friday, august 19, 2011 .
letters to the editor the rabbi’s turn
“I haven’t talked to one person, not one donor, who has said, ‘I don’t like what you’re doing, we’re not going to give.’”— Jewish Federation CEO Richard Fruchter on the reaction to the agency’s new fundraising and allocations model.
WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR: We would love to hear from you! Our uide to writi aletter to the editor a be foud at www.jtew.et/idex.h?/letter_uidelie.html,but leae limit your letter to aroximately 350 word. The deadlie for the ext iue iAuut 24. Future deadlie may be foud olie.
Beore I was a rabbi, I was acareer Navy ocer. I am also a veteran on total disability. Withthis part o what denes me,one thing I do is volunteer as apastoral counselor and benetsadvocate at the Disabled Amer-ican Veterans chapter oce inOlympia. Because o my ownexperiences trying to accessdisability benets through theVeteran’s Administration and the SocialSecurity Administration, I have dedicatedmysel to ensuring that other disabled vet-erans get the services they need — that they earned — through service to our country.Sadly, political and budgetary pressuresare putting our veterans at great risk. Tereare current moves aoot in the DeenseDepartment to cut military and retiree pay and benets while we are at war. Te VA,while doing its best, is not able to ully serveall veterans.he situation or veterans with Postraumatic Stress Disorder is even worse.With troops serving as many as ve or sixcombat tours in Iraq and Aghanistan, it’s amiracle that
troops coming home are notseverely disabled due to PSD.What is worse, several sources haveound that roughly 56 percent o veteranswith PSD diagnoses are homeless. TeVA reports that there are usually about107,000 veterans without a place to stay.Veterans comprise more than 25 percento the homeless population throughout theUnited States.Tis inability o our country to care or the veterans it chews up in combat is a true
, a disgrace to God. You might besaying to yoursel that this is horrible, but why am I reading about it in the
?We as Jews have a huge obligation tocare or each other. Irrespective o one’spolitical views, I believe we all have an abso-lute orah obligation to care or our vet-erans.In
(Sept. 4 this year),we see in Deuteronomy 20 the rules or whoshould not go to war. Aer the priests havegiven instructions, the ocers, in verse eight,say, “Who is the man who is araid and aint-hearted? Let him go and return to his houseso his brother’s heart should not melt likehis.” In other words, orah understands thatsoldiers who are not ully ready mentally should not go into combat, because they willbring down their unit. Nonetheless, we havesoldiers with severe PSD who are sent back to combat or more troubles.In Ecclesiates 3:3 we see “A time to kill,and a time to heal; a time to break down,and a time to build up.”
(tr. Davka SoncinoClassics edition) III:5 inter-prets this as “A time to kill: inthe time o war; A time to heal:in the time o peace. A time tobreak down: in the time o war;A time to build up: in the timeo peace.”What is this telling us?Tose military personnel whocome home are now in ourcare. We must help them rebuild their lives,and to seek spiritual and physical healing.In Leviticus 10:18 we are told, “You shalllove your neighbor as yoursel.”Veterans are a small percentage o thepopulation, but we all are obligated to careor them. Would you like to experience whatour troops go through in Iraq, Aghanistan,Libya and elsewhere? Would you like to beghting these wars every day, even aeryou’ve come home? As a veteran, I dread theidea o the lie veterans o our era are living— i you can call it living.So what can we do? Tere are many things. Advocating or better care or mili-tary troops and veterans and preserving thebenets we have earned in blood is a goodstart. Contact your Congressional delega-tion as well as your local leaders to pleador better care or our veterans. Make dona-tions to Veteran Service Organizations,which help care or our wounded and dis-abled veterans. Speak out about it on yourblogs, your Facebook and LinkedIn posts,your tweets. In other words, shout it romthe rooops.August 31 brings in the month o Elul,where we ocus on
, sel-introspection and personal inventories. Aswe near the penitential season, we need toask ourselves, have we done everything wecan to bring peace at home and abroad?Have we done everything we can to helpwounded and disabled veterans heal? Tisis one o many orms o
, o repairing the damage, that we can easily efect.As we see in
the eachingso the Sages, 1:12, according to our greatteacher Hillel, may it be God’s will that weshould be like Aaron the priest’s students,loving peace and pursuing peace, lovingall humans, and bringing people nearer toorah.
Rabbi Jaron B. Matlow, a Navy disabled veteran, volunteers as spiritual adviser to Congregation B’nai Torah in Olympiaand as a veteran counselor and advocate at the Disabled American
Veterans, Olympia ofce.
What we mst d fr rveterans
Rabbi JaRon Matlow
Cogregato B’a Torah
THE pOTEnTIAL WEDgE
The debate between Joel Alperson (Judaism is more than
” Aug. 5) and Eric
Yofe (“Judaism is always
tikkun olam —
and more”) offered two very different perspectives
on whether non-Orthodox movements can survive long-term. And while it’s interesting to read
point-counterpoint arguments in our local Jewish newspaper, they have the potential to drivea divisive wedge in our community.Particularly during this, the Hebrew month of Av, we should focus not on what divides us,
but what unites us. We have so much in common, and it’s a terrible shame when we focuson our differences.There’s a beautiful mitzvah called
; it is the commandment to love your fellowJew. The simple language of the mitzvah is instructive. It doesn’t say to love only those Jewswith whom you agree; it says to love them even if you disagree with them. And our sages arepractical enough to know that you can’t always bring yourself to feel loving feelings towardsanother, so we are told that the fulllment of the mitzvah is to behave lovingly towards eachother. Why is this important during the month of Av?One of the events that our recent day of solemn national mourning and fasting, Tisha B’Av,commemorates, is the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70 CE. A primary cause of
that destruction is that Jews at the time engaged in
, or baseless hatred, towardeach other.
I think that the Seattle Jewish community does a pretty good job at dealing with each oth
er’s differences, but there’s a big gap between simply tolerating each other and behaving with
love toward each other. So as we leave Av and enter Elul, our month of introspection leading
up to Rosh Hashanah, each of us should resolve to reach out in kindness to another memberof our big, diverse Jewish family, so that 5772 is a year of blessing for the Jewish people in
Seattle and worldwide.
Rady KelerMerer Ilad
nO MORE cRITIcIsM
Week after week, month after month, in articles, op-eds and letters, the very legitimacy
of the State of Israel is battled out on the pages of the
. Israel’s critics are granted
more than sufcient ink in the
Seattle Times, The New York Times
and in every other major or
minor news publication. Would it be too much to expect that Washington’s sole Jewish news-
paper serve as an unapologetic advocate of the Jewish state rather than just another outletfor its demonization?
Dhara, left, Sara, center and Sam do a drumming activity during the annual Middle East PeaceCamp held in late July. The camp is a joint venture of the Kadima Reconstructionist Community,the Arab Center of Washington and philanthropist Kay Bullitt.