2007-09-28 / Letters

Schwach Is Wrong On Orthodox Issue

Dear Editor,

Most often, I find that I agree with Howie Schwach's opinion column, "The Editor's Desk" on the many different subjects he tackles.

This however, is a time I differ with his opinion. After reading his editorial commentary of September 21, I, as a non-Jew, was compelled to share my thoughts and experiences with the Orthodox community. Schwach's comment was a hard hit on the Orthodox Jewish community. To use the word Nazi in connection to Orthodox Jews was, in my opinion, extremely inflammatory to say the least.

It is true I have never read The Jewish Star. I do not doubt Schwach's information regarding the editorial in the August 24 issue of this paper.

Perhaps Mayer Fertig's editorial did come across with an elitist attitude; however, one should consider the separateness of the Orthodox community is what has kept their community strong.

I was employed for years at Maimonides Hospital, which is located at the heart of an Orthodox community in Brooklyn.

This was my first personal experience to work with and traverse among the Orthodox. I would often walk 13 Avenue and I would notice many Jewish mothers with a multitude of children. It amazed me how well-behaved all these little ones were. The older children would help care for the younger. I never noticed a mother having a difficult time with her children. It seemed to me there was always a calmness with the mothers and children. I could actually feel an acceptance of tradition for their way of life.

One lovely Orthodox Jewish woman I worked with had been a Holocaust survivor at the age of 12. As a group of women co-workers, we sometimes shared stories about our lives. On two occasions, my Jewish friend shared with us stories of her experiences as a little Jewish girl in a death camp. We were all left speechless. For a child to live through this madness and become a wife, mother and productive member of society is a miracle and has left an undying impression on me. Could it be that the traditions of the Orthodox community is what helped those who survived to live on?

Schwach's column tells of an incident between students of the Beach 129 Street Yeshiva and local, non- Jewish girls. I do not know what that particular incident was, nor how it was resolved. The Rabbi who ran the Yeshiva refused to allow the boys to partake in a sit-down with the girls. The Rabbi must have quoted that tradition did not allow a mixing of boys with the girls. Howie states that "most traditions are made to be broken when they no longer make sense''. I would imagine if you are Orthodox, these traditions make sense and will not be broken.

I am in no way a traditionalist, but I am able to respect those that are. I sometimes envy the closeness I saw between the Orthodox and what appears to be a flow of life that is clear, defined and the togetherness within their community. As my Orthodox friend once told me, in her family first came bread and next education. She was comfortable with her traditions, her Sabbath to her was chicken for dinner, no phone, no answering doors and no T.V., it was a quiet time to be at peace. (Not a bad idea).

Those of us who are not Jewish Orthodox have nothing to fear from the Orthodox. Unlike from the Nazi Regime, whose desire was to destroy anyone who was not Aryan. To compare the two in any way is, in my opinion, ridiculous. Those who believe they have had unpleasant or unfair treatment from anyone Orthodox, I would hope they not judge all Orthodox by the actions of some.

I would be the first to not accept being treated poorly by anyone. Elitism is in no way restricted to any particular group of people. Unfortunately, some suffer from their need to be superior. I have on occasion experienced such behavior. My life experience has taught me to never accept such nonsense, no matter who it is from. People who act this way in my opinion are not very secure.

To sum up my views, what better than to recall the song "Tradition" from "Fiddler On The Roof" and the history of that time and what was to come.

LINDA RUSCILLO

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