Things we miss the most
I was very tempted to visit Brent Cross Shopping Centre when it reopened this week. Not that I need new clothes or something for my home – just to see what shopping looks like after so many weeks at home. But now there’s no touching the goods! How can I look at the clothes without feeling the fabric?
Brent Cross always includes coffee with a friend. Not now. Once I return to shul when it reopens, I shall miss sitting beside another congregant. No chit chat, no Kiddush and no singing. Let’s pray for a rapid return to shopping normality.
Norma Neville, Hendon
I can’t tell you how much I miss my fellow synagogue congregants.
As the weeks of lockdown have dragged into months, I have realised how much I have come to rely on my synagogue as the beating heart of my community.
I’m not a religious man – far from it. I attend Shabbat services once a month at most. Shul for me is a place I go to meet like-minded people, read the Jewish newspapers and play a good game of cards.
Rest assured when this dreadful lockdown finally comes to an end, I’ll be there for Shacharit, Mincha and Maariv too! The rabbi is going to be sick of the sight of me.
Alan Gavron, By email
Statues recall people who are good for some, bad for others
High on the list of unsavoury statues for removal is that of Simon de Montfort, adorning the Haymarket Memorial Clock Tower in Leicester.
As Earl of Leicester, Montfort expelled the Jews from the city in 1231, banishing them “in my time or in the time of any of my heirs to the end of the world”. He justified his action as being “for the good of my soul, and for the souls of my ancestors and successors”.
In this, he was far ahead of King Edward the First’s nationwide expulsion of the tiny Jewish community of about 3,000 souls in 1290.
Jews had to await Oliver Cromwell allowing them the right of return in 1656.
A hero to British Jews, Cromwell remains a monster to many Irish people. Who knows but that we may soon see campaigns to remove his statue from the Palace of Westminster precincts. He was no lover of democracy.
The former Leicester Polytechnic was disgracefully renamed de Montfort University in 1992, despite his antisemitic views.
When his statue goes, as it should, the university needs a new name.
Barry Hyman, Bushey
Open up our synagogues
Since 26 March, citizens of this country have been denied access to their places of worship for community prayer.
The millions in this country for whom faith is indispensable have been patiently awaiting government relaxations, relying largely on assurances from community leaders that the matter was in hand and the government was listening.
Alas, there have, as yet, been no tangible results. The only efforts that have noticeably achieved anything are those of the Catholic clergy, without whose outspoken demands, the doors of every law-abiding place of worship would probably still be locked.
It is time a forthright initiative were taken by the public. I would urge all members of our community, especially rabbinical leaders, to email three letters – to the prime minister, the communities secretary and their MP.
The respectful request should be to restore community prayer in places of worship by the next official lockdown announcement on 4 July. Social distancing and other safeguards wil have to be strictly implemented.
Brian Gordon, Councillor, Barnet
Unilateral action required
Your columnist Alex Brummer states: “In global affairs unilateral actions end badly, whether Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza,or Russia’s attempt to assert sovereignty over parts of Ukraine. Properly negotiated treaties or truces may be hard to achieve, but tend to have buy-in from most sides.”
If it were not for unilateral actions, Israel would probably not have been created. This is because the Jews would still be awaiting “properly negotiated treaties” despite the official UN Partition of Palestine on November 29, 1947, owing to the immediate and, by now familiar, knee-jerk reaction by Arabs to reject anything and everything all the time.
As for the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the clamour for immediate withdrawal was deafening, followed by shock when Israel acted on it. Or perhaps it’s all about perpetuating anti-Israel sloganeering?
Dr Roza I.M. El-Eini, By email