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(Photo from Flash90)
(Photo from Flash90)

In-marriage should be encouraged
After the Pony Express finally delivered my Dec. 25 Chronicle two weeks late (this was the first issue we received in four weeks), I had to respond to Jonathan Tobin’s commentary on Jewish outreach organizations that are incensed that programs like Birthright are having success with the increase of in-marriage of Jews (“Is there on something wrong with a program that encourages in-marriage?”).

The biggest issue facing the liberal Jewish movements is intermarriage. It is actually hastening their decline as many of these families are Jews by identity but of no faith. We should not be encouraging intermarriage. A 2013 Pew study showed that only the Orthodox Jewish community is growing. Most Orthodox children marry within the Jewish community and have larger families.

When I started working for my current employer, I had to have something notarized that another employee executed for me. When he asked what it was for, my wife and I explained that we were guaranteeing a lease for our son in Brooklyn who was studying at a yeshiva. He asked what a yeshiva was, and we explained it to him. He then told us he was half Jewish. Without skipping a beat, my wife asked which half. He said his mother was Jewish. He was 100% Jewish and knew nothing about Judaism. I suggested he consider a trip on Birthright as it’s free and Israel is an awesome place. My fear, though, is that he may be a lost cause.

The sad reality is there are people like my colleague who have no clue about being Jewish or their heritage. This is a failure of the more liberal Jewish movements, and accepting this is tantamount to throwing in the towel. We should not condone intermarriage but work to reduce it. This also would be in the best interest of the more liberal movements as it will provide them with Jews who want to be engaged with Judaism and who will be not torn between raising children as Jews or outside our faith.

Andrew Neft
Upper St. Clair

Praise for Western PA legislators
Jan. 6 was a day that will be long remembered (“I don’t recognize our country today’: Members under siege in Congress,” online, Jan. 6). President Trump, an angry mob of rioters and a compliant group of Republican legislators presented their latest and most aggressive challenge to our democracy. As leaders of J Street Pittsburgh, we are grateful for the Western Pennsylvania representatives and senators who showed courage and leadership in the moment. Pennsylvania’s election was challenged by most of the House Republican delegation and Sen. Josh Hawley and his colleagues. In the ensuing debate, Western Pennsylvania’s representatives in the House and Senate spoke to these objections and spoke the truth. These Pennsylvania congresspeople met and exceeded their obligation to truth, democracy and the people they represent.

In this telling moment for our democracy, Rep. Conor Lamb showed presence and courage in speaking the truth. In the face of invective from several of his “colleagues,” he clearly showed why these objections were without any foundation and were the repackaged lies and ravings of President Trump and his supporters. Furthermore, he clearly pointed to the deep ties between the electoral objections and the mob attack on the Capitol. “That attack today — it didn’t materialize out of nowhere. It was inspired by lies — the same lies that you’re hearing in this room tonight. And the members who are repeating those lies should be ashamed of themselves. Their constituents should be ashamed of them.”

Sen. Casey bluntly and eloquently spoke, denouncing “this attempt to disenfranchise the voters of Pennsylvania based upon a lie.’’ He then made the case for accepting the electoral vote in unequivocal, plain terms.

Rep. Doyle spoke forcefully for rejecting the objections, defending Pennsylvania’s election. He noted the gross hypocrisy (he kindly characterized it as “illogical”) of his Republican colleagues. “I feel compelled to point out to my colleagues that the same voters who sent them to the 117th Congress cast their votes for the president by marking the very same ballots which were read by the very same ballot scanners and monitored by the very same election workers, yet our colleagues who signed the brief only want to invalidate the presidential votes.’’

We are also grateful to the five Pennsylvania Republican Congressmen and Sen. Pat Toomey who also opposed the objection. While Toomey, a Republican, did not call out the lies, he presented a compelling and logically sound argument for why the objection to the Pennsylvania vote should be overturned. He said: “Joe Biden won the election. It was an honest victory with the usual minor irregularities that occur in most elections … We witnessed today the damage that can result when men in power and responsibility refused to acknowledge the truth. We saw bloodshed because the demagogue chose to spread falsehoods and sow distrust of his own fellow Americans.” In our current political environment that was very helpful. We appreciate his words and vote.

Mark Fichman
Daniel Resnick
Fred Zuhlke
On behalf of J Street Pittsburgh

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