Letters to the editor March 20

Letters to the editor March 20

What’s in a number?

Thanks to Ilana Yergin for the wonderful article about my B’nai Mitzvah tutoring, “Temple David honors b’nai mitzvah tutor with service, luncheon,” Feb. 27.

When she interviewed me, I told her I had tutored approximately 250 students. I’ve recounted; it’s closer to 300. It’s not the number but the experience that is so important. I learned a tremendous amount by teaching all the boys and girls; that’s what counts.

Susan Bortz


‘Good deeding’ quantified

Thank you for your article covering Good Deeds Day, “Hundreds volunteer locally at second Day of Good Deeds here,” March 13.

Good Deeds Day was an overwhelming success. We made 300 snack packs for children in need, 100 Easy Cheesy Kosher Tuna Casserole meal packages for the Squirrel Hill Food Pantry.

We sorted and provided hundreds of books for UPMC Children’s Hospital, Book ‘Em, the Big Idea Bookstore, Sojourner House, EECM’s Youth Library and Fulton Elementary.

We knitted and crocheted more than 50 chemo caps for the Oncology Department at Children’s Hospital and made over 100 blankets for incoming Iraqi and Bhutanese refugees.

The Senior Prom at Charles Morris was sensational and lives were saved by the close to 40 people who donated blood in partnership with Shaare Torah’s annual spring blood drive.

None of this could have been accomplished without our amazing volunteers and staff and the generosity of our sponsors: the Giant Eagle Foundation, Kind Healthy Snacks and Sampo Distributors.

We look forward to next year’s Good Deed’s Day and the opportunity for hundreds of volunteers to join us once again in good deeding.

Judi Kanal

Squirrel Hill

(The author chairs the Volunteer Center at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.)

Caution key to peace process

Once again I find myself writing in response to Alan Elsner’s March 13 column in the Chronicle, “For Netanyahu, the time for talk is past — time now for deeds.”

There are many, many reasons for the prime minister to be cautious and to move slowly.  First and foremost is Mahmoud Abbas himself.  Who does he represent?  It has been reported there is division in Fatah and that former P.A. Security Chief and Fatah Central Committee Member Mohammed Dahlan, currently in exile in Gaza, is trying to make a play to become president.

The Gladstone Institute reported on March 4, “Palestinians in Ramallah said that the increased tensions in Fatah mean that Abbas is beginning to lose his grip over the faction. The internal squabble in Fatah cast doubts on Abbas’ ability or willingness to sign any peace agreement with Israel.”

Recently, Abbas received support from the Arab League and that he speaks for all of the Arab peoples.  Does that mean that he cannot make a deal for his constituency without the approval of the whole Arab world?  Some say he intentionally put himself in this position specifically so he would not have to make a deal.  The Gladstone Institute stated on March 11 that was the ploy Arafat used at Camp David in 2000.

Abbas is almost 79 years old and in the 10th year of a four-year term as president.  There is no vice president. The Financial Times reported on Feb. 28, “Under Palestinian basic law, if the president were to die or become incapacitated while in office, he would be replaced by the head of the Palestinian Legislative Council until new elections were held. However, the PLC has not met since 2007 and its current head is Abdel Aziz Dweik, a Hamas official.”

Do we want Hamas in Judea, Samara and Gaza with stockpiles of Iranian weapons?  Do we want Abbas to sign a deal and the next president to say Abbas didn’t represent the Palestinian people?  I think the answer to both questions is a resounding no!  That is one of the reasons why Netanyahu is pushing so hard to get the P.A. to recognize the “Jewish State of Israel” — even that is only a baby step in the peace process.  As I have said so many times in the past, the ZOA will always be overtly cautious when it comes to the safety and security of Israel and its citizens.  

Stuart V. Pavilack

Wheeling, W.Va.

(The author is executive director of the Zionist Organization of America-

Pittsburgh District.)