Sir, – Finally, an article that gets to the core of the
problem with Jewish God-think (“Judaism: The art of bold ideas,” Comment &
Features, November 24).
Today, every rabbi seems obsessed with cloning
himself, attempting to alter the very DNA of his students so that they mimic his
view of God and the world.
Nathan Lopes Cardozo seems to understand that
the continuity of a vibrant, energizing Judaism lies in its fluidity, in its
ability to develop multiple answers to individual questions and perhaps redefine
itself (albeit slowly and carefully) within Halacha.
I doubt that
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were of one mind about God, although they worshipped
the one God continuously and intensely. They followed God, traveled alongside
God and walked before God, alternately questioning, arguing and analyzing – but
always believing. Why should we strive for anything less? YAACOV PETERSEIL
Sir, – “...Jewish education today is mostly about producing a
generation of religious Jews who know more and more about Jewish observance but
think less and less about what they know,” Nathan Lopes Cardozo writes. “This is
even truer of their teachers.”
Why do we not have the Abraham Joshua
Heschels, the Samson Raphael Hirsches, the Samuel David Luzzatos? According to
the writer, “We encourage the narrowest specialization rather than push for
daring ideas.” And why can’t our yeshiva boys think for themselves and explore
creative ideas? I believe it is because they are discouraged from using the
university studies the Rambam advocated.
I hope in the second part of his
essay, Cardozo will give some innovative solutions within Halacha to many of the
important questions he has raised.JENNY WEIL
Jerusalem Not limitless
Sir, – Michael Freund slams Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein for ordering an
investigation of Safed’s chief rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, for possible incitement to
racism (“Israel’s thought police,” Fundamentally Freund, November 24). In doing
so he lectures us about freedom of speech, of which he appears to have scant
He is right, of course, that freedom of speech is one of
the pillars of democracy, although it is not absolute or limitless. Many
democracies have laws that limit freedom of speech regarding, inter alia, libel,
treason and hate-speech.
In Germany, for example, denying the Holocaust is
a criminal offense. So does Freund argue that denial of the Holocaust should be
allowed there in the interest of free speech? In Australia, where I come from,
the policy of multiculturalism governs the limits of free speech when it aims to
offend or harm citizens from different backgrounds.
There, Eliyahu, paid
by taxpayer’s money, would have long been fired and probably indicted.
commend Weinstein for this initiative, not just because it aims to truly defend
Israel’s democracy, in which all must be equal before the law and the rights of
all citizens must be guaranteed, but because we live with the growing global
accusation of Israel being an apartheid state.
This is ridiculous, of
course, but we don’t need the likes of Eliyahu to pour oil on that
Kiryat Tivon Sense of place
Sir, – I was particularly
pleased to learn that the Lithuanian ambassador to Israel has “expressed support
for the Sunflower Project,” especially on the restoration of Jewish cemeteries
there (“Israel has a friend in Lithuania,” Comment & Features, November
Under the auspices of this program and with the aid of historian
David Gelfand, the gravestones of two of my great-greatgrandfathers, Aaron
Singer and Moshe Odes, have been recovered.
Such concrete historical
information is important not only for the general understanding of Lithuanian
Jewish heritage, but because it provides such a personal take on the historical
landscape where my family came from, giving me a profound sense of my own little
place in the long chain of being.
Jerusalem Zip the lip
Sir, – Regarding “Frattini’s advice to Israel: Talk less about settlements”
(November 23), the former Italian foreign minister is absolutely right. We have
no need to discuss or make excuses to anyone for building homes in the Jewish
Let’s just get on with the job of building our land for the Jewish
Sir, – Why does it take Franco Frattini to
think of this? Why can’t our own politicians? By the same token, we need to
speak less of the fighter planes we develop, the missiles we manufacture, etc.,
etc. The enemy doesn’t have to know all that is going on in our country,
including settlement building.
It’s about time we talked less and acted
Jerusalem Access to the trough
Sir, – Your
editorial “Rabbis and the state” (November 23) says that “the practice of
keeping rabbis on the state payroll must end...,” particularly “considering the
fact that city and neighborhood rabbis are elected to office in a highly
If that’s to be the criterion for who may and may not
feed at the state’s trough, then the no-less undemocratic way in which membership
on Israel’s High Court is determined ought to put the eminent justices at the
head of the line for pink slips.BILL MEHLMAN
Sir, – The rabbi
mentioned in “Rabbis and the state” is not inciting people, nor is he guilty of
racism. He is telling it like it is.
The biggest problem the world faces
today is fear. America, Europe and Israel are afraid to deal with the Islamists,
who are slowly planning to take over the world. If you don’t name it, you can’t
Your editorial said that rabbis should not receive state
What about the Arab members of our Knesset who go and speak to our
enemies about us? Nothing is done about that.
If you call right wrong,
you will never right the wrong. At least some among us are not afraid to speak
Jerusalem Start them young
Sir, – Regarding both
Judy Montagu’s column (“Your food – is it friend or foe?,” In My Own Write,
November 23) and “MKs present legislation to halt the display of ‘sugar bombs’
at check-out counters” (November 22), I am reminded of the many years I spent as
an inner-city public school teacher in New Jersey.
At the beginning of
the school year I often took my class to a large fruit and vegetable market and
invited parents to join us. I encouraged the students to bring salads and fruit
to class and allowed them to snack whenever they wanted to.
other junk foods were not allowed and were confiscated, but my students began to
enjoy this new idea. We had fruit and vegetable birthday parties and celebrated
the holidays that way as well. I received special grants from the local board of
education and often used those funds for fruit treats that I regularly brought
To this day when I visit, former students I see around town,
now adults, will ask me if I still eat “those foods.” They warmly remember those
With Israel regularly displaying God’s bounty of beautiful
and colorful fruit and vegetables in all its markets, such a program would be
easy to accomplish in order to start training students to make these choices at
a young age.LEAH WASSERMAN