Free seats, new faces
Sir, - Re "US shul's 'virtual minyan' reaches out to unaffiliated for festivals" (September 11): Rabbi Laura Baum rightly offers online High Holy Day services for people who "have not connected (with shul) for some reason or another."
If the reason is the high cost of Holy Day tickets, I suggest doing what our rabbi, Reuben Landman, initiated at Har Tzion Agudath Achim synagogue here in Silver Spring - offer free tickets to attend services.
More than 100 tickets were distributed, and it was inspiring to see new faces enjoying our traditional prayers. Providing free tickets was also an act of kindness, carrying out an important precept of Judaism.
EDWIN A. MORGENSTERN
Silver spring, Maryland
Sir, - Re the accident rate caused by children cycling and skate-boarding on our city streets ("Holy day or holiday?" Yom Kippur supplement, September 27):
Apart from the appalling lack of sensitivity of parents who allow their children to desecrate this most holy of days, the need for more emergency services and hospital staff to be on duty makes the clear statement that Israel cities do not have enough parks and open spaces for children to use bicycles the rest of the year.
Haifa, like Jerusalem, is a hilly city and one sees few cyclists on its busy streets, but there is not one park large enough to provide a cycle track so families can enjoy this healthy activity. The beach promenades and mountain forests are the gems of Haifa, but nowhere are there facilities for using bicycles or roller-blades.
The Hayarkon Park bordering Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan is one of the few urban locations where families can cycle safely on a clearly-marked cycle track, along the river from the park to the sea. Let us see more parks and open spaces in all our cities, and maybe children will be able to use their bicycles on more than one day a year.
...all year round?
Sir, - Those happy kids on bikes Sunday night and Monday should be told that if their parents kept Shabbat, they could ride the streets every week!
M.M. VAN ZUIDEN
How to handle a footling enquiry
Sir, - While sitting in synagogue on Yom Kippur morning, I am ashamed to admit that my mind wandered from my prayers to this year's most critical problem, as laid down by Rabbi Shalom Yosef Elyashiv ("No Crocs on Yom Kippur," September 27).
It made me wonder about the caliber of a yeshiva student who, on the eve of the most holy day in the Jewish calendar, could think of no deeper question to pose to his rabbi than whether these non-leather sandals were suitable foot attire.
Why didn't the rabbi, an esteemed religious authority, either laugh the question out of the window or tell this student to "get real"?
Perhaps it is time to return Judaism to its sources and leave the croc(k)s at the doorstep.
Sir, - An addendum to Michael Freund's "A millennium of prosperity on the banks of the Yellow River" (Yom Kippur supplement, September 27): The late Leo Gabow founded the Sino-Judaic Institute for research into Chinese Jewry about 25 years ago, in Palo Alto, California, and was very active in spreading information about the existence of descendants of Kaifeng Jewry, hosting forums and publishing newsletters. He had visited Kaifeng and had many photographs of the area where Jews lived.
I remember his visit to the HUC Library in Cincinnati, which has manuscripts from Kaifeng in its Rare Book Room. Professor Xu Xin, whom Freund mentions in his article , spent some time at HUC and was a very well received speaker in Cincinnati.
And, of course, mention should be made of the model of the Kaifeng synagogue at the Museum of the Diaspora.
IDA SELAVAN SCHWARCZ
What a country!
Sir, - Just a few weeks after a newly humble kabbalistic semi-nude singer with a boyfriend named Jesus performed here, an ordained Buddhist monk descended from our ancient priests blesses us in the very same words that were uttered in the Temple.
It's a great country ("Leonard Cohen builds a glorious, spiritual Tower of Song," September 25).
STEFANO A. LAMI
Sir, - On Erev Rosh Hashana, coincident with Shabbat, Leonard Cohen collapsed while performing in Barcelona. Mere days later, he blessed us here with the priestly blessing in time for Yom Kippur. Hallelujah!
Silence wasn't consent
Sir, - Despite Pinchas Landau's request to "spare me your cant," I feel the need to defend religious Jews against his slanderous charges ("Bourbon rabbis," Business & Finance, September 25).
Landau claims that "an inordinate number of rabbis, especially Orthodox ones" are "amoral" - i.e., deny the existence of morality - in financial affairs. To support this outrageous assertion, he adds that in all the "articles, sermons, lectures and other material... by rabbis on these issues" in the six years of prosperity preceding the last year, there was next to nothing about the immorality of dishonest and greedy financial dealings.
Did Landau expect to find rabbis giving sermons about the potential evils of day trading, or writing articles deriding banks for lending large sums of money to speculatory hedge funds? The intricacies of the investment world are matters of which spiritual leaders, and the majority of their congregants and followers, have scant knowledge.
When a matter of financial impropriety is clearly understandable and transparent, as happened with Bernard Madoff and, more recently, with the money-laundering scandal in New Jersey, rabbis certainly do speak and write about the emphasis in Jewish law on conducting one's financial affairs honestly, on following the law of the land, and on material modesty.
Their silence in the preceding years did not indicate a denial of these concepts, only a lack of awareness, shared by most, that any wrongdoing was taking place.
RABBI MOTI NOVICK
No 'presumably' about it
Sir, - In an op-ed discussing the Transfer Agreement of 1933 with Nazi Germany ("When Zionists made a deal with the Nazis," September 24), Edwin Black asserts that Haim Arlosoroff was "assassinated... presumably by Revisionist Zionists of the Ze'ev Jabotinsky camp." He further claims that "the Revisionist Zionists... violently opposed the deal."
"Presumably"? The Bechor Commission that reinvestigated the matter in 1985 found no new evidence and insisted that the accused assassins, Avraham Stavsky and Zvi Rosenblatt, were not guilty. If the author possesses other evidence, he should submit it or publish it.
Moreover, the use of "violently opposed" is quite improper. There were no violent deeds, but rather strident and robust headlines in the newspapers.
Thank you, Hannah
Sir, - Please allow me, through the courtesy of your columns, to thank your film critic Hannah Brown for yet another year of guiding us through the films available, and for her excellent resumes. May she long continue to grace the pages of The Jerusalem Post ("Waltzing into Hollywood," September 23).
DAVID S. ADDLEMAN