Chief disinvite so wrong
I write as a Charedi student at a prominent yeshiva. Following your article regarding the decision of Agudas Yisroel to disinvite the Chief Rabbi from the Siyum HaShas, I would like to explain why I believe this decision to be egregious and asinine (Jewish News, 9 January).
First, one of the primary reasons that Rabbi Meir Shapiro instituted Daf Yomi was to allow all Jews, irrespective of where they were geographically and specific sentiments they may maintain, to find common ground and unite through the learning of the Daf Yomi. How ironic that what should have been a celebration of that solidarity resulted in inane quarrelling that is fragmenting our community in London.
At a time when antisemitism is ubiquitously prevalent in the US and England, it is pivotal Jews themselves remain in firm cohesion and the Siyum should have been a time to highlight that unity.
The Talmud (Shabbos 31a) relates the story of a non-Jew who wanted to convert to Judaism. He approached Jewish sage Hillel and challenged him to teach him the whole Torah while standing on one foot. Hillel replied: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. That is the whole Torah, the rest is the explanation of this – go and study it!”
The Torah’s most fundamental tenet is to act with respect and reverence to every person, and yet a few individuals have disregarded this in an incredibly public manner thanks to their own dogmas.
This decision was made by a few individuals who are part of a fringe group and does not represent my own or my community’s perspective, as well as that of the large majority of British Jewry, whatever their personal opinions may be on the Chief Rabbi.
Gavi Hall, By email
Why chief merited exclusion
There were cogent reasons why United Synagogue Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was ‘no-platformed’ at the recent celebratory Siyyum held to celebrate the completion of the Daf Yomi cycle of Talmudic study.
Last year, Rabbi Mirvis saw fit to publish a pamphlet outlining the approach of his office to persons following so-called ‘alternative lifestyles’ – meaning practising homosexuals, lesbians, bi- and transsexuals.
We can all agree with Rabbi Mirvis that the bullying, harassment and discrimination suffered by such people is out of order. But in publishing his pamphlet, Rabbi Mirvis chose to partner with an organisation that specifically promotes such lifestyle choices. This is quite contrary to Orthodox Jewish law, as Rabbi Mirvis must have known.
This year, the government will enforce in all English primary and secondary schools the teaching of mandated forms of relationships and sex education that are contrary to halachic norms. Rabbi Mirvis could have
condemned these proposals. He has not done so.
Those of us who follow an Orthodox lifestyle are entitled to expect the support of the Chief Rabbi (so called). That this support has not been forthcoming is indeed tragic.
Shraga Stern, By email
Too quick on the draw
I found the Paul Solomons cartoon in last week’s issue unfunny and offensive. It deliberately stereotypes many people’s idea of what a Jew is – and for this to be published in a Jewish newspaper is beyond belief. This is the type of antisemitic rubbish published by the type of magazines that love to portray all Jewish people as devious, sly, grasping and only interested in money, money, money.
Is it just me, or do other readers feel the same?
Helen Dryer, By email
I was less than amused by the cartoon of 9 January depicting a Jewish gentleman boasting he had daubed his own premises so that he could have them redecorated by his local authorities
This is deeply offensive. It is abhorrent to have antisemitic daubings on any building, but to make a joke of redecorating at the public’s expense is simply not funny. ‘Jokes’ like this are simply fodder for anti-Jewish feeling, of which there is no paucity.
Anna Wiseman, By email
Would Board do the same?
The Board of Deputies has issued 10 pledges to Labour Party leadership candidates, which include ensuring transparency, and engaging only with the community’s representative bodies. Would the Board itself, in the interests of transparency and confirming its representative status, be prepared to publish a list of its constituencies, the deputies elected to represent each of them, and the numbers of people who voted for each of them in the most recent elections?
Daniel Bernstein Vulkan, Ex- senior researcher, Board of Deputies