July 27: Half a performance

I have no doubt that without the women participating, the British prime minister heard a substandard performance.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Half a performance Sir - As one of the few Jewish members - and the only observant one - of NY's Collegiate Chorale, which has just concluded a series of concerts here with the Israel Philharmonic, I took an interest in the brouhaha in the Knesset over the female members of its choir being banned ("Silencing of women MKs' singing in Knesset sparks outcry," July 23). I understand the women's anger. Most lenient halachic opinions agree that the injunction "kol b'isha erva" ("a woman's voice is licentious") applies to listening to one woman sing. Certainly this would not apply to these women, who were to sing as part of a group. Any man who did not want to listen could have walked out for the minute and a half (if that) it took for "Hatikva" to be sung. I fear that the women's anger will be directed at whoever decided they couldn't sing, or at the haredi MKs. In my opinion it should be directed at the male members of the choir, who went ahead and performed without them. A choir is not unlike a sports team - every member, and every voice part, is vital. I have no doubt that without the women participating, the British prime minister heard a substandard performance. MARSHA GREENBERG Stamford, Connecticut Not that bad a deal? Sir, - I read with interest "Not that bad a deal" (July 24), in which Yoram Schweitzer explained and seemed to justify the latest prisoner exchange. He wrote of the government having made "decisions with the support of the majority of the nation." I hope he made time to read Evelyn Gordon's "Olmert's collaboration with Hizbullah" on the same page. In it, we finally learned that we, the public, were completely misled by the government concerning the status of the two captives - which, in effect, made us unable to engage in any meaningful or educated debate on the issue. The notion that the public has the right and responsibility to make these decisions, and is willing to abide by their results, is thus rendered totally fraudulent. These deals - and the case of drug dealer Elhanan Tennenbaum, whose release also cost us in pride and demoralizing experiences, still needs to be better understood - add to the process in which the people lose faith in "their" government, the system and the national enterprise altogether. That is the ultimate tragedy. YORAM GETZLER Moshav Aminadav Kuntar's jealousy, Avnery's blindness Sir, - This is to let you know that I referred to your amazing report "Kuntar says he's jealous of 'the Zionists'" (July 18) in a letter to the editor of Trouw, a highly respected national newspaper in the Netherlands. I used it as a contrast to a piece by Uri Avnery in that paper the day before to show that even this child killer could see what Avnery seemed blind to: excellence in the Israeli nation. Thank you again for printing that short item. M.M. VAN ZUIDEN Jerusalem The right treatment Sir, - I would have liked to see the notification of Border Policeman David Chriqui's death on page 1, and not several pages deeper into your paper. Coverage of those who die for our country deserves pride of place ("Border cop dies of wounds from Old City shooting," July 24). BATYA IGDALSKI Jerusalem My stance on Agriprocessors Sir, - Rabbi David Eliezrie wrote a far-reaching article about the controversy concerning Agriprocessors, the Iowa-based leader in kosher meat production. Since my name - or at least my former name (I am falsely identified as Rabbi Steven Riskin, whereas 25 years ago I officially changed my name to Shlomo Riskin) - was mentioned, it behooves me to explain my involvement and present stance re Agriprocessors ("A new front opens on the Jewish culture wars," July 10) . Uri Zedek is a burgeoning Orthodox social action group paralleling Maagalei Zedek in Israel. It insists that kashrut and yashrut, ritual concern and ethical sensitivity, go hand in hand. I am proud to say that one of the group's leaders, Shmuly Yanklowitz, is a beloved student of mine; and in the classes that I give on Yoreh Deah to our Ohr Torah Stone rabbinical students I constantly stress the biblical emphasis on compassion as a major source for the laws of kashrut ("Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk," "For the soul is the blood of the animal," etc.), as well as the teachings of Rav Kook in his Sefer Hazon regarding the moral ambiguity in eating meat. Hence when Shmuly informed me of the findings concerning Agriprocessors, and when I could not find a clear denial by the leaders of the company, I gave him the right to sign me on to his petition (I did not actually sign it myself). When a leading rabbi, whom I deeply respect, then told me he felt Agriprocessors were being maligned, I asked him to please supply me with corroborating facts, and I would publish a retraction. I am pleased to report that before I received those facts, Shmuly found the leadership of Agriprocessors cooperating and attempting to right whatever wrongs were going on in the plant. For that reason Uri Zedek removed the boycott and is granting Agriprocessors every possibility of correcting the situation. It is certainly to the credit of Agriprocessors that it is behaving in such a forthright manner. A meatpacking plant that is strengthened - in every area of halachic concern - can only result in a true sanctification of God's name and a heightened appreciation of the all-encompassing quality of Jewish Law. SHLOMO RISKIN Efrat Rubb(er)ing it in Sir, - I would like to inform Michael Plaskow that there is no need to invent a paint that stays on pedestrian crossings and other road markings. England has been using just the thing on its roads for many years. It looks similar to the paint used on tennis courts - like a thick liquid rubber, which dries out and clings to the surface ("Feet that can't be beat," Letters, July 23). RUTH L STERN Beit Shemesh