Alex Gropper’s column on archeologist Yigael Yadin brought back memories (“Inspiration from Israel and Hollywood,” May 31). I arrived in Israel in 1961 as a 20-year-old, and in 1963 I took a month’s holiday from working at Amcor and signed up for Yadin’s archeological dig team at Masada for four weeks. The dig was sponsored in part by the London Observer, which had some reporters there writing articles. One day, a British volunteer, a beautiful young non-Jewish girl whom I befriended on the dig, and who was working next to me, was asked by a reporter what brought her to Masada, a very specific Jewish site with absolutely no meaning for a non-Jew. She answered him by lifting a 10- to 15-kilogram rock and moving it a few feet. Then she pointed to it and said, “I am the first person in 2,000 years to move that rock – that is history, and history belongs to all.” The Observer then did an article on this young lady.
Chomedey, Laval, Que.
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Saddened by columnist’s statement
There is an old Yiddish expression, “Es tsu schver tsu zan a Yid,” or in English, “It’s tough to be a Jew.” Nothing exemplifies that more than Gil Troy’s column, “No, McGill is not antisemitic,” May 31). How unfair! To quote him, “We need to set the highest standards for the pro-Israel community, demanding truth, consistency, nuance and accuracy.” But, of course, our opponents, the Arabs and the antisemites, can demonize Israel using any tactic they see as successful. The unfortunate fact that I agree with Troy saddens me even more.
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Objects to Tel Aviv U’s Nakba Day
Bernard Katz completely misses the point of objections to the Nakba Day celebrations at Tel Aviv University (Letters, June 7). As Katz surely knows, Israeli Arabs have complete freedom to say whatever they want, and nobody is trying to “suppress their right to express their views.” However, holding this dubious ceremony on the grounds of a publicly funded institution is clearly objectionable. In effect, the State of Israel and those who support Tel Aviv U financially found themselves paying to have the state demonized and delegitimized by those who seek to destroy it. If that isn’t disgraceful and offensive, I don’t know what is.
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Remembering Rabbi Jonathan Plaut
It was with great sadness that we heard of the passing of Rabbi Jonathan Plaut, on April 17. He was my family’s spiritual leader at Congregation Temple Beth El, when we lived in Windsor, Ont., in the 1970s and 1980s.
Rabbi Plaut, who was well loved by the Jewish community, instilled the importance of our obligation to continue the rituals of our Jewish heritage, learn the Hebrew language and partake in community involvement. He demonstrated compassion and advocated intellectual pursuits. “Do you notice that in almost every Jewish household there are shelves of books?” he once asked. He had that quintessential Jewish-man humour and admonished one when circumstances merited, such as when our temple youth group purposely ordered an “unacceptable” pizza and he threw us all out! Rabbi Plaut understood the obstacles for Israel settling the West Bank and advocated, in the 1970s, achieving peace in the Middle East by establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
During a children’s service at Sunday morning Hebrew school, sitting up on the bimah and covering his eyes, Rabbi Plaut recited this prayer from the siddur, “Grant us peace, thy most precious gift, O Thou Eternal Source of Peace, and enable Israel to be its messenger unto all peoples of the Earth.” Indeed, Rabbi Plaut was a precious gift to the Windsor Jewish community.