Out of his depth?
Sir, - Ze'ev Bielski is a wonderful, talented man whom we are fortunate to have as head of the Jewish Agency. Nevertheless, when it comes to his prediction that the days of American Jewry are numbered, he may be out of his depth ("Bielski: US Jewry has no future," November 13). In fact, given the seeming precariousness of our social and security situation here at home, I hope our days are not numbered.
Perhaps we should put more effort into getting our own act together before we write off, heaven forbid, any segment of the Jewish people.
Sir, - US reader Doug Laurenzo wants his country to be evenhanded (Letters, November 13). That is certainly a laudable desire. "Evenhanded," he says, "means being honest with everyone involved," another very worthwhile thought.
What I don't understand is why his only solution is not to give Israel "dangerous toys." I missed his concern over the complete chaos in the Palestinian arena, and over the lack of striving for evenhandedness by all those surrounding our little country.
With evenhanded friends like Mr. Laurenzo, one seemingly has little need for enemies.
Sir, - The most momentous day of my life took place 66 years ago today, on November 14, 1940, when the world that I had known for 17 years turned upside-down. This was the day of the Blitz on Coventry, one of the finest-preserved medieval cities in Europe, situated in the heart of England, and my home town.
Until the destruction of its magnificent cathedral by German incendiary bombs it was probably most famous for the story of Lady Godiva, said to have ridden naked on a white horse through its ancient streets. In 1940 it was the center of the motor and aircraft industry, home to Daimler, Dunlop, GEC, Humber and Armstrong-Whitworth.
On November 8 the RAF bombed Munich, birthplace of the Nazi Party. Hitler replied almost immediately by ordering the complete destruction of Coventry. The verb "coventrate," meaning to destroy totally, was coined at this time.
From 7 p.m. until 6.15 a.m. more than 500 German planes rained terror, dropping 30,000 incendiary bombs, 500 tons of high explosives, 50 land mines and 20 oil mines on the city. The blaze that lit up the night sky could be seen from as far as 30 miles away.
Three-quarters of the factories and 4,330 homes were destroyed; but, miraculously, only 1,236 residents were killed. The dubious honor of being the third largest fire that night was earned by my father's furniture store, which burned for three days.
My family moved to the nearby small town of Leamington Spa and ended up staying there for 45 years. I was without old school friends, a synagogue or any Jewish life apart from what we created for ourselves. I had lost my Coventry roots, and life was never the same again.
Yet God works in mysterious ways. Had my family been allowed to continue our lives uninterrupted, maybe my wife and I would not have made aliya to Jerusalem 45 years later, in search of a more Jewish way of life.
NORMAN W. COHEN
Sir, - In view of the alarmist note sounded by a very moderate Israeli voice, that of Amnon Rubinstein ("The new nuclear age," November 12), I would suggest that the US follow up on its veto of the anti-Israel resolution in the Security Council with a resolution of its own criticizing the threats of one member of the UN, Iran, to destroy another UN member, Israel. Let us see who votes for it, and, if it gains a majority of the votes, who will veto it.
China, Russia, France?
Sir, - A resolution has been submitted to the UN regretting that some IDF shells went astray and hit housing in the Gaza Strip. May I suggest that, to maintain evenhandedness, a second resolution be submitted regretting that some Palestinian Kassam rockets went astray and landed in open areas in the Negev.
Nights of the long knives
Sir, - In "Gay rights rally comes off without a hitch" (November 12) you reported a "dramatic false alarm - police detained five Orthodox youths in Gan Sacher carrying knuckle-dusters, clubs and knives, as well as a legally licensed handgun." It turned out they "had come to the park to practice martial arts."
Considering against whom we have constantly to protect ourselves, I will ignore the pistol since it can be used defensively. However, the other paraphernalia are strictly assault weapons.
Knuckle-dusters are outlawed in most civilized countries, as well as the hair-raising knives I have seen on display in so-called "outdoors" supply stores countrywide. The length of some of these things approaches the dimensions of the swords the Sicarii used 2,000 years ago to murder other Jews with whom they disagreed... so why the devil are they being sold in shopping malls as casually as felafel?
We hear in the news every weekend about stabbings outside nightclubs. Rest assured that most of the knives used did not come from Mommy's kitchen.
Secunda gets his due
Sir, - Thanks to the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music, Sholom Secunda, composer of "Bay Mir Bistu Sheyn," has finally received the credit due him. In 1938 the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers named his song the most popular one.
In the early 1950s, when I worked at the day school housed in the then-illustrious Brooklyn Jewish Center, a Conservative synagogue, I learned that Secunda had been cantor at the synagogue. All who knew him were aware that he had composed the song, yet never during his lifetime did he receive the credit. Now, thanks to the Milken Archive, this injustice has been corrected ('Tenks Gott!' Now we know the whole story," November 12).
Sir, - Yiddish theater was the supreme social event for immigrant Jews. My parents took us, and after each play our mother would sing all the songs. "Bay Mir Bistu Sheyn" was her favorite, so we heard it daily.
One day a friend came running in and said, "Mrs. Greenfield - your song is famous!" Benny Goodman had turned the song into English, except for the words of the title, and it was on the radio. Those were the days!
MURRAY S. GREENFIELD
Let's have a cover-up
Sir, - Now that the gay pride event has finally taken place and been duly noted by the BBC, CNN and other media, let's allow people's sexual proclivities to return to being private and not displayed before the entire world. On a similar note, women who appear on television in various roles might cover up their bosoms and not try to titillate viewers.
Enough is enough.
Gotta admire 'em
Sir, - I've fallen for Miri [Golan] and Tsipi [Livni]. They tell it as it really is, without hype or bull. And they're women! I've always been partial to them.
("Golan on Ramon case: 'You can't do anything you want to a woman,''' November 9; and "A diplomat's prerogative," November 10).