The JC Letters Page, 22nd November 2019

JC readers share their views

January 10, 2020 14:58

Hysterical and absurd 

Your paper’s ongoing, hysterical and absurdly partisan response to the issue of antisemitism and the Labour Party has confirmed to me that it is a pernicious force for British Jews and more widely.

Whatever Jeremy Corbyn’s flaws, of which there are many (and there is no genuine evidence of antisemitism being one), it is beyond ridiculous to suggest he poses any kind of threat to Jews or Jewish life in the UK. He and the Labour Party represent a tradition of solidarity with minorities and of firm opposition to the far right. 

The racist right remains the true existential threat to Jewish life in the UK and elsewhere and both our Prime Minister and Benjamin Netanyahu have personal and ideological links to it.  Strangely, your newspaper declines to make much of this fact.

I hope and believe that many other Jews perceive the Jewish community establishment’s campaign against the Labour Party for what it is: well-meaning and credulous in some cases; in general, a deliberate and wholly partisan weaponising of the very serious issue of antisemitism. I suggest as well that all Jews who perceive Judaism as having a Torah-mandated mission to seek social justice, join and support the Labour Party.

Raphael Sylvester

Wake up to humanity

Yet again the rabbinate in its desire to seal off the outside world instead of dealing with it, explains why the rigid practice and and rigidly limited education have lost us so many Jews (Dayan: give up life before sex eduation, November 15).

In resisting government advice to teach about sexuality, to tolerate the unusual (but stay out of it), Dayan Krausz has forgotten that children talk to and earwig their older siblings and classmates who have done so.  
In my 1950s schooldays, the Montague of Beaulieu case was in the schoolyards before you could say TV, never mind social media. 

One of my pupils thirty years ago disappeared pregnant and I heard from other pupils she still believed that you cannot fall pregnant on first intimacy!

Those out to restore a make believe East European village or shtetl should wake up to raw humanity. Teaching children how to protect themselves from the wolves in the world’s forest is not something to prefer death to — especially as some of the wolves disguise themselves as black sheep. 

Frank Adam 
Prestwich M25 

Ox hearts, books, et al

Life is full of strange coincidences. Last week we were looking at an 1895 Jewish cookery book found in my late mother-in-law’s kitchen, amused by the variety of recipes for water, when, lo and behold, a whole page appears in the JC devoted entirely to the same book (A flavour of haimish history, November 15).

Perhaps with the passing of the generation that used this book, there are many families finding this little gem as they sort through their relations’ belongings .

David Lesser
London W11

I was amused to read Keren David’s piece about Miss Tattersall’s cookery book. I have a copy in fair condition that belonged to my grandmother. She was presented with it as a prize for attendance at Poplar Synagogue Hebrew and Religion classes. It is dated  April 2 1916. 

My grandmother would have been almost 11 years old. 

She was a very good cook, able to conjure up meals which were appetising and nutritious from few ingredients. She passed on these skills to her daughters. 

I intend passing on this piece of family history to my daughter, born one hundred years after her great grandmother and named for her.

D. Feldman
Stanmore HA7 

I pity Keren David if she shudders at the thought of eating roast ox (bullock) heart. She has missed a real treat. I have to order a heart specially from the butcher who dices half of it for me. I make a hearty casserole with this half and there are no bones or waste.  The other half I roast, resting on a bed of onions and stuffing.

My Florence Greenberg (1973) gives recipes for lambs heart, ox tongue and other offal recipes, all delicious.
I am in my mid 70’s and I learned cookery from my mother. Her mother may have read your book.

Rosalind Redwood
Hitchin, Herts 

Thank you for the article on the 1895 cookery book by Miss Tattersall. On my desk, I have An Easy & Economical Book of Jewish Cookery, Upon Strictly Orthodox Principles by Mrs J Atrutel, dedicated to Baroness Lionel de Rothschild. This was published by Valentine in 1894 and remains in well-nigh perfect condition.

Some of the recipes are fascinating, particularly those for roast pigeons and legs of mutton. I still fancy the steak and kidney pudding!

There is no recipe for Christmas puddings but I have very clear memories of my grand-mother who always made hers in February and stored them until the appropriate season in her still room.

Martyn Woolf
London NW3

The end and the means

Jonathan Lewis notes the absence of balanced comments by the Two Rabbis in relation to Extinction Rebellion (Rabbi I have a problem, November 8). In that same article, I noticed perhaps a more profound disparity in anodyne implications that the Torah neither justifies a “scorched earth policy” nor “The end, no matter how noble, does not justify an unethical means.”   

The Torah is the most extraordinary honest religious document ever written. That is its lasting power. In it we find God himself directly, unambiguously and unapologetically enacting these very two policies.  

In the early part of the Torah, to save the righteous few [the “end”] he destroys the many wicked, including inevitably many innocent, by the Flood [the “means”].  The Flood is certainly a scorched earth policy, by water.  

A little later “...the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire…and He overthrew all the inhabitants of the cities. And that which grew upon the ground.” What is that if not a scorched earth policy by fire?  

In the latter part of the Torah we read of Him condoning Joshua’s forces utterly destroying the city of Jericho in the occupation of Canaan “...all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword” (Joshua 6:21). Is that not a scorched earth policy?

And in the middle of the Torah, God himself was directly responsible for the death of every firstborn son in Egypt “...from the firstborn son of Pharaoh... to the firstborn of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well.” [Ex 11:5] This was the “means” to the “noble end” of freeing the Israelites from slavery.

May we not wonder how God will judge himself on the Last Day of Atonement.

Dr Stanley Jacobs 
London SW18

Silence is a no no

Richard Verber, I can’t be with you as regards the solution to “Kiddush Etiquette,” (Letters, November 15).  

We Jews are most adept at multitasking when it comes to eating and drinking while simultaneously talking at the Shul kiddush.  Some parents can also shout at their children while performing these other two activities.  

As for the “five minute talking amnesty” at the beginning, this would likely be unenforceable, even if it’s desirable.  Many people won’t have eaten for a couple of hours at least. Furthermore, they may not have seen their friends since last Shabbat have been repeatedly been told to be quite in the service. They will be broigus with the shul management (more than usual) if this policy is adopted.

Shuls would have to install halachically-approved CCTV (Congregation Control & Tsores Verification), as well as a measurement level which is the Jewish version of VAR (Vat A Racket).  

Peace at a Shul Kiddush - feh!

Stephen Miller
Borehamwood, Herts

January 10, 2020 14:58

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