The JC letters page, October 20

Claudia Carr, Howard Erdunast,Stan Labovitch, Lord Mitchell, Sidney Spellman, Carol Caplan, Sally Berkovic, Tina Benjamin,  Alastair Falk, Peter Cave, and Rosalind Wright share their views with JC readers

October 20, 2017 14:25

Opting in… or out

The Jewish community, in its entirety, must support the proposed introduction of “opt out” for organ donation. Three patients on the Organ Donor Transplant waiting list die every day while waiting for compatible organs to become available.

Studies from around the world consistently demonstrate an increase of organ donors numbers where countries have introduced “opt out”. Increasing the number of available organ donors directly saves lives.

Understandably, the Orthodox community has concerns around the nature of organs that can be removed on death but this can be resolved with additional safeguards. Education is desperately needed to convey a clear understanding to the Jewish community of the importance of organ donation. 

There are also ethical issues. If, for example, a person is not prepared to donate a kidney on death, is it ethically acceptable for that person to accept a kidney during their lifetime?

Claudia Carr
Senior Lecturer in Medical Law and Ethics Hertfordshire Law School University of Hertfordshire

Your front page on October 13 continued the tradition that the organ transplant debate be restricted to organ donation.

How much better it would be if the focus was more on both sides of the transplant transaction. If scheme registration, whether opt in or opt out, had implications for receiving as well as giving organs, the imbalance between demand and supply would start to be addressed.

The religious debate is interesting but, ultimately, as Jews, we should not expect to receive medically what we wouldn’t be prepared to give ourselves.

Howard Erdunast, 
Pinner, HA5

I agree with Theresa May that we should change from an “opt-in” to an “opt-out” system of organ donation. As well as saving lives,it could also help break down barriers between different races and religions.

Imagine a Jew donating his liver (fresh or chopped) to a Muslim, or an Afro-Caribbean donating his heart (and soul) to a white person. 

Stan Labovitch, 
Windsor SL45

Speaking out

I wish I were able to disagree with Melanie Phillips (JC, October 13) in her assertion that antisemitism is still rife in the Labour party, but I can’t.  She has hit the nail bang on the head, as the activities at the Labour Conference last month have shown.

A year ago, and with great reluctance, I resigned from the Labour Party —  I simply could not remain in a party which permitted antisemitism to fester, let alone a party whose leader surrounded himself by people who openly flirted with antisemitism. To say nothing of their visceral loathing of Israel.

I was both surprised and disappointed when no other Jewish Labour Lords joined me, with the laudable exception of Lord Grabiner. Their reasons for remaining were predictable: We can fight better from the inside. It will pass. I don’t want to upset the apple-cart. Better to keep shtum. Party affiliation is tribal — they feel that the Labour Party, come what may, is their home,

Well, not me. My own tribal feelings are confined to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, to the Jewish people and most of all to the United Kingdom and definitely not to a party that is hostile to who I am as a person. 

Keeping shtum is not my style. All of us, and I mean all of us, need to speak out and speak loudly and often.

Melanie Phillips refuses to ignore what is happening, and neither should we.

Lord Mitchell, 
The House of Lords, SW1

The Art of Design

I read your article about émigré designers who have played a prominent part in imaging the world we live in now, but there was one name missing from the article.

Sir Kenneth (Klaus) Hugo Adam who was born in Berlin in 1921 to a Jewish family which fled to England before the war. He studied architecture and served in the RAF, one of very few people to serve with a German passport.

He impressed Cubby Broccoli with his work on Around the World in Eighty Days. He went on to design seven Bond pictures and won two Oscars and many Baftas. He also designed Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove and Steven Spielberg described his designs for that film as the best movie set ever built.

He also designed the car for Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang and was knighted in 2003, the first for a film production engineer.

In the 1990s, the Serpentine Gallery held an exhibition of his work.

Sidney Spellman, 
London NW8

Single voices

The probable reason that Rabbi Rothschild had so much trouble getting the school leadership to listen to her (Letters, October 13), is a particularly nasty piece of Palestinian propaganda which goes under the title, “Silent Voices”.

This is being circulated around schools, colleges, churches and libraries, and purports to be an exercise in teaching children to use a camera and letting them photograph their daily lives.

However their daily lives include pictures of IDF soldiers pointing guns at the camera, rockets, teddy bears covered in rubble and pictures of pomegranates, with a caption that the children eat them when they are thirsty because “Israel cuts off their water to punish them”.

This exhibition appeared at Morley College and when I complained I was told that it was the personal story of the photography teacher, who, it turned out was being paid by the Friends of Bil’in the village in question, and who when

I checked on line were being supported (and the exhibition promoted) by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

When I tried to point out the one-sided and prejudiced nature of the photos and particularly the captions underneath, I was told that, as the exhibit had been hosted by cathedrals, churches, schools and libraries, it must be all right.

When discussing “Silent Voices” with members of my class they seemed to think it must be true because “why would they lie?” These academics are buying into the narrative wholesale and this is what Rabbi Rothschild and the other parents are up against.

I have requested a right to reply, and so far have received a deafening silence.

Carol Caplan, 
London N11

In its place

Professor Otto Hutter (A Modern Genizah, October 13) is absolutely right — Anglo-Jewry needs to collect contemporary ephemera, printed materials with a short life-span, such as invitations, flyers, notices, tickets, communal reports and seasonal magazines, that attest to Jewish life.

They provide an excellent repository of primary resources for historians of the future and this “sacred trash” could also be the basis of creative educational materials. However, they are often carelessly, albeit understandably, binned.  

Readers might be interested to know that the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe launched The Jewish European Ephemera Project in 2014 — it continues to amass a collection that already has thousands of items, currently being catalogued at the National Library  of Israel and which will eventually be digitised.

While a few large American universities are already collecting Jewish ephemera, as far as I am aware, our project is the only  one focused on contemporary European Jewish life. If your community or organisation would like to participate please contact: 

Sally Berkovic
CEO, Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe
London SW1A


I read your article about the 90- and 91-year old bridegrooms of the law with interest. 

This Simchat Torah, my father, Lionel Levy aged 97, was given the honour of being Chatan Bereshit at the Harmony Close Synagogue, Golders Green.

He had the pleasure of celebrating with his children,grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Tina Benjamin, 
Pinner HA5

No thin Jew…

To add to Deborah Kahn Harris’s excellent article (JC Oct 13) on Kohelet, I feel I may be able to solve the mystery of why we recite it on the Shabbat  during Succot.  It seems to come from an old English translation error, alluding to the cumulative effects of all that yomtov eating. By this stage, it can fairly be said, “there is no thin Jew under the sun”. 

Alastair Falk, 
London NW4

We need debate

With a little reflection, we all should be depressed by your report of Moshe Machover’s expulsion from the Labour Party.  

Machover was and is critical of many Israeli policies; so are many Israelis and many Jews living outside Israel.  He pointed out how some Orthodox Jews objected to the Balfour Declaration for Israel’s formation; they did. He dared to quote Reinhard Heydrich, key advocate of the Holocaust, yet explicitly points out the sinister consequences of Heydrich.

I write as a supporter of the Jewish Israeli state, but also as an objector to those who seek to ban free speech as “antisemitic” if it dares to include reference to the history of Israel as including rabbinical doubts, if it risks running through the Nazi thinking that led to the Holocaust, and if it is prepared to challenge Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

What is happening to us — Jews and non-Jews — if we all become too scared to discuss and debate?

Peter Cave
London W1

Help needed

I am trying to trace any living relatives of Sara Moshkowitz, who was the first Jewish woman to be called to the Bar of England and Wales, on 17th November, 1925, having been admitted as a student member of Lincoln’s Inn in 1922.  

If anybody has any record of her career or a photograph of her I would be very grateful!  I am currently trying to put together an exhibition of the contribution of Jewish women to the law in the UK and the British Commonwealth, to coincide with the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, which allowed women to enter the legal profession.

Rosalind Wright QC  (Hon)
London NW10


October 20, 2017 14:25

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