Letter to the Editor: A Catholic Jew Defends the Center

Mr. Robert Cohen sent the following letter to the Keene Sentinel on February 2, 2007.

To the Sentinel:

This letter regards your front-page article, “Anti-Semitism charge thickens plot,” which regards Saint Benedict Center and Antisemitism. I have a unique perspective to comment on this as I am a Jew who has followed the activities of the Center for a long time. Though a Jew by ethnicity, I am also a baptized Catholic who has worshiped at various houses of Father Feeney’s Order for more than 30 years. And I had the wonderful privilege of seeing Father Michael Jarecki, the Center’s chaplain in Richmond, receive my own Jewish father into the Catholic Church.

Neither my Father (Israel Cohen) nor I were ever ill treated by the brothers, sisters, or lay people either in Still River or Richmond. He was a retired printer and helped the Brothers in their print shop in Still River. Your article quoted Heidi Beirich defining Antisemitism as “hating Jews.” Well, neither this Jew nor his Jewish father ever experienced Jew hating in many long years of association with the Center. Brother Francis Maluf, the aged Superior in Richmond (and an Arab!) was very friendly with my family and his kindness was instrumental in my dear father’s conversion. For the past 17 years, I have worked for the Center in Richmond and have a wonderful relationship with the religious and many of the lay members there. I wholeheartedly support what they stand for.

In these days of knee-jerk reactions brought on by emotionally loaded buzz-words, it is crass and irresponsible journalism to publish the sensationalist headline you did. And to give credence to the flimsy accusations of a deranged and disreputable organization like the SPLC is equally irresponsible. Even to raise the specter of Antisemitism is to damage someone’s reputation, as those charged are generally guilty until proven innocent.
Robert Cohen

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