«Jewish Observer»
July 2002
5762 Av

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Style is a great thing. But...? If everything boiled down to the style, to problems of editing in dealing with journalists who, in effect, are only on the way to become such, I wouldn't answer the letter by Mrs. Lihtman with a rhetoric title "Does a newspaper need an editor?". First of all, as an editor of two newspapers (but not of the "Jewish Observer" as the letter's author mistakenly believes), I don't consider it necessary to enter into a stylistic discussion with every opponent. But a bigger part of our esteemed reader's comment is dedicated to the analysis of my material "Is there any need to cry?" with a really demonic invention of logical (according to Mrs. Lihtman) conclusions.

On the one hand, the reader reproaches the author of a totalitarian thinking, on the other - she expects ready-made prescriptions and "new rules" pursuant to which "regular readers" should live onwards: "people pray on their own will, there be no double or even triple morals" and so on. Here will be no prescriptions, dear Mrs. Lihtman. I can only offer you a turning stone with a set of different opinions: if you turn to the left -..., to the right - correspondingly. A choice rests with you. Moreover, whatever choice you may make, it will be your and only your choice.

I know an old lady - a 90-year-old otherworldly person with a Bible name Sarah. She is a parishioner of Brodsky's synagogue with a pension of 40 hryvnas (40 Ukrainian hryvnas, Mrs. Lihtman; I shall try to make myself as clear as possible after your reproof regarding the word combination "American money", which is beyond comprehension). This old lady monthly brings three hryvnas to the synagogue tzedaka. But that's not everything... Do you know what troubles her? She is worried about her physical (namely, physical as it concerns survival) inability to donate four hryvnas, i.e. an established one tenth of net profit (if this can be called profit at all). She, you may note, expects no prescriptions and establishes no new (for herself) rules.

Are her three hryvnas able to substitute the Khesed, "Joint" and donations of a small group of millionaires you've got so offended with? No, they are not. But they (3 hryvnas) may help to revive the community.

This is not a prescription, but...a hint. A transparent hint. But it is highly inconvenient. It is so inconvenient one has no desire to pay attention to it. It is easier, more secure for one's conscience to believe in what an insane author calls upon - despite "somebody's heart getting stopped (a stimulator costs up to 500 dollars) to urgently refuse from the help to foreign sponsors for them not to be able to revel in own nobleness".

To later pacify oneself with the allegation that the entire pathos of the article "Is there any need to cry?" was caused by an "irresistible aspiration to demonstrate one's greatness".

What greatness do you mean, Mrs. Lihtman? On the contrary, I strive to become banal for the things I consider important and necessary for creating a Jewish community turn into banalities pronounced by many people. Unfortunately, they are not only pronounced, but are put to life as well.

Well, let's leave me aside. Mrs. Lihtman also condemns the author of another, less "shocking" material Igor Kuperberg. This is not by chance since his moderately sounding material is dedicated to the same problem - a consumer's stereotype developed in our community. Our reader seemed it appropriate to compare such "seditious" thoughts with disclosure of a patient's diagnosis and violation of a professional ethics. This is already utterly strange. First, Mrs. Lihtman, where have you seen the healthy?

The community as one body (that includes its leaders and those very Kheseds' patients nobody and under any circumstances is going to deprive of help) is sick. The earlier a diagnosis is put, the more efficient a treatment will be. If we, naturally, are eager to recover which is not a fact. Such position is convenient for a patient surrounded by common compassion and pity - his illness relieves him of any responsibility.

Note that the author of the article "Bread of shame" underlines the Jews really in need complain rather little. Complaints predominantly come from "people with decent pensions successful children and grandchildren, normal flats and country dachas. And you, Mrs. Lihtman, call these people "clients" whom "a lawyer should under no circumstances criticize in public?". This cunning semantic substitution will enable one for many years to take for granted, offensively pursing one's lips, what is not for granted.

Undeserved gifts are, as a rule, most difficult to refuse from even if you do not need them.


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