February 8: Trial and error

You need to be a super optimist or masochist in this country after all these years to think that our undemocratic, dysfunctional electoral system will ever be reformed.

February 7, 2013 23:02
3 minute read.

Letters 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )


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Trial and error

Sir, – I would not hold my breath regarding “Netanyahu vows to change electoral system” (February 6). You need to be a super optimist or masochist in this country after all these years to think that our undemocratic, dysfunctional electoral system will ever be reformed.

It is our wish that we elect a government that defends its citizens physically and economically, but more so provides a future with an honest political structure for stability. We need management and leadership that have the courage to overturn the present system of cronyism that has provided us with inexperienced, second-rate legislators who govern our way of life through trial and error.

If Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s track record of political opportunism, weakness and lack of substance is any indication, nothing will change for his promise to change the electoral system.


Halachically, yes

Sir, – Reader Jessica Fischer is right in pointing out that former New York City mayor Fiorello Laguardia’s mother was Jewish (“Jewish flower,” Letters, February 6).

It is also true that Laguardia fiercely championed Jews and was very strongly against the Nazis.

Interestingly enough, when he was assailed as “a pronounced anti-Semite and Jew-hater” in the 1922 congressional campaign in a district with numerous Jews, he declined the advice of friends that he emphasize his mother’s Jewishness. Instead, he challenged his Jewish opponent to a public debate – in Yiddish. (Laguardia won the election.) When he died his funeral took place in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The service was conducted by the Episcopalian bishop of New York, assisted by the rector of Christ Church, Riverdale, Laguardia’s home parish.


Courage needed

Sir, – In Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz’s January 25 commentary (“Parshat Beshalach: Jump into the water!,” Observations), he tells us: “Every person faces the need for change in his life” but that there are occasions on which “the person is not courageous enough to make the needed change.”

Rabinowitz illustrates the importance of change with the story of Nachshon at the shore of the Sea of Reeds. The Egyptian army was behind the Children of Israel and rapidly advancing.

God told them to go forward, but they were afraid. Then Nachshon bravely walked into the waters. Only then did the sea part, and the Israelites were able to cross safely.

This teaches that if even one of us has courage, others will follow, and then God will help us.

In Genesis 1:27 it says: “God created man in His image... male and female He created them.” If we are all in God’s image, everyone’s life is sacred, everyone is important and everyone should be treated fairly, equally and with respect.

Rabinowitz is rabbi of the Western Wall and its holy sites. There, everyone is not treated equally and with respect. The Western Wall is divided by a mehitza separating women from men. The men’s section is at least twice as large as the women’s section, but at least half of the people who come to the Wall to pray are women. As result, the men’s section is not crowded while the women’s section is extremely overcrowded, with access to the Wall being very difficult.

Women are not allowed to hold a prayer service or read Torah. If they do they are harassed and even attacked. If their tallit has black or blue stripes they are arrested and dragged off to a police station. They certainly are not treated fairly, equally or with respect.

The rabbi’s deeds do not match his fine words. May he soon become courageous enough to make needed changes. Then we can honor God by treating everyone fairly and with dignity and respect.

The writer is a Jewish educator

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