Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor

Readers respond

(Photo from Flash90)
(Photo from Flash90)

Those who argued against a trial for the synagogue shooter were wrong
It has been three weeks since the final verdict of the synagogue shooting trial, and this is a response to those who told us — the families of those who lost loved ones or who were injured (and in some cases, both) at the Tree of Life building on Oct, 27, 2018 — that there should not have been a trial at all and that we should have accepted a plea deal.

You came up with several different reasons to avoid a trial: Pursuing the death penalty would be a disaster; it would create ongoing trauma; a trial would allow the perpetrator to espouse his beliefs in public; it wouldn’t bring closure; most Jews are not in favor of the death penalty; to hope for the death sentence is vengeful; and so on. You were wrong in so many ways.

Let me be clear that these are my own opinions, but they are based on observations and relations with other family members at the courthouse. I was there nearly every day, and spent almost all of my time with the families of the victims and the witnesses and survivors. I was there to hear all the excruciating 911 calls, to listen to the witnesses and experts from both sides, to hear the direct questioning and the cross-examination, to hear opening statements and closing arguments. I’ll admit that I did not look at the graphic images of the deceased, but I heard the descriptions. And I was there to see the actions and demeanor of the defendant, and the defense team’s coddling of him. It is my belief that unless you were there to hear, see and evaluate all the evidence, your opinion on whether a sentence of death is warranted cannot be viewed as well-informed.

I am not going to disclose private conversations within the family/survivor group, but having the trial was much more of a benefit than a detriment, and I never sensed that it caused more trauma. The trial was not a disaster — unless you are referring to the defendant and the defense team. Our family’s decision to support the government to seek a death sentence was not based on vengeance; it was based on wanting justice. Any suggestion that it was anything other than that is insulting.

We understand that an execution may take years, and that there will be appeals, but the shooter will be in the worst possible prison conditions on death row, without the liberties he would be afforded in other prisons placed in the general population. And for those who say there is opposition to capital punishment among Jews, simply take a look at the results of the poll question in the Aug. 11 edition of Chronicle, where 83% of respondents said they feel that a sentence of death was the appropriate verdict.

Plain and simple, the jury weighed all the evidence and they followed the law.

The system worked and they got it right. That’s what we should want and expect in our country.

Ron Wedner

Outstanding synagogue trial coverage
This is just a short paragraph that is long on gratitude to the entire Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle staff for its dedicated, accurate and unbiased coverage of the recent synagogue shooting trial that concluded on Aug. 3, 2023. Many reporters from both the Chronicle and the Pittsburgh Union Progress came together in a very professional manner by working in tandem in order to provide the public with in-depth and comprehensive coverage within the pages of the Chronicle. This unique collaboration proved to be a huge and effective winner in helping to provide a more complete record of the trial itself and its impact on the community into perpetuity. I am truly grateful.

Marc A. Simon

Washington, Pennsylvania

JAA’s disregard of kashrut is ‘outrageous’
Jewish law was G-d’s will dictated to Moses and written in the Torah for generations to learn, absorb and adhere to forever. Kashrut is an example of some of these laws which were given to keep the Jewish people healthy and safe in G-d’s hands for all times. That the Jewish Association on Aging has decided to reinterpret, disregard or choose which laws to observe is arrogant, absurd and outrageous (“JAA to offer non-kosher meal option at Weinberg Terrace, AHAVA Memory Care,” Aug. 18). I will not support such an agency.

Thelma (Tammy) Blumenfeld


Disappointed with JAA
To my way of thinking, a Jewish organization like the Jewish Association on Aging must represent the community by using its resources to unite all of the Jewish people it serves in the highest standards of tradition and holiness (“JAA to offer non-kosher meal option at Weinberg Terrace, AHAVA Memory Care,” Aug. 18).

For many years, that was the philosophy of JAA — to provide a quality Jewish experience to the residents. It saddens and disappoints me to see the JAA downgrading that standard and segregating residents to save money.

To be kosher means to be set apart. Unfortunately, JAA’s recent decision has compromised that ideal.

Rabbi Eli Seidman


Weinberg Terrace headline is disingenuous
The headline “JAA to offer non-kosher meal option at Weinberg Terrace” (Aug. 18) is disingenuous. It is clear from the article that the option is kosher food, and that the standard is now non-kosher. While it is well known that the “J” left the JAA (Jewish Association on Aging) a long time ago, I expect more from a news source. The article did strive to provide a balanced view, but the headline and lead are very misleading.

A newspaper should not merely present the PR spin given to them by an organization.

Jason Small

Former JAA officer opposes decision on non-kosher food
As the former first vice president of the Jewish Association on Aging, I strongly oppose the JAA’s decision to offer non-kosher meals along with kosher meals (“JAA to offer non-kosher meal option at Weinberg Terrace, AHAVA Memory Care,” Aug. 18). It goes against its original charter, which established that any Jew could feel comfortable in this setting. In addition, Weinberg Terrace will no longer have a kosher kitchen, which makes no sense since many residents came there for kosher meals.

Instead, their meals will be sent to them in double-wrapped cellophane (just like airplane food). How will this food be kept hot or cold? The JAA, during a five-year period, has eliminated Charles Morris, the only Jewish nursing home; shut down Weinberg Village, a personal care facility for residents who needed extra help; and is now eliminating exclusive kosher meals for their residents — all for cost-saving measures.

Residents will not be offered, ham, pork or shellfish. The menu will be the same. That being the case, then serving less expensive non-kosher food is being done to save a few bucks and make a profit.

Jeffrey Weinberg


Why does J Street continue to support Summer Lee?
I see where local J Street is holding a fundraiser for Congresswoman Summer Lee (“AIPAC, J Street and Summer Lee wrangle over 2024 District 12 race,” online Aug. 21; this issue, Page 1). Wow.

In less than a year Ms. Lee has repeatedly and cheerfully aligned herself with the “Squad” and the anti-Israel wing of the extreme left. Along with Rashida Talib and Ilhan (“all about the Benjamins”) Omar, Lee has:

• Snubbed the (center-left) president of Israel when he addressed Congress.

• Voted against a mom-and-apple-pie resolution honoring the U.S.-Israel relationship on Israel’s 75th birthday (the bill passed 401-19).

• Cosponsored a bill that would restrict aid to Israel.

• Voted against establishing a special envoy for the Abraham Accords within the Department of State (the bill passed 413-13).

Lest you think that she’s an outlier solely on Israel, Lee was the only Western Pennsylvania member of Congress to vote against raising the debt ceiling.

Rep. Lee also continues to boycott the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle — the newspaper of record for our community.

Officially, J Street claims to support much of the above. Why do they raise money for Squad member Lee and withhold their endorsement from rival progressive Democrat party candidates who also support Israel?

Lou Weiss

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