Letters to the Editor for the week of February 2, 2020

Readers of The Jerusalem Post Magazine have their say

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
There are heroes whose names are on everyone’s lips, immortalized by statues, holidays, on coins, etc. And then there are heroes, great heroes, whose identities are often never known.
Last week’s Magazine (January 31) shone a well-deserved spotlight on some of the many heroes that we know little or nothing about – yet we all owe a great debt of gratitude and admiration to. For example:
• In “Mossad dad: A true hero of Israel,” we read about the daring exploits of Avraham Dar, whose activities spanning decades protected us from British occupiers and Arab terrorists. At one point, his captors broke his teeth with a rifle butt, but they could not break his spirit.
• “Their lives after” tells us the moving story of Greta Fischer, who dedicated much of her youth so selflessly to nurturing child survivors of the Holocaust back to health.
• In “The girl who ran Auschwitz’s secret library,” Dita Kraus provides important, chilling testimony about endurance and defiance in the hell of Auschwitz.
I am proud to belong to a people with so many heroes, great and small, and am grateful to the Magazine for the inspirational stories you bring to light and regale us with.
Regarding “Homework in hospitals” (January 24): The Israeli press – in both Hebrew and English – has become a most depressing venue. Focusing exclusively, it seems, on political quagmires, rampant antisemitism and the efforts to release from Russian incarceration a young lady who is a careless pothead, rarely is there anything to smile or feel good about. Which is why I am ever so grateful for your story on the programs to educate our hospitalized children. I vaguely knew of such programs but was indeed gratified to learn just how expansive it is.
It is not, though, just the admirable objective of ensuring that these children do not fall hopelessly behind in their educational development that makes this endeavor so worthwhile. As your story suggested, the learning itself provides a form a treatment that complements the more traditional methods. What better way to make a child forget, even for a few hours, the drudgery of medication or the pain associated with physical therapy than an introduction to the structure of poetry, facing the challenge of dividing fractions, or trying to unbaffle the intricacies of the English language?
And it does, in fact, seem that a balance between entertaining activities and serious education is being achieved by the skilled educators involved in these programs.
It struck me, by the way, that these programs work very nicely together with stress relief provided by Medical Clown visits. One such clown, several years ago, paid a visit to a grumpy, crotchety cancer patient who was placed in Meir Hospital’s isolation ward due to a bad reaction from a round of chemo. The clown, properly masked and gowned, entered the room bearing a balloon in one hand and a lollipop in the other. “Even mature adults,” he said to the patient lying in the bed, “can benefit from a smile, am I not right?” Boy, was he ever.
So, again, kudos to your story on keeping, to whatever extent possible, our hospitalized kids on their educational path. The only thing missing was how contributions can be earmarked specifically for these programs. I’m sure support is needed for books, whiteboards, notebooks... whatever, and a more meaningful way of fulfilling the mitzva of tzedaka would be hard to imagine.
Ginot Shomron
I found “Israel is real” (January 31) to be thought-provoking. Stewart Weiss ties together the unreality of his visit to Universal Studios; the Torah portion (in which the revisionist Pharaoh erases Joseph from the annals of Egyptian history); the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem (marking the way the Nazis deceived their victims and masked their crimes) – and the situation today, in which Palestinians use every means to “erase, expunge and obliterate our truth” and overlay it with their manufactured narrative.
In light of the above, one positive thing that can be said about the “Deal of the Century,” which was released last week, is that it embraces reality, instead of denying it. Embracing centuries of history and up-to-the-minute facts on the ground, it is a masterwork of problem solving that abandons decades of nonproductive humoring of fantastic Palestinian claims and threats, and offers a practical resolution that meets the legitimate needs and rights of both sides, and can provide a better life and brighter future for everyone in the region.
Although US President Donald Trump’s deal does not fulfill the most precious dreams of either side, I pray that reasonable people in Israel and worldwide will rally around the realistic hope it offers – and not help to torpedo it with gratuitous criticism.
Beit Shemesh
Reading Georgina Yacobi’s letter “Fiddler Goosebumps” (January 31) brought back a flood of memories. I, too, saw the 1967 production of Fiddler with Topol in London. My wife and I sat in the front-row balcony seats to the left, facing the stage. Every time Tevye raised his right hand and said “Oh God, you made many, many poor people...” he pointed at me.
Topol was so very good in the part that he looked enormous. I would have made him a rich man right there and then, if I had been the Almighty. His cheerful personality lighted up the theater. It came as no surprise to me that Hollywood chose him for the film over Zero Mostel, a great actor in his own right.
Years later in Israel, I believe it was 1974, when I was the face of the British Council at my reception desk, who walks in? Yes, correct! By then I had discovered his first name. I gushed, “You’re Haim Topol. I saw you in Fiddler on the Roof in London. You were fantastic, but...”
He interrupted. “I know, I know, I’m shorter than you thought.”
That was exactly right. Without his beard and girth and costume, he looked too young and small. I thought about it and realized that his size was his huge talent. I miss him. I have Sallah Shabati, Fiddler and Before Winter Comes on disk and I watch them often. I wonder how he escaped becoming a huge international star.
Rishon Lezion
The writer is was one of the founding members of English Theater in Israel.