Letters to the editor: September 21, 2018

Our readers have their say.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
I was fascinated to read Dvora Waysman’s article about Raquela Prywes (“A Nurse in Israel,” August 31), and in particular to learn that she helped to found the first hospital in Beersheba. This resonated with me as my late aunt, Dr. Pearl Ketcher, had set up a prenatal clinic there on arrival in Israel in 1949 after being demobbed from the British army. Ruth Gruber’s book about Raquela confirms that Raquela arrived in Beersheba some time after my aunt and they worked together. What guts it took for these ladies to take themselves off to live and work in the desert at a time when Beersheba was just a desolate town with few if any creature comforts. They were motivated by the wish to help the communities in that area, both Arab and Jewish. Many of the patients were local Arabs, often arriving at the clinic by camel.
My aunt, in her customary way of making light of difficulties, said that when someone asked her what made her choose to live in Beersheba, she replied, “Because I like the sun!” Pearl moved back to Jerusalem the following year to set up medical care facilities for the newly arrived Yemenite Jews coming in on the Operation Magic Carpet airlift and living in ma’abarot and villages in the environs of Jerusalem, but she traveled down to Beersheba twice a week to help establish the children’s department at the newly opened hospital there.
What an amazing breed these pioneering ladies were.
I enjoyed reading and using some of the recipes for the Rosh Hashanah “signs” – symbolic foods eaten on the holiday along with the recitation of special blessings – that were published in “Pascale’s Kitchen” on September 7. It would have been beneficial for readers who are unfamiliar with this custom to explain that many of the foods’ names are wordplays in Hebrew and other languages, such as eating carrots (gezer) as related to a “decree” (g’zar dineinu) or beets (selek) for the “riddance” (lesalek) of our enemies.
I’d like to add another one said among English speakers, which I learned from a friend many years ago and added to my own list: to eat a salad made of lettuce, raisins and celery – while reciting the phrase asking to God to “Let us have a raise in salary.” Many of these phrases are recited with a sense of humor or irony, by the way.
Kol hakavod to Melissa Schreiber for having the strong identity and courage it took, in a big room full of people alienated from their roots, to stand up and say kiddush (‘Kiddush is not “cute,”’ Observations, August 31). It is one of the tragedies of modern Israel that so many Israelis have become alienated in an extreme way from their Jewish roots.
Who knows? Perhaps what you did lit a spark of awareness in some of the people in that room, even though they didn’t let on.
You know deeply who you are. Pity so many people in Israel do not.
Thank you for writing of your experience.
I was quite surprised by the harshly critical reactions (Letters, September 2) to Daniel Gordis’s column (“Now it’s our turn to save Israel,” August 24). One letter compared him to the 10 spies sent by Moses who returned pessimistic about the chances for the Israelites to capture and settle it and were, thus, ready give up attempting to make it their homeland, resulting in a terrible curse.
Have the critics heard and read Gordis during the past decade and more? He has consistently been one of Israel’s staunchest supporters. But love is not and should not be blind. Gordis, like many other American olim, is critical of a number of negative developments in Israeli society and culture. That does not diminish his love of Israel. On the contrary, in contrast to the 10 spies to which the aforementioned letter- writer referred, Gordis has not given up on Israel. Rather, he issued a call for like-minded others to join with him and try to improve Israeli society and culture. I cannot imagine any true lover of Israel who would not want to make it much better than it is now.
In Amnon Goldberg’s letter “Six days at the edge of the universe” (September 14), he lists a series of data that to him indicate that the earth and the universe are only several thousand years old, i.e., the “young earth” theory. He also lists data related to my calculations regarding an old universe.
Every fact that he stated regarding my work is absolutely wrong, which makes me question the accuracy of his other data. The only part that he got correct was that he spelled my name correctly! As they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity as long as they spell your name correctly.
The writer is author of
Genesis and the Big Bang; The Science of God; The Hidden Face of God; and God According to God.