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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 1, 2007 / 13 Iyar, 5767

Letters galore

By Paul Greenberg


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The letters from readers keep coming. All kinds from all over. Snail mail has given way to e-mail over the years, but the substance of the letters remains basically unchanged:


Most deal with politics, as one might expect in response to a columnist who deals mostly with politics. These valued correspondents agree with me, they disagree with me, or they may do both in part. All are welcome; the cheers lift the spirits and we learn most from our critics.


What was it Confucius said of one of his followers? "My disciple Hui is of no help to me. In my words there is nothing which he does not admire."


The criticisms that hurt aren't those that don't make much sense, but those that make all too much. After the initial defensiveness passes, instruction sets in.


As for the blusterers, the snobs, the bores … it's wholly a pleasure to hear from them. I save their missives (or should that be missiles?) like a miser hoarding treasures. If I didn't have them to use as a ploy, how else would I fill up a column with replies on a slow news day? They're the salvation of the lazy columnist.


Then there are the nameless bushwhackers who want me to criticize others but, please, leave their names out of it. Brave people.


Others explain that their ideas would get more attention if presented by your obdt. servant. Much like Mark Twain telling his old friend William Dean Howells that he'd written an outrageous letter to someone and signed Howells' name to it. Just to give it more weight, he explained.


And the loonies we will always have with us. I think of them as the Death Ray people. I can still remember the first time someone shared that delusion with me—on the steps of the University of Missouri library. She was a nice, elderly lady who had waylaid a few of us students to talk about how They were directing lethal rays at her, her house, her car….


What was scariest about her was the calm, rational voice in which she related all this hysterical, irrational stuff.


My buddies and I backed away gingerly, thinking the whole episode exceeding strange. Only later would I discover that the Death Ray syndrome is a quite common form of paranoia. As my correspondence demonstrates to this day. ("Am I an experiment here? … Who are these people terrorizing me day and night? Why? What kind of chemicals have they been spraying in my house, garage, car?") You're torn between pity and, well, just pity. It can't be easy to live like that.


Here's a clue that might be of some help to the psychiatrists: I never receive an e-mail complaining about death rays; they always come via old-fashioned snail mail. I'm not sure what that says about the relation between psychosis and technology; maybe the professionals can explain it.


Then there are the people with real troubles, the kind that require more help than a columnist can give. The young girl who's retarded and is taunted at school. The disfigured, the seriously ill, the terminally lonely … they'll tear your heart out.


Their letters bring to mind the kind that Nathanael West's character in "Miss Lonelyhearts" receives when he signs on as an advice columnist, aka sob sister. He takes the job on a lark, but the poor guy winds up taking it so seriously it kills him. Even today, reading some of the letters that came to Miss Lonelyhearts can tear your heart out. The novel was published in 1933 but remains all too timely.


Happily, just when you think you're about to lose it, there are the kinds of letters that pull you back from the edge—letters from old friends you haven't heard from in years, or, even better, old enemies you can scarcely remember. (Gosh, was I mad at him or was he mad at me? It's been so long ago….)


Then there are the readers, bless 'em, who tell you, yes, yes, yes, that's just the reaction they had, too. And those who help you understand something you never would have understood without their help. They restore balance.


It all comes with the territory. You sign on for it all when you take the job. And what a grand job it is. Imagine getting paid just to express your opinions. Listening to others is a small price to pay for the privilege. Who knows, maybe that's why we're all here: to listen to one another.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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© 2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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