(photo credit: JP)
Show real freedom
Sir, – Instead of sanctimoniously hosting a Seder at the White House and ingratiating himself with Jewish voters (“Obama hosts White House Seder,” April 20), I submit that the president should have opened the gates of freedom to Jonathan Pollard, thereby symbolizing the exodus and acquiescing to the pleas of many powerful legislators, both Democrat and Republican.
GISH TRUMAN ROBBINS
Sir, – Warm congratulations to Shmuley Boteach for his long-belated
realization that “The crisis in Orthodoxy today is the practice of
Jewish ritual without Jewish values” (“Corrupt values in Jewish dating,”
No Holds Barred, April 20). But now he needs to extend his revelation
to the whole practice of Orthodoxy and not simply to dating – important,
no doubt, but marginal.
I would invite Boteach to accept that the hyperextended interpretation
of Orthodoxy regarding a whole gamut of ritual has emptied what should
be the charm of ceremony and serenity of cultural expression of all
spiritual content. We only need to see the fanatic Orthodox obsession
regarding kashrut (especially at Pessah), the wholly illogical and
anti-Jewish cruelty inflicted on agunot, the intolerance of Orthodoxy to
anything less extremist than itself, the corruption of Orthodox
politics, and the wholesale, often violent, coercion that Orthodoxy
forces down the throats of the rational and secular majority, for whom
neurotic enforcement of Orthodox ritual down to the finest imaginable
detail is meaningless.
Compulsive, all-consuming ritual is the hallmark of today’s Orthodoxy.
When reasonable men like Boteach can realize this and begin to preach a
Judaism in which ritual serves man and not the opposite, I believe both
man and God would be better served.
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Rosh Hodesh off
Sir, – If you ask olim from the Western world, recent or long-standing,
what they miss most from the old country, chances are they will tell you
they miss having Sundays off (“This country really needs a real
weekend,” Comment & Features, April 17). But 10 years after my own
aliya, I find that there is something I miss almost as much – public
holidays during which one can relax, do things around the house or take a
Apart from religious holidays, the only public holidays we now enjoy are Independence Day and the occasional election day.
I don’t believe this country will ever make the decision to take away
one working day per week, and I’m not sure it can afford the reduction
But there is a compromise solution that would fit in with Israel’s Jewish ethos and which we may well be able to afford.
Eleven times a year (12 in a leap year) we have Rosh Hodesh, which in
essence is a semi-holiday. It would make a lot of sense to declare one
day each month a holiday when we (including the religious population)
could do all the things we used to do on Sunday.
This year, three Rosh Hodesh days fell on a Sunday, and one was on a
Thursday, which would have allowed us four threeday weekends. An
occasional midweek day off would have also been very welcome.
Apart from the improvement in our sanity and general quality of life,
the day off would be a boon to the tourist industry, as well as to major
sporting events, which would be available to the religious public as
well as those who work on our current “weekends.”
I believe it would be more productive to campaign for a monthly Rosh
Hodesh holiday, which is Jewishly meaningful and would be easier for the
economy to absorb, than an extra day off per week, which has virtually
no chance of coming about in the foreseeable future.
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