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The JC letters page, 19th January

Andrew Dismore, Avi Moshe, Marilyn Brenner, Dr Stanley Jacobs, Tony Greenstein, Frank Adam, Daniel Robinson, Stephen Miller and Martin Sugarman share their views with JC readers

    Sacking is overdue

    I was appalled to read yet again from dozens of protesting emails I’ve received about the problems Ms Mary Hassell, the Senior Coroner for Inner North London, has caused for bereaved Jewish and Muslim families.

    I recall these problems began several years ago after her move from Wales, where she probably did not have experience of the needs of minority communities.  

    One would have thought that, before applying for the job, she might have reflected on the needs of one of the country’s biggest Jewish communities and our large and growing Muslim population, including the need for prompt burial, watching over the deceased, and avoiding invasive autopsies.

    Since her appointment, Ms Hassell has faced one court case after another, with legal costs in six figures met by taxpayers, brought by bereaved families to whom she should have given space to grieve, not force to the court-room to obtain respect for their cultural expectations.

    Our corner of London is among the most diverse in the country. Ms Hassell’s insensitive behaviour — probably unique in our local public services — flies in the face of harmonious community relations and cannot be tolerated any longer.

    It is long overdue that she should go. The Lord Chancellor should sack her, if he cares about the reputation of our legal system. 

    Andrew Dismore AM
    London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden

    Chabad losing respect 

    I find it hard to continue respecting and holding the Chabad movement in high regard as long as it continues to celebrate its members who break the law, or minimise their crimes. 

    Chabad Golders Green’s attempts to distance itself from convicted sex offender Mendel Levy in the aftermath of lavishly celebrating his donation of a new Torah are sickening and hypocritical. I call on British Chabad rabbis to reconsider whether it is fair for a sex offender to be rehabilitated into the community, while his victim and her family continue to be ostracised.

    Avi Moshe
    Higher Blackley M25

    Staines removal?

    Having watched the television programme on Chasidic Jews leaving Stamford Hill for Canvey Island, I wonder if they would also consider Staines-Upon-Thames? 

    The main consideration seemed to be the cost of housing. Here in Staines, houses are at least 50 per cent cheaper than in Stamford Hill and, although we don’t have a beach, we do have wonderful riverside walks. We also benefit from a beautiful shul. 

    Another plus is that we are less that half-an-hour by train from London. This could be a win/win situation.

    We look forward to welcoming you!

    Marilyn Brenner

    Scotch wrath

    Beware the BBC carrying gifts!  As a born Gorbalonian, I had great hopes for McMafia, but they were soon dashed. The “Mc” prefix led me to anticipate a high-octane Glaswegian gangster’s family. But no, depicted only is the restrained, civilised, Jewish Russian Israeli Godman family, not an evil patch even on the Godfather.  

    Still, it’s watchable enough and I remain faintly hopeful after Mexican and Czech gangsters unexpectedly turn up, a Glaswegian head-butting thug also will do so before the end. 

    Dr Stanley Jacobs 
    London SW18

    ‘Stalinist rhetoric’

    In response to Marcus Dysch’s latest attack on both the Labour Against the Witchhunt group and myself (JC, January 12), I would ask if he believes that being a hard-line Zionist means that you can’t check the most basic facts with your opponents?  

    And who thought up the appalling term “Jew-hate” in the headline of his article? Is it really suggested that, because we oppose the virulent racism in Israel today (why for example do Palestinian victims of terrorism like the Dawabshes not receive the “anti-terrorism” financial compensation that Jewish settlers receive?), that we therefore hate Jews.  

    This is playground stuff, Stalinist rhetoric which only fools those who wish to be fooled.  

    Tony Greenstein
    Rottingdean, Brighton

    Open the curtains

    It is delightful that Chaya Spitz’s Orthodox pupils behave on the street (JC, January 5) but can they earn a living ? 

    If the girls’ schools earn Ofsted kudos teaching in Yiddish before lunch and in English after lunch, why lock the boys narrowly into Talmud and Yiddish --  and in second-hand buildings of dubious fire safety, ancient wiring, and short of adequate cloakrooms?   

    In our age, family businesses and shops have been undercut by supermarkets and they are losing to the internet. The other big self-employed sector with opt-outs for festivals is cab driving. That is at risk from automated driving this decade.   

    There are market limits to synagogue jobs. The global average is one synagogue per thousand Jews and there is more to being a synagogue rabbi than Talmud and Yiddish.   

    Drawing the curtains against the world is so narrow. Millions of Jews these hundred years have spilled out and walked off to socialism, to Zionism, chasing business millions and, dare we say, couch-potato atheism.  

    The political and economic outlook is of cuts of public sector and benefits spending.  Last year, housing benefit was slashed by a fifth so landlords will turn sniffy at benefits cases. Universal credit is based on family allowances for two children only.    

    Broad and vocational education is a survival requirement.  

    Frank Adam
    Prestwich, M25 0AT  

    Further to Ms Spitz’s article, I think most readers will agree that Soviet ideology is less the problem at the moment than that of educational and cultural ghettos. 

    For this is what faith schools, especially in some religions, are helping to create. 

    In extremis, today’s student can even become tomorrow’s terrorist. 

    But while I hope a balance can be struck between religious and secular values, at least we know that, in default, we have a strong tradition of self-education going back thousands of years. 

    Daniel Robinson
    London N3

    Worthy news

    M Shachter (Letters, January 12) asks of the JC, “Why do you dignify this as news?” He states that “Some 100 so-called artists  have signed the open letter supporting Lorde’s participation in the BDS movement” on the same old song-sheet. 

    I believe that the reason is clear. 

    When an internationally famous pop singer cancels a concert in Tel Aviv on political grounds, publicly protesting against the Israeli Government by supporting the BDS Movement, so letting down her fans in Israel, this is worthy news, of interest to JC readers.  

    It is surely incumbent on a Jewish newspaper, in the diaspora (as indeed most do), to report on what happens in, and affects, the Jewish homeland.  Lorde’s singing has brought her worldwide fame but, for her decision in this case, she should be named and shamed.  

    Stephen Miller
    Borehamwood, Herts

    Gun heroes

    AJEX Archives are searching for members of the families of the following Jewish servicemen who took part in the capture of the German guns at Merville on the night before D Day 1944 with the 9th Paras. 

    Please contact me at with your details including telephone/e mail: J Goldstone, A Pinkus, Max Hutton aka Horwitz, Douglas/Menashe Alexander, Simon Isaacs, and “Haff”, who used a Scottish nomme de guerre and owned a tailor shop in Leman St, E1.

    Martin Sugarman 
    (AJEX Archives)


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