Sir, – With regard to “Jerusalem street-naming honor rescinded at
last minute by mayor” (April 7), the late Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz was a
towering and influential scholar who did not shrink from expressing provocative
and, to some, distasteful views. To give way to those who disagree with those
views by not naming a street in his honor is shameful.
No less shameful
is the continuing failure of the Jerusalem city council to name a street in
honor of another great personality of our times, the late Dr. Yosef
As one of the founders of the National Religious Party, Burg was a
member of Knesset from 1949 to 1988, during which time he became the
longestserving cabinet minister, holding many different
Throughout his political career he personified moderate
religious Zionism with exceptional learning, wisdom and rectitude, unblemished
by scandal or disrepute.
Perhaps Burg’s most endearing talent was his
phenomenal memory for faces and names.
For many years he lived at the top
end of Aza (Gaza) Street in Jerusalem. Surely, the time is long overdue when the
now unseemly named byway is renamed Burg Street to remind us that there can be
such a thing as an honest politician.
Caesarea Beauty and
Sir, – Perhaps articles like “The Holocaust, Rembrandt and the quest for
authenticity” (Comment & Features, April 7) can help us identify with the
true enormity of the Holocaust – just to be able to grasp for a few moments the
depths of the immense tragedy and human suffering.
I thank Nathan Lopes
Cardozo for helping bring the quest for authenticity by underlining extreme
beauty and extreme horror.JOYCE KAHN
Sir, – After
participating in one of the most meaningful ceremonies ever at Yad Vashem, my
thoughts were somewhat reflective of the terrible level of bestiality unleashed
by the Nazis, but also of the almost Divine human spirit that enabled the Warsaw
Ghetto fighters to hold out for a month.
The murderous tendency of hatred
is truly satanic. Is it possible to envision in the year 2013 that supposedly
human beings could create ghettos, concentration camps and, even worse, create
ovens to burn people? We cannot conceive of burning stray cats and dogs, or even
How can people burn other human beings? This is what can happen to
people who have gone crazy in hatred.
If we think about it we can say
there is no future for the human race. But the other side of man is different.
The Jewish people have been touched by God. The resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto
makes this so apparent.
The divine spirit made the Jewish ghetto fighters
stand up and make their mark on history, showing that one can resist the forces
of evil. By fighting, by stoic resistance to degradation, by facing God, and
through the ability to create a better world, the Jewish people showed the path
that leads to eternal values, morality, respect for human life and belief in
Jerusalem Not all had visas
Sir, – In “From the
heart of Europe to the Far East: German Jewish refugees in Shanghai” (Comment
& Features, April 7), Guy Miron writes that 30,000 males were arrested after
Kristallnacht and were released only if they had a visa to another
My father came back after three weeks in Dachau with other men
from my hometown.
They had no visas to any other country.
parents left Germany in April 1939. We children went on a
Petah Tikva Anti-unity
Sir, – Gil Troy
(“Why I am not ‘Orthodox’ – or ‘secular,’” Center Field, April 3) attempts to
bring the important question of change in religious Judaism to the forefront
while sadly undermining other important beliefs of the religious community in
his attempt to find the truth.
Toward the end of the second paragraph he
brings up the one of Judaism’s central themes: Jewish unity. Throughout the
column, however, he does his best to destroy this important
Troy describes the Ashkenazic ban on legumes as restrictive
(certainly accurate) and absurd (possibly accurate, although it certainly
portrays negativity upon the tradition of refraining from eating kitniyot), and
also claims that it stemmed from “medieval superstition” and evolved into a
“modern mishugas,” a clear and open attempt to discredit this tradition and the
segment of the population that subscribes to it.
Any Jew who truly
embraces Jewish unity would not take the kitniyot ban as an opportunity to bash
a large segment of the community.
Troy claims there are many American
Jews who consider themselves Orthodox who “demean Israel’s holiness by importing
their foreign habits to the Holy Land” because they celebrate some holidays for
two days, as is done in the Diaspora.
Even if they are wrong, to portray
this large group in such a negative way is upsetting. The path taken by
stereotyping and insulting other Jews does not lead to Jewish unity.
also seems to have a very dull sense of what tradition and religious Judaism are
all about. At the beginning of the article he seems very proud to embrace the
“fun, expansive and Torahtrue Sephardi tradition.” Being that many laws and
important traditions are not “fun, expansive and Torah-true,” I don’t think
motivation for changing deeprooted tradition should be based on these
He also uses “eating cheesecake” as the best example of a
deep-rooted Shavuot tradition.
Shavuot is a celebration of receiving the
Torah from God on Mount Sinai, not a day of partying.
entirely rejects the idea that God cares about many ritual matters. Although I
cannot confirm that the Almighty has an opinion on kitniyot, it seems more
logical that He would in fact care about things related to serving Him and not
encourage changing tradition for trivial reasons.
Orthodoxy in general
puts an emphasis on tradition and tries to advance as much as it can without
damaging what it deems critical religious values. But its adherents certainly
put a focus on Jewish unity.ELIEZER DIENA
Jerusalem/Toronto Gil Troy
responds: Please read my entire column. If you do not see my reverence for
tradition, my pride in my religiosity, my love of Judaism and the Jewish people,
please read it again. I did not mean to offend. I did mean to provoke a debate
we need to have within the different Jewish streams and between th
em about the
nature of change and the meaning of our tradition in the modern
Sir, – Once again we approach Rosh Hodesh.
And once again we can anticipate the harassment of the Women of the Wall by
police, and the invasion of their devotional privacy by media piranhas. Surely,
Anat Hoffman and her associates come with serious spiritual intent, desiring
nothing more than to be left alone to pray as they see fit.
video crews, the ceaseless clicking of press cameras and the relentless barrage
of questions by insensitive reporters is not conducive to the kind of prayer and
meditation these women desire. It would therefore make sense for the authorities
to back off and allow them to wear their prayer shawls and phylacteries, and
recite Kaddish without hindrance.
At the same time, all media should be
banned from the Western Wall area from two hours before these women gather until
two hours after they have concluded their services. A spiritual gathering should
not be a media circus.J.J. GROSS