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The JC Letters Page August 18 2017

Jeremy Tarlow Russell Ballen Jonathan Hoffman Gideon Falter Anthony Joseph and Brian Levy share their views with JC readers

    (Getty)

    Rabbis cannot be available every night

    I was saddened to read about the events following the death of Mr Kay (JC, August 11)

    However, there are certain points that need to be made. Firstly, rabbis in larger communities cannot always drop everything for a one-night service and there has been an etiquette that the minister from the mourners’ community would officiate at the shiva . 

    There was nothing in the article about this and it was also not stated if Ms Dembina was a member of a synagogue and hence could have asked her own rabbi to officiate . 

    She also needs to realise that rabbis have conflicting communal engagements and occasional annual leave when looking at availability for a one-night service .

    Furthermore, as she is raising money for charity in her late father’s name maybe she could use this to set up an organisation where the United Synagogue could send out officiants — which need not be rabbis — to take shiva services across London where rabbis are not available. That would be a fitting legacy for her late father.

    Jeremy Tarlow 
    London N12

    Hotel outrage

    A Swiss hotel sparked outrage after signs appeared telling Jewish guests to shower before entering its swimming pool. The hotel manager was quoted saying: “I wrote something naive on that poster” and added that she was not antisemitic admitting her “choice of words was a mistake”.

    But let’s be clear, she did not write something naive, she wrote what she meant until the social media publicity embarrassed her into backtracking.

    She claimed her “choice” of words was a mistake but not the message behind it in the first place.

    This is now par for the course and people think that a grovelling apology afterwards makes it all ok, but the damage has already been done. Every time such an incident happens it normalises such comments and feeds into the acceptance of antisemitic rhetoric. 

    Russell Ballen
    (via email)

    Play’s single focus

    Ben Crowne (JC August 11) does not think My Name Is Rachel Corrie is “a piece of anti-Israel agitprop — the story it tells” — he writes — “could be relocated to Syria, or Troubles-era Northern Ireland, or a dozen other places.” 

    Why, then, does it end with witness testimony (discredited but the play doesn’t tell you that) from one Tom Dale, who claims that the bulldozer driver saw Corrie and deliberately ran her over? That’s about demonising the IDF — not Syria or Northern Ireland.

    And it doesn’t tell you that a Judge in Israel ruled that the driver could not have seen Corrie; his view was obscured. 

    These 25 performances of the play will foment hatred of Israel —  again, not Syria or Northern Ireland — and thus of Jews in the UK who support Israel (the vast majority). 

    Jonathan Hoffman
    Barnet
     

    Rosenberg stamp

    The poet Isaac Rosenberg (JC, August 11) is being featured in a Royal Mail commemorative First World War stamp.

    His poem, Dead Man’s Dump, is one of the finest war poems ever written, portraying his experience of the horrors of war at first hand, as a private soldier.

    Next April is the centenary of his death in action in France and the Royal Mail’s special issue is a timely reminder of the premature loss of a remarkable poet.

    Bernard Wynick 
    Nephew of Isaac Rosenberg
     

    Kevin Myers and defenders of his words

    Tom Carew (Letters, August 11) condemned Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) and me personally for taking a firm stand against Kevin Myers, who claimed in his Sunday Times column that Vanessa Feltz and Claudia Winkleman are paid more than many of their female BBC colleagues because “Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price”. 

    Though Myers insists it was a compliment, whatever his intention it expressed the same antisemitic trope about Jews and money that has been used against Jews ever since the Church decided that among Jesus and his disciples (all Jews), only Judas, who supposedly betrayed Jesus for a bribe, was truly representative of Jewish “traits”. 

    Myers has also previously raged against Africa for giving the world “nothing but AIDS” and had to apologise for writing that children of single mothers are “bastards”. 

    Yet, among his many tirades, Myers occasionally writes in defence of Israel and that, say some in Ireland, should be enough to exonerate him. 

    Defenders of Israel need to exercise self-respect when choosing their friends. The JC should also learn the lesson learned by the Sunday Times: despite his doubtless good work for the Ireland-Israel Friendship League, Tom Carew’s Facebook posts reveal that he, too, expresses himself in terms that are rather unpleasant, accusing CAA of bringing “shame on their tradition”. No wonder he finds Myers’s writing unproblematic.

    Gideon Falter
    (via email)

    X doesn’t mark spot

    Ironically, your excellent columnist David Aaronovitch may have, probably unwittingly, perpetuated a stereotype of his own (JC, August 11). 

    I cannot speak for “Zeida” Aaronovitch himself but the suggestion that the immigrants’ marking the registration of life events at UK offices, such as a birth, with an X was a sign of  their illiteracy is wide of the mark.

    Most of these people were totally literate but only in Yiddish and/or Hebrew, not English. Unfortunately for them, their native tongues were not allowed by the registration authorities who would only accept English after a lengthy struggle and including aspects of civil semi-disobedience. 

    Welsh was later, and still is, allowed. The immigrant registrants thus used their mark which was much more commonly a circle than the cross mentioned by David: the theological imperative for Jews behind this symbolism is easy enough to understand!

    (Dr) Anthony Joseph,
    Emeritus President, Jewish Genealogical Society of 
    Great Britain

    Chabad motivation

    While I applaud Chabad envoys going to areas such as the Indian sub-continent to offer religious input where there are only very few Jews, their motive in setting up shop in Radlett (Community News, August 11) is surely simply a ploy to gain converts. 

    Radlett is already served by flourishing Orthodox and Reform shuls who enjoy a cordial relationship. So I hope this will not affect the “liberal” tradition of Radlett United Synagogue and possibly cause division in the wider Jewish community.

    Brian Levy
    Radlett, Herts

     

     

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