The JC letters page, 20th July 2018

Richard Verber, Ivor Sorokin, Michael Shaw BA, Lawrence Silverman, Anne Summers (Dr), Stephen Miller, Melvyn Lipitch and Kenneth Herman share their views with JC readers

July 19, 2018 11:18

Drastic on plastic

Rabbi Dr Rafi Zarum’s challenge to the Jewish community on our use of plastic is a good one (Why plastic cups at kiddush should be a thing of the past, JC July 13).

Last year, the British government reported that a staggering 13 billion plastic bottles are used every year in the UK, half of which end up in landfill, in rivers and in the sea.

A 2018 government report said that, unless we take drastic action, the amount of plastic littering the world’s oceans is expected to triple within a decade.

With this in mind, earlier this year Golders Green Synagogue banned the use of disposable plastic cups, plates and cutlery not only at all its kiddushes, but at the shul’s events, too.

They have produced a simple policy, which the United Synagogue Chesed department is making available to all United Synagogue shuls and indeed to any community that would like to follow their lead.

It may be true that the Jewish community is relatively small in the UK and our contribution will be just a drop in the ocean.

But, as Rabbi Tarfon teaches in Pirkei Avot, Ethics of our Fathers, “It is not upon you to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”

Richard Verber

Director of Communications

United Synagogue

Shabbat Servings

I was highly intrigued to read that David Levin is opening a kosher restaurant that will be open on Shabbat (JC, July 13). And, what is more, that it has been sanctioned and will be supervised by the London Beth Din.

I do understand that no money will change hands on Shabbat, pre-ordered meals will somehow be re-heated and that “every last detail has been taken into consideration” in order to strictly comply with halachah.

However, may I have the temerity to question whether Mr Levin is intending to conduct a profitable business on Shabbat and whether he will have to employ some staff in order to serve meals and to clear the tables.

Surely this would be a flagrant breach of the fourth commandment and certainly against the spirit of the Law.

Ivor Sorokin


More Progressive

You state  (Education, July 13) that Akiva School is the only designated Progressive Jewish primary school in the UK.

This is incorrect; both Clore Tikva and Clore Shalom primary schools are progressive primary schools.

I was one of the founders of Clore Shalom School, working with Rabbi Black, HMI and others to establish a school with the backing of what is now the Liberal Synagogue, Elstree.

Opened in September 1999, it remains a school run on Progressive lines open to all Jewish children. I am proud to be a trustee of the school, one of its founders and to have been a governor of the school for nine years.

Michael Shaw BA.

St Albans

Black Jews

In Ben Weich’s account of an otherwise uplifting lecture on Black Jews (JC, July 13), Professor Lewis Gordon unfortunately appears to give currency to a number of tropes peddled by pan-Africanist ideologues, a fringe movement among Black (that is, sub-Saharan) Africans and people in the West who, owing to slavery, count them among their ancestors and who are consequently labelled “Black”, however pale their skin.

The core of their ideology is that the ancient Hebrews, Israelites and Jews, along with the ancient Egyptians and all the other ancient, civilised peoples of the region, were really Black Africans whose cultures have been appropriated by White-supremacist Europeans.

That there is absolutely no substance in any of these claims has been demonstrated beyond doubt by modern DNA studies, as anyone can ascertain by accessing the relevant websites.

You can also see how Jews living in the region in ancient times saw themselves by visiting a site showing the wall-paintings in the synagogue at Dura Europos where the Second Commandment was not interpreted as strictly as it was in Jerusalem.

That said, there can be no doubt that there were Black Jews in ancient times as at the present time, which goes to show that, though one people, we are not a race.

Lawrence Silverman


Mail and Hitler

Your reviewer of Living with Hitler (Books, July 13) finds the Daily Mail’s desire to serialise this publication “a fair indicator” of the interest of “many thousands of readers”.

It may also be a fair indicator of that newspaper’s political proclivities. The Daily Mail published the English translation of Mein Kampf, and its headline, Hurrah for the Blackshirts! has become notorious.  More recently, a headline assaulted the independence of the British judiciary by labelling the judges of our Supreme Court, “Enemies of the People”, a sentiment worthy of the Nazi press. 

One would like to think that a continuing fascination with the Nazi era has something to do with the desire to guard against a repetition of history, but I don’t think we should count on it.

Anne Summers (Dr)

Honorary Research Fellow


University of London

Spaced outreach

How proud I was to read the item, Could moon be a boon for Israeli engineering? (JC, July 13). 

So, the “Start-Up” Nation is starting up its own space programme, aiming to reach a new high.

Israel, Baruch Hashem in 2019, will join a select group of four countries that have landed a man or spacecraft on the Moon.  At just 70 years young, the country really will have come of age — the Space Age. Maybe then, the rest of the world can look up to Israel, rather than continually down. 

I look forward to reading about Israel putting people on the Moon, together with shuls, kosher restaurants and of course, a Chabad House — the ultimate in “Outreach”. 

To all involved in this programme: B’Hatzlacha.

Stephen Miller


Partition rights

David Chesler (Letters, July 13) misunderstands the purpose of the mandate.

Private ownership of individual parcels of land in Palestine, whether Arab or Jewish, is unrelated to the sovereign (national) rights to the land in Palestine, which was vested with the Jewish people in the mandate under international law.

The non-Jews in Palestine were accorded religious and civil rights, not national rights, which were assigned to the Jewish people.

National rights were assigned to the Arabs in the remaining  98 per cent of the former Ottoman territories within the other mandates in which civil and religious rights were supposed to be enjoyed by Jews

Melvyn Lipitch

London W14

Jeremy Beecham (Letters, July 13) makes much of the fact that Israel accepted the 1947 partition plan.

Surely the rejection by the Arab world — coupled with the attempt by them to stifle the new state by military means — makes the plan null and void.

It takes two to tango.

Kenneth Herman



July 19, 2018 11:18

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