Many Jews on the so-called left want the settlement project stopped, knowing full well that peace will not miraculously follow but for several other important reasons. First, it will help shift the focus and pressure to the real problem – Palestinian intransigence and opposition to accepting a Jewish state. More importantly, it will create what the security fence was initially intended to do when it was first proposed by Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin – separation of Israel from the Palestinian territories. This important objective is being undermined by Jewish settlements in the midst of large Arab populations that are not only an enormous economic and security burden, but also create an ongoing irritant that exacerbates Arab and international antipathy toward Israel. It will take decades, if ever, before the majority of Arabs will accept a Jewish state. In the meantime, as much as possible, we need to get out of each others' lives.
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Israeli settlements (2)
The suggestion in Tamara Micner’s letter, “Leave vengeance to a higher power” (April 19), that more than 300,000 Jewish Israelis living in the West Bank should see their settlements dismantled is ludicrous. Apart from the fact that there is no legal or moral reason why they should not remain there, is the writer proposing that, at tremendous financial costs, they should be relocated to some other part of Israel and then, as was done when Gaza was vacated by Jewish settlers, the Palestinians will come in and destroy the houses in the West Bank? Perhaps as an alternative resolution, rather than being sent to some other part of Israel, the settlers would be sent back to Arab lands where their forefathers were forced out with the creation of the State of Israel. Somehow, the letter writer equates the presence of Jewish settlers in the West Bank with an act of vengeance and cites the golden rule as a formula for Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Before the Israelis are taken to task for their treatment of Arabs, Micner should encourage every Arab country to apply the golden rule to the treatment of its own citizens.
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The role of rabbis
We concur with Rabbi Dow Marmur’s analysis of the changing view of the modern rabbi from a purveyor of Jewish scholarship, whose primary task is to inculcate a sense of holiness in his congregants, to counsellor, fundraiser and promoter (“Rabbis then and now,” March 29). We feel less enthusiastic about Rabbi Marmur’s tolerance of the new type of “democratic nature of contemporary religious life that seeks to reach out and connect with individuals and thus find the presence of God.” It seems that people often want a synagogue to be a kind of country club rather than a way to connect with God through each other.
How can a rabbi connect his congregants with the God of Israel and His demands of us without directing them to the ancient intellectual heritage that contains the guidelines for leading a truly Jewish life? And of what relevance is the title “rabbi” (i.e., teacher) for a leader who is not a teacher? Ironically, such congregations resemble closely the Hellenized Jews of the early second century BCE who sought to turn the Temple into a place of money-making and secularization.
Lionel Jehuda Sanders, Janet Sanders
Cote St Luc, Que.
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Bible contest winner’s name omitted
Your front-page story, “Bible mavens tested on Yom Ha’atzmaut” (May 3), correctly gave credit to Canadian teenage finalists Aaron Goldberg of the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto, who tied for first place among Diaspora contestants, and Charlie Friedman of Hebrew Academy in Montreal for their participation in the International Bible Contest. But there was a third Canadian student, Jordana Maged, also of TanenbaumCHAT, in the finals. She placed 10th worldwide. TanenbaumCHAT is very proud of the fact that this is the fifth successive year that one or more of our students has qualified for the Jerusalem finals of the International Bible Contest (Chidon Hatanach), a record that we believe is unequalled by any other Diaspora Jewish school.
Paul J. Shaviv
Director of Education
Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto