April 24: Family traditions

"To come for Passover with members of his congregation and top off his trip with a publicity-seeking visit to the Temple Mount is not at all in keeping with the family traditions he espouses."

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Family traditions
Sir, – With regard to “Jordan protests Israeli incursions into al-Aksa mosque” (April 22), Meir Soloveitchik, known to friends and family as “Solly,” is indeed a descendant of the Soloveitchik rabbinical dynasty, living in Manhattan, where he serves as rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel and is a popular public intellectual in Orthodox Jewish and conservative Republican circles.
There are many Soloveitchik descendants (from the American branch) living in Israel (myself included, but with no claim to renowned scholarship) who occupy different points on the religious and political spectrum, and, to the best of my knowledge, carry on a longstanding tradition of not seeking attention on the basis of family ties.
I would be delighted if Solly were to move to Israel with his family. But to come for Passover with members of his congregation, lecture on “Brisk and [Menachem] Begin” and top off his trip with a publicity-seeking visit to the Temple Mount is not at all in keeping with the family traditions he espouses.
Sir, – The Temple Mount should be an oasis of beauty, tranquility and spirituality.
Instead it has become the scene of terrifying rioting by Arabs who defile their own holy places with violence. They have even played soccer in front of their supposedly holy mosque.
This is a sign that their problem with Jews stepping foot on the Temple Mount is purely political, not religious.
This mass rioting cannot be tolerated. The Israel Police must not allow these Arabs to desecrate what is holy to all monotheistic religions. No country in the world would allow such a desecration of its holy sights.
Until the Arabs learn to respect human rights – even for Jews – they themselves should not be allowed up there.
If the Wakf Islamic religious trust cannot control its own people, it must ask another power to step in. Let the Israeli government use its power of sovereignty – and moral indignation – to control the Temple Mount and ensure that all people have the right to worship there as they choose.
Where the jobs were
Sir, – Regarding “‘And you shall love the proselyte” (Comment & Features, April 22), I can personally testify to the policy of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) regarding conversions performed by rabbis serving congregations without a mehitza (partition between men and women) prior to its new and rather disturbing stringency.
A brother-in-law converted to Judaism through the rabbi of a Conservative congregation who had been ordained by Yeshiva University (YU) and was completely Orthodox in his practice.
Not only was the conversion fully recognized by the RCA, I heard the same rabbi speak at a YU graduation ceremony. I found this very interesting because, after all, he was not practicing in an Orthodox congregation.
The explanation I received from another rabbi was exactly as Rabbis Marc Angel and Avi Weiss note in their article: Neither the particular rabbi nor the synagogue had ever affiliated officially with the Conservative movement, and the rabbi maintained institutional ties and membership solely with the RCA. He therefore remained “kosher,” meaning his place of employment was not an issue.
The ostensibly new policy not only flies in the face of the RCA itself, it actually denies the reality and history of American Jewry, since the employment by non-Orthodox congregations of rabbis ordained by YU and even other Orthodox institutions was very common for decades. That was where the jobs were.
Hatzor Haglilit
Mutual guarantors
Sir, – With regard to “Adele’s sad saga” (Editorial, April 20), the shocking story of Adele Biton, the plight of her family and their treatment by the hospital and the state after the terrorist attack on their car must be deplored by all of us.
There is a Jewish concept of kol yisrael arevim zeh bazeh (all of Israel are guarantors for one another). An attack on any Israeli by Palestinian terrorists is an attack on all. Similarly, terrorist acts have the support, tacit or otherwise, of the Palestinians.
The proof is in the adulation given to released terrorists by both the Palestinian street and officials of the Palestinian Authority.
There is no reason not to assume that all Palestinians should be guarantors for one another. Israel, therefore, should hold the PA responsible for the treatment and care of victims of Palestinian terrorism by withholding the cost of their care and treatment from taxes and other money remitted to it by Israel.
Beit Shemesh
Begun, his hero
Sir, – With regard to Yosef Begun’s “The holiday of the Exodus in a Moscow prison, 1977” (Second Passover supplement, April 20), on Friday November 27, 1987, I and New York City council member Noach Dear had Shabbat dinner in the small Moscow apartment of Begun and his wife.
We had brought into Russia suitcases full of kosher meat and food, and Mrs. Begun baked a challah and made salami and eggs. I’m not a fan of salami and only ate the eggs, but to this day I can vividly remember that incredible taste.
We sang Shabbat songs, including “Shalom Aleichem,” and it remains the most enjoyable time I ever heard or sang that song.
All those years in incredibly harsh prisons did nothing to extinguish the spirit and love of his people and Israel that Yosef felt.
Dear’s purpose that night, and I remember it so clearly, was to convince Yosef and his wife to leave for Israel as soon as possible in case their exit visa was rescinded due to the many protests and vigils over their fate being held throughout America, Israel and even Moscow.
He replied that as the de facto leader of the Prisoners of Zion in the Soviet Union, he couldn’t leave the others behind.
We answered that as others had been granted exit visas before him and left for Israel, so, too, did he have a responsibility to leave and start a new life there, and to travel throughout the world to speak of the plight of those left behind. One of them surely would pick up his mantle. He finally agreed to leave, and within two months he and his wife arrived in Israel.
Just before Passover this year, I thought about Yosef and wondered if he was still alive – I had last seen him almost 27 years ago, and he wasn’t a young man. To my astonishment, there in The Jerusalem Post was his article.
I was proud and honored to have met Yosef Begun and had Shabbat dinner with him and his wife, and perhaps to have played an incredibly small role in the freedom of one of our heroes.
New York
Freedom for Pollard
Sir, – Once again, US President Barack Obama hosted a Passover Seder (“At White House Seder, Obama sends out message of triumph over anti-Semitism,” April 17). He is very much aware of the plight of the ancient Hebrews to obtain freedom from the Egyptians.
How is it possible, then, that this arrogant, deceitful man can ignore the compelling circumstances – legal, moral and humanitarian – and the pleas of both Christians and Jews, including President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and to disallow freedom to a Jewish Israeli, Jonathan Pollard?
Zichron Ya’acov