It is sad to see the unraveling of one of the glorious chapters of Zionism – the rescue of Ethiopian Jews from oblivion to live as equal citizens in Israel (“Ethiopian- Israeli activists vow to continue protests,” May 11).
Julius Rosenwald, a part-owner of the American department store chain Sears, Roebuck, was a great funder of schools for blacks in the American South.
Today, so many wealthy Jews, including American billionaires who want to donate most of their wealth to philanthropy, could aid their Ethiopian-Israeli brethren.
The destruction of the family unit among American blacks is the cause of so much of their crime and misery. It is vital that the family structure of Ethiopian Israelis not be eroded. It is also in the interest of all Israelis that Ethiopian Jews not become a permanent underclass, something that would enable the haters of Israel to gloat at the country for having truly become an apartheid state.JACOB MENDLOVIC
Toronto Rabbis’ monopoly
Writing from my experience as a representative of a globally recognized kashrut authority, your editorial “End rabbis’ monopoly” (May 11) only reveals the tip of the kosher iceberg.
The reason a mashgiah (kashrut supervisor) is appointed is to ensure that the kashrut of an establishment is in accord with the codified Jewish law. Any appointment of a religious supervisor has obviously been agreed upon and accepted by the proprietor, who wishes to serve kosher cuisine.
If the proprietor wishes to display, for example, a Christmas tree for clients of other faiths, how can it possibly change the status of the food? It is being supervised by the rabbinate, not the proprietor.
Do I need to be certified or am I reading it wrong? LEONARD E. BOOK
The writer is a rabbi.
The juxtaposition of two headlines seen in your May 11 issue – the editorial “End rabbis’ monopoly” and the news item “Israel Medical Association condemns Litzman’s plan to appoint non-physician as director-general” cannot be more illustrative.
It is too ludicrous to even imagine an editorial calling to break the “monopoly” of doctors in the administration and delivery of health services, yet you call for “[d]ismantling the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly,” in this case regarding kosher supervision.
The editorial clearly acknowledges that, according to the 1983 Law for the Prohibition of Kashrut Fraud, “it is illegal to advertise a restaurant or a food product as ‘kosher’ before receiving the imprimatur of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.” This law has not yet been revoked or changed, which means that Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein acted in violation of the law with his ruling – and he has not been taken to task.
I agree with your statement terming it “an absurd situation...
in which the State of Israel’s secular institutions – such as the Supreme Court and the Knesset – can tell rabbis what is kosher and what is not.” But there is no greater absurdity than advocating for the abolition of the rabbinic role in a purely religious matter, and its replacement by those, including some members of the judiciary or legislature, who do not personally see kashrut as a primary Jewish value.MARVIN PACHINO
Jerusalem Verbiage of hate
With regard to “Clear and present danger: Netanyahu’s new gov’t” (Observations, May 8), God gave the Jewish people the Land of Israel. Unfortunately for Rabbi Dov Lipman, God did not have the mercy to include in his promised inheritance non-Jewish Russians, or to allow for questionable divorcées who might create an explosive situation just because Lipman and Yesh Atid believe that Judaism is based on emotion and not principle.
As opposed to Rabbi Lipman, I was raised according to “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” If there is a conflict, then analyze the foundation of the argument.
What the “ultra-Orthodox” (I despise these labels) want to undo is based on principle. Halacha is what a Torah Jew aspires to live by. Modern Jewry (or the coined term “modern Orthodox”) denotes an ancient Jewry.
Change for the sake of destroying the Torah’s fundamental dictates does not legitimize change in our Torah tradition, no matter how sensitive and emotional Rabbi Lipman wishes it to be.
Ahdut (unity) is wonderful. It does not have to exist only in times of war. When both sides learn how to speak, the meat of their contention can be digested much more tastefully.ZELIG SCHUR
Jerusalem Lack of character
It is ironic that former UK prime minister Tony Blair has been a character witness for former prime minister Ehud Olmert (“Olmert pleads to avoid jail: I respect the decision, do not take conviction lightly,” May 6).
The judges should dismiss the letter provided by Blair since he is both an external interloper with personal interests, as well as the official envoy of the Quartet, representing the interests of the US, Russia, EU and UN in interfering in Israel’s affairs.
Blair’s terrible economic legacy took almost eight years for subsequent Conservative governments to correct – he authorized his chancellor of the Exchequer to sell the country’s gold when the price was at its lowest. In 2005, he promised to serve his full term but resigned in June 2007, before the end of his term; immediately, he was appointed as the official representative of the Quartet – and we know how he has failed.
Currently, the official UK government inquiry into the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which was authorized in 2009, still has not published its long-awaited report, the delay being due to certain key individuals being given an opportunity to respond to provisional criticism in the draft. UK media reports attribute this delay to Blair.
All of this morally disqualifies him as a character witness.BARNEY KAYE
Edgware, UK No credible evidence
In “Is there a connection between Swedish aid and Hamas institutions?” (Comment & Features, April 28), Tobias Petersson questions the integrity of Islamic Relief Worldwide. But the Islamic Relief Worldwide I know and love has no links to proscribed organizations and works extremely hard to ensure that aid does not fall into the wrong hands.
We are a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council and a signatory to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Code of Conduct, reflecting the fact that we subscribe to the highest standards of neutrality, impartiality and independence in the delivery of humanitarian aid. Right now, our teams are delivering life-saving aid to communities devastated by the severe earthquake in Nepal and torn apart by the protracted conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
Some are risking their lives daily to assist people in need – people of all races and religions.
Mr. Petersson displays very limited knowledge of the circumstances of Ayaz Ali’s unlawful detention in Israel. Mr. Ali was held in a military prison for three weeks without access to a lawyer, and was finally released by order of an Israeli military court judge after the Israeli authorities failed to produce any evidence to bring about a charge.
We have seen no credible evidence to substantiate Israel’s claim of Hamas links, either from the Israeli authorities or through rigorous investigations. And contrary to Mr. Petersson’s slur of anti-Semitic and Islamist links, we unreservedly condemn all forms of religious hatred, including anti-Semitism, and are not influenced, let alone controlled, by any political agenda or external group.MOHAMED ASHMAWEY
The writer is CEO of Islamic Relief Worldwide.
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