September 14: Keep reciting the Kiddush

Readers of the Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Regarding “Kiddush is not ‘cute’” (Melissa Schreiber, Observations, August 31), in a word: outstanding!Your personal reasons for where you are religiously are exactly that...
your personal reasons. But the way you made it crystal clear that we, as Jews, cannot compromise on certain things, no matter what others think, that is a golden message. The next time a student at a school Shabbat meal or another situation makes kiddush on Friday night, or does any other act they may otherwise have been embarrassed to do and they were inspired by your approach – well, that’s in your merit.
I applaud you and wish you a shana tova. May it be the best year ever!
Ma’aleh Adumim
Kol hakavod to Melissa Schreiber – it was both refreshing and revealing to read her column.
The tensions between Shabbat observers and secularists were never better articulated so honestly by her simple Friday-night dinner at the Dead Sea.
Decades of intolerance by both sides continue to manifest themselves without letup. What seems so basic – respect for our heritage and our special gift of the Sabbath – has been twisted into bitterness and ugly ignorance.
Melissa’s story of how she attempted to express her Jewish connection and acknowledging that the Shabbat has holy and historical meaning to Jews, especially in our own homeland, is to be noted for its importance.
Conversely, the absence of that connection by its rejection and neglect, is to be highly regretted.
As written by Ahad Ha’am, not known for his religious piety, “More than the Jews keeping the Shabbat, it was the Shabbat which kept the Jews.”
Keep reciting the kiddush, Melissa. It is not an embarrassment.
You honor Israel.
Regarding Brian Blum’s latest column, “Under Fire: A Student in Sderot” (Observations, August 31), as someone who devoted his professional career to emergency behavior, trauma and their management I was, of course, interested professionally.
But Sderot is also where my daughter and husband have lived for 19 years and where seven of my grandchildren have been most of their lives. They have lived with “Code Red” and 15 seconds to find shelter from the time they were born.
It’s annoying, aggravating, and if you’re caught without shelter, dangerous and scary! When alarms sound in the presence of outside film crews the difference between their reaction and that of locals is obvious.
The experienced slip into an “emergency culture” routine.
As Blum’s daughter reported, ‘It’s no biggie!” What the article dismisses as denial, is actually a very useful psychological coping mechanism that allows you to focus on your life, your ideals and your dreams, rather than the anxiety that is beyond your control. But each person’s response to adversity is individual and highly unpredictable.
Those who work in crisis intervention have learned to appreciate and respect these differences. Blum provides estimates by experts of 50% and even 80% of children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Given the difficulties in diagnosing PTSD, these can only be regarded as guesses.
Many of those same children still wear T-shirts proclaiming themselves “Heroes of Sderot.”
Psychiatry categorizes PTSD as a neurotic disorder, a neurosis or illness. Bearing in mind that few people reach adulthood without any traumatic experiences that aren’t actually erased but managed, I have always preferred to use “post-traumatic stress syndrome” to avoid labeling and its negative implications.
In any event, moving to this area is still an act of devotion to Israel and its land; readiness to make great sacrifices for your ideals. There is no excuse for terrorists to expose civilians, including children, to physical and emotional dangers to fulfill their goals. However, overcoming the challenge can actually produce adults who have learned the meaning of patriotism and love of country not always found in our so called “post-Zionist” society.
Petah Tikva
Although “Bereshit/Genesis as metaphor” (Moshe Dann, Judaism, August 31) thinks that “It’s irrelevant whether the world is 5,776 years old or 50 million years old” (sic), the debate is sufficiently relevant to some. Aish HaTorah’s popular Discovery seminar commissioned Prof. Gerald Schroeder to reconcile it. This he did by invoking Einstein’s Relativity, theorizing that the gravitational field at the edge of the universe could slow down clocks there so that only six days have passed, whilst 13 billion years have passed here on Earth.
And the topic is tendentious enough that the UK government’s powerful Office for Standards in Education is threatening to withhold millions of pounds in aid to Orthodox Jewish schools in Britain if they continue teaching recent creationism, stating that it will not tolerate “a curriculum which teaches as fact views and theories which are contrary to established scientific or historical evidence and explanations.” Evolutionary writers like Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov wrote that “the only fight worth fighting for today is the fight against the YECs (Young Earth Creationists)!” Yet not a few people still believe that God writes what He means and means what He writes, and that this year’s date 5779 on the cover of the Jerusalem Post is literally true in an absolute sense, citing such solid scientific evidences as the rate of decrease of the Earth’s and sun’s magnetic fields, the rate of decrease in the size of the solar disc, the high residual warmth of the moon and mere half-inch of dust on its surface (which amazed the Apollo astronauts who had been told to expect being swamped), the decrease in the speed of light, the paucity of helium and micro-meteoric dust in the atmosphere, the rate of mineral deposition into the oceans, the fallacious premises of radiometric dating, the still “unwrapped” state of the arms of the great spiral galaxies, the thickness of Saturn’s rings, the continued existence of shortterm comets, human population statistics, the dearth of human records, artifacts, remains and graves older than 6,000 years, polystrate fossils, the abiogenic theory for the origin of oil, tree-ring dating, pleochroic haloes etc.
“The universe will exist only 6,000 years” (Talmud, Sanhedrin 97).
The letter “No evil” (Jonathan Danilowitz, August 31) criticized Danit Shemesh’s response in “Animal Cruelty” (Three Ladies – Three Lattes, August 24).
Danit Shemesh responds: I have no argument with those who choose not to eat meat. I have no argument with being compassionate to animals.
I have no argument with rallying to better the conditions from which the animals suffer. I encourage nothing. I will not encourage anyone to eat meat or to view it as pleasurable.
The only message I hoped to convey was that the passuk of “rahmanim bnei rahmanim” was misused.
Somehow I angered you to the point of you speaking to me about my teshuva this Rosh Hashana, a very intimate subject, one not discussed flippantly and certainly not used as a weapon against one another.
It is my belief that we cannot make up the rules as we see fit. To me the ideals I hold dear come from the Torah. For you to call me cruel because I eat meat indicates a world I indeed do not identify with.
Perhaps I do live on Mars. Or in my own world, one where people are not judged as harshly for doing something that is clearly allowed in the Torah. Perhaps it is a “concession for the frail,” but it is still allowed, which means it is not cruel, because the Torah will not allow cruelty.
Could it be that ideals trump human communication? I am not at war with you or your ideals.
I merely ask that you don’t deem me cruel because I do something that is against your principles. If you were not as angry, perhaps you would see that we don’t disagree as much as you think. You would certainly not call me evil.