Letters to the Editor: February 15, 2020
OpinionLetters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: February 15, 2020

The AJT welcomes your letters. If you would like your letter to be published, please write 200 words or less and send it to editor@atljewishtimes.com.

Letter to the editor,

It was inspiring to see so many Jews from so many different back grounds come to the Atlanta Jewish Life Festival this past Sunday. Throughout the year there are all kinds of communal gatherings: for political reasons, to stand up for ourselves, to protest something. Yet this touched a chord in me because it was just because we are Jewish and loving it! The array of what Jewish Atlanta has to offer is staggering and the talent and pride is palpable. Thank you for hosting and coordinating all the details and opening up the only aquarium in the world with a mezuzah to our Jewish community. I want to make special mention of the fact that the food court was totally kosher so that everyone could feel comfortable sharing in the delicious tastes. May you continue to help enthuse our Jewish community for years to come

Rabbi Dave Silverman, Atlanta

Letter to the editor,

Hi! My name is Rachel Cohen and I am a junior at The Weber School in Atlanta. I just read your article on “Georgia Camps to Address Mental Health, Disabilities” and I am very pleased and satisfied with what I have read. As a young child who goes to summer camp and finds so much happiness there along with knowing lots of kids my age who struggle daily with mental health issues, I think it is very important and practical to have a safe space on camp for kids who cannot fully function at the same rate as others. This addition to camps, I believe, will give many parents of children who suffer a way to know that their children are safe and well taken care of while away from home. I hope this makes a big change for many families in the future.

Rachel Cohen, 11th grader at The Weber School

Letter to the editor,

I strongly agree with the fact that lifelong relationships are made at summer camp. Being a Jewish teenager myself, I have experienced this indescribable bond.

Thanks to Camp Barney Medintz, I have made lifelong friends with Jewish people from Atlanta and other states. Similar to what Eric Robbins said, that by spending 24/7 with people it does create a close bond that no other place but summer camp can give. Camp has given me amazing friends that will always be there for me through thick and thin. In addition to incredible friendships, every year at camp I learn more about myself and continue to step out of my comfort zone. I have also overcome many fears at camp, which has helped shape me into the person I am today. Every summer I come home with a feeling of accomplishment because I know that the past 25 days pushed me to be a better person. Going away every summer for the past six years has allowed me to be the best and most real version of myself, along with creating long-lasting friendships and learning important life lessons.

Molly Grosswald, 9th grader at The Weber School

Letter to the editor,

After reading Justin Milrad’s article “Struggling with Drug or Alcohol Abuse,” it has come to my attention that many individuals are struggling with these issues yet are not fully aware of the dangers that these drugs can bring to them. It has become very apparent, especially in college life, to drink and smoke while under all of life’s pressures. As a current junior in high school, I have also started to become more exposed to this type of atmosphere and take note on certain social situations I am in and how I would typically respond to them. I found it interesting that you highlighted 10 major warning signs to look out for in a college student, for this can potentially help others notice if an individual is dealing with a drug problem.

Oftentimes people become oblivious to the dangers that come out of these activities. It is very helpful to acknowledge how one can point out certain behaviors that help to identify ongoing problems, as these behaviors can be easily missed within the midst of high school and college life. Along with these factors, it is important to acknowledge certain causes of this abuse and try to eliminate situations such as peer pressure. I truly admire the article, especially because I am currently living in an age where these types of problems first come into play.

Talia Neufeld, 11th grader at The Weber School

Letter to the editor,

I have submitted a couple of letters to the AJT, which you’ve published. I appreciate that and I am convinced of your openness to publishing divergent points of view.

This brief letter concerns the importance of facts, more particularly the assault on the truth that has become pervasive through social media, Russian disinformation campaigns or otherwise … which brings me to Jay Starkman’s letter in the Jan. 31 issue of the AJT.

Starkman identifies George Soros and Hannah Arendt in his letter and claims that Soros was a Nazi collaborator and that Arendt was the paramour of a Nazi. I read these claims with skepticism, so I decided to do some fact checking.

As to Arendt, I consulted “Love and Reconciliation: The Case of Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger,” Harvard Review No. 32 (2007) for information about their relationship. Arendt began an affair with married Heidegger in 1925 while she was his student. That affair lasted around a year, although they continued to communicate by letter and periodically see one another until winter 1932. In a 1932 letter from her to Heidegger, she asked him about rumors of him dabbling in anti-Semitism. He replied that he wasn’t, but the denial consisted of protestations about how helpful he was to demanding Jewish university students. Following the 1932 letter, Arendt and Heidegger were estranged, with no communication at all until 1950.

In this instance, Jay Starkman’s comments about Arendt lacked context because Arendt and Heidegger were completely estranged between 1932 and 1934, the time period during which Heidegger was an active Nazi.

Heidegger’s intellectualism and lack of virulent racism limited his ascendance in the Nazi party and by 1934, he returned to being a university professor. It’s certainly fair to claim that Heidegger dabbled in Nazism, but Starkman’s comments suggested that Arendt cavorted with a card-carrying Nazi. The Harvard Review article debunks any such suggestion. Arendt is, of course, well known for chronicling Adolph Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem for the New Yorker.

Starkman’s claims about Soros as a Nazi collaborator are much easier to debunk. George Soros was a 14-year-old boy who hid from Nazis and survived the Holocaust. This Avi Selk article appearing in The Washington Post in 2018 demonstrates that the lies about Soros emanate from the likes of Sandy Hook denier Alex Jones, Glenn Beck and Roseanne Barr https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2018/05/30/unpacking-the-george-soros-was-a-jew-killing-nazi-conspiracy-theory-that-roseanne-barr-spreads/. It is not necessary to defend Soros from such attacks when ADL Director Abe Foxman does so with great eloquence.

The AJT provides an invaluable forum for our community and I offer criticism of its editorial choices out of a desire for it to be a credible Jewish voice when letters such as Starkman’s are published without any clarification, explanation or context.
More so than at any time in our recent national history, the truth is under assault.

Facebook is among the most insidious culprits, “leaning in” to its policy of publishing political ads that contain falsehoods. The free press has never been more important to our democracy than it is today. I urge you to incorporate fact-checking into these letters to the editor to ensure that AJT does not unwittingly spread disinformation that is harmful to our community.

Ed Rappaport, Atlanta

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