The JC Letters Page September 22 2017

Joe Conway, Sarah Lyons, Russell Ballen, Jonathan Hoffman, Phil Knight, Bryan Diamond, Mackie Joseph Venet Blanton and Dave Court share their views with JC readers

September 19, 2017 17:26

What is cheder really for?

With so many children at Jewish schools now, I wonder what the point of cheder really is. I have not met a child who enjoys going, and I don’t feel shuls recognise that cheders these days need to be very different from the way they were when I grew up.

A number of them seem to be just social occasions for children who see each other at school anyway as well as another way for the shuls themselves to make money. I understand that it is difficult to find good teachers — which is not surprising as the Jewish schools find it hard to get good Jewish studies teachers, too. Maybe shuls should be honest and offer students either a learning experience for those who want to learn, whether it is learning brachot or how to leyn, or a social for those who just want to meet up. Our shul seems to think it has a great programme running but the children and parents would tell you otherwise!

I’d be interested in what other readers think.

Name and address supplied

Insulting behaviour

I have read in the JC about racism in the Labour Party and am reminded of an episode in the House of Commons in 1938, when Labour MP Emanuel Shinwell criticised the Neville Chamberlain Government for not supporting the Popular Front government in Spain during the civil war, by its membership of the non-intervention pact.
Tory MP Commander Robert Tatton Bower yelled at him to “go back to Poland”. Shinwell, construing this as an antisemitic remark, crossed the floor of the House and smacked Bower across the face. The Speaker expelled Shinwell from the House for the day.
It did not affect Shinwell’s career; he became Secretary of State in 1947 and later Minister for Defence.

Joe Conway
Shoresh 703, Israel 

We should stand together

This week’s report by the Jewish Policy Research Institute (JPRI) duplicates work by Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), but usefully covers new territory, telling us more about the provenance of antisemitism than does CAA’s work, while also disappointingly failing to survey British Jews as CAA did. Knowing CAA has been producing research on antisemitism since 2015, one might wonder why JPRI would conduct its own study, rather than working with CAA. Are our community’s resources so boundless? 

My cynicism leads me to a frustrating possibility: perhaps JPRI set out to debunk CAA’s work, and that is why they worked alone. If that was their mission, they will have been disappointed. Having combed through CAA’s and JPRI’s reports on a long flight with a very broken entertainment system, I aver that JPRI’s report fulsomely corroborates CAA’s findings over the past three years. Following the debacle of the JLC’s aborted attack on CAA, and now the extravagance of two antisemitism studies in two weeks, perhaps the Jewish communal establishment ought to begin the new year by embracing CAA rather than continuing such a self-defeating internecine territorial feud.

Sarah Lyons
London NW3

You reported (JC Sept 15) that  “An unprecedented study of antisemitism has found that views which could be described as hard-core Jew-hate are held by no more than 2.4 per cent of the British public.”

No more than? Recent figures suggest there are approximately 50 million adults in the UK, so is just over one million of them not enough? Add to that around 15 million (30 per cent of British adults showing “antisemitic attitudes at different intensities”) and the reality is much more serious than suggested by such comments that drastically and alarmingly underestimate this issue.

Russell Ballen.

Your coverage of the JPR research says “The level of antisemitism on the political left is consistent with the general population.” Unfortunately, the report understates the extent of antisemitism, because the definition used excludes all Israel-based antisemitism, unlike the IHRA definition which is widely accepted.

To say that this is highly regrettable is an understatement, with the Labour Party Conference starting on Sunday, where a crucial motion will be put by the Jewish Labour Movement, aimed at curbing racism in the Party.  Far from being “consistent with the general population”, the research finds that the proportion of the “very left-wing” holding at least one anti-Israel attitude is around 78-79 per cent, way above that for the general population (47 per cent).

The way this research has been written up does a vast disservice to the Jewish community and is an open goal for the far left, where antisemitism is concentrated. Already it has been trumpeted on a far-left website. It should be pulped and rewritten.

Jonathan Hoffman 

Why hate?

I am sorry to say that I don’t get antisemitism. Why do people hate Jews? Perusal of the pages of JC reveals enough internal strife and disagreement between sections of the Jewish population to convince any reader that Jews have enough problems of their own without us goyim adding to the mess.

Phil Knight
Powys, S716

Help needed

In my research on C. G. Montefiore, I have found an archived letter from him in reply to an article in 1933 by Arthur Headlam, Bishop of Gloucester. Among Headlam’s remarks attacking the Jews for supporting the Communists is that: “It is reported that a very distinguished Jew said that what Germany really wanted was a French occupation of Berlin.” CGM’s four-page letter does not reply to this puzzling comment (was it an English Jew?) and my online search has not found who the bishop referred to. If anyone has any idea I should be glad to hear.

Bryan Diamond
London NW3

And more help needed…

I would like to be in touch with a friend whom I haven’t seen in a number of years. I believe Albert Levy still resides in London. He has two brothers. Their family have cousins long gone from La Goulette, Tunisia. 

My wife Linda and I met Albert when we three were studying German in Köchel am See, Germany, in the 1970s. Albert visited us once when we lived in Chicago. We have lost contact over the decades. I am no longer certain about Albert’s brothers’ names. Their names may be Henry and Edward. 

I will be grateful for whatever you can do or suggest. 

Mackie Joseph Venet Blanton

Looking for family

I’m looking for any family of the very late Theodore (Ted) Lasker, MD, born February 16 1907. I have documents that may be of interest. If I receive no response, I will have no other choice but to garbage them.
Theodore (Ted) had two wives, no children from either marriage. The first wife, Florence Joan, I have no knowledge of, except for her burial location at Bushey. Wife number two was my late aunt Anne (Annie) Lasker née Court, changed from Kort (1909-10). 

I have his degree for medicine and surgery, school certificates, his seaman’s discharge and book. Anyone wishing to claim these can email me at or snail mail to PO Box 561, Station A Nanaimo, B.C. Canada. 

Dave Court
Nanaimo, B. C. Canada

September 19, 2017 17:26

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