December 27: ’Tis the season
Who is the Chief Rabbinate to decide that I am celebrating a pagan saint?
Letters Photo: REUTERS/Handout
’Tis the season
Sir, – “Kashrut and Christmas trees” (Editorial, December 25)
failed to mention the total abuse of power by the Chief Rabbinate as to what we
can and cannot celebrate, something that has nothing to do with
Who is the rabbinate to decide that I am celebrating a pagan
saint? The first time I heard the name Sylvester was when I arrived in Israel.
All of a sudden, I’m not celebrating the totally secular end of the Latin year,
but some obscure Christian saint.
I suggest the term “Sylvester” be
dropped and we return to “New Years Eve.”
– With regard to Christmas symbols being present on the premises of
kashrut-authorized establishments, the efforts of the Chief Rabbinate to
restrict this phenomenon are to be lauded instead of
Christmas, no matter how secularized it has become, is still
a religious holiday commemorating the birth of one whom Christians regard as
their messiah and redeemer. These are concepts that fly in the face of basic
Jewish precepts, and Jews, no matter how liberal, must remember
Also, to diffuse the Chief Rabbinate’s authority in the sphere of
kashrut by distributing that authority to other rabbinical organizations would
cause chaos. The reliability of kashrut certificates would certainly come into
question, and one who is observant of kashrut restrictions would constantly be
The solution lies not in creating a messy situation but in
having more liberal Orthodox rabbis make inroads into the ranks of the Chief
HAIM M. LERNER
Sir, – As an observant Jew, I am
appalled by the recent threats to remove kashrut certification from hotels at
which New Year’s Eve parties take place (“Haifa Rabbinate warns kosher hotels
over holiday events,” December 24). Such blatant blackmail is the worst kind of
The Chief Rabbinate justified this position by
asserting that “it is forbidden for a Jew to be present in a place where ‘idol
worship’ is being conducted.” I challenge it to demonstrate one hotel party that
fits this description.
Obviously, the Chief Rabbinate has decided to
extend its monopolistic control of kashrut certification to areas that it simply
finds distasteful. It is no wonder that many Jews – both religious and secular –
are increasingly angered by the stranglehold it exercises over every element of
their daily lives.
The Chief Rabbinate may win some of the battles, but
it will eventually lose the war as a growing number of Jews are driven away from
whatever level of observance they might otherwise have adopted.
Sir, – The Chief Rabbinate should stop beating around the
bush and get to the point: “You shall not plant for yourselves an Ashera of any
kind of tree beside the altar of the Lord your God (Deut. 16)."
Sir, – “A blot on the criminal justice system”
by David Martin (Comment & Features, December 25) helps clarify a very sorry
state of affairs.
Certain people, for no other reason than their
politics, are subject to official harassment.
Just when it seemed the
Justice Ministry had decided to finally close the case on Avigdor Liberman,
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein found another excuse to continue the
For more than a generation an entire army of people have
made a living by hunting a ghost.
Sir, – The
attorney-general’s office has wasted much time and taxpayer resources
investigating a politician in a desperate bid to find something – anything – for
which to indict him and stymie his political rise, a blatant abuse of the
prosecutor’s power (“State to delay indictment of Liberman amid new
allegations,” December 24).
In the meantime, conglomerates control the
price of eggs, milk and cottage cheese, and make deals for land to build homes
that only the wealthy can afford.
How about doing your job,
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein? Sic your investigators on the corruption and
anti-trust violations rampant in this country and attack the monopolies making
our lives unaffordable.
Sir, – It is
obvious that while Gershon Baskin accepts that the whole of the mandated land
belongs to the Jews, he is unable to internalize the fact that it is not we, but
the Arabs, who do not want a two-state solution (“One-state reality – no longer
viable,” Encountering Peace, December 25).
We have given the Arabs every
opportunity to have a state of their own on our pocket-handkerchief-
of-a-country and live in peace with us. But they are shouting loud and clear
into Baskin’s deaf ear that they want all of Israel and nothing less.
we were to hand over what for the sake of Western consumption they say they want
(the right of return for all refugees, all the West Bank and the Old City of
Jerusalem – which amounts to Israel’s complete surrender), will Baskin be able
to face the families of the next round of victims? Will he be able to face the
Jewish people when the entire country is completely lost? Our leaders should
tell the Arabs that the time has come to choose whether they want a state of
their own within secure and recognized borders to be agreed upon by sitting down
together in good faith, or whether we should annex all of the land that is, in
fact, legally ours.
Should it be the latter, they can choose to remain
citizens of Israel, within which we could give them some sort of autonomy, and
those who prefer could emigrate.
What the rest of the world and the UN
think is immaterial. They have lost all proportion when it comes to the Jews and
Not the first
Sir, – I wish to inform
you of a mistake that appeared in “Engineering for haredim” (December 24) in
which your reporter refers to a program in Ashdod as the “first engineering
degree program in Israel designed specifically for haredi
The first such program was established over 10 years ago at
the Jerusalem College of Technology – Machon Lev (JCT), where over 1,500 haredi
men and women are currently enrolled. Of these, some 400 are studying a wide
range of engineering subjects in our Lustig, Da’at and Naveh institutes, which
are specifically geared toward the needs of the haredi
The writer is director of external
affairs for the Jerusalem College of Technology.
Sir, – Professor
Irwin Cotler’s cri de coeur calling on Russia to “open up the blank spots of
history and disclose the truth of Raoul Wallenberg’s fate” (“Former Canadian
justice minister Cotler: Iran must be held accountable,” December 23)
demonstrates the folly of voiding the Jackson-Vanik provisions without obtaining
a quid pro quo.
Last June, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton disagreed
with those who “argue that continuing to apply Jackson-Vanik to Russia would
give us some leverage in areas of disagreement.”
Not so fast, Hilary:
This is the centenary year of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, an honorary
American citizen. Jackson-Vanik is the imperative instrument for obtaining
release of both his remains and the Wallenberg Brief, still held fast in the
clutches of the Kremlin.