The JC letters page, 5th January

James Espir, Mervyn Shaya, Anthony Spencer, Russell Ballen, Jonathan Hoffman, Geoffrey Ben-Nathan, Eve Sacks and Lady Cocks of Hartcliffe share their views with JC readers

December 29, 2017 12:29

‘Reform’ is no insult

I am a fifth-generation member of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews Congregation of London.

I’m not Reform; we are an Orthodox congregation — the oldest in the UK. Rabbi Bassous insults his own intelligence if he thinks he can insult us by calling us “Reform” (JC, Dec 29).

As with the Marranos, so-named because it was the most insulting word the Spanish could call a Jew during the inquisition— only for it to be turned round and made a name to be proud of — calling our congregation “reform” is plain stupid and, in this  instance, we must turn it round and also make it something to be proud of.

The word “Reform” means “change in order to improve”. So, if he wants to call our Orthodox congregation “Reform” in order to insult us, by all means  let him do so, but we’ll take it as a compliment.

What he’s overlooking with his blinkered view is that we are a dynamic and growing young community contributing to all spheres of society  and at the same time proud of our traditions and heritage, led by a rabbi we respect, Rabbi Joseph Dweck. We are constantly trying to improve as a community.

Rabbi Bassous’s community, as with their brethren in Israel sponging off the state, expect others to pay for their security and welfare while they study. He is what you could term “Anti-specific Semitic”.

Theirs is an antiquated way of life and contributes little to society at large. They are inward-looking  and show no respect for people who don’t conform to their way.

It’s their way or no way.

He would do well to tone down his Loshen Hara  because, as he should know, it’s against Torah teaching.

James Espir
Herzylia Pituach Israel

I was saddened to read the article in last week’s edition of your paper,  Charedi rabbi attacks Mirvis over gay stance,   describing yet another attack from Rabbi Bassous on Rabbi Dweck, except this time the attack has widened to include Chief Rabbi Mirvis, the United Synagogue, LSJS, and Michael Goldstein.  As a staunch member of the Jewish Community, I am fed up reading about the squabbles of Sephardi rabbis.   

This, to me, is Chillul Hashem and is only doing damage to the Sephardi community.   This is purely a Sephardi problem and must be left to the Sephardi rabbis in the community to resolve without dragging the Chief Rabbi and the United Synagogue into it.   

Just leave our Chief Rabbi alone as he has far more pressing matters to deal with than to be drawn into a personality clash between two highly educated and well-respected people.  My message to Rabbi Bassous would be to have a little more respect and tolerance and try and resolve this problem without having to shame  a colleague in public.   

Mervyn Shaya
London NW11

Lansman at Limmud

I was shocked to see that Jon Lansman was allowed to be a guest speaker at Limmud again this year. I told them what I thought of him last year and in no uncertain terms this year.

Many years ago, when I was running Labour Friends of Israel, he was distributing anti-Israel material and insulting Israel at Labour Party conferences. 

In my opinion he is also anti-Christian and anti-homosexual. None of the so-called left-wing of the Labour Party ever speaks up for Christians being murdered all over the Arab world. They never speak up for gay people being thrown from tall buildings in Gaza. They are never outraged at the number of Christian Arabs fleeing Arab lands. They never applaud Israel for being the only safe place for Christians in the Middle East.
Jon Lansman went to Limmud to try to persuade Jewish people to vote Labour in the next election. I told him that, as long as Corbyn, McDonnell and, especially, he  himself are there, I will never vote Labour again.

My late husband, who was the Chief Whip of the Parliamentary Labour Party for years, must be spinning in his grave.

Valerie Cocks
(Lady Cocks of Hartcliffe)

Reading the article about Jon Lansman’s appearance at Limmud, I was surprised at his audacity to suggest that “Jewish Labour Zionists are unreasonably pressured to leave the Party by those on the political right of the Community”. I presume he means Conservatives.

May I remind him of the antisemitic fringe meetings at the recent Labour Conference as well as outrageous comments  by a number of their junior MPs. It seems that the panel at Limmud has trivialised the hurt and vicious smears directed at British Jews by the Labour Party and it is no surprise that many have deserted their ranks.

Jeremy Corbyn is no friend of the Jewish Community.

Anthony Spencer
Shenley, Radlett

Corbyn and respect

Regarding Brighton reader Gordon Kay’s version of current antisemitism in the UK, (Letters, December 29), it is nonsense for him to suggest it is down to “Conservative austerity policies” and absolute drivel to attribute it to “an ill-conceived Brexit vote”. Corbyn pays lip service to the Jewish community when it suits him and nobody else.  

Unfortunately, it is people like Mr Kay, who are apologists for Corbyn, who are the problem. Another misguided soul who thinks “we need to respect his position as Leader of the Opposition and potential Prime Minister” yet, in the next breath, claims: “his stance on antisemitism in the Labour Party” is “weak and ineffective”.

According to Mr Kay, that is the sort of man Jews should welcome with open arms.

How more condescending can Mr Kay get to further suggest, “by showing respect, we may be able to build a more positive relationship with him”. Where was Corbyn’s respect in not attending the official Balfour celebrations? Where is Corbyn’s respect kicking any action against his long term, antisemitic friend Ken Livingstone into the long grass? 

Mr Kay clearly needs to take a lot more of his bracing, local seaside air.

Russell Ballen
Ilford, Essex

Moonman and respect

Professor Eric Moonman OBE z’l passed away on December  22 — a week ago as I write this. Thus far, not a single Labour politician has paid tribute to a man who spent nine years as an MP, chaired Islington Health Authority and led Stepney council — as well as many other achievements on behalf of the wider and the Jewish community.  The only tribute from a politician has come from Sir Eric Pickles — a Conservative.

What a contrast with Sir Gerald Kaufman, for whom tributes (after his death last February) were paid by Jeremy Corbyn, Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair (as well as by John Bercow, Theresa May and several more Conservatives). Has Labour truly become indistinguishable from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which erased from history the names of its members who failed to conform?

Jonathan Hoffman
London EN5 

Sexual manners

Rabbi Elizabeth Tikva Sarah’s call for a “code of sexual ethics rooted in love, equality and reciprocity as being the only antidote to sexual harassment and abuse” (JC, December 29) is all very well. But she completely fails to deal with a context in which Europe’s population is spiralling headlong into oblivion.  

We are reaching a stage where  many young men feel they are in need of a government handbook to know how to make an introductory pass to a member of the opposite sex without risking being hauled into court.

Needless to say, that part of the community that has failed to pick up on the political correctness now governing behaviour towards women is reproducing at record levels.

Perhaps Rabbi Tikva Sarah together with rabbis of all denominations might produce a modern guide for the sexually perplexed.  

Geoffrey Ben-Nathan
Lapstone Gardens, Kenton

Lammy’s values

Chaya Spitz seems to claim in her opinion piece that David Lammy MP will ensure that British values, including LGBT education, isn’t taught in Charedi schools.

In which case, she has a short memory given that he voted in 2003 for repealing the section 28 ban on promotion of homosexuality in schools (consistent with his voting record on gay rights generally). Theresa May, on the other hand, chose to abstain.

Eve Sacks
London NW4

December 29, 2017 12:29

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