Letters to the Editor: week of Aug. 17, 2011

Comparing bris milah and ‘bris shalom’

The article in the Aug. 10 issue about “bris shalom,” the non-cutting ritual done in place of a bris milah (ritual circumcision), reminded me of a story I heard years ago from a good friend who served in the Navy during WWII and the Korean War. He said Navy cooks made three kinds of chicken soup: For officers they cooked a chicken in a pot filled with vegetables and water. For the senior enlisted men they dragged a chicken through a pot filled with vegetables and water. And for the enlisted men, they waved a chicken over a pot and served the water.

Similarly, the secular humorist…err, humanist, idea of a “bris shalom” is like the enlisted men’s version of chicken soup – a false and pale imitation of the real thing. The Talmud in Tractate Nedarim compares a bris milah to being equal to all other mitzvot combined. The fact that in a “bris shalom” some parents read verses from the traditional bris milah ceremony, is the pintele yid – the Jewish spark – in them crying out to do the right thing.

When my grandmother, of blessed memory, made chicken soup, she made the real thing. Did yours, or did she just serve you hot water?

David Steckler

Ft. Worth, Texas

Statistic’s source

I’m confused about a point Arthur Gale made in his Aug. 10 review of Tarek Fatah’s book, “The Jew is not my Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism.” True, Hadith has sayings that are anti-Jewish, anti-non-Muslim and anti-woman. The Talmud has statements that are anti-non-Jew also. Orthodox Muslims admit that not all statements of Hadith are actually from Mohammed, but Hadith are a huge part of orthodox Islam and function like the Talmud in that they are heavily used to decide Muslim law and interpret Muslim scripture.

There are vigorous debates in Islam about the validity of some texts and how to use valid texts to determine practice and teaching. From whence the quote that 95 percent of all Muslims worldwide are being taught anti-Semitism?

There may be systemic problems in Islamic religious education, but I am skeptical of the statistic cited by Fatah. I’d like to know the source of the quote and the proof behind the assertion. Without those factors, I don’t know if the words are worth repeating.

Lauren Buchsbaum

St. Louis

Republicans shouldn’t overlook Boehner

As a frequent critic of President Barack Obama and one who hopes that he is a one-term president, I’m not enthusiastic over any of the Republicans who have announced their candidacy for president in 2012. Therefore, I’d like to announce my choice – Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, currently, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Boehner is a deficit hawk, an advocate for a strong defense, and a skilled debater and bargainer, who was mostly responsible for his party reaching a compromise on the recent raising of the U.S. debt ceiling and the vast cuts in government spending. A member of Congress since 1990, Boehner is deeply admired and respected by those on both sides of the aisle.

The GOP has been so busy touting the merits of those who have officially announced their candidacy for the presidency that they have overlooked the one person whom I think is most electable and can beat President Obama in 2012.

Gene Carton