The JC Letters Page March 3 2017

David Slade, Joseph Feld, Sally Halon, William Philpott, Malcolm I. Cedar and Mark (Yitz) Katz, share their views with JC readers

March 09, 2017 17:08

A very high IQ

In his column last week, David Aaronovitch expressed his frustration at "not being able to get his head around" certain practices and beliefs of the Orthodox.

It might be comforting for him to know that his frustration is shared by some of the greatest minds in history. Maimonides expresses the same sentiment in The Laws of Repentance (5, 5). No less a figure than King Solomon - the wisest of all men - complained that certain orthodox practices were beyond his ken (see Nidda 9a.)

In fact, it would be much more surprising if Aaronovitch did fully understand everything the Torah mandates. Such understanding would put his IQ on a par with God's, which would be pretty impressive.

David Slade, Salford, Manchester

Alternative view

Miriam Shaviv’s view of US President Donald Trump as a narcissist, consistently inconsistent, who is no one’s  friend may be a view shared by many British Jews. I hope the JC will print my alternative view as an American Jew living in London.  First Donald Trump was elected in a fully democratic Electoral College system dating back to the transition of the original British colonies into the United States of America.  Most Americans like Trump see the UK as their nation’s closest ally, personified by the bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the Oval Office of the White House.

While President Obama interfered in the Brexit referendum by confirming that Obama’s government would put the UK last in the queue for international trade agreements, President Trump said he would  put the UK first in the queue and I do not think Trump will change his view on this basic issue. It’s a standard American conservative view.   

President Trump has said throughout his campaign that he will stand by Israel, and this is a view that is almost unanimous among US Republicans.  Trump’s appointee as US Ambassador to the UN has made it clear after the first Security Council meeting she attended that the USA will not put up with a non-stop obsession with Israel while looking the other away at all the world’s  human rights violators. This view is shared by almost all Republicans and the Republicans now control the Senate, the Congress and the White House.

President Trump has reaffirmed that the Israelis and Palestinians must tell us what they want, as the two state solution has failed for so long, bearing in mind that the Arab states are prepared to help resolve the issue more than they have been in the past.

Regarding the invitation to visit the UK, invitations have been granted to many heads of state who are on good terms with the UK, states which have nothing like the American standard of human rights or historic links to the UK. , e.g. China and Saudi Arabia.  Why have so many protested Trump’s visit, who accepted so many other official visits by a range of heads of state? My own theory is that when liberals win presidential elections the conservatives accept it and get on with their lives. When an outspoken conservative wins the Electoral College vote but not the popular vote, the liberals find it difficult to accept, all the more so when the winner is so outspoken and has had to keep apologising for his previous views.

Joseph Feld, London NW11

Six Day appeal

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War during which Israeli troops captured the Old City of Jerusalem all the way to the Western Wall, the Wailing Wall, the last remnant of the Temple that had last been in Jewish hands almost exactly 1,900 years earlier.

Jews around the world perceived Israel to be under existential threat from her neighbours and many mobilised to donate money, jewellery and precious artefacts to the cause. Others travelled to Israel at short notice to either serve in the army as reservists or to volunteer in any way they could to assist in the war effort.

This year Manchester UJIA will be marking this anniversary with a special exhibition of photographs and stories of those from Manchester who served or volunteered and are asking those involved (or family members) to come forward with their stories.

The exhibition will be displayed at the annual UJIA Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) ceremony.

For more information please contact Sally Halon on 0161 740 1825 ext 3 or

Sally Halon, Manchester UJIA UK Programme Director

Israeli disappointment

I am sad and disillusioned.

I grew up as an active member of the Jewish state of Israel's fan club. I admired how they made the desert grow and outwitted and defeated those who tried to conquer them. I donated money to them and raised money for them.

I now see a country who have a previous President, previous Prime Minister and previous Chief Rabbi in prison for a range of crimes.

Does Judaism, the religion which gave the Ten Commandments to the world, no longer stand for morality? There will be those who argue that the convictions could not have happened in neighbouring countries without such a well developed system of justice, but Judaism should strive for the highest standards if we wish to justify the existence of a Jewish state.

We now have the situation where a soldier shot a man who was incapable of defending himself. He may have been a terrorist and mortally wounded, but had it been a member of the Taliban or ISIL carrying out such an execution, there would have been outrage in the western world. In addition senior politicians and Rabbis are saying that the soldier should not have been prosecuted and he should not receive punishment.

What has happened to the Jewish faith that we now deny the sanctity of life. Are some lives more sacred than others?

The commandment not to covet thy neighbours' possessions seems not to apply to settlers who wish to appropriate land belonging to others. The Ten Commandments are surely for the common people. They should not require a degree in semantics to excuse the people's actions.

Malcolm I. Cedar, Bromley, Kent

Why JW3 works

As one of the twenty percent (Non-Jews account for one in five visits to JW3 – JC 24th Feb) might I be permitted to say that as a fairly regular attender these days, I do so enjoy the time I spend at the centre.

Although my own (non-Jewish) Jewish journey really started in 1967 (what a year that turned out to be!) my first visit to JW3 was not until 2015 when I retired, enrolled on a couple of history courses and became a member. Since then I have also attended films, one-off lectures, the Holocaust Memorial Day last month and of course eaten at Zest.

The centre is a credit to all those who help make the venue a success in hosting a wide range of activities. The quality of some of the lecturers has been excellent and two in particular (at the risk of causing unintended embarrassment) are Trudy Gold and William Tyler.

As a bonus, after the HMD event last month I managed to speak with Howard Jacobson who had been one of my lecturers’ way back in 1980. He was of course very gracious but perhaps a little depressed to learn that one of his former students was now of retirement age!

I am often frustrated that Israel seems to have given up on PR but I hope JW3 will seize every opportunity to encourage the twenty percent to increase and help more people to appreciate the rich heritage, trials and tribulations and not forgetting the humour of the Jewish community. If I lived in London, JW3 could easily become my second home.

William Philpott, Daventry, Northamptonshire

Charedi concern

I write in connection with Jenifer Lipman’s article on “Strictly Orthodox need protection”. How heart-warming to read the concern that she has for our super Charedi friends.
However, does this concern stand up to detailed scrutiny? Is she aware of the social and welfare infrastructure already in place, the one-to-one training before marriage, the guided learning of such matters for boys and girls or their communal help organisations like Shema Koli and Respite - if things go wrong?

There is another side to her recommendations. How does the UK fare in the world league tables in terms of morality, sex-related crimes, unwanted pregnancies etc? It is so bad that most super Charedi household have highly filtered internet. Should this now be relaxed in order to make their younger generation more “understanding of the world?”

Of course, there are some rogues as there are in all societies, but I do not want to stand by as our social engineers experiment with the fastest growing part of (Anglo-) Jewry. They should not be allowed to force their “standards” on a community that functions well – as a tight knit and self-supporting community – giving to, and taking from, the world around

Mark (Yitz) Katz, London NW11

March 09, 2017 17:08

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