Letters to the editor: Head in hands is the wrong image
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Letters to the editor: Head in hands is the wrong image

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Head in hands the wrong image

This month the community saw something fantastic – our press taking time to focus on the wellbeing of their constituents with articles. Dozens of synagogues and other organisations gave sermons, held discussions and ran activities.

Most bravely, many in our communities stood up for the first time to share the impact of mental ill health on their own lives. Jami’s third annual Mental Health Awareness Shabbat continues to grow as it helps to reduce stigma.

However, we still have a long way to go. Press articles about mental health are often illustrated with stock images of people holding their head in their hands. But people with mental health problems don’t look depressed all the time!

These ‘head clutcher’ images have been acknowledged by charities and campaigners as actually being harmful – the hidden face can exacerbate the stigma associated with those living with a mental illness and put people off seeking help.

Just because someone isn’t curled up in a ball doesn’t mean they are not struggling and that we need to offer support. Time to Change, an anti-stigma campaign, has released a series of pictures for free use by the media to portray mental health more accurately. We encourage our community journalists to use them.

Meanwhile, everyone can continue this amazing work to ensure our community embraces its mental health.

Liz Jessel, Head of Development, Jami

What’s special about being a jew? Here’s a way to find out

I was initially interested, then very surprised, and finally pleased to have read one particular letter, entitled ‘Stop hurling stones’, published in a recent edition of your newspaper (Jewish News, 10 January)

The writer stated, “In any case, what’s so special about being a Jew?”

Maybe readers could be invited to provide concise answers with one letter selected from those received to be published each week.

Alternatively, or in addition, Jewish News might wish to run a weekly series of answers, since this question presents an opportunity for your paper to build up a bank of answers drawn from Jews right across the religious and any other spectrum that comprise your readership.

I agree with the writer that in dealing with this question we have no basis to assert that Jews are better than gentiles or any other people.

However, special means, among other things, unique, historic, distinctive and noteworthy – which are reasonable benchmarks to use for this purpose.

I for one feel proud and privileged to be a Jew, and am happy to engage with anybody as to why this is the case.

J D Milaric, By email

Hospital co-existence

Your article ‘Hadassah – the hospital with co-existence on call’ (JN, 17 January) sets out the way Jewish and Muslim staff and patients work together at this facility and are treated as “the embodiment of co-existence that lays to rest the lie that Israel practises apartheid”.

Another outstanding example of such work is the Save a Child’s Heart unit at Wolfson Hospital in Holon. This provides urgently-needed paediatric heart surgery for children from developing countries (including those from Hamas families living in Gaza) as well as comprehensive training programmes for doctors from such countries.

This is in all cases regardless of race, religion and nationality.

Tony Cotton Trustee, Save a Child’s Heart UK 

Moving words at Bushey

I’ve just returned from the funeral at Bushey Cemetery of the remains of six Holocaust victims and would like to pay tribute to our extraordinary Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis.

His address during the service, when he spoke personally to the child victim who was buried among five adults, was among the most beautiful speeches I’ve heard.

Even now, hours after the event, the thought of that address, the power of those words, simply reduces me to tears.

Thank you, Chief Rabbi, for all that you do.

Melanie Hartog, By email

‘Yiddishkeit’ at fault in shtisel

We have just finished watching both series 1 and 2 of Shtisel on Netflix.

I was horrified to see that after the death of their mother, Shulem was listening to a comedy cassette  but his brother Nucham was listening to classical music.

What has happened to yiddishkeit in Jerusalem?

By the way, will there be a series 3?

Meredith and Alec Gaba, Cardiff

Are we back to  burning books?

Users of a Norfolk mini-library have found neo-Nazi books among its collection. Holocaust Educational Trust chief executive Karen Pollock says “they belong in
the bin of history”. Would burning them help? Who
did that?

Emma Abelson, By email

Mohamad and the union

For Malaysia’s prime minister Mahathir Mohamad to ban disabled Israeli swimmers from the world para swimming championships in his country is reprehensible enough, but what was the Oxford Union (OU) thinking giving this man a further forum for his disgusting views?

Don’t worry – we already know the answer; something along the lines of being seen to be fair to all sides of an argument, the importance of free speech, etc, etc.

Perhaps those who forward such arguments will have been given pause at the way this unpleasant man used exactly the same justification for using the OU to repeat his ghastly beliefs.

It is reported that when it was pointed out remarks made previously about Jewish people being “hooked nosed” with “an instinctive sense of money” were antisemitic, he responded: “We are free to say what we like, we can say something that can be regarded as antisemitic by the Jews.

“That is their right to hold such an opinion of me. It is my right to tell them they have been doing a lot of wrong things.

“Why can’t we say anything against Israel, against the Jews?”

It gets worse.

Part of Mohamad’s address also concerned what he thought of the Israeli government.

“This is a government that does not care about the opinion of others,” he said.

“That’s why they keep on committing war crimes all the time… so if they don’t like it, they can say they don’t like it, I don’t care.”

It wasn’t just the words but the reaction – the remarks, we are told, were greeted by “applause and laughter”. It’s frightening.

Malcolm Ericson, By email

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