Letters: Alive and well

Military people don’t talk, think or dwell upon unpleasant things they have done or will be doing.

Letters 521 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Letters 521
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Alive and well
Sir, – Decrying the imminent death of the Jewish deli, Robert Gluck (“Save the deli!,” Nostalgia, August 31) quotes David Sax’s book, which focuses on wellknown Manhattan delis. However, none of the delis mentioned in the article and the book are kosher. They are open on Shabbat and do not have rabbinical certification.
If Sax had looked a little farther he would have discovered real Jewish delis, the kosher ones, such as Mendy’s Kosher Delicatessen in midtown and Noah’s Ark on the Lower East Side. Both make wonderful pastrami sandwiches as well as other delectable fare.
Venturing into other areas Sax would find Essen in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and Noah’s Ark in Teaneck, New Jersey. Other kosher delis are to be found in Queens, Brooklyn and Five Towns on Long Island. All serve delicious overstuffed sandwiches as well as a variety of meats, steaks, chops, chicken, chopped liver, fries, onion rings, sour pickles, etc. One but has to look!
Sir, – The photograph of a pastrami sandwich with melted cheese in “Save the deli!!” is hardly a glimpse into “Jewish culture.”
Masking the shortcomings
Sir, – Rather than nag my husband, I dutifully took our shoebox- sized cartons to our local shopping mall with the postcard telling me it was my “last chance to update our protective kits” (“Yes, dear,” Grumpy Old Man, August 31). Since then I have received at least three more cards telling me that a particular date was my “last chance.”
So are we counted among the 46 percent who don’t have gas masks or among the 54% who do?
Grumpy Old Man responds: If you exchanged your masks after the Home Front Command and Israel Postal Company began their joint mask-replacement initiative in early 2010, you are among the 54% with what are considered up-to-date gas masks.
You are also among the 100% of the population that suffers from bureaucratic backwardness, insufficient intra-organizational communication and simple paper waste.
Sir, – With the possibility of war looming, will someone please explain the logic behind the current policy of gas-mask distribution? Three people live in my house – my wife, her Filipino caregiver and myself. My wife and I have received our gas masks. The caregiver, not being Israeli, has not.
We are told he will get one in an emergency.
Precisely when is that? Before or after the sirens go off? So I’m left in the following quandary: Does my wife sacrifice her mask to her caregiver, thus effectively committing suicide, or do I, thus becoming a martyr to Israeli bureaucracy? We’d both rather not, thank you. Nor should anyone be left unprotected just because he or she is not Israeli.
Nevertheless, I believe that in any event gas masks will prove to be completely useless, just another sop to allay our fears of annihilation.
Save the synagogues!
Sir, – I was able to empathize with David Breakstone’s “On harbors and lighthouses, symbolic and real” (Keep Dreaming, August 31) since we, too, took the trouble, on a recent visit to glorious Chania in Crete, to search out and visit the Etz Hayyim Synagogue.
It was both uplifting and saddening to witness the renaissance and survival of this remnant of Greek Jewry at the hands of a minuscule but dedicated group of local Jews headed by Nicholas Stavroulakis. Despite the attempts to wipe this tiny, hidden place of worship off the map it is still active and struggling to survive.
While Breakstone’s eminent suggestion that Jewish visitors to the city make a determined effort to bolster minyanim on Shabbat, I would hazard that a more practical solution would be for the hundreds, nay, thousands of more fortunate communities both in Israel as well as the Western Diaspora to contribute a little financial aid from their comparatively comfortable coffers and in this way guarantee the survival of Etz Hayyim, as well as dozens of other struggling synagogues throughout eastern Europe and the Balkans. The meager donations dropped into the contribution box at the entrance will never suffice.
GLEN EILON Netiv Ha’asara
Not his jungle
Sir, – Normally, I give Daniel K. Eisenbud a pass. But now he’s decided to invade my jungle – the military – and make statements about things he is totally unqualified to speak about (“Israelis and war,” Eisenbud’s Odyssey, August 24).
Never having been in the military he is ill-equipped to talk about combat, feelings, attitudes or anything else because he has no clue.
There is no “elephant in the room” for us. That’s for civilians.
Military people don’t talk, think or dwell upon unpleasant things they have done or will be doing. Especially to civilians and foreigners.
D’VEED NATAN Kfar Adumim
We love NBN
Sir, – I was disturbed to see a factually incorrect and fundamentally misleading claim indicating that Jeremy Gimpel and I in some way want to “curb Nefesh B’Nefesh” (“Politically safe,” Letters, August 24).
Compounded by our initial shock at such an assertion, which everyone knows is fundamentally antithetical to our most cherished values, was the frustration that the author of this letter could not have reached out to us personally for clarification, being that we pride ourselves on our unique and unparalleled level of openness and accessibility.
We are tremendously grateful to the entire team of extraordinary talent at Nefesh B’Nefesh for their tireless work providing the highest level of aid, assistance and encouragement to the many thousands of Jews from around the world they have helped bring to Israel. I made aliya on one of their first flights, in 2003, and have been in love with them ever since.
We believe that Nefesh B’Nefesh should get increased funding. Our belief that the government of Israel should project an inspiring and welcoming voice to Jews around the world to come home does not mean that Nefesh B’Nefesh should be shut down. On the contrary, it should be strengthened. It should have access to increased amounts of government funding and resources to continue its critical and indispensable work on behalf of the Jewish people.
Being that Israel is the national homeland for the Jewish people, there is no reason the government should not be projecting a positive, inclusive and inspiring message of welcome to Jews in the Diaspora.
When this happens Nefesh B’Nefesh will be busier and even more vital and essential than it is today.
Intricacies of the ‘eruv’
Sir, – Rabbi Shlomo Brody (“May one build an eruv within a large city?,” Ask the Rabbi, August 24) is to be congratulated on having written an excellent article explaining the intricacies of eruv construction in such a clear and easily understandable way.
As he writes: “Eruvin ... [have] enhanced religious life by allowing families, including young children and the handicapped, to attend synagogue services and celebrate Shabbat outside of their homes.”
For those who would otherwise be housebound an eruv is a godsend.
But it is a mistake to think its use is “glatt kasher.”
As the rabbi points out, practically every eruv that covers a large area (as opposed to one between adjacent houses, in apartment blocks or in narrow cul-de-sacs) depends on the opinion of Rashi and some others that “a public domain requires the presence of 600,000 people – the number of Jews included in the biblical census in the desert.”
From various talmudic passages it is evident that town-wide eruvin were not constructed even though it is highly unlikely that any town in those days had such a large population. It is little wonder that “this requirement was listed neither in the Talmud nor by Maimonides.”
It seems that the alternative definition – “for any area (such as a city street) to be characterized as a public domain, it must be uncovered, entirely publicly owned, have a minimum width of 7.3 meters (or 9.8 meters, according to some) and allow 24-hour public access” – must have been the accepted ruling.
While those with a town eruv have sources on which to rely, for those who do not have anything they really need to carry if they go out, its use can be problematic. Do the latter really have to bring themselves into a situation where, according to many authorities (Rambam et al.), they are desecrating Shabbat?
MARTIN D. STERN Salford, UK Kudos all around Sir, – Congratulations on your August 17 magazine – one of the best! It had a wonderful selection of articles, all informative, challenging, inspiring and stimulating.
A very good weekend read. Keep it up.