There are people who intend to leave blank the voluntary question about religion in the National Census. This is a mistake.
We are not living in a police state where a list of Jews is about to be handed to an incoming dictatorship. The information gathered is helpful, not least to our own community, religious and secular, in setting policy regarding its forward needs. These may be schooling, ether in Jewish or state schools; protection by the state and the Community Security Trust; and solid representation by the Board of Deputies, AJEX or other recognised bodies.
We should not leave the question unanswered for fear of a door knock. It’ll probably be the man who has come to empty your JNF box.
Barry Hyman, Bushey Heath
I rarely write letters to newspapers, but Vivian Wineman’s diatribe in your pages against all things Charedi, and Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky in particular, was so shocking that I had to speak out (Jewish News, 4 March 2021).
To attack someone whose CV indicates time spent in a prestigious Israeli yeshiva, a tzadik (righteous person) who has devoted every moment of his life to the service of God and the Jewish people, does nothing but fan hatred.
As one who has taught generations of students to love and support Israel, while acknowledging the Charedi world has its issues, I view Mr Wineman’s secular Jewish lobby as a far greater existential threat than the Charedi demographic.
Name withheld on request
‘Who is a jew?’ debate
Your Voice of the Jewish News, stated that the Israeli High Court decided to “order state authorities to recognise non-Orthodox conversions to Judaism” (Who is a Jew?, 4 March).
This is a misinterpretation of its ruling, since it made the significant proviso that it applied only to those applying for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return and not to the definition of “who is a Jew”. Its decision was based on the previous anomaly whereby those undergoing non-Orthodox conversions outside Israel were accepted, whereas those in Israel were not.
You claim that “Many of us would be distinctly uncomfortable if any of our leaders echoed the words of David Lau, Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, who this week repeated his view that ‘whoever becomes Jewish in a Reform conversion or something similar is not Jewish’.”
Since Reform differs significantly from Judaism, his is a perfectly valid position and any UK Orthodox rabbi would say the same.
Israeli Reform and Masorti movements should set themselves up as independent religious entities, rendering them free to admit as members, and marry them, according to whatever criteria they see fit, rather than to try to foist their converts on
the Orthodox rabbinate.
Martin D Stern, Salford
It’s time to move on
For weeks, the Jewish press has been inundated with stories and letters about the Charedi community and its misdemeanours. Isn’t it time to move on and put the tedious haranguing on both sides of the equation to bed?
Whether we like it or not, the Charedi community will never change its way of life, good deeds or bad. Whichever country people from that community live in, their religious customs are exactly the same.
It is not my way of life, and my Judaism will be anathema to them, but I can live with that, annoying as they sometimes can be, especially their conduct on planes. God created man in his own image, and in this crazy world in which we live, there are images and images. We have to take a deep breath and learn to live with them as best we can.
Robert Dulin, Bricket Wood
Is Mr Benjamin the lead campaigner?
In reference to last week’s front-page story about the aftermath of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, you described Jonny Benjamin as “the Jewish community’s leading mental health campaigner”.
Yes, Mr Benjamin may well be one of the experts in this particular field and is qualified to comment on the Duchess of Sussex’s state of mind, but who said he is the leading one?
David Green, By email
One jewish faith – but so many ways to follow it
I wish to address the letter of Sammy (who did not want to use his surname) regarding this newspaper’s level of Jewish observance (Jewish News, 4 March 2021).
I strongly disagree with him that ‘Jewish’ means ‘adherence to…’ Defining being Jewish as equating with that tenet opens up a Pandora’s box of arguments that certainly would likely engage many Jews but, with our penchant for disagreement, would hardly likely be seen as Jewish news.
We are all entitled to having, and expressing, our own views. These have been, in my view, adequately aired in this publication and I will leave it at that.
J D Milaric, By email
New group for volunteers
Jewish Youth Voluntary Service (JYVS) was established in the early 1960s to carry out voluntary work in the local community. Groups were established in all the main Jewish communities in England, as well as in Glasgow and Dublin.
Hundreds of members spent their spare time in making life better for others and cheering them up, as well as having a lively social life themselves. Many have stayed in touch with each other over
We have launched a Facebook group called JYVS UK Alumni and are looking for former members to join. We are very pleased to report that more than 50 people have joined so far. However, we now wish to find a lot more.
The members have started downloading newspaper articles, programmes, anecdotes and memories about their time as JYVS members.
We would love to re-establish the social side, which was such an important part of JYVS and leading in the future to a reunion, when we are all back to a normal life.
So, please look at the Facebook group page and we will be delighted to invite you in.
Marty Rose, Admin, JYVS UK Alumni
the Rabbis could act over get
I write regarding your front-page story about amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill and Serious Crime Act, which will make it easier to punish Jewish husbands who refuse to grant a religious divorce or get.
If I were the lawyer defending a man accused of refusing a get to his civilly divorced wife, I would argue that refusing to do something is not ‘behaviour’, controlling or otherwise. Only doing something can be behaviour. If the court agrees, this new law will be a busted flush in short order!
This is not a problem for the secular law and courts. It is a Jewish problem that the rabbis can solve if they wish. Where there’s a rabbinical will, there’s a halachic way.
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