The JC letters page, October 6

Stephen Miller, Stephen Vishnick, Larry Levine, M Hilder, Robert Dulin, Simon Adam, Chris Jenner, Victor Tunkel & Geoffrey Silman share their views with JC readers

November 02, 2017 10:03

Everyone’s problem

In his letter “Why hate?” (JC, September 22), Phil Knight asks the question “Why do people hate Jews?” He doesn’t get antisemitism (which is a good thing), then says that, as per the contents of the JC, “Jews have enough problems of their own, without us goyim adding to the mess”.

It’s true, Mr Knight, that we argue vehemently with each other (and non-Jews) about almost anything, in particular disagreeing about the fundamental tenets of Judaism which we observe to varying degrees, and in different ways. The JC’s content rightly reflects the variety of viewpoints, and covers issues that we’re at odds about.

These problems and whatever mess you deem Jews to be in, are self-inflicted and part of Jewish culture. What’s more, they’re characteristics that many of us, and non-Jews alike, recognise and can laugh about.

Antisemitism is prejudice against, hostility towards and hatred of Jews, the oldest form of racism. Nowadays it often morphs into being anti-Israel, anti-Zionism and anti anything else to do with the Jewish homeland. Antisemitism is inflicted upon Jews by others and has led to attempts to destroy the Jewish people and state of Israel over the millennia — the most recent being the Holocaust. Antisemitism and all forms of racism are problems for the whole world.

The two issues should never be conflated. I hope, Mr Knight, that your comments were intended to be light-hearted, but I felt it necessary to put my views forward as a Jew. Please, readers, feel free to disagree with me.

Stephen Miller

Borehamwood, Herts WD6


The wrong decision?

As Palestinians don’t have a state, how then were they admitted to Interpol? I perceive something fishy in the state of Denmark that will leave many in a highly precarious and dangerous state.

Interpol will no doubt be the loser with Israel now — rightly out of necessity and suspicion — less willing to share sensitive information.

Stephen Vishnick,

Tel Aviv, Israel

In a vote among its 190 members, Interpol, the international police organisation, voted to accept the “State of Palestine” as a member. The vote was 75-24 in favour.

Two salient points:

1) There is no state of Palestine.

2) If this so-called state is allowed to join such a respected international law enforcement agency as Interpol, it would be the same as welcoming all murders and terrorists into any, and all police organisations, anywhere in the world.

Larry Levine, Committee(s) 
of Correspondence,

New York 11367


For the many…

It is gratifying to read that the Labour Party is tackling antisemitism. The Jews, as always, do have to remain ever vigilant, as a leopard doesn’t change its spots overnight. If Corbyn declared that he no longer supported Hamas, Hezbollah etc and stopped being a member of Palestinian support groups, then perhaps he might be more credible in this stance. Since he will not do any of those things, the Labour Party is to be held up to suspicion about what it would do, if, God forbid, they made it to power. Remember that at the ballot box!

M Hilder

Weymouth, Dorset.

The more the likes of that odious threesome, Ken Loach, Len McCluskey, and Ken Livingstone repeat the erroneous mantra that there is no antisemitism within the Labour Party, and that it is all about undermining poor old brother Jeremy, the more any right-thinking person will comprehend that they are being deliberately disingenuous with the truth.

“There are none so blind as those who will not see”.

Robert Dulin,

London N21


All are equal

I struggle to understand the apparent tension between regular shul-goers and those who go two or three times a year (Daniel Sugarman, Sept 29 and Susan Reuben Sept 22).

I go to shul fairly regularly and both admire the commitment of those who go to shul every week and respect those who, even if their natural inclination is not to go, still make the effort to attend occasionally. There is no hierarchy: everyone is welcome and should be welcomed.

Simon Adam

Borehamwood, WD6


Alderney argument

We would like to take this opportunity to correct a grossly inaccurate report which originated in The Sunday Times, claiming “A power line from France to England could desecrate the burial ground of a Nazi concentration camp on Alderney, experts warn” (September 17 2017).

The proposed route of the FAB Project’s underground cables across 1 kilometre of the Channel Island of Alderney has been very carefully selected with input from the States of Alderney (owners of the land), the Alderney Society, the States of Guernsey Culture and Heritage Department, the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe and JTrails, who have provided invaluable expert advice to ensure there will be no impact to areas of known archaeological interest, including the readily identifiable areas marking the site of the Second World War Cemeteries on Longis Common. These were exhumed in the 1960s and the victims buried in France.

The project team are aware of reports of possible mass graves in the wider area and have taken into consideration the recommendations in the confidential report by Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls, dated March 2016, by fully incorporating the recommended protection area and revising the proposed route of the underground cable accordingly. Marcus Roberts, director of the National Anglo-Jewish Heritage Trail told the FAB Project team in September 2016 that he was satisfied with the proposed cable route and that all issues had been taken into account.

Your article (JC, September 19) incorrectly states that “numerous graves of those who died on the island have already been “severely damaged” with “greater damage” likely to come.” Firstly, the locations of the intrusive investigations undertaken in March 2016 were located outside both the site and protection area of the WWII cemeteries on Longis Common and no anthropogenic material was recorded.

Secondly, the implementation of an archaeological working scheme of investigation will ensure any unknown archaeology encountered during installation is addressed by way of standard industry best practice.

It is worthy of note that since the end of the Second World War, numerous utilities such as electricity cables and water pipes have been laid underground across Longis Common and, as far as the project team are aware, no human remains from Nazi occupation have been discovered or disturbed by such work.

The 220 km FAB (France – Alderney – Britain) Project is an international collaboration designed to transmit electricity between Normandy and south-west England to increase energy security, lower wholesale prices and increase the amount of low-carbon electricity used by consumers by providing a route to market for future tidal energy generation being developed in the seas around Alderney.

As promoters of the project, we adhere to the strictest standards and look forward to continuing to co-operate with local and international stakeholders to ensure that the project is developed sympathetically, with the least possible disruption to all concerned.

Chris Jenner

Development Manager, FAB Project


Music to the ears

It is good to see in the JC’s RH Magazine Susan Reuben’s enthusiasm for synagogue music “in many different forms”. But her article has several misunderstandings.

(1) The Masoretes did not presume to “illuminate the meaning of the Torah by adding a specific chant to each word or phrase”. What they did was to notate and preserve the existing chant and expression, perhaps a thousand years older, by inventing symbols for its music, vowels and punctuation.

(2) “Charles Verrinder wrote much of the music that now appears in the Voice of Prayer and Praise”. This, the United Synagogue’s “Blue Book”, has 368 prayer-settings. Verrinder, a non-Jew, has just one piece: Essa Enai.

(3) “Most Ashkenazi Orthodox synagogues continued to use chazanim until the ’80s, but then they began to go out of fashion.” This is a misreading of social history. Down to at least the 1950s, every major United synagogue in London had a competent chazan and a boys’ choir. In my recollection, the choirmasters were mostly Jewish school-teachers. They knew how to discipline boys and train them. The boys learned Hebrew, the music and the ritual of the synagogue, choral harmony and voice production. Parents took a huge pride hearing a son’s voice. The tenors and basses were all former choirboys. And from this core of talent came home-grown chazanim. Look at the biography of any chazan and you will read that he had been a choirboy in some past chazan’s choir.

What changed? The decline of school-mastering as a Jewish profession. With no one able to recruit and train boys, that left a generation of just adult singers, ex-choirboys, with a few chazanim. Synagogues were content with the easy option of having adult choirs with imported chazanim. But, with no breeding-ground, even that supply eventually dwindled.

One laments the passing of what was a marvellous Jewish education: boys, later adult congregants, familiar with the specificity of our rich musical tradition of prayer. Guitar-music offers very little by comparison.

Victor Tunkel,

London NW7


Burning question

1. How do I comply with the warning on the box of my yahrzeit candle to “burn candle within sight”?

2. Why do these candles rarely last 25 hours ? Is it to help with 1 above ?

3. Why are the smelling salts of my youth now an endangered species ?

Geoffrey Silman,

London NW3


Help please

I am trying to trace some family and friends I have lost track with over the years. Firstly Anthony Gordon, whose parents ran a hardware shop in Harringay at least up to the late 1950s and early 1960s. Ruth and Barbara Keizer as was, as I am sure they are now married with families, daughters of Nat and Doris Keizer and they had a brother Jonathan born after they left Harringay. Ian Sherman on of the late Reverend Jacob Sherman, Chazan of the Dalston Synagogue until it closed in 1967. Then there is Ronald Franklin who sang in the choir there with me, as well as Michael Collins who was last heard of in California in the USA and whose parents ran a public house in the Angel in London called the Pied Bull. And finally David Lang who used to live in Baronet Villas in Tottenham and moved somewhere like Hampstead in the early 1960s. Please get in touch by email at








November 02, 2017 10:03

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