I write to correct several inaccuracies in Stephen M. Flatow’s opinion piece, “New York Times covers up for supporter of Jewish peace activist’s killer” (July 29, 2016), which referenced the murder in a ”pigua” last October of our close friend of nearly 40 years, Richard Lakin z”l. I checked the following points with Karen Lakin, his former wife and best friend, on her recent visit to our home.
First the minor points: Richard was 76 years old at the time of his death and the attackers had one knife and one gun.
But the most egregious statement in the article is the following: “U.S. Jewish organizations – especially Richard Lakin’s old friends in J Street and Americans for Peace Now-….” This linkage of Richard to those organizations suggests that Richard was more of a political activist rather than an individual imbued by Jewish values of love, justice and peace. As I stated in my eulogy at the memorial observance on Nov. 1, 2015 at the Solomon Schechter Day School [in West Hartford], where he once served as an officer, and repeated at the hakamat hamatzeva (the unveiling) in Jerusalem one month later, in reflecting on Richard’s life, three quotations from the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) come to mind:
- V’ahavta l’rei’akha kamokha, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).
- Tzedek tzedek tirdof, “Justice and only justice shall you follow” (Deuteronomy 16:20).
- Shalom shalom la’rahok v’lakarov, “Peace, peace to one that is far off and to one that is near” (Isaiah 57:19).
These three statements are the true legacy of Richard Lakin. Y’hei zikhro barukh. May his memory be blessed.
Arnold Dashefsky is the Doris and Simon Konover Chair of Judaic Studies and Professor of Sociology Emeritus at the University of Connecticut; director emeritus and senior academic consultant, Berman Jewish DataBank editor, American Jewish Year Book; and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Connecticut Jewish Ledger.