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Let scientific adviser talk about shechita
Dr Stuart Rosen, scientific adviser to Shechita UK, was less than reassuring in defending shechita for being painless (Jewish News, 23 October). He attacked “dozens of studies… attempted, all with the purpose of debunking shechita”, in particular the Massey University EEG-based studies. He states that the latter’s methodology “has recently been… discredited by an international panel of electrophysiologists”.
I tried to Google this without success; why could Rosen not give a citation or name reference? He also failed to mention any recent peer-reviewed experiment supporting his own position. He dismisses as “deeply offensive” a reported account of a seasoned Jewish vet’s horror at witnessing shechita, quoted by John Blackwell, president of the British Veterinary Association. Is it offensive even to suggest that shechita is not always perfect? That not all certified shechita may be equally humane?
Rosen himself is not a vet, nor an animal biologist, but a cardiologist – albeit an eminent one. Cannot Shechita UK advance a scientific advisor with more poignant credentials? Where, for example, are the ’sceptical electrophysiologists’, of which Rosen himself writes?
Jewish sages down the ages have viewed meat-eating as a concession to mankind while in a fallen state. Although affirming shechita, some have chosen to be vegetarian or meat-reducing. The past Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren became a vegetarian after a kashrut inspection of a slaughterhouse.
Certain recent rabbinic figures, including Moshe Feinstein and David Rosen CBE, have challenged the kashrut of practices such as veal crates and foie gras, on animal welfare grounds (tza’ar ba’alei chayim). So, the humanity of different meat producers’ shechita operations should be of halachic, as well as veterinary, concern and debate.
The St James’ ‘fence’ promoted hatred
As an Anglican, I would always welcome a succah in a church in order to explain Jewish customs and values. However, in the feature regarding the succah at St James’, Piccadilly, I was rather shocked to read that the church had previously erected a mock up of Israel’s security fence “to explain the situation in the Middle East”. (Jewish News, ‘Succah at St James’’, 23 October). The church did no such thing.
Over the Christmas holidays, St James’ held a week-long festival to heap abuse on Israel and pretend that the fence has no security rationale whatsoever. The fact that Israel’s fence was installed to keep out suicide bombers who killed scores of Israelis was not featured in the festival. According to newspaper reports, one of the festival sponsors repeatedly declared Israel as an apartheid state. So unless Reverend Lucy of the church has undergone ‘a road to Tel Aviv’ experience, it seems that elements of the Jewish community have decided to ‘turn the other cheek’.
Very commendable perhaps or, alternatively, totally naive. However, there is no excuse to re-write the history of what actually happened at St James’. The Bethlehem Unwrapped festival was designed to incite one-sided anti-Israel hatred. It was not a benign educational initiative. Finally, I’d like to reassure readers there are hundreds of Anglican churches in the capital that don’t share St James’ obsession regarding Israel.
Help our challenged younger people
Heather Hawkes writes of her son’s difficulties in establishing a social life for himself. She feels it may be made more difficult by living in Essex.
May we tell her that our family is in an identical situation and we live in north-west London. The truth is that our community has never felt the need to put in place resources of any kind that could help young adults who have learning spectrum difficulties. We are deeply envious of the north Americans, who run the most brilliant summer camps/holidays, dating and friendship websites and of course, local community groups. We, sadly, have nothing. Our young man is 24, extremely good looking and with no physical disabilities. His problems centre around language, but he is gorgeous, went to college and has a diploma in art, speaks and reads Hebrew and is termed ‘high functioning’.
He has a regular part-time job and was recently made ‘Employee of the Month’. Nevertheless, he longs to have Jewish male and women friends, but cannot cope with the standard social gatherings attended by other ‘normal’ people of his age. All it would take is one or two computer literate people to put together a website for the benefit of this group of young people, who could use it as their social interaction and arrange meetings and friendships through its gateway.
Knowing that financial resources are limited at this time, why cannot our new JW3 liaise with Norwood, Langdon and other organisations to organise something for such deserving young people? And, hey, how about you, Jewish News, a real campaign for the forgotten ones of our community would really be headline appeal.
The Hyman family
Ajex parade should be our top priority
On Sunday Whitehall was closed off and hundreds of Jewish veterans marched past the Cenotaph, paying tribute to their comrades who sacrificed their lives for the sake of our country.
Attending over the years, I have been disappointed by the low turnout in the past, especially as parades in honour of the State of Israel tend to draw much larger crowds, something I personally find rather embarrassing. The community’s annual AJEX parade should be top priority and we should be showing our support in the tens of thousands.
Easyjet has no issue with our davening
I read with interest the letter from Martin Stern regarding El Al flights. Quite a while ago, I ceased patronising El Al, partly because of cost and partly because of the unseemly conduct of some passengers. I found their obnoxious behaviour offensive and in particular lacking in consideration of others – this is not the way for Jews to behave.
In contrast, I have often flown Easyjet on the Tel Aviv-Luton route (and now also Gatwick). I have not encountered any disturbing behaviour, I am pleased to report. In addition, once the cabin staff have finished their rounds distributing snacks, drinks, duty-free etc, they readily acquiesce to men congregating to daven mincha, even though it puts some toilets temporarily out of bounds; quite often the staff announce ‘prayers’ spontaneously without being requested. Obviously, Easyjet planes don’t suffer from the weight-distribution-imbalance experienced by other lines!
Rabbi M Lester
Israel (& London)
Agree or disagree, but we need yachad
“We are Jews who love Israel, who stand with Israel, whose lives are bound up with Israel. We believe in its right not just to exist, but to flourish. We stand against those who defame it.”
This is Yachad’s mission statement. We should be able to disagree about which course of action will best secure Israel’s future – a two-state solution or otherwise, but the level of misinformed, misguided and sometimes just plain malicious vitriol reinforces exactly why this community needs groups such as Yachad.
UKIP is neither anti-Israel Nor Anti-Jews
Unlike the Lib-Dems, Labour, the Greens and Conservatives, UKIP does not have an anti- Israel agenda. All new members have to sign that they are not exBNP/NF members. Make a Jew-hating remark and you are thrown out. None of the other parties can claim this. That is why I vote UKIP and will continue to do so.
Martin Cohen Via Jewishnews.co.uk
Ukip among israel’s only friends in eu
Regarding UKIP Friends of Israel holding a reception in Westminster (Jewish News, 13 November), UKIP is the only party in the EU Parliament that has consistently spoken for Israel and against the proposed boycott of the EU-Israel trade agreement.
Ian Hirshfield Via jewishnews.co.uk
Let critics advise Israel on how to make peace
Would it be asking too much for those who are critical of the policies of the Israeli government to take the time and trouble to produce a comprehensive list of actions required by Israel to bring about an end to this conflict? And could they also explain in clear and unequivocal terms how the enactment of these would guarantee lasting peace and security for Israel and all its citizens?
Clive Hyman N3
Let’s continue to do mitzvot over the year
It was wonderful to hear of all the fantastic good deeds carried out on Mitzvah Day. If any of your readers can spare any time, I hope that this is not a once-a-year effort. Volunteers are urgently required for so many worthy causes, whether it be for your local hospital, neighborhood etc. It is so rewarding.
Edgware why can’t jews and muslims pray in peace?
I would like to make a correction and comment regarding an article in last week’s edition regarding the violence on the Temple Mount. The article mentions that Jordan has been the custodian of the compound since 1924. This is incorrect as Jordan was not created (illegally) until 1946. It was founded on some 80 percent of Mandatory Palestine in the area East of the Jordan river, an area intended to be part of the Jewish state.
During the war of independence, Jordan invaded Israel and captured the area known now as the West Bank or Judea Samaria including East Jerusalem. This was recaptured in 1967 when Jordan was made custodian of the Temple Mount as a gesture of goodwill to Muslims; Jews were not banned from praying there. In Hebron at another mutual religious site Jews and Muslims pray separately and by and large in peace. Why shouldn’t this happen on the Temple Mount?
Brian mitchell is a true community hero
I was delighted to see Brian Mitchell was mentioned in your Mitzvah Day Community Heroes. When I started attending Chabad in Gants Hill, Brian was extremely kind and took me under his wing. Unfortunately, Brian has not been well recently, but is humble not to complain about this. Brian Mitchell is a real mensch.
Gordon Moser By email