Tough choice for British Jews
Sir, – The role of British chief rabbi (“With
Jonathan Sacks retiring, British Jews mixed on relevancy of chief rabbi,” April
18) is almost mission- impossible.
Nobody knows for certain what to
expect of the incumbent. The job specification, taken down and polished between
incumbencies, is precise on some aspects and silent on others. Every holder of
the office has molded it anew. In some ways this brought benefit to the man and
the community, in others it was a drawback because there were challenges that
were not properly faced and priorities that got too little
Prof. Robert Gordis called the priest a religious professional
and the prophet an amateur with a passionate love of God, His word and His
people. British Jewry has to decide what it wants – a priest who keeps the
wheels oiled or a prophet who asks about the future. Both require scholarship,
stamina and skill. An exceptional leader on both fronts is unlikely.
priestly figure might be easier to find. The question is whether the community
can in addition find and cope with a prophet. A free-wheeler with a prophetic
voice might not be financially beholden to the community, but he will come at
the price of freedom of the pulpit.RAYMOND APPLE
The writer is
rabbi emeritus of Sydney’s Great Synagogue
Aliya and converts
Sir, – The sick
game played by the Ministry of Interior regarding converts coming on aliya (“If
the Jews came out of Egypt today, many would be denied entry to the Land of
Israel,” Comment & Features, April 18) is part and parcel of the general
malaise whereby our religious standards are hijacked by haredi (ultra- Orthodox)
The Interior Ministry is a haredi fiefdom whose political
agenda is threefold: first, to milk as much money as possible out of the Israeli
taxpayer in order to fund willfully unemployed haredi men; second, to show
moderate Zionist rabbis who’s boss; and third (for Shas in particular), to enjoy
power for power’s sake in order to redress past insults, real or imagined. What
better way than by consigning the innocent to an endless, faceless bureaucracy!
Blame, however, cannot be placed at the feet of the ultra-Orthodox alone.
Prostitution is a two-player business. Our secular parties deliberately pander
to these minority special interests in order to maintain their own appearance of
Electoral reform would eliminate this problem.
direct elections would also eliminate the roster of mediocrities and
apparatchiks whose backsides are now glued to their ministerial
Jerusalem Appropriate dress
Sir, – Good for the prison
authorities for making former president Moshe Katsav wear the regular prisoner’s
orange jumpsuit from now on (“Katsav ordered to wear prison uniform when seeing
visitors,” April 17).
Just because he’s a former president is no reason
for him to be allowed to wear just an orange Prisons Service jacket over his
regular clothing. He should be treated like any other prisoner who is serving
time for a rape conviction.
If he doesn’t want to receive visitors in the
orange jumpsuit, then so be it.
He received no visitors from December to
the end of January because he wouldn’t wear the jumpsuit. He can now just
continue not to receive them, if that’s what he wants.
Katsav should not
be treated differently than other prisoners. He was convicted of a very serious
charge and should be handled accordingly.HANNAH SONDHELM