Letters, Week of May 12, 2010

Yiddish lesson

David Levine and Thelma Edelstein are helping St. Louisans with their Yiddish (“Learning Something Nu,” April 7). Nice! Although, the article in which these volunteer linguists were featured made me think about the state of my first language: Yiddish is not yet dead, but fatally wounded and dying.

It was the inane translation of the Yiddish idiom about the tea kettle that was telling. I expected a spate of letters and an immediate, red-faced apology from the Light for editorial laxity in passing off gibberish as a “scholarly” translation. But…nothing.  

Perhaps she was misquoted by the writer, and it was not Thelma Edelstein’s mistake, but “Don’t bang on my kettle” is absolutely NOT the same as “Don’t hit me with a kettle.” In Yiddish as in English, there is no confusion; those two sentences are easily distinguishable as different sentences of different meaning.

If after a good deal of standing or walking, someone were to say, “My dogs are barking,” we would know that the person was referring not to an indeterminate number of canines but to his or her aching feet. In the same way, “my kettle” refers not to cookware but to “my head,” as in  “Stop! Your chatter is making my head ring.” Or, “Don’t bother my head with your senseless(!) blather.”

In high school, after a year of Latin, my sister switched to Spanish, because “Latin is a dead language.” I had no idea, then, what happens before a language settles into a dusty demise. First the people who speak it and their rich culture expires, and then the language itself is repeatedly and merrily slaughtered in articles of human interest.

— Evie Levy, Creve Coeur

Immigration debate

The April 28 Jewish Light editorial “Profiles in Cowardice,” again from the far-left viewpoint, misses the basis of the problem, as usual. It amazes me how often your staff misses the real problem ignoring the foundational issues , accusing the people involved, even John McCain of cowardice through implication. His service to this country is documented and deserves respect.

Your editorial talks about “illegal immigration” and fairness and quotes (President Barack) Obama, who dares to criticize Arizona’s attempt to enforce federal law when he has done so much to destroy it and little to enforce it other than chant “amnesty.”

But the real issue is simply this…there is no such thing as “illegal immigration” – for immigration is a process, legally created to allow someone to enter our country and earn citizenship, through an orderly process. What you are talking about is illegal breaking and entry, and people who have done this are criminals. Did you know that illegally entering our country is a felony?

I am sorry about their own country’s issues and challenges…but breaking into mine, forcing us to pay for their needs simply is not fair…nor legal. Yet the left refuses to admit, that when we stopped making a strong effort, to stop this breaking and entering, 20 million people or more would merely “give us the finger” and enter illegally. Did you know if you did this into Mexico, Canada, France, the U.K., just to name a few, there are actually mandatory jail sentences? They certainly do not pay for their medical care, schooling and allow their anchor children to become citizens. They are here illegally. Period.

Why is this so difficult to understand? Arizona is defending itself, enforcing the federal laws and I sincerely hope, every state in the union does the same. These illegal persons need to be sent home and our federal borders and laws defended strictly. A country without sovereign borders can never be truly safe.

Your “bleeding heart” argument is adolescent and as usual a million miles from reality.

— Allen Goldberg

Edmond, Okla.


Publisher’s Note: While we rarely respond to letters from the public, it is important to point out that despite the assertion in the writer’s comments, there have been a great number of criticisms from the right side of the political aisle as well, including those expressed by President George W. Bush, Karl Rove, David Brooks, Marco Rubio, Meg Whitman, Jeb Bush, Joe Scarborough, and Tom Tancredo.