January 20: Dire necessity

If we continue to ignore the needs of our children and young adults we will slip into third-world status as a nation.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Dire necessity Sir, - Evelyn Gordon's argument in her latest op-ed was compelling. The most important thing she says is: "Having no natural resources, Israel's economy depends entirely on its human capital; that means an educated work force is not a luxury, but a necessity." If we continue to ignore the needs of our children and young adults we will slip into third-world status as a nation, where the very few get educated while the rest become servants at day-labor rates, with no hope of a better life for themselves or their children. We can rectify this situation by doing three things: legislating a no-strike clause with binding arbitration in a dispute; paying the teachers attractive salaries to draw more into the profession; and - I think the core issue - mounting a campaign to reeducate the public that higher education is a right of entitlement for all children and young adults in this country. If we wish to continue to be a well-educated, hi-tech-driven society, we cannot afford the "luxury" of ignoring the needs of the next generation ("Treating education as a luxury," January 17). A. WEINBERG Rehovot Gandhi in Sderot Sir, - I was shocked to read the testimony of Dina Silver, acting head of the State Attorney's High Court Section, regarding the state's approach to building bomb shelters for Sderot residents. She stated that the fortitude of the local residents, and not the building of shelters, was a key concept in the state's planning - implying that building shelters might undermine the defense of the population in the long run by weakening fortitude ("State undecided on building bomb shelters in Sderot," January 17). I was reminded of India's Mahatma Gandhi, who, on hearing of the ongoing Holocaust during World War II, famously advised the Jews to engage in passive resistance to Nazi oppression. Perhaps from faraway India this seemed like a plausible alternative, but I never thought I would hear a similar proposal from an official of the sovereign Jewish state. Is it not the primary duty of government to protect its citizens? ARNOLD I. KISCH Jerusalem Face of a city Sir, - I was particularly struck by your January 16 page one photo. It reminded me of the classic picture of the G.I. from WW2 - the type of photo that has "Pulitzer Prize" written all over it. You stare into that face and ask yourself: How can any self-respecting leader or Knesset member look at himself in the mirror and feel pride in supporting this government? Would any other country with some concern for its citizens and respect for itself tolerate the shameful situation our fellow Jews are experiencing in the Negev? MICHAEL FEINERMAN Efrat Sir, - Sounds to me as if the state is undecided as to whether the citizens of Sderot should live or die. Why were bomb shelters not built when the Kassam attacks started? JUDY GOLDIN Kiryat Ono History of a shul Sir, - Re your article about a black congregation called Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in Chicago: The picture of the current rabbi, Capers Funnye, reading from the Torah was quite a surprise since it was taking place from a bima that I knew so well from my youth. The congregation was, in fact, founded by my great-great grandfather Aaron Echt during the latter part of the 19th century, on Houston Avenue on the Southside of Chicago. Both of my maternal great-grandfathers were members and my grandfather, Nathan Hecht, was the last gabbai until his death in 1992. The congregation, originally called Bikur Holim, "merged" in the early 1970s with another Southside synagogue that I attended called Agudath Achim of South Shore. After my grandfather's death in 1992, I was asked to conduct services for Hoshana Rabba; to the best of my knowledge, the shul ceased to operate soon after that. Naturally, for me the most interesting part of the article was a chance to view the photo showing the mehitza where my mother sat as a young child; I did not ever expect to again see this place of my youth; especially not in The Jerusalem Post. Thanks for this interesting article ("Black rabbi seeks to bridge the divide," January 6). PHILIP STEIN Hashmonaim For the record Sir, - "'Rabbinic courts are actually better off under Justice Ministry'" (January 17) claimed that "Mamzerim are forbidden to marry." This is not entirely correct. They may marry converts or other mamzerim, though this is a rather limited population. The real problem is that any children from such unions will also be mamzerim, who will suffer the same disability. MARTIN D. STERN Salford, UK Sir, - Re "Hartman to ordain Orthodox women rabbis" (January 11): The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, which opened its doors in 1968, accepted its initial female student, Sandy Eisenberg, in 1969. As Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, she became the first female rabbi within the movement upon her graduation in 1974 - not 1979. RICHARD LIBOWITZ Lower Merion, Pennsylvania