LettersHelp was given to bosnian refugees

I refer to the letter of 11 February from Noach Bright, in which he makes some good points about the general failure of the world and Jews to do anything to prevent the Holocaust. However, I would like to bring to attention the civil war in Bosnia/Yugoslavia in the l990s. I’m glad to hear Mr Bright tried to help Jews who happened to live there at the time. I would also like to point out that there were a number of refugees from that civil war in the UK, about l00 of whom Jewish or Jewishly connected, and in this respect I, with the help of some good people in the community, made efforts to assist them. Examples of this: through the help of the then club leader (the name escapes me) at the now defunct Kinnor Maccabi, we were able to set up a club for refugees, where they were able to mix, play sports, hold discussions and enjoy refreshments.

I was also able to give them some advice about benefits, housing and other matters relevant to their new life in the UK. Also through the help and support of Rabbi Charles Emanuel and the good members of North Western Reform Synagogue, we were able to get the Bosnian Jews involved, for example, attending seders and becoming synagogue members.

I remember very well there was a child aged about three who came to this country with his parents. With the support of NWRS, he was able to attend Alyth Kindergarten. A short while ago I met his parents, who told me that that little boy is now an Oxford graduate and going on to great things.

Matt Suher By email

Why Day centre is lifeline for many

I’m a member of Edgware Jewish Day Centre, which is under the auspices of Jewish Care, and I think it is fantastic. As a registered blind man, I go regularly, and find the volunteers are like angels. There is so much to enjoy, discussion, keeping fit, bridge, dancing, music and board games. There is even hairdressing and art classes! If you need transport, it can be arranged, and all at a highly subsided cost, allowing many to attend who otherwise wouldn’t be able to. I feel I owe them for what they do in the Jewish community, as they provide a release for carers or partners who know their loved ones will be safe and cherished.

Parry Braidman Queensbury

No one is above the law in Israel

I agree with Martin Saffer, my friend and well-respected former colleague, that Israel is still “a work in progress,” as indeed is also the UK (Jewish News, Letters, 11 February). Both are likely to remain so for a long time to come. After all, we do not yet have the Moshiach. However, I do hope Martin will forgive me for a divergence of views.

As a civilising force, Israel stands out ‘light years’ ahead of anywhere in the region, and even possibly in the entire world. The rule of law is rigidly followed. Colonel Richard Kemp, the distinguished former British Commander in Afghanistan has repeatedly testified that he regards the IDF as the most humane army in the world. Few can be better qualified to say so.

Although the two miscreant former leaders may be in prison for wrongdoing, it is almost certain each would have received a fair trial before conviction. Admittedly regrettable in itself, it demonstrates the principle that “nobody is above the law”. Israel is not perfect and does make mistakes at times. Hardly surprising – being in a state of near-constant war.

Brian Moser Hendon

I have the opposite view to Martin Saffer and can take pride in the fact that Israel has the morality, unlike other nations, in that no one is above the law. I frequently point this out to both Jew and non-Jew.

John Barnett Whetstone

While not excusing the transgressions of a former president and a prime minister, rather than condemning Israel for not being “a light among nations”, Martin Saffer should rejoice that Israel holds to account even the highest in the land. How many other presidents and prime ministers throughout the world would be in prison if they were not protected by a judicial system in thrall to the political establishment?

Alan Miller By email

Corbyn’s certainly not our friend

When will UK Jews realise that they should not try to accommodate those hostile to them and that Hezbollah and Hamas supporters are never ever going to be friends of the community? Jeremy Corbyn is a ‘friend’ of Hamas; he has been pushing its agenda for years and will do so for as long as he is of interest to them. Please, my Jewish brothers, do not support this person or his party. As an Israeli who fought in the Six Day War for all our freedom, I see Mr Corbyn as a persona non grata.

Ari Sperling Bricket Wood

Israel is subject to insidious criticism

Unbelievably, your newspaper wishes to portray the Jewish state as trying to stop dissenting voices as seen in your headline: “Israeli bill ‘silences dissent’”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In actual fact, the Israeli media go to extremes to make sure the voice of the other is heard but this Knesset bill is nothing to do with that. This is about something far more insidious and deadly – the ability of foreign governments in the guise of non-governmental organisations to fund the delegitimisation of the state of Israel by endorsing slander and illegal activities against it.

Lynette Ordman Netanya

Patronising words on progressives

I found Martin Stern’s letter attacking progressive Judaism distasteful and patronising. I know Mr Stern has an Aristotelian view of Judaism, but this flies in the face of history. On this particular issue, the process for conversion to Judaism was laid down by our rabbis in the Babylonian Talmud, Yevamoth 47 a+b. It’s on the internet for all to read, but in essence, if someone wants to become a proselyte, you tell him/her that Jews are a persecuted and despised people. If he/she still wants to go ahead, they are accepted without delay.

However, we are not to be too demanding of exacting with them. A man is circumcised straight away and as soon as he is healed, arrangements are made for his immediate ablution in a mikveh (the same applies to a woman for asblution). Two learned men stand by his/her side and acquaint them with some of the minor commendments and with some of the major ones. When the process is finished, they are deemed to be Israelites in all respects. Note there is no mention of one, two or five years instruction. You can teach them after acceptance by the community.

If Liberal, or any other conversions are carried out according to Yevamoth 47 a+b, then the conversion has to be valid and accepted by the whole community. End of story. I guess that’s a matter for Rabbi Dr Goldstein to comment on. David Kanareck Mill Hill

Your shekels do not really add up

Your column My Two Shekels is illustrated by what looks like a tower of two and 10 pence pieces. Twelve of the former and 13 of the latter. That represents 77p to the shekel. You’re getting robbed each week!


Gabriel Herman By email