The JC letters page, 29th June 2018

Martin D Stern, Gary Mond, Kate Green MP, Stretford and Urmston; Andrew Western, Leader Trafford Council; Cllr Rabnawaz Akbar, co chair Manchester Stand Up To Racism; Nahella Ashraf, co chair Manchester Stand Up To Racism, Lin J Ross, Samantha Geist, Jonathan Hoffman and Lesly Urbach share their views with JC readers

July 04, 2018 10:04

Non-cutting edge

Your article on the recent report by the JPR (Birth rate boom shows community is growing, JC, June 22), seems to divide the Jewish community into two groups: “mainstream” and “Strictly Orthodox”, stating that the latter accounted for the majority of births.

It continues: “However, this figure may well understate the total number of mainstream births, since it does not include Jewish babies circumcised by doctors in hospitals without a religious ceremony” — an estimated eight per cent — or those whose parents chose not to circumcise them at all” – 16 per cent

Except for the very small number for whom circumcision is medically hazardous, I would have thought that these hardly can be called “mainstream”as generally understood. In all likelihood, their descendants will not be associated with anything Jewish within one or two generations, so a more appropriate term would be “marginal”.

Including them as mainstream is wishful thinking and betrays a prejudice against the Strictly Orthodox, the only part of the community that has much chance of maintaining any Jewish identity in the long term.

Martin D Stern



Those who follow the Board’s regular announcements on its website, and the speeches and remarks of both the current president and her immediate predecessor, will know that the Board chooses to use the expression “anti-Muslim hatred” and not “Islamophobia” when describing unacceptable antipathy towards, and loathing of, Muslims.

There is a reason for this. As far as I am aware, anti-Muslim hatred is condemned by every deputy, of whatever affiliation or political view, without exception. It is a parallel virus to antisemitism, and must be fought by all religions throughout the country every bit as forcefully as antisemitism is fought.

Islamophobia, on the other hand, is a wholly different concept on which there is no unanimity of opinion as to what it actually means. Indeed, even the Oxford English Dictionary offers a choice of meaning: “Dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force”.

These alternatives cause major differences of opinion. Many deputies, including myself, and much of the Jewish community in the UK would agree that it is not unreasonable in a free society for criticisms of any or indeed all religions — including Islam — to be voiced in public.

An excellent example of someone who has voiced strong condemnation of practised aspects of Islam and the behaviour of some Muslims is none other than the government commissioner for countering extremism, Sara Khan, herself a Muslim, whose book The Battle for British Islam makes for compelling reading.

In summary, I believe that it is imperative for the right to criticise aspects of any religion to be upheld. Such a right, however, must not in any way be conflated with hatred of individuals or groups on the grounds of their religion or race. Hence, the Board’s stance on this matter of using the term “anti-Muslim hatred” is certainly the correct one and I urge it to continue to do this.

Gary Mond

JNF Representative to the Board of Deputies

Cemetery desecration

We write to express our condemnation of the desecration of, and £100,000 worth of damage to, gravestones at the Jewish cemetery in Urmston (JC, June 15).

To vandalise the graves of loved ones who have passed away is a heartless attack that hurts the living.

To relatives with family members buried in the cemetery and to the wider Jewish congregation we send our heartfelt support at this distressing time.

We know that our cemeteries are sacred places to be treated with respect and reverence. When graves were desecrated in the Muslim cemetery in South Manchester in 2009, a vigil was held to show support and solidarity. After gravestones at the Jewish cemetery in Blackley were attacked by racist vandals in 2014, more than 100 people came to help clean up and restore the cemetery.

Opposition to racism and antisemitism is essential. We need to maintain community cohesion, mutual understanding, and respect. We appeal to all from every community to unite and oppose the antisemitism that led to this desecration.

Kate Green MP, Stretford and Urmston; Andrew Western, Leader Trafford Council; Cllr Rabnawaz Akbar, co chair Manchester Stand Up To Racism; Nahella Ashraf, co chair Manchester Stand Up To Racism.

Care home

Contrary to  the Care  Quality Commission’s findings as reported in  your article about Liverpool’s Stapely Residential and Nursing Home (Care home is inadequate, watchdog reports, JC, June 22), I feel compelled to write in support of the trustee Philip Ettinger and all the staff at “Stapely Care”.

My father was discharged from hospital following a three-week stay and deemed fit to return home by the hospital discharge team even though he weighed less than seven stone, was very frail in mind and body, could not stand or attend to personal needs without assistance.

Following several attempts to find suitable local care options for my dad, I contacted Stapely who fortunately were able to accommodate my father at very short notice and we have never looked back.   

On arriving at Stapely, you are greeted with a warm, friendly, welcoming and very clean atmosphere.

The senior nursing team lead the way with a positive efficient, friendly and caring approach, which clearly filters through to all departments and staff members.

Dad is assisted in his personal care with dignity, respect and consideration, always clean, appropriately clothed, well-fed, enjoys the food and, despite his medical condition, he has flourished during his stay in Stapely.    

There are regular activities and entertainment for residents wanting to attend, garden areas and a café for spending time with family and friends.

Philip Ettinger works tirelessly looking at ways to make improvements to the site and the well-being of residents, who at present are able to watch and take interest as their “home” moves forward to provide a cinema and a walkway between the buildings that will serve to widen their horizons.     

I know we live in a world of endless red tape and bureaucracy and, yes, I don’t dispute health and safety measures are extremely important.

However, we must not lose sight of the fact that, on a day-to-day basis, being given security and the reassurance of being well looked after by staff who care about you within a warm, friendly “home” environment in old age, surely has just as great a value to residents and their families alike.

Lin J Ross


Melanie’s error

Melanie Phillips’s characteristically strident assertion (JC, June 22) that Israel’s existence  is owed, together with boundaries including Jerusalem and the West Bank, to the Balfour Declaration (JC, June 22 ) , is flawed.

The UK renounced the Mandate and the UN voted for a two- state solution, which the Arab states rejected, preferring to wage war on the nascent state of Israel.

History apart, does she really believe that there is already in law a one-state solution in which the state of Israel incorporates not just Jerusalem, not assigned to Israel by the UN , but also the entire West Bank?

Jeremy Beecham,

Labour , House of Lords

Chatam Sofer

Frank Adam’s odd request for the (ill-defined) religious to reject the “change nothing” philosophy of the Chatam Sofer in medical matters (Letters, June 22) is misguided on at least two counts. First, while politically conservative, the Chatam Sofer produced a set of ground-breaking rulings that are applied today, including lessening the stigma of suicides and allowing the non-observant to remain part of Orthodox communities. Second, even a brief glance at the pages of a paper such as Hamodia will show how all streams of Orthodoxy, including of course the spiritual successors of the Chatam Sofer, have embraced modern medicine.

Samantha Geist

London NW11

Co-opt out

Regarding the Co-Op’s Israel boycott, you quote the company thus: “We remain committed to sourcing produce from and trading with Israeli suppliers that do not source from the settlements.’

On Monday, I checked the produce at a Co-Op. The only Israeli produce was baby potatoes. The reality is that all the major Israeli suppliers source from the settlements, so the Co-Op’s policy amounts to an almost complete boycott. I did however find mange tout from Zimbabwe,which has an atrocious human-rights record. And parsley and blueberries from Morocco which is explicitly named by the Co-Op as the other nation with disputed territory. The fact is that the policy is a nonsense and discriminates against Israel. Until it is dropped, the Co-Op should be boycotted.

Jonathan Hoffman,


Sons and daughters

I am trying to make contact with anyone who was involved with, or whose families were members of, the Grand Order Sons of Jacob. My particular interest is the convalescent home at Wyberlye house, Burgess Hill, West Sussex which was used to house 50 Jewish girls from Nazi-occupied Europe between January 1939 and July 1940, I can be contacted at

Lesley Urbach

London N3

July 04, 2018 10:04

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive