(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - Re: 'Two Children perish in Safed blaze while father was praying' (June 26): Your report about the tragedy in Safed is inaccurate. The family were not "rushed" to Rambam, but to Ziv Medical Center in Safed where (among others) I took part in treating them.
Only after stabilization and treatment were two patients transferred to Rambam for the purposes of high-pressure cell treatment which is not available in Safed. The baby, Eliashiv, is admitted in my department of pediatrics in Ziv Medical Center, not Poriya at Tiberias as stated.
We are used to being "forgotten." Ziv Medical Center has been unforgivably excluded from the funding being given to all other hospitals in the north for urgent security protection.
ANTHONY S. LUDER, M.D.
Ziv Medical Center
Editor's reply: Our reporter interviewed a police spokesperson who provided the incorrect information. We regret the error.
Sir, - I was appalled to see the headline, 'Two Children Perish in Safed Blaze While Father Prays,' (June 26) for other than the obvious reasons. This implied that the father's absence from the home - and presence at prayers, specifically - was some form of negligence on his part.
The father could easily have been out doing any of a number of errands (buying milk for breakfast, perhaps), and no one would have thought to link the two or mention it in a headline.
People from all walks of life leave their children at home with their spouses to do all sorts of things - work, shop, go to the theater.
This insensitivity is part of a pattern. The implication that Orthodox people frequently display irresponsibility in their child-rearing philosophies is not unheard of in the local media.
I think nothing short of a public apology to the grieving family is in order.
Sir, - Re: 'Jewish Agency to vote on non-Orthodox conversions' (June 26): Halacha instructs that an individual who "converts" outside of Orthodoxy is not Jewish. There is a big problem in Israel with inter-marriage. Many non-Jews are marrying Israeli Jews. If the mother is not Jewish, then the children will not be Jewish.
The Jewish Agency should realize that by pushing for a resolution calling for official Israeli recognition on non-Orthodox conversions, they are contributing to the decline in the number of Jews compared to non-Jews living in Israel.
A percentage of immigrants from the former Soviet Union are not halachically Jewish but were accepted because of their status as "Jewish" on their Soviet identity cards because they had a Jewish grandparent.
Israel must not relax its definition of who is Jewish.
Push for pluralism
Sir, - Thank you for your editorial 'Politics hurts religion,' (June 26). The time has come for the Conservative and Reform movements here and abroad to call a spade a spade.
Israel is the only country in the enlightened world where the state and its institutions openly condones and practices discrimination against non-Orthodox Jews.
We know how to yell and scream when Jews are discriminated against anywhere, but here in the Jewish state, Jews are openly ostracized and marginalized because of the way they choose to practice Judaism - and not a murmur is heard from Israeli politicians for fear of angering their Orthodox political partners.
Until the Conservative and Reform streams stop being passive and begin to be aggressive this problem will never be satisfactorily solved.
Sir, - Re: 'Scientific fundamentalists' (June 25):
In order to bring science down to the level of religion, the headline writer of Shmuley Boteach's column invents an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms, namely "scientific fundamentalists."
There is no such thing and there can be no such thing. Theists believe on the basis of faith, but scientists accept only on the basis of evidence. If the evidence changes then the rational view changes too.
Therefore science and religion are quite distinct, and while science investigates the real world and its findings can be used to change that world, religion deals with the supernatural and the unnatural. Therefore only religion has fundamentalists.
Evolution depends not only on the fossil record, that Boteach and others opposing evolution find incomplete, but also on the detailed analysis of molecular genetics, which they tend to ignore. While they would accept DNA analysis to determine the identity of a rapist or a parent, they ignore DNA analysis when it comes to the determination of evolutionary trees and the relationships of species.
I question why The Jerusalem Post has so many articles by anti-evolutionists (Avi Shafran, George Gilder, Shmuley Boteach) and so few by eminent scientists.
The Hebrew University Jerusalem
Debate? What debate?
Sir, - I read with some dismay Shmuley Boteach's disingenuous and self-serving discussion of both evolution and his experience at an event in Toronto at which I played a part. As the "world famous physicist" referred to in his piece, I can attest that his description of the event itself is as flawed as is his understanding of science.
The event in question was not a debate at all. Boteach was one of five speakers in a session on religion that also included a yoga break, within a larger meeting on ideas at which I spoke on our emerging understanding of cosmology. Each speaker talked for 20 minutes. By the time Boteach spoke, Dawkins was no longer in the building, having left some time earlier for the airport.
There was no sense in which this was billed as a debate on evolution. Boteach took advantage of Dawkins' absence to speak about evolution in a manner consistent with the ill-informed discussion in his op-ed, during which he repeated creationist rants about both science and evolution that have been discredited for decades. (i.e. evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics, which it most certainly does not.)
When I approached him afterward to try and explain the meaning of the word theory in science, which applies to predictive ideas that have withstood the test of time (i.e. the theory of special relativity, the theory of general relativity, quantum mechanical theory etc), he lashed out at me as an arrogant scientist.
Unfortunately, it does a huge disservice to people of faith when self-styled religious spokespeople spout nonsense about science, as theologians since St. Augustine and Maimonides have recognized.
Boteach's distortion of the science and of the events of the past weekend is even more shameful when it is made in what appears to be an effort at self-promotion.
Not only did Boteach not appear on stage with Dawkins in Toronto, I contacted Dawkins after the event, and he indicated to me that he had no memory of ever debating Boteach before at Oxford.
LAWRENCE M. KRAUSS
Professor of Physics