September 4, 2017: Shifting priorities

Our readers weigh in.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Shifting priorities
With regard to “First day of class: Room to improve” (September 1), as a veteran teacher, I can tell you how to improve our schools.
A school, like a ship, is only as good as its captain. A good principal will look out for his or her students by supporting the teachers and building trust with parents. This is not the case when the principal is worried about keeping his or her job by pleasing the Education Ministry with high test scores and other bureaucratic rigmarole.
Teachers who feel supported by their principal will go for help and guidance. Parents who respect the principal will participate more in school life.
The emphasis on test scores must cease! An anonymous survey at the end of the school year, in which the principal is rated by the teachers and parents, and which significantly counts toward the principal’s end-ofyear assessment, would do wonders to shift the priorities to where they belong: the students!
Education Minister Naftali Bennett feels it is important that all Israelis speak English (“Give me five! Education minister unveils program to improve English,” August 31).
Theodor Herzl felt that Hebrew was a dead language and so German should be the spoken language in the Jewish state. Bennett’s idea strikes me as uncomfortably similar to Herzl’s.
Do we really want all Israelis to speak English fluently so that it will be easier for them to make yerida (leave the country)? I, for one, would prefer a captive audience to no audience at all.
How about first stressing love of the land and the people, and of God’s desire for us to actually dwell in the land that He promised to our forefathers? This way, there would be no yerida no matter how many languages we speak fluently in addition to Hebrew.
Kfar Saba
I know I live in Israel and should know Hebrew, but I have always had trouble with languages. When I call a business or health care pro and get a recording giving me a choice of languages, I am elated.
Instead, I get only a Hebrew recording or Hebrew speaker.
In some cases, I have been transferred a dozen times before I can speak to someone who understands English.
In health care, this can be dangerous. As a hospital patient, I have had nurses and aides who could not convey my problems. I have walked into a health fund office saying I have chest pains; the secretary gives me a funny look. I have even been sent to doctors who have a total lack of English.
I am told English is taught in the schools here, so why are there not more who understand? How many people die because their caregiver did not understand their complaints?
Beit Shemesh
Flashing red lights
“A closer look at West Bank home demolitions” (Frontlines, September 1) warrants some comments and observations.
Adam Rasgon quotes several anonymous sources, and while there certainly are valid reasons for anonymity, it is fair to inquire as to such reasons. Red lights on the dashboard flash because Lior Akerman, a “pro-demolition” source who formerly served as a high-ranking Shin Bet official, is identified in the article by name, while both of the “anti-demolition” sources are unnamed.
One of the latter is described as a “former senior IDF officer”; the other is identified only as having been a member of an unnamed IDF committee that issued a report in 2005 on home demolitions. Twelve years later, it is fair to ask whether this source is still on that unnamed committee (and indeed, still in the IDF).
As to the substance of the piece, Muhammad Atta, who resided in the Deir Abu Meshaal house demolished by the IDF, laments that his whole family must “pay the price” for the actions of his brother, Osama, who killed Border Police St.- Sgt. Hadas Malka in a widely reported terror attack. Atta complains that the IDF’s action constitutes “collective punishment.”
Whenever imprisonment is imposed upon a wrongdoer, the wrongdoer’s family suffers if the wrongdoer is a family breadwinner or caregiver. Even the imposition of a monetary fine adversely affects a wrongdoer’s family if the wrongdoer’s income is a part of the household budget (though the stipends paid by the Palestinian Authority to terrorists and their families are not to be ignored).
The IDF’s home demolitions are specifically targeted and subject to oversight and approvals. If Mr. Atta wishes to discuss “collective punishment,” then let us talk about the rockets aimed at the vicinity of Sderot, the throwing of stones at automobiles on the road to Hebron and the numerous knife attacks, all of which are indiscriminately directed against Jewish populations.
Petah Tikva
A real professor
Abraham H. Miller has written one of the best articles on US President Donald Trump and his relationship with that country’s Jewish community (“Rabbis boycotting Trump are ignorant of their own history,” Observations, September 1).
This unusual, short piece shows a deep understanding of the president. It is also an excellent analysis of the various non-Orthodox Jewish movements that have sold their soul to the fake news and politically correct social media.
He writes: “The self-centered rabbis will bask in the ephemeral limelight of their political exhibitionism....
They will indulge their self-important fantasy and receive affirmation from their congregants, who think that Trump is the greatest threat to Jewish existence since Hitler.” He has shown a real understanding that media professionals should use as a light for their minds when writing and thinking about President Trump.
Thank you, Prof. Miller! For once, a real professor! MICHAEL TAL Jerusalem Left the building I feel impelled to respond to reader Lila Lowell (“Women at the Wall,” Letters, September 1).
As an Orthodox woman, I am totally in agreement with her respect for “any woman who chooses to pray in a prayer shawl and tefillin” and so on.
But I vehemently disagree with her charge that they “do not arrive quietly” and “are loud [and] inconsiderate of other worshipers....”
I attended the Women of the Wall’s services on Rosh Hodesh Elul not because I am affiliated with the group (I’m not), but because I believe every Jew has the right to pray at the Western Wall in a manner befitting the sanctity of the place.
This is what I saw and heard: A group of women clustered together some distance from the Kotel, separated from other female worshipers by a barrier, being raucously heckled by a crowd of young girls who screamed themselves hoarse before resorting to piercing whistles. Several older women added their voices to the cacophony. As for the Women of the Wall, they conducted themselves quietly, respectfully and with dignity. I can’t say the same for the women on the other side of the barrier.
Yes, the women blew the shofar.
Why shouldn’t they? It is the accepted custom during the month of Elul.
I overheard a man telling a friend there that he had come to Israel with his family so his son could celebrate his bar mitzva at the Kotel. I sincerely hope that the noise didn’t disrupt his celebration.
As one young woman remarked to me, God has left the building.