The JC Letters Page July 7 2017

Melvyn Lipitch, Roger Winfield,James Espir, Diana Mohr, Jonathan Hoffman, Gerald Kirsh and Candice Dwek,  share their views with JC readers

July 07, 2017 15:07

The disapora’s relationship with Israel 

Israel’s Kotel ruling appears an affront to many diaspora Jews. Whether one disagrees or not with this controversial decision, Israel is a sovereign nation and its prime minister has primary responsibility to his own citizens as he sees it, and his government’s policies are an internal matter.

If being a safe haven for world Jewry is not enough for disgruntled Jews, then perhaps they should make aliyah and become constituents. 

Melvyn Lipitch, 
London, W14

Prime Minister Netanyahu might have done British Jewry a favour by finally revealing his disdain for the diaspora, as you contend in your leader “Not interested” (JC, June 30). 

The leadership of the Board of Deputies, for so long little more than an extension of the Israeli Embassy in matters concerning Israel, should now feel free to criticise the policies of the Israeli government when they are seen to be against the interests of British Jews.

Roger Winfield, 
London NW5


Charedi ‘mafia’ 

The Dweck affair confronting British Jewry is most worrisome.

Regrettably, Rabbi Joseph Dweck felt compelled to give a shiur on “The sin that has no name”.

He spoke about the way homosexuality is dealt with in the Torah. This was brave, if foolhardy, because he was eminently aware that Orthodox Judaism doesn’t want to confront it head on and continues to treat it as a “condition” that can be cured, as was  stated  by  Rabbi Aharon Bassous in his broadcasted character assassination of Rabbi Dweck.

Having listened to the way Rabbi Dweck has been vilified by him and other Orthodox rabbis in England, one gets the impression their vitriol is co-ordinated and nothing less than loshen hara. It basically stinks of simple jealousy because Rabbi Dweck is a dynamic and widely respected man who is trying to revolutionise their out-of-date views.

He was correct in pointing out that many of the most senior rabbis are not without blemish, and thus who are they to pass judgment?

We do well to remember two chief rabbis are currently incarcerated in Israel and there are many other Charedim in authority who are also convicted felons. So this shiur may have been seen as the opening salvo on the subject — though ultimately dangerous as the Charedi community is no different from any other mafia organisation — and one doesn’t break omertà without consequences.

James Espir, 
Herzylia Pituach, Israel

The treatment of Rabbi Dweck in recent weeks has been a disgrace.  In any other profession, differences of opinion are mutually respected but not so among certain sections of the rabbinate.  Furthermore, it is highly problematic whether one rabbinic authority has the right to interfere in the opinions expressed by another.  

The origins of the Spanish & Portuguese Jews Congregation go back to 1657 and it is difficult to understand why, centuries later, the S & P Congregation should be expected to adhere to halachic interpretations made by other, parvenu rabbinic authorities who do not share their history, culture or traditions.  

It is high time that individual congregations be left to manage their own affairs, rabbinic and otherwise, without outside interference from others who have assumed self-appointed roles as “halachic enforcement agents” for the rest of the Jewish community. 

Diana Mohr, 
Broadstairs, Kent

Publicity needed

Stephen Collins — who welcomes the lack of publicity for the Al Quds march (Letters, June 30) could not be more wrong. He quotes the “oxygen of publicity’ argument beloved of the Board of Deputies in bygone years. 

No, we need publicity. We need it to achieve a climate of zero tolerance for antisemitism; we need it to ensure that never again will an Israel hate march be allowed in London; and we need it to ensure that the leader of the march is prosecuted for his vile chant that Zionists were responsible for the Grenfell Tower inferno. 

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant”.

Jonathan Hoffman, 
Barnet  EN5

Under par?

I would like to comment on the problem which Mrs Thatcher had in her early days in Finchley as mentioned in the article by Robert Philpot (JC June 23).  I was the election agent for one of the two Liberals elected to the borough council in 1960.  We had a complaint from a man who had tried to join the Finchley Golf Club and the important part was that the club was being subsidised by the borough council.  

Having checked the borough’s accounts for the past 10 years and finding the club was being regularly subsidised by the council, and furthermore the council had a representative on the club committee, I went and applied for membership. The fourth question was religion and I was told: “We do not admit Jews”. 

I then replied “I do hope that will change soon” and then agreed to my candidate using this in his campaign.  The candidate in the neighbouring ward had already decided to use this information in his campaign. Both candidates were elected.

During the next three years, the number of liberals elected to the Finchley Council increased, not only in wards with a large number of Jews, so that they became the majority in the council.  

I do not remember Shirley Porter being active in our ward, where she lived, but she did give us a subscription, as did her father Sir Jack Cohen, whose photo at Hampstead Garden Synagogue is shown in the article.

Gerald Kirsh, 
London N3

Rice reopens doors

I was speechless after reading that a group of schools in New Zealand took it upon themselves to change the lyrics of Sir Tim Rice’s penned “Close Every Door” from Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, from “Children of Israel” to “Children of Kindness”.  

If this was an attempt to deny the children who were singing the song the right to knowledge of the Old Testament, they succeeded.  It makes me wonder what other elements of the story might have been changed for “political correctness”.

Perhaps they decided that Joseph’s multi-coloured coat that is central to the story, was not dipped in goat’s blood as this might offend vegetarians; that Joseph had 11 sisters instead of brothers, as this might reflect less of a male-orientated story; that any element of sibling rivalry was removed from the story lest it set a bad example to any child watching the performance.

When the next person feels the need to rewrite the Torah, perhaps this should be taken up with the lyricist and author on high. I’m pleased to learn that the schools in question reinstated the original wording after Sir Tim intervened.

Candice Dwek, 
Cheshire, WA15


July 07, 2017 15:07

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