letters to the editor.
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Sir, - Re Yosef Blau's "Separate religion and state? Bad idea" (July 18): The vast majority of Israel's population is not Orthodox. If "Who is a Jew" was redefined to include people of all streams of Judaism, the problem would resolve itself. It is high time to change the "status quo" from the time of the establishment of the state and give rabbis of all streams equal status, allowing them to perform marriages, grant divorces, etc.
To strengthen Israel as a Jewish state, public support for religion should be extended to all streams of Judaism in all schools.
Lesbians in Jewish Law
Sir, - In her interview with director/producer Avi Nesher ("The eagle has landed" July 13), Hannah Brown apparently fell hook, line and sinker for Nesher's justification of the nude underwater mikve scene in his movie The Secrets (Hasodot). His lame excuse for full frontal nudity: "There was no way around it." If he is such a gifted director he could have conveyed mikve immersion by using air bubbles, water splashing or dim lighting, leaving to the imagination what should have been left off-screen. But of course that would not sell tickets.
A worse travesty is the "authoritative" statement by the so-called talmudically learned heroine that lesbian activity is not prohibited by the Shulhan Aruch. Perhaps Nesher has a different copy of this authoritative text on Jewish law; but in all standard copies, the section Even Ha'ezer 20:2 clearly prohibits such activity: "Nashim mesollelot (the Hebrew term for lesbian activity) are forbidden under the prohibition in Lev.18:3 'You shall not follow the customs of Egypt,' about which we have been warned."
Viewers of The Secrets should be warned not to learn Jewish law from this movie, which panders to prurient interests.
SHIRA LEIBOWITZ SCHMIDT
Beware of xenophobia
Sir, - I read about how the Israeli government agency Nativ may cause a rift in the German Jewish community by working with the immigrant group from the former Soviet Union. It isn't a good idea for Nativ to make inroads into Germany; nor for the established Jewish community to appeal to the German government to keep Nativ out. Xenophobia can spring up in Germany and the doors close to a future immigration of Jews from the FSU and Turkey.
An old Bavarian law could take German citizenship away from German-born Israelis and other foreign citizens of German birth - thank God, it hasn't yet been voted on by the German government. If German Jews turn to their government to try to keep Nativ out, the next step may be a stopping of the flow of foreign immigration. And after that the government could vote positively to strip German citizens with foreign citizenship of their German citizenship out of fear that Germans living abroad could be foreign agents, along with Turks and Jews from the FSU.
To the Israeli agencies, I say: Deal with the established German Jewish community. And to that community, I say: Don't go to your government to try to keep Nativ out. It won't stop there ("German Jews fear Israeli agency will cause rift in community," July 9).
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