The JC Letters Page May 12 2017

George Donath, Joshua Rowe, Claire Gordon, Emil and Marion Bloom, Lewis Herlitz, Peter Cave and Shimon Cohen share their views with JC readers

May 12, 2017 16:20

Schools: no need to choose between faith and excellence?

There is little doubt that there are individuals who do well, religiously, despite attending non-Jewish schools and this is especially true where they come from observant homes (Why I gain from my non-Jewish school, JC, May 5) but communities do not survive without Jewish schools.  Communities which do not have a secondary Jewish school are in decline.   

The most important influence on a child is the home and when this is reinforced by the school and by the youth movement, the odds of a child remaining true to his or her faith are greatly increased.  

When the home does not set an example of Jewish practice and observance, a Jewish school becomes even more important. That is why we are so hopeful that the growing popularity of Jewish secondary schools will result in many more of our children becoming great citizens who are knowledgeable and proud of their Judaism.   
As to the point about diversity, in my 27 years at the school and tracking our alumni, I must say that our pupils have absolutely no problem whatsoever in integrating into the professional, academic and business worlds.  

The good news is that, nowadays, there is no need to choose between faith and excellence. At Manchester’s KD, and at many of London’s Jewish schools, pupils achieve brilliant results; results which, child for child, are at least equal to those attained in the selective independent schools.  Faith and excellence make good companions.

Joshua Rowe
Chair- King David Schools – 

I completely agree with David Dwek’s comments about non-Jewish schools and fully support the importance of Jews in non-Jewish schools.  Rather than open yet another Jewish school, perhaps there should be a drive to encourage more Jewish students to take up places in secular schools and increase the Jewish presence in such schools.

Claire Gordon
Stanmore HA7

JFS is too big

I write as a JFS parent to express my concerns about the expansion of the school. In my —  and many others — opinion, it is already too big. Another 30 children is just going to make matters worse.

JFS seems to exist on its reputation. Right now, that is under threat. There are teacher shortages throughout the school, many others who are simply not good enough and children suffering because of this. Adding more children to the mix is hardly going to help.

The new executive headteacher seems to be doing a good job, but perhaps the job — and school — are simply too large.

Name and address supplied.

Burial rights and wrongs    

Reading of the burial outrage experienced by Mrs Kalmus has reawakened our own feelings of outrage concerning our experience with the United Synagogue. 

After at least 40 years’ membership of Wembley United Synagogue we moved to a suburb that did not have a US Synagogue.  After some deliberation we had no alternative but to resign from the shul. The only letter we received back acknowledged the fact and pointed out that we had lost our burial rights — after paying fees to the burial fund for 40 or more years.  

There was no expression of regret at losing us as members and this after we had both worked for the building committee for the new shul and one of us being on the board of directors for many years as well as all the usual supportive work for the community.

Surely it is time for this matter to be addressed.

Emil and Marion Bloom,
Harrow, Middlesex

No one should suffer unnecessary distress when bereaved. 

It seems to me that there need to be guidelines — agreed to between the different Jewish faith communities — which make it clear how fund transfers between burial schemes can be implemented. 

There should be a working party set up to establish and agree such guidelines. Burial is a spiritual as well as a material matter, and guidelines are required to ensure also that care and compassion are a central feature of burial scheme arrangements. It mustn’t be allowed to deteriorate solely into concerns about money. 

Lewis Herlitz, 
Leigh on Sea, Essex SS9

 Labour pains

Daniel Finkelstein tells us that, without a gigantic electoral defeat for Labour, there will be “an utter, complete, ghastly disaster for Jews”.  

Does Mr Finkelstein think that such highly exaggerated claims, with no evidence to support them, really help? What one can reasonably judge is that, if there is a gigantic electoral defeat for Labour, then, because of the Conservative government’s policies, the poor, the homeless, the ill —  be they Jew or non-Jew — are likely to suffer more than they already do.

Peter Cave
London W1

Launching his campaign to topple our community’s greatest friend in Parliament, Corbyn’s candidate for Finchley and Golders Green, Jeremy Newmark, will work “tirelessly” for a new Brexit referendum and to improve education. 

Perhaps his local party should remind him that he is supposed to be trying to represent his constituents.

Shimon Cohen
London NW5

Kasztner debate: consider conditions 

Dr Bogdanor (Letters, April 7) must be congratulated on predictability: as soon as he hears of Kasztner saving somebody he says “this was only done to facilitate destruction of others.” If this is how history is written, it must be hard to believe it.

Eichmann needed to help effect the deportations but even less so after half of Hungarian Jewry was shipped off and Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky and I were saved.

Whether Dr Bogdanor likes it or not Kasztner did save us from the wagons together with 800 others and I am here to tell the tale. It is a tragedy he could not save more, but try he did.

I am indebted to Dr Bogdanor for identifying himself as the chairman of the LJCC (previously Spiro Institute) March 5 2008 meeting. This is a meeting from which Zsuzsa Kasztner is reported to have returned saying: “The so-called chairman was not much help.”

There is an awful lot of things I do not know, but the Zionist Defence Group did communicate the true fate of Hungarian Jewry to the West both directly through members other than Kasztner and also through Kasztner’s reverse-coded messages. How else does Dr Bogdanor explain that Kasztner’s June 13th “optimistic” letter he quotes was quickly followed by the bombing of Budapest and Horthy’s order to stop deportations? It is unlikely Dr Bogdanor has seen any of the postcards he mentions. I have.

There is a consensus that Kasztner did more good than harm saving thousands of lives under incredibly difficult circumstances. Dr Bogdanor may do well to review what he wrote and reflect on the times and conditions under which Kasztner had to operate. 

George Donath
London SW1

May 12, 2017 16:20

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