(photo credit: Courtesy)
Praise the good
Sir, - I share the outrage of Prof. Amnon Rubinstein, whose student, requesting information for a paper he was writing, was rebuffed by a professor from Ireland observing an academic boycott of Israel ("Do not call me," July 8).
As one who monitored the Irish press during Israel's war in Gaza, I noticed that Ireland was one of Europe's most hostile countries toward Israel.
That said, I was surprised and delighted by prominent Irish who defended Israel vigorously. As hakarat hatov - appreciating the good that someone does you - is a Jewish imperative, let us recognize them:
David Adams, columnist for the Irish Times; Bruce Arnold, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Kevin Myers, Ian O'Doherty and David Quinn, columnists for the Irish Independent; Tom Carew, chair, Ireland-Israel Friendship League, and Sean Gannon, chairman, Irish Friends of Israel.
Respect for all...
Sir, - We are religious haredim raised with a profound respect for every single Jew, no matter what his/her stripe or color. We were deeply dismayed by the photo of a haredi hooligan ("Orthodox readers react strongly to haredi violence in Jerusalem," Letters, July 9).
This person does not represent mainstream haredi values, and we disassociate ourselves from him and his ilk.
We and just about all the haredim we know educate our children to interact nicely and respectfully with every person, Jew or non-Jew, religious or secular, young or old, man or woman.
THE ZOLTY FAMILY
Sir, - I passionately support Rabbi Yakov Horowitz's campaign to speak out against the violent hooligans in haredi garb who falsely represent the haredi community to the public ("American rabbi urges haredi leaders to condemn violence in Jerusalem," July 8).
In my early twenties, I chose to join this community of peace-loving, dedicated and warm people. It's a good thing I didn't have my eye on the media then, or I might have gotten the mistaken idea that the community condones violence and hatred.
Please stop splashing these people's photos across the paper as if they represent us! Or at least mention that they are aberrations of a community that rejects them as its spokespeople.
...equals respect for the Creator
Sir, - I concur with Rabbi Yakov Horowitz in rejecting the intolerable behavior of a small group of hooligans who wear religious garb.
People who spit on reporters, throw rocks, and call other Jews "Nazis" are miscreants who defile the image of the Creator in whose image we are made. They should be spat out of their communities, and every religious institution should make clear that these tactics are not those of anyone steeped in Judaism.
RABBI LEONARD OBERSTEIN
Sir, - I want it to be clear that using violence in a protest is anti-Torah. These people do not represent my concern that Shabbat not become Saturday. Focusing media coverage on a fringe element of the religious community presents a distorted picture of religious Jews in Israel, the vast majority of whom are law-abiding, caring and responsible citizens.
Saying this, doing that
Sir, - Marchal Kaplan's protest at a criminal yeshiva student being identified as haredi (Letters, July 8) is missing the point.
The haredim, unlike other communities, profess the only legitimate claim to a morally guided Judaism. The term for people who preach one thing and do another is "hypocrites." That is why they should be identified.
The case for patrilineality
Sir, - I know Raymond Apple and respect his vast knowledge, as evidenced in "Matrilineality is still best for Jewish identity" (July 8). However, I must disagree with his conclusion.
First of all, even he admits that the idea of following identity through the mother was not original Halacha, but a historical development. If so, we are entitled to allow other and new historical considerations to be looked at.
Jewish identity can be either spiritual, via conversion, or by birth, having Jewish parents.
If we are prepared to grant Jewish status to the convert, without biological inheritance, and if we grant Jewish identity to the child of Jewish parents who knows nothing and observes nothing of Judaism, how can we reject the Jewishness of the child of a Jewish father? The biological element is there, and the religious observance of the child is never an issue in Halacha.
Shall we argue, as Rabbi Apple does, that maternity is certain and paternity always uncertain? And if so, how can we call the son of a Kohen a Kohen, if we are not certain this son came from this father? And what if we are not certain that the mother is really the mother - if there were no witnesses to the actual birth?
Hence it seems to me that the child of a father who claims to be Jewish - and to be his or her father - should be accepted as a Jew. If the fact of a gentile father does not disqualify the child, why should the fact of a gentile mother?
RABBI JACOB CHINITZ
Water: Our life blood
Sir, - Man requires three basic, naturally occurring substances for survival: air, food and water. Once these have been supplied, we also need security.
However, the news that the Water Authority and Finance Ministry will penalize the domestic user with a hefty drought levy - going into effect when the budget is passed - is beyond belief.
Looking at the major public road infrastructure recently constructed and still under construction, one must ask: Why has it taken priority over the water supply? The cost of these road projects must be substantially more than the total cost of desalination plants to supply the population with a sufficient, sustainable, adequate water supply. It would appear that the road construction contractors, petrol suppliers and car importers are driving the issue for their financial benefit.
One need only go back to the mid 1960s, when the US president proposed we have nuclear desalination plants to provide adequate desalinated water, to realize how successive governments have failed on this issue over the last 45 years, preferring to cover the country in a mass of concrete.
How many desalination plants could be built for the cost of purchasing one F-35 stealth fighter plane?
In the early 1960s, we had water rationing in places like Jerusalem. Today, water is wasted in washing cars, with the used water running down the city drains, when it could be recycled to prevent our greenery drying up.
We have to change our priorities immediately - but not with such financial penalties ("MKs: Changes proposed - drought levy," June 26).
COLIN L. LECI
Free and easy
Sir - "Take VIPs to Hadassah" is so true! (Letters, July 9). Last Wednesday night, as I was leaving Hadassah Ein Karem hospital, two Muslim women were entering - one wearing a full black burqa with only thin slits for her eyes.
All I could think was: "Where is Jimmy Carter now?" Where else in the Middle East could two women on their own move around so freely?