A plea for respectful dialogue
I have spent most of my adult life as a volunteer, deeply immersed in the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. During this time, I have seen many difficult and divisive issues come and go. It is unreasonable to assume that any individual decision will be met with 100% unanimity, but in most cases, community members have been respectful and understanding of final outcomes. Having spent years on both the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh boards (having chaired both organizations), I know firsthand how difficult it is to make hard decisions that affect members of our community. Whether it was opening the JCC on Shabbat, or helping to guide one of our agencies down a new path, every decision was made by well-meaning individuals with no personal agendas. The solutions were found by engaging the stakeholders and attempting to make the best fiscal and communal decisions.
In their op-ed “JAA remains committed to Jewish values, even during times of change” (Sept. 1), Lou Plung and Mary Anne Foley clearly laid out the facts that were behind the decision to change the kashrut status at Jewish Association on Aging. I assure you that no decision was made without extensive research and discussion among the JAA board. I find it highly offensive that individuals on social media have personally attacked board members of both JAA and the Federation. The issues that JAA has confronted are mostly due to lack of sufficient support over the years. Are any of the complainants donors to either organization? Have they sat on any boards, devoting hundreds of hours trying to decide what is best for the entire diverse Jewish community with limited financial resources? I pray that the temperature on this issue is dialed back, that people can have respectful dialogue about making our community a better place by acting in a constructive rather than destructive manner.
Keep politics out of the 10/27 tragedy
A Jewish News Syndicate article that recently appeared in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle (“Fetterman, Lipstadt visit Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh post-trial,” online, Sept. 1) erroneously reported that:
“Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) and Deborah Lipstadt, special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, met on Tuesday at Tree of Life building with survivors of the attack and family members of the 11 Jewish worshippers who were shot and killed during prayer on Oct. 27, 2018.”
The article continues by quoting Fetterman’s Twitter:
“It was humbling, powerful and truly filled me with sadness to return to the Tree of Life synagogue this morning with the families of those killed in the tragic, antisemitic attack nearly five years ago.”
The truth is that my family as well as several other victim-family members were not invited nor notified in any manner regarding this event or their possible desire to participate. I do not at all condone nor appreciate my deceased parents and family being exploited as political fodder in this purely political, photo-op public relations stunt that Fetterman (or his handlers) staged at the site of the tragedy nearly five years after the fact. However, the truth should be known that:
1. Many victim-families were not notified nor invited to this event.
2. Many victim-families do not condone nor appreciate their deceased loved ones
and themselves being utilized as political fodder by any politician.
3. The tragedy of 10/27 should never be politicized in any manner, especially