Letters: Jan. 7
The allegations of sexual and financial misconduct against Rabbi Leib Tropper, the founder and director of Eternal Jewish Family (EJF), are embarrassing and offensive to every Jew (“Rabbi quits group,” Dec. 24). But there is another, perhaps related, trait that applies to EJF as a whole that should not be obscured by the latest controversy. Created to establish “universal standards” for conversion to Judaism according to Jewish law, Rabbi Tropper and EJF have expended much effort trying to delegitimize others. Through the alliance of individuals and organizations in Montreal with EJF, they have become a dangerously divisive force here in our community.
Our conversion program, the Montreal region of the RCA (Rabbinical Council of America), has been relentlessly defamed by EJF for purely political reasons. Our rabbis are among the most highly respected and beloved in Montreal. We take no remuneration for our service. Our standards and curriculum follow the highest requirements of Jewish law, and our conversions are recognized throughout the world. But Rabbi Tropper and EJF have told prospective converts to leave our program, they denounced us to the Israeli chief rabbis, and they caused unfounded doubts among our converts about their future acceptance as Jews – all with no basis, simply to bring themselves more power.
We hope that as EJF goes through this crisis, they – and those individuals and organizations who are allied with EJF – will re-evaluate their tactics and come to work together with others, like us, who share the same goal – conversions done with respect and sensitivity according to the highest standards of Jewish law. This is how religious Jews should behave.
Rabbi Ira Ebbin, Rabbi Asher Jacobson, Rabbi Schachar Orenstein, Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, Rabbi Michael Whitman, Rabbi Mordecai Zeitz
Egyptian doctors promulgate blood libel
The Egyptian Medical Syndicate has promulgated a 21st-century version of the blood libel against Jews. On Nov. 27, the syndicate’s head, Dr. Hamdi Al-Sayed, declared that the decision to bar Israeli physicians from the October 2009 breast cancer regional conference in Egypt was based on the torture of Palestinians and the theft of their organs by Israeli doctors for use in transplantation. This outrageous charge betrays the virtual absence of modern scientific principles of objectivity and verifiability in countries where fanatic religious and political forces distort education, research and the application of new discoveries for the betterment of the human condition.
Doctors against Racism and Anti-Semitism (DARA) urges all institutions that sponsor scientific and medical events to consider carefully where they allocate their resources. As we saw in the case of the breast cancer conference in Egypt, the political and religious agenda trumped the pursuit and spread of knowledge. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation learned that it could not trust the assurances of the Egyptian government to provide a venue accessible to all participants. Israeli experts in breast cancer management were boycotted at the insistence of xenophobic, anti-Semitic hatemongers.
Dr. Steve Samuel, Chair
Doctors against Racism and Anti-Semitism
Israel punished for being nice
The answer to those who call east Jerusalem “occupied territory” is simple. When did east Jerusalem become Arab territory? When the Jordanians took over the city by force in 1948 and expelled the Jews who had lived in the Old City for centuries. So in 1967, would the world have preferred it if the Israelis had expelled all Arabs from east Jerusalem? Then, under the same logic, it would now be Jewish territory. Israel is thus punished for being nice to the Arabs of Jerusalem.
David M. Sherman
Play confronts tensions in Orthodox world
I’m currently acting as project consultant for Theatre Passe Muraille’s upcoming Toronto production of Yichud (Seclusion) by Julie Tepperman. Yichud (Seclusion) is the first play I have seen that engages with Orthodox Jewish custom with nuance, precision and artistic integrity. As both a theatre practitioner and an Orthodox woman, I appreciate that Yichud (Seclusion) directly confronts the tensions that exist in the Orthodox world, specifically pertaining to issues of acculturation and religious agency, without placing tradition and modernity in opposition to each other.
Tepperman’s groundbreaking play captures the beauty of Orthodox ritual without sacrificing its depth or complexity. It debunks racist stereotypes against Orthodox Jews through honest religious exploration and rigorous character development. The most provocative thing about this play is that it embraces mainstream Orthodox lifestyle, unveiling its hidden intricacies and penetrating beyond the status quo.