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Let’s engage with this sexual debate
Regarding a recent column on your website headlined: Why there needs to be a Jewish approach to LGBT issues, I too have heard many rabbis say they don’t have “this problem” in their communities. I know many gay and lesbian people who have abandoned religion entirely because of attitudes to the way they love and desire (I am gay myself).
Some communities breathe sighs of relief when gays and lesbians go – it’s so much easier to worry about what tunes we use or what level of kashrut we should adopt than consider men and women loving each other and sleeping together in a way that seems to defy our tradition. But we Jews thrive on struggle and argument – even with God – so let’s engage with our struggles over sexuality, too.
What does it mean to have such a clear prohibition on (male) gay relations in one of the most moving and sacred sections of the Torah? How does the commandment “go forth and multiply” apply to those of us who don’t want to have children? And how do ideas of marriage and family change when the two adult partners are the same sex? Our ‘nation’ is named after Jacob’s wrestling with God. And our religion still has room for wrestling. Well done to Keshet for keeping the topic in all our faces.
Over-optimism on zionism’s progress
Arieh Saposnik may well be the associate professor at the Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, but his assessment of Zionism’s achievements (Opinion, 11 December) is highly over-optimistic.
As he writes, “a century ago, world Jewry… confronted a devastating crisis of identity”, transformed “what appeared to be a moribund Jewish life into a vibrant, Hebrew-speaking society, living in an ethnically diverse, technologically sophisticated and culturally effervescent democracy”. But it did so by jettisoning Judaism in order to produce a “new Jew”, who was to all intents and purposes a “Hebrew-speaking heathen”.
In the early days of the state of Israel, a largely successful concerted effort was made to wean the Jews from the Middle East from their “antiquated” religious roots, with consequent social problems that have lasted to this day.
While I’d agree that the proposed ‘Jewish nationhood bill’ is farcical, I do so for the opposite reason – that it does not go nearly far enough to ensure the Jewish nature of Israel. This is especially true as its implementation will be at the mercy of the left-wing Ashkenazi establishment, which controls the Supreme Court.
Martin D. Stern
Rashi’s comments are so irrelevant
Please stop continually quoting Rashi’s explananations in your weekly sedra columns as they can easily be pulled apart. For example: 1. Why should Esau seeing all Jacob’s wealth not think he was a leader? 2. Why should Esau think Jacob was living in a wicked environment? 3. Why should Esau think that Jacob was an observant Jew and what would it matter to him? Also, how can Esau think Jacob is humble and does what is right having stolen Esau’s birthright? We all know that in Jacob’s entourage were idol-worshipping servants and wives. Many times you print famous rabbis’ thoughts just because they are famous, but please check with third parties before printing to avoid irrelevant statements.
True worth of solomon wolfson
Referring to correspondence by Jack Clarfelt (4 December) and Roy Kemp (11 December), I write as the ex-pupil who was privileged to hold the last two Solomon Wolfson reunions in our home and would add to all the wonderful teachers’ names mentioned those of Mr Busky, Mr Superstein, Miss Jury and Miss Taylor. In light of the current questioning of the merit of faith schools, Solomon Wolfson is a worthy proof of their lasting value. Coming from a religious background with eight of my nine siblings attending, we felt it was home from home.
Although it was a Jewish school in every sense, we learnt to mix and integrate very comfortably with the intake of a small percentage of non-Jewish pupils. At both reunions, what impressed us was the genuine respect for each other’s religion. It was a true learning curve. Solomon Wolfson was not just a school, but a warm community in which ‘citizenship’ was taught all those years ago in an ethos of mutual understanding.
The headteacher, Daniel Mendoza, and his worthy successors cared for both our spiritual and physical welfare, which has stood us in good stead to the present day, with a strong sense of Jewish identity, an appreciation of old-fashioned values and the forging of lasting friendships. No wonder these reunions engender such interest. Here’s to the next one.