An Inhospitable Report On A Southern Congregation?

Where the souvenirs read `Shalom, y'all'" (Letter from South Carolina, Oct. 25) was both inaccurate and misleading.

The article states that "the replacement of Rabbi Rosenthall" resulted from "clash" and "tension." Not so. At age 66, Rabbi Rosenthall retired; he remains actively and constructively involved. With much affection and respect, the congregation elected him rabbi emeritus. I have not replaced but succeeded Rabbi Rosenthall, whose friendship, experience, and good counsel are irreplaceable.

It is regrettable that the article was slanted so negatively and missed the many positive, vibrant, and exciting aspects of this historic congregation.

Rabbi Anthony D. Holz

Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim

Charleston, S.C.

I read your article with a great deal of indignant interest. In general, the entire tone of the article smacked of disrespect and depicted this congregation as insular. Allow me to clarify:

-- Beth Elohim was created in 1749 and will doubtless be here for many decades to come. In no way is either its tranquillity or solidarity threatened by any "forces within."

-- Steve Steinert, not even a member of our congregation, is quoted as saying "the traditional Jew feels a little bit of an outsider in his or her own synagogue" and that "I don't like to go to Friday night services anymore because I just don't know anybody." Let Steve speak for his own congregation.

-- Newcomers have brought with them new and bright wonderful ideas for improving our services--not only religious but community services. Far from having "shaken" Beth Elohim, they have vitalized many areas, and we have welcomed these "changes."

-- There was no "clash" over whether to use the Gates of Prayer or the more traditional Union Prayer Book. For years we have used both books alternately. This was a policy long before Rabbi Holz was installed in 1992. The wearing of yarmulkes was never "forbidden."

Sid Katz

Congregation President

Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim

Editor's note: BUSINESS WEEK said that internal clashes led to the replacement of William Rosenthall, rabbi emeritus at Beth Elohim. In fact, he retired voluntarily and stated plans to do so years before a new rabbi was selected.

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