February 6: And they're off
We read “Name power” on the bus from Beit Shemesh to Jerusalem. We are sure that our busmates could not imagine what these loud Americans were guffawing about. We don’t think we have laughed so out loud in many years.
Letters Photo: REUTERS/Handout
And they’re off!
Sir, – Reading “Parties play hard to get in first day of coalition
talks”( February 4), the report that Shas co-leader Eli Yishai said “he had no
problem sitting in the opposition if it means preventing a ‘tear in the nation’
or a ‘civil war’ as a result of the coalition trying to force haredim to serve
in the IDF” requires further serious amplification.
Is one to understand
that haredim, should they be required to serve in the military, would be
prepared to kill and maim fellow Jews rather than the real enemy? Such
statements, if factual, show that the teachings of Torah, which the haredim
purport to maintain with the highest regard, are falling on deaf
“Sages, be careful in what you say lest you incur the penalty of
exile and find yourself banished to a place of evil waters, where your disciples
who follow you may drink from them and die, lest through them you cause the name
of Heaven to be profaned” (Ethics 1:11).
Notwithstanding Gil Hoffman’s
advice in his analysis piece directly below that item (“Wanted: A grain of
salt”), I simply do not have enough salt.
LEONARD E. BOOK
writer is a rabbi
Sir, – With regard to coalition bargaining over ultra-Orthodox
exemptions from the army and national service, anyone familiar with the haredi
world knows that limiting the number of exemptions will create a new form of
Yeshivot will not allow outsiders to determine which
students receive exemptions. As a result, the sons of yeshiva heads and their
relatives, haredi politicians and their relatives, rich donors and their
relatives, and the heads of the banks where accounts are kept (and their
relatives) will be the first to receive the cherished prize.
buying exemptions from the yeshiva will become very attractive so that a young
man can demand an exorbitant sum from the family of any future bride when he
goes on the marriage block. He will be a haredi rock star.
non-haredi political parties avoid such injustices and the desecration of God’s
Sir, – Jac Friedgut (“The Ed
Koch legacy: Farewell to a feisty fighter,” Comment & Features, February 4)
should know that Koch was not the second Jewish mayor of New York City but the
third, and that Abraham Beame was not the first. The first was Fiorello
Laguardia, whose Italian-born mother was Jewish.
What’s in a name
Sir, – With regard to “Name power” (Out There,
February 3), I know exactly what Herb Keinon has been through.
name is impossible for Israelis to elucidate. Never mind that it begins with the
unpronounceable hard “er” (or in my case “ir”) appellation, it is a double
whammy in having a “w” in the middle, which inevitably comes out like a Germanic
“v.” So my name comes out as “air vin,” which sounds like a celestial French
My ATM (which I still use in English, as my Hebrew would probably
cause the account to have apoplectic spasms of fraud, larceny or downright
theft) welcomes me with this: “Hello Arvin,” which, when spelled like this,
reminds one of a forest rodent.
Sure, I could use my Hebrew name, which
is Itzhak, but even in Israel it sounds like an expectorant. So I’ll remain
Irwin – but I’ll also remain Itzhak, named for my mother’s brother, who was
killed in Japan at the end of World War II, and for my father’s brother, who was
killed at Leyte Gulf.
It’s the least I can do.
Sir, – I agree that the name Herb is a bit problematic in
I have never been happy with the name, but was very surprised to
find that herbert in middle German (whatever that is ) means warrior. (It is the
name of the main street of the red light district in Hamburg; it takes little
imagination to understand the connection.) The other meaning is something you
put in food while cooking.
I can find no connection between the two
meanings. It would be impolite to ask about my research methods.
Sir, – Thank you, Herb Keinon, for a great laugh.
read “Name power” on the bus from Beit Shemesh to Jerusalem. We are sure that
our busmates could not imagine what these loud Americans were guffawing about.
We don’t think we have laughed so out loud in many years.
frequent visitors to Israel we were able to identify with Herb’s experiences.
The article surely helped prepare us for the sense of humor and perspective we
are sure we’ll need to keep for a successful aliya. And we are not sure the name
Phil will provide us with an easier time than the name Herb.
Sir, – There should be a weekly column on Sundays of
Herb Keinon’s Out There. It would be a delightful way to start the week,
especially as Sundays are a bit depressing to most new and former immigrants who
miss having the day off.
It would give a well needed boost to readers
Thank you, Herb!
Back to reality
– Having recently returned from a spiritual and restful week in Jerusalem and
the Dead Sea, respectively, I was abruptly brought back to the ugly reality that
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s weak, surrender policies continue (“PM
decides to transfer tax revenues to the PA,” January 30).
“A source in
Netanyahu’s bureau said the decision was for a one-time transfer and was due to
the economic hardships facing the PA,” you report. This was after the prime
minister met with our friendly Quartet envoy Tony Blair, where the issue was
raised. The US has also raised the issue – and of course the next step was a
foregone conclusion. After all, how can the prime minister of a sovereign state
stand up to the Tony Blairs and Barack Obamas, with their hypocritical vows of
friendship? The citizens of Israel, many of whom cannot afford heating, food,
medicines, etc., should take note that the Palestinian Authority owes us NIS 6
billion, which includes NIS 900 million for electricity and water bills, and NIS
700m. for funds advanced in the summer to pay PA salaries.
sorry for their plight even though they have proved time and time again that
they are our enemies and have sworn to destroy us.
How pathetic it all
is. We, who are in our own historic and legal land, with no obligation or even
right to consider giving up any part of it, have no leader who can stand up for
the justness of our cause.
No shame Sir, – The
salient point made in “Fighting anti-Semitism” (Editorial, January 28) related
to blatant Muslim anti-Semitism as “expressions of fanatical Jew-hatred
emanat[ing] from the Muslim world.” It is therefore paradoxical that the Israeli
government countenances Muslim anti-Semitism by denying Jewish worship on the
Temple Mount while permitting Muslim worship.
The rationale is that
Jewish worship there would incur Arab wrath and possibly lead to Arab
In the final analysis, this abrogation of Jewish religious rights
contravenes a host of doctrines on basic human rights. Regrettably, there is no
shame exhibited by the Israeli government.