Do You Wanna Know More?
On last week's "I Wanna Know" installment:
I saw your column on the Grays Ferry obelisk in the current Philadelphia Weekly. The Hagley Museum and Library near Wilmington, Del., holds the records of the company that built the monument and has some photos taken about 100 years ago, when it was in much better shape.
The monument was built to commemorate the completion of the railroad between Philadelphia and Baltimore (now the Amtrak main line). At Baltimore, there was a direct rail connection to Washington, and there was a combination railroad and steamboat route across New Jersey to New York City. Thus the project was more significant than a mere line to Wilmington, which is why its builders decided to put up a monument to themselves.
The railroad was built by three separate companies that merged into one before the line was completed. Each face of the base of the monument was decorated with the names of the officials of each of the four companies, much like the plaques placed in government buildings today.
The obelisk was generally known as the Newkirk Monument in honor of Matthew Newkirk (1794-1868), a Philadelphia business and civic leader who was president of the merged company. The first bridge at Grays Ferry, by which the railroad was extended into the city late in 1838, was known as the Newkirk Viaduct.
CHRISTOPHER T. BAER
(Middle) Eastern Exposure
On Liz Spikol's column last month about the troubles in Israel and an April 10 cover story on local reactions to the violence:
For years I thought of the problems in the Middle East like I did about the troubles in Northern Ireland. I was able to view both from a detached viewpoint as I was almost completely oblivious to Judaism and my Jewish roots.
Recently I have found myself identifying with the Jews as my greater family, and this has meant I have an almost tribal identity with Israel. I have no immediate family in Israel, but my dad's cousins live in Kfar Hanasi.
Despite this, like Liz Spikol, I cannot support what Israel is doing in Palestine, and I don't lie about this when talking with rabbis and/or religious friends. However, I am surrounded by people in the Jewish community here who will support and defend Israel at all costs.
This has clouded my judgement at times, and I have found myself saying to my mum something like "Well, they have to do something when there is a suicide attack" in defense of an Israeli missile attack or incursion into Palestinian territory. This is always met, quite rightly with disgust from my mum.
I basically just wanted to write to let Spikol know that she is not alone in her sentiments, and that I believe it is important for Jews to speak out against Israel's actions. I fear there may be a terrible rise in anti-Semitism if we are not careful.
It is extremely important that Muslims especially know that Jews are not all ultra-Zionist extremists.
Letters to the Editor