JC Reporter

The JC Letters Page, July 23 2021

JC readers share their views

July 27, 2021 11:57

True repentance

While I welcome the Church of England’s forthcoming service of repentance for its past vile treatment of the Jews (CST welcomes Church plan to repent over its Jew-hate, 16 July), I suspect that there is an essential element missing from this otherwise welcome development.

The basic reason for the extreme brutality of Christians toward Jews is that the Christian gospels encourage Christian believers to think of Jews with contempt, amounting to deep hatred, as being uniquely hostile to the Christian message.

The very fact that Jews do not follow Christianity is either regarded as a personal affront to Jesus or proof that Jews are spiritually blind or have been led astray by foolish leaders.

This has led to mockery and slander of Jews and the Jewish faith for over 2000 years, and a belief that our faith is a deceit and a danger to the faith of simple Christian believers.

The Church’s repentance should therefore not just be on behalf of past generations of Christians but also for Christians of today — as long as the Christian gospels still stir up in the hearts of many ordinary sincere Christians the need to distort, slander, mock and be offended by Judaism which is the faith of the Jewish people.

If Christians express repentance for the past Christian persecution of the Jews, while still thinking in their hearts “poor Jews, led astray by their rabbis, still enslaved to the Torah, still blindly refusing to accept the benefits of Christianity....” then their repentance is just patronising and self-indulgent sentimentality.

If Christians want this act of repentance to be more than a superficial stunt, then they must teach their fellow Christians to approach the Jewish people and the Jewish faith with respect as spiritual equals.

Dr Colin Linder, Edgware

Doing their best

Your report ‘Top rabbi reportedly admits he stopped a get which a man had agreed to give’ ( 16 July and page 8 this week) is misleading. The implication that Dayan Hool was interfering to prevent the lady from making a legitimate criminal complaint is disgraceful.

The basic problem is that a get given under the circumstances described is invalid because it is given under the threat of legal action under English law that could lead to a fine or imprisonment.

This is different from the Israeli situation where the Beit Din imposes the penalty and the secular authority merely enforces it.

What Dayan Hool was trying to avoid was arranging a get that was ineffective, on the strength of which the woman might remarry while still halachically married to her former husband, with tragic consequences.

Martin D. Stern, Salford


If a man refuses a get, surely he remains responsible for his wife’s upkeep.

As many men are persuaded to grant a get by being paid by the wife, might the requirement to support her, if he does not grant a get, be an equally effective means of persuasion?

Alan Miller, London N20

Not all Buddhists equal

Many predominantly Buddhist countries and cultures show very low rates of antisemitism (Nazis, Buddhism and Jew-hate: the deeply disturbing alliance, 9 July). Laos, for example, based on recent ADL international surveys of antisemitic prejudice, has one of the very lowest rates of antisemitism in the world, vastly lower than the UK, any European country, and the US and Canada.

Japanese Buddhism is a distinctive form of Buddhism, not necessarily reflective of the diversity of Buddhism globally. Contemporary Tibetan Buddhism under the leadership of the Dalai Lama has a warm and positive relationship with Jews and with Judaism. Contemporary American Buddhism has long had a respectful and interactive relationship with Jews, many of whom have contributed greatly to its teachings and to public knowledge about the ethical principles of Buddhism which in its American form places particular emphasis on respect for diversity, human rights, and the sacredness of all life.

Dr. Noam Schimmel, Berkeley, CA

A beam in the eye

Reviewing or rather denouncing Anne Sebba’s book on the ‘atom spy’ Ethel Rosenberg, Oliver Kamm (The Rosenbergs were both Jewish and traitors, 11 June) insists that her trial in New York in 1951, together with her husband Julius, was unconnected to antisemitism in the USA during the McCarthy era. By way of contrast, he cites the execution of Rudolf Slánský in Czechoslovakia in 1952 and the so-called ‘Doctors’ Plot’ in the USSR in 1953, both of which he sees as evidence that communism is “inevitably antisemitic”.

One of the most distasteful aspects of all three cases, however, was the way in which Jews were called upon to denounce fellow-Jews — a classic feature of antisemitism through the ages. In the Rosenberg trial, not only the defendants but prosecuting and defence attorneys as well as the presiding judge were Jewish. Only the executioner was a gentile.

Note also the decision by the judge to advance the Rosenbergs’ Friday evening execution at Sing Sing by three hours so as not to transgress the sabbath — though the couple were not exactly shomrei shabbat. As Arthur Miller later put it, “They were to be killed more quickly than planned to avoid any shadow of bad taste.”

Mr Kamm is quick to pull out what he claims is a mote in Ms Sebba’s eye: but is there not a beam in his own?

Bernard Wasserstein, Amsterdam

Cemetery in Mauritius

Whilst enjoying your recent article about Mauritius and its natural beauty and henonistic pleasures (Find your mojo in Mauritius, 16 July) I was surprised that you failed to mention an important Jewish piece of history.

In the 1940s the British authorities in Palestine did their utmost to prevent so called Jewish illegals, who were in fact desperate refugees from Nazi tyranny, reaching safety in that country. They were sent to various destinations - one of which was Mauritius.

1500 were sent there. Obviously most were in very poor health and many died and were buried there. The cemetery where they were interned is near Quatre Bornes and up to fairly recently was in a very poor condition.

Thanks to help from Jews in South Africa the cemetery now has improved substantially and provision has been made to ensure this remains so.

One hopes that future tourists will visit this place and spare a thought for the travails undergone by those who lie there.

Tony Wilder, London

July 27, 2021 11:57

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