I found Jonathan Boyd’s article on the social impact of bnei mitzvah very interesting, particularly that religious observance requires expense partly due to living in well-to-do areas. I see where he is coming from, from a North London/North Manchester perspective.
However, contrary to popular belief it is possible to lead a good and affordable Jewish life beyond the Jewish heartlands, in places like Brighton, Birmingham or Glasgow. Here are some suggestions:
Consider bnei mitvzah and weddings that are meaningful rather than a show-off opportunity for the parents. It’s the child’s day after all. Who wants a function with so many tables and unnecessary gimmicks that the event feels like a charity dinner?
While kosher food is more expensive, cook more and try a non-meat diet outside Shabbat. So much of our Jewish food culture doesn’t involve meat and it makes the challenge of separating milk and meat so much easier.
In terms of Jewish education, there has never been a better time to teach your children at relatively low cost with a plethora of books and resource available to buy and good online activities to access.
Alas, when it comes to shuls, that is a knotty issue. But here is a plan. Since most shuls are regularly attended by those mainly 50-plus, who by that stage of life tend to have more money than younger generations, let shuls cost you more as you get older. Why not offer free or very low membership to young people and families up until bnei mitzvah and then offer teenagers free membership rate until they are working? Radical this may be, but the investment might solve declining numbers and support a new generation of shul members and volunteers. This also needs to be met by a commitment to engage younger people in the running of the shul… but that is a subject for another letter.
The headline in your article of March 2, Snow Wipes Out Scottish Events was somewhat misleading. Apart from making the mistake of equating what happened in Glasgow with the whole of Scotland (activities do occur elsewhere), there was no “wipe-out.” It is true a few events were cancelled or postponed but, for example, at Giffnock and Newlands shul there was a well-attended Purim party on Wednesday night, a very busy Purim breakfast the following day, activities attended by around 40 children from Calderwood Lodge later that day meaning those pupils did not miss out on Purim, and a Lubavitch concert, party and meal on the shul premises early on Thursday evening. There was also a very successful Purim party for students at the chaplain’s house. In addition, shul activities continued as normal at Giffnock.
Hardly a wipe-out!
Vice Chairman, Giffnock and Newlands Synagogue
The Royal visit
It is clear that Theresa May is once again following the pattern of displaying an even-handed British policy in the Middle East at Israel’s expense by tacitly giving recognition to the “Palestinian Authority” as a sovereign entity by sending Prince William there as well as to Jordan. Strange that Queen Elizabeth has already paid a state visit to Jordan— in 1984 — and honoured Jordan with two reciprocal state visits to the UK.
Such a policy is not acceptable. Has Prime Minister May forgotten how, during the Second World War, the request made for the Allies to bomb Auschwitz death camp was rejected with the response it was too far, yet they sent their bombers to bomb the adjacent Butyl rubber plant at Monowitz?
HRH Prince William’s proposed visit to Israel concurrently with visits to PA and Jordan is unacceptable and an insult to the Jewish people and our heritage. World Jewry must call on Prime Minister May to rescind the forthcoming concurrent visit.
(Dr) Colin L. Leci,
Although it’s not the main reason why I read the JC, I do enjoy the sports reports and was impressed by the interview on March 2 with Redbridge Jewish Care defender Jason Patmore, but for one detail!
He speaks of playing with former Fulham man Sean Davies.
I suspect that he is confusing Simon Davies and Sean Davis — both former Fulham stars. Exhaustive research identifies Sean Davis as Jason’s former five-a-side team mate.
Mind you, what a delight to see a Cohen at right back again, albeit for Oakwood rather than Fulham and England!
Steve Pound MP (Ealing North),
House of Commons, London SW1
Feminism & religion
Jennifer Lipman, self-described feminist, seems to be unhappy with traditional Judaism not only when, in her perception, it does not treat women equally but also when it actually accords them superiority as with matrilineal descent ( Should mothers matter more than fathers? JC March 2).
Perhaps this indicates that she (and dare I say some other women) have unconsciously swapped feminism for Judaism as their true religion, requiring the latter always to accommodate the former instead of vice versa.
As to her suggestion that the offspring of biblical characters such as Joseph and Moses were considered to be Hebrews despite their mothers’ non-Hebraic origins she overlooks the traditional view that these women were converted to whatever constituted “Judaism” or “Hebraism” at that point in history.
Just about coping!
In the past two weeks we in South Wales have suffered an earthquake (4.7 on the Richter scale but 4.5 to you!) and, on Purim, heavy snow .
I am very disappointed that neither World Jewish Relief have sent assistance or that the IDF did not parachute in emergency supplies of hamentaschen to our community .
The only saving grace to this situation is that Oxfam have sent in no relief workers yet.
Casting the net wide
Marcus Dysch ( The spotlight shines, but not on Lib Dems, March 2) notes, in relation to Jon Lansman’s candidacy for Labour Party General Secretary, “Everyone, Mr Corbyn especially, remembers what happened the last time the far left made such an attempt at diversity”.
The far left could not, however, have succeeded in its attempt to “broaden the debate” in 2015 without charity nominations from MPs on Labour’s soft left and right. And the baleful precedent for charity nominations for far left candidates in Labour leadership elections was set in 2010, when David Miliband and his followers nominated Diane Abbott for leader
Debbie Wiseman discussed the composer Fanny Mendelssohn ( Which Jewish woman is your inspiring heroine?, March 2) She was not encouraged to have a career in music. Her father, Abraham Mendelssohn Bartholdy, told her to follow “the only calling of a young woman — I mean the state of a housewife”.
Her brother, Felix, published her compositions under his own name. An embarrassing moment occurred when Queen Victoria, receiving Felix at Buckingham Palace, expressed her intention of singing the composer her favourite of his songs, “Italien” which Mendelssohn confessed was by Fanny. (She, maybe, was not amused)!
My Jewish heroine is Eva Schloss, a lady of 88 and step sister of Anne Frank . She goes all over the world describing her experiences in Auschwitz and her liberation
Basil H Mann,
Is it just ignorance of her incredible achievement in the world of science that omits the name of Rosalind Franklin from your list ?
Your printing of the Brick Lane painting by John Allin ( Letters, February 23) was hugely evocative and heart-warming.
I was born in 1934, coincidentally the same year as the artist, and spent my formative years growing up in Fournier Street, between Brick Lane and the old Spitalfields Market.
I have been inspired to briefly research his works, and there is actually one of the Great Synagogue, which was at the end of Fournier Street, and is a perfect illustration of his vivid, primitive style.
A pamphlet book of his products has been located and ordered, and I am hoping that this work will be included.
In the pre-war year the street was a very poor area, but now the original houses have been yuppified with through lounges and pine floorings, and prices probably well into seven figures.
Fings certainly ain’t what they used to be.