Letters To The Editor

Don Chapman
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December 10, 2008 - MidWeek
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Thankful rabbi

As a rabbi serving Oahu’s Jewish community, I was much intrigued when I saw the title of Bob Jones’ recent article “Is Thanksgiving For Jews Too?” Having now read his words, I’m not quite sure which is more bizarre - finding an ersatz excursus on Jewish law written by a non-Jew in the pages of MidWeek, or the suggestion that for Jews, the celebration of Thanksgiving poses a serious spiritual or religious dilemma.

Never mind that Temple Emanu-El, the largest synagogue in Hawaii, just hosted the 47th annual Nuuanu Interfaith Thanksgiving Service.

Never mind that I own three different Jewish prayer books, representing three different Jewish denominations, all of which have special prayer material designated for Thanksgiving Day.

Never mind that during November, in hundreds of grocery stores in hundreds of communities all over the United States, one can find Empire Kosher frozen turkeys piled next to other, less-expensive non-kosher brands (who do you think is buying them)?

Never mind that for an inter-faith couple raising a family (there’s no such thing as a “half-Jewish” family), whether or not to celebrate Thanksgiving is by far the least of their problems from the point of view of traditional Jewish law.


And never mind that Bob Jones’ article seems to subtlety suggest, at this time of the year when we most celebrate our shared identity as Americans, that Jews are somehow outside of that mainstream?

The laws to which Jones refers come from a very different time and place than our own, and are understood by the mainstream Jewish community very differently than the commentators he cites. Today, the vast majority of Jewish Americans embrace Thanksgiving wholeheartedly - like all Americans - and celebrate its theme of gratitude for family, faith and freedom.

Part of that freedom is being able to respect the religious festivals of our neighbors, and to enjoy the same respect in return. Jews do not expect Christians to excise the religious meaning of Christmas from their celebration; quite the opposite, in fact. This indeed is the real meaning of the Jewish festival of Chanukah that so often coincides with Christmas: That people should be free to believe and practice what their own faith tradition teaches them - without imposing it (or any aspect of it) on others whose faith differs from their own.

Peter B. Schaktman
Rabbi, Temple Emanu-El

Paperless peril

Larry Price’s column “Just Do It (Paperless Elections)” is downright frightening. If government Websites are already being hacked into, it seems far too easy for electronic voting to be rigged.

On the other hand, the state of Oregon has gone to entirely paper ballots - but mailed in. Oregon no longer has polling stations, and saves a lot of money in the process. Most of all, there is a paper trail.

And in the case of recounts, such as is happening in Minnesota, how do you recount electronic votes?

James K. Stephens
St. Louis Heights

Driving with dogs

Regarding Jade Moon’s column, “No-text-and-drive Bill Too Weak,” I completely agree. But there are a lot of other things people do while driving that also should be illegal. The one that drives me crazy is people who drive with a dog on their lap! It’s too easy to imagine the dog jumping and bumping the driver’s arm, forcing him/her to veer.

Edward Nakamine

Loving Huffington

All thanks for including Arianna Huffington in your array of MidWeek writers. As with Maureen Dowd and Thomas Friedman in the Star-Bulletin, I look forward to her op-ed pieces for the quality of ideas as well as the style of writing.

John Diercks

Ditch Malkin

Please replace Michelle Malkin’s column with one written in an appropriate way. Surely there is another writer of higher calibre to be found.

As the publisher of a family-oriented newspaper, how could you have included Ms. Malkin’s column, “Notorious Obamedia Moments,” in your Nov. 5 issue? I consider myself to be a moderate in my political views. Therefore, I try to read all the political commentaries in your useful paper. Please do not subject me to such distasteful diatribes any more.

Alice D. Fisher

Kudos for toon

Thank you to Roy Chang for his excellent editorial cartoon of Nov. 12 depicting Barack Obama with his late grandmother, and showing the pride she must feel in him, saying “Yes, you did it.” I plan to have it framed and sent to Mr. Obama.

Nancy Maguire

Send your letters to MidWeek Letters, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 500, Honolulu, HI. 96813; by fax to 585-6324, or by email to dchapman@midweek.com. Please include your name, address and daytime and evening phone numbers. We print only the letters that include this information, but only your name and area of residence will appear in print. Letters may be edited for clarity and space.
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