(photo credit: REUTERS)
Columnist Susan Hattis Rolef confesses that “Passover does not have any religious meaning to me” (“About the Passover Seder, pluralism and tolerance,” Think About It, April 2).
The secular writer prefers a Haggada with additions that “make it more relevant to the present.” She concludes it is high time that ancient Jewish texts be “modernized, updated, throwing out what is objectionable.”
Missing the point of the Seder – linking each Jew to eternity, enabling Jews to participate in rituals that existed before they were born and will continue after they die – Ms. Rolef seems to feel our past is irrelevant.
Another secular Jewess, the late prime minister Golda Meir, came to quite the opposite conclusion.
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, in his book Torah Lights, relates an anecdote form a dinner honoring Mrs. Meir.
A delegation of Reconstructionist Jews approached the dais and presented her with a Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan Haggada, which substituted the Egyptian experience with the Holocaust. Mrs.
Meir quickly thumbed through it and unceremoniously (even rudely) returned it the group.
“But Madam Prime Minister, you aren’t known to be religious!” they said.
“No, I’m not. But I do make a Seder for my family. And I want my granddaughter to recite the very same words as did my grandmother. I want everyone around the Seder table to participate in eternity.”ROBERT DUBLIN
Susan Hattis Rolef repeats a common error by referring to the ancient Hebrews’ “connection to the construction of the pyramids.”
Both the Torah and Egyptian history indicate that there was no connection.
When my wife and I visited Egypt in 1984, we were told that the ancient Egyptians treated the two banks of the Nile differently.
One side was for the living, the other for the dead.
Since the structures built for the dead had to be long-lasting, they were built of stone. (Note that the pyramids were built with huge stones.) The living are here for a relatively short time, so their houses could be built of mud bricks.
The Torah tells us that the Hebrews had to make mud bricks for the structures they were building. Therefore, they were building cities for the living, not the pyramids.
HAIM SHALOM SNYDER
Petah Tikva Meidan’s shame
Regarding “Army Radio’s Meidan suspended over ‘ashamed to be Israeli’ post” (April 3), it is a sad day for us all when radio host Kobi Meidan feels ashamed to be Israeli at the very time our sons are defending our borders.FREYA BINENFELD
I, too, am ashamed that Kobi Meidan is an Israeli.DAVID STEINHART
Petah Tikva Seeing thelight
With regard to “Top Jewish Labour Party donor quits over antisemitism” (April 3), Sir David Garrard is quoted as saying: “As one of the former leading political and financial supporters of the Labour Party, of which I was a member for so many decades, I no longer feel any affinity with, or connection to, what it seems to have become.”
Now it is time to come live in Israel.
As a vegan, I read with interest “Why Israel needs kashrut reform” (Comment & Features, April 3) by Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein, a founder of Tzohar. Kudos to this rabbinical organization for trying to do this, but considering all that can go wrong from farm to slaughterhouse, butcher shop and kitchen table, the surest way to insure kashrut is through animal- free diets.
Rabbi David Rosen, former chief rabbi of Ireland, wrote in Rabbis and Vegetarianism: “As it is halachically prohibited to harm oneself and as healthy, nutritious vegetarian alternatives are easily available, meat consumption has become halachically unjustifiable.”
He also wrote that “the current treatment of animals in the livestock trade definitely renders the consumption of meat as halachically unacceptable as the product of illegitimate means.”
To be most consistent with basic Jewish values, go vegan! BATZION SHLOMI
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