Letters to the editor February 26

Letters to the editor February 26

Struggling? That’s hard to digest

Within The Chronicle’s  Feb. 12 article, “Jewish groups divided on Obama budget plan,” Nathan Diament, executive director of the advocacy branch of the Orthodox Union that represents Orthodox Jews on state and federal policy matters, is quoted as follows:

“It’s very much the case that if you are in the Modern Orthodox community and you’re making $200,000 or even $300,000 a year, you’re struggling. That’s very difficult to say, and we’re aware that it’s much higher than the average income in the United States, but if you’re paying tuitions of $20,000 to $30,000 a year per child and you have four or five children, it’s very, very challenging.”

I am unsympathetic to the “struggles” of those who are earning $200,000 to $300,000 per year. No one is required to have four or five children and to enroll them in the finest private schools. I believe in the old-fashioned tenet of having only as many children as one can comfortably afford and living within or below one’s means.

My income after 46 years of work is a fraction of those who are “struggling” with six-figure school-tuition obligations.  I am not financially challenged because I do not overextend myself and have no children.

I hope that no member of our community would advocate for the government to provide a more hospitable tax environment for those who elect to have larger families than they can afford. Our community has always stood on its own two feet and has been less of a burden to entitlement and welfare systems than others.  We should continue to set an example of self-sufficiency and a lack of government dependency.

Oren Spiegler

Upper St. Clair

Scorn for common decency

We write to express our deep concern about the upcoming speech before Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. We think his appearance is ill-advised.

We prize Judaism for its intellectualism, for the values it teaches and inculcates within each of us: respect, dignity, fairness, civility. Judaism provides a framework by which to conduct our lives so we may rise above the lesser emotions that reduce each of us if we give way to anger, pettiness and vengeance.

We prize Israel as the national embodiment of Judaism. As such, we hold Israel to the rudimentary but high standards of respect, dignity and civility.

Speaker of the House John Boehner’s invitation and Netanyahu’s acceptance is based on disrespect, on scorn for not only President Barack Obama, but also for common decency. We maintain that Netanyahu has lessened both himself and Israel as well.

Netanyahu has aligned himself with the present-day Republican Party whose base does not hold intellectualism in high regard. Indeed, there is a faction within the party we regard as frightening if their fears and anger are given full reign.  

We have been uneasy for some time with the political leadership of Israel. But, because Israel has historically been a safe haven for Jews around the world, we have hoped that this would change. With the current leadership we no longer believe change is a possibility.

We are given to understand that 80 percent of money raised by the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh stays within our area and 20 percent goes elsewhere. If “elsewhere” is Israel, we will withhold 20 percent of contributions to that organization as a gesture of objection to Netanyahu’s Congressional speech. Instead, we propose sending that 20 percent to more progressive Jewish organizations.

We urge the leaders of the Jewish community to discourage Netanyahu and his planned speech. It does not represent what we should be either as Jews or as supporters of Israel.

Jane Louik

Eleanor Siegal