December 5: Keep 'em burning

During Hanukka most children in Israel are free from school. That saves so much transportation pollution, that we could burn hanukkiot with nine candles every evening all year round and still come out ahead.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Keep 'em burning Sir, - If burning a big Hanukka candle gives off 15 grams of carbon dioxide ("'Green Hanukkia' campaign sparks controversy," December 4), you should know that an average person's respiration generates approximately 900 grams of carbon dioxide per day - 60 times more - and an average American car produces 13,000 grams per day - almost 200,000 times more. During Hanukka most children in Israel, even from families that don't light candles, are free from school. That saves so much transportation pollution, that we could burn hanukkiot with nine candles every evening all year round and still come out ahead. Happy Hanukka. MOSHE M.VAN ZUIDEN Jerusalem Sir, - As I read the article regarding Hanukka and global warming, I decided I would go along with the idea of lighting one less candle per evening, but on three conditions: If the international spokesman for this movement, Al Gore, who lives in the largest home in the state of Tennessee (a mansion with a carbon footprint larger than Godzilla's), closes his home and moves into a two-bedroom apartment, I will light one less candle. If Liad Ortar, the co-founder of the campaign, promises to stop using all spray cans (hair sprays, perfume, etc.), I will light one less candle. If Tom Wegner, Liad's co-founder, promises to mothball all his cars and travel only by bicycle and/or public transportation, I will light one less candle. Why do I have the feeling I'll be lighting the normal number of candles this Hanukkah? MICHAEL HIRSCH Kochav Yair Miracle of the oil Sir, - To the informative and instructive articles on Hanukka ("From Adam to Hitchens," "What miracle of the oil?" and "The nature of miracles," December 4), I wish to add the interpretation I heard from one of the outstanding Torah personalities of our time, the late Yehezkel Abramsky of blessed memory. He noted that the Talmud links the Maccabean victory to the miracle of the oil. He maintained that the miracle of the oil constituted a symbolic representation of the victory of the few against the many, the triumph of faith against seemingly insuperable odds. Faith makes the impossible become possible. The cruse of one day's oil supply symbolized the dedication and devotion to Torah of Matathias and his family. The spiritual impulse inside them triggered that added value - the outside divine help that enabled them and their followers to achieve victory and purify and the rededicate the Temple. ARYEH NEWMAN Jerusalem What about educators? Sir, - I read "Forcing us to teach is 'bad education,' teachers say" (December 4) with interest. Most of the teachers interviewed were discussing how to circumvent a possible court order. Afterward those same teachers may have to teach the civics curriculum. Two things are very clear. The first is that the teachers are entitled to a raise. The second is that that raise will not fix the broken education system. Why are we talking so much about teachers but never hear the word "educator"? The real question is how do we educate to care about Israel and its society and to want to make our country a tremendous place to live in? CHAIM SEYMOUR Givat Shmuel Amateurish plan Sir, - Yes, much can be done to improve Israel's educational system. But I am quite surprised at your repeated support for greater school principal authority and the call for implementation of the "praiseworthy" Dovrat plan and its "business-like managerial logic and accountability" ("Failing schools," Editorial, December 2). Cannot The Jerusalem Post find real experts who can explain what is wrong with the amateurish Dovrat plan? Schools should not be redesigned into factories but strengthened as professional institutions where teachers are measured by their motivated successes in raising the level of their pupils and not by the hours they put into the school - as measured by the proposed time clocks. We want professional experts, such as physicians and lawyers, and not government clerks. Indeed, good school principals are essential to improved education. But a bad principal is a disaster to a school. Under the Dovrat proposals, school principals would become political hacks as they would be appointed by local educational authorities without any necessity for serious pedagogical qualifications. If one is looking for a bogus reform, then you need only look at the various reforms influenced by the Ministry of Finance. They all aim at maintaining the existing starvation budget for education. They are ready to pay teachers more but this would be matched by a reduction in the number of teachers so as to keep the same budget allocation for salaries. This is why they are not ready to commit to reduced class size because this would call for more teachers. The teachers are not obstacles to serious reform but would the first to accept real change since they are presently suffering under impossible teaching conditions. PROF. ALBERT I. GOLDBERG Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management Technion Haifa Summing it up Sir, - With all that has been said and written about Annapolis, I believe that Barry Rubin sums it up succinctly in his observation that "what is needed might best be called constructive cynicism" ("Annapolis: One cheer, one yawn, one cynical shrug," December 3). DR. RACHEL BIRATI Melbourne He's the stranger Sir, - So the king of Jordan would like all Israelis to leave their homes in Judea and Samaria for the sake of peace ("Abdullah II urges Israel to withdraw from Arab land," December 3). Two years ago, 9,000 Jews were forced out of their homes in Gaza - did it bring tranquillity in that area? No. Every day Israeli civilians are being fired at with rockets and mortars; people have been killed and wounded and children live in fear. Now we are told to leave our homes in the heartland of Israel so that the Palestinians can fire their rockets at Kfar Saba, Petah Tikva, Netanya, Afula and many other places. The ironic thing about all this is that we Jews are in our eternal homeland and the Hashemite king is the stranger in the area, as his grandfather was given Jordan on a plate by the British. Everybody knows that Jordan consists of 78 percent of Mandatory Palestine with Palestinians making up 75% of the population. STEPHANIE TAYLOR Ginot Shomron Exercise Sir, - The advice to "Walk away from cancer" (December 2) can be helpful in other cases of disease prevention and control. Numerous reports in the medical literature conclude that changes in lifestyle and vigorous physical activity can bring many positive results. Some tips from personal experience after undergoing cardiac bypass 11 years ago: Get expert advice to compile an exercise program, make a realistic estimate of the number of sessions that you can fulfill in a gym each week. Record the results: calorie burn, distance walked on the treadmill and degree of difficulty. This is useful to show changes in walking ability. I walk a treadmill for five or six kilometers, three times a week (and more out of doors) and have now walked the equivalent distance to London and back. DR. JOHN JACOBS Jerusalem