Letters to the editor, June 1, 2006

Women's business Sir, - All studies show that in Israel discrimination and inequality against women is rife in the workplace ("Women in business and media still marginalized," May 31). As every woman knows it ranges from the job interview ("How will you manage to work with three children?") to salary and benefit inequality, to lack of promotion opportunities. On the other hand, women-owned small business is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Israel, the US and the world. Many women, tired of trying to penetrate the glass ceiling, are setting up on their own and succeeding. They don't want to be a part of a game where the odds are stacked up against them. They want to create their own "game" and set up their own team. Increasingly in Israel women are creating diverse, interesting and profitable businesses. They are very much a significant portion - 25% and growing - of the new businesses being added to the economy each year ("12,000 businesses added in '05," May 31). But women also need to learn more, as we have discovered in our work sessions at www.Lila.co.il - they know how to make the products, they sense there is a market, but they need intensive training in how to exploit that market. Lila's mission is to assist them, to provide resources and professional help to suit the specific needs of women establishing and growing their own businesses. BARBARA SHAW Jerusalem What the pope could have said Sir, - The pontiff spoke beautifully at Auschwitz ("Pope visits Auschwitz as 'son of the German people,'" May 29). Still, I would like to argue with two things he said. "By destroying Israel with the Shoah, they ultimately wanted to tear up the taproot of the Christian faith and to replace it with a faith of their own invention." This is a nice attempt to make the Holocaust relevant for Christians distant from Jews, but the truth is that anti-Semitic hate exists almost always for its own sake without ulterior motives, rational basis, goal, or even chance of succeeding, and with the same fervor as if it has succeeded. What the pope should have said is that a world that has no place for Jews has no place for any man. Eliezer Berkovits already countered the Jewish cri de coeur - "Where was God?" with "Where was man?" The pope might have asked: "Where were we?" M. VAN THIJN Jerusalem Faith to faith Sir, - Re "Lack of faith" (Elsewhere, May 30): Interfaith work has long been an important part of the Board of Deputies' activities. The Jewish Way of Life Exhibition, itself over 30 years old, has been viewed by many thousands of young non-Jews, providing a model for other faith groups to explain their religions. Similarly, dialogue with other faith communities and the wider society has been ongoing. As an established and integrated community, we have worked with other faiths to share our knowledge and experience in establishing and maintaining communal structures. Our education director sits on the steering committee of the new Hindu faith school in Harrow, and the Hindu Forum of Britain has sought advice on modeling the forum on our board's representative structure. We were even consulted recently by the Irish embassy on how to maintain links with its Diaspora community in this country. We have in recent months met with representatives of the Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Bahai and Zoroastrian faiths. We also participate in numerous government, police and other consultations on equality and diversity. The appointment last year of Miriam Kaye further expressed our commitment to interfaith work, and she will be replaced. Much of her role has been to look beyond the board's own work and help those active in this field to share their good practice. The board plays a leading role in combating discrimination against Jews and Israel emanating from other sections of society, including the church and different faith groups. No one can be more acutely aware than we of the importance of fostering good relations with other faiths. That is why interfaith work will continue to be accorded the utmost importance. JON BENJAMIN Chief Executive Board of Deputies London Living the dream Sir, - As an American citizen and an avid reader of The Jerusalem Post, I was extremely touched by "That's so Israeli!" (May 25). It seemed to capture the very essence, the dichotomy, in fact, of what it means to be an Israeli. I too am from South Florida, and have just returned from a two-week birthright trip. It was monumentally influential for me. I feel blessed that I will be returning to Israel this month for a two-month study program at Tel Aviv University. Making aliya is something I have seriously begun to consider. Israel is indeed a state of many minds and personalities. Within a land mass the size of New Jersey you have Jews from all over the world congregating. But not lost within this melting pot, as Jonathan Udren suggests, is the overwhelming sense of appreciation that such a state exists. On my birthright trip our group had six Israeli IDFers with us, not for protection but to create a friendship built on our mutual heritage. One of the soldiers referred to Israel as a "haven" for Jews the world over, and talked about how its eccentric, stubborn and multi-cultural people all have one thing in common: They are part of a very tangible future for the Jewish people. That's certainly something hundreds of Jewish generations could only dream of. SETH BIDDER Boca Raton, Florida