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The JC letters page, 16th March

Alex Cohen, Hugh Ash, Jonathan Myers, Deborah Nathan, Ian Skolnick,Harvey Ackerman, Stan Labovitch, Russell Ballen, Stephen Shaw, Richard Verber and Lord Mendelsohn share their views with JC readers

    The right splash?

    In his column My Jeremy Corbyn dilemma ( online), your editor Stephen Pollard sets out the reasons for and against “splashing” the Jeremy Corbyn  Facebook group story on page one of last week’s edition. To my mind, this story definitely should have been splashed. 
     
    Since becoming leader of the Labour Party, Mr Corbyn has been attempting to portray himself as moderate and reasonable, albeit surrounded by some people with questionable views. However, if we wish to ascertain Mr Corbyn’s true views, we should look far more carefully at the things that he said and did before becoming party leader (when he was not in the public eye) .
     
    This story provides a “smoking gun” that Mr Corbyn personally subscribes to the odious views of those on the far left of his party. Your analogy with the Prime Minister is an apt one and we should be under no illusion that the views held by the far left are just as antisemitic and totalitarian as those of the far right.
     
    There is a real risk that Mr Corbyn could become the next Prime Minister. The message of your column needs to be delivered with full force and both to the Jewish community and the wider community.
     
    Alex Cohen, 
    Prestwich, Manchester
     
    You were wrong in not splashing on Jeremy Corbyn’s links to the vile, “Palestine Live” Facebook account story for a variety of reasons.
     
    a) On news merit alone — and I speak as a former Mirror Group and Express Newspapers editorial executive — it was incontrovertibly Page One for the “world’s oldest and most influential Jewish newspaper” (and, as you say yourself in your online article, it was “a story that deserves to be not just on our front page but on every paper’s”) 
     
    b) British Jewry continues to be confounded by the “accidental” Labour leader’s contradictions regarding antisemitism. He bleats intolerance of “all forms of racism” but, as more unsavoury revelations creep out of his woodwork it’s not unreasonable to query (again): if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck, can it really be the swan it purports to be?
     
    c) I’ll wager the majority of JC readers are nowhere near as fatigued with ongoing revelations of Corbyn’s “Jewish problem” as you believe and not, as you say; “It’s as if the market has priced in all this sort of thing into his share price.” That remark, I submit, is a blasé assumption. And, as the Tories self-destruct over Brexit, I’m sure you need no reminding that the notion of Comrade Jezza becoming PM is no longer such an absurdity.
     
    Hugh Ash
    Manchester M45 
     

    The whole community

    It’s been said that, to attend to someone’s spiritual needs, you must first attend to their physical needs. Yet the perspective of both Rabbis Brewer and Romain, in the question put to them about whether synagogues are doing enough to help singles ( JC March 2), mirrors that of many rabbis who are consistently bad in meeting this physical need. It never used to be like this. Indeed, not just rabbis but their wives, the rebbetzins, would involve themselves in this communal responsibility.
     
    Times may have changed but the need hasn’t, as communal statistics demonstrate with our relatively static, or slowly dwindling (non-Charedi), numbers. Not only is the happiness of individuals involved, but the community relies on marriage and stable relationships for a variety of aspects, including future shul membership.
     
    Should rabbis forget, those who come forward are the visible ones, and not necessarily representative of the larger community. All ages who find themselves single for whatever reason, including divorce and loss, are increasingly an invisible component of the community. Is it any wonder people feel increasingly disenfranchised or avoid shul?
     
    Initiatives such as “Strike a Match” or “We go Together” are welcome but how well do they operate? More often than not they represent, to borrow a term of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s, “outsourcing”, and that’s problematic. It gets the ball rolling but the initiatives often founder due to a lack of appreciation of the dynamics involved, lack of personal knowledge about the people they are supposed to help, and lack of professionalism. The problem is not about creating initiatives or singles events but about getting to know people communally. And, in that way, as friends helping to make matches. Rabbis and their wives have a role. They meet people all the time. 
     
    No one is expecting rabbis, or rebbetzins, to be able to solve the singles problem. But they do need to make a dent — to draw people in and personally cultivate them. Where they lead, other community members will follow. Tikkun Olam starts at home.
     
    Jonathan Myers
    Department of Economics
    University of Hertfordshire
     
     

    Men for Emunah 

    L ast week’s special report on Jewish trustees revealed that British Emunah was the only Jewish charity that has only one male board member on an otherwise female board.  
     
    This is timely, as we are actively looking to improve our diversity to address this imbalance while continuing our core function of fundraising to support at-risk children and families in Israel. 
     
    Since its inception, Emunah has become Israel’s largest provider of children’s residential services and welcomes support from all sectors of society regardless of gender, race or religion. We would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to get involved. 
     
    Deborah Nathan
    Director, British Emunah

     

    Stars of David

     
    What a shame you omitted Hakoah Vienna from soccer clubs whose badge included a Magen David (JC March 9 ).
     
    World-class in the 1920s and ’30s, winners of the Austrian Championship 1924/25 with several international players, the non-soccer part of the club produced athletes who won medals at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics among many other competitions. Hakoah was part of a successful Jewish sporting scene, all sadly lost in the Holocaust.
     
    Ian Skolnick 
    Herts WD6 
     
    Wingate FC had a large Star of David as their club badge from 1948 to 1991 and, when the club merged with Finchley FC in 1991, the Star of David became part of the club logo, together with the Finchley FC logo. It is still part of the badge. Neither Wingate nor Wingate and Finchley played in a Jewish League and to this day compete in a high level of semi-pro football with players from all sects and religions.
     
    Harvey Ackerman
    President, Wingate & Finchley FC.
     
     

    Book ends

    I was saddened to read about the imminent closure of Joseph’s Bookstore and the adjoining Café Also ( JC March 9). The owner may not have worn a coat of many colours,but his bookstore added great colour to North London’s literary milieu and was a testament to the many colourful characters who frequented it.
     
    Stan Labovitch 
    Windsor SlL5 
     

    Irony

    Am I unsympathetic or just plain cynical of your report that Momentum founder Jon Lansman was “ subjected to antisemitic abuse”?
     
    The creator of the cult of Corbyn should clearly have a word with his “no antisemitism in the party” leader. What goes around comes around, and it couldn’t have happened sooner or to a “nicer” man. 
     
    Russell Ballen 
    Ilford IG2. 
     
     

    Plurality

    We are indebted to Barry Hyman ( March 2) for putting us right on the plural of brother-in-law and batmitzvah.
     
    Interestingly, the Hebrew word for “life” (“chaim”) is in the plural, so I wonder how one might express the singular, as in “Get a life.”
     
    Stephen Shaw 
    London NW11
     

     

    Supporting the world

    We read with great concern the cry for help from Cardiff’s Llewellyn Gaba in last week’s JC. Living through a 4.7 earthquake is enough to shake even the strongest of Welshmen. 
     
    As readers know, supporting Jews in need is World Jewish Relief’s absolute priority and so, on reading Mr Gaba’s letter, we immediately began putting together a relief package for him. It contains only essential items all Jews need in a crisis — a box of Rakusen’s matzo, a bottle of grape juice and a World Jewish Relief fleece and pen. 
     
    We thank both the JC for bringing this to our attention and an anonymous donor for sponsoring the emergency package.
     
    Richard Verber
    Head of External Affairs
    World Jewish Relief
     
     

    Glenn approval

    In David Bernstein’s excellent article on the FA ( JC March 9), he provided sensible support to its chief executive, Martin Glenn. In these times, where accusations and condemnations seem to be given the strength of facts, I would just like to place on record that I have been nothing but impressed by Martin Glenn’s approach to dealing with antisemitism. 
     
    During the past year, we have corresponded on a matter where some individuals had tagged their wifi access with antisemitic messages. He worked tirelessly to design a monitoring and response system to deal with a situation that had formidable technical and practical challenges. 
     
    His personal leadership made the difference and I was impressed with his understanding and commitment. 
     
    Lord Mendelsohn
    House of Lords
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