Problematic electoral intentions
It is extremely worrying that, according to the Survation poll published in the JC (October 25), 42 per cent of Jews would consider backing the Labour Party if Jeremy Corbyn was no longer its leader.
Do they think a change of leader would make any difference to the institutionalised antisemitism in the party?
And what are we to make of Rabbi Danny Rich who presumably is among the seven per cent of Jews who would vote Labour regardless of who is leader? It is disturbing that he should feel so comfortable supporting a party in which Jewish MPs are made to feel unwelcome. It would be interesting to know his rationale.
Mike Freer’s response to Luciana Berger’s decision to stand against him was characteristically courteous and magnanimous. (Freer: It’ll be a clean fight with Berger, JC, October 25). Mine would be far more blunt.
Whereas her forthright resistance to Labour’s antisemitism is to be applauded, I would condemn her choice of constituency as self-serving and irresponsible.
By standing in highly marginal Finchley and Golders Green, Ms Berger risks creating a scenario where she could siphon off much-needed votes from Mr Freer, fail to win the seat for herself, and cause a Labour candidate to be elected “through the back door”. This would be a dreadful result, anathema to Conservatives and Lib Dems alike. In the unlikely event of Ms Berger being elected, what benefit would accrue (save for the advancement of her own political career) from ousting a leading pro-Jewish MP, removing a significant Conservative seat, and increasing the prospect of a Labour- controlled government?
Ms Berger is highlighting her objections to Brexit, claiming this is her overriding message to the voters of Finchley and Golders Green. She should be honest as to where she is coming from. The real reason she left Labour and carpet-bagged from Liverpool to Finchley was not Brexit.
She could quite comfortably have continued as a staunch Remainer in the Labour Party where there are numerous others with a similar view. The reason was purely and simply the sustained antisemitic victimisation to which she and so many of her colleagues were being subjected. Her principal concern now should be the combating of racism and antisemitism and the prevention of a Corbyn-led administration at any cost.
Ms Berger would be doing our community, not to say her own integrity, a far greater service by challenging a sitting Labour MP, in an area like Ilford or Hackney. It’s not too late for her to apply for a transfer. If she chooses not to, I would urge Finchley and Golders Green voters to avoid any temptation to support Ms Berger when the election comes and to recognise the dangers of the bigger picture.
Councillor Brian Gordon
London Borough of Barnet
Bernard Oster (Letters, October 25) queried Liberal Democrat policy on shechita and circumcision and I am pleased to be able to set out our position.
The party recognises that certain methods of stunning renders an animal forbidden under kashrut rules and we fully respect that this is an issue of religious freedom.
Similarly, we do not have a policy on male circumcision because, again, we recognise this as a religious freedom.
We are hugely encouraged by the exponential rise in the numbers of Jewish people joining the Liberal Democrats in the past two months alone. This echoes our shared values of openness, tolerance and respect and a desire for a more positive future of our country.
President, Liberal Democrats
Clean up kosher food
It is disappointing that there are still many items of pre-packaged kosher food that are wrapped in non-recylables. Schmaltz herring is sold in plastic bags with the herring inside individually wrapped in cellophane. Meat and poultry sit on polystyrene trays and are then wrapped in yards and yards of cling-film.
Kosher food comes at a price but surely it should not be one that literally costs the earth.
Rabbi’s pie in the sky
“He safeguards us even in dangerous or hazardous conditions…” So writes Rabbi Moshe Taragin (Judaism, October 18)]. By what theological insight or logic can a post-Shoah rabbi make such a preposterous Panglossian assertion without even a caveat? It is, as it stands, simply not true.
Should we not relegate such assertions to some such category as Fake Religious News?
Dr Stanley Jacobs
LGBT people are real
Moves by some Charedi parents (JC, October 25) to encourage Jewish schools to avoid discussion of “alternative lifestyles” and “LGBT matters” go against the approach of the majority of Jewish day schools. Most mainstream schools, both Orthodox and Progressive, follow the advice of the LGBT educational organisation, Keshet UK, whose guidelines safeguard students’ mental health.
The existence of LGBT people is not a belief, it is a fact, and the parents’ letter, as described by your reporter, seeks to deny the very existence of LGBT people. I hope that all mainstream Jewish denominations will be keen to join me in making clear their opposition to this approach.
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner
Senior Rabbi, Reform Judaism
It was chilling to read in last week’s JC the article, They don’t believe someone with a long beard could do this, by Ben Weich, followed by Simon Rocker’s piece stating that an unspecified group is circulating a letter in Yiddish to parents in the Stamford Hill Charedi community, asking that children be withdrawn from the sex education component of relationships and sex education.
How much longer will children continue to suffer the traumatic experience of sexual abuse by adults whom they trust before the Charedi community acknowledges that the prolonging of children’s ignorance of sexuality is exactly what makes them vulnerable to sexual abuse?
What is more disturbing is that there is a group of presumably responsible Charedi adults, who are encouraging parents to deny their children being taught at school the information that could help prevent them from becoming targets for sexual abusers within their community.
The popular notion that education about sexuality and relationships destroys childhood innocence is a common misunderstanding among some religious communities. Innocence should not be confused with ignorance.
Providing age-appropriate knowledge that will enable children to understand the possible dangers they may face in their lives does not mean that they lose their innocence.
Ensuring that their children receive the appropriate education at school; encouraging them to behave in a virtuous way and providing them with the knowledge that is essential to help them avoid exploitation is the responsibility of every parent, together with their communal leaders.
Knowing that children living in their community are being denied the vital knowledge they need to protect themselves and that the leaders of that community support this state of affairs, gives encouragement to those perpetrators evil enough to continue to sexually abuse children with impunity.
No Turkish delight
How wrong I feel it is to promote any sort of vacation to Turkey, (Travel, October 18) however wonderful, however good value — a country that deplores Israel and is now killing helpless Kurds in Syria.
We should be doing nothing to support the current Turkish leadership, not least in our flagship Jewish newspaper.
A poor decision on your part without a doubt.
Time for conversion?
In response to a number of tries, I have it on the highest authority that, due to the special occasion, the coming Sabbath will be delayed by 24 hours.