May 23: Jerusalem Day

Israel has a Knesset that functions only part-time. Perhaps if we begin during the next winter session we will be able to pass such a law in time for the 50th anniversary.

Jerusalem Day
Sir, – Regarding your Jerusalem Day coverage, last year several bills were sent to Knesset committees to make the day a national holiday, as is Independence Day. Nothing was achieved even though this year was the 45th anniversary of the city’s reunification.
Israel has a Knesset that functions only part-time. Perhaps if we begin during the next winter session we will be able to pass such a law in time for the 50th anniversary.
Sir, – On Jerusalem Day “three right-wing activists were arrested on the Temple Mount [for] ...praying out loud” (“15 arrested on Jerusalem Day,” May 21).
What a crime! Asserting “freedom of religion” in democratic Israel! This reminds me of an old joke: Back in the US a Jew tried to enter a wealthy synagogue but was stopped by an usher who asked if he had a ticket.
“No,” he replied. “I just want to speak with a friend.” The usher turned him down. “But it’ll take only a minute.” The usher relented, but added, “Don’t let me catch you praying!”
Sir, – Sixty five years ago we were a nation without a country.
Forty-five years ago we were a country without a capital. Today we are complete! Would that most of us Israelis remember and appreciate that.
HAIM M. LERNER Ganei Tikva
Phil’s fans
Sir, – I was amazed that a three-column article on the 1,000th edition of Torah Tidbits (“OU’s ‘Torah Tidbits’ turns 20,” May 21) missed the major point.
The creator, the innovator, the mind and body behind each and every Torah Tidbits has been Phil Chernofsky. His contribution goes without saying – but it shouldn’t have been reported without saying so!
Sir, – Congratulations to the Orthodox Union’s Israel Center on publishing the 1,000th issue of Torah Tidbits.
I still remember when making aliya in the early 1980s there were numerous publications available in Israeli synagogues on Friday night summarizing the week’s Torah portion. Unfortunately, all were in Hebrew, which was not my mother tongue.
How refreshing it was when the first issue of Torah Tidbits was published. Now this information was available to English speakers as well.
In the ensuing years it has grown from just a two-sided leaflet to a thick publication of 60 pages and more.
As you wrote, “Torah Tidbits brings a sense of community to English-speaking immigrants wherever they are in the country.”
I personally have been a local distributor in Jerusalem’s Baka neighborhood for most of those 20 years. It was a privilege for me to announce the engagements of my children and the births of my grandchildren in its pages. To quote you again, “It basically brings people together.”
We gladly say to Phil Chernofsky, “Kol hakavod to you for a job well done.”
HOWIE KAHN Jerusalem
Sir, – Without Rabbi Phil Chernofsky there would not be a Torah Tidbits. There was never a week it did not appear, even when he sat shiva for a parent.
Kol hakavod to him, his unbelievable creativity and his vast knowledge in so many diversified areas. May he be blessed with good health for many years to continue his masterful work.
YAAKOV ZEV Jerusalem
Sir, – Omitting Phil Chernofsky’s role in the success of the weekly Torah booklet was tantamount to leaving Willie Mays out of a history of the New York and later San Francisco Giants.
Catastrophe for us
Sir, – I wish to thank Martin Sherman for his piece “Nakba nonsense” (Into the Fray, May 18) in which he debunks Nakba (Catastrophe) Day as a disaster for the Arabs.
I would go one step farther and identify Nakba Day as a day of disaster for Israelis. All the efforts Israel has expended to reach out to the Arabs, for example by opening universities, improving their standard of living, creating opportunities in business and employment, and making advanced health care and welfare benefits accessible, are accepted by people who at the same time decry our existence.
This ingratitude is the true nakba.
Sir, – Caroline B. Glick (“Let’s embrace our friends,” Column One, May 18) calls for a one-state solution – for Israeli annexation of the territories, uniform Israeli law everywhere, and Palestinians becoming Israelis with full citizenship and voting rights.
She says that “there is no reason for them [the Palestinians] to receive anything but full voting rights.” And on and on.
Surely, she realizes the resulting demographic tilt would yield Meretz-type Knesset majorities.
There would be no more security problems since there would be no more refugee camps or borders over which to lob rockets.
And no unsatisfied aspirations for either Palestinian refugees or settler pioneers.
Glick may be right. Maybe these moves could bring peace and security and contentment to all. The only remaining question would be whether her views are Zionist. But even more interesting, in the very largest humane sense of things, how would that even matter anymore?
JAMES ADLER Cambridge, Massachusetts
Unfair critique
Sir, – Like reviewer Uri Eppstein (Opera Review, May 16), I generally do not like modernized versions of operas that violate the spirit of the work. However, the version of Orfeo ed Euridice that I attended at the Israeli Opera showed that, with understanding and appreciation, an old musical work can be infused with new meaning.
Transposed to modern times, this version of Gluck’s 18th-century opera infused new life into a work that is often presented as a fluffy abstract tale of the artist and his muse. The role of Orfeo was sung well by Yaniv d’Or, who imparted the passion and pain of a husband who has lost his beloved wife. Claire Meghnagi, who played the role of Euridice the evening I was present, was properly passionate.
And best of all, the sets, lighting and story framework brought new meaning to Gluck’s music.
Because the modernization was so carefully designed, the libretto, written 250 years ago, fit into the setting.
The Israeli Opera deserves credit for presenting this daring reinterpretation of an old work that, for many, is a worn-out chestnut. Your reviewer was unfairly critical of this production.
Looking back
Sir, – Thanks to Alexander Zvielli for his daily selection “From Our Archives.”
The extracts from The Palestine Post of 65 years ago enable us to relive the thrilling days before the UN’s crucial 1947 vote on the partition of Palestine. They make us feel what people felt when boatloads of Jewish refugees were forcibly kept out of British Mandate Palestine and sent to Cyprus detention camps under the White Paper while tens of thousands of Jewish displaced persons languished in DP camps in Europe.
RUTH RIGBI Jerusalem
The writer is a former history teacher
Adrienne Dodi was incorrectly identified as being retired in David Geffen’s “‘This is where I belong’” (Comment & Features, May 20). She has been director of resources at Shekel – Community Service for People with Special Needs since 2001.