July 7: A real star

It's good to see gifted young religious performers like Elchai vying with the rest for the dazzling lights of stardom.

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July 6, 2009 22:15
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A real star Sir, - I was very pleased to read Judy Siegel-Itzkovich's insightful "The two worlds of Elchai Refoua" (June 5) about the very promising young religiously observant singer who is one of the stars of this year's Kochav Nolad (A Star Is Born). Last year I had the pleasure of getting to know Elchai as a fellow-participant on the show, and one could not hope to meet a more humble and modest young man, with an amazing voice and charismatic personality. Strangely enough, we later appeared together on one of the promotional interviews for the show - he as the youngest participant and I as the white-bearded oldest (my venerable age probably sealed my doom in the contest.) I was also impressed by the fact that Elchai was always chaperoned to auditions by his mother, who obviously takes great pride in his success. Finally, it is good to see gifted young religious performers like Elchai vying with the rest for the dazzling lights of stardom. Hope you get to the final, Elchai! BEN REUVEN Jerusalem We're speaking up Sir, - As Torah Jews, we are deeply distressed by the desecration of Shabbos in our holy land - all the more so when it is government-sanctioned. However, nothing can ever excuse the type of violence and wanton destruction of public property that has been reported in recent days such as the throwing of rocks at police officers and the burning of garbage dumpsters - all of which is diametrically opposed to the teachings of our Holy Torah. Lest our silence be misconstrued as passive acceptance of the violence, we condemn it in the strongest terms, as do the vast, overwhelming majority of Torah Jews worldwide ("Unquiet weekend," Editorial, July 6). MOSHE LICHTENSTEIN Ramat Bet Shemesh and 50 other signatories Doctors at the fence Sir, - I was amazed and disgusted at "Israeli doctors to train Bil'in protesters in first aid at site of disputed security fence" (July 6). Have the doctors gone mad? These radical rioters are made up of all kinds of anti-Israel rent-a-mobs who delight in making life miserable and dangerous for our forces trying to uphold the rule of law. What next - we offer Hamas and the PA special ambulances to ferry their injured terrorists to hospital? These do-gooder physicians would do better to tell the rioters to stay home, then they would not be injured in the first place. JUDY PRAGER Petah Tikva Sir, - The famous Wise men of Chelm built a bridge over the river. It kept falling down and injuring people. So the wise men, instead of building a stronger bridge, built a hospital near the bridge to treat the injured. Perhaps someone should "wise up." CYRIL ATKINS Beit Shemesh Just not in my shul Sir, - As a religious Jew I was delighted to read "2 Orthodox women's conferences present decidedly different takes on feminism" (July 1). I was not surprised at the religiously conservative viewpoint of the Chabad women, but a little disappointed by the claim of the Kolech organization that biological differences account for the sexual discrepancies in Judaism. Torah was written for and by a patriarchal society and thus normative - or Orthodox - Judaism has kept its largely patriarchal approach. In the meantime, Jewish society has become more gender-equal, with many Jewish women logically expecting our religion to reflect that change. In Europe and America, Jewish women have been successfully integrated into the organizational and leadership aspects of the Jewish community. But in areas like Torah or Haftorah reading, leading the congregation in prayer and spiritual leadership they have had far less success, at least in the Orthodox community. And this is unlikely to change. This is because of people like me. I would not attend religious services in a synagogue with mixed seating, where women lead the services, or where women read the Torah because I simply would not feel comfortable; most of my friends feel the same. At the same time, I have no problem with mixed seating, women leading the services, etc., just as long as they do it somewhere else. KENNETH BESIG Kiryat Arba Sir, - While Chabad is to be greatly respected for all it does, the Kolech organization will do much more for bringing non-observant Jews closer to an Orthodox lifestyle. Women should be allowed to participate in and accomplish everything possible in our traditions that is allowed halachically. That leaves a lot of room for progress. We need to "modernize" Orthodoxy, not keep it in the dark ages. URI HIRSCH Netanya Oy, those Israeli sportscasters! Sir, - I hope all tennis fans enjoyed watching the Wimbledon Tourney as much as I did ("Federer beats Roddick for record 15th slam," July 6). It would have been perfect, except for one thing: The sportscasters on the Israeli Sports Channel. They did not describe the games, they "kvetched" them. "Oy! What a terrible mistake!" "Oy! He's in trouble now!" "Oy! How could he have made such an awful shot?" "Oy! How could he have given him such an easy opportunity?" Our Israeli crew sounded like they had never stood on a baseline, racket in hand, and tried to return a ball coming at them at over 150 kph, with about half a second to react. Had they shut up and watched METV, they would have heard expert commentators of the likes of John McEnroe, Tim Heneman and Tracy Austin discuss the difficult court conditions that caused bad bounces and made even Roger Federer sometimes look like a duffer. Finally - alas, too late - they brought in former Israeli champ Shlomo Glickstein to add a few knowledgeable comments. They would have more honorably earned their salaries had they just clammed up and allowed those who know more than diddley about the game to watch the matches in peace. TREVOR DAVIS Asseret 'Allo? 'Allo? Sir, - Herb Keinon was correct in boasting about Israel's improved services ("Israeli progress," June 29). I well remember the difficulties of 20 years ago with the telephone service. Compared with America's perfected phone service, Israel's was ludicrous. Today the situation seems to be reversed: There are now many excellent options in Israel, as opposed to a complete breakdown in America. These telephone vagaries were forced into my life just recently, when I closed up my apartment in Baltimore. I found the second line I needed for my computer was not in service. The company informed me that it would be two whole weeks until it could be restored - and then charged me service for the entire period. Another time, I discontinued my service while away in Israel. Upon my return they reconnected me with a neighbor in an old-fashioned party line. Keinon's "Why can't the Americans do a simple thing like this the way they do in Israel?" was right on target. THELMA BLUMBERG Kiryat Arba CORRECTION "Aharon Barak laments human rights reality in the 'occupied territories'" (June 26) misquoted former Supreme Court president. In describing Israeli Jewish attitudes toward Israeli Arabs he did not use the words "in favor of throwing the [Arabs] into the sea," but rather "in favor of throwing the [Arabs] out...."

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