March 20: Meatless feasting

Thank you for printing the excellent "Purim and vegetarianism" (March 18).

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Meatless feasting Sir, - Thank you for printing the excellent "Purim and vegetarianism" (March 18). Richard Schwartz is absolutely right in saying that if Jews were educated about the horrible realities of factory farming and the powerful Jewish mandate to take care of our health, show compassion to animals, protect the environment, conserve resources and help the hungry, they would seriously consider switching to vegetarian diets. For more information on the subject, I recommend viewing the movie A Sacred Duty ( ZIVA ELIEZER Chairperson, SPCA Hasharon Tzofit Sir, - Richard Schwartz eloquently expressed the essence of ethical, environmental and Judaic vegetarianism. It's easy in the "me" world we live in to become obsessed with our own selfish desires. For global survival, however, it is essential we begin to look beyond ourselves and our own individual needs, and become more conscious about the world around us, and our connection with it. RINA DEYCH Brooklyn Sir, - Richard Schwartz reminded us that the toll of animal agriculture on our health, on the environment and on animals is far too great for us to continue to justify eating meat just because we like the taste. The cruelty of shackling and hoisting recently spotlighted in your paper is only one of the horrors to which animals raised for food are subjected. If we want to feed the hungry, save the rainforests, prevent animal suffering and reduce the incidence of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and other degenerative ailments, there is only one choice - to become vegetarian. NINA NATELSON, Director Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHAI) Alexandria, Virginia Sir, - "Purim and vegetarianism" added a refreshing dimension of ethics and seriousness to the fun and frolic this holiday is known for. The original Purim was a serious episode in the life of a major Jewish community of the times. Richard Schwatz's reflections provide an opportunity for serious reflection on the way we eat and the manner in which we feast. CHAIM WASSERMAN Jerusalem A wife's fate Sir, - The impassioned article by Sharon Shenhav on International Agunot Day is almost exactly the same as all those written on the subject ever since I can remember, and I am in my 80th year ("Why we're marching on the Knesset today," March 19). All the earnest attempts to change things will not help; they are just papering over the cracks. The fundamental premise of the laws relating to the get, that the fate of a wife is in the hands of her husband, may have had redeeming features in the society in which it was first instigated, but it is wrong today. We need a rabbi who will "stand naked in the market-place" and say so. In a recent TV interview, British Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks said: "The job of a religious leader is to interpret the ancient texts for our own time. What God wants from us here and now is not what he wanted from us in another place, at another time." As for the excuse that today's rabbis have not reached the level of scholarship enabling them to change Halacha, why then are we being presented with creative solutions to other modern problems? RENEE BRAVO Asseret Under attack Sir, - "On Tuesday, three Kassam rockets struck the western Negev without causing any injuries or damage." I disagree. In the western Negev or Jerusalem, every time our neighbors' property is violated our sense of well-being suffers. Drop by drop, our sense of security is being eroded ("Fearing Purim attack, Barak orders closure," March 19). SHARON ALTSHUL Jerusalem 194 does not apply Sir - Re the decision of the Palestinian Authority to urge Palestinian Arab refugees to invade Israel during its 60th-year celebrations: UN Resolution 194 does not apply because those refugees have proven not to have peaceful intentions such as the resolution stipulates. In 1949 the Arab League imposed a population exchange on Israel by forcing close to one million Jews to leave their homes in the Arab countries and immigrate to Israel as penniless refugees. The League is also responsible for the perpetuation of the status of the Palestinian Arab refugees by forbidding Arab governments to grant citizenship to those refugees and thus not absorbing them, despite the Arab countries' huge territories and oil wealth" ("PA urges Palestinians to 'return' to Israel on 60th anniversary," March 18). H. HADDAD, President World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC) New York/Israel It just won't wash Sir, - Everyone seems to be overlooking the crucial point about Barack Obama ("The pastor and the senator," Armstrong Williams, March 19). After all the eloquence and vision, the appeals for racial justice and compensation for past wrongs, by not disowning his pastor, Obama is, in the final analysis, saying that blacks have a right to be anti-American. If a citizen is against his own government, he may vote, lobby and speak, but he may not commit treason by giving aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war. No matter how just and correct Obama is in his own opinions, his refusal to disown the Rev. Wright - and his pleading for sympathy for the pastor because of his record of good deeds and frustrated hurt feelings - are unacceptable, not only in a potential president but even in an ordinary American citizen. God damn America, 9/11 was justified, the US planted AIDS among blacks - these statements should be disowned and condemned. No one should belong to a church which accepts and applauds such statements. RABBI JACOB CHINITZ Jerusalem Off the mark Sir, - Re David Brinn's "Israel's rebranding efforts to focus on Toronto" (March 17): Israel is not about culture and art and sports and fashion, though none of those things are bad. Rather it is about a more meaningful life that starts with our matriarchs and patriarchs in Hebron and finishes with the rebuilding of the Temple on the holiest place on earth. If Israel behaved like a sovereign state and had integrity, "rebranding" wouldn't be necessary. We are God's chosen people, fulfilling the Jewish dream of thousands of years to return to our land and rebuild a house of prayer for all people, as stated in Isaiah 56:7. We must stop trying to be like the nations of the world and take our rightful place as a light unto the nations. We must not pretend that the new Israeli culture that began 60 years ago is where it is at, but connect to renewing the history of the Jewish people. I came here from Canada almost 30 years ago, and I can tell you: Nobody in their right mind would come to live here, whatever the incentives, unless they felt that, as Jews, this is our inheritance and the fulfillment of the ultimate redemption. That is not where most Jews in Toronto are - and remember, the city's Jewish community is made up of 40 percent Israelis! Affecting the Diaspora starts with the process of soul-searching right here, at home. Those who offer economic incentives are far off the mark. CHAYA GROSS Jerusalem Over and out Sir, - I could not believe my ears when I heard that "IBA is to stop shortwave broadcasts" (March 17). The Broadcasting Authority says all the broadcasts will be available on the Internet. But many people everywhere, and even some countries, do not have access to the Internet, while a battery operated radio can work anywhere. How does the Foreign Ministry propose to counteract the vicious propaganda against Israel that is heard on these radios without our broadcasts being out there? Our hasbara is insufficient as it is, now it will be even worse. RIVA MORRIS Ra'anana