Letters to the editor: Science vs Torah
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Letters to the editor: Science vs Torah

Send us your comments: PO Box 815, Edgware, HA8 4SX | letters@jewishnews.co.uk

September 8, 2020, Jerusalem, Israel: Ultra Orthodox Jewish men wait at a bus station to flee Jerusalem’s Ramat Shlomo neighborhood minutes before a night curfew imposed by the government comes into effect on 8 Jerusalem neighborhoods and 40 ‘red’ towns nationwide, considered COVID-19 hotspots. Close to half a million people will be restricted by this curfew every night from 19:00 until 05:00 the next day, banned from gatherings of over 10 people in closed areas and 20 in open areas, closure of the education system and businesses from 19:00. Israel leads the world in new daily infection rates per capita with 3,400 newly diagnosed Coronavirus infected in the last 24 hours. (Credit Image: © Nir Alon/ZUMA Wire)
September 8, 2020, Jerusalem, Israel: Ultra Orthodox Jewish men wait at a bus station to flee Jerusalem’s Ramat Shlomo neighborhood minutes before a night curfew imposed by the government comes into effect on 8 Jerusalem neighborhoods and 40 ‘red’ towns nationwide, considered COVID-19 hotspots. Close to half a million people will be restricted by this curfew every night from 19:00 until 05:00 the next day, banned from gatherings of over 10 people in closed areas and 20 in open areas, closure of the education system and businesses from 19:00. Israel leads the world in new daily infection rates per capita with 3,400 newly diagnosed Coronavirus infected in the last 24 hours. (Credit Image: © Nir Alon/ZUMA Wire)

Science vs Torah

I cannot let Vivian Wineman’s recent rant about Charedim in your newspaper pass without rebuttal (Jewish News, 18 February 2021). 

Mr Wineman claims that Israeli Charedi Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky’s knowledge of science would not cover a postage stamp, but the fact is that Mr Wineman’s knowledge of science would not fill a pinhead.

His gods are the scientists and everything they say is correct. If they change their mind every other day and argue with each other on everything, this he believes is a strength and not a weakness. 

He adds that the Charedi leadership casts an unfortunate light on the community. I assume that he means the community that doesn’t look to Daas Torah (the theory that Jews should seek the input of rabbinic scholars not just on matters of Jewish law, but on all important life matters). 

Well, on that point I agree with him.

Ann Cohen, Golders Green

All are blamed for actions of a few

I was sad you saw fit to publish a letter from Michael Gross in which he wrote of “the strictly-Orthodox community’s irresponsible flouting of Covid regulations” based on “believing it is acceptable to flout laws and put themselves above society in general, and other Jews in particular” (Jewish News, 18 February 2021).

There are plenty of misguided youngsters who attend illegal parties but nobody would dream of blaming the youth, as a whole, for their antics. 

To conflate individual miscreants with a group to which they appear to belong is typical of the way antisemites vilify Jews whenever any individual Jew does something questionable.

Martin D Stern, Salford 

 

Reporting for safety of all

Concerning the furore about publicising the holding of weddings and other simchas in defiance of the lockdown regulations that only exist for the protection of the whole population, what does the Torah say about Jewish people who publicise the wrong practices of other Jewish people or Jewish organisations in order to protect themselves and their family from danger? Is one still expected to keep quiet? 

Melvyn Abrahams, Edgware

 

Hard truth

In response to the letter by the Jewish Marriage Council relating to forced marriages, which stated it hasn’t come across any party feeling forced, I quote the adage: “Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence.”

Jonathan Weissbart, By email

 

Word play

I was intrigued by the letter from the Jewish Marriage Council (25 February), saying it had not come across anyone who felt they had been forced into marriages in the Charedi communities.

But it admits that “one might feel coerced.” What’s the difference between “forced” and “coerced”?

Noam Ben-Yossef, N17 

 

this newspaper’s title is misleading

Addressing JD Milaric’s comment about my letter on criticism of the Charedi community during lockdown, let me first commend Jewish News for publishing my attack on its coverage. 

In an age of cancel culture, where individuals with whom we disagree get blacklisted and censored, it was refreshing to see a newspaper publish
comments with which they disagree. 

To address Mr Milaric’s response directly, I don’t see how there has been a “single standard of fairness” applied to lockdown breaches, when Jewish newspapers don’t cover Black Lives Matter marches supported by Jewish
organisations, the anti-Netanyahu mobs in Israel and Women of the Wall ignoring restrictions. 

Next, you say that they don’t adhere to the Torah. I totally agree with this, which is precisely why the title “Jewish News” is misleading and inaccurate. Jewish implies adherence to the Jewish code of conduct i.e. the Torah. To suggest that the problem is “the Charedim” is just a lie. 

You probably don’t even know what a Charedi is, but nonetheless you continue your anti-religious agenda on a sect within Judaism that actually have a mesorah [tradition], follow the Gedolim [revered rabbis], have the lowest divorce rate and actually follow that which both the written and the oral Torah say. Sammy (surname withheld on request)

By email

Brilliant spiel

I was about to call Meg Illah at the Board of Deputies to arrange an interview about her astounding remarks on social responsibility as regards alcoholic overindulgence during Purim.

It was only re-reading the story to check contacts that the plastic squeak hammer dropped. A brilliant Purim spiel! 

Brian Rose, By email

 

Doubly moved

I was moved to read last week’s front page story about Sarah Rubin and her father Graham and their cancer diagnoses. What poignant irony that they should be diagnosed simultaneously and be undergoing treatment on the same day each week. I hope you continue to follow their progress and I look forward to reading good news.

Emma Arnold, By email

 

Harder for Charedim

I’m a 21-year-old Chasidic Jew. Last month, my wife and I went to a local beauty spot for a walk. A couple passed by and exchanged small talk with us. Then the man said: “I heard your community has the highest infection rate in the country, maybe even in Europe.” On and on he went, basically blaming me and my wife.

Antisemitism leads to bad things for Chasidim, Orthodox Jews and secular Jews. History proves this.

The public does not understand the Chasidic lifestyle and its complications when it comes to lockdowns etc. Explaining it would be an enormous task. It is hard for this community to follow lockdown rules. They have no TV, internet or radio. Some parents have three or more children waiting to get married.

What has Jewish News achieved with its articles about lockdown illegality? Wouldn’t it have been better if you’d spoken quietly to leaders of the community and the local authority? Wouldn’t it be better if you’d taken time to understand why it can be very much harder for Charedim to understand and comply with the rules?

Mr D Green, By email

 

Behind the cst figures

The percentage decrease in antisemitic crimes in 2020 compared with previous years was actually far greater than the percentage reported last month by the Community Security Trust (CST), which is good news. This is because figures quoted by the CST do not allow for the rapid increase in the strictly-Orthodox population. 

While the UK’s population has grown roughly 1.7 percent over the past three years, the Charedi community has grown by far more. 

That means the statistics put out by the CST were not entirely accurate. Without being corrected, they give the impression that antisemitism is far greater than it is. 

Readers’ minds, therefore, should be put at rest. Although we still need to heed the warnings of CST and others, we do so knowing the figures are better than we at first thought. 

Indeed, as growth in population continues, it will hopefully lead to fewer incidents relative to the whole.

Y Rabinowitz, Hendon

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