July 12, 2017: Rabbinate blacklist

Reader's thoughts on the Rabbinate blacklist, El Al and the 20th Maccabiah games.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Rabbinate blacklist
I read with disbelief “Rabbinate blacklists 160 rabbis in Diaspora” (July 10). In an attempt to flex its muscles with political strength endowed to it by the Knesset, the Chief Rabbinate is actually weakening its influence – not only here, but worldwide.
By trying to make everyone else irrelevant, it is losing more and more support every day and condemning itself to irrelevancy.
The Chief Rabbinate surely does not recognize the fact that its strength comes from the Jewish people. Already, the haredim do not accept its authority; the rest of the Jewish people are now following their example.
Your article starts: “The Chief Rabbinate has compiled a blacklist....” It goes on to report the so-called details, but it isn’t until deep into the article, in the penultimate paragraph, that we read: “Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau... strongly denounced the blacklist, stating he had no knowledge of it until Sunday, and that it was the work of the clerk in charge of the Marriage and Conversion department, who created it without proper authorization.”
Regardless of which part is correct, this seems to be a clear case of attack the Chief Rabbinate, and only then worry about the real story.
El Al foes...
In “El Al’s $1.25 billion airborne gamble” (July 10), reporter Amy Spiro makes no mention about the training of staff in customer service, which is so seriously lacking.
El Al rests on its laurels, feeling that customers forfeit graciousness and service for the sake of security. Maybe the pride it will feel upon taking delivery of 16 Dreamliners will spur it on to deliver dream service to match. Until then, my allegiance lies with those airlines that are committed to giving service with a smile and the philosophy that the customer is the top priority.
As for the situation with haredim demanding seat changes, all passengers, upon paying for a seat, should be made to sign an agreement that they will not cause any seating problems once aboard, and that if they do, they are aware that they will be removed from the plane. Until such time as a solution is found, the extraordinary costs caused by the delays they create by refusing to be seated next to a woman should be passed on to them personally.
Mark Feldman’s excellent “Care to share” (Travel Adviser, July 2) was very timely from my point of view and probably that of a few hundred other people who had a very bad experience with El Al on the very day the piece appeared.
I was booked to travel on El Al 313 from Ben-Gurion Airport to Luton. We sat on the plane for approximately two hours due to a technical fault. We finally made it to the runway, only to be told that the technical fault had returned and we would have to go back and disembark.
We were offered a measly voucher for a coffee and pastry.
We sat in the departure lounge for a couple of hours, with no apologies or information being given out. The flight was eventually canceled.
There was no announcement about meal vouchers. If one asked for a voucher, it was given out grudgingly. We were told where to attempt to book an alternative flight. When I asked one of the managers at a service desk, he told me I had to phone a call center. I told him this was untrue. Grudgingly, he directed me to a ticketing desk.
I was told the 10:15 flight the following day was fully booked. I asked about British Airways flights and was told BA could not be contacted until three hours before its next flight. There was then a change of attitude, and after speaking to a supervisor and making a phone call, I was offered a choice of seats on the morning flight that previously was said to be full.
It is very worrying that El Al gave the okay for a plane with a technical fault to depart.
After this fiasco, I do not think I will have the confidence to trust it with my personal safety.
But what I cannot forgive El Al for is its contempt for its customers.
...and Maccabiah woes
Having been associated with the Maccabiah Games since 1985 – three times as a cricket competitor for Great Britain (including once as captain), and four times having my children involved – I feel compelled to write as to how badly the opening ceremony was handled.
This is not about money, but I found myself having to purchase seats at NIS 780 each for the pleasure of sitting at ground level. This meant looking up at a stage several meters higher.
The wonderful feeling of being a competitor or a spectator did not exist. Three times I marched proudly around the Ramat Gan Stadium, waving excitedly and receiving huge applause. We would gather in the middle and await whatever show was to be put on. This time, one side of the stadium was totally wasted with backdrop, and two sides were taken up by competitors.
Yes, it is amazing that there are now over 10,000 athletes and delegates, but Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium meant that fewer people than ever had the pleasure of attending the opening.
We traveled with a group of Great Britain supporters.
Everyone was disappointed with the fiasco. Team members we were with the following days felt the same, and several friends we have since sat with who had gone to the opening independently agreed.
Someone should be held accountable. It should not have been about trying to satisfy those watching in the Diaspora with some supposedly clever light show – it should have been about the people who were there and wanted to attend – and preferably not at NIS 780 each.
We have enjoyed living in Israel for nine years, but evenings like these make us hold our heads in despair. Bring back the old way; fill a stadium with supporters at sensible prices – 50,000 people in Ramat Gan, not 15,000 in Teddy!
I agree with readers commenting on the local TV coverage of the Maccabiah Games (or lack thereof).
In contrast, it has been great to see the colorful ads for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv while watching the Tour de France on Eurosport. And the Israeli commentators are doing well as the “voice-overs” on the somewhat sycophantic BBC coverage of Wimbledon.
Israel’s Maccabiah certainly deserves better!
Kfar Saba
Every day I go to the BBC website for its excellent coverage of world news, including world sport.
A few days ago, I fully expected to find a wide-ranging report about the 20th Maccabiah Games, of which Israel is rightfully proud. But try as I might, I could find not even the slightest mention of this outsize event, the Jewish Olympic games.
Convinced that I must have missed some mention of coverage, I wrote to the BBC requesting an explanation, which I have not so far received. I am puzzled and even somewhat distraught by this omission and wonder what might lie behind it.
The BBC gives excellent coverage to all the major sports events, so is it possible that the Maccabiah is not in the major leagues?