Sir, – I was sorry to see Woody Allen’s photo in Judy Montagu’s
column (“Memories are made of this,” In My Own Write, Comment and Features,
November 20). It was even worse to read her praise of him.
In the late
1980s when the first intifada erupted, Allen took an unequivocal stand against
He has earned his huge fortune portraying what in my eyes is the
worst of stereotypes: the ghetto self-hating Jew. He has never stepped foot in
Israel. As such a high-profile Jewish personality who has peddled his Jewishness
to the bank I always felt he had a moral obligation which overrides free speech
to support the Jewish nation. While I was once a fan, since the ’80s I’ve never
watched another one of his films.SHOSHANA WEINSTEIN
I’m thinking of the challenge Judy Montagu sent out in asking at the end of her
topical op-ed column about how I’d like to be remembered. While I was at it I
thought of how I remember her own act of kindness.
Judy came along to a
meeting of Shalshelet despite having a writing deadline to meet because she knew
her presence was important to the organizers. Her obituary of the still much
missed Alex Berlyne that ‘With some people, it doesn’t matter how old they are;
you always feel they have gone too soon’ touched a nerve in me and prompted me
to share my thoughts with you.
I don’t know how I’ll be remembered but I
do know some of the things I’ve tried to do which make my life
For instance, I know that there are some whose lives have
been enriched and some families I have helped to create, both through the
organization I am involved in and personally.
But still, your question
How would I like to be remembered? I can only quote a dear,
non-religious friend of ours who could never give me a drink with milk in the
evenings as invariably, in those long ago days, I had meat for
Eventually, after serving lemon tea yet again, he said in
exasperation that I should have on my gravestone – “She was always
I only hope I will retain my memory to the end – whenever that
Jerusalem The writer is the founder of the Shalshelet
Enhancing Relationships Center Equal treatment
Sir, – While justly decrying the
income inequity in Israel, and admitting that a fair, economically justifiable
solution is difficult to find, nevertheless the editorial falls back on two
canards; nepotism and the “ discrimination against Israelis who did not serve in
the IDF such as haredim and Arabs” (“Inclusive growth,” November
When nepotism is used to hire and/or promote the unfit, it is most
deplorable, immoral, and unethical. However, since it has always been more about
who you know rather than what you know, it is an inescapable fact of human
behavior that, all things being equal, one would hire/promote those they know
rather than those they do not know.
As for the charge of
“discrimination,” what is wrong with giving favorable treatment to those who did
not shirk their civic responsibilities, and gave up years of youth, education,
career advancement and risked their lives to serve the nation? Do we not owe
them a concrete gesture of gratitude? As for the haredim and Arabs, they have
made a conscious decision not to serve in any capacity, have a temporal
advantage denied to our soldiers, and distort all economic data about themselves
by having an unreported, flourishing and lucrative underground economy,
unsullied by data and taxes.
Ingratitude is worse than
Sir, – With reference to your
editorial, “Inclusive growth,” as long as the contribution of capital to
productivity continues to increase and the contribution of labor continues to
decrease, without corrective actions income disparities will continue to widen.
This phenomenon is having, and will continue to have, serious negative social
and political consequences.
Unfortunately, most of the measures taken by
the Western countries have involved increasing government subsidies of various
kinds to larger and larger segments of society, creating a class of citizens who
are dependent in whole or in part on government transfers. In the United States
at this time that segment is almost 50% of the total
Increasing dependency is the wrong solution to the
The right solution is to facilitate the acquisition of
productive capital assets by an ever-increasing percentage of the population,
through such mechanisms as employee stock ownership plans and community
investment trusts. These mechanisms and others of the same nature are well known
and have been successfully applied in various parts of the world.NORMAN
Haifa The writer is the president of The Institute for Global Economic
Growth A focal point
Sir, – Dialogue can be valuable in helping us rethink our
own positions on religion, social behavior and politics.
With that in
mind, I read Marci Lenk’s op-ed (“Israelis must learn to listen to our American
cousins,” Comment and Features, November 15). Ms. Lenk advocates that Israel
should follow the US model of pluralism in Jewish religious life.
order to evaluate the merits of this proposal, I would like to address the
following issues: How successful has this pluralist model really been in the
United States? Has the Jewish Theological Seminary been true to its stated
mission (1886) “to preserve the knowledge and practice of historical Judaism”?
The Conservative movement in which I was raised more than 60 years ago is
virtually unrecognizable today. Are there more or less member congregations
since that time? Have young people who grew up in USY remained in the
Conservative movement as adults? The vast majority of my contemporaries in USY
either turned to Orthodoxy or slid into Reform, intermarriage, or have
Is it really wise to emulate a rate of intermarriage of
71% among non-Orthodox Jews? Hasn’t Orthodoxy in America strengthened during the
past 50 years, due to improved Jewish education and a number of outreach
initiatives? Admittedly, there have been sad abuses of Torah standards in social
and ethical behavior among those professing to be Orthodox.
These must be
continually monitored and addressed.
However, it appears that the true
observance of an Orthodox halachic lifestyle is, as evidenced by the demographic
record, the only insurance against assimilation in both America and
Is our Orthodox system here perfect? Certainly not. There are
rabbis who call themselves Orthodox whom we cannot hold up as good role
Although no system runs perfectly, we should always try harder to
improve, and to reach out to our non-observant brothers. Unfortunately, we
observant ones sometimes feel that we must cloister ourselves to protect our
children from the corrosive temptations of secularism.
However, there are
bright lights, such as Aish Hatorah, Migdal Ohr and others, which are more
accepting and non-dogmatic.
In the end, an unchecked pluralism divides
the Jewish people, rather than uniting us. Religious standards, that are
informed by the ritual and moral codes prescribed in the Torah, have kept us and
sustained us as a people. Our goal is to make Torah a focal point for our
culture. Without Torah standards, the Jewish people may soon disappear. The
Torah is the deed that records our claim to Medinat Yisrael. May our deeds prove
us worthy to keep this, our homeland!
ESTELLE P. HARRIS