letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - How unfortunate that Rabbi Shlomo Riskin chose to opt out of a meeting with the Conservative movement regarding the issue of agunot ("Riskin skips Conservative agunot parley," May 30). He should be more confident and know that he has nothing to be afraid of since he has an excellent reputation. A parley between the two movements could only help to resolve such an important issue.
If we Jews can't discuss things amongst ourselves regardless of levels of religiosity, then Heaven help us.
Sir - Hats off (and kippot on) to Orthodox Rabbi Shlomo Riskin for his decision to shun the Conservative/Masorti conference on agunot.
In a landmark decree a few decades ago regarding membership and cooperation within the New York Board of Rabbis, the head of Jewish Orthodoxy, the late Rabbi J. B. Soloveichik, ruled that Orthodox rabbis may not engage in any dialogues or discussions with Reform or Conservative rabbis on subjects related to Halacha.
As Rabbi Riskin is quoted saying in your report, "I am lobbying for solutions to the agunot problem within the boundaries of Halacha while the Conservative movement has positioned itself outside Halacha."
RABBI JACOB HOLLANDER
Let's not have a 'common Judaism'
Sir, - David Horovitz's interview with Michael Steinhardt was deeply disturbing ("Michael Steinhardt's maverick Jewish vision," May 26). One does not expect Mr. Steinhardt to disguise his beliefs, but one could expect him to be respectful of the beliefs of others and avoid vulgar language in regard to God. One wonders exactly how deep into theological writings he delved before proclaiming himself an atheist.
Did he read the work of Rosenzweig, Buber, Heschel, Steinberg, Jacobs and others before reaching his conclusions? Does he appreciate that there are non-fundamentalist ways of understanding the Bible and of positing the existence of God?
I greatly admire Mr. Steinhardt's concern for the future of Judaism and his willingness to give generously of his money for that cause. He has done much good in the past in his sponsorship of Birthright Israel. He would be well advised to invest that money in the day schools, camps and synagogues that are keeping Judaism alive, and leave the philosophizing to others.
There is nothing more naive than the belief that a godless Judaism has a chance to survive, and nothing we need less than a "common Judaism."
RABBI REUVEN HAMMER
Sir, - The reason I know that the Jews are God's chosen people is this: I was a young British soldier in the North African desert stopping Hitler's march on Cairo, on his way to Jerusalem. As a break from the front line we were sent for a rest at Tel Aviv. This was 1942-43.
As we lay on the beach we noticed a phenomenon - all the young women seemed to be pregnant, and in addition had a two-year-old running around, and were nursing a one-year-old. Forty years later I understood God's plan: Those children would have been 24-, 25-, and 26-year-old fighters in 1967 when Egypt, Syria and Jordan attacked Israel in the Six Day War. God in 1942 was raising an army in Israel which He needed for the crisis in 1967 (and 1973).
Surrey, British Columbia
Sir, - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert movingly quoted God's promise of peace and safety in the land when he addressed Congress (reported on May 25). But, tragically, the State of Israel ignores the repeated condition for fulfillment of this promise - obedience to God and His Torah.
Please read and appreciate the writings of the prophets. If we translate their words into practice, we may experience complete redemption very soon.
Saying no to gay festival
Sir, - Re "Jerusalem must uphold 'equality,' fund gay and lesbian center, court says" (May 30): In Jerusalem, where three-quarters of the residents oppose holding the international homosexual week of events in our city, our democratic rights, and respect for our views as citizens regarding the use of Jerusalem's public space, should be culturally and legally respected.
While the Western world's familial bases have largely collapsed, Jerusalem is a city that displays an unremitting belief in the beauty of family life and the value of procreation. In Jerusalem's society sexuality is respected as part of private life. We do not celebrate it by parading it on our streets.
Homosexuals produce no children, yet they are now out to come to Jerusalem to promote homosexual fairs, books, movies and workshops. The overwhelming majority of this city does not want, and has the right to not allow this to go on in our public spaces, desanctifying and desecrating the way we live.
On behalf of Jerusalem's children now and in the future, we say no to the inundation of our streets with homosexual promotion. We say no, and we mean it.
Jerusalem Mothers Against the
International Homosexual Parade
Sir, - I don't know what got into the UK teachers who condemned Israel for such discriminatory policies as building a barrier to keep out Palestinian suicide bombers ("UK teachers' union votes to boycott Israeli academics," May 30).
But just to be on the safe side, we should ban the import of British beef.
'Ethnic cleansing' bleaches genocide
Sir, - We congratulate The Jerusalem Post on its recent editorials and articles calling on the Israeli government and institutions to be more active in leading world efforts to prevent and stop genocide ("State ordered to change policy on Sudanese refugees," May 9).
But we would like to point out that use of the term "ethnic cleansing" alongside "genocide" is a severe misnomer. "Ethnic cleansing" is derived from the same idea as "Judenrein." It was coined by perpetrators of genocide to motivate their followers by expropriating pseudo-public health language to imply that genocide is somehow salutogenic.
Our own research suggests that "ethnic cleansing," a form of reverse jargon which has penetrated the vocabularies of the media, diplomacy, international organizations and medicine, has too often become double-talk for genocide. Its use has too often signaled hesitancy in stopping genocide.
The Jewish world community and Israel could surely lead the way in expunging this term from official and everyday use, because it bleaches the atrocities of genocide.
ELIHU D. RICHTER
My dream? To visit you
Sir, - I would like to make contact with a Jewish community in my town for several reasons, cultural, religious, etc., but it's very difficult for me. I'm a member of the Spanish Army and I would like to know much more about Zahal [the IDF]. Instead, I've read a lot. In the near future I expect to visit your country too. It's my dream, really.
JUAN MUNOZ RODRIGUEZ
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
Order of importance
Sir, - Reader Rose Barr writes that football is not the most important thing that's happening in the world today ("Football and other things," Letters, May 30). If she means soccer, she is quite right. Rugby and cricket are far more important.
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