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Sir, - How desperately tragic that a grown man with seven children does not have the strength of his own convictions to fly the flag of his country on its birthday.
Rafi Goldmeier's "Haredi uncertainty over Yom Ha'atzma'ut" (May 7) displayed the apathy and weakness of today's haredi world.
Next year, God willing, drive a little further down the road to my neighborhood, Mr. Goldmeier, and you will see Orthodox Jews in all their glory. Hard-working, God fearing, modest, modern, free-thinking, army-serving Jews waving their flags with all the pride and fervor they can muster, because we know that hakamat medinat Yisrael - the establishment of the State of Israel - is nothing short of the greatest God-sent miracle of our time.
Sir, - I suggest that haredim who have difficulty with Independence Day should go and live among the goyim for a time.
Maybe then they will realize what we have here and be able to join us in celebrating the wonderful achievement and reality of our homeland.
Sir, - Rafi Goldmeier: "To thine own self be true."
Paramus, New Jersey
Jewish State of Israel
Sir, - As I was browsing on the Internet through an extensive list of international medical conferences to find a suitable one for my husband to attend, I saw that of the dozens of countries holding congresses, the only one defining itself by its religion was - you guessed! - the Islamic Republic of Iran (see Doctor's Guide Congress Resource Center).
I fully concur with Yoel Tamari (Letters, May 4) who suggests our little country be named The Jewish State of Israel. Will any of our leaders have the courage to set this idea in motion?
Sir, - Perhaps as a result of her own "knee-jerk reaction," Sarah Williams (Letter, May 6) failed to notice that my letter merely questioned the assertion that "Jewish and democratic qualities complement each other."
I did not question the halachic view that women cannot be counted with men in a minyan; my point is that because they are not included, Judaism can hardly claim to be "democratic."
Ms. Williams actually bolstered my argument: Her attempt to draw a parallel between the lack of rights of minors and non-citizens in a democracy and those of adult Jewish women in the Orthodox synagogue confirms my view that women are treated as a minority, when in fact we are not!
It is the classic feminist dilemma, and a conundrum which has yet to be solved.
Sir, - Further to "Israel Postal Company often ignores purchasing rules" (May 7): I have further information regarding the company's "serious" faults.
I sent two letters via the company, both by registered mail. The first was to an address here in Israel. That letter never arrived. The second, mailed to the US, contained 10 checks.
The letter with the checks never arrived, and I had to spend $300 to cancel them ($30 per check). The Postal Company had no receipt to show that the US Postal Service ever received that "certified mail," and it admitted its responsibility and guilt; but was then willing to pay only NIS 561 to reimburse me - less than half of what I spent on canceling the checks (which were worth thousands of dollars).
Israel reportedly has no law that seriously punishes interference with the postal service, including mail theft. Other countries do.
Much more effective legislation is needed.
JTS: Visible & valuable
Sir, - It is difficult to find credence in Marilyn Henry's claim that "American Jews (in the Conservative and Reform movements) have no real notion of (their respective) seminaries' existence."
Now, more than perhaps at any other time in the history of the institution, JTS is making serious strides toward increasing its visibility as not only the training ground for future Jewish leaders in the Conservative movement, but also as a valuable resource for individual congregations who recognize that the seminary's world-class faculty and scholarship can contribute to the lives of their members in a significant way.
One need only visit the seminary's website to note that faculty regularly visit congregations across the country to lecture - not from the distant perspective of the ivory tower, but on topics of real relevance in the lives of American Jews: our evolving concept of the divine, new approaches to spirituality and religious observance, life-cycle events, and the influence of the arts on the world Jewish community.
JTS also sponsors Shabbat visits to Conservative shuls by students from each of the seminary's academic divisions to heighten awareness of the diverse academic programming offered by the seminary, not to mention the diversity of its student population.
Finally, I take particular offense at Ms. Henry's attempt to compare the seminary and HUC's attempt to survive considerable economic challenges to the cutbacks of "American automakers.. (who) at the end... will offer a product that the public may not want or need."
Despite the difficult economic decisions faced by the seminary and countless other institutions of higher education, it has, in the last few years, rewritten the curricula at all three of its professional graduate schools in light of the very challenges Ms. Henry claims our movements are ignoring. It seems your writer, like much of the media, is miscategorizing the seminary's debate on admitting openly gay and lesbian students as sensationalistic, ignoring the more critical and larger issues at the heart of the matter - how to reconcile our modern sensibilities and moral convictions with the authority of our ancient texts.
The latter is the "compelling case" for the role of liberal Judaism in America that Ms. Henry argues is absent from Conservative and Reform Judaism.
In order to contribute in class, you need to first do your homework ("Get ready for fewer Reform and Conservative rabbis," May 6).
Jewish Theological Seminary
Yes we are
Sir, - Finally someone has heard the voice of the pure Persian Ma Hastim movement ("Other voices struggle to be heard in Iran," Nir Boms and Shayan Arya, May 4).
Ma hastim means "We are."
Yes, we are - Iranians who have decided to stand together for their motherland.
Sir, - Your correspondent wrote ("New Poland," Letters, May 5): "Should one not also remember and respect the fact that 8,405 Poles (last year's figure) have been honored by Yad Vashem for saving Jews while risking their own lives during the Shoah? No other country came even close to such a number."
The figure on 2009, January 1, was actually 6,135.
While your reader's point stands - almost 25 percent of all recognized Righteous Gentiles are Poles - the contribution of the Netherlands, proportional to its size, is much more impressive with 4,947.
These Dutch heroes we should not be forgotten even though ten million Dutchmen did nothing and over 80 percent of Dutch Jews were murdered.