December 15, 2015: Meeting Trump

Readers respond to the latest Jeruslaem Post articles.

Envelope (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Meeting Trump
The front page headline (“Netanyahu spared a headache as Trump cancels Israel visit,” December 11) was certainly supported by the “No Trump” editorial that followed, also in Friday’s edition.
Regardless of your opinion on Donald Trump or Benjamin Netanyahu, I would like to point out that it is not a new policy for our prime minister to meet with aspiring US presidents. It is long standing practice for a US presidential candidate to exploit a visit to Israel.
I remember then-prime minister Ehud Olmert met with presidential hopeful Barack Obama at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem.
To change a long standing policy now, as presidential hopeful Ben Carson is due to arrive, sounds like another opportunity for critics to be able to exploit.
Religious pluralism
The editorial (“Dynamic Judaism”) and main op-ed (“Religious fundamentalism is against Jewish diversity”) in Monday’s Post is devoted to the monopolizing of Israeli Jewish religious policy and practice by the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox. While complaining about this situation, neither writer suggests a remedy.
All aspects of Jewish practice – marriage, divorce, kashrut, etc. – are controlled by the Orthodox rabbinate, and the Orthodox rabbinate operates in accordance with laws passed by the Knesset.
Therefore, the only way to give Jewish religious policy and practice in Israel a pluralistic character is by Knesset legislation.
The religious parties in the Knesset – United Torah Judaism, Shas and Bayit Yehudi – are either Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox.
There are no religious parties in the Knesset with a pluralistic platform. It follows that, in order to give Israeli Jewish religious policy and practice a pluralistic character, it will be necessary to form a political party with a pluralistic Jewish platform.
The editorial provides a possible name for such a party: Dynamic Judaism.
Beit Zayit
Regarding Uri Regev’s opinion piece, Chief Rabbi David Lau acts like the chief rabbi of only the Orthodox minority of Jews in Israel, not like the chief rabbi of all the Jews. However, he believes he has the power to force the rest of the Jewish people to believe as he does. Lau’s fundamentalist vision of Judaism is a minority view that is inconsistent with the long history of Judaism. Certainly, there have always been Jewish communities that expressed narrow, fundamentalist views but the more significant ones were those that moved Judaism forward with the flow of history.
Reform and Conservative Judaism are not aberrations, but validly Jewish attempts to search for ways to apply Judaism to the realities of modernity. By forbidding novelty, Orthodoxy has actually introduced a seriously destructive and fundamental change in Judaism – the abolition of meaningful halachic evolution.
Israel is a modern country, there should be no place in the government for obstructionists like Rabbi David Lau.
Chief Rabbi David Lau has now proven beyond doubt that he is determined to follow faithfully the bankrupt approach of his predecessors in that now hopelessly corrupted and decayed sinecure his post has become (“Lau criticized Bennett for visit to Conservative school in US,” December 10).
Following decades in which the Orthodox establishment has failed utterly to provide leadership and example within Israel, it is now determined to alienate the large majority of Jews worldwide.
The ignorance and hypocrisy he displayed in condemning Naftali Bennett’s visit to a Conservative school in the US is unfortunately true to type and completely unsurprising.
The fact that Lau himself allowed himself to visit similar and even more enlightened establishments doesn’t seem to have had any impact on his withered sense of consistency or conscience.
It is a tragedy that Orthodoxy has adopted an approach of contempt and hate towards anyone who thinks differently from them.
Rosh Pina
In these difficult times, when one of the most important national needs is our cohesion, both internally and with our brethren in the Diaspora, Rabbi Lau’s remarks on Conservative Judaism are unparalleled, especially by a chief rabbi supposedly representing Israel.
Knowing first hand, from years in the US, that young Jewish American students at the Solomon Schechter Day School are more knowledgeable in Jewish tradition than average comparable Israeli students (excluding Orthodox) of the same age.
They know and celebrate in school the Jewish holidays according to tradition – including going to synagogue. They know the siddur and its prayers in Hebrew, they can read Hebrew, and most can read from the Torah.
We live in an era of renewed, vehement anti-Semitism. We need compassionate leadership, not a cold, dogmatic divisive one.
Chief Rabbi Lau should get out of the Middle Ages and look at the real world of the 21st century.
Higher education
It’s a long time since I have heard such nonsense from an eminent rabbi (“Battle rages over education reform for haredi girls,” December 6).
It was in very bad taste that Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman compared higher education of haredi girls to the Holocaust.
The haredi community are prepared for their men to sit and learn all day, and the wives go out to work. But God forbid that her education should allow her to bring home a salary that would keep the family below the poverty line.
Petah Tikva
Moving editorial
Congratulations on a most moving editorial (“Christian genocide,” December 13).
We have all been reading about the plight of the Christians under the various Muslim terrorist groups. I have been touched by the horrors that these ordinary people, simple in their beliefs, have had to undergo.
But I cannot understand why films have not been made and shown everywhere in every town and in every hamlet all over the world about these horrors.
The trouble is that the world has become dead internally to the horrors inflicted upon the Christians. How can the Catholic Church and Protestant leaders not be demonstrating to bring an end, once and for all, to such evil as we know these Muslim terrorist groups inflict upon everyone who does not agree with them. This indifference to the pain and suffering of human beings is the ultimate evil of mankind. Now is the time for action. The people of the world must believe that evil can be expunged in our generation.
Identity crisis
What a shock to see the front page of The Jerusalem Post (“Ukrainian gov’t returns Torahs confiscated by Communists,” December 14). Next to a subheadline calling it a “real miracle of Hanukka,” is a small picture of Ukrainian government officials, dressed in suits, reverently carrying in Torah scrolls wrapped in prayer shawls to the Brodsky Choral synagogue in Kiev.
Juxtaposed with that is a much larger picture of a buxom, half nude young woman, “reverently” carrying a huge bottle of Guinness while straddling the Azrieli towers.
We are working so hard to convince the world to recognize us as a Jewish State. What’s the message of these pictures?