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August 12, 2011

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PAGE 4A By Rick Geller HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 12, 2011 Appreciation: Hyman Bookbinder, 1916-2011 The Americaia Jewish community has lost a giant. Hyman Bookbinder served as Washington Representative of the American Jewish Com- mittee from the tumultuous period after the Six Day War through 1987, when I was fortunate to work two summers as his last college intern. Bookie, his affectionate nickname, died in late July at age 95 from complications with dementia, according to the Washington Post. The diagnosis seemed at odds with the sharp mind I recalled from my last visit with him, accompanied by my wife, Gabriela, at his home in Bethesda, Md., a decade ago. We talked about him finding and helping to select the location on the National Mall for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, forever searing our nation's conscience. Bookie's avuncular personality endeared him to presidents, members of Congress, rind Israeli Prime Ministers. Yet he made a college intern feel like'a valued and integral part of his team. I'll never forget Bookie.including Re for a private lunch with a half-dozen United States senators who. 'a few months earlier had helped give him his last major legislative triumph Senate ratification of the United Nations Genocide Treaty. The treaty, stalled in the Senate for 37 years, decreed genocide Bookie knew the White House intimately from his days working in the Kennedy and Johnson. Administrations. He spearheaded the War on Poverty and served as a principal advisor to vice president Hubert Humphrey. Israel's victory in the Six Day War and the memory of 79 family members killed in the Holocaust, including his four grandparents-- a crime against international law and autho- propelled Bookie to a position he would hold rized nations to prevent it and punish those for19years, becomingtheJewishcommunity's responsible. Bookie's personal friendships with "Fritz" Mondale and chief domestic policy advisor "Stu" Eisenstadt gave the Jewish community high level access to the Carter White House. Despite liberal leanings, he straddled the political center. The Nixon, Ford and Reagan Administrations could not ignore him. He failed to persuade President Reagan to cancel a planned visit to the Bitburg Military Cemetery, where SS troops were buried. How- ever, due in part to their meeting, Reagan would make some of the most poignant comments of any president remembering the Holocaust. foremost advocate on "Meet the Press," "Face the Nation," and in the pages of the New York Times and Washington Post. Bookie blazed a path for AIPAC and other advocates for Jewish causes on Capitol Hill, earning the title, "Dean of the Jewish lobby- ists." "The Jewish lobby isn't as strong as our adversaries portray," he would say, "but neither are we as weak as they would like." Bookie exemplified the Jewish tradition of protestingbigotry and injustice. I accompanied him when he testified before a Congressional subcommittee investigating hate crimes against Arab-Americans. courtesy of Rick Geller Hyman Bookbinder and Rick Geller, then a college intern, at the House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee hearing room in 1987. showed him with civil rights leaders Roy Wilkins and A. Philip Randolph holding picket signs prote~ing segregation at Glen Echo Park in Maryland. Another photograph showed him overlooking President Johnson signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination in public facilities. One of the treasured pens President Johnson used Judaism is always "tikkun olam--and more By Rabbi Eric Yoffie NEW YORK (JTA)--I have no patience for survival Judaism. Whenever I hear someone talk about what Jews must do in order to "survive," I head for the door. Joel Alperson has joined the long list of Jew- ish communal leaders offering a formula for Jewish survival ["Judaism is more than'tikkun ohm; "Heritage Florida Jewish News. Aug. 5]. Along the way, he informs us that Modern Orthodoxy has all the answers and Reform and Conservative Judaism are on the road to extinction a point with which I strongly disagree but that I will not argue here. What does need to be said, however, is thathe shows a total misunderstanding of what Judaism is about and fails to comprehend that a Judaism obsessed with survival is a Judaism that will not survive. Anyone who has urged college students to camah6ul J+,wi+hm i lh +O+tl ttI will respond with indifference, incomprehension and contempt. They are not interested in being Jewish so that we can survive. They need to hear the opposite message: Jews do not observe Torah in order to survive; they survive in Order to observe Torah. And--this is the key for such students, and for most North American Jews observing Torah means much more than worrying only about our own souls. Observing Torah involves fulfillinga grander purpose. It means taking to heart the words of R. Hayyim of Brisk, the greatest Talmudist of the late 19th century, who defined the rabbi's task as follows: "To redress the grievances of those who are abandoned and alone, to pro- tect the dignity of the poor, and to save the oppressed from the hands of the oppressor." Social justice, in short, is required by our religious texts and is inseparable from our religious mission. There is no such thing as a morality that is selectively indignant--that looks within but fails to look without. And Judaism without ethics, both personal and societal, is a contradiction in terms. Do we need to study Torah, embrace Jew- ish ritual and observe Shabbat? Absolutely, although Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jews will interpret these obligations differ- ently. The work of social justice, absent text study and ritual practice as a foundation, is inauthentic and will not sustain itself. Indeed, I have found that the work of tikkun olam, for all-its rewards, is lonely and discouragingwork, and only by absorbing the light of the Shabbat candlesand by studying and worshiping with a strong, dynamic Jewish community can I immunize myself against the cynicism and alienation that surround me. But the point that Mr. Alperson misses is that social justice is not, as he claims, a secular pursuit meant to compensate for the absence of "God-based" Jewish experience. Social justice is God-mandated in precisely the same way that Shabbat observance and Tm-ah study are God-mandated. In the book of Jeremiah (9:24), we find these words: "I am the Eternal, who exercises kind- ness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight." Serious Jews know that in the Jewish tradition, healing the sick, clothing the naked, helping the poor, pursuing peace, loving my people and my neighbors these tl + ttribut++ of +og, ;m l w+ t++tif to God's existence by emulating God behavior. And in fact; Mr. Alperson can't seem to decide if Jewish education and Jewish practice are "God-based" or are instruments of survival. Ultimately he appears to choose the latter, referring to them as "thewater pumps arjd sandbags employed by the Orthodox move- ment against the rising tides of assimilation." Orthodox leaders can speak for themselves on this point, but I will share with you the reaction of my daughter Adina, who is a social activist, belongs to an Orthodox congregation and was incensed by this article. "We don't observe Shabbat because it is a sandbag .against assimilation," she said, "but becriuse it is part of the eternal covenant between God and the Jews that evokes the miracle of Creation and the Exodus from Egypt and links me to Jews throughout the centuries." Exactly so. The essence of Mr. Alperson's argument, and the height of his folly, is that "we can't have " nn it both ways ; we ca ot, he says, both insist that tikkun olam and social justice are central and also embrace serious Jewish education and Jewish practice. But we can, and in fact, we must. To do one without the other is to retreat from the world and distort Judaism's very essence. Rabbi Eric Yoffie is the president of the Union for Reform Judaism. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. ~t CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE ~ ~t ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 4O Press Awards HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46,95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, I+L 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER EO. Box 300742 - (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 + email: Fjitor/P, mish+r Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Stare Lyn Davidson Mike Etzkin Soaety'pjltor Bookk~i~ GloriaYousha Paulette Harmon Kim Fischer Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser" Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Tim Boxer David Bornstein Terri Fine Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman David Gaudio Teri Marks Loft Apple Elaine Schooping Gil Dombrosky Bookie loved joining protesters on the street before heading into the White House to meet with policymakers. One photograph on Bookie's office wall to sign the bill sat below the photograph, in encased glass. Bookbinder on page 19A Is it 'anti-Orthodox' to seek a safer community? By Gary Rosenblatt The Jewish Week NEW YORK--It is sad, if not maddening, when The Jewish Week is labeled "anti- Orthodox" for its reporting on scandals and other disturbing incidents in asegment of the community whose culture places a high value on policing.itself. Such accusations are not new, but they have ratcheted up significantly in recent days fol- lowing the tragic death of young Leiby Kletzky of Borough Park. and The Jewish Week's report and Editorial (July 22 issue) calling into question the role of the much-respected community watchdog group, Shomrim, in 0r 0r0c tlum aug r l ti0I]] witl3 l lw enforcement authorities. The headline two weeks ago of an Orthodox magazine, Ami, used the word "slander" in re- ferring to our reporting on Shomrim. RabbiAvi Shafran, director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America, wrote in Ami, where he is editor at large, that The Jewish Week "seems bent on viewing and portraying the charedi community with" a "jaundiced eye." Marvin Schick, an expert in the field of Jew- ish education whowrites a paid-for column in The Jewish Week, goes further in his criticism, proclaiming in ablog that"Orthodoxy-bashing is alive and well" at The Jewish Week, which he said has reached a new low in offering up "a vile exercise in group libel." We generally choose not to respond to such charges, trusting that our readers can judge for themselves over .time whether or not we are biased in our coverage. But such inflam- matory rhetoric should not go unchallenged. It should be noted that -The Jewish Week, chastised for alleged insensitivity, published a full-page article on the large-scale communal search for Leiby in our July 15 issue ("Volun- teers Scour Borough Park ForMissing Child"), which went to press while the youngster's whereabouts were still unknown. The following week's issue featured on Page 1, in addition to the Shomrim story, a lyrical essay, "Lamentations: Loss of a child, ofa shul, haunts the city,' by Associate Editor Jonathan Mark, that included a description of his shiva call to the Kletzky family, and a Media column, "Haredi Sensitivity," that praised Hamodia, a "Torah Jewry" newspaper, for its sensitive coverage of the tragedy. In addition, the issue two weeks ago included a Page 3 report, "Helping Families Ease The Mourning Process," highlighting the volunteer efforts of Misaskirn, the independent Ortho- dox group that assists families (including the Kletzkys) during shiva. Would such a range of coverage be found in a publication bent on "Orthodoxy bashing"? The crux of the matter, though, goes deeper, to the role of a community newspaper. We believe it is to report as fully and accurately as possible, seeking to combine journalistic integrity with Jewish values, with a duty to expose as well as a need to protect. In this case, we sought not to expose Shom- rim but to raise legitimate concerns about its practices in the hopes of better protecting the community. Rabbi Shafran. in his critique, acknowledged that Shomrim's practices and rdationship with the police issues raised by concerned members of the NYPD sensitive to the com- munity may need to be addressed. But he maintained "it is not a matter that deserves to be exploited by any reputable publication." We took comfort in a letter written to Ami magazine from a reader. Faigy Klein. who noted that "the relationship between the Shomrirn was not exploited, it was explored. and every thinking person is free to draw their She asserted that our report "had nothing to do with vilifying the charedi community and everything to do with the quest for the truth," and suggested that Ami take up investigative reporting and "find out the truth and possible mistakes which were made in the Leiby Kletzky case...and the lessons learned from all this." Similarly, Binyamin Flamm, another reader writing to Ami, called the magazine's report "a full frontal attack on The Jewish Week, unwarranted and irresponsible." He wrote: "It is far from libelous to say that within 'strictly Orthodox' communities there is a general sense of taking care of issues inter- nally before going to the secular authorities, if at all. I don't think [he leaders of many of these communities would argue this point and some would be proud of it." Flamm concluded his letter to Ami: "It is a disservice to your readers to attack a publica- tion that tries to shed some light on a troubling incident which deserves a thorough review." Tisha B'Av, commemorating the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem and attributed by some sages to the belief that the Jews of that time were engaged in sinat chinam, or cause- less hatred, one for the other, was observed earlier this week. I note with a deep sense of irony and a heavy heart that our critics no doubt ascribe such feelings to The Jewish Week. We do not see it that way. Far from it, and we harbor no such feelings in return. We and our critics may disagree over tactics and strategy, particularly in terms of calling the police rather than a rabbinic authority when abuse is suspected--and immediately, when a child goes mi~ing--butwe share the same goals It has been said that the antidote to cause less hatred is cal~seless love, caring for our fellow Jews beyond measure or reason. Perhaps on the way to reaching that idealistic level, we can all focus on what connects rather than divides us, and how best to protect and strengthen the community that is our common heritage and our future. Gary Rosenblatt is editor and publisher o/" the New York Jewish Week, www.jewishweek corn, from which this column is reprinted with permission. He can be reached at Gary~-~ +