letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - "I don't care what [the strike's] underlying reasons are. What I care about are my clients - real people with real reasons to travel," writes Mark Feldman of Ziontours in "What do I say to Yossi, Becky and Haim?" (Letters, November 30).
Even though those "underlying reasons" are probably not Feldman's clients they are, nevertheless, also real people who, after not being paid for several months, were eventually forced to ask their union to take action on their behalf after their less intrusive protests were ignored.
While it is refreshing to hear from tour operators who care about their clients, even such considerate people would generally not provide services they were not paid for.
Dying? No, revivifying
Sir, - "[Rabbi Adin] Steinsaltz's remarks about 'dying' UK Jewry spark blame game" (November 28) quoted the rabbi saying that Judaism in Britain is dying because of "devastating" rates of intermarriage and a low birthrate and, so the report says, "Reform and Liberal leaders appearing to accuse the mainstream Orthodox sector of a lack of inclusiveness and 'complacency' over the issue." To support this, these leaders claim that "British synagogue membership is plummeting almost exclusively in the traditional Orthodox sector, while membership of the progressive Reform and Liberal sectors is actually holding steady."
This is based on a notable distortion, in that the rapidly-expanding numbers in the strictly Orthodox (haredi) section of the community have been ignored.
Over the last 10 years I have kept a record of the number of sholom zocher celebrations, held on the Friday evening after the birth of a boy, in the Orthodox enclave in North Manchester and have noted a rise - from 95 in 1995 to 149 in 2005; the indication is that that there will be a further rise this year. Assuming the birth of an equal number of girls, this would suggest about 320 births. Three-quarters of all Jewish births in Greater Manchester are now in the haredi community.
UK Jewry is not dying. It is undergoing significant change in its nature, which may well lead to its renaissance in a much more intensely Jewish form.
MARTIN D. STERN
Emeritus Senior Lecturer in Mathematics
Manchester Metropolitan University
Plymouth's the place
Sir, - Zeev V. Maizlin wrote in "The man who became 'Lawrence of Judea'" (November 28) that "the battalion trained in Portsmouth." But the soldiers who served in the Jewish regiments of the British army in World War I trained in Plymouth.
These are two different localities, remote from each other.
"Plymouth was the spot chosen as our training center," Lt.-Col. Patterson writes in his With the Judeans in the Palestine Campaign. Yet Portsmouth appears by mistake in various publications dealing with the Jewish Legion of WW1.