August 29, 2017: Haredi, secular

Priority is given to letters that are brief and topical, and which bear the writer’s name and place of residence, as well as the name and date of the 'Post' item being referred to.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Haredi, secular
In your August 27 issue, I read about the haredi-secular divide (“Police, haredim clash at religious coercion protest”). It was much of the same old, same old – protests rending our people.
There was one seed of hope, however, in a quote by an anonymous young man, a “Toldos Avrum-Yitzhok” hassid: “Most of our rabbis – even the ones whom secular Jews would call extremists – are against this. No one would approve of throwing rocks or saying curse words.” Unfortunately, this was stuck, barely noticed, at the end of the article. We need to hear such comments spoken loudly and clearly by those very rabbis.
Most people’s impression of haredim is that they are violent extremists. Sadly, we don’t understand that the majority are not. The haredi leadership needs to take a public stand against this small but vocal minority, taking action against the violent demonstrations that cause unpardonable physical injury and violate so many restrictions of the very Torah they profess to be defending.
The silence of this leadership is deafening. They know how to make themselves heard. This is Elul, the Hebrew month of introspection. Now is the time.
Roaring mouse
In response to “The mouse that roared” (Comment & Features, August 27), once again, The Jerusalem Post has published an opinion piece by a member of the Women for the Wall that misrepresents non-Orthodox Jews in Israel. It mistakenly states that Reform and Conservative Jews represent only 0.02% of the Jews in Israel, when the figure is closer to 0.2%.
It is also disingenuous to laud the number of “Orthodox” synagogues since they receive state support while, as far as I know, Reform and Conservative synagogues in Israel are supported solely by their members. Therefore, one could say that 100% of the synagogues in Tel Aviv (and elsewhere in Israel) that are supported by their members are Reform or Conservative. (Members of Reform and Conservative synagogues pay not only for their own synagogues, they help pay for Orthodox synagogues with their taxes.)
I found it funny that the author would quote Pew Survey statistics. In the latest report I could find at Pew, US Jews overwhelmingly identify as Reform (35%) or Conservative (18%), and only 10% identify as Orthodox. The same report places Israeli Jews identifying as Reform at 3%, and Conservative at 2% – much higher than the 10,000 synagogue members stated in the article.
Whether the proportion of Reform and Conservative Jews in Israel is 0.2% or 5%, one would not expect the Orthodox establishment to feel so threatened.
Perhaps the real problem is that non-Orthodox synagogues appeal to “secular” Jews and show the secular majority that they don’t have to be Orthodox to be religious.
I attended the Rosh Hodesh prayers at the Western Wall referenced by Leah Aharoni in “The mouse that roared.” We were a minyan of men who were all non-Orthodox. We dressed as was proper for the morning prayers and used an Orthodox prayer book, yet we were badgered by a group of Orthodox adults and youths who did not even have the brains to be quiet when we did the Amida prayer. At the other end were men and women who were also trying to pray.
The interference was the fault of the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz, who does not teach his followers derech eretz, to be ethical and respectful Jews. (I would like to see you eliminate the weekly portion feature that Rabbi Rabinowitz writes for the weekend Jerusalem Post Magazine. He is not building the Jewish people; he is a hindrance.)
Yet Ms. Aharoni tells it as it is. Israelis do not join non-Orthodox synagogues – they want to have it all for free.
Tel Aviv
Inside and out
Noa Amouyal waxes lyric in her description of the new Orient Hotel interior (“Creating big worlds in small places,” Travel Trends, August 27).
I really hope this depicts reality. However, when she quotes the architects’ desire to “‘soften’ the building’s facades by ‘designing [them] to look like several buildings rather than one, through the use of differently- sized openings and balconies emphasized with iron and aluminum frames,’” I shudder.
Passing by the facade on Bethlehem Road, one cannot but be overwhelmed by its ugliness. It is mind-boggling. All this dark brown metal protruding from the stone destroys the serenity of the neighborhood. All the more that the architects could have taken an example from the area’s old Templar homes.
Maybe the guests will be so enchanted with the interiors that they won’t venture out and have to see the exterior.
Not hype at all
In “Enough hype!” (Letters, August 24), reader Yigal Horowitz argues that “we are fed a torrent of hysteria and exaggeration in The Jerusalem Post and other newspapers concerning issues that are said to threaten both civilization and humanity itself.” He claims that among the “over-hyped” issues are statements such as “The ice caps are melting, the seas are rising, islands will vanish, millions will die, tens of millions will become refugees, vast species will face extinction, there will be polluted air and polluted seas.”
Evidently, Mr. Horowitz is unaware that these are not exaggerated claims by the media, but the conclusions of the leaders of the 195 nations, including Israel, that met at the 2015 Paris climate change conference; all the major science academies worldwide; and virtually all of the peer-reviewed articles on the subject in respected science journals. In addition, military leaders believe there is great potential for increased terrorism and warfare as tens of millions of desperate refugees flee from the effects of climate change.
Such news might dishearten us, but it is not meant to do that. When I bring it to the fore, my intention is to ask all of us to save resources, buy and waste less, use public transportation, dispense with the habit of using disposables and reduce the consumption of animal- based foods, as its production contributes greatly to hothouse gas emissions.
It is past time to reject the denial and recognize and respond to the existential threat that climate change poses to “civilization and humanity itself.”
Why no ‘float’?
Please, would someone explain to me why, with all the technological progress made in Israel in the 34 years I have lived here, there is still no concept of a “float” in cash registers in shops.
I cannot count the times I have presented an NIS 50 note to a cashier only to be greeted with the question “Don’t you have anything smaller?” or the statement “I don’t have any change.” (And this is not when the shop has just opened for the business day.)
Outside Israel, this is never a problem.
In “Our children left Israel” (Observations, August 25), writer Harold Goldmeier should have attributed the famous line “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” to Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz rather than to Alice of the Lewis Carroll books. He acknowledges: “Though the Zionist dream views Israel from afar as Wonderland, it can begin to feel like Oz once you’re struggling to make a living here.”