‘Don’t criticise Jews’
I’ve never written to a newspaper before but I was deeply pained by the publication of last week’s report on the pandemic and Stamford Hill entitled: ‘For months they’ve broken every rule in the book’.
You chose to call your newspaper Jewish News so clearly intend to be a Jewish newspaper. You clearly do not associate yourselves with the ultra-Orthodox. We are brothers and sisters, children of Hashem and this article desecrated His name.
Allow me to remind you that in the Holocaust, Hitler did not differentiate between a Chasidic Jew, a modern Orthodox Jew and an unaffiliated Jew. He put us all in one category and tried to wipe us out.
Either we choose to sanctify ourselves as Am Yisrael, display unity among ourselves and stand out as a close-knit nation of brotherhood or, God
forbid, other nations come and divide us.
Organising and holding weddings at the moment is certainly against government legislation. However, I seek an explanation as to what the purpose of your article was.
If it was to prevent people from making weddings, let me tell you that those who have chosen to make a wedding in this stressful time have thought about it thoroughly and will not change their minds as a result of your article.
If it was just an interesting topic for an article, a hot topic, I remind you that this is an outright violation of Jewish laws.
In these challenging times, we ought to be united as a nation, supporting one another as brothers and sisters and carrying the flag of our nation with pride.
18-year-old (Name withheld on request), By email
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I read your scathing attack on Charedi Jewry flouting lockdown rules. How could you? A Jewish newspaper attacking Jews. Jews harming Jews! Don’t we have enough people out there who hate us?
You advocate the toughest punishments for antisemitic attacks but you are no better. Anybody can read your newspaper and give themselves an excuse for antisemitism if Jews themselves are antisemites.
I hope you’ll think twice next time a lowlife whistleblower comes to you with a juicy Charedi story.
Leah Hochhauser, By email
Throughout history, whenever there is a plague or pandemic, it is blamed on the Jews, often resulting in pogroms. In the years leading up to the Holocaust there was a lot of agitation against the religious and Orthodox and yet, when the Nazis came to power, they hated Jews of all stripes.
Don’t delude yourselves: by causing resentment and animosity against the Orthodox with your articles about the pandemic, you are hurting and causing hatred against all Jews, yourselves included. By publicly displaying your dislike of the Orthodox, you are giving licence to all antisemites to do likewise.
Susan Stern, By email
While I totally agree this breaching of the Covid lockdowns and conditions is disgraceful and horrendous, I question why your newspaper found the need to highlight this issue in such a sanctimonious manner, instead of contacting the Board of Deputies, Beth Din and other bodies with your findings to deal with this
Our community has been the subject of vicious antisemitism, which has increased 100-fold since the Covid pandemic, with blood libel accusations rearing their ugly head again.
I am truly lost for words that your publication took such a divisive attitude,
especially so close to Holocaust Memorial Day. There are other sections in our society whom I have seen breaching the rules far worse than us.
Shelley Hart, By email
‘Crying for victims of illegal simchas’
Front garden minyanim involving multiple households take place on weekdays and Shabbat in Hendon. They involve loud singing without the use of masks, have no procedures for monitoring attendance for test and trace and no proper procedures for ensuring social distancing.
The government and Barnet Council have made it clear that a front garden is not
a place of worship, so these are clearly
illegal gatherings under the current lockdown rules.
It is certainly possible that transmission taking place at these minyanim could have led to the deaths of others, to say nothing of the terrible example set by supposedly religious people breaking the rules in public in this way.
With thousands dying every week and the NHS under terrible pressure, the frankly foolish and misguided individuals who organise these gatherings should stop and think twice.
Alan Cohen, Hendon
I followed your coverage of weddings taking place in Hackney in contravention of UK law.
It is largely due to the language and communication barrier that causes some in the Charedi community to behave in this irresponsible manner. Local and central government are partly to blame for not reaching out and communicating effectively with the community.
I live in Stamford Hill and I write and translate professionally in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish. I reached out to local and central government early on, but only received a muted response after several months.
The response was that neither Hackney Council nor government was interested in having laws, guidelines and posters translated and continually publicised for the Charedi Yiddish/Hebrew speaking communities. At best, a one-time display of minimal effort was made, by having volunteers and students of Jewish Studies at UCL, translate several posters to a garbled guacamole of words with some resemblance to Yiddish. In short, most law-abiding citizens of Stamford Hill are simply unaware of the ever-changing rules. To them, the virus appears to have passed their postcode somewhat and life can return to normal.
Charedi households do not watch TV, use the internet or listen to the radio. Most are unaware of how the virus is still ravaging nationwide or what the death toll numbers are on any given day.
Nobody sets out to purposely defy the law. It is a failure of communication, which led to ignorance, and in turn non-compliance.
SE Brodheim, Stamford Hill, By email
It is with great dismay that an attack on the contents of your newspaper has been perpetrated by a section of the strictly-Orthodox Jewish community.
In covering the lawlessness of certain sections of the Stamford Hill community you are reporting on actual facts, as the news industry tends to do.
Unfortunately, these mass public celebrations are currently illegal and strictly against the laws of this country. When these laws are ignored it causes major problems for the rest of the country.
Your response to this unwarranted attack is highly commended and you have the support of all.
Norman Brill, Whetstone
I love my community in Stamford Hill, so I am glad you exposed its criminal behaviour in regard to the pandemic.
I cry for a fine lady who paid with her life for agreeing to participate in her grandchild’s callous barmitzvah celebration. I know of others who have recovered but are now beset with related health issues. I can in no way rationalise what is going on here, but to call it collective insanity. Leadership? What leadership?! We have no leaders.
It is a fact of life that our culture has produced none since a long time. Sadly, we are what we look like an over-stimulated mindless herd. Lord, have mercy on us.
Mayer Braun, By email, Stamford Hill
The conduct of the Charedi community is shameful and inexcusable. I know this community lives by its own laws and outdated rules. However, when its actions affect an entire
nation, there can be no excuse.
While Jewish myself, with some Orthodox members within my family, I have little time for their world. I compare them to a commune or sect whose blind faith is written to suit them. I have no doubt they look down on the secular mainstream Jewish community. They must be exposed and shamed.
Lauren Martin, By email
No question, we agree that the noncompliance that has been happening, among the Stamford Hill Charedim especially the large wedding is completely wrong and dangerous and it is fair that it should be reported by your paper.
However, your extensive coverage over the front page and spread inside serves of no purpose as the Charedim will not learn from it as they do not read your paper.
It was therefore just an incitement between your readership and the Charedim, we can see this from all the social media hateful comments about them from the wider community and beyond and as it as well likely to be material for antisemites.
We also feel it was insensitive that this vindictive front page took precedence on front page instead of dedicated to Holocaust Memorial Day. Three of us has made efforts to contact someone from the Charedi community to try and reason why weddings were being held, explanations were given and even an invitation to them to a zoom to discuss in detail was accepted. It was that easy to get in dialogue with them.
We ask that in the future, the Jewish News uses a more careful approach not to incite Jew-on-Jew hatred and create extra antisemitism in the wider community. More sensitivity should be used. Sharna Kotlowski, By email
If the Chasidim had waited three weeks before announcing their boycott of Jewish News it would have been judged the most hilarious Purim joke on earth.
In strictly-Orthodox homes throughout the land, they will no longer be able to salivate over all those pictures of women and will miss ‘Progressively Speaking’ – an invaluable insight into the latest news from non-Orthodox communities.
Given the cover price, the editor must be quaking at the huge loss of revenue this boycott will cause – but he should not worry.
History tells us that banning a publication vastly increases its readership. Look out for the heads of Chasidic households furtively secreting Jewish News into tallis bags on Friday morning, to be retrieved and read by candlelight after dinner, while locked in the airing cupboard. Whatever next? Will the Pope boycott Playboy?
Those who flout the law and spread this deadly infection by organising illegal gatherings are ignoring three fundamental precepts of Jewish law: pikuach nefesh (sanctity of life), dina d’malchuta dina (the law of the land is the law) and the prohibition of injuring oneself. There’s a further injunction on ‘putting a stumbling block in front of the blind’ – in this case, encouraging others to participate.
Those who organise these illegal assemblies cannot be called ‘Orthodox’ or ‘Jewish’. They are simply a criminal cult.
Herbert Goldberg, Pinner
The only thing that shocked me more than your unimpeachable investigation into wholesale lockdown law-breaking in Stamford Hill was anonymous elements of that community mindlessly accusing Jewish News of an anti-Charedi agenda rather than accept they’d been shamed and exposed and pledge to act morally in future.
Marcus Sacker, By email
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