Letters to the Editor, week of March 7, 2012

Letter provokes responses

Norman Pressman raises an interesting point in his objection to the all-girls musical productions of Block Yeshiva and Bais Yaakov (Letter to the editor, Feb. 29). He is correct that I will not be able to attend my own daughter’s performance, in accordance with Jewish law.  I appreciate his heartfelt concern for my feelings and those of my daughter, but our commitment to 3,300 years of tradition mitigates any pangs of disappointment.

Be that as it may, objection to this kind of “segregation” begs the question of consistency.  Why has Mr. Pressman not similarly denounced the JCC for segregating men and women into separate locker rooms?  Why has he not expressed outrage against the International Olympic Committee for refusing to integrate men and women in athletic competition, against the NAACP for devoting resources solely to the African-American community, and against professional basketball for its underrepresentation of the vertically disadvantaged?  Indeed, why has he not filed suit against the Department of Transportation for segregating northbound traffic from southbound traffic with those ubiquitous yellow lines?                                       

Ultimately, it is neither the illogic nor the pettiness of Norman Pressman’s reflexive attacks upon Jewish tradition that matters.  Of far greater concern is the pattern of poor judgment shown by the Jewish Light in providing a platform for hatemongering and factionalism.

Responsible spokesmen representing different opinions may argue passionately without abandoning reason or civility, and a local paper should offer a forum for articulate voices expressing divergent views.  However, the failure of the Light to demonstrate sound editorial discernment is among the primary reasons why the paper has lost credibility in the eyes of so many while alienating a substantial part of the Jewish community.

Rabbi Yonason Goldson, University City 

Regarding the letter “Play Raises Questions,” Mr. Pressman recalls recent actions by the Haredi, then takes exception to the separation of men and women at a play here in the Orthodox community, and lastly questions whether St. Louis Jews, through support of the Jewish Federation, should contribute to a school “which indoctrinates its students with fundamentalist dogma.” First, I do not support, but neither would I compare, certain actions of the Haredi community in Israel to circumstances surrounding a play at an Orthodox school here in St. Louis. Second, Orthodox Judaism has been the original form of Judaism for hundreds of generations. The separation of men and women during prayer and dance dates back to the time of the Bais Hamikdash, the Holy Temple, and its roots are discussed in the Talmud.

It is disheartening that Mr. Pressman chooses to denigrate that which is taught at an Orthodox school by labeling it as “fundamentalist dogma.”

Can you imagine if, when the Jewish people were traveling through the desert, or had just received the commandments at Sinai, someone standing up and proclaiming, “God and all these miracles are great, but I just can’t tolerate all this fundamentalist dogma.”

Whether or not one chooses to agree with or follow certain halachas, or laws, that are practiced in the Orthodox community is one’s own business, but the indisputable fact remains that adherence to this “fundamentalist dogma,” whose origin is Torah, is what has bound the Jewish people together for thousands of years.

Kenny Bressler, Ladue