Educating an MK
Sir, Not being a psychiatrist I cannot identify precisely the mental condition that forces a Jewish lawmaker in a Jewish state to ask his prime minister to halt state funding which â€œencourages religiosity among secular Israelisâ€ (â€œMK Poraz attacks Yom Kippur campaign,â€ October 10).
I suggest that MK Poraz be appointed Israelâ€™s next ambassador to the Vatican. There, in the company of Catholic priests, bishops, archbishops and cardinals, he might learn to respect and love his own religious faith as these princes of the Church honor and revere theirs.
Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv
Sir, What a sad experience it was Sunday morning listening to Avraham Poraz defend his anti-religion stance on Gabi Gazitâ€™s radio talk show. When Deputy Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior, who had been invited to present â€œthe other side,â€ wished him the traditional Yom Kippur hatima tova, Porazâ€™s response was that the only signature he recognized was the one written on a check.
Sir, What would MK Poraz have young Jews do on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar? Would he have them learn a bit about their religion and heritage, or would he rather they subscribed to the Fox credo â€œa system of values that celebrates limitless fun and sexualityâ€? (â€œFox clothing ad under fire for encouraging reckless driving,â€ October 11.) The same issue featured Police Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi describing â€œthe disintegration of social valuesâ€ as â€œthe main catalyst behind the recent escalation in violenceâ€ (â€œKaradi to â€˜Postâ€™: We need root canal to eradicate violenceâ€).
What does MK Poraz and, by extension, Shinui stand for? Good behavior and social values as promoted by minimal religious knowledge and observance, or hedonism? Give people a chance to learn about their religion, and credit them with the intelligence to decide how much they wish to observe it.
One people, one religion
Sir, With the naivete of the Little Prince but with the optimism of Martin Luther King, I hope and pray that the minds and hearts of our people will be opened, and that:
the majority of Jews in Israel will observe their religion and feel the better for it;
Ashkenazim and Sephardim will join in a unified style of prayer using a single prayer book that can be understood by all;
Haredim, Modern Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews will meld their religious customs and come together in a halachically approved but moderate Orthodoxy acceptable to the majority of Jews in Israel and worldwide;
Shema Yisrael will be recited daily in schools and universities;
the rabbis will unite in serving God and their people instead of airing their differences publicly and dividing people;
new immigrants from the former Soviet Union and the West will make their contribution and receive the encouragement they deserve;
converts to Judaism will be honored as full Jews and prove themselves worthy of it.
At the same time I worry, like the Lonely Man of Faith, about the ultimate impact of non-Orthodox movements on our core religion; about Jewish assimilation; about the terrible effect of poverty in Israel; about the influence of atheism; about the fact that in the Jewish homeland Sunday is a workday instead of a free day for shopping, traveling and enjoyment, with the result that Shabbat is often misused for these activities.
Most of all I worry that our life-giving faith has lost its message along the way.
Divide and fuel
Sir, After reading Steve Weissâ€™s â€œRabbiâ€™s pullout â€˜betrayalâ€™ article fuels bitter rowâ€ (October 6) I looked at the original article and was angered by the rabbiâ€™s stance and by his utter disregard for those for and against disengagement. Regardless of where I stand politically I stand with Israel, for better or for worse.
When â€œS.A. Halevyâ€ decides to disengage from his pen name I am certain many of us will be happy to engage with him. In the meantime I wish him the strength of character to own up to his divisive words and all the luck in the world in securing a new pulpit. And you can put my name to that.
Sir, Amotz Asa-Elâ€™s â€œSins to atone forâ€ (UpFront, October 7) was a brilliant piece of journalism. I often disagree with Middle Israel and sometimes write letters to the editor in response, but I always find the columns interesting and instructive.
Sir, I had no idea Amotz Asa-El was a follower of the Mussar movement. However, he did forget one prominent person himself. He ought to have thought twice before writing some of the things in this article and, indeed, in some other articles during the year.
May we be blessed with a better New Year, and with more tolerance of each other.
RABBI BINYAMIN WALFISH
Sir, I very much enjoyed â€œPatented experienceâ€ (Rosh Hashana supplement, October 3). Rabbi and Mrs. Landy are citizens every Israeli can truly try to emulate. Please write more about such people. I know Rabbi Landy personally, and he is as diligent in the study of Torah as he is about his work.
Sir, Further to Shira Leibowitz Schmidtâ€™s â€œThe mehitza that made waves in New Orleansâ€ (September 29): A list of Yom Kippur services with an unobtrusive mehitza in 250 community centers and other sites in Israel can be obtained, in Hebrew, by calling telemaster (03) 606-6440; or at the Hebrew site www.byachad.org.il
Sir, On October 9, a 26-year-old drunk driver from Lod, whose license had been rescinded three days before for accumulating 18 traffic violations, ran a red light and killed several people (â€œDrunk driver kills four in Lod crash,â€ October 10). The couple killed in the crash left behind three orphans aged two, four and six. If the police, courts and politicians were really concerned about peopleâ€™s safety this manâ€™s license would have been revoked long before the 18th violation.
How many more orphans and broken lives will it take to get the authorities to remove these ticking bombs from our roads?
Sir, For years we have been hearing about efforts to stop the carnage on our roads. My hope at this time of introspection and soul-searching is that when the driver responsible for this very tragic and unnecessary accident at the Lod junction is indicted it will be for murder, nothing less. Let the court treat this case seriously, for once, and impose the maximum sentence possible for each innocent victim. That would be the most effective way to serve notice to the hundreds, if not thousands, of Israeli drivers who laugh at the law.
Sir, I am an Arab-American of Lebanese descent and a Christian. I just wanted you to know that I am pro-Israel and support your right to exist. Iâ€™m sure there are plenty of other people of Arabic background that feel the same way. And, as a Christian, I want you to be assured that Jesus will save you if you would accept Him as the Messiah. All your troubles will fade away as soon as you do this. God bless Israel.
Growing up is hard to to dotabu is in. Determining where a new settlement will be established without the consent of the government is out, as is physically punishing a person who offends you. Once the tractor of the Arab was disabled the authorities should have been called in and no direct physical action taken even if, in Ranâ€™s eyes, the man deserved it.
With regard to the AIPAC case: It is obvious that Israel has many bitter enemies, and if it acts in a stupid manner it will pay the price every time.
What we are witnessing at the present time is not an anti-Zionist show trial but the bitter lessons that go along with growing up.
Sir, This evening Israel will make history by being probably the first soccer team ever to not lose a game in the European world cup qualifiers, yet not qualify! Or in other words, by being too defensive rather than offensive as an attacking force, Israel lost a place in the World Cup.
Good start to 5766
Sir, I live in a building with 72 apartments, of which 48 belong to a hotel and 24 are private. I rent a studio. I always say boker tov and hi to the different people I see who work in the hotel. Anyway, on Erev Rosh Hashana I saw this one lady who works in the kitchen and, just to make conversation, asked her if the kitchen sold food to take away.
I thought she was ignoring me, but after a coupla minutes she returned and presented me with a delicious, four-course dinner on three plates, fit for a king and refused to talk about me paying!
I reckon that was a pretty good start to 5766. What do you say?