Letters to the Editor: Viva la différence

We have failed in our education here in Israel if the sanctification of Shabbat is not part of our psyche.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Viva la différence
Every nation that has to perform repair work on its infrastructure does it at night, and for the same reasons – to avoid traffic congestion and to enable people to function normally. Normalcy means working within the status quo.
But I was very disturbed reading “‘Post’ poll: Majority backs Katz in dispute with PM over Shabbat work” (September 5).
We have failed in our education here in Israel if the sanctification of Shabbat is not part of our psyche.
The matter of working on Shabbat is a major issue, one that reaches into the soul of the Jewish people. It has nothing to do with giving in to the ultra-Orthodox – from the beginning of our encounter with God, we have been taught to observe Shabbat and keep it holy, meaning different from the other days of the week.
We in Israel achieve our greatness by being a Jewish state. We are different. Viva la différence!
From Reform dogma...
In “Moderate rabbis push back against haredim: It has nothing to do with ‘pikuah nefesh’” (September 5), your reporter extensively quotes Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of Israel’s Reform movement.
While I have no idea whether Rabbi Kariv keeps Shabbat, I do know that his movement most definitely does not. Reform dogma does not believe that God commanded us at Mount Sinai to abstain from the 39 classes of prohibited activities on Shabbat (evidenced by the movement’s permitting the driving of cars on Shabbat, etc.).
Ask any non-religious Israeli Jew if the Torah permits driving on Shabbat and see what answer you’ll get from an honest person: “I personally drive because I am not a Sabbath observer, but I know that the Torah forbids it.”
Is it not absurd for Rabbi Kariv to weigh in on a halachic issue such as pikuah nefesh (acts that are permitted even if they mean desecrating Shabbat, such as saving a person’s life) when the Reform movement does not believe that God forbade us from violating the 365 negative commandments? While the other rabbis mentioned in the article may be moderate, Rabbi Kariv can in no way be considered moderate. He is an extreme rabbi who does not follow the Shulhan Aruch or any other halachic decisors.
Bnei Brak
...to Orthodox dictators
I have never been there when they attempt to pray, but reading “Women of the Wall ask for police protection at Western Wall” (September 2), I learned that members of this group are routinely harassed by haredi women. According to the article, “WoW said that one of its board members was punched, while other protesters incessantly blew whistles in the ears of those praying, threw empty water bottles at them and sprayed water at them” during one prayer service.
It occurred to me that this is something that might have happened in Germany during the 1930s, or might be similar to the religious police in Saudi Arabia or the actions of an anti-Semitic group in Europe. But this is Israel, where Jews should be free to pray as they wish. Or are they free to pray only as directed by a holierthan- all rabbinate? I thought of the chutzpah of the Chief Rabbinate and how it dares to challenge the conversions performed by other rabbis. I recalled having met Israelis who despise the rabbinate and are anti-religious.
How sad, but they are the product of this dictatorship of Orthodoxy.
I recalled that many haredi rabbis object to children learning science, mathematics and English.
These rabbis are anxious to condemn their congregants to a life of ignorance and subservience.
Most haredi Jews don’t think they should serve in the army or be gainfully employed. If their behavior is the result of Torah study, then such study is flawed.
I believe all of these things are wrong.
I always thought that Israel was a Jewish State, i.e., the state of all Jews – Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and those who are not part of any denomination. It turns out that we have a caste system: Haredim and some other ultra-Orthodox Jews are a special group, and the rest of us are from a lower class. It’s time to change.
As I go around Israel, I am amazed at how much Diaspora Jews have contributed to the country. I don’t think they were asked about their affiliation or if they observed Shabbat.
Over 400 years ago, Europeans emigrated to America in search of religious freedom. They were fleeing from zealots enforcing God’s law. Here we are today, obedient to the official rabbinate, a corrupt version of what they fled.
In the face of this abomination, where are the Orthodox rabbis? Are they not ashamed of this conduct? Where are our secular political leaders? Where is the populace? Shame on all of us.
Warning signal
Since now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of our besieged country, your red-inked headline “Palestinian flag again in national park” (September 5) is especially courageous, and a greatly necessary warning signal.
Thank you!

Expressive language
They say there’s a suitable expression in Yiddish to cover every eventuality, so when I read the article describing the gift of a tallit (Jewish prayer shawl), which was put on Donald Trump’s shoulders by a well-meaning non-Jewish cleric in Detroit (“Bishop gifts Trump with tallit from Israel,” September 5), two sayings immediately sprang to mind.
The first was Es past em az vie a hint tzitzeh kanfes – it suits him like a dog wearing a little tallit.
The second was Es past em az vie a chazzer oyringlech – it suits him like a pig wearing earrings.
Yiddish is such an expressive language!
Unmentioned facts
I appreciate the interesting comparison in Seth J. Frantzman’s “The Turkish roots of Israel’s politics: Inside the deep state” (Terra Incognita, September 5). But there is one glaring omission in the paragraph about Greek and Palestinian refugees.
Why does Mr. Frantzman avoid mentioning the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim countries who were forced to flee for their lives? This came after Arab countries attacked our tiny new state with the intent of annihilating Israel in its infancy.
These facts are all too often ignored or forgotten.
Vigilant champions
I have always enjoyed Sayed Kashua’s sharp wit. However, in “A back to school education” (Comment & Features, September 5), he refers twice to racism in Israel.
It is true that a number of Israelis view Arabs with something less than favor, but I doubt the percentage is higher than in the US.
In Israel, both the government and the judiciary are vigilant champions of basic equality for all citizens.


Waste of space
Regarding “Mel Gibson confirms new project on Jesus’s resurrection” (Arts & Entertainment, September 5), why did you waste space on the despicable Gibson? Who in Israel is interested in him? Surely, there were more interesting and more worthy people to write about.

Herzliya Pituah
NOTE The New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle is being reprinted on Page 21, including the line of clues missing from the September 5 Jerusalem Post. We regret the omission