August 3: Congratulations, Larry

Mazel Tov to the Derfners. May you have much naches from your son.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Congratulations, Larry Sir, - Mazel Tov to the Derfners. May you have much naches from your son. It was so nice to read that a spark of Jewishness was lit ("The wonders of normative Judaism," July 31). Perhaps Mr. Derfner will rethink his attitude toward intermarriage, as expressed a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps he will want his grandchildren to be Jewish, according to Jewish Law. Perhaps he'll be a bit interested in exploring what being Jewish really means. His son read from the Torah; perhaps now is the time to start learning what it means. BATYA BERLINGER Jerusalem Sir, - I've had my differences with Larry Derfner, but this was beautiful, sincere. I think the Almighty would approve. A. LEVY Tel Aviv Olmert's successor Sir, - Re "Olmert, bitter but dignified, says he'll quit" (July 31): I am glad Ehud Olmert is stepping aside. I had little confidence in him, and his decision-making abilities didn't seem solid or reliable. I wish Israel could get a Christian from the Bethlehem area to be the new premier - someone who would walk uprightly in the Judeo-Christian tradition, aspire to promote reliable security, and instill absolute confidence both inside Israel and abroad. JAMES A. MARPLES Longview, Texas Court of disfavor Sir, - Re "A just dilemma" (Josh Scheinert, July 29): Lord Daffyd Eli-Thomas, presiding officer of the Welsh Assembly, e-mailed members of the assembly in June to boycott a meeting with Israeli Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor, who had been invited by a Muslim member of the assembly, Mohammed Asgher, to a meeting intended to promote interfaith dialogue. Lord Eli-Thomas wrote: "I am unwilling to accept the invitation to meet the ambassador because of my objection to the failure of the State of Israel to meet its international obligations to the Palestinian people of the Holy Land. I would invite other colleagues to do the same." The Welsh Assembly is a mini-parliament for the principality of Wales. Lord Eli-Thomas has, I am certain, as much knowledge of Israel's international obligations to thePalestinians as I have of the way the people on Mars organize their parliament. It is ironic that the meeting was arranged by a Muslim, and yet a chapel-going Christian of impeccable Welsh ancestry should spout such obstructive rhetoric. In light of the above, does anyone in their right mind imagine that Israel would be fairly treated by an international body such as the International Criminal Court? ISADORE SOLOMON Beit Shemesh Core curriculum Sir, - As a long-time fan of Evelyn Gordon's writing and thinking, I felt I had to respond to "Tolerance, without state funding" (July 31). As a teacher in Israel over the past 30 years in every Jewish sector of the population, I've long wondered who decides what our "core curriculum" should be. When so many of our Jewish students graduate high school without knowing how to say the Shema Yisrael - or even what it is - or why we live in this Promised Land; when, sadly, they speak Hebrew but don't identify as Jews, did they get the core curriculum? Over half of our high school graduates, according to polls I've read, have never visited Jerusalem. Teachers in the school system don't know how to recite the basic blessing over bread. Jewish children don't know what the Machpela Cave means to us and our history. Do they get the core curriculum? When I hear my little grandchildren relate the stories they've learned in their heder, I am amazed at the brilliant ways the rebbes have created to transmit difficult concepts in bite-size portions to their little charges. I am amazed at the arithmetic games our six-year-old plays. Although it's a very different educational system than the one our children had, I think we can learn a lot from the pedagogical methods of these rebbes. If we are to survive as a Jewish state, our "core curriculum" has to include the basics of Torah Judaism, which is permeated with love of Zion and Israel. The question I would ask: Should the majority be funding education that leaves Torah out of its curriculum? LEAH S. WOLF Metar Jerusalem put new heart into him Sir, - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich once again presented a detailed yet clear explanation of a new, advanced procedure being performed, at Shaare Tzedek ("For the first time in Israel, heart valves replaced using catheter rather than open-chest surgery," July 31). One note: The male patient mentioned, Gerald Lieder, is not a tourist. He is a Holocaust survivor who lived in the United States for 50 years and, in 1996, fulfilled his lifelong dream of aliya to Jerusalem, along with his wife. One of the primary reasons he agreed to the procedure was that he sees it as a tremendous blessing and accomplishment for the State of Israel to be able to offer one more contribution to the world of remarkable medical advances. Gerald Lieder is my father, and I am proud to be his son. JEFFREY LIEDER Ra'anana Mom's kitchen closes Sir, - Judy Montagu's Short Order column was like popping into your forever-young mother's kitchen on Shabbat Eve for a quick hello and sampling of the easy-to-prepare and tasty dishes that she hadn't slaved over - not only saving her energy but leaving us, the recipients of her recipes, blessedly guilt-free ("Bean there, done that," UpFront, July 25). That the column's chat included snippets of wisdom and such adventures as the hazardous episode of the chewing gum in an upscale eatery's teacup only added to the zest. Thank you, "mother" Judy, and hoping that Short Order will reappear in book format. MIRIAM L. GAVARIN Jerusalem