April 23: On hearing the siren

We came on aliya 11 years ago and every single time since our arrival, I am moved to tears when the memorial siren sounds.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
On hearing the siren Sir, - Judy Montagu's "Two minutes of silence" (April 22) touched me very much. We came on aliya 11 years ago and every single time since our arrival, I am moved to tears when the memorial siren sounds. We live in an apartment on the 5th floor and our balcony overlooks the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. As I watch the cars and buses move to the side of the road and drivers stand beside their vehicles, I imagine the whole country coming to a standstill and it reinforces why I am here. Where else but in Israel would a whole nation display its feelings so significantly? PHYLLIS KOENIGSBERG Jerusalem Sir, - After lighting a candle at Monday night's Holocaust Remembrance ceremony in our yishuv along with my grandfather, a survivor of the Shoah, my mother and my daughter, I thought that nothing could possibly move me more. I was wrong. Next morning, when the siren went off, as I stood outside my house with my eyes closed and my face raised toward the heavens, the incongruousness of the moment did not escape me. While I was thinking about the lives lost, about those destroyed and murdered, the sunlight shone on my face and the birds twittered and sang. Never more than at that exact moment did I appreciate the fact that my feet are rooted in this country my grandfather never imagined he'd ever see in his lifetime. CHAVI FELDMAN Hashmonaim Sir, - I remember something Elie Wiesel said to a large gathering in New York 35 years ago: "Everyone here who is Jewish is either a survivor, or by luck was not born in Europe before 1944." It stunned me then; it echoes in me now. MOSHE DANN Jerusalem Sir, - When I was a child, we had a similar standing silent minute at school, at 11 a.m. on November 11, the time the armistice ending World War I in 1918 took effect. I am not aware of any current practice. LARRY KAMM San Diego, California Sir, - I wish the world observed the day together with Israel, and we would all pause for two minutes while sirens sounded at the same time everywhere. Perhaps men like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would no longer have a voice. VIRGINIA VANTUYL PRESCOTT Arizona Fools rush in Sir, - Once again the Clown from Teheran has succeeded in making a fool of himself, this time on the world stage (Cartoon, April 22). My sympathies are with the Iranian people. ZVI FREEDMAN Kiryat Tivon This is a lie Sir, - I wish to address the full-page advert headed "Holocaust Denial" that appeared in the April 21 edition of the Post, and take strong objection to its saying that the president of the United States, Barack Obama, makes no secret of his enmity toward Israel. While I appreciate that this is a paid advert, the statement is a total lie. As a paid-up daily reader of your newspaper for many, many years, I expect to see a statement by you stating that the written attack by "Mr. Gelman" on the president of the United States is his opinion, and not the opinion of The Jerusalem Post - nor, in my opinion, of most of world Jewry. MORRIS PORTNER Netanya The Editor notes: Paid advertisements in The Jerusalem Post express the views of the advertiser, and not the editorial views of this newspaper. The Marrano myth Sir, - As a convert to Judaism and an Israeli born in Majorca who lived in Ibiza for several years before ascending to Israel, I think I am entitled to a say on the subjects of Marrano history, conversion, aliya and the Rabbinate and State of Israel approach to them ("Gathering the tribe," Ruth Eglash, April 13). The Marranos existed between the 14th and the 16th centuries, and there are no Marranos today at all, let alone a "Marrano community" on the island of Ibiza. The Hebrew sources on the subject are very clear about the Jewishness of the hundreds of thousands who converted, forcibly or not, to Christianity, and are thoroughly expounded by Prof. Benzion Netanyahu in his book The Marranos of Spain. My personal experience harmonizes with his findings. No "crypto-Jew" can be found in the Balearic Islands. The customs and social behaviors mentioned in the article are general, not related solely to a segment of society. Jewish cultural traditions have been integrated by Christianity and one can find an ample repertoire of apparently Jewish developments, performed without any consciousness of their relation with Israel. Everybody eats pork in these areas, but I witnessed practices like netilat yada'im (without a blessing, of course); covering the blood in the courtyard after the slaughtering; cleaning the house on Friday morning and calling it fer dissabte ("to make Saturday"), among many others. Moreover, the tradition of giving the name of the grandparents to the children, in the exact Sephardi order, is a general Catalan one. Thus people have Jewish ancestors (Anusim or not), possess Jewish cultural customs and manners, and are Roman Catholic Christians. None of the aforementioned practices can be considered a real tie with Am Yisrael, although no one needs to possess Jewish ancestors to convert to Judaism. The State of Israel and the Rabbinate are, in my experience, very lenient and helpful with every person who freely and sincerely wants to become a Jew. You only need to study and promise to lead a Jewish life. I can testify that the Beit Din who judged me was kind and lovable, and that the Interior Ministry officials knew everything about me and my background when I asked them for my citizenship. MARGALIT SERRA Lecturer on Catalan Studies Hebrew University Jerusalem Where are all the protesters? Sir, - "Sri Lanka rebels: 1,000 civilians die in gov't raid" (and 39,081 refugees flee in the Sri Lankan assault on the Tamil Tigers - report, April 22) leaves me with unbated breath as I wait to see the worldwide protest marches against the Sri Lankans' atrocities, and the charges of disproportionate action against their local terrorist organization. I am searching the TV stations to see evidence of these protests, together with placards depicting Sri Lanka as a Nazi regime, accompanied by anti-Sri Lanka cartoons and boycott declarations against Sri Lankan universities. But I expect the organizers of the anti-Israel protests are too busy keeping the bars busy in Geneva and thinking up new ways to demonize the Jews to know what is going on in the real world. CYRIL ATKINS Beit Shemesh Come off it - he's hardly Israeli! Sir, - To celebrate Daniel Barenboim's concert in Cairo as some sort of breakthrough for Israel is disingenuous at best ("Israeli conductor Barenboim in Egypt for 1st show," April 15). At this stage in his career, Barenboim is hardly Israeli. He is an Argentinian native who misses no opportunity to bash Israel. That, ironically, Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa boycotted his performance only shows the depths of Jew-hatred among the Arab elite. JJ GROSS New York/Jerusalem