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The JC letters page, 2nd March

Joe Hayward, Rabbi Dr Michael Harris, Dr Stanley Jacobs, Kay Bagon, Philip Austin, Roger Clarke, Godfrey Fischer, Barry Hyman and Martin Sugarman share their views with JC readers

    Soros questions

    Melanie Phillips is quite right in questioning the proposition that criticism of George Soros is antisemitic ( JC 16 February) and I am at a loss to understand why any Jew would want to remain as part of an organisation of countries which were either responsible for, or complicit in, the destruction of European Jewry.
    Antisemitism, Jew hate, call it what you will, is rife throughout Europe today. Among other things, Poland is absolving itself of any responsibility for the Holocaust, French Jews are leaving for Israel because the situation in France is becoming intolerable and Soros’s own Hungary is becoming increasingly right-wing.
    The EU was formed principally to prevent destructive wars between France and Germany, a laudable principle, Europe having torn itself apart twice during the last century, with Jews as the main “collateral damage”. 
    Soros should be asking himself the age-old Jewish question about change: “will it be good or bad for the Jews?” — That is, if we remain in the EU as it proceeds towards political union.
    Joe Hayward, 
    Stanmore HA7

    Limmud longlist

    In his interview in Ami magazine reported in last week’s JC ( 23 Feb), the Gateshead Rav states that of the rabbis of synagogues under the authority of Chief Rabbi Mirvis, “this past year only one attended” Limmud Conference.
    This is simply untrue. At Limmud Conference this past December the following rabbis from shuls under the authority of the Chief Rabbi presented sessions: Rabbi Daniel Epstein (Cockfosters & N. Southgate); Rabbi Sam Taylor (Western Marble Arch); Rabbi Lior Kaminetsky (Birmingham Central); Rabbi Sam Fromson (Golders Green); Rabbi Gideon Sylvester (United Synagogue Rabbi in Israel) and myself. Several US rebbetzens, professional staff and trustees also attended and/or presented sessions. 
    Rabbi Dr Michael Harris,
    Rabbi, The Hampstead Synagogue,  London NW6.

    Chosen limits?

    In her sensitive article, Let’s bring up kids to be welcoming ( Feb 23), Karen Glass needs to remember a deeply ingrained feature of our historical Jewish culture. The concept of the inferior “goy” and its complement, being born into a “chosen people,” albeit for a high ethical and social purpose.  
    It is difficult for a Jewish child to assimilate such concepts without experiencing some degree of superiority conflict. As a child, I remember being warned off too close a contact with the “goyim,” yet not experiencing any differences in everyday contact with them.  
    A familiar and commonsensical way of reconciling these categorial concepts — without denying their elements of validity — is to inculcate all children with the simple awareness that how we behave to another is the single most important factor in determining and evaluating our relationship. Are we respectful, considerate, sharing and understanding? Such an evaluation can act as a reliable moral compass through any cultural or religious conflict in daily life, whether we are “goy” or “chosen.”  
    Dr Stanley Jacobs, 
    London SW18

    Musical memory

    It was poignant to hear the Israeli melody, Erev shel shoshanim played during memorial tributes at the Bafta award ceremony. ( JC Feb  23) But it was first recorded well before the Harry Belafonte and Nana Mouskouri versions, by the Israeli singer Yaffa Yarkoni, who recorded it in 1957. She was the most famous Israeli singer in the ’50s and was known as Zameret ha milchamot.
    Kay Bagon, 
    Radlett, Herts

    Lousy liver logic

    This is on the stated ground that the customer may not know how to kosher liver.
    Surely, using the same logic, the sale of all kosher meat should be banned. The customer may soak his steak in milk or cook his chicken on Shabbat.
    Our rabbis, in seeking to impose restrictions that have never previously been imposed, simply show their contempt for the Jewish public.
    Ian Kay, 
    Wembley, HA9 

    Evil tongue…

    In following your reporting of the JLC/Newmark story I have learnt a new expression, lashon hara, which is used in the context of being a bad thing.
    However, most of our popular press and media would not exist without this. I speculate that if the JC launched a red-top sister publication called Lashon Hara, its circulation figures would well exceed the existing publication.
    Philip Austin, 
    Northwood, Middlesex

    For the many?

    I am a non-Jewish member of the Labour Party and since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader, I have been concerned at the contempt and bullying shown, by some Labour Party members towards members of the Jewish community and the unjustified attacks made on the state of Israel. I have, over the past couple of years, raised questions and concerns about those issues with senior members of the Labour Party.
    I sent two emails to my MSP Kezia Dugdale. I have not received a reply.
    I sent one email to John McDonnell. I have not received a reply.
    I sent two emails to Jeremy Corbyn. I have not received a reply.
    It would seem that when it comes to the above issues, which concern me, the Labour Party’s much vaunted outreach to the electorate lacks a certain Momentum.
    Roger Clarke, 
    Edinburgh EH7


    Further to Clive Boxer’s letter ( JC 9 Feb) regarding Shabbat and Holocaust Memorial Day, the Ramsgate, Kent, tradition may be of interest to other communities.
    Under the auspices of Ramsgate Town Council, the annual HMD service is conducted by the Mayor’s chaplain with contributions from the local Jewish community and schools. 
    The morning service is held in Albion Gardens by the Sir Moses Montefiore Memorial Tree.
    Because it is not appropriate to include memorial prayers (other than Kaddish at the end of a service, when relevant), thus acknowledging the tradition that one does not mix sorrow and joy;  that Shabbat is a day of “light and rejoicing”; this year it was arranged for the service to be held in our synagogue after Shabbat. A specially prepared evening service commenced with Havdalah. We are pleased to say that we had a “full house”.
    May I suggest an electronic diary note for Saturday 27 January 2025 be made by those who might wish to do the same next time.
    Godfrey Fischer
    President, Thanet & District Reform Synagogue


    The plural of  brother-in-law is not brother-in-laws, but brothers-in-law. I guess Jon Boyd did not write the headline to his piece Do we spend too much on bnei mitzvot? ( JC Feb 23), but the plural is b’nei mitzvah, not mitzvot.  Although, in English, we say barmitzvahs, in Hebrew, the plural is on the first word, not the second. 
    Barry Hyman, 
    Bushey Heath

    Help needed

    AJEX are seeking families of the casualties below for proper commemoration by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Please email/call as directed  at the bottom of this letter.
    • John Raps of Chesterfield, who died in Haringey internment camp as an Austrian-born alien, in 1919, buried with a now totally illegible headstone at East Ham, London
    • Pte Simon Issacs kia May 1917 — parents Morris and Julia buried at Plashet, London
    • Nurse Lea Trisker died on duty, 1943, buried Willesden
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