Rising costs

Sir, – With the increase cost of bread, and now the planned increase of the cost of eggs, milk and chickens, the government has again shown that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has no feelings for the lower middle class and lower economic population of Israel (“Egg, milk and chicken prices expected to rise,” August 16).

Currently we have 120 MKs on a three-month paid vacation, millions of shekels being laid out for the Knesset building’s renovations, and expensive cars given to overpaid cabinet members.

Of those cabinet members, 18 are not even needed except as Netanyahu’s bribes to other parties in order to have them in the coalition.

We in the lower middle class are having problems existing communistically. The future destruction of the Israeli population is in the hands of our political leaders, not only in the hands of Iran.

SEYMOUR BRODSKY
Jerusalem

Communal change

Sir, – After reading Judy Montagu’s column, “Neighbors” (In My Own Write, Comment and Features, August 15) and the letter, “Seat Sexism,” (August 15) in The Jerusalem Post, I was reminded of the prediction made by former UK chief Rabbi Emmanuel Jacobowitz, in his article, “Rabbis and Deans,” that appeared in the Summer 1966 issue of Tradition.

In that article, he described a sad but growing trend in every day Jewish life where the role of the synagogue rabbi was being undermined by the growing power of the roshei yeshivot, heads of the yeshivot.

The synagogue rabbi had always been the spiritual leader of his community and understood their needs and was often called to resolve their personal problems. He also referred to a rosh yeshiva for more complicated problems and passed the answer to his laymen in a humane and understanding manner. Roshei yeshiva, especially the most recent major poskim – arbiters of Halacha – are surrounded and insulated by their followers allowing them little exposure to the ordinary people who work and struggle for a living.

And this is the sad situation today where every aspect of daily life becomes more and more constricted. Unfortunately, there are too few rabbis who refuse to be intimidated and have the courage to stand up and oppose this dangerous trend.

Power corrupts, as we find in the stranglehold that the haredim have over most of religious life, such as marriage registration offices, burial societies, kashrut services and many others, all dependent on government budgets.

These services should be run by Zionistic rabbis who represent the more wholesome aspect of Jewish life in Israel today.

RAFI ROSENBAUM
Kiryat Ono

Lacking leaders

Sir, – Isi Leibler accurately describes the impending vacuum in professional Jewish leadership, especially in the United States (“Billionaires and the looming Jewish leadership crisis,” Candidly Speaking, Comment and Features, August 16).

However, he does not dig down to the root of the problem – namely that the exclusive criteria for lay Jewish leadership has long been the size of one’s bank account with no regard to actual merit, praxis or other Jewish bona fides.

Now the chickens have come home to roost. Younger American Jews are either totally cynical about so-called “Jewish leaders,” or have simply followed in such leaders’ footsteps – marrying out, indifferent to what they perceive as parochial priorities, and preferring a bigger ballpark in which to play.

Under such circumstances, why would anyone with real talent and neshama aspire to professional leadership of essentially moribund organizations? Why would a committed, caring professional Jew agree to be a flunky for people whose lifestyles and progeny make a mockery of everything Jewish that truly matters?

JJ GROSS
Jerusalem

On the home front

Sir, – Avi Dichter was and is a political opportunist in sheep’s clothing (“Dichter holds deciding vote on Iran strike,” August 15).

Twice he ran for the leadership of Kadima and twice he failed.

He wanted Kadima to join Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government, and then he opposed Kadima’s resignation from the coalition. The present government isn’t a Likud-led government, but rather a General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (sayeret matkal) government.

KEN KALCHEIM
Dimona

Sir, – The photograph and caption accompanying the article about Avi Dichter’s appointment as home front defense minister showed Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin receiving Dichter’s resignation from the Knesset at a gas station on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway.

Did neither of these esteemed and politically experienced gentlemen realize how inappropriate it was for such a resignation to be submitted at a gas station? The fact that they also posed for a photograph to record this for posterity is beyond belief.

Can we now look forward to Dichter rendering his deciding vote on a possible Iran strike at my local humous bar? Can we trust people who don't make good decisions in small matters to make good decisions in large ones? I truly wonder.

RICHARD RINBERG
Ra’anana

Back to the future

Sir, – It is always good to see an analysis by former Israel ambassador Zvi Mazel on page one (“Morsy’s velvet revolution,” August 14). He discusses Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy’s “coup” in extra-constitutionally forcing the retirement of the country’s top military leaders.

As one who served for many years in Egypt, I feel that the world has been witnessing a religio- fascist state is in the making since the Muslim Brotherhood first came to power. How should we know? Simple enough.

The Brotherhood is fanatically anti-Semitic, no excuses made.

And Egypt’s eight million Christian Copts will be the first, but only the first, to pay the price.

But, some will say, “Isn’t the Brotherhood cracking down on extremist Islamic terrorist groups in Sinai?” While historical analogies are not always useful, one begs to be made in this case. In 1934, the Fuhrer had the SS purge the SA brown-shirts, in order, in part, to win greater support from the German army and to consolidate Nazi power.

Mazel points not only to the efficiency of Morsy’s move but also to its speed. Of course, Morsy is now showing support for the Egyptian military through its operation in Sinai. Nevertheless, he also knows that US President Barack Obama might not be reelected in November.

The Egyptian president probably has no intention of withdrawing Egypt’s excess military presence in Sinai after the current operation there is successful.

Morsy may thus feel that as long as Obama is in power he can count on the US to warn Israel not to slap Morsy down when Egypt refuses to re-comply with the Camp David stipulations on force levels in the Sinai.

We are now back to the future, dateline August to November 2012.

AARON BRAUNSTEIN
Jerusalem
The writer is a retired US Foreign Service officer

History and heritage

Sir, – We have been blessed to live in an era of Jewish sovereignty in a free and independent State of Israel.

Yet, if we continue to allow our youth to ignore our history and heritage, we will be buried by our enemies (“Burying our own history and heritage,” Comment and Features, August 14)! We must, therefore, take immediate steps to re-evaluate our educational processes to ensure that this does not happen.

This is an issue of outright survival.

HAIM LERNER
Ganei Tikva

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