While I consider most of the content of “2 more ex-defense ministers attack PM” (June 20) to be mere “king of the mountain,” back-stabbing and Israeli politics- as-usual, the closing two paragraphs, with comments by Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara of the Likud, are highly inappropriate and insulting.
With regard to former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak and his personal choice to grow a beard, one would think that the physical appearance of another person, whether a politician or just a run-of-the-mill citizen, was off-limits. In some countries, a question or comment about physical appearance can be grounds for a discrimination suit.
Besides, what does it have to do with whether an individual is or isn’t qualified to serve in an elected or appointed position? Even more disturbing, condescending and inflammatory are Kara’s remarks connecting the beard to haredim: “He looks ultra-Orthodox, so why should we listen to his advice about security?” Such chutzpah! I would posit that members of haredi society know and care about the ultimate security of Jews as much as – and in a very spiritual sense, more than – the likes of those who continue to promulgate the belief that all of Israel’s security accomplishments are the result of nationalistic power, military prowess and human effort, and have nothing to do with Divine protection.
Perhaps the time has come for those in positions of political power to look beyond the beards and speak with haredim, especially their leadership, and not down to them.
SIDNEY (SHALOM) STRAJCHER Jerusalem Empty pews...
With regard to “A Florida rabbi protested Donald Trump – and lost his job” (June 20), this story might be indicative of something far more important.
Lately, liberal rabbis and their rabbinic associations have been bending over backward to make themselves known for their progressive activism. In so doing, they mimic mainstream Protestant clergy, who also face empty pews at most worship services, but use the echo chamber of pulpits to fulminate in support of progressive causes and, frequently, against what a majority of Israelis believe is in their best interests.
This, of course, is their right as individuals. What is not their right is to claim to be speaking on behalf of their (mostly absentee and indifferent) parishioners. One wonders whether the handfuls of liberal rabbis who pop up now and then to holler leftist groupthink on behalf of “a majority of American Jews” are actually speaking on anyone’s behalf other than their own. Indeed, aside from the media, is anyone even listening? It would behoove these clergy to ask themselves whether, perhaps, they should be more engaged in the hard work of spiritual inreach rather than grandstanding leftist propaganda on behalf of constituents who are nowhere to be found and, if found, might take serious issue with their posturing.
J.J. GROSS Jerusalem ...and misleading stats
Your June 17 issue had an advertisement by Women for the Wall. It asked: “Do Reform and Conservative leaders speak in the name of Diaspora Jewry?” Their reply is clear from the first statistic: “Only 25% of American Jews are members of Reform or Conservative congregations....”
The impression this gives – that the non-Orthodox are now in the minority – is directly contradicted by the facts. According to the very same 2013 Pew survey the ad draws on, 53 percent of American Jews identify as Conservative or Reform, and only some 10% as Orthodox (though this number is growing). The difference between the figures is that Women for the Wall choose to count only synagogue membership, not affiliation, which for obvious reasons will correlate well with the Orthodox.
The choice of presenting things this way is deeply flawed and circular, somewhat akin to polling on gun control solely among gun owners. Although one could argue that only active synagogue membership allows one to speak in the name of Jewry, at the very least this would suggest that Israel’s many secular MKs do not, or should not, speak for Israeli Jewry.
I would add that the question is simple enough: Is the Western Wall for all Jews, or only for those Orthodox enough? The answer for this should be obvious, and is not to be drawn from any statistic, misleading or otherwise.
JONATHAN CLAPSADDLE Jerusalem Comforting presence
I so appreciated Caterina Lani’s observations (“A shiva for a non-Jewish attendee,” Comment & Features, June 20).
I will never forget my father’s shiva, when a guest I didn’t know came up to me and asked me to tell him about my father.
Responding to my surprise, he said: “The Jewish custom at shiva is for the visitors to listen to the bereaved, to let the mourner open his heart about the deceased, to express his memories.
Visitors are not supposed to talk about themselves at all.”
Caterina, your presence at the shiva comforted your co-worker for sure.
DONNA TZINAMON Aseret More fought them
The Jerusalem Post has every right to condemn Nazi collaboration, but not at the cost of misrepresenting the enormous Armenian sacrifice in World War II.
In “Armenian monument to Nazi collaborator draws criticism” (June 19), you fail to report that Armenia gave more per-capita combat deaths than any other nation in the fight against Nazis. Just decades after surviving the Armenian Genocide, over half a million Soviet Armenians – the majority of able-bodied Armenians alive in their homeland – fought the Nazis.
Most, including my grandmother’s first husband, perished.
Since Soviet POWs were being exterminated in Nazi concentration camps, some European Armenians pushed for their kin to receive the same option that Azeri and other non-Slavic Soviet POWs had: to be freed and join a Nazi legion.
Feel free to condemn the several thousand Soviet Armenians who chose collaboration over dying in gas chambers, but don’t ignore the half million Armenians who fought and defeated Nazi Germany.
SIMON MAGHAKYAN Denver, Colorado Engaging students
In response to “A classroom fit for the 21st century” (June 15) about educational innovation at AMIT’s Gogya Center in Ra’anana, I would like to clarify: The AMIT Network has 110 schools and educational programs throughout the country, with over 30,000 students from traditional, religious and ultra-Orthodox families.
Many of the schools operate according to the Gogya philosophy of educational innovation led by teachers in order to adapt schools to the modern age, and aim to create collaborative learning communities where parents, teachers and students are all part of a lifelong process of learning.
The Gogya concept is reflected in rethinking modes of learning and teaching, developing alternative methods of assessment, introducing experiential learning into the classroom, and more. The Gogya Center, built as a futuristic school, is physically located on the Kfar Batya campus in Ra’anana, but serves hundreds of teams of teachers throughout Israel in developing educational initiatives within the Gogya framework.
We established Gogya after conducting in-depth research and discussions with educators, taking into consideration the needs we face in today’s educational system in Israel. Consultants included experts from Harvard University and the international educational architect Prakash Nair, who designed the Gogya Center.
At AMIT, we believe that education cannot remain static. It must constantly find a way to be engaging and relevant to the student in the modern age.
AMNON ELDAR Petah Tikva The writer is director-general of the AMIT Network.