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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

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Women and the Wall (1)

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Rabbi Elyse Goldstein suggests that in order to resolve the recent conflict in Israel with the Women of the Wall, the Israeli government should “remove the Kotel’s ‘religious’ designation… and declare it a public site under the Ministry of Antiquities… and then disallow any minyan of any denomination to pray there” (“Provoking change at the Wall,” Nov. 22). This solution is reminiscent of the ruse suggested by King Solomon to reveal the true mother of the baby in the famous court case recorded in the Tanach. Two women come to claim a baby, and King Solomon has to decide which one is the real mother. The malingering woman is willing to cut the baby in half so that each woman can have a piece, and therefore be “equal.” Why would a rabbi propose a plan that would deny any minyanim to pray at the Kotel, the holiest site in our tradition?  The answer is obvious: her agenda is a political one that is focused on a misguided notion of equality, wherein religious significance and values are first ignored and then pushed aside entirely. 

Amy Bitton

Thornhill, Ont.

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Women and the Wall (2)

 

In her column, “Provoking change at the Wall,” (Nov. 22), Rabbi Elyse Goldstein quotes a highly placed Israeli official in Ottawa who says that “Israel is an Orthodox country.” If this is so, perhaps the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist congregations in the Diaspora should act accordingly by withdrawing their generous funding for our Jewish state. 

Not allowing women to congregate and pray publicly is a disgrace to the Jewish People who have prided themselves in human rights and social justice. Rabbi Goldstein’s suggestion – to remove the Wall’s religious designation and declare it a public site under the Ministry of Antiquities, so all denominations can pray comfortably – seems very sound. God created Adam and Eve to share this Earth. Surely Israeli soil surrounding the Wall can accommodate both genders with equality.

L.N. Pomer

Toronto

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Settlement construction

 

Former Israel ambassador to Canada Alan Baker needs to be reminded about what the Israeli government agreed to through past UN Security Council resolutions. (“The Palestinian UN upgrade: setting things straight,” Dec. 13). To date, among the numerous UN Security Council adopted resolutions, the most important now of relevance to this issue are resolutions 242 (1968) and 1515 (2003), which was endorsed by the “road map” peace plan (2002). The Palestinian Authority fulfilled most of its “road map” obligations, but Israel has not fulfilled a major component that states the “government of Israel freezes all settlement activity consistent with the Mitchell Report, including natural growth of settlements,” while conducting sincere direct bilateral talks between the PA and the Israeli government. Therefore, it’s clearly articulated that settlement construction, which entails planning for future construction projects as well, must stop during peace talks. This is really not debatable anymore.

Smadar Meiri

Thornhill, Ont.

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Con man on Toronto subway

 

I was hoping to make your readers aware of a con man who is riding the Toronto subways. One Sunday morning, as I sat in the St. Clair West subway station, looking over my Torah trope, a man sat down beside me and we began to chat. Who would have thought my photocopied pages of Hebrew text made me an easy mark. I heard about his wife, who had just had heart surgery, his five children in Israel, his parents who were killed in the war, and his bakery in Jerusalem. And through our discussions I learned that his wife required medication. He had only shekels, and his credit card was not working in Canada.

After I gave him several hundred dollars Canadian, he explained that the money would be returned to me the next day, when he was back in Israel. He didn’t return the money to me. I generally try to help people when I can. This man should know that because of my experience, I am wary of helping people. I wanted to warn your readers and hopefully shame him for what he is doing.

Meredith Halpern

Toronto

 

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Yiddish alive at JPPS and Bialik

 

In the article “Yiddish and Hebrew in Canada: the latest word” (Dec. 6), Leo Davids concludes that “census data shows a viable Yiddish speaking population only in the Montreal area,” and that Yiddish is “rare in Jewish schools other than haredi/chassidic ones.” With all due respect, Davids should visit Jewish People’s Schools and Bialik High School in Montreal. He would see that Yiddish is not only present, but alive and kicking in a non-religious school. The schools are probably major contributing factors in Yiddish being strong in Montreal.

As a teacher at Jewish Peoples and Peretz Schools for more than 30 years, I have seen our schools graduate thousands of students who are not only well versed in Yiddish, but who also have a love and an appreciation of, as well as a deep connection to, Yiddish culture and traditions. It’s a joy to see that our traditions and language are being passed on, but also it’s sad that not enough is being done in this world to conserve them. We at JPPS realize that and are doing something about it. Yiddish is the raison d’etre of our schools. It is enriching and provides future generations a unique perspective in understanding who we are.

Tilly Daniel Khazzam

Montreal

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