The board has its own Jackie Weaver
A number of letters have been published in both the Jewish and general media in support of the proposed Holocaust Memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens in central London.
One such letter published last weekend was signed by a broad selection of the great and the good, including Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies.
I am a deputy (representing Finchley Synagogue). I do not agree with Mrs van der Zyl. In my view, the proposed memorial is an eyesore, misconceived and potentially the source of abuse by the far left and far right.
That is my personal view. I have not sought the views of my constituents. But neither has Mrs van der Zyl. The Board continues to support and promote this plan as though it had overwhelming support among deputies and the wider community.
The truth is, like most issues, the Board’s executive has never sought the approval for its stance from Deputies, let alone their constituents.
In fact, the Board rarely seeks formal votes on policy from deputies and ‘debates’ at plenary meetings often resemble the unfortunate parish council meeting that gained so much publicity recently, with the president firmly cast in the Jackie Weaver role.
Help clean up spill
The sand beaches, plant life, marine, animal and bird populations the length of Israel’s Mediterranean coast line have been catastrophically damaged by the oil spill this past weekend.
Thousands of volunteers, directed by the Society for the Protection of Nature (SPNI) in Israel, the Parks Authority and local municipalities, have been engaged in a desperate race to salvage and save as much
of these ecosystems as possible from asphyxiation by toxic tars. Cleaning the landscape will take many months to complete.
SPNI has issued an urgent appeal for funds to meet this challenge. If you have enjoyed and marvelled at the natural blessings of the land of Israel, please respond to this call, now.
Through this UK charitable arm of SPNI (Charity Number 327268) we will forward all donations to the rescue effort without delay.
John Levy Chair of trustees, UKSPNI
Enthusiasm, not knowledge
Allow me, as an Orthodox Jew, to refute letter writer Dov Leitner’s claim (11 February) that “the Torah clearly forbids any kind of lashon hara, even if it is true and even if it benefits someone else”. He continued: “A newspaper as the way you want it to be is completely against the Torah.”
Unfortunately, as is sometimes the case with Charedi apologists, what they possess in enthusiasm they lack in knowledge.
The book Chafets Chaim is widely accepted as the ultimate Halachic guide for laws on lashon hora. In Chapter 10.1 it states: “If one sees someone causing damage to another… and knows with certainty that he has neither rectified the damage not requested forgiveness for it, one may relay the information to others to assist the victim and to denigrate in public these evil deeds.”
The focus of your report was large-scale weddings in a pandemic, which 99 percent of rational people would classify as “causing damage to another,” and would, therefore, be permissible to be reported on.
In fact, your exposé already seems to have borne fruit in the form of kosher shops now insisting on masks being worn.
I was surprised Mr Leitner didn’t invoke the go-to card of mesirah, which some Charedim understand to forbid publicisng or reporting any misdeed or crime committed by a fellow Jew.
However, even mesirah is itself a matter of much debate among Halachic authorities, with notable figures such as Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg, Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv and Rabbi Shmuel Wosner permitting reporting to the authorities in certain circumstances.
Name withheld on request, By email
Woody allen hatchet job
I was surprised to see your newspaper promoting the hatchet job on Woody Allen. The filmmakers did the same to wrongfully accused students in the documentary The Hunting Ground and overlooked testimonies of the innocent. This is another example of poor research and ignoring the facts. Allen is besmirched in a four-part documentary focused on the Farrow family. Why promote this nonsense?
Marnie Bailey West Hampstead
Vaccine promised land
It was the government who decided that over 80s would receive the vaccine first – a first jab as soon as it was approved and a second three weeks later.
That was the recommendation of Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company first on the scene. Now, for many like myself it has been decided to delay the second dose for 12 weeks. We have read in the press that this is too late as immunity from Covid 19 will not be effective after the three week period. Now there seems a likelihood of shortages of the vaccine so any second dose could be delayed even longer. At this rate, will we ever get to the Promised Land?
Norma Neville, By email
Orthodox brides repent at leisure
With reference to Chaya Spitz’ article (18 February), headlined ‘How dare Nahamu stigmatise strictly-Orthodox marriage’, I question why broken engagements in Stamford Hill’s Chasidic community are unheard of yet divorce among young couples is more frequent.
Chasidic relatives and young women I have met while volunteering for Camp Simcha have freely admitted that breaking an engagement is taboo, as it is considered far better to divorce, and that refusing a prospective match after meeting is extremely uncommon due to pressure to please those involved – coupled with the fear of being labelled fussy and uncooperative.
Therefore, I take issue with Chaya’s view that “the choice of the young people in this process is paramount” when that choice is a minor factor within the decision to consent
Far more important is the young person’s belief and trust that their parents have conducted thorough research into the suitability of the prospective match and the fear of disappointing those who have invested time and effort into coordinating the match.
How can Chaya deny that the “truncated shidduch process’ does not equate to coercion” when time, freedom of expression and assurance that cancelling a wedding is all right are not available in the Chasidic community?As the adage says: “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.”
Avital Menahem, By email
Coerced, not forced
I refer to your recent article on forced marriages (11 February). In our experience, including counselling members of the Chasidic community, most couples enter into an arranged introduction not an arranged marriage, as defined by members of Nahamu. This is done with consent from both parties, which is a requirement under Jewish law.
While there may be instances whereby one might feel coerced, we have not come across any party feeling as if they have been forced.
The Jewish Marriage, Council, Hendon
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