Praise for Braille Torah
Our daughter, Judith Horn, became a bat mitzvah in 1977 at our beloved B’nai Israel Synagogue. This would not have been remarkable except that she is totally blind and so the copy for her haftorah not only had to be in Braille, but in Hebrew Braille, in order for her to learn and chant it — which she did with great aplomb. JBI (formerly the Jewish Braille Institute) provided the material. She would have loved to chant her Torah portion as well, but it was not an option.
It was the first-ever occasion of its kind at our synagogue and how thrilled we were to experience it. Reading about Rabbi Lenny Sarko and now the existence of a Torah in Braille (“Local rabbi creates Braille Torah for the visually impaired,” June 4), unimaginable at that time, can only be described as a most singular achievement. I am thrilled for future visually impaired b’nai mitzvah children and adults who are able to have a chance to read from this Torah and feel fully included in the congregational community.
Maxine Abrams Horn
Pittsburgh Rally missed the point
There was a notable line of speakers at the rally against anti-Semitism (“Pittsburgh stands in solidarity against antisemitism,” online June 3, and pg. 1 of this issue) that included representatives from both major political parties, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Rabbi Jeffrey Myers — as well as Ms. Marian Lien, board president at OCA-Asian Pacific Americans Advocates, and Rev. Tim Smith, founder of Center of Life community empowerment organization and pastor of the Keystone Church of Hazelwood.
The timing of the rally was driven by two sets of recent events. The antisemitic terrorist organization Hamas launched more than 4,000 rockets at Israel; then, attacks on Jews in the United States, when bands of thugs attacked any Jew they could find on the streets of our major cities. The thugs didn’t look for Israelis — they aggressively and violently targeted any and all Jews because, as Mayor Bill Peduto remarked, anti-Zionism is antisemitism.
But instead of focusing exclusively on this most recent variant of the world’s oldest hatred — going back to the Biblical Egyptian pharaohs — the rally also featured the now-too-common political posturing and blame game that we’ve seen again and again since 2018. Rep. Dan Frankel said that we have been standing in solidarity with all groups that have been targeted and harmed by white supremacists, but the effort to destroy Israel through rocket attacks or to beat to death Jews on the streets of New York and Los Angeles while chanting “free Palestine,” and “from the River to the sea Palestine will be free,” is clearly not a problem of white supremacy. When students at Carnegie Mellon University paint “Israel is an apartheid state” on campus property, the problem is not anti-Asian hate, or racism or white supremacy.
This lineup of speakers would have been perfect for a rally against discrimination or an anti-hate rally. But this was not the point of the gathering downtown or how it was advertised.
Anat Talmy Abby Wisse Schachter
Squirrel Hill Regent Square