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Letter: Temple's spirit, community live on

I agree with much of what reader Ellen Fass Greenspan said in her poignant essay, "Hard to say goodbye to a community" [Expressway, Nov. 9], but I don't agree that Temple Beth Elohim in Old Bethpage "has gone silent."

It's not the building that makes a house of worship -- it's the congregation inside that is drawn together by a common belief: that its members should share their lives, do good and care for one another.

It is true that Beth Elohim's building was growing old. We could have taken the easy way out and closed the doors. But our membership was resilient: We wanted to remain a family.

After a challenging two-year search, we found in North Shore Synagogue in Syosset a community that shared the same beliefs that Beth Elohim has embraced for 60 years. Far from falling silent, we have combined the best practices of two vibrant congregations and melded them into one incredible house of worship.

With a religious school serving 360 students, a nursery school of 180, a youth group known as the strongest on Long Island, and a full menu of programs and services for all ages, we are more than ready to serve the needs of a growing North Shore Jewish community.

So, Temple Beth Elohim hasn't gone silent. We're stronger than ever.

Joel Berlin, Bethpage

Editor's note: The writer is on the board of North Shore Synagogue and is a former board member of Temple Beth Elohim.

Less development, fewer schools

How ironic that parents in the Half Hollow Hills school district are upset about the closing of schools ["School closures need to generate real savings," Editorial, Nov. 14].

District residents have lobbied strenuously to prevent construction of affordable homes and apartments with more than one bedroom. They argued that allowing two and three bedrooms would add children and cause school crowding and additional expense.

Amazingly, opposition to rental development continues. Seen through the lens of school closings, isn't this irrational? Perhaps the upset parents should question why their neighbors fight development that would add children.

Frances Wittelsey, Huntington

Group confronted Goetz with menace

Newsday is still indulging in revisionist history with "Bernie Goetz back in spotlight" [News, Nov. 3].

In this AP story, the four youths who menaced Goetz back in 1984 were referred to as "panhandling youths." Huh? When I hear the term panhandler, I imagine a homeless street person who meekly asks passersby for pocket change.

The four who menaced Goetz and fellow subway riders carried sharpened screwdrivers. Their intention was to intimidate Goetz and perhaps other passengers into giving them cash and other belongings. They did not expect anyone to stand up to them. Panhandlers indeed!

Vic DiVietro, East Islip

Fooled again on immigration reform?

The editorial "The moment for reform" [Nov. 10] supports immigration "reform" and a legal "path to citizenship." As Yogi Berra said, this is deja vu all over again.

In 1986, Congress approved an immigration reform bill that was supposed to have been a "one time" amnesty for immigrants here illegally. We now know how long one time is. In return, we were promised strict border controls to prevent further illegal immigration, tough fines against hiring these immigrants and enhanced enforcement of immigration rules.

None of that has come to pass. Since that promise of strict enforcement, an estimated 11 million people have entered this country illegally. Why should we believe the promises of enforcement of new immigration reform laws would be kept at all?

Allowing yet another amnesty, no matter what you call it, will only encourage more illegal immigration, further lower the wages of blue-collar Americans, and make our schools and emergency rooms even more overcrowded.

Robert F. LaPorta, Dix Hills

Nassau's system hikes school taxes

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has insisted that the county has nothing to do with school district taxes ["The tax tangle," News, Oct. 29].

It's surprising that the county executive does not understand that when citizens vote in school elections, they are voting on their district's budget, not their individual homeowner school taxes. The budget determines the revenue to be raised by the district for the fiscal year, and outlines how that money is to be spent.

Once the total tax-based revenue (tax levy) is determined, individual taxes are then determined by the assessed value of all property in the district, multiplied by the tax rates for each property. It is here that the county bears direct responsibility for homeowners' school property taxes, because the county determines assessments for each parcel.

Had the assessment system not been so badly broken, successful challenges would amount to minor adjustments with minimal impact on individual taxes.

Leonard Cohen, Wantagh