letters good 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - Rosh Hashana is almost upon us, and far be it from me to judge a fellow Jew. But as I read about Shabatai Markovitz of Kashrut Le'mehadrin denigrating the heter mechira of the forthcoming shmita year, the thought that came to mind was "What utter hypocrisy!" ("Religious Zionist rabbis skewer Chief Rabbinate for adopting haredi position on shmita adherence," September 10).
If Mr. Markovitz is searching for a sham, a fig leaf, he need look no further than the heter iska so widely used in the haredi world to abrogate the Torah prohibition, repeated many times over in the holy text, of lending money at interest.
MICHAEL D. HIRSCH
Sir, - I read with dismay, but not surprise, of certain rabbis' decision not to grant kashrut certificates to purveyors of heter mechira produce. What right do they have to forbid such produce - sold in this country for decades with the consent of rabbis greater than these - grown by the strenuous labor of our farmers, who provide us with food year-round?
There are many doubts about shmita in these times; such a ban is similar to requiring all meat to be glatt kosher.
I will do my best to eat non-shmita food in the coming year - but not at our farmers' expense.
Sir, - "Iran's provinces wait for those trickle-down benefits" (September 9) noted that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad offers villagers low-interest loans which, however, often do not materialize. But the article contained no reminder that Iran is governed by Islamic religious leaders and by Islamic law, Shari'a, which specifically prohibits charging interest on loans. The LA Times writer ignored this glaring contradiction as if he was reporting on some Western country.
Clarion call to Jewry
Sir, - "Muslim dig damaged Temple Wall" (August 31) should be a clarion call to Jewry everywhere to respond when our government instructs its security and law-enforcement agencies to turn a blind eye to the wanton destruction of our holiest Jewish site. If we can permit our title deed to be damaged in this way, what right can we claim to be in the country? Denying our right to the Temple Mount is tantamount to denying our right to Tel Aviv.
There was a worldwide Muslim hue and cry, exacerbated by the world media, over the construction of a bridge outside the Temple Mount walls to the Mughrabi Gate; a similar hue and cry over the opening of the gate at the northern end of the Western Wall tunnel. Yet today the media, true to form, remain silent over this destruction, as they did when artifacts from the First and Second Temple era were dumped by the same Muslim authority that wantonly ploughed up the Temple Mount area known as Solomon's Stables to create another huge mosque.
We should demand that UNESCO send an investigative team to report on the damage caused, as they did earlier this year over the fictitious bridge incident. The Israeli police are there first and foremost to protect Jewish rights, not Muslim ones.
COLIN L LECI
Issues of principle...
Sir, - "Germany adds $250m. in survivors' pensions" (September 3) noted that "The 'Article 2 Fund' pensions will no longer be limited to survivors whose annual income is less than $16,000." This information appeared too good to be true, so I called the Claims Conference in New York to confirm. Regrettably, I was informed that there is indeed a monetary limitation of $16,000; however, spousal income for eligibility is no longer taken into account.
It appears that the issue of income verification remains "an issue of principle." Hopefully Claims Conference executive vice president Gideon Taylor will continue to pursue this matter.
Cedarhurst, New York
Sir, - Your editorial writer seems to believe that giving a school principal the right to fire a teacher is okay. Believe me, it's not. As long as we are all imperfect, opportunities to "get back" at another person will be gleefully taken up if the person in charge has the chance to get rid of someone he (or she) doesn't like.
I can give several examples of good teachers who would have lost their jobs under such circumstances. In one case, a principal had a personal grievance against an excellent teacher and tried everything to get rid of him, but could not. In another, a principal simply didn't like Jews. A third (female) principal had a "thing" against all men. And so on.
No, that way lies danger. A committee to back up a principal, perhaps. But allowing one person the power to fire another is much too dangerous ("Everyone can do it," September 7).
Danny Katz's killers
Sir, - A bad odor emanates from Shimon Peres's decision to commute the sentences of the five murderers of teenager Danny Katz, whose guilt was clearly established by Israel's highest judicial tribunals and whose conviction was repeatedly upheld.
Reasons for the reduction, left unexplained, merely tax the mind as it attempts to comprehend. However, when the claim of "undisclosed evidence" is added, the wildest speculation gains legitimacy, resulting in questions about the functioning and integrity of the police, the judiciary and the presidenthimself ("Queries over Katz," Editorial, September 2).
Credit where it's due
Sir, - Re "From immigrant to uniformed hospital caregivers" (August 26): We would like to thank Judy Siegel-Itzkovich for writing about the important project at Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem which trains new-immigrant Ethiopian and Bnei Menashe women to be geriatric caregivers in hospitals and other facilities (90% of them are now employed).
Unfortunately, the names of two of Herzog Hospital's partners in this training project, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment and Matan (Machon Torani LeNashim), were omitted from the information provided to the writer. Matan initiated the project, implements it and finances workshops, housing, transportation and various enrichment studies for the participating students.
Project Director, Matan
Hi-tech projects, low-tech jobs
Sir, - "Hi-tech guru calls for support of traditional industry" (September 7) will hopefully arouse somebody to work on hi-tech projects that can lead to low-tech jobs. One that readily comes to mind, based on the huge success of Mercedes's smart cars, would be a project to create smarter cars that do not require large amounts of traditional oil-based fuels; provided that alternative fuels did not damage the environment and would not be as expensive.
While on the subject, the phrase "think globally, act locally" comes to mind. With the incredible success of solar-powered water heaters, I would think we could harness energy for fuel-efficient cars via solar panels even if such technology could not be easily exported.
Of course, if there was peace in the Middle East we could export the technology. Sigh.