right along with how our parents’ generation remembers where they were when JFK was shot, how our grandparents remember where they were when D-Day and Pearl Harbor occurred, and our peers remember the exact moment the twin towers went down. Even our 7-year-old daughter remembers 4/13.

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Ellen R. Portnoy

It has been a bizarre week in Kansas. First has been the trial of the man who killed two people at the Jewish Community Campus and one at Village Shalom in April 2014. I know his name, but it is not worth saying. He wants the publicity. He is a sick demented man who was able to get guns and act out on his baseless hatred.

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Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman geared up and ready to watch a F-18 take off.



“Firing sequence complete! Salute given! Fire!”

With that, I pushed the red “FIRE” button and launched a $45,000,000 F-18 Hornet Fighter jet from the deck of the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman in the middle of the Atlantic.

How do I describe that experience? AWESOME.

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Paul Miller

It was not surprising that Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) embraced some of the most convoluted logic about the Iran deal to rationalize her support for it. After all, McCaskill, back in 2008, was one of candidate Barack Obama’s strongest, earliest and most vocal supporters.

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Gun control debate  

Ellen Portnoy gives a number of reasons why she writes favoring gun control — Sept. 10, 2015.  The first is the understandable emotional grief reaction to the senseless violence inflicted on her friends;  criminal  acts for which there is no excuse.  However, emotional reaction is a poor foundation for policy decisions.

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The right to bear arms is non-negotiable 

Ellen Portnoy’s commentary on gun control could not be any more misguided. If she had gotten the facts right I would be more amenable to her position.

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Merry Prostic, Guest Columnist

The song from the musical “Annie” begins with these lyrics: “The sun will come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun.” However, for our daughter Elizabeth, there will be no more tomorrows or sunshine.

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Throughout the year each of us searches for meaning. This search becomes more intensified as we anticipate the start of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and contemplate the other important holidays that follow in rapid succession. Our sages instituted the sounding of the shofar during the month of Elul to stir our souls in order to awaken us to the importance of the coming weeks — not just days — of awe. 

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Senator Jerry Moran

In recent months, I have read the terms and details of the proposed nuclear deal with Iran and listened to the testimony of numerous senior administration officials responsible for crafting and negotiating it. Informed by this information as well as classified intelligence analysis, I believe this proposal falls short of its goal to prevent Iran’s nuclear weapons capability. Back in Kansas during August, conversations with many people from across the state have only reinforced my conviction that the world can and must do better than this potentially dangerous deal.

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