Honouring virus victims
After a respite of nearly three months, the Board of Deputies registered the first reports of funerals where the deceased have contracted Covid.
Unfortunately, my family belongs to this group of people. My father was probably one of the first to die, apparently from Covid-19, although he didn’t realise it at the time, having suddenly collapsed on the morning of the first lockdown.
As he lay dying in the next room, I was sitting in the relatives’ room at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington watching Boris
Johnson on my mobile announcing to the country that we were now in lockdown.
I would very much like to honour the memories of those who died from all sectors of the Jewish community. I am fortunate that I can go to visit my father’s grave in Willesden Cemetery whenever I want, even though I was forbidden – owing to being in a high-risk group – to attend his funeral.
There must be so many of us, families and friends, who wish to pay their respects to those who have died within the cross communal Jewish community in a suitable location.
Juliet Moss, By email
Good idea for beth din
I was sad to read the reactions to the statement from the Federation of Synagogues Beth Din (rabbinic court) that it could not approve a get (religious divorce) for agunot who seek legal redress through the courts, as this would amount to a divorce given ‘under duress’ (Jewish News, 8 July 2021).
The classic halachic remedy for recalcitrant husbands who ignore a Beth Din’s instructions is makkat mardut [unlimited flogging for contempt of court], although I imagine that merely explaining to them the procedure and showing them the whip would be sufficient.
Perhaps the only solution is that suggested by Professor Geoffrey Alderman, in your newspaper of 15 July.
He suggests that we “follow [Chief Rabbi] Nathan Adler’s advice, and enact that a marriage contracted under the auspices of a Beth Din may only be dissolved under the authority of a Beth Din”, as was the case prior to the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857, though it might be necessary to add a waiver that it should have the right to apply any penalties it may see fit without liability for assault under English law.
Martin D Stern, Salford
Maskless worship risky
I was disappointed to read the enthusiasm for maskless shul services (Jewish News, 8 July).
Covid rates are rising, there are large percentages of the general population – and therefore Jewish community – not fully vaccinated (two shots plus 14 days). A rabbi remarking that most of his community is young and he does not see the point of masks is, I would argue, failing in their job of recognising the essence of community.
A synagogue should be welcoming for all its members, including those who have not, or indeed cannot, be vaccinated.
There is nothing inherent about wearing masks that puts people off attending shul, but the converse (absence of masks) is not true for vulnerable community members.
By pursuing such policies, rabbis may find themselves reaping new funerals or significant disability of previously health community members, in return for the maskless environments they themselves sowed.
Michael Gilmont, N12
Did I hear Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner correctly on BBC’s Sunday Morning Live on 11 July when she appeared to say: “Muslims hate Jews and Jews hate Muslims”? I have witnessed Muslims shouting “Kill Jews” and “rape their women”, but I have yet to see Jews driving cars through Bradford calling for murder and rape. When an eminent rabbi says such a thing it causes untold damage to us.
Adrian Korsner, Whestone
Melanie Phillips, not known for her reticence, is correct in her assertion that some of the Black Lives Matter movement policies are anti-Zionist. Some BLM leaders are self-proclaimed Marxists and support the left-wing political doctrine that is anti-Zionist. It has swept up strong support in attempting to relay a worthy message. Ms Phillips is right to speak up on behalf of those who speak out against it.
Stephen Vishnick, Tel Aviv
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