Wild about Harry Sir, - The squeals of delight that accompanied the "breaking of the Shabbat spell" by the hundreds of literature-starved fans of author J.K. Rowling were offensive to all who are sensitive to the need to preserve some measure of tradition in our beloved country ("Harry Potter fans break Shabbat spell, flock to Tel Aviv Port for gala launch," July 22). Couldn't the same enthusiastic sale have taken place without doing violence to the holy Sabbath? Unfortunately, once again we have not hesitated to sell our sacred birthright for a mess of Potterage. ZEV CHAMUDOT Petah Tikva Sir, - This was a chilling omen, a warning to Potter fans. LEA DE LANGE Jerusalem Sir, - Steimatsky's had to start selling the book four minutes before the rest of the world, despite agreeing to the publisher's rules. That's indicative of Israeli society. The Israeli parents who defied the law against buying things on Shabbat - probably the same people who ignore traffic laws and smoke in public places - showed their children that we can all do as we please. Isn't it time they started setting an example and showing children that a little patience can go a long way? REBECCA RAAB Ma'aleh Adumim Call to parents Sir, - It is time to stop blaming the religious sector for avoiding the army. My religious son, recently enlisted, has told us many stories of secular boys looking for lame excuses to get out of their obligation to serve. I have spoken with teenagers who have never been to Jerusalem, the Old City or the Western Wall, either with their parents or with their schools - an educational travesty. There is now a campaign on radio which encourages us to become more familiar with our local heritage. This is good, but only a beginning. So, parents and teachers, please get more involved with our young people. It means the security of our future in so many ways. ("Inspire our youth," Editorial, July 20) CHAYA HEUMAN Ginot Shomron The truth about... Sir, - In response to "Haredim make immodest inroads in Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph" (July 20), I want to say that Ramat Beit Shemesh, and Beit Shemesh, have wonderful, thriving communities with many Anglos and modern Orthodox people. I know because I have lived here for over nine years. The vast amount of hesed (acts of kindness) done here, the cultural activities, the Biking Tour de Beit Shemesh, the Family Run, etc., the social activism, the winning Beit Shemesh national baseball team are but a few of the things we are proud of. Please don't scare potential citizens off a place which has so much to offer. We are staying put, and are going to deal with the problem of haredi extremists who reside in RBS Bet (and there are lots of terrific haredi people living side by side with the more modern in RBS Aleph). BARBARA BROWN Beit Shemesh ...Beit Shemesh Sir, - Your reporting of the "haredization" of Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph reflects popular conceptions more than reality. Several issues bear noting.
The modesty signs in the shopping center reflect the fact that the center is located in a haredi residential neighborhood. The tension involves the question of whether the stores, which serve all of Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph, need to follow the guidelines of their customers, or of the local residents. The posting of a sign there does not mean that Ramat Beit Shemesh has becomecompletely haredi.
Within a six- or seven-minute walk from my house there are eight national religious synagogue communities that have either recently moved into, or are building large new buildings. The membership of all is growing.
Even the phrase "haredi" is somewhat meaningless in Ramat Beit Shemesh. Some individuals may wear black hats and attend "haredi" synagogues, but they also celebrate Yom Ha'atzma'ut. Don't be fooled by the exterior.
Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph
Why eat pork?
Sir, - I hold the Municipality of Netanya in great respect for its intention to pass a bylaw making the sale of pork in the city illegal, but was surprised by the cynical reaction of one council member ("Netanya bans pork sales," July 17). It is high time pig product manufacture and sales were banned throughout Israel, especially in Jerusalem, our Holy City.
In Beit Shemesh the banning of pork was not effected; this issue has been overtaken (proudly) by daily reports of our local baseball team's national successes, and overshadowed (with sorrow) by the frightening hatred brewing in Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet.
Now our country has a new president who intends giving a large part of the Land of Israel to the Arab populace. Should he succeed, the Muslims may succeed where we Jews have sadly failed.
Sir, - Re "Convert's obligation" (Letters, July 22): While Rabbi Moshe Feinstein is unarguably one of the greatest decisors of our time, in Jewish law there are always other equally valid opinions upon which one can base ultimate decisions. In the subject of conversions, Rabbi Benzion Meir Hai Uziel, the Rishon Lezion, has ground-breaking and innovative rulings no less valid and binding than those of Rabbi Feinstein.
I'm sure Rabbi Avi Shafran would agree with me that the Letters to the Editor column of a newspaper is not the proper forum for halachic debate.
Sir, - As I read Rabbi Shafran's letter, I couldn't help but wonder who is deluding himself more: the convert - living in Israel and fulfilling Judaism's cornerstone precept of yishuv Eretz Yisrael (settling the land of Israel), but not other mitzvot - or the naturally born Jew living in the Diaspora, willfully absolving himself of the need to fulfill that cornerstone commandment and concomitant ones (shmitta, ma'aser, etc.).
I don't judge any of my fellow Jews; I leave that up to God Almighty. But I think the weight of evidence (Maimonides' discussion on the centrality to a Jew's life of living in Eretz Yisrael plus Nachmanides' depiction of someone living in galut as "ke'ilu", as if, he were fulfilling the mitzvot) weighs more heavily on the latter in having to answer for practicing virtual re(ligion)ality.
Sir, - Many Jews and Israelis were hurt and offended by Friday's release of the Arab terrorists. Six years ago my wife and daughter were at Sbarro's pizzeria in Jerusalem when a suicide bomber blew himself up; his escort was among those freed. My wife is still hospitalized in an unconscious (vegetative) state, and our daughter, now eight and a half, doesn't remember what it is like to be hugged and kissed by her mommy.
I'd like our prime minister to think about this when he goes to sleep at night, and thank him for caring so much about his constituents ("Freed Palestinian prisoners get heroes' welcome from families," July 22).
Sir, - Re "Report: Iran offers Syria $1b. in aid not to negotiate with Israel" (July 22): Here's a counteroffer: For half that sum, Israel will not negotiate with Syria.