The JC

Letters to the editor, October 6 2023

Judicial wisdom, Succahs and mechitzah madness

October 05, 2023 12:41

Sweeping away

Your correspondent Laurie Rosenberg suggests that a “gradual move is required” towards including women in services, for example by opening and closing the ark, but gives no indication as to the point at which the gradual move ends (Mechitzah madness, Letters, 29 September).

I learned recently that the Masorti movement is moving to the “left” and it now accepts women as cohanim, allowing them to give the traditional blessing. This is in spite of the 3,000-year tradition that a man is a cohen only if his father was one.

It is worth noting that the DNA of cohanim — and no one else — has markers that are some 3000 years old, from the time when Aaron was the first High Priest.  This is swept aside by “here today, gone tomorrow” people following a current fad. What will they sweep away next?

Geoffrey Bernstein
Harrow HA3

Judicial wisdom

As a retired surveyor specialising in residential property management, I read with some interest of the problems facing the residents of Tower Court with regard to erecting their succahs on their balconies (Succahs banned in Stamford Hill block, 29 September).

It reminded me of a similar situation many years ago where a number of observant Jews moved into a north west London block of flats. A succah was erected on the communal grounds by the owners of a ground floor flat. An upstairs neighbour took offence at the breach of lease and paid his lawyer to seek a Stop Notice immediately.

The case was heard the next morning and a very wise judge found for the complainant, stating: “This is indeed a clear breach of the lease. I order you to take down this temporary structure built on communal grounds. And give you eight days to comply.”

Louise Pearlman
London NW4

Simplistic, innacurate

John Nathan’s review of Dimitry Ghlukovsky’s new play, The White Factory (Important addition to the Shoah canon, 22 September) rightly questions whether the choices made by Jews in the Lodz Ghetto in fear of their life and the lives of those they loved have a proper place on the stage. I do not think it does but this observation does not go nearly far enough in terms of an examination of what is so profoundly unsatisfactory and wrong-headed in this work.

Describing this as an important addition to the Shoah canon is frankly insulting. In the play Yosef becomes a policeman in the Ghetto and plays a part in enforcing successive Nazi deportation orders. He does so under plain and debasing compulsion.

Glukhovsky, however, appears to draw the conclusion at the end of the play that there is some kind of moral equivalence between Yosef and his Nazi tormentors, each being just a cog in a machine — his words not mine.

This is victim blaming, pure and simple. Any suggestion that the Jews bear responsibility for the carrying out of the Holocaust on its own people is also antisemitic, falling within the IHRA guidelines.

There is also a more subtle line at the end of the play, that no one could survive this horror without themselves having descended into this moral vacuum. And so the audience is informed that only a special list of those hand-picked by the Nazi oppressors for their past help are chosen to be exempt from deportation to Auschwitz. The implication is that the good are murdered and those without moral compass survive. We can do without this kind of material on the stage. It gives succour to the most simplistic and inaccurate form of analysis of what transpired and who we should look to in terms of true responsibility.

At the time of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto in 1944,  which coincided with the deportations from Hungary, the existence of gas chambers and the mind boggling scale of the murder was well known.  Nevertheless, it was covered only sporadically in the Jewish Chronicle. Between July and September 1944 it was in the inside pages and then it disappeared as a story.  The national newspapers did not really fare any better - and of course it was government policy to stop at all costs any Jews escaping Europe from reaching Palestine, including many members of my own family.  There is certainly widespread soul searching to be undertaken but not at the expense of those poor souls who suffered so much.   

David Joseph KC
London NW3

Getting what you want

I agree with Stephen Pollard that Wagner should not be held responsible for being Hitler’s favourite composer, any more than Mick Jagger should be blamed for Trump choosing to play You can’t always get what you want at his rallies (The eternal Wagner dilemma, 29 September).

But because creatives are put on such a high pedestal, with the power to “enrich” and “civilise” us, I find it increasingly difficult to separate art from its creator. It would be nice if great artists were morally sound.

But you can’t always get what you want.

Stan Labovitch

Rakott krumpli lives

I’d just like to say to Giles Coren that although I’m not related to his late Grandma Isabel, I have definitely heard of the egg and potato pie he describes (My grandma’s egg and potato pie is delicious. But is it Jewish? 29 September).

Rakott krumpli is a popular Hungarian dish usually layered with sliced boiled potatoes and eggs, sour cream and smoked sausage. As I keep kosher I substitute grated cheese for the sausage. Delicious either way and a gorgeous winter dish.

Caroline Dascal
London E8

Sign up, Chelsea fans

I am the founder of the Chelsea Jewish Supporters Group and was pleased to read Stephen Miller’s letter (A different league, Letters, 29 September).

The club has been fantastically supportive in the setting up of the group and over 200 supporters have already signed up. The group is open to all supporters, not just season ticket holders and members. Anyone who wishes to join should log on to the Chelsea FC website and find the link to the Jewish Supporters Group.

Stephen Nelken
Pinner HA5

October 05, 2023 12:41

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