April 18: Our birthright awaits us

Let this year's Seder serve as a wake-up call to us in the Diaspora that we are also too comfortable.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Our birthright awaits us Sir, - Today was a beautiful day and I enjoyed the walk from the bus stop to my comfy suburban house. I couldn't help but notice the sprinklers on, the couples walking, the children playing - also that practically everyone out was Jewish. Long skirts and yarmulkes are so ubiquitous in my area, you stick out when you aren't dressed like that. It almost felt like I was going for a stroll in a small religious neighborhood outside Jerusalem, but the reality is, Toronto is not Israel. Canada is not the land promised to our forefathers - and it may be shocking, but neither is New York. The smiles on the children's faces said: This is home, and we are happy here. Israel is for the Israelis, and North America is for the other Jews. But that's not how it is supposed to be. There is a reason we drink only four cups of wine on Pessah to celebrate what are actually five expressions of our redemption: 1. "I will take you out of Egypt"; 2. "I will save you from slavery"; 3. "I will redeem you"; 4. "I will take you as my nation"; 5. I will bring you to the land. A cup is poured for No. 5, but it is not drunk because it hasn't happened yet. We are still waiting to go to our land. Our sages teach that during the plague of darkness, 80 percent of the Jews were killed by the hand of God because they were not interested in leaving Egypt and going to Israel. They were comfortable where they were. Let this year's Seder serve as a wake-up call to us in the Diaspora that we are also too comfortable. How can we be while fellow Jews are being attacked every day in our real home and desperately need our help? The Jewish people is not well, and I hope we will get through the next plague of darkness. Rest assured it will come ("How to reverse the decline in aliya," Michael Freund, April 2). MICHAEL GREENSPAN Thornhill, Ontario 'Grafted in' among the Jews Sir, - I write in response to Shmuley Boteach's excellent "Would Jesus want to convert Jews?" (April 4). As a Christian, may I offer my sincere apologies to every Jew for the well-meaning but misguided views of many of my fellow Christians. Would Yeshua want to convert Jews? Of course not! He was totally Jewish and 100% Torah-observant. Unfortunately, a great many Christians seem to believe that the "New Testament" in some way cancels out the Torah, or that the Tanach has become simply physical pictures of spiritual things that would be brought about by Yeshua. However, in the Gospel According to Matthew (Mattityahu, 5: 17-18), Yeshua himself says: "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets, I did not come to destroy but to fulfill" - i.e., to explain Torah correctly and perfectly. Also, in the epistle of Paul (Sha'ul) to the Romans (Chapter 11), Paul takes great pains to explain that the Jews are the natural branches of God's olive tree, and that we, believing gentiles, are like wild branches that have been grafted in among the Jewish branches. A severe warning is then issued to us gentiles not to boast against the Jews, but to remember that we do not support the root, but the root supports us. I count it a privilege and an honor to be grafted in amongst God's ancient chosen people, and do not wish to "convert" any Jew, but would enjoy being taught by a Jew. TONY GIBSON County Kildare, Ireland Real ideal? Sir, - I strongly agree with Jonathan Tobin's "Forget the fun and games" (April 13) that granting the Olympics immunity from the political process is spurious, unrealistic and hypocritical. The argument heard, delivered with heartrending compassion, is that "the athletes should not be penalized." Let's face it. Athletes do not compete as individuals in the Olympic Games, but as representatives of their nations. They march into the arena not as personal exemplars of sport excellence but as part of their national team. Perhaps the original Olympic Games in Greece really did glorify personal performance, since different countries and nations were not involved. But today countries vie for the privilege of hosting the games, and even though gold and silver medals are awarded to individual athletes, the total number of these medals won by the participating countries add up to crucial prestige for them. One can argue about whether the Tibetans can gain their freedom from China via the current demonstrations against the Olympics. But the argument that the athletes' careers must not be harmed is irrelevant. If sport is the real ideal, let the athletes compete as individuals, and not as representative of their countries. J.M. KING Jerusalem Hannah Frank's 100th Sir, - My aunt, Glasgow artist Hannah Frank, will, all being well, celebrate her 100th birthday this August, and many friends and family will be in Glasgow for this momentous occasion. I would like to invite Israeli friends and family of my aunt and my uncle, Lionel Levy (sadly now deceased), to join them. An exhibition of my aunt's drawings and sculpture begins on her birthday, August 23, at Glasgow University. That week there will also be a birthday Kiddush; a coach tour of Hannah Frank's Jewish Glasgow; private tours of the Glasgow School of Art and the Hunterian Art Gallery; and a private viewing and champagne lunch. Are you a long-lost friend or cousin of Hannah or Lionel? They were among the first of the Glasgow community to visit Israel in the 1940s, and were strong supporters of the Hebrew University. To know more, please write to Fiona Frank, 3 Dalton Road, Lancaster LA1 3PR, England; or e-mail [email protected] FIONA FRANK Lancaster, UK