May 25: Egyptian exodus

One would think that after the peace treaty with Israel, Egypt would have rescinded a law making marriage to an Israeli cause for having one's citizenship revoked.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Egyptian exodus Sir, - "Egyptians married to Israelis will fight to keep Egyptian citizenship" (May 24): However, several thousand of these people clearly prefer to live hassle-free in Israel, negating the nasty notion that Israel is "racist" or anti-Arab. One would think that after the peace treaty with Israel, Egypt would have rescinded a law making marriage to an Israeli cause for having one's citizenship revoked. It didn't. Now that's "racism"! NANCY MILGRAM Nahariya Women soldiers saying Kaddish Sir, - "IDF Rabbinate prevents Conservative female soldier from saying Kaddish in army synagogue" (May 22) was misleading, provoking outrage that a Conservative female soldier can't recite the Kaddish memorial prayer. Yet the item specifically goes on to say that the IDF's policy is that no woman soldier may recite Kaddish publicly. Why deepen the rift between the Orthodox and Conservative communities? CHAYA GOLDBERG Hatzor Haglilit Sir, - There is no doubt that a woman soldier has the right to say Kaddish in an army synagogue if she feels it accords with her religious principles. The question is, does she have the right to coerce 10 male soldiers to be present while she does so, if this goes against their religious principles? Or do the rights of the minority always trump those of the majority? DAVID STEINHART Petah Tikva Sir, - I am Orthodox, and if a female soldier is satisfied with saying Kaddish with a group of 10 women, that's fine with me. However, I take issue with an Orthodox rabbi who would prefer a quorum of 10 women to a woman saying Kaddish with a minyan of men. All Orthodox rabbis state that Kaddish must be said with a minyan - which means 10 men. Like it or not, Orthodox women have to accept this - and, therefore, insist on saying Kaddish with a minyan, even if some places insist that at least one man must say Kaddish with them. For an Orthodox rabbi to prefer a minyan of women to one of men makes no sense whatsoever. LISA KLEIN Jerusalem Sir, - With all due respect to the decision of the army rabbi, and to the feelings of the soldier girl who wished to say Kaddish for her grandmother, I was under the impression that a special leave of two or three days is given to soldiers who have lost a grandparent. So she could easily have said her Kaddish in a family environment. I also thought that according to Halacha, one says Kaddish - male members of the family, that is, - only for a parent, sibling or child, and not for a grandparent. DAVE LES Karmiel Sir, - With all the attention of the past few weeks focusing on interfaith relations, I thought it quite refreshing to conduct "intra-faith" dialogue with the IDF chief rabbi and fellow officers. It was so very regrettable to read the pessimistic assessment of the Masorti Movement - as expressed in Matthew Wagner's article - that "attempts to create channels of communication with the IDF Rabbinate have failed." I must say that I am quite pleased with what we achieved. First, the IDF rabbis had to struggle to find a solution for the Conservative soldier's problem. It may sound unfortunate, but sending the soldier home to say Kaddish suggests that the army knew it had to solve that problem, and that it couldn't find a way to help the soldier on her base. The IDF Rabbinate recognizes the needs of Conservative Jews. That's more than one can say for the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. Secondly, we opened a most important discussion regarding the IDF Rabbinate. Questions must be and will be asked regarding the scope of rabbinic authority in the IDF. For example: Is the rabbi of an army base the halachic authority there, as if he was a pulpit rabbi in a community synagogue? Or is the IDF chief rabbi the army's sole rabbinical authority? How will the IDF chief rabbi render a decision when other prominent Orthodox rabbis have counter approaches, often more lenient? Thirdly, we all now know that the IDF Rabbinate recognizes that there are non-Orthodox religious soldiers serving in the IDF, and that they can't be ignored. We should encourage soldiers with religious needs to approach and dialogue with the IDF rabbis both on base and at the IDF rabbinical headquarters. As president of the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel, I remain committed to working in partnership with our colleagues serving as rabbis in the IDF. I am confident that we will continue to find the way to work things out. Therefore, I'll continue working directly with Lt.-Col. Rabbi Krim and relieve the chief of staff of having to solve our problems. After all, he is responsible for running the IDF. RABBI BARRY SCHLESINGER Efrat Wrong parent Sir, - Norman Lamm can rail against "goyim" in the Reform movement all he wants ("Non-Orthodox Judaism disappearing," May 10), but after 26 years, he - and other leaders from the Orthodox movements - should recognize that patrilineal descent is here to stay. More worrying than his use of that insulting Yiddish epithet is his dismissal of tens of thousands of children whose parents cared enough about Judaism to become dues-paying members of Reform synagogues. But no amount of dedication to Jewish life, be it attending Jewish summer camp, getting a Hebrew education or keeping Shabbat, will apparently ever be enough Rabbi Lamm; for the simple reason that the wrong parent was Jewish. It's a position as misguided as it is intolerant. EDMUND CASE Newton, Massachusetts More 'modern' Bible Sir, - In "Let my people know!" (Ghilad Zuckermann, May 18) wrote about the "Israeli" language. I agree. Language is not static; meanings change (see Life of Language by Sol Steinmetz). Army slang changes so much that acronyms that were in use here less than a generation ago no longer exist. Prior to my aliya from an English-speaking country in 1969, I would read Marcette Chute's Stories from Shakespeare to my pupils before taking them to a Shakespeare play. This way they could understand and appreciate what they were about to see. The study of Bible has long been one of the most difficult subjects for Israeli pupils to master. At last a project called Tanakh RAM may change that. My best wishes to Avraham Ahuvia for modernizing the study of our Bible. JESSICA FISCHER Michmoret Israeli and amazing Sir, - Re Ehud Waldoks' "Better Place presents world's first automated battery switch station in Japan. Product offers 'realistic alternative to dependence on oil' says company's Israel chief," May 14); and other developments (such as Kibbutz Yavne's new PV electricity-producing system) for ridding ourselves and the world of oil dependency: One has to marvel at this country's ability to develop so many new products that will revolutionize our lifestyle. That Japan turned to an Israeli company to promote the electric car is truly amazing. You report that within 10 years, 50 percent of all cars in Japan will be electric. GM tried this in the '90s, but the electric car was killed by the oil interests. Enter Better Place and its Israeli founder and CEO, Shai Agassi. Our air will be cleaner and Mideast geopolitics could change forever. MATTIAS ROTENBERG Petah Tikva