letters to the editor 88.
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Grandma & the rabbi
Sir, - Linda Maurice makes two crucial errors in her criticism of the Orthodox rabbi who did not encourage her wheelchair-bound grandmother to attend Rosh Hashana services on Saturday ("For a kinder, gentler Judaism," September 3).
The first is imposing her own sensibilities on her grandmother. The rabbi understood the older woman better. As this might be, in Maurice's words, "grandma's last Rosh Hashana," she would not want to mar 100 years of piety with desecration of the Sabbath. Had she not cared, this "very tough lady" (Maurice's words again) would not have asked the rabbi for his opinion. As it was, she attended Sunday's services and heard the shofar without violating any Halacha.
The second error Maurice makes is promoting the centrality of the synagogue above the Torah. I have missed many Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services to stay home and tend to young children. Nevertheless, I have never felt resentful or deprived. I conducted my own meaningful, focused and devout services at home.
God was with me in my living room, in my prayer book, and in my sweet babies' faces.
Sir, - Linda Maurice feels that a rabbi her grandma trusts regarding Jewish law should have encouraged the elderly woman to violate Jewish law to attend Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services in which we pray for forgiveness for having violated Jewish law.
I would suggest that if someone near a synagogue is unable to get to services - due to a wish to comply with Jewish law or because of sickness - if possible, members of the congregation should come to that person and conduct prayers at his or her home.
Wartime stories help trauma victims
Sir, - Since the Haifa Center for Chi.L.D initiated its program for Treating War Trauma, calls have been coming in daily. Hundreds of families are crying for help. The center has taken on the responsibility of providing therapy for all sectors of the population in Haifa and its environs.
One desperate mother wrote: "My 11-year-old son used to spend time happily outside with his friends... Since the war he has refused to play with other youngsters and keeps to himself at home all the time. He won't let me out of his sight. Please help us!"
Another wrote, "As a social worker, my job is to help those who are suffering from stress and anxiety following the war. But how can I help others when I am traumatized myself?"
She is undergoing therapy in the Snoezelen Room or "White Room," as it is widely known, a room with colors, lights and a variety of textures that provides a "safe place" where children or adults traumatized by violence or the effects of war can begin to communicate, regain confidence and rebuild trusting relationships.
To help finance this program I have published a book of daily e-mails recounting my family's personal experiences during the war. Entitled A War or Not a War?, it has already been sent to several thousand people worldwide.
All proceeds are going to help Chi.L.D center maximize its efforts to treat those in the North suffering from anxiety or trauma. Anyone interested in a copy can contact me at email@example.com
Sir, - After reading "Egypt: Hamas rejected Israeli offer for Shalit" (October 3), my question is: If Israel is unable to find a formula to free Jonathan Pollard from an American prison and the Americans are considered our best friends, what chance is there for Israel to find a formula to free the soldiers held by Hamas and Hizbullah, our most hated enemies?
Where credit is due
Sir, - Daoud Kuttab's litany of grievances, for which neither he "nor all the Palestinians" were responsible, elicited strong censure of the IDF's alleged misconduct from Norman W. Cohen, chairman of the British Israel Group ("Unforgivable wrong," Letters, September 26).
Mr. Kuttab boasts of his "work for peace and justice" with TV programs like Sesame Street. Who, I wonder, takes credit for programs like those which feature Muhammad al-Dura welcoming young viewers to follow him to the heavenly abode he now inhabits by becoming shahids and killing innocent people?
Mr. Kuttab's insidious and ultimately unfair complaints must be vigorously countered.
Lakewood, New Jersey
Who serves whom?
Sir, - On September 27 you ran "Police probe bereaved dad who heckled PM" and also "Klagsbald fatal crash case goes before court," which reported that the Metuna road safety organization fears well-known lawyer Avigdor Klagsbald may get, or have gotten, preferential treatment from the police and the prosecutor.
These apparently unrelated stories seem to indicate the attitude of governmental authorities: that they are not the servants of the people, but the people their vassals.
Don't blame Safdie
Sir, - In "Asphalt Zionism?" (Letters, October 3) Elihu Richter suggests that we replace the Safdie plan by living underground, like in Montreal.
I am a native of Montreal. First, people do not live underground. There are major residential, shopping and office buildings with direct access to the subway so that some people do not have to go outside in the cold winters.
Second, it was not Moshe Safdie's idea to build on the hills west of Jerusalem. He was hired to design the project and now gets saddled with the opposition to the idea. I personally do not know the better alternatives, but north and south are blocked by Ramallah and Bethlehem. East means absorbing Arab suburbs.
Perhaps there should be more high-rise construction in Jerusalem. Derech Hebron, the Ramat Rachel project and Givat Massua would be good places for high-rises. Would Richter and nature protectors find reason to object to that, too?
For a strong English voice
Sir, - Re "The media wars" (Editorial, September 20): Recognizing the need for as strong a voice as possible for both native English speakers and those for whom English is still preferred over Hebrew, we have set up the Council of English Speaking Organizations in Israel, comprising the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, the Australian Zionist Federation, The British Immigrants Association, ESRA - English Speakers Residents Association, the South African Zionist Federation [Israel] - TELFED and the United Jewish Israel Association.
Our object is to put the case espoused in your editorial for increased and improved media presentations in English; for greater use of the language in all government and municipal notices; also on Web sites and telephone automatic answering exchanges, for the benefit of our community and the diplomatic corps.
We invite comments, to Liz: Tel. (09) 950-8371; fax (09) 954-3781; E-mail LizT@esra.org.il.
A woman's place
Sir, - In "Made from clay" (October 1), a review of the Yom Kippur Children's Machzor by Noam Zimmerman, Judy Siegel-Itzkovitch mentioned that some haredim may be upset by the appearance of female figures in the book.
I'd like to point out that for many of us this is a welcome and refreshing addition. I often have trouble finding books with religious Jewish content where women and girls are equally represented. This is true of children's prayer books as well as many texts my son and daughter use at their state-religious school.
Kol hakavod to Noam for including girls and women in a positive way.
CHANIE WEISER KADDEN