Letters to the Editor: ‘Surely the NHS, not prayer, is saving lives?’

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Letters to the Editor: ‘Surely the NHS, not prayer, is saving lives?’

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

Jewish News
Members of staff prepare to administer injections of a Covid-19 vaccine at the NHS vaccine centre that has been set up at the Millennium Point centre in Birmingham.
Members of staff prepare to administer injections of a Covid-19 vaccine at the NHS vaccine centre that has been set up at the Millennium Point centre in Birmingham.

Surely the NHS, not prayer, is saving lives? 

How very moving and gratifying to read about the recovery of Eli Seliger from a dreadful coronavirus illness (Jewish News, 25 March 2021).

How depressing, though, to read of the backstory. Eli was ‘ ….very much a non-Covid believer’, along with too many other ill-informed sceptics. Too young or too ill-informed, perhaps, to recall vaccines curing polio, smallpox and other diseases.

Then he ‘…gave his wife Lea permission to use technology.’ A wife in 2021
needs permission to ‘use technology?’

The community raised £50,000 for a Sefer Torah. “Prayers saved my life,” he is quoted as saying. Not £50,000 for the NHS, which needs the money more than the community needs yet another scroll? Well, they didn’t save him did they? It was obviously divine intervention.

Whatever it was, let us hope, and pray, too, if it moves us, for a refuah shlema for Eli and so many other victims of this cruel curse, while we
acknowledge who is truly saving those who make it through.

Barry Hyman,
Bushey Heath

Thanks, Andrew Dismore

Andrew Dismore will soon retire from his elected role as London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden. This marks the end of a more than 24-year relationship between Andrew and the Jewish community in Barnet, Camden and beyond.

While I am no longer a Labour Party member, I worked on many of Andrew’s most recent elections to the Assembly and his attempts to hold and then regain his seat in parliament. I was proud to later learn from him in City Hall for three years.

He has been a dedicated public servant and devoted to proper Labour values. Equally, his commitment to the Jewish community has been unparalleled. As he never sought higher office, he was always able to speak out as he wished on behalf of the Jewish community, whether on get law, matters related to Israel, Palestine and a two-state solution as a chair of Labour Friends of Israel, or his pivotal role in the creation of Holocaust Memorial Day – a legacy marked by millions every year. I worked with him on exposing and overturning the first BDS policy built into a government contract – the Emirates Cable Car contract signed by the then mayor of London, which included a clause prohibiting TfL from doing business with Israeli firms.

He is one of the finest politicians I have ever worked with. We will miss you, even if your opponents won’t!

Adam Langleben, former Labour councillor for West Hendon, New Barnet, EN4

Am I not a real Jew?

Salford’s supreme Defender of the Faith has permitted the Masorti and Reform movements in Israel to set themselves up as a separate religion and consented to their admitting members and even allowing them to conduct marriages.

However, Martin D Stern declares ‘Reform differs significantly from Judaism’ (Jewish News, 18 March 2021). I await his elucidation of the attributes of genuine Judaism – his own brand. As he is a diehard apologist for the worst excesses of Chasidism, and as I am a mere United Synagogue member, I don’t think I can any longer identify as Jewish. If I deprived a few women of their seats on a plane, joined a huge crowd at an illegal wedding, got rid of my TV and wore the garb of the 18th century Polish aristocracy, some of the worst perpetrators of antisemitism, could I appeal to Stern for readmission?

Herbie Goldberg, Pinner


St Albans presence ignored

I’m writing to express my feeling of being totally underwhelmed by the exhibition on show at St Albans Museum, reported in last week’s edition.

This has been a total takeover by the Masorti community, making hardly any mention of the United Synagogue in Oswald Road and still very much in existence.

Our parents and relations, like so many others, came during the early war years, becoming founder members of the original community, when synagogue services first took place in The Friends Meeting House, before a house was bought by the community in Clarence Road, with living accommodation above for rabbis and their families.

Many of us have been friends for more than 70 years, and were most upset at there being hardly any acknowledgment of life ­before SAMS – St Albans Masorti Synagogue.

We were the JOES (Jewish Original Ex St Albanites) growing up and educated there… a vibrant community, making their presence felt in the shops, schools and in the social activities that banded them together during those difficult years. We are very upset at our presence being totally ignored.

Hazel Kyte, By email

Vital concern

Rabbi Zvi Solomons’ excellent article threw focus on the missing Princess Latifa in Dubai, UAE (Jewish News, 18 March 2021).

With all the celebrations of the new diplomatic relations Israel has with the UAE and other Gulf states, resulting in new communities, a kosher restaurant and supplies of matzah for Pesach, how are these situations reconciled?

The UK and much of the international community have requested evidence of the princess’ well-being with no result. Does Israel have a part to play?

David Busse, By email

Census clarity

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith wrote that “on the census, you will be able to record you are Jewish, but only as a religion” (Jewish News, 18 March 2021). This is not true. You select “Other” and write in “Jewish”. About 30,000 people did that in the last census in 2011 (including some who did not give their religion as Jewish) and
I did it this year.

Michael Baxter, N20


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