Oren Oppenheim in Barkan Vineyards controversy lowers wine sales, July 2, reported that “Barkan Vineyards caused controversy last week when Israeli media uncovered its decision to transfer Ethiopian-Israeli workers to jobs in which they would not touch the wine.”
It had made the decision in order to comply with strict guidelines of the ultra-Orthodox Badatz kosher certification organization of the Eidah Hachareidit, based on its view that there was a question regarding the Jewish status of Ethiopian Jews.
While the late Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef had ruled that they were Jews, there have always been dissenting opinions.
It was suggested that the best way to get around this problem would have been for each Ethiopian to immerse in a mikve
as “giyur misafeik” (conversion based on a doubt) on arrival in Israel, but left-wing activists incited the community to refuse.
In reality, such a procedure would have been to their great advantage since it would have removed any questions of mamzerut
arising from their not having written gets over the centuries in Ethiopia.
Suggestions that the Badatz was acting on racist grounds are completely unfounded – they would have insisted in exactly the same way on keeping white Reform “converts” from handling wines under their supervision.
This whole business is just another example of left-wing secular coercion whose ultimate aim is to destroy the haredi community.
MARTIN D. STERN
Salford, EnglandFind the hummus
In his letter from July 2, “It’s all Chinese to me,” Stanley Cohen was surprised by “Chinese master chefs dazzle in Tel Aviv,” whose activities were there for local eateries to gain insight to the art of preparing oriental cuisine for the main benefit of our Chinese guests.
It might come as a surprise but although some travelers do seek the delights of local delicacies many others search for the familiar.
The Costa del Sol in southern Spain is full of fish and chip shops to the delight of the English, likewise, of course, the Golden Arches are a familiar, and some say welcoming, sight to Americans and others everywhere.
Of course testing the waters and eating local should be an exiting/interesting part of anyone’s vacation but that hasn’t stopped Israelis seeking out the numerous hummus outlets in London and elsewhere.STEPHEN VISHNICK
Regarding the July 10 piece, “Likud officials: In deal with haredim, PM harms Diaspora in nation-state bill,” MK Uri Malev of United Torah Judaism is quoted as saying “there is no value in military service and no need for it.”
I suggest he be taken at his word,and all military guards removed from ultra-Orthodox villages and towns in Judea and Samaria.CYRIL GLASMAN
HaifaThe stain remains
In the article, Genesis honors Justice Ginsburg with Lifetime Achievement Award, July 5, Maayan Hoffman writes: “She was appointed a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980.”
I must point out that in this capacity, she in 1992, together with her fellow Jewish judge on the court, Laurence Silberman, was responsible for the denial of Jonathan Pollard’s original appeal against his life sentence, meted out despite a plea bargain previously agreed to by Pollard and government prosecutors, which would have precluded such an outcome.
In his dissent, the only non-Jewish judge on the appeals court panel, Stephen F. Williams, wrote: “the government’s breach of the plea agreement was a fundamental miscarriage of justice.”
Whatever Justice Ginsburg’s other accomplishments may be, in my opinion her career will always be stained by this one decision that directly resulted in Pollard’s continued incarceration until his parole in 2015.DAVID WILK
A Halachic revolution
Regarding “Time for a Halachic revolution,” Editor’s Notes, July 6, this is shameful stereotyping of the entire Orthodox community:
“Today, most Orthodox Jews are more troubled with eating kitniyot (legumes) like rice or corn on Passover than with making every Jew feel at home in the Jewish homeland. They are more focused on obscure laws about wine-making than about the alienation and racial discrimination of an entire sector in Israeli society. This is a sad state of affairs.”
Criticizing the Chief Rabbinate or a politician for policies or corrupt behavior is, of course, fair game. Slandering a large and diverse sector of Am Yisrael – and pretending to know what most of us think – is hateful. YAAKOV KERMAIER
The author is a rabbi, president of Yakir: Diversity, Unity, Community and rabbi emeritus of Fifth Avenue Synagogue in New York City.
The separation of government and religion should be strictly adhered to.
The Knesset must decide what is best for the nation of Israel. Rabbis (perhaps the Chief Rabbinate) must decide Halacha.
As much as I agree with just about everything editor-in chief Yaakov Katz wrote in his column, there is something I feel would cause serious problems if ever implemented: proving Jewish patrilineal descent by DNA analysis.
On the face of it, it seems logical and fair, but (and a very big “but” it is) the use of such technology could have horrifying unforeseen consequences such as revealing a child not being that of the husband, thereby destroying a marriage.
Similarly, it might hand the ultra-Orthodox another weapon with which to exclude more Jews whom they do not consider kosher enough.
They’ve certainly done enough of that without hi-tech.
In any case, I do not believe that the rabbis would go for patrilineal descent, but why give them the chance?TREVOR DAVIS
I thoroughly enjoyed the July 6 Friday edition. The articles by Caroline Glick, Liat Collins, Gideon Sa’ar, Zvika Klein and Melanie Philips were excellent.
But the best of the lot was Yaakov Katz on the back page.
My own very first letter to a newspaper was written about 68 years ago. I was a 10-year-old schoolboy in Denver, Colorado.
I wrote without informing my parents, and I wrote in support of separation of church and state.
My great-grandfather left Germany in 1840 to find a better life in America. The family became part of a congregation that was a forerunner of the Reform movement.
I made a transition from Reform to observant Modern Orthodox. One thing I retained from that background is the idea that every individual deserves the opportunity to make his or her own decision with regard to religious practice, and that others should respect that decision.
I am saddened and upset by the religious coercion practiced by the ultra-Orthodox parties here in Israel.
There are many variations to Jewish observance and they all need to be given a chance to coexist. There should be no place in a Jewish state for exclusive control over religious observance (or non-observance) and practices.
Having lived in Israel for quite a long time I was always wondering why there was no civil marriage.
It seemed to me absurd that couples had to go to Cyprus. It would not be a problem for the religious population as future spouses are checked out very carefully.
I have a feeling, maybe I am wrong, that many couples would still opt for a traditional wedding even from secular families.
JerusalemIt’s the diet
The July 8 Health and Science article “Breast cancer surgeons don’t always order genetic testing for patients” points out that “genetic tests could help pinpoint the ideal treatment for [breast cancer patients].”
While we have no control over our genetics, we do have control over our diets and this could sharply reduce the risks of getting breast cancer, at a time when over 4,000 Israeli women will be diagnosed as having breast cancer this year.
This number is so high because the emphasis is on treatment of breast cancer rather than on prevention.
Many studies have shown a strong connection between the consumption of meat and other animal products and breast cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
In his book Save Yourself from Breast Cancer, long time breast cancer surgeon Robert M. Kradjian, M.D., analyzes many peer-reviewed medical reports and concludes that, “diet is the primary genesis of breast cancer.”
Since the preservation of human life is such an important mitzvah, it is urgent that the Israeli medical profession urge shifts to well-balanced plant-based diets.RICHARD H. SCHWARTZ
The writer is professor emeritus of the College of Staten Island and the author of several books. Worth heeding
Regarding “Column One: Why the concern for Unrwa?” by Caroline B. Glick, it was superb, well documented, well argued and worth heeding.
The scrapping of UNRWA will surely help to enforce senses of dignity and responsibility in the hearts and minds of millions purposely denied awareness of and sensitivity to the existence and meaning of such notions as gratitude and accountability.
Inside closed systems, facile teaching of self-righteous vengeance without truthful justification has been perpetuated for all too long, using the donations of unsuspecting “miscreants” to feed the false claims of the “faithful,” according to whom “the world” must continue to pay its “debt” to them forever.
YOSE BEN SHAPRUT
Tel AvivGood Samaritan
We just completed a wonderful vacation to Israel with our children and grandchildren. One of our daughters-in-law lost her phone in Jerusalem’s Old City.
A kind policeman suggested calling the Jerusalem lost and found in a day or two. We did so and they had the phone for us. Thanks to the person who turned in the phone! An amazing experience!ORRY JACOBS