The Jewish Chronicle deserves credit for reminding Pittsburgh’s Jews to tend to important domestic issues that have been pushed to the communal back burner, such as the environment, public education and prison spending (“Make room for other issues,” Sept. 13).
As two of the five conveners of the Pittsburgh Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, we share this goal of putting social justice high on the agenda of contemporary Jewish life in our region. Bringing together the major Jewish direct service providers, synagogues, elected officials and advocacy groups from our region, we’ve begun to work together to lay the framework necessary to address issues such as poverty, education, and clean water from a particular Jewish perspective. Together we are advancing systemic social change through civic engagement, education, service-learning, advocacy and organizing.
In that spirit, we are urging all readers to help their friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members get to the polls Nov. 6. We cannot afford to be complacent as citizens in a democracy. In addition to the presidential race, there are many important state and local races whose outcomes will affect us as Pennsylvanians.
While we were heartened by Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr.’s decision to block the implementation of Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law for the upcoming election, we are reminding all those who are registered that poll workers will still ask voters for a photo ID. However, no voter may be prohibited from voting if he or she doesn’t have one unless they are first-time voters. First-time voters do need to show some sort of ID, but it does not need to be photo ID. If you are told that you must vote with a provisional ballot or that you cannot vote on Election Day for lack of ID, call (866) OUR VOTE.
The right to vote is precious. Exercise it!
Deborah Fidel and
(The authors are respectively executive director of the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee and Pennsylvania state policy advocacy chair of the National Council of Jewish Women.)
I am proud to say that the late Sen. Arlen Specter was a friend of mine. He was the toughest man I ever knew.
No matter how difficult the situation was, he stood up like a giant and fought — and with a ready smile. Everything I ever asked him to do to help Israel, he did — from linking Palestinian aid to compliance with Oslo; to fighting Arab terrorists; to supporting moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem; to opposing Strobe Talbott, a hostile Israel critic, for undersecretary of state. (Few knew that two of his sisters were Orthodox, with one living in Israel.)
Specter was Israel’s best friend among the 13 Jewish senators. His passing was a great loss to Israel, America, and to me. I already miss him terribly.
Morton A. Klein
(The author is national president of the Zionist Organization of America.)
‘Quite a guy’
Last week’s Jewish Chronicle has now reached me in Washington. I wanted to let you know that I thought your article on Sen. Specter — “Specter remembered here as friend, tireless worker,” Oct. 18 — was very well done and accurately depicted his unique approaches, commitments and accomplishments.
I attended his funeral, which also reflected the breadth of his relationships and involvements; an extremely diverse group of leaders from both political parties and friends from all parts of Pennsylvania and even across the country were present, including many Jewish and Israeli leaders. He was quite a guy.
By the way, in the article you refer to me as regional administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration. I did indeed join the Obama administration to assume that position but I was subsequently asked to undertake a national role as associate commissioner of the Public Buildings Service, where I’m helping to manage and develop the federal government’s national real estate portfolio. It’s been exciting and challenging work.