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The JC Letters Page August 4 2017

Walter Nicholls, Clive A Lawton, Elliot Harris , Johnny Cohen, Ruth Lewis, M Schachter and Liz Gould and Hilda Worth share their views with JC readers

    (Getty)

    Maccabiah standards: onwards and upwards, or decline & fall?

    I refer to Eddie Edwards’s response to James Espir’s highlighting  the decline in standards and sporting excellence at the Maccabiah Games.

    I would not presume to comment on sporting disciplines other than athletics but I suspect that what James wrote would apply across the board.

    The plain truth is that the Games, apart from its interest to Jews only, has lost its status in the wider pantheon of international sport and is no longer recognised by sports governing bodies such as the International Olympic Committee  and IAAF as an official Area Games or Championship.

    The Games have been ‘’dumbed down’’ over the years by the organising committee over-stressing that “taking part’’ is more important than good performance and this has led to a lowering of standards morphing what was once regarded as the “Jewish Olympics’’ into a giant  festival or Jamboree of Jewish Youth.

    Maybe this is no bad thing,  but let us not kid ourselves that we are seeing the cream of Jewish athletes. Even the best Israeli athletes do not appear to be interested and as far as I could observe, only one genuine world-class athlete, Israeli javelin thrower, Margaryta Dorozhon, competed.

    It seems to me that selection for present teams depends mainly not on athletic ability but on the ability to raise an inordinate amount of money to pay  for the trip.

    Mr Edwards complains about James Espir “insulting’’ Maccabiah competitors, but he insults Mr Espir in questioning his achievements as a Junior.

    I know Mr Edwards is no athletics historian but James was AAA Junior champion indoors and outdoors at 3,000 metres in the early 1980s when British middle distance running was at its zenith, competing with the likes of Seb Coe and Steve Ovett. He also represented the country.

    In case some reading this letter might question the conclusion that the Maccabiah has lost its status I would like to remind the readers of some of the stars of past Great Britain teams, all ‘’pukka’’ internationals and Maccabiah Gold Medallists:

    • Harry Kane, Olympian, AAA Champion and British Record Holder at 400m Hurdles.
    • Dave Segal, Olympic, European and Commonwealth Games medallist, AAA Champion and British 200m record holder.
    • Ray Roseman, first Jewish four minute miler.
    • Lisa Goreeph, European Junior Championships, GB sprint medallist and double sprint gold medallist at the Maccabiah in 1985.
       

    Walter Nicholls, 
    Chairman of the Amateur Athletic Association, Technical Official at Maccabiah Games, 1969 and 1989 and Great Britain Team Manager at Maccabiah in 1985

    Looking outwards

    Two items in last week’s JC wonderfully sought to broaden the horizons of so many in our community as to the actual reality of the Jews worldwide, often overlooked in our sometimes parochial, even stereotypical view of what Jews are like .

    The first was Ben Judah’s reminder to us all of the magnificent achievements of the late Indian General Jack Jacobs and the role he played in liberating  Bangladesh. Our Jewish educational programmes do not tell us about such people or the communities that produced them. 

    We at the Commonwealth Jewish Council hugely valued General Jack as one of our founding vice-presidents and miss him.

    The other item made clear that it is not only Jewish history that is generally lacking in our Jewish education, but geography, too. Your marvellous summary of many of the Jewish communities of Africa must have been a source of astonishment to many but not to us at the CJC. For more than 30 years, we have been providing contact and support to many communities in Africa including several you did not have room for — Swaziland, Zambia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Mauritius, Botswana and Namibia. What’s more, the community of Kenya is more diverse than you described.

    Broadening the Jewish community’s understanding of itself is an important task. If more Jews recognised the huge scope of the Jewish world and the sometimes inspiring dedication with which many keep alive the flame of Jewish life in sometimes most unlikely places, perhaps our community conversations would have more perspective, depth and kindness.

    Clive A Lawton, 
    Commonwealth Jewish Council

     

    Sour charity

    Your article on the Charity Commission’s regulatory investigation into Chabad is sadly no surprise to me. Jewish charities regularly appear as the subject of Charity Commission regulatory action and the trustees are quick to blame others. The rules apply to all charities but some Jewish charities seem to think they can ignore them. 

    It’s time donors are informed about how their donations are being made to charities who break the rules.

    Elliot Harris , 
    Loughborough, LE12

    Blacklisted

    Given your willingness (JC July 21) to provide Walter Rothschild with a platform to publicise his blacklisting, the JC owes it to the communities who benefit from Chabad Rabbonim to seek clarification of his assertion that “those of us who actually work as rabbis can see beneath the PR surface and it is no surprise that the Orthodox Rabbinic Conference of Germany will not accept members of the Chabad sect.” It was disappointing last week’s issue contained no such clarification.

    Johnny Cohen, 
    Liverpool L25 

    Childhood memories

    Thank you for taking me back to my Liverpool childhood with another photo of Galkoff’s butcher shop. During the Second World War when my mother, my sister and I relocated to a small village on The Wirral with, of course, no kosher food shops,it was Mr Galkoff who came to our rescue.

    Each Thursday, it was my task to collect from the local train station a parcel containing the family’s meat ration. I hated the job because after a long train journey from Liverpool the brown paper parcel tied up with string was usually beginning to leak.

    I imagine my mother must have posted the money and the necessary coupons to pay. In those days, there was no question of choice. You took whatever  the butcher had that week. Whatever, thanks to Percy Galkoff our little family did not starve.

    Ruth Lewis, 
    Herts. EN6

    Making do

    Melanie Phillips is no doubt right to be sceptical about Macron whose beliefs are open to question. He is  a politician who rather unsurprisingly tells his audience what it wants to hear. 

    But a few points to ponder. It is hardly surprising that Muslims were encouraged to vote for him rather than Le Pen. A more fundamental question is: who would Phillips prefer as a better bet for Jews among world leaders?

    Is there one now and has there been one these last 2,000 years? We have to make do with the not-so-bad rather than the ideal.

    M Schachter, 
    London NW6

    Raising awareness of domestic abuse

    The trustees of Jewish Women’s Aid are grateful to the JC for last week’s article raising awareness of domestic abuse within our community and the work that we do with women and children affected by such abuse. Our work with them was set out by our chief executive Naomi Dickson.

    Whilst the article centred on the demand for our counselling services, we also employ many professional staff to run a myriad of other services including a help line, client support, education and awareness raising. The number of women reaching out to us has doubled over the last 18 months, but we remain committed to offering free services to all our clients.

    Our finances are healthy and prudently managed so that we can plan to expand the services we provide. This year we aim to offer a service for women who have experienced sexual violence outside a domestic setting and we have also recently launched our Safer Dating programme for 16-25 year olds.

    We could not provide these free services on which our clients depend without the support from the community for which we are grateful.

    Liz Gould and Hilda Worth 
    Co-Chairs of JWA Board of Trustees

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