August 4: Proud, indeed

We should feel very proud thatthe British Chief Rabbi is the first rabbi to have addressed the Lambeth Conference in its history.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Proud, indeed Sir, - We should feel very proud that British Chief Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sacks is the first rabbi to have addressed the Lambeth Conference in its 140-year history. He is a brilliant orator, and the fact that he received two standing ovations was a true kiddush Hashem - a sanctification of God's name ("Sacks becomes first rabbi to address major Anglican bishops' conference," August 3). MICHAEL PLASKOW Netanya Sir, - One hopes this opportunity will enable Rabbi Sacks to quietly try to influence the Anglican community re the importance of keeping the Noahide Laws, which include the biblical standards of appropriate sexual practices; thus strengthening the hands of those in the gentile world who are fighting to maintain a sense of holiness and not give the idea that everything is acceptable as long as you mean well. MOTTEL GREENBAUM Melbourne Sir, - Chief Rabbi Sacks's address to the Lambeth Conference reminded me of the previous chief rabbi Lord Jakobovits's speech in the Lords, calling upon Christians to protect their Sunday closing laws and traditional day of rest. He was more outspoken than many Christians in the Lords. It was good to hear Sir Jonathan calling on Anglicans to overcome their differences and get together for the sake of the nation. We need clear and shared basic moral values and commitment to making the world a better place. JOSEPH FELD London Shocked... Sir, - The Knesset's vote to allow haredi schools to be publicly financed without having to teach a core curriculum demonstrated Shas's talent for blackmailing a weak and unprincipled government. From the haredi standpoint it is essential to keep their communities mired in ignorance, to empower the rabbis to control and manipulate their hapless followers. Those MKs from Kadima and Labor who conspired to pass such legislation should hang their head in shame and be hounded from political life ("State to fund haredi students who don't learn core subjects like math and English," July 24). RAYMOND CANNON Netanya the core Sir, - What purpose did it serve to publish "Tolerance, without state funding" (July 31)? Perhaps Evelyn Gordon would be willing to meet some of the sweet little children from these haredi schools. They would not be bringing knives or chains with them. If the state schools are so good, why do so many Russian immigrants send their children to the Shuvu schools? E. G. COHL Bnei Brak Sir, - How sad that there are those who finish high school without knowing how to recite the Shema Yisrael,/i>, as Leah S. Wolf noted in "Core curriculum" (Letters, July 31). After paying so dearly to have a Jewish state, we had better hurry and find a happy medium: A modern state based on ancient traditions. OLGA P. WIND Holon Sir, - Ms. Wolf is well-intentioned in wanting an education based on Torah Judaism, but we live in the here and now. Learning the basics of math is important, too; as is reading so haredim can stay informed about the secular world instead of relying heavily on a teacher whose knowledge of it is limited. We need to understand where Israel fits into the world and fight our enemies with knowledge, not just guns. The imams teach from the Koran only, and breed fanatic warriors. We have to be better than that! In teaching reading outside of Torah, we may actually deepen our understanding of it. An educational system that teaches only religion will graduate students who forever receive charity and cannot do any meaningful work. A. WEINBERG Rehovot In praise of Mofaz Sir, - Critics, including in your newspaper, have disparaged Shaul Mofaz's lack of a social philosophy, policy and experience (Letters, July 29). Although I met Mr. Mofaz only once - a quick handshake - we have interacted directly on a set of important social issues which I believe shed light on his values and judgment:
  • In the Kishon disaster, as defense minister, he sided with Justice Meir Shamgar against the majority of the Kishon Commission and decided to recognize the case for a cause-effect relationship between the toxic effluents from emissions into the Kishon River-Bay system and the excess risks among naval divers. His statement that the IDF must do everything it can to protect the health and safety of its soldiers was remarkable. In overruling those questioning the cause-effect relationship, he accepted the principle that the burden of proof is on those denying these risks.
  • Applying the same principle, Mr. Mofaz overruled Defense Ministry officials and ordered the dismantling of a broadcasting transmission antenna near Kibbutz Naan, where there was a cancer cluster attributable in part to the non-ionizing radiation.
  • Mofaz, as transportation minister, saved many lives by effectively killing proposals to formally raise the maximum speed limit to 110 kph on our highways. He overruled recommendations approved by his predecessor Meir Sheetrit - whose wife's firm was PR adviser to the Trans-Israel Highway, the major lobby for increased speeds on our highways. Under Mofaz, the ministry consistently supports a nationwide speed camera program to kill speed, though it could be more energetic in doing so.
  • Mr. Mofaz has provided steady support for the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem fast train line, going against the prime minister, who tried to kill the project and put the money into new highways instead - the showpieces of Asphalt Zionism. Just about every minister I have ever had to deal with has been part of the problem. Mofaz has been part of the solution. PROF. ELIHU D RICHTER Occupational and Environmental Medicine Hebrew University Jerusalem Christianrein Sir, - In his letter "Olmert's successor" (August 3), James A. Marples of Texas suggested that our new premier should be "a Christian from the Bethlehem area." What a pity that the foreign media have consistently failed to report that in the areas ruled by the Palestine Authority, Christians are an endangered and vanishing species, harassed and tormented by Hamas and the other jihadists until they emigrate. LESLIE PORTNOY Netanya Eloquent outrage Sir, - Let me suggest that both Judy Montagu ("The story behind 'Dear Sir,'" July 30) and her friendly critic Judy Prager ("About 'venting,'" Letters, July 31) are right. The point is not that anger shouldn't be in a letter to the editor, but how it is expressed. No one likes being shouted at. There are no angry exclamation points on the plaques at Auschwitz, or at Yad Vashem. The most eloquent outrage is quiet and understated, and it is then that we are capable of being changed. We are moved by "angry," so long as calm appeals to reason with controlled passion. For those who prefer the option of shouting and exclamation points, there are the talkbacks. JAMES ADLER Cambridge, Massachusetts Sir, - This op-ed helped me appreciate my own fascination with the letters section of the paper and the important role it plays. RACHEL BIRATI Melbourne