We the undersigned rabbis of Maine would like to register our collective anger, disappointment and disgust at the desecration of a mosque in Portland by unknown persons in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden.

We are committed to establishing peaceful relations among all faith groups in Maine and to end the kind of racial, religious and ethnic stereotyping from which we as Jews have suffered in many lands and in many time periods.

Only last week in all our synagogues, we read the following from Leviticus 19: 32-34, “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

As we hold this teaching, we stand in solidarity with our Muslim neighbors.

We hope that the upcoming 10th anniversary of the events of Sep. 11, 2001, will usher in a new era of interaction, dialogue and understanding among Jews, Christians, Muslims and all other religious groups in Maine.

Rabbi Carolyn Braun, Rabbi Susan Bulba Carvutto, Rabbi David Freidenreich, Rabbi Alice Goldfinger, Rabbi Akiva Herzfeld, Rabbi Hillel Katzir, Rabbi Darah Lerner, Rabbi William Leffler, Rabbi Simeon Maslin, Rabbi Larry Rubinstein and Rabbi Steven Schwarzman

 

 

Last week’s historic and notable actions by U.S. Navy commandos in Pakistan were certainly adulterated by the conduct of those who vandalized the Maine Muslim Community Center in Portland.

It is extremely telling that the front page photo shows a blatant misspelling in the graffiti. It was an ignorant act. We Americans have some work to do. I will start by showing this photo and reading this article to my two daughters.

I will explain to them that Osama bin Laden in no way represents the religion that is Islam or the Muslim people abroad and here at home.

I will also remind them what makes this country unique: We are all here because we, or our forebears, wanted a better life. That is pretty universal. The Middle East is in the process of trying to achieve this.

We as Americans need to understand the world around us and remember our history. Acting in a divisive way and scapegoating those trying to live a better life will in no way fix all the problems we face as neighbors in these trying times.

Hilary Roberts

Cape Elizabeth

 

Health insurance changes spur variety of reactions

 

The changes to health insurance regulation that are being proposed in LD 1333 would be bad for the state of Maine. It would shift the burden of the cost of health care to our rural and senior communities at a time when many are already struggling to make ends meet. Rep. Wesley Richardson, sponsor of the bill and conveniently chair of the Insurance and Financial Services Committee, should be ashamed of himself.

This legislation would raise the insurance premiums for many in his district, particularly the elderly. This bill weakens demands on and protections against the insurance companies. Passage of LD 1333 will force some families to go farther to get care at a time when there is already a shortage of rural practitioners.

This bill even goes so far as to allow insurance companies to operate “high risk pools” that would cost more and provide less coverage to those who need it most. Legislation of this kind does nothing good for the people of Maine, it serves only to increase the profits derived from them.

This kind of bill is selling out the people of Maine to the insurance companies wholesale.

I for one would like an explanation from both Richardson and his co-sponsor and committee co-chair Sen. Rodney Whittemore, as to what positive effects this bill supposedly has for our state.

Georg Syphers

Scarborough

 

I am always inspired by my early work as a small-town country doctor in Maine. In our town, all of us cared as a community about the health of the people who lived there.

I see the workplace as a similar kind of community, one that has a vested interest in keeping its members healthy. I believe we have a great opportunity to deliver that same small town service and accountability to businesses in Maine.

At Martin’s Point Health Care, in partnership with the Maine Wellness Association and hundreds of Maine’s best employers, we have been deeply engaged in researching and designing a new way to deliver health insurance in Maine (called “MaineSense”) that would be the first of its kind.

Similar to the extremely successful worker’s compensation trusts that provide self-insurance to companies in Maine, the employer-owned system will provide custom insurance plans for Maine employers, incentives for better health and efficiency in Maine’s health care delivery system.

Imagine that all your doctor visits, medication and diabetes management tools came at a reasonable cost to you. Finally, imagine that your health insurance costs go down rather than up as your condition is managed over time.

We see the new system as an integrated, nimble, continuous loop, which links healthy behaviors, preventative care, a workplace culture of health and safety and lower costs in a feedback cycle that really connects patients to care.

This program has been developed by Mainers, will be used by Maine companies and their employees, and will be administered by us – a Maine not-for-profit company.

The in-state scope makes this program ideally suited to quick delivery and testing of the new model.

I know firsthand that the current system is dysfunctional, expensive and unsustainable. Let’s bring the small-town country doctor model back.

David H. Howes, M.D.

President & CEO, Martin’s Point Health Care

Portland

Catholics may stay away due to stand on gay issues

 

The April 30 Press Herald described the massive campaign by the Roman Catholic Church pleading for the return of parishioners who’ve left the church.

Have they considered that many, many Catholics have been disgusted at the official homophobia of their leadership? Caring, intelligent church-goers know of the incalculable harm this does to GLBT human beings. Perhaps they just can’t stand it any more.

Elliot Burton

Portland