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Letters

ABORTION, NOT THE JEWISH WAY?

I would like to comment on your article “The Anti-Choice Movement: Bad News for Jews” [Summer 1990). It is bad news for Jews such as yourself and other liberals who jump on the bandwagon of every ill cause there is in this world.

Jewish law on abortion posits that the life of the mother takes precedence over that of the unborn child in a life threatening situation to the mother. Halacha regards a fetus in God’s image from the fortieth day onward within the womb. Torah affirms life. The right to life of the fetus in the womb.

You will tell me that national organizations such as NCJW or Hadassah take a pro-choice position. They too are led by uninformed people caught up by today’s times and unaware of Judaism’s positions on the issues.

People who are so involved in protecting religious freedom are doing just that. They me protecting it but not adhering to it. It’s about time the so-called protectors practiced a little of that Judaism so that they may quote it correctly to a non-Jewish world.

Cantor Marvin Moskowitz
Syracuse NY

DOWN SYNDROME BABIES

Everyone at the Jewish Association for Residential Care for Persons With Developmental Disabilities was thrilled to see the article about Janet Marchese [“Finding Homes for Jewish Babies” Summer 1990]. It’s especially important that information on the numbers of Jewish babies given up to non-Jewish homes was made public for the first time.

Marcy B. Feldman
Huntington Woods Ml

CREATING NEW RITUALS

A Midwife’s Kaddish” and “The New, Improved Jewish Divorce” [Summer 1990], and their authors’ courage in forging new traditions, spoke to my own situation.

Every year, for nineteen years, I have made a pilgrimage to the synagogue to say the mourners’ prayer for my son who had died a violent death on the highways of California. And every year, December became a time of clashing emotions for me. All around me, Jews and Christians prepared for joyous celebrations. I, too, laughed, sang, baked and wrapped dozens of gifts. But then I also grieved and sighed. The conflict of these different emotions always left me feeling confused and out of step.

Last December, I left for the synagogue on Friday night as usual, but I ended up missing a turn-off and I found myself sitting for a few anxious moments all alone at the side of the road. Suddenly, the road to the synagogue seemed so dark. But the road behind me — back home — was bright and inviting, the lamps on the freeway shedding a luminous glow, no shadows, no gloomy darkness.

As if my hands were guided from without, I changed my lane and drove home again. With a new sense of peace and pleasure, I turned on bright lights in the house, lit the memorial candle in my son’s honor, said the prayer, and began to remember all the good years he had shared with us. At that moment I decided to break Jewish tradition: to celebrate my son’s memory in April (when he was born) instead of December. This last April I did just that, and after nineteen years, I finally felt in tune with my own desires.

Charlotte Krepismann
Los Altos CA

In altering a portion of Grace After Meals [“Bringing Feminism to Camp Ramah” Summer 1990], Hope Berger has inadvertently adopted a Christian view. Rewording the second blessing from ve-al beritkha she-hatamta be-besare’ynu to ve-al beritkha she-hatamta be-lebeynu causes the phrase to correspond perfectly to the Christian interpretation of circumcision based on Romans 2.29 in which circumcision of the heart replaces that of the body.

Perhaps Ms. Berger should follow the advice of Rabbi Moses Isserles in the Shulhan Arukh (Orah Hayyim 187.3) and simply not recite this phrase.

Edward From
Bronx NY

‘JAP’-BAITING AT HARVARD

My senior thesis at Harvard College was entitled “The Jewish American Princess Stereotype: How Has it Become a Rationale for Prejudice and Discrimination Against Women?” I first decided to write about the JAP stereotype after listening to my friends’ accounts of bias incidents that were occurring at their schools (Cornell and SUNY Albany). When I began my project I had no idea that this phenomenon which combined anti-Semitism and misogyny had been coined “JAP-baiting” until I stumbled upon the Fall 1987 issue of LILITH. At that point I realized that the stories I’d heard from my friends were not isolated incidents, but part of a much larger problem.

Initially I had been raising some eyebrows among both classmates and professors when I submitted my thesis proposal at the end of my junior year. My topic was considered “tolerable” as a junior project, but had been deemed illegitimate as a senior thesis. After a battle with the head tutor of the sociology department my topic was approved. Luckily, there was an article in Newsweek that week which cited your work and the breadth of the phenomenon. That article helped me to convince some very traditional academics that JAP-baiting was a legitimate project worthy of sociological analysis.

Lori Rutter
Cambridge MA