Letters to the Editor: Nov. 29, 2019
OpinionLetters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: Nov. 29, 2019

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Letter to the editor,

When Sherry Frank mentioned her uncle, Joe I. Zimmerman (z’l), wonderful memories streamed through my mind. I have written about Josiah V. Benator and his impact on the hundreds of us who were in Boy Scout Troop 73. What is usually forgotten is that Joe I. Zimmerman was the first scoutmaster of Troop 73; Mr. Benator, assistant scoutmaster. Since the troop was a joint effort of Congregations Or VeShalom and Shearith Israel, each of their committed old-time scout leaders brought Troop 73 into being. The imposing figure of Mr. Zimmerman, dressed to “the nines” with his perfect hat, is an image I can never forget.

He and Mr. Benator called on the parents in both synagogues to encourage their sons to join the troop. In a famous picture in front of the Scout Hut on Shearith Israel property before it was torn down, there are troop members from Or VeShalom, Shearith Israel, Congregation Ahavath Achim, The Temple and one independent.

The troop grew quickly under Zimmerman and Benator. At the monthly scout assemblies for troops in Northeast Atlanta, we were inspired to bring our parents, our siblings and even grandparents, so we won the award for the most present. The winning troop received the scout flag and held it until the following month.

I have much to thank Mr. Benator for and many of you have seen my articles. Joe I. Zimmerman helped me on two levels. When I was working on the Ner Tamid award, studying with my grandfather, I got tired and stopped the meetings. Mr. Zimmerman came to our home on North Highland Avenue. In front of my parents, Anna and Louis, he addressed me powerfully, “David: no one else in the South has ever received the Ner Tamid; think more about it before you drop out.”

I started working on it again. There is somewhere a beautiful picture of Joe I. Zimmerman with me the night I received the Ner Tamid award. He also assisted me in completing my 50 nights camping out by letting me camp out in my backyard.

I am very proud that I knew Joe I. Zimmerman; may his memory be for a blessing.

Rabbi David Geffen, Jerusalem


Letter to the editor,

At a recent family event, an acquaintance shared a disturbing thought. He noted that several Jewish members of his social network were planning to vote for [President Donald] Trump. Two criteria were cited: He’s good for the Jews and he’s good for Israel. Here’s another viewpoint:

Israel is waking up to the notion that the Trump administration “speaks loudly and carries a small stick.” With the abandonment of the Kurds, who fought alongside American troops to weaken ISIS, America’s Trumpian isolationist policies have many in the IDF fearing that, should “push comes to shove,” Israel would be on its own. In the jumbled Middle East geopolitical arena, that’s not easy.

With America’s virtual withdrawal from Syria (perhaps 600 troops to remain), Russia is the big winner. Coming in at second place is Iran and its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas, and a distant third is a soon-to-be-resurgent ISIS. With the Kremlin now the Middle East kingpin holding the aces in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and, of course Iran, Israel faces formidable challenges. The 20-mile-wide buffer zone patrolled by the Russian and Turkish militaries; Iran’s pronouncement that it is laying the foundation for a second nuclear reactor; the infusion of precision-guided missiles into the vast inventory of rockets already possessed by Hezbollah; and the introduction of the same into Gaza, are only some examples of the warning signs to Israel of this administration’s feckless policies.

The Obama administration, no admirer of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu policies, in September 2016 concluded an extraordinary 10-year MOU with Israel in the amount of $38 billion in military aid. No other recipient of USA’s largesse came close.

The one-sided, poorly planned move of the American embassy to Jerusalem (Israel needed Trump to remind it that Jerusalem was its capital?) without some dialogue with the other side — whoever they may be — weakened America as a convener of peace negotiations.

Should you have an opportunity to discuss IDF’s outlook with a knowledgeable representative, ask how secure Israel feels now that the Trump doctrine of plenty of bluster with vanilla support is painfully clear. Think the rise in global anti-Semitism is serendipitous? Think that this administration’s “talk big and tough then find ways to backtrack” hasn’t aided and abetted those with evil intent? Think again.

Dr. Harry Stern, Atlanta

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