Sir, - Last week was filled with an incredible accumulation of powerful sights and sounds. Like many recent immigrants, I experienced the national emotional roller coaster in Israel firsthand. I joined Jews here and around the world as my thoughts and prayers whirled from the solemn to the sublime on Yom Hashoa and Remembrance Day for the Fallen, to Independence Day ("Feasts, festivities mark nation's birthday," May 4).
Of all the powerful moments, the siren's wail on both days of national mourning had a special impact.
What kept going through my mind during those awesome seconds was the fact that the nation's hearts and minds were focused on the same thing; how all of us, despite our incredibly diverse backgrounds, were managing to reflect on those who fell - even for a few moments. The idea that an entire people can stop what each is doing in order to contemplate something together is incredible.
In that vein, I propose a siren's wail next Independence Day. Can you imagine the impact it would have for all of us to stop in the middle of our celebration and festivity and think about where we are as a nation and a people, and what our destiny holds?
...on all Jews
Sir, - "Religious refashion Remembrance Day" (May 2) stated that the Remembrance Day ceremony organized by Dov Kalmanovitz on Monday evening "began a half-hour after the one-minute sirenâ€¦ so participants could avoid standing at attention." Your reporter based this contention on the false generalization that "religious Jews consider standing silently during the sounding of the siren a gentile custom foreign to traditional Judaism."
As a religious Jew who knows how the religious community in this country conducts itself, I can testify that this statement is nonsense. On the fringe of the religious community there are those (mostly haredi) who feel and act this way, but in no way does it represent the attitude of the religious community as a whole.
The power of the Lord, the Bible tells us in I Kings 19:11-12, is not in the wind, and not in the earthquake, and not in the fire - but, rather, in "the small voice of silence (kol demama daka)." And how did Aaron react to the sudden death of his sons, Datan and Aviram? He was silent (vayidom Aharon).
Standing silently, then, is not "a gentile custom," but a perfectly natural human reaction to tragedy. As in so many other domains, religious Jews feel at one with their less religious and nonreligious fellow-Israelis in observing this time-honored practice in remembrance of our fallen.
Was I right to make aliya?
Sir, - As an American immigrant studying in a Petah Tikva yeshiva, I joined other residents of that city last Tuesday night to attend festive Independence Eve services at the main synagogue on Rehov Hovevei Zion. Hundreds more packed this synagogue all day Wednesday for morning, afternoon and evening services.
Imagine my shock and pain when I switched on the radio news Thursday morning and learned that the warden and other worshipers in the 4:30 a.m. minyan had found all the synagogue's walls, including the doors of the Holy Ark, covered with swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans ("Petah Tikva synagogue desecrated," On-Line Edition, May 4).
At times like these, I wonder if I acted wisely in emigrating to Israel.
RABBI HENRY WEISS
Sir, - On Independence Day I had some time to ponder the state of Israel. Am I proud of the newly elected government made up of bitter political rivals brought together by the agenda of winning Knesset seats and ministerial positions? Am I proud of a country capable of expelling thousands of its finest citizens and pioneers from their homes? Of a government that for years has allowed its mortal enemy to rain down deadly missiles onto its citizens without responding as any other nation would?
Am I, moreover, proud of a Supreme Court exercising powers which usurp the democratic process, unlike any other democracy? Of the unbridled corruption eroding us at all levels? Of the behavior of Israelis in their homes, on the streets and roads, and in their workplaces? Of the level of violence, drug abuse and values in our youth?
In general, did I make the right decision in bringing my family here, joining our fate with Israel's?
Definitely. This is our home. Am I proud to be living in the eternal capital of the land of Israel? Definitely. Am I proud to be an Israeli? Not really... not yet.
God bless 'em
Sir, - We must really be living in messianic times when A. B. Yehoshua says that only Israelis live a full Jewish life. How right he is! ("A.B. Yehoshua sparks uproar by saying only Israel can ensure Jewish survival," May 4.)
Also kudos to Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman of the Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak for realizing that despite his view that Israel does not live up to the religious standards he would like to see in a Jewish state, the fact that Israel exists is worthy of praise ("Ponevezh Yeshiva flies flag on Independence Day," May 4).
May God bless them, the State of Israel, and the Jewish nation.
HAIM M. LERNER
Sir, - Re "Haredim protest Independence Day" (May 4): Haredim who do not wish to recognize Israel and cause problems such as raising Palestinian flags deserve to be kicked out. Let them go to any country they do recognize.
Isn't Israel for those who appreciate living there and who, most importantly, recognize the state?
Sir, - May I make two corrections to "Remembrance Day live" (May 2): The name of the school is, and has always been, Jews' Free School. The JFS moved some years ago from Camden to new premises in Kenton, Middlesex, in north-west London.
Sir, - Iran's leader has threatened to wipe Israel off the map. Now it has been reported that Israel will be its first target should the US attack Iran ("Iranian commander threatens to target Israel," May 4).
What is Israel waiting for? Must there be a second Holocaust for a wake-up call?
Sir, - All that is really happening is the Iranians' attempt to control oil prices. By screaming "War!" they receive much higher prices. What will the oil-rich countries do when we have little need for this commodity?
Arkport, New York
Kudos to Hope
Sir, - Tom Hope is a brilliant writer, and the fact that he is just out of high school makes his cogent insights even more remarkable. Kudos to The Jerusalem Post for giving him this opportunity ("Falling from a skyscraper," April 26).
Sir, - Re President Mahmoud Ahmadijenad's despicable threats against Israel, I think someone ought to remind him that the reason he is a Muslim today is because his Persian ancestors lost the original "Mother of All Battles" at Qadisiya in 636 C.E. to the conquering Arab armies of the Caliph Omar.
Arguably, had the Muslim expansion in the East been stopped by the troops of the last Sasanian king - as it was stopped by the Frankish leader, Charles Martel, 100 years later in the West - Mr. Ahmadinejad would today most likely be a Zoroastrian and feel no need to threaten the Jewish state.
I can't help wondering how this period of history is taught in Teheran schools. Something like this, perhaps: "Our wicked, infidel forefathers were justly defeated by the glorious and noble jihadists of the Prophet"?
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