Letters to the Editor: week of Aug. 21, 2013

School transfers Op-Ed

Rarely has the Jewish Light published as insensitive a column as Professor J. Martin Rochester’s Aug. 7 column, “The school transfer controversy and the limits of tikkun olam.”

The core problem is that the professor does not realize that his views betray the fears of white mentality.

On the Breitenfeld court decision (on the school-transfer issue), Rochester writes, it “blithely ignores the concept of private property rights . . . only now to see free-riding parents gaining access to these schools without sacrificing a dime, with the prospect of declining property values to boot.” Rochester is concerned not only with declining property values but also with the reach of government into people’s lives and social engineering. All buzz words for all those who strive to undo the welfare accomplishments under Presidents Roosevelt and Johnson.

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This country is brutally divided, economically and racially. Yes, racially we are better off than 10 or 20 years ago. Economically, we are worse off.

The divisions will not be lessened unless we accept the moral plea of tikkun olam: We are one community, we must share our resources, we must take care of our brothers and sisters, and to do so we may have to sacrifice some of the worldly goods we have acquired. Unless our leaders and the public will accept that sharing is a community asset, we will be stuck with views such as Rochester’s.

In a sermon, the late Rabbi Jim Diamond defined a key difference between American and Jewish identity. “Individualism,” he said, is at the core of American self-appraisal. The “Community” is the heart of Judaism.

Belonging to a community imposes obligations, such as tikkun olam; if ignored, they are the real perils to our society — not declining property values.    

Charles L. Klotzer, University City


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