Letters from Our Readers

On “A Textbook Case of Genocide”
For more than three weeks, Israel has waged a ferocious war against Hamas in response to the horrific terrorist attack the group conducted in southern Israel on October 7th. As of this writing, more than 8,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have already been killed by Israel, and more than a million people have been displaced. Conditions inside the crowded... more
Dov Waxman
Los Angeles, CA
On “The Hindu Nationalists Using the Pro-Israel Playbook”
I wish to thank Aparna Gopalan for writing this very timely piece on the Hindu right’s use and abuse of the term “Hinduphobia.” I’m a practicing Hindu of the non-Hindutva [Hindu nationalist] sort, and I’m writing this letter anonymously because of safety concerns. (Like many members of the diaspora, my family and I frequently travel back to India, and retribution... more
Columbus, OH
On “Bad Memory”
Too bad. With only a little research the authors would have known that much of contemporary German memory culture was painfully fought for by Jews who stayed in Germany after the war, and who kept disturbing the peace of a country all too eager to forget the crimes of its past. Figures like Ignatz Bubis or Paul Spiegel, higher-ups in... more
Joel Kohen
Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Belgium
The Spring issue responsa and reported feature on Germany are valuable contributions to the growing body of work on the country’s repression of Palestine solidarity activism in the name of “curbing” antisemitism. That said, Germany’s clear interest in using Holocaust penance to prevent a reckoning with its colonial history remains a neglected aspect of this dynamic, one that the responsa... more
Jonathan Matz
Los Angeles, CA
The Spring issue of Jewish Currents devotes 37 pages across three separate pieces to the discussion of how Germany’s displaced Holocaust guilt deleteriously affects the country’s Muslim and Arab minority populations. But not one word in the editorial staff’s responsa, Peter Kuras’s feature on the country’s antisemitism bureaucracy, or Sanders Isaac Bernstein’s assessment of Max Czollek’s book acknowledges that most... more
Kathleen Peratis
New York, NY
On “The Strange Logic of Germany’s Antisemitism Bureaucrats”
I would like to add to Peter Kuras’s excellent reporting on Germany’s anti-antisemitism bureaucracy by sharing a telling interaction I had with antisemitism commissioner Felix Klein’s office a few weeks ago. This summer in Berlin, I saw an exhibition at the Pilecki Institute, an institution dedicated to the 20th-century Polish experience of totalitarianism and supported by the Polish government’s Ministry... more
Diane L. Wolf
Berkeley, CA
On “Iron Dome Is Not a Defensive System”
In the May 25th Jewish Currents newsletter, Dylan Saba argues against supporting Iron Dome because by saving Israeli lives, it enables Israel to destroy Palestinian lives at little cost. Had Saba simply argued that all aid to Israel ought to end given its systematic violation of Palestinians’ human rights, I would have had no quarrel with him. Instead, he is... more
Mitchell Silver
Jamaica Plain, MA
On “Recent Polls of US Jews Reflect Polarized Community”
Caroline Morganti’s June 29th piece on polling of American Jews reported on the polarization of the community as a whole, depicting a population deeply divided in its opinions on Israel/Palestine. This polarization is also present on a local level in Portland, Oregon, according to a recently completed study of the community conducted for the local Jewish Federation by Brandeis University’s... more
Joel Beinin
Portland, OR
On “Our Catastrophe”
I was troubled to see Jewish Currents commemorate the Nakba, an event that lacks critical context, in the photo essay “Our Catastrophe.” The article operates under the framing that Palestinians were forced from the land that became Israel. The reality is that two-thirds of the Arabs who fled Palestine in the 1940s left the area before the events of 1947–48... more
Toby F. Block
Atlanta, GA
We received a number of responses to our photo essay on the Nakba like the letter above. These letters reflect the story that most American Jews have been taught about the founding of the State of Israel—and a current of Nakba denialism commonly expressed in synagogues, Jewish day schools, and even Congress. Contrary to the popular Zionist narrative, Arab residents... more
The Editors
On “Little Bargains”
Reading Michael Berlin’s article on the University of California graduate workers’ strike, I noticed that it did not explain how workers could have won a better contract. Berlin criticizes the concessions made by the bargaining teams for UAW 2865 and the Student Researchers Union, writing that they made the strike a failure, while acknowledging that the new tentative agreement made... more
Joel Reinstein
Providence, RI
As two leaders in United Auto Workers (UAW) 2865, which represents more than 36,000 student workers at the University of California (UC), we were disappointed to read Michael Berlin’s article, which dismisses the largest strike in the history of higher education as a “political non-event.” In reality, more than 33,000 graduate workers cast ballots in the December vote to ratify... more

On “What I Read to the Dead”
As the daughter of a woman who, at age 15, fled the Warsaw Ghetto just as deportations to Treblinka began, I was excited to read Emily Julia Roche’s translation of Władysław Szlengel’s “What I Read to the Dead.” Szlengel belonged to the same milieu as my family—intellectual, secular, city-dwelling Polish Jews—and I was eager to reconnect with a sensibility I’ve... more
Maia Ettinger
Guilford, CT
On “Reform Judaism Needs an Identity Beyond Israel”
While Rabbi David Regenspan is right that Reform Judaism must rethink its relationship to Israel, he neglects to consider how the early, anti-Zionist phase of the movement was no less caught up in the destructive logic of nationalism. It’s true, as he writes, that 19th-century American Reform leaders defined Judaism as religious, renouncing Jewish national aspirations. But they did so... more
Raffi Magarik
Chicago, IL
On “What Comes Next for Jews of Color Activism?”
While we applaud Arielle Isack’s article for calling out the failures of American Jewish institutions to become truly anti-racist, the piece significantly understates both the role of Palestine solidarity in Jews of color organizing and the way that efforts to silence anti-Zionist ideas have impeded anti-racist work in Jewish spaces. The references to Palestine in the piece—including one to a... more

On “Attention Must Be Paid”
Thank you for Alisa Solomon’s wonderful review of Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt, and for the rich podcast discussion about the play, as well. Solomon perfectly articulates a feeling I had about the play when she writes that the character Hermann’s realization of his own horrible fate—as a Jew in Vienna in 1939—is “a worn-out anagnorisis, a tragic recognition that has become... more
Hillary Miller
Brooklyn, NY
On “The Right to Grieve”
In grief and mourning, Erik Baker has landed on a subject that reveals the central power struggle between boss and worker. That said, in limiting his focus to 20th century unionism’s negotiations at the bargaining table, Baker defangs the revolutionary aspirations of many of the people and movements he cites. Hovering just outside the frame of Baker’s piece is the... more
Leah Alpern
Portland, OR
On the Rest Issue coloring book
I’m writing from Warren Correctional Institution in Manson, North Carolina to share some of the wisdom of the state prison system. Jewish Currents’s 2022 Rest issue coloring book is considered a threat to order, security, and safety because some of the illustrations include nudity, and so it’s been disallowed. I just received the final determination after I appealed the decision... more
Yisroel Azariah
Warren Correctional Institution, North Carolina
On “Shall We Not Revenge?”
I would like to communicate my thanks to Sanders Isaac Bernstein for this engaged take on my work. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have rarely, if ever, seen such an in-depth discussion of my work in a German-language outlet. And I hope to respond with the same kindness and seriousness that I sense in the article... more
Max Czollek
Berlin, Germany
Sanders Isaac Bernstein’s critique of the fantasy of revenge for the Shoah feels almost completely right. As a history teacher, when my students would ask if I’d seen Inglourious Basterds, I’d tell them that I don’t waste my time with myths and fables about the destruction of Europe’s Jews and so many others. If there is one flaw in Bernstein’s... more
Anna Wrobel
Westbrook, Maine
On “New Report Could Hamstring Palestine Advocacy in Britain’s Largest Student Organization”
Dahlia Krutkovich’s article provides important insight into the ongoing battle over Palestine advocacy in the UK, especially the role of the IHRA definition of antisemitism. However, it misses past instances where the IHRA definition has played a key role in excluding pro-Palestinian leaders from key roles in the National Union of Students (NUS), which actually predate the definition’s use in... more
Rowan Gaudet
Berlin, Germany
Dahlia Krutkovich’s article on the Tuck report is very helpful in explaining what is going on in the NUS to an international audience. However, it should be noted that it is only very recently—in the last ten years—that supporters of Palestinian rights have gained leadership positions in NUS. For many years, the union was dominated by fiercely Zionist student organizers... more
Mike Cushman
London, UK
On “The Nationalist Heresy of the Temple Mount”
I appreciate Joshua Leifer’s close look at Jewish visits to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif within the context of Ben Gvir's recent ascent. His engagement with the history of such visits is valuable and his consideration of the grave political consequences instructive. However, I take issue with his treatment of the halachic considerations involved. In Leifer’s telling, “Israeli religious Zionism has... more
Gilah Kletenik
Boston, Massachusetts
On “Days of Rest”
I wanted to thank the editors for their crucial analysis on the importance of Shabbat. Too often, when we think about Shabbat, we focus on what is not allowed, but there is another profound lesson to consider alongside the forbidden. While the Bible’s 39 categories of work tell us what not to do on Shabbat, they also inform what we... more
Michael M. Cohen
Manchester Center, Vermont
I was extremely pleased to see the staff’s discussion in the Rest issue responsa of how anti-work politics can be informed not only by a Marxist tradition but also by the practice of Shabbat. While I was excited by the essay’s point that the Sabbath enables us to access a world to come despite the constraints of the present, I... more
Samuel Rosenblum
Ithaca, NY
On “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
I thought something was missing from your conversation “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” One of the more important reasons I am not crazy about Christmas as a Jew is that it reveals how our society is not actually pluralistic, how it passes off a Christian religious and cultural practice as simply an American season of giving—thrusting its trappings... more
Marcia Jaffe
San Rafael, California
As a boomer-aged Jew who grew up in New York City and raised a child with a non-Jewish spouse, I enjoyed the lively conversation about Christmas, the big winter holiday that isn’t ours. But I found it odd that no one mentioned that Jewish children—and perhaps also non-Jews—might think of Hanukkah as “Jewish Christmas,” and that no one spoke about... more
Cliff Stanley
Berkeley, California
On “The Sanitizing of Conservative Judaism”
Allen Lipson’s article thoughtfully charts how Conservative synagogues were used as tools for the deradicalization of Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants in America. Partly as a result of this push to assimilate, for generations many left-wing Jews have found their political and spiritual home outside religious Judaism and its institutions. We can see this in the history of Jewish Currents itself, which... more
Guy Tabachnick
New York, NY
We appreciate your response to Lipson’s article and your generous critique of the magazine’s relationship to both secularism and religious Judaism; we’re grateful for the opportunity to reflect on our perspective on these issues in the context of the long history of Jewish Currents. As you correctly note, the magazine began as a proudly secular publication. For editors and readers... more
The Editors
On “A Pantomimed Reckoning”
Without diminishing Hazem Fahmy’s overarching analysis and conclusions in “A Pantomimed Reckoning,” I would like to offer two points that complicate the issues under consideration, and perhaps suggest that the Israeli artists critiqued in the piece merit a measure of empathy. The first is that Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, an escalation of its war on the Palestine Liberation Organization... more
Asaf Koliner
On “The Fight for the Future of Israel Studies”
I am grateful for Mari Cohen's reporting in "The Fight for the Future of Israel Studies," in which she reveals the context behind the massive retraction of donor funds from the University of Washington's Israel Studies program because of Liora Halperin's political views. I was frustrated, however, to read the comments of Association for Israel Studies president Arieh Saposnik asserting... more
Arbella Bet-Shlimon
Seattle, WA
On “The Political Unconscious”
I appreciate Eta Demby’s thoughtful portrayal of psychoanalysis in Israel and Palestine, including her conclusion that demands for recognition should be linked to material demands for equality. However, I take issue with her characterization of the Acknowledgment Project and my psychoanalytic theory. The Acknowledgment Project aimed not to whitewash colonial domination but to have Israelis acknowledge their responsibility for the... more
Jessica Benjamin
New York, NY
On “Therapy Was Never Secular”
hannah baer’s piece “Therapy Was Never Secular” embraces the re-enchantment thesis, which was developed in philosophy and religious studies using the work of the philosopher Charles Taylor, and which calls for a return to a spirituality that secular modernity has supposedly destroyed. This paradigm imagines “the secular”—a concept that is best understood as a strategy by which Protestant states manage... more
Ben Bequette
Tempe, AZ
As a new therapist who is Jewish and a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, I found “Therapy Was Never Secular” to be the piece I didn’t know I needed. Like the students hannah baer describes, I was likely first drawn to the mental health field in an attempt to better understand incomprehensible loss and intergenerational trauma—in other words, to understand my... more
Sophie M.
Brooklyn, NY
hannah baer’s article “Therapy Was Never Secular” cogently calls on psychotherapists to more deeply engage the “sacredness” of their work, insightfully drawing attention to the repressed influence of Jewish mysticism on the emergence of psychoanalysis. One way to bridge the gap baer so poignantly exposes is through the work of Fischl Schneersohn (1888–1958). A scion of Chabad’s dynasty of Hasidic... more
Eli Rubin
Pittsburgh, PA
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