Letters to the Editor: October 30, 2014

Published on: October 29, 2014


Next of kin to pay for
veterans funeral ceremony

Dear Editor,

A few weeks ago I wrote a letter to the editor taking the Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dempsey, to task for attempting to balance the military budget on the backs of the service members by cutting back on their pay and benefits. They insisted that in order to pay for the necessary training of the troops and the purchase of needed weaponry, it would be necessary to cut back on the personnel costs — in effect making the warriors pay for their own training and equipment.

Then came the VA crisis. Once again the military personnel received short shrift with regard to gaining access to needed care for service-connected conditions. At first the VA Inspector General would not admit that some 40 deaths could be shown to be a result of an inability to secure timely appointments. Then, when it could no longer be denied, it was admitted that some of the deaths were in fact directly related to the long waits for appointments. Coupled with that was the inordinately long period of time it takes to obtain a disability rating. Fortunately, the new VA secretary, Robert McDonald, has initiated bold actions to try and turn this disgraceful situation around. Responsible administrators are being fired, new facilities are being leased and constructed, and more medical personnel are being recruited.  Medical care in areas over 40 miles from the VA facilities or sites where appointments cannot be obtained in 30 days or less are being allowed to seek care by community health care providers.

Now we have another unbelievable decision being made in the name of military budget cutting. A decision has been made to cut the Military Funeral Honors program run by the National Guard in each state.  Incredible! The burial ceremonies range from a two-man flag-folding ceremony and the playing of “Taps” to a gun salute and color guard involving 21 people, with no costs to the veteran’s family. The federal money pays for travel and lodging costs for the detail that performs the ceremony. Unless this decision can be reversed, this free military funeral ceremony will be discontinued or paid for and provided by the next of kin. It costs $181.95 per two-person detail to perform the simplest ceremony, and it is beyond belief that we cannot find the funds to continue this service for our veterans’ families. Their children gave their lives for their government, yet their government cannot pay for a funeral ceremony. The next of kin apparently have not suffered enough through the loss of their loved one, now they will be expected to add insult to injury by paying for their funeral ceremony. How much lower can our government sink?

B. Frank Kepley, CAPT, USN, (Ret)
Sun City Center

Dear Editor,

As my wife and I have only lived in Riverview for a year and a half (after moving back to Florida from Colorado), we can say that we love this area!

However, in reading the article on projections for South County growth, specifics are few so I have two suggestions: Given the tremendous growth projections, develop a northbound on-ramp to I-75 from westbound Big Bend Road. It should be a right turn rather than left. This will most certainly reduce frustration, wait time and yes, anger, as we now wait to make a left turn from Big Bend Road west onto the interstate.

My next suggestion is to look at a southbound I-75 off-ramp for 19th Street in Ruskin, as well as, perhaps, north and south-bound on-ramps to I-75, so that all the folks working at Amazon and whatever new businesses follow in the future, have a safer, faster way to enter/exit work.

Thank you for keeping us informed as we do not always have the opportunity to make it to meetings.

Randy Atwater

Dear Editor,

I’d like to correct an error in the October 23 issue. Your article “14-screen movie theatre slated to open in late 2015 in Riverview” has a big mistake. It’s not in Riverview, it’s in Gibsonton! I-75 separates Gibsonton from Riverview. The area West of I-75 and South of the Alafia River is part of Gibsonton, part of the Gibsonton Community Plan and falls under the 33534 Gibsonton ZIP Code.

The Concerned Citizens of Gibsonton helped write the community plan that made this project possible. By the way, the same mistake happened years ago when Wal-Mart opened. The headlines said “Riverview gets a new Wal-Mart.” I don’t blame Riverview for wanting to improve their image but let’s give credit where it belongs!

Bob Minthorn
Former 25-year resident of Gibsonton and
former member of the Concerned Citizens of Gibsonton

Dear Editor,

I was surprised to read Rabbi Carla Friedman’s letter in the October 16 edition. In particular, it’s unfortunate that she felt the recent Sukkot celebration at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, held in cooperation with Congregation Shoresh David of Brandon, somehow violated an established boundary between Messianic and traditional Judaism.

I attended as a member of St. Andrew. Rabbi Friedman had been invited, but chose not to come, apparently for the reasons expressed in her letter. Every Christian and Jew should know that the Sukkot celebration in no wise  [sic] disparaged traditional Judaism. On the contrary, it referenced the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) in a spirit of joy. Messianic Jews do recognize Jesus as Messiah, but without compromising Jewish traditions like Sukkot, which for centuries has honored the escape of Jews from Egyptian captivity and their acceptance of God’s providence (manna) as they wandered the wilderness in their new holy land.

Are “boundaries” between religions, or between religious sects, helpful at this time in history? I’d argue that the ongoing war between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, to cite one example cries out for peaceful resolution for the sake ofmankind. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Muslims celebrated their common roots, instead of killing one another over differing interpretations of sacred texts.

Beth Israel itself welcomes the Unitarian  Universalist Fellowship to its building every Thursday, without compromising any tenet of Judaism. Indeed, Unitarians are neither Christians nor Jews, albeit they do honor both in a spirit of open-minded acceptance….

Robert Lockwood Mills
Sun City Center

To CA Members,

We have a true voice in our community association only once a year.  Please vote on December 2nd or 3rd for the choice of 3 directors, our annual dues and a referendum.

Our CA Board of Directors consists of 9 individuals each serving a 3 year term, with 3 elected each year.  These 9 individuals are responsible for managing nearly $5 million of our funds each year.  The choice of individuals who will represent the interests of all the members is vitally important to the future of the community.

The 2011 CA Board spent $67,000 for architects and engineers to provide input from which the board created a borrowing and spending proposal which was soundly defeated by the members.  In early 2012 the CA Board authorized additional spending to hold focus groups and to conduct a comprehensive survey of the needs of the entire community association membership.

This survey produced a nearly 50% response rate from all the members, and offered some clear direction from all the members for future facilities planning.  Following a comprehensive review of survey results in late 2012, a Blue Ribbon Committee presented a well documented prioritization of future projects.  From the BRC report, the CA Board was able to create a long range building and spending plan.

Interestingly, in less than 2 years, a majority of the current CA Board members have chosen to ignore the members’ wishes from the survey and from their own Master Plan and instead have placed a referendum on this year’s ballot for spending which was among the lowest priorities from the survey results.

On Dec 2 and 3, please vote for candidates for the CA Board who can be trusted to follow the clear wishes of all the members rather than be led on a completely different course by a highly vocal minority.

Sam Farney
Sun City Center


Dear Editor,

On October 11, 2014 Shoresh David Messianic Synagogue and St Andrew Presbyterian Church (in Sun City Center) celebrated Sukkot together. After an article was printed in the Observer News announcing this event Rabbi Freedman wrote a Letter to the Editor to share her views about Messianic Judaism. As I thought about her comments I realized that there is one question that needs to be asked first: “Is Yeshua (a.k.a. Jesus) the Jewish Messiah as promised in the Hebrew Bible (Tenach)?”

If Yeshua is not the Messiah then I am wrong for believing in Him and everything else I do is wrong too. But if Yeshua is the Messiah, then I can be Jewish and believe in Him.

Although many people agree with Rabbi Freedman, not all do. A 2013 survey of US Jews discovered that 34% of Jewish people now believe that a person can be Jewish and believe that Jesus is the Messiah. (Pew Research Center) This survey shows that some Jewish people are beginning to change their views of Yeshua and/or Messianic Jews.

There are also some Jews who acknowledge that our (Messianic Jews) understanding of the Messiah comes from the Hebrew Bible. In 2012 Daniel Boyarin (Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture and rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley) published a book entitled, The Jewish Gospels. In his book Daniel Boyarin says “The Father/Son godhead and the suffering savior, have deep roots in the Hebrew Bible as well and may be among some of the most ancient ideas about God and the world that the Israelite people ever held.” (p. 158)

Since I (and other Messianic Jews) have learned that there is much in common between the teachings of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, a growing number of us have joined Messianic Synagogues so we can continue to live and worship as Jews just like our forefathers, and as Yeshua and His Jewish disciples did, and then pass it on to our children.

In conclusion, since 34% of Jewish people now accept Messianic Jews as Jews, and since the New Testament has its roots in the Hebrew Bible, it is time for us to engage in respectful dialogue together. I invite Rabbi Freedman to co-sponsor (with me) a Panel Discussion about the Jewish Messiah (or the Biblical Feasts of the Lord found in Leviticus 23) to further increase tolerance and respectful dialogue between our groups. Shalom (Peace).

Messianic Rabbi Ron Goldberg
Shoresh David Messianic  Synagogue