June 10, 2018: Messed up

Our readers respond

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Messed up
In your extensive coverage (June 7) of the cancellation of the Israel vs. Argentina soccer match, it seems that you failed to mention two important points.
• The human aspect: The Argentinians trainers and players were, perhaps, not so happy to travel to Israel a few days before the beginning of the World Cup. After all, soccer is a rather heavy body-contact game; why risk an accident in an exhibition/practice game ?
• The financial aspect: Europeans have made soccer a Big Money game (not exclusively, but mainly for South American players). Where is the Big Money? Mainly in Arab pockets!
That Israel “messied” up the opportunity for us to watch an interesting friendly game in Haifa by “politicizing” it, is becoming, unfortunately, part of our political culture.
This land is ours
Regarding “Israel and Europe – what has gone wrong?” (June 4), what has gone wrong with the writer? If she has the gall to criticize our politicians, she should be a bit more cognizant of political matters.
Israel never occupied the territories it regained in 1967. It was a liberation, and calling to get us out by any means and give it to our sworn enemies, who have vowed to destroy our country and its people, is tantamount to treason. What does it matter what others say the law is when sovereignty was clearly defined in the Mandate for Palestine, making the land legally ours? For some reason, this document is ignored by our politicians here and abroad. The terms have never been questioned and no UN resolutions have abrogated its provisions, which gives us the rights to all of the so-called West Bank.
We have, for good reason, not annexed the territory, which is why we have a military government over the million and a half Arabs living there. They have autonomy. They were offered full control of that area several times. Prime ministers Barak and Olmert even offered them a state over 95% of the territory, which they refused (thank heaven). We would have given up strategic depth to dedicated enemies, leaving us with a very narrow neck in the central region where Netanya is situated.
The Bible states God gave this land to us and we were in possession of it for about 1,000 years. It is legally ours and it would be madness to turn it over to people who would cut our throats with a smile. When will Rolef concern herself with Arab inhabitants disregarding the rights of the Jews in this land? Columnists like Rolef help to promote antisemitism and the BDS movement. It’s time she made what’s wrong with her right.
Rishon Lezion
Conversion and divorce musings
“It happened to my family. It can happen to yours” (June 8) is founded on a number of spurious suppositions. To refer to a child born to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother as a “genetic abnormality” reeks from racial eugenics and is taboo in any civilized discussion. In addition, neither in America nor in Israel can the problem of mixed marriages be solved by the dilution of the conversion process based on scholarship alien to millennia of Jewish tradition. In other words, Jewishness in not an inheritance that may be mutated but rather a heritage which remains relatively constant and not subject to the whims of any popular movement or ideology.
Your editorial (“Convert now,” June 5) is absolutely right.
The Chief Rabbinate was established by the first chief rabbi, A. Y. H.Kook, in recognition of the Zionistic “Beginning of the Redemption” of the Jewish people after 2,000 years in exile. Today’s rabbinate has been hijacked by ultra-Orthodox sages who do not share the recognition that the State of Israel is in fact that divine beginning of redemption.
Moshe Nissim has the right credentials – legal, Orthodox and hereditary – to propose a reform of conversion in Israel. He is also committed to strict adherence to halacha (religious law) as interpreted by sages such as Maimonides.
An overwhelming majority of Israelis and MKs concur with his proposal, so it should be declared a non-partisan issue by all Zionist political parties. They should jointly undertake to support the government in adopting Nissim’s proposals and this would include their guarantee not to allow the government to fall on this issue. Their failure to cooperate in this manner would be tantamount to allowing the perpetuation of the haredi domination of conversion to the detriment of Israeli society.
While they are at it, this majority could also join together to solve a few other haredi-dominated issues such as conscription, and prayer at the Western Wall.
Ramat Gan.
Jeremy Sharon (Groundbreaking ruling in rabbinical court frees 23-year ‘chained woman,’ June 5) writes that “Tzviya Gorodetsky ... has been freed from her marriage by a private, ad hoc Orthodox rabbinical court,” though it is unlikely to help her since “the Chief Rabbinate is certain to reject the validity of the divorce.”
Apparently her husband “has been sitting in prison for the last 18 years, unmoved in his determination never to grant his wife a divorce.” The real reason for her plight is that the Chief Rabbinate is not permitted to apply the halachic sanction of makkot mardut (flogging for contempt of court). Unlike the Biblical punishment, such flogging is not limited to 39 lashes but could continue ad sheteitsei nafsho (until he expires).”
If a husband refuses to issue a get when ordered to do so by an official rabbinical court then, after a year in prison, he should be told that if he still refuses he will be flogged. I would be surprised if more than one lash would be necessary to convince him that the court was not bluffing.
After each lash, he should be given the option of complying and being released. In the unlikely situation that he prefer to continue being flogged, eventually he would die and his wife would then automatically be released as a widow!
Salford, England
“I don’t expect to prevail in my lifetime, but eventually justice will come for agunot.” So said Rabbi Emanuel Rackman z”l about 20 years ago. “Aguna freed from marriage by private rabbinical court after 23 years” (June 5), highlights a rabbinic ruling freeing Tzviya Gorodetsky that is a step toward making Rackman’s hopes a reality.
The grounds cited in the article for freeing Gorodetsky are precisely those used by the Rackman beit din. Documentation and halachic sources for the Rackman beit din’s rulings can be found on AGUNAH International’s website.
Rackman was a “creative and brave” rabbi, to use Gorodetsky’s words, who shouldered the responsibility of finding halachic solutions to free agunot. For this, Rackman was maligned and boycotted by many of his Orthodox rabbinic colleagues. We urge the two anonymous rabbis who joined with Rabbi Daniel Sperber in this recent ruling to step out of the shadows so as to give other rabbis chizuk, courage and strength, to endorse this approach to freeing agunot.
Hearty congratulations to Nitzan Caspi and Susan Weiss of the Center for Women’s Justice for their tireless, brilliant advocacy for agunot.
AGUNAH, International is proud to have been the Rackman Beit Din’s partner. We, too, were often shunned and silenced, but that was a small price to pay for helping advance the struggle to free agunot and to purge Orthodoxy of this shameful injustice.
Directors of AGUNAH International
Both sides now
Michael Cohen’s random and simplistic musings about walls (“Fences, barriers and walls: A personal rabbinic reflection,” June 5), together with carefully selected quotes from the Koran about peace should be an embarrassment to his employer, Bennington College.
It may be true that the Koran borrowed concepts from the Torah about saving life, but it also encourages its followers to find the Jew behind every tree, call for them and kill them.
Peace will be possible when Cohen and other wishful thinkers confront the truth, but it will be elusive as long as they live in a fantasy world.