Letters

PO Box 34296, London NW5 1YW • letters@thejngroup.com

Shabbat UK is for us all

Dear Sir,

The essence of Shabbat UK is to keep Shabbat in accordance with halacha. Last year the response to this was incredible, and although the event was under the auspices of the Chief Rabbi, Jews of all persuasions joined in.

So what is the Reform Movement hoping to achieve by excluding itself from this superb and totally inclusive Jewish experience?

The “lament” pointed out in your article (Jewish News, 23 July) is that the Reform Movement is holding itself apart from all the rest of Anglo-Jewry by wanting to “play guitars” on Shabbat. How easy it would be to be a part of this amazing event by actually trying to keep Shabbat, walk to shul, leave the phone at home, feel the relief of no responsibility to the outside world, only to oneself, one’s family and of course to God. Come on and join us, try it, you might like it!

Sylvia Hartman, by email

Masorti Judaism is delighted to be inviting its communities to take part in Shabbat UK this year. We are always pleased to co-operate.

Masorti Judaism’s purpose is to develop welcoming inclusive communities, committed to modern values and grounded in traditional practice. We see Shabbat UK as a great opportunity to push forward our goals of encouraging people to celebrate Shabbat and increase their participation in Jewish life.

Nick Gendler Co-chair, Masorti Judaism

When I padded up in Nazi stadium

Your headline on the front page of last week’s issue is not quite accurate. I played cricket in the stadium built for the 1936 Hitler Olympics, for RAF Berlin against Army Berlin in 1955 while on National Service 60 years ago. Although I was run out for a duck, it gave me the greatest possible satisfaction as a Jew to patrol this former Nazi showcase, with lanyards flapping eerily from the flagstaffs where swastika flags once flew.

David Sherman, Finchley

Why jews seem to get ahead

As Mike Dehaan correctly describes (Jewish News August 15), continual headcovering for men is a Jewish custom that has evolved only relatively recently. Yet I was still astonished to see, in the wall paintings from the synagogue found in Dura in Babylon, dating from the 3rd century CE, that even Moses is portrayed bareheaded (although he has a beard and is wearing tsitsit).

And it is rather telling to read in the Midrash Rabba that the sage, Yehoshua ben Hanania, was asked “Why does a man have his head uncovered while a woman has hers covered?”

What goes on inside the head is clearly more important than what goes on top of it.

Jonathan Samuel, NW4

Here to help on mental illness

We read with sadness the article Our Mental Health Services are just not acceptable (Jewish News, 23 July). We appreciate Rabbi Hilton talking about his sister, Rosemary, and for raising awareness of this tragedy.

We want to remind our own community that Jami is here for those experiencing mental illness. Jami is a social care service, working alongside NHS mental health services, to help people living with mental ill-health. If anyone is struggling to contact or navigate NHS services, we can support people through it.

We don’t want to see another case like Rosemary’s and would urge anyone living with a mental health problem, or relatives of those who are unwell, to contact Jami as well as their local medical services.

Tanya Harris Head of services, Jami

Iran agreement a diplomatic disaster

The Iran nuclear agreement was an unmitigated diplomatic car crash. Principally, it legitimised Iran as a nuclear threshold state and a bastion of regional terror. We now know the agreement contains alleged side deals negotiated separately between the IAEA and Iran.

In his testimony before Congress, John Kerry admitted he had not read the content of these side deals and maybe only one other member of the US administration had. Kerry refused to confirm the content of the deals, saying the IAEA had not given authorisation.

It should strike people as bizarre an agreement of such magnitude should be based at least in part on alleged secret clauses. The IAEA is independent but its agreements with Iran are integral to stopping the Iranian bomb and they deserve public scrutiny. An even graver cause for concern is that, according to Senator Bob Menendez, one of the side deals relates to how to inspect the Parchin military complex near Tehran.

David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security has admitted the agency could not exclude Iran tampering with samples submitted for inspection – hardly a surprise, given Tehran’s long history of deception, misinformation and evasion. What will we discover tomorrow?

Jeremy Havardi, Mill Hill