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The price of Judaism


I would like to comment on the column “Synagogue dues and don’ts” (Oct. 6). One statement near the end of the article summarized it all: “I recognize that money needs to be raised and bills need to be paid.” I feel the column trivialized the mundane fiduciary obligations to keep a synagogue physically intact. I don’t know of any synagogue that makes a profit keeping its doors open. Many synagogues leverage their lines of credit to function. Many synagogues have empty seats on High Holidays, fully paid for but with no one occupying them. Perhaps that is indicative of the real problem. Have we as Jews lost our value system? Just speak to people who have children and listen to their “bone rattling” interpretation of the cost of being Jewish and practising Judaism. Anything of value has a price. When we want it, we pay for it. If we don’t need it, we stay home.
Norm Zinman
Thornhill, Ont.

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Criticism of Chrétien gov’t unfair

There may have been reason to criticize the Canadian government’s support of Israel under prime minister Jean Chrétien 10 years ago, but its performance at Durban I (the UN World Conference Against Racism) was not one of them (The Durban war, 10 years on,” Sept. 22). While I agree with Gerald Steinberg’s column, his characterization of the Canadian government at that time is somewhat unfair. I had the privilege of meeting Rabbi Michael Melchior at a Canada-Israel Committee meeting in Israel directly after his return from Durban I. He was the minister for the Diaspora in the Israeli government at the time. Rabbi Melchior was quite pleased with Canada and its comportment at Durban I. The United States was not present at Durban I. Canada jumped into the breach and was very active behind the scenes in attempting to ameliorate the anti-Israel diatribes that were coming forward and in general was very supportive of Israel.

Joseph J. Wilder


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A one-state solution

I was surprised to read your editorial in which you lambasted the CBC for a segment they ran on the radio program The Current (“Et tu CBC?” Oct. 12). They had two panelists, one a Jewish Israeli and the other you called a Chicago-based Palestinian activist, discussing the possibility of a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You took the position that allowing the discussion to take place on such a subject reflected a bias against the Jewish state that the CBC should be held responsible for.

What caused my surprise at your comments was that you published an opinion piece, written by Arie Raif of the Canadian Peres Center for Peace, that dealt with the same topic as a distinct possibility if an agreement is not reached soon (“Old habits die hard: divided in peace, united in war,” Oct. 6). He wrote that “failure to reach an agreement could result in the PA handing the keys of the West Bank to Israel, meaning the latter would be directly responsible for the welfare and policing of 2.5 million stateless Palestinians.” He continued that “controlling the West Bank is not Israel’s inevitable destiny, but it has been an issue since 1967, evolving and expanding [our presence there]… preventing any real chance for peace.”

So it is not only invited guests on the CBC that are thinking about and discussing what would happen if a two-state solution is not achieved. Everyone concerned about Israel’s future has to be realistic in looking objectively at its situation today – the dangers and the opportunities – but not by keeping our heads in the sand and refusing to listen to warnings on the direction the country could be heading.

Saul Rose
Outremont, Que.

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World turned upside down

Arie Raif’s essay (“Old habits die hard: divided in peace, united in war,” Oct. 6) is a prime example of what Melanie Phillips deplored in her latest book The World Turned Upside Down: “an implacable refusal… to acknowledge the authority of factual evidence over opinion, or distinguish truth from propaganda and lies, or differentiate between justice and injustice.” The Israeli government ought to put an end to this ongoing rampage against factual evidence and truth and assert the Jewish People’s rights to the Land of Israel.

Goldi Steiner
Salomon Benzimra