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Over the years Chronicle contributing reviewer Andrea Kempf has reviewed several books about Jews of Iraq. The list below may whet the appetite for the subject for those planning to visit the exhibition “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage” currently on display at the National Archives through Aug. 15, or may be of interest to those who want to learn more about this Jewish community. Viewing hours for the exhibition, which is free and open to the public, are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. 

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Rabbi Mark H. Levin

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

When you were a guest of the United States Congress in March, you insisted that the American Congress listen and respond to the words of Iranian leaders that threaten the State of Israel. You were adamant that we take words seriously.

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Rabbi Mark H. Levin

No one lives by biblical law. No one. If they did men would be allowed to marry multiple wives simultaneously, stubborn and rebellious sons could be stoned by communities (Deuteronomy 21:18), and anyone gathering sticks on Shabbat could be legally killed (Numbers 15:32). Everyone would celebrate the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week.

What, then, do people mean when they say, “The Bible prohibits people from doing that,” if they don’t observe what the Bible commands in other aspects of their lives?

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Rabbi Rick Shapiro

The last week in May saw us riding a roller coaster of emotions in our Beth Torah community. First we had the joy of honoring and paying tribute to Rabbi Reice and Aaron Nielsenshultz for their service to Beth Torah, but then had to say goodbye to Aaron and his family who left two days later for Philadelphia. We celebrated the festival of Shavuot and rejoiced with nine young members of our community as they celebrated their confirmation. Then, the very next day, I had to officiate at the funeral of a 20-year-old member of our congregation — Jason Arkin — who had taken his own life after suffering for eight long years with mental illness.

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Naomi Kauffman

I have just returned from the annual American Jewish Committee Global Forum, held in Washington, D.C., and I am feeling an amazing sense of pride at the indispensable role AJC plays around the world. Six Kansas Citians, accompanied by JCRB|AJC Executive Director Marvin Szneler, were joined by more than 2,000 attendees from chapters throughout the U.S. and over 70 countries, along with world leaders and foreign ministers from places as diverse as Israel, Bulgaria and the Ukraine. Video messages were sent by German Chancellor Angela Merckel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.  

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Yahav Barnea posed with this Harry S. Truman impersonator at the Truman Library during the official Truman birthday event.

“Make for yourself a rabbi (teacher), and acquire for yourself a colleague (friend), and give all individuals the benefit of the doubt.” (Pirke Avot, 1:6)

Coming to Kansas City as a shlichah (emissary), I didn’t know what to expect. The people that interviewed me seemed nice and interesting but the place was so far from me and I only had the common misconception that Kansas City is that place from “The Wizard of Oz” and I will probably find lots of farmers and fields there. I was very wrong. 

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Imagine my surprise when I saw my name appear in the articles about my AZA #22 Nordaunian Chapter (Nordaunian AZA’s Matzo Ball continues to bring community together, May 7). {mprestriction ids="1,3"}I have little recollection of that incident, however I am certain I enjoyed the notoriety at the time. I remain in touch with my buddies every so often during their Wednesday morning meetings when they pass around their cell phone and rap with me here in Cincinnati. Actually Morrie Kross (of blessed memory) and I were the co-chairs of the Matzo Ball several times during the latter ’40s, early ’50s before our service years. Thanks for the renewed memory and the coverage of the 80th Matzo Ball.{/mprestriction}

 

 

Don’t ever run again

Rabbi Levin’s article in The Jewish Chronicle’s July 2 edition provides an important consideration of Judaic pluralism. It brought to mind a short tale told by Rabbi Margolies, ohav shalom, known in this community for his forceful initiation and subsequent fostering of the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy. He tells the story of his village Kiryat Moshe Montfiore (now in Israel) in 1929 when it was suddenly surrounded by Arabs.

As a youngster of 8 years of age, he remarked, “We had to make a run for it, from our house into the interior of the village on foot. {mprestriction ids="1,3"}As we were running, an aged neighbor, 73 years old, Chayah Dvorah was her name, drew up alongside. I loved her very dearly, and I wanted to make sure that we both made it. But the old woman was felled by a bullet as she ran. As she lay there, bleeding to death, I bent over her, I said: (in Hebrew), ‘What is the matter, grandma?’ I did not understand what was taking place. She said: ‘Nothing is the matter, my child, I am dying, but before I die, I want you to remember this.’ And what she said I will never forget: ‘You must promise me, my child, that from now on you will stop running. Don’t ever run again.’ This wonderful septuagenarian bespoke the spirit of the entire Jewish people in the land of Palestine, as was later to be demonstrated.” 

Were I to add to the words of Chayah Dvorah, I would say: 

Don’t ever run again, and don’t ever run against each other.

As Rabbi Friedman of the Torah Learning Center recently remarked, using the words of the late Hasidic Rebbe, we are all affiliated Jews of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Harris Winitz

Kansas City, Missouri

 

Stakes are too high

It has become increasingly apparent that President Obama is no friend of Israel. To counter this view, Obama’s Jewish defenders have used favorable quotes from Michael Oren, who was constrained by diplomatic niceties when he was the ambassador from Israel. Now that Oren is no longer ambassador, he is able to reveal in his book “Ally” what really happened in his intimate, direct dealings with the administration.  

In the face of the now overwhelming evidence against Obama, Rabbi Rick Shapiro attempts a defense in his letter (July 2). Rabbi Shapiro offers no facts to support his claim. So he tries to discredit Oren by associating him with an unnamed “political establishment” that had been “vilifying President Obama and his family.” Apparently, disagreeing with Obama’s disastrous moves means that you are personally attacking not only Obama, but also “his family.” And Oren’s agreement with those who disagree with Obama nullifies Oren’s first-hand experiences with the Administration. Rabbi Shapiro does not mention that Oren taught at such right-wing institutions as Harvard and Yale, was known to battle with Netanyahu over settlement policies, and publicly opposed the war in Iraq.

Rabbi Shapiro claims Dan Shapiro and John Kerry would be better sources of information. Both of them happen to work for Obama.

In order to defend Obama and reduce his cognitive dissonance, Rabbi Shapiro must ignore the facts. It would be nice if Shapiro was as emotional about the security of Israel as he is in defending Obama. The rest of us need to be more objective. With Israel’s existence on the line, the stakes are too high.

Jeff Horen

Overland Park, Kansas{/mprestriction}

  

Incomplete picture of events

In his cogent — and mostly impartial — analysis of former Ambassador Michael Oren’s new book about the American-Israeli relationship, Mr. Cohen (“With ‘Ally,’ Michael Oren lifts the veil on U.S.-Israeli relations, June 25, 2015) ignores one cogent fact that is central to understanding Ambassador Oren’s point of view. In his years prior to making aliyah, Michael Oren worked for a political establishment that has spent the last eight years doing nothing but vilifying President Obama and his family. Apparently he carried that perspective with him when he made aliyah, and it pervades his perception of the relationships between the United States and Israel. Indeed, if any additional evidence of this were necessary, one need only read his June 19, 2015, piece in Foreign Policy purporting to explain President Obama’s attitude toward Muslims, an article that has been disavowed and condemned both by multiple Israeli officials and retiring ADL National Director Abe Foxman. In counterpoint to Oren’s invective, we would be well served to listen to the likes of current U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and Secretary of State John Kerry, who it would seem have a much more complete picture of the events than Ambassador Oren describes.

Rabbi Rick Shapiro

Interim Rabbi

Congregation Beth Torah

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Problem is all Netanyahu’s

Am I missing something? Why should President Obama include Netanyahu in secret negotiations with Iran when it was Netanyahu who tried to get Mitt Romney elected instead of President Obama. That’s where all this distrust started. Netanyahu should have kept his Republican nose out of United States politics, and devoted more time helping Palestinian Arabs so they aren’t mistreated and shot at by those Ultra Orthodox Jewish settlers in the West Bank who believe God bequeathed the land to them. Netanyahu and Israel’s Ultra Orthodox Jews are the ones responsible for keeping peace from breaking out in the Middle East.

Marvin Fremerman, Springfield, Missouri 

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We love the State of Israel. We want it to succeed in every way possible. This includes, of course, its security and economic prosperity, and it also includes its ability to live up to its own stated values.

Israel’s Declaration of Independence ensures freedom of religion and conscience to all. This does and should affect many aspects of life in Israel, but the specific concern of this resolution is the right to marry.

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My father turned 90 years young, and my wife and I welcomed him here to visit.  

While here, we had a birthday party for him with family and friends. Did I mention this was his third party in three separate cities? My dad is loved all over the United States!

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