Home Commentary Letters to the Editor, Apr. 17, 2024

Letters to the Editor, Apr. 17, 2024

Jules Rabin, surrounded by family while protesting the war in Gaza on his 100th birthday, April 6, in downtown Montpelier. From left to right, back row: Hannah Rabin, Jules Rabin, Nessa Rabin (Jules and daughters); front row: Lucien Theriault, Eva Theriault, Julian Soberano (grandchildren). Photo by Terry Allen.

Jules Rabin, the Centenarian Activist

Editor’s note: On the day of his 100th birthday, Jules Rabin, of Marshfield, joined by family and friends at the intersection of State and Main streets in Montpelier, called for a ceasefire in Palestine. A lifelong activist and American Jew, Rabin wrote the following letter to Michael Herzog, Israeli Ambassador to the United States, which he shared with The Bridge.

Mr. Ambassador:

In Gaza, there is horror without end … provoked in its latest iteration, I know, by the murderous break-out of Hamas on July 7, and now “repaid,” 30-fold and wildly, with Israel’s program of colossal vengeance. 

Vengeance without end. Vengeance spattered all over the land.

I’m an American Jew, on the verge of my hundredth birthday, and am shocked more than I can say in this puny letter, by the vengeance Israel is exacting on the 2 million Palestinians locked-and-blocked in Gaza and facing death and starvation every day. Children and women foremost.

Has Israel no pity, rachmonis — to punish innocent women and children, them too, in the unrelenting and ghastly ways it is doing now in Gaza …? Enacting, for all the world to behold, the modern adage that one Jewish fingernail is worth more than 500 Arab lives?

But you, in your role as Ambassador, must be aware that the relentless brutality which Israel brings to this war will foul Israel’s reputation for years — decades — to come. Making people avert their gaze when the words “Gaza” and “Israel” are spoken together.

In my pretty plain American neighborhood, and apart from its few resident Jews and Palestinians, to mention the word “Gaza” and “Palestinians” and “Israelis” is nowadays to make people avert their eyes and shake their heads. They know … they’ve heard … they surmise … they suspect … the daily pogroms being waged against Palestinians. 

For years — decades — to come, people in America with memories of Gaza will shrug and avert their eyes, when the words “Israel” and “Gaza” are spoken to them together.

I’ll be marking my hundredth birthday in four days, and for an hour before the celebratory dinner my family will prepare on that day … to mark and call out the bloody craziness being wrought on Gaza, I will stand for an hour with family and friends and protest signs, at the main intersection of Vermont’s capital city, population 8,000, protesting the relentless Shoah — for Shoah it is — that Israel is bringing down on the people of Gaza.

Israel, Israel! Where is your conscience, your respect for history, your care for your name, now suffocated by memories of Gaza, and the sodden history preceding it, of relentlessly shoving out native Palestinians to make place for Jewish newcomers from around the world?

I, a hundred-year-old Jew , say this to you, Mr. Israeli Ambassador.

Sincerely yours, 

Jules Rabin, Marshfield, Vermont

Paging Vermont Women

To the Editor:

I just did a documentary about this exact topic, and it follows an almost identical storyline as the editorial “One Page at a Time: When Girls Were Shut Out From Serving as Statehouse Pages” (The Bridge, April 3–16).  I showed my documentary “Paging Vermont Women” at Vermont History Day and won second place on April 6 and your paper came out after that, so I am quite intrigued as to the reason behind this editorial.

Thanks for your time.

Kass Gideon, Main Street Middle School, Montpelier

Editor’s Note: The Bridge congratulates Kass on winning second place in the Vermont History Day Junior Individual Category on this worthy topic! See Kass’s short documentary at bit.ly/PagingVermontWomen. The commentary mentioned above ran in the April 3–16 issue of The Bridge (although, due to an embarrassing typo, some pages still bore the prior issue dates of March 20–April 2).

Vote ‘Yes’ on Revised MRPS Budget

To the Editor:

Between the unprecedented 23% increase and the controversial continuation of the costly, duplicative Roxbury Elementary School, the school board’s proposed core budget got lost in the shuffle. The revised budget up for a vote on the 30th is well thought through and deserves wide support. It contains personnel cuts that were difficult for the board to make, but no programs are cut or added.

The budget does contain $400,000 for repairs to the track at the high school, but the existing track had not been subject to routine maintenance for decades and needs the repair to keep the district from tort liability. $400,000 is a far cry from the near $2,000,000 that a small group of very vocal parents had envisioned. 

In Montpelier, school budgets routinely pass with 70% plus approval. This budget needs at least 60% or more to afford the board room to shape next year’s budget and shape hard decisions. It’s been a long time since our kid was in our schools. My wife and I view YES as a responsible vote for our entire community. Join us.

Richard Sheir, Montpelier

Nurses Negotiations Stagnate at CVMC: At What Cost?

To the Editor:

As I sat there last night in the bargaining negotiation meeting between the nurses and techs at Central Vermont Medical Center and the CVMC administration I regretted being there. I left prior to the end of the meeting because of the conflicting emotions I was experiencing. I admittedly had some respect for the expressions of earnestness on the faces of administration, heck, just their being able to keep a straight face, as they presented pitiful wage and benefit offers, AGAIN.

But then I also had to fight my desire to verbalize my indignation both at the paltry offers and about how financially detrimental it has proven to be to have the “top heaviness” that currently the CVMC organization has. We have a mega multitude of management positions with some making in the hundreds of thousands. How can that be when we are the nurses (RNs) and techs (technicians) who are directly providing safe and healing care (regardless of staffing shortages, pandemics, weather emergencies, and personal emergencies) and we can’t afford to care for our families as well as we care for our patients? 

This is not the first or second negotiating session, no, the union was formed in September. These slow and demeaning administrative actions are causing even more nurses to question their commitment to CVMC. It seems a comparison between this area’s cost of living and that of our parent organization, UVMC, would lead us to a fair percentage wage and benefit increase/adjustment. Isn’t it just about that simple? 

Nurses and techs, old and young, are leaving CVMC; whether it’s the experienced direct care staff who feel the need to leave, (sad for them and the patients to lose those skills) or newly trained direct care staff who want to really further their careers elsewhere (sad for us all). Travel nurses and techs are and have been so expensive, in several ways. Please, express how you feel about this to the CVMC Hospital Board members, the administration at CVMC, and your legislators.

Ann Bertelsen, RN BSN, Montpelier

Letters to the editor represent the opinions of the authors and do not reflect the opinions of The Bridge. Submit your letter by email to editor@montpelierbridge.com. Preference is given to submissions by those who live in central Vermont, should not exceed 300 words in length, and may be edited for brevity and accuracy.