Letters: Women of the Wall

It is a welcome change from last Rosh Hodesh, when the police prevented almost everyone from coming to the Kotel in order to enable the Women of the Wall to practice

July 11, 2013 00:04

Letters 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Sir, – In “Thousands of haredi girls prevent Women of the Wall from praying at Kotel” (July 9), reporter Jeremy Sharon writes: “The police had set up ahead of time a prayer area at the back of the plaza, close to the entrance to the Western Wall complex, cordoned off by barriers and a large police presence, and the Women of the Wall prayer group conducted its service in this area....” because “between 6,000 and 7,000 haredi high school girls... entirely filled up the women’s section [directly in front of the Western Wall].”

It is a welcome change from last Rosh Hodesh, when the police prevented almost everyone from coming to the Kotel in order to enable the Women of the Wall to practice their non-traditional monthly rites that so offend regular worshippers.

Salford, UK

Sir, – Your report on what happened at the Western Wall should be used by the government to make it compulsory for such girls to serve in the army.

They followed orders (to go to the Kotel) and attacked the women there (even if they did smile).

These young girls would be perfect for army service.


Sir, – There seems to be a contest taking place at the Kotel between the Women of the Wall and the haredi community.

It’s not a very uplifting contest.

Both sides want to prove they can behave in the most provocative, inappropriate and disgraceful manner possible. I would award the championship to both!

Kiryat Arba

Claims Conference

Sir, – With regard to “Claims Conference mismanagement key in ‘facilitating’ fraud, internal report alleges” (July 8) and other recent Post articles on the matter, here is another aspect of the way the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany works and “cares” for survivors.

Seven years ago, in April 2005, your newspaper carried a advertisement by the organization.

It advised Austrian Jews who left after the Anschluss and who never received any compensation from Germany to apply for compensation, as there would be a one-time payment by the German government.

I duly applied and received a file number.

Not hearing anything for many months, I wrote to the Claims Conference a few times asking what had happened to that “one-time payment.” In 2007 its Tel Aviv office told me to contact the German office – as though there was no contact between the two. I duly wrote to the German office and was told I would hear from Tel Aviv.

My last contact with the Tel Aviv office was in 2011. Since then, absolute silence! Did I get a “black mark” because I dared write and ask about progress in the matter? I wonder whether Claims Conference pensioners have to choose every month among paying bills, buying medicine or purchasing food.

I also wonder about the emoluments the Claims Conference’s directors get. When flying to attend board meetings, do they fly economy, business or first class? Is it not about time that there was more transparency as far as expenses are concerned?

The writer was born in Austria

Sir, – My mother, aged 82, made aliya from Toronto four and a half months ago. She is a Holocaust survivor who would like to meet people she can socialize with in either English or Yiddish.

Having heard about Amcha, a non-profit group that exists to help survivors with a variety of services and which is funded by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany, I took her to one of its meetings.

One of the activities offered there is for survivors to meet for an hour and a half to socialize in Yiddish, whether discussing current events, singing songs, reading stories or telling jokes.

When I asked whether there were any day excursions planned for these participants, the reply was as follows: “Our budget has been reduced due to lack of sufficient funding.”

Shame on the Claims Conference and the Israeli government for not appropriating what insignificant money it would cost to allow these few survivors to get out, visit new places and make the most of what years they have left.


Double standard

Sir, – Michael Freund (“Obama to Israel: Do as we say, not as we do,” Fundamentally Freund, July 9) failed to mention Jonathan Pollard in his accusation regarding American double standards toward the release of prisoners.

It is well to remember that Pollard in good faith entered into a plea bargain with the prosecution. This was an admission of guilt, and therefore Pollard was denied a trial. In a disgraceful display of bad faith, then-defense secretary Caspar Weinberger vented his spleen and persuaded the willing judge to ignore the plea bargain and accept the corollary plea of guilty, and to sentence Pollard to life in prison for something that did not endanger the security of the United States.

Notwithstanding appeals by very senior American officials to pardon Pollard, the State Department, with its history of dislike for Israel, persuaded both Democratic and Republican presidents to deny these appeals.

The length of time Pollard has served under severe conditions is far in excess of the time served by many who have actually damaged American security.

Pollard did give over to Israel information that should have been given over in any case due to an agreement between the security services of the two countries. I am sure that American security has benefited more from Israeli information than the other way around.

It is time for President Barack Obama to show compassion to a man who has been punished more for who he is than for what he is or was.

Beit Shemesh

Money for something

Sir, – I have an idea that might help solve several problems confronting us here in Israel.

Instead of monthly child allotments, which often are not spent for the benefit of the child, each Israeli child upon birth will be given a government grant of NIS 1,000 to be deposited in a closed account in the child’s name. On each birthday, the child will have an additional NIS 250 deposited into this account, whose funds will be invested in secure instruments that pay an annual rate of interest to be determined by the Bank of Israel.

Upon completion of compulsory army duty or national service, the funds in their entirety, and tax-free, will be signed over to the grown-up child to use for university studies, a postarmy trip, a car, housing or whatever else he or she chooses.

If a person refuses to perform military or an alternative form of national service, the funds will be forfeited and returned to the state in their entirety. (Children with disabilities would receive these funds upon reaching adulthood.) In this way, a financial incentive to serve would be created, billions of shekels would be saved by the state, funds would not be placed in the hands of untrustworthy individuals, and the policy of giving away “free” money as a welfare device would be ended.

People should not have children they cannot support themselves.

Doing so does an injustice to the children, who grow up on the public dole, and to working people who pay taxes.

Ma’aleh Adumim

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