Regarding “Senior US Orthodox rabbis slam Kahana” (April 8), there are, I’m sure, those who applaud and fully back the reforms being introduced by Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana, confident that both the observant and secular communities will benefit and enjoy never before realized advantages. I’m not, however, among them.
On the contrary, I’m very troubled that these reforms were not adequately vetted or properly modeled and are being pushed through for no other reason than they are characteristic of “change” government. But while I’m prepared to adopt a wait-and-see approach to how his kashrut-related reforms work out, I would prefer that those involving conversion never get off the ground. Way too much is at stake, and there are virtually no controls over what can very likely turn into mayhem.
This, though, doesn’t mean that I’m pleased that a group of American rabbis have publicly expressed concerns over the conversion reforms being promoted by the minister. While I agree that there needs to be coordination and alignment between Israel and the Diaspora communities, I am bothered when outside involvement extends to influencing legislative initiatives being taken up by the Israeli parliament. A secular kibbutznik who served in the military and pays taxes to the State of Israel has more right to sway Kahana’s opinion than those whose make their homes on the other side of the world. The rabbis with whom Kahana met have neither responsibility nor accountability for what goes on here, and while Israel most certainly relies on the political and financial support that is very generously provided, the influence they have over protocols and policies must have boundaries. And the fact that I agree with their concerns regarding conversion makes no difference.
Besides, what Kahana is proposing is, for the most part, the same decentralized model of Jewish life that currently exists in the United States, isn’t it? There, the main activities associated with Jewish observance – marriage, divorce, conversion, kashrut and mikvaot – are the responsibility of local rabbinical authorities, not a centralized office of the chief rabbi. You would think that what works well in the United States should work well here as well, wouldn’t you? Why, then, the clamor?
I most certainly share the concerns of the rabbis over what the consequences of the conversion reform might be. But until they carry on their person a blue identity card and share the almost daily grief of innocent citizens becoming victims of murderous terrorists, their opinions are of little interest.
I am puzzled by the title used for Zvika Klein’s article. After reading the article there is no indication that the US rabbis “slammed“ Kahana. Disagreed yes, and couldn’t support the reform as it is currently written. The rabbis quoted in the article left the door open for dialogue. How does that translate to being “slammed?” It appears to me that the choice of the title in a news section was politically motivated and did not reflect an honest reporting of the event based on what you presented to the reader.
Even in New Jersey
Regarding “Passover, the House, the laws and disorder” (April 8), in 2020, the High Court of Justice ruled that hametz should be allowed to be taken into the country’s hospitals on Passover. Previously bags were checked just like entering malls but this time not for weapons but for hametz.
I’m familiar with that because our first Passover (2015) after making aliyah, my husband had medical issues and was in Shaare Zedek Medical Center a few days prior to the festival. My son and 10-year-old grandson came over to help with last-minute preparations. My grandson saw half a bag of pretzels and asked what I planned on doing with it. I said I guess we can still eat it.
He said, “Why don’t we bring it to the hospital and give it to Zaidy since he likes pretzels.” When we got there the security guards asked to see our bags like they do at malls so I wasn’t surprised. When he saw the pretzels he said we couldn’t take them in. We would get them back, he assured us. It wasn’t even Passover yet, but they were getting ready.
I’m familiar with checking food items in another instance. Before my mother passed away, she was in a nursing home in New Jersey. It was under the auspices of the RCBC, the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County. On my mother’s birthday I decided to bring a cake; I believe it was Entenmann’s which had OU certification. The receptionist checked what I had in my bag and said it had to be in compliance with the list posted, meaning acceptable hechsherim. I assured her it was.
This was New Jersey, and even there, they respected kashrut. So shouldn’t we respect Passover laws here in Israel? For one week, can’t we manage to visit patients without hametz?
Love and caring
Many things in life we take for granted and therefore it was an education reading Hannah Brown’s detailed description of life with her son Danny who has autism (“Autism Awareness Month: I wish people were actually aware,” April 8).
Sympathy is certainly not something being sought but as clearly mentioned awareness is, and I for one have a much better understanding of this condition.
Hannah’s love and caring for her son leaps from the page and it is vital that support is forthcoming for all families that have offspring with special needs. When governments are called upon to budget for many worthy causes it is doubly vital that certain conditions such as autism are not left as an afterthought.
With mothers like Hannah waving the “Autism Awareness” flag, I am sure it will rightly receive the necessary attention it clearly deserves.
Understand that responsibility
“Media blasted for tailing troops during manhunt,” reads the headline (April 10) and justifiably so, panting as they ran, to show us how much effort they were making to keep up with the troops. The letters by the spokesperson units of the Israel Police, IDF and Shin Bet to the media outlets were reasonable to say the least. As the Council of the Second Authority for Television and Radio wrote, “red lines” were crossed by the media, in particular channels 11, 12 and 13. “When human lives are in the balance the media’s behavior should be extra careful and responsible.” I personally was ashamed of the media coverage.
The excuse given by Channel 12 that the IDF and police spokespersons were “nowhere to be seen” and the comment that “in a democratic country” the press should not be criticized by the “security apparatus” would be laughable were they not so sad. In our democratic, little country we act with restraint not because there is a big brother, whether spokespersons or censors, watching us but because we are responsible for one another and understand that responsibility. Unfortunately most of those in the media have allowed the race for ratings to displace that sense of accountability. Shame on them.
Provides no security
There have been four terrorist incidents so far that have killed14 Israelis. Two of them were carried out by Israeli Arabs who were radicalized by ISIS, and two were Palestinian Arabs from the Jenin area who were in Israel illegally (“Gantz to request NIS 360m. for security barrier,” April 10). Everyone knows that thousands of Palestinians enter Israel through holes and gaps in the security fence. We see pictures of soldiers guarding these holes. But, who is responsible for the upkeep of the security fence.
It is useless and provides no security if it is not maintained and intact. The government is responsible for ensuring that such holes are repaired effectively. Why don’t they do it? Also the vaunted security apparatus is not doing its job if it doesn’t monitor Arabs who have been jailed for being supporters of ISIS; such people should not be out free in Israel. I unfortunately expect more such deadly attacks before those whose job it is to protect us get real.
Simple yet complex
Both Gershon Baskin (“A radical idea,” April 7) and Alon Ben-Meir (“Is Bennett siding with the ruthless killer Putin?” April 7) have such myopic views on the positions they espouse.
Yes, they lack total foresight or intellectual insight in their varied positions.
Baskin – well as usual this is easy. Baskin seems to rely on some mythical events from the past and all he can conjure up this week is his Holy Grail phrase – “Suppose they put on a war, and nobody came.” If this is the best Baskin can do regarding creative ideas, well then, I will let his words speak for themselves. Not much depth or seriously nuanced ideas are emanating from his pen. At least he is honest enough to declare that he has dedicated his life to the Palestinian cause, and this is his raison d’etre.
Ben-Meir – he can sure dish it out, I can only hope he can take it as well. We are fortunate that he is a retired professor at NYU and is no longer able to pour a whole lot of useless ideas into the heads of his hapless students. As a professor of international relations and negotiations, Ben-Meir should have a more astute sense when writing on such a simple yet complex subject of Putin being a killer.
Of course, Putin is all that has been described and probably far worse. But for the immanent professor to think for one moment that you can look at this issue through a microscope and not examine the big picture is quite incredulous. Even the US, under the Biden administration, and many EU countries continue to buy oil and gas from Putin and limit the type of weapons they are supplying to the Ukraine, so what does that tell you? Each country looks to protecting their self-interests first. Bennett no doubt abhors the human tragedy unfolding in the Ukraine, all being perpetrated by Putin’s thugs but that does not mean that Bennett cannot take into consideration the big picture.
Yes professor, the big picture. Bennett needs to consider operational viability in Syria against Iranian entrenchment, he needs to weigh the situation in Lebanon, the potential push back from Russia regarding the Golan, natural gas pipelines from the Leviathan gas fields to Europe, etc. Bennett’s first responsibility is to plan for the long-term well-being of Israel, and only then to see how those actions can be softened so that countries like the US are kept onside.
The Biden administration has certainly not demonstrated any reason why any country should be respecting Biden’s plans and wishes, especially considering the many foreign policy debacles in recent months. My point here professor is that I would have liked to see a much more in-depth analysis from you, considering the big picture. Not just a tirade where you took cheap pot shots at Bennett.
Perhaps next time.
The al-Aqsa libel
Regarding “Palestinians seek to link attacks to Jerusalem tensions” (April 10), in 1967, when Israel repulsed the Jordanian army and reunified Jerusalem, Israel gave management of the Temple Mount to the Islamic Wakf. The Temple Mount, where the Jewish Temples stood, until the Romans destroyed the second one in 70 AD, now holds the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque.
From 1948 to 1967, no Jew was allowed to visit their holiest sites, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. After 1967, every religious authority controlled their own holy places and everyone was free to explore and enjoy the city and the country. There were no barriers.
People of every ethnicity have visited Jerusalem and the Temple Mount since 1967. The Wakf restricts access to the mosque and the Dome of the Rock, which is its right. As for the Old City and the mount itself, Muslims have no more right to control who walks there than Catholics can restrict who walks along 5th Avenue near St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
For 100 years, the al-Aqsa libel, claiming Jews were destroying the mosque, has been used as an excuse for terrorism. This must end before the Palestinian Authority can be taken as a serious political entity, capable of resolving its issues with Israel.