Forced marriages are a fact
I wish to reply to Chaya Spitz’s column, entitled ‘Forced marriage is an alien concept in Judaism’ (Jewish News, 18 February 2021).
This title is a huge insult to all victims that have suffered, and are suffering, from abuse and being forced to marry a person their family is telling them to marry or stay in a marriage unwillingly. Victims feel trapped and sometimes ashamed of leaving a marriage and the person who is at fault.
Ms Spitz asks: “How has a connection between forced marriages and the Charedi community made its way to the public sphere?”
Is she insinuating that, before now, there was never a connection between forced marriages and the Charedi community?
This is ridiculous. Forced marriage is not alien to Judaism. It may be unspoken, but this doesn’t change the fact that forced marriages and forced relationships are not happening, because they are. Thankfully, we have the amazing organisation Jewish Women’s Aid. Yet still, many Charedi women find it excruciatingly difficult to confess to being a victim of abuse, leading to shunning in their community and fear of what the man may resort to doing in response.
We need more education, more understanding, more openness and less fearmongering and taboos when addressing these issues.
Victims of abuse will feel more encouraged to speak up and seek help once children are more educated about signs of abuse and the help that’s available. This cannot be unspoken.
Ms Spitz should stop denying the existence of the problem and come to terms with the reality in order for us to work together and break the silence of suffering.
Shiri Elias, By email
Redirect your Concern
Your columns have been overflowing with fire and brimstone directed against my neighbourhood for allegedly braving the bug and ignoring the scientists for albeit the most vital reasons. Ignoring those who are clearly acting under the well-recognised disposition to iconoclasm, much of this has been attached to a declared concern for the Torah and the need for preservation of life. Could I anticipate that this concern might now be redirected towards the rampant disregard of kashrut, Shabbat and moral laws in the Torah of which it is proclaimed: “For they are your life and the length of your days.”
Geoffrey Niman, Stamford Hill
VIPs for a vaccine pass
You report that Israel is set to introduce a green vaccine passport, which may also be rolled out in England and Scotland (Jewish News, 25 February).
All eyes are on the Israeli model. To get the green light to visit our homeland once again, and probably many places here, we may well follow in Israel’s footsteps. We may all need to be VIPs (Vaccinated, Immunised Person).
J D Milaric, By email
flat earth views
I must compliment you on having the courage to print a letter other newspapers would dismiss as ignorant, unpleasant drivel. You have obviously identified the true wisdom and religious insights displayed by your correspondent, Ann Cohen, who criticises Vivian Wineman for his trenchant views as to Charedi Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky’s responsibility for so many deaths, due to Covid, in his community (Jewish News, 4 March 2021).
She has emphasised Mr Wineman’s lack of scientific knowledge and, indeed, the fact he went to yeshivah and Cambridge University, pursued a successful legal career and was elected president of the Board of Deputies illustrates a lack of intelligence.
Of course, those of us who are proud to call ourselves Modern Orthodox Jews, who believe science and religion perform different functions, also must come within her fire.
She would have us prefer the attitude of some in the Charedi community, who revel in ignorance and who are determined to prevent children having any meaningful secular education. Theirs is the cult of “meshugas”, one resembling Catholic doctrine of having every decision in life made by a priest with divine authority.
Given your decision to publish her views and the fact she is a regular correspondent, perhaps you would consider giving her a column to enable her to advise us of the dangers of following science. A first topic could be whether the Earth is round or flat?
Howard Youngerwood, By email
Get great news
I was delighted to read that husbands who refuse their wives a religious divorce are more likely to be prosecuted after changes to the government’s Domestic Abuse Bill. Perpetrators have felt entitled to act with impunity for far too long. It is a relief to see legislation put in place that enables the state to stand up for victims.
Emma Allen, By email
Like many, I was dismayed by relevations that a significant minority of the strictly-Orthodox comminity brazenly ignored lockdown regulations. I welcomed this information being brought into sharp public focus. Now, with more than 20 million people vaccinated and the end in sight, it’s time to heal wounds, learn lessons and move on.
Adele Ormond, By email
Reaction is too little
The AJEX Jewish Military Association was outraged and immensely disappointed by the failure of Bristol University to take swift action against Professor David Miller following his conspiratorial comments about Jewish students.
His derogatory remarks created unrest among Jewish students on campus and his statements are causing enormous offence to the wider Jewish community.
More than 65,000 British Jews fought during the Second World War against the Nazi regime to ensure such hatred is removed from society and enable young Jews to live and study in a peaceful and harmonious environment.
The feeble reaction by Bristol University is too little too late. We support this serious matter being raised in the Commons and implore the vice chancellor and senior management to take appropriate action. We note that so far more than 100 members of the Commons and Lords have written to the vice Chancellor of and hope he heeds their call to action.
AJEX national chairman
I am lonely but obey the rules
I was incensed to read the letter from the 21-year-old Chasidic married man (Jewish News, 4 March 2021). It is the choice of his community not have TV. internet or radio. Nowhere in the Torah is there a prohibition against instruments of enlightenment.
This choice has led to the profound ignorance that has enabled Covid to proliferate in the Charedi communities. These poor souls are bored. What a shame. I lost my mother and my husband in the last year. I did not go on a spree of self-indulgence to compensate my grief and loneliness, but I’m a mere woman and do not understand the deprivations of these men who excuse their behaviour by saying they must get together to pray for the community.
I have known loneliness, this last year, at the age of 79, like no other time in my life, but I obey the rules nevertheless.
Mr Green, married at 21, must be made aware of the contribution to antisemitism his way of life engenders.
Brenda Lyons, By email
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