Letters to the editor July 2

Letters to the editor July 2

I want to thank The Jewish Chronicle on two accounts. First, kudos for bringing Eric Lidji, new associate editor, back to Pittsburgh. When I met Eric, who was assigned to report on my project “Nature/Nurture: A Prayer” that took place at the Charles M. Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, it was clear that he is a person of true integrity. His objective to write an article that digs beyond the surface and search for Jewish meaning is admirable. Eric also possesses a rare sincerity that was evident as he patiently interviewed the frail resident participants.
I also want to thank the Chronicle for helping to promote community arts initiatives. Mentioning the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts as part funder of the project in the article is pertinent at this time. Pennsylvania’s nonprofit arts sector, already deeply challenged by the economic recession, faces an uncertain future under a budget bill, proposed and adopted by the Senate Republicans, that eliminates the state’s arts agency and its grants to support community arts programs.
I would also like to recognize the Anna L. Caplan and Irene V. Caplan Endowment Fund of the United Jewish Federation, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and The Fine Foundation for their support of “Nature/Nurture: A Prayer” and other arts programs that promote wellness to underserved populations.
Leslie A. Golomb
Point Breeze

B’nai B’rith defended
Your recent article “Looking for Solution,” about the Covenant at South Hills, has unjustly sullied the well-earned reputation and good name of B’nai B’rith and its affiliates.
The Covenant at South Hills, Inc., the B’nai B’rith affiliate that joined with Greystone Development to develop the Covenant, relied upon various respected industry experts to ensure a quality housing environment for residents. Regrettably, much of their advice turned out to be dramatically incorrect.
Among the most egregious errors was the bond financing proposed by the Wall Street investment bankers who structured the transaction. When it appeared that the debt burden was too great, it was generally agreed that the bonds needed to be restructured. However, in an effort to make a quick profit, certain bond funds acquired significant holdings at a steep discount. In order to make their profit, they insisted that Covenant be sold — despite the unfavorable real estate market. We cooperated in the sale process to avoid putting the facility through litigation. However, the inability to consummate a sale and the subsequent unwillingness of the bondholders to restructure the existing debt made it necessary to seek bankruptcy court protection.
Mr. Fox’s undocumented and defamatory claim that the residents’ deposits were misspent is wholly false. Additionally, contrary to Mr. Deul’s assertions, representatives of B’nai B’rith affiliates have regularly met with the residents in an effort to keep them informed.
Without compromising our legal obligations to the bondholders, we have done everything possible to protect Covenant’s residents. As part of this effort, we have repeatedly reached out to community institutions in the hope they could take over ownership of Covenant. We continue those efforts in the hope that the community will be able to assist in protecting the interests of the residents.
B’nai B’rith Housing Inc. and its affiliates intend to continue their proud tradition of serving the housing needs of tens of thousands of elderly citizens.

Allan Jacobs

(Editor’s note: The author is president of The Covenant at South Hills, Inc.)

‘Incendiary language’ assailed
For as long as I can remember, Deborah Levy McKenney has been a courageous, strong and outspoken pro-choice advocate. She scores another hit with her excellent June 18 letter (“Tiller was a martyr”), in which she discounts the sincerity of pro-life organizations’ expressions of regret over the murder of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.
Ms. McKenney appropriately responds to the June 11 letter from pro-life Maria Vitale. In addition to the incendiary language noted by Ms. McKenney, Ms. Vitale uses the politically charged term “abortionist,” in referring to Dr. Tiller.
When individuals in the mainstream media, including Fox News Channel, liken an abortion provider to a Nazi and refer to him as a baby-killer, is it not reasonable to expect that some loons with guns will consider themselves justified to take the law into their own hands, erasing the line between legitimate protest and murder? When extremist pro-life protesters circulate home addresses of abortion clinic workers, as occurred at Dr. Tiller’s clinic, what would a reasonable person believe would be the result? When these media outlets portray Dr. Tiller as a mercenary who became rich through aborting largely healthy fetuses, a small portion of his work, is the table not set for a pro-life vigilante to eliminate him?
Bill Clinton was right when he called for abortion to be safe, legal and rare. Abortion providers and their staffs should be free from harassment and incitement, which can lead to atrocities such as the violent death of Dr. Tiller.

Oren M. Spiegler
Upper St. Clair