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Week of April 7, 2016

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Letters to the Editor THE CJN PHOTO
Letters to the Editor THE CJN PHOTO

Combating alcohol abuse

It was wonderful to read the Rabbi to Rabbi column’s discussion of alcohol use and misuse in the Jewish community (“Is it OK to get drunk on Purim?”).

As a social worker and certified addiction counsellor, I have had the privilege of working as a therapist and consultant on addictions in the Jewish community of Toronto for many years. I have seen our treatment of people who struggle with alcohol abuse move from isolation to connection and then to greater awareness in synagogue ritual and observances in our homes.

However, in noting that “religiously sanctioned alcoholism” still exists, the rabbis point out that there is much still to do. For some people, abstinence is the only safety net where alcohol is involved. They do not need to be ashamed.

The rabbis are correct in noting that we need to open up “education and moderation,” but that is not enough. We need to  do even more to support abstinence from alcohol as a viable choice and to include the risks associated with drinking in all educational efforts. Sadly, many Jewish alcoholics note that their invitation to problem drinking came at a seder or at Purim or at a kiddush.

I hope that with our growing sophistication and knowledge we increasingly will offer both choices and education that encourage our celebrations to be joyful in the fullest sense, that remove shame, and that allow all of us to be both safe and healthy.

Rochelle Thompson

Toronto


Canada’s role at the UN

The United Nations Human Rights Council recently appointed Canadian anti-Israel activist Michael Lynk as its special rapporteur on the issue of human rights in the Palestinian territories (“Dion asks UN to review nomination of anti-Israel prof”).

Ironically, Lynk’s appointment came one week after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s intention to seek a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Canada’s relationship with the Security Council, the Human Rights Council and other international agencies should be conditioned on the fundamental reform and de-politicization of those institutions, which have for decades allowed their important work to be hijacked by forces antithetical to the legitimacy, or, indeed existence, of a Jewish state.

David H. Goldberg

Toronto


Widening the debate

I could scarcely believe my eyes when I read Mira Sucharov’s column that she actually believes the goals of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement are ending the occupation, instilling equality among Israeli citizens and allowing refugee return, rather than singling out Israel for the demonization, discrimination and destruction of the Jewish state. (“It’s time to widen the debate on Israel and Palestine”).

I certainly hope that she read Mordechai Ben-Dat’s brilliant article on BDS right below hers (“The facts about Israel that BDS-ers don’t want you to know”).

Shelley Rothman-Benhaim

Montreal

Columnist Mira Sucharov urges “the Jewish establishment to take seriously the perspective of those who oppose
Zionism on intellectual and philosophical grounds.”

In sum, she wishes to create a playpen for left-wing liberals to display their intellectual prowess by dissecting Israel from every direction in finding fault.

The idea that directing their attention to the plight of the truly underfed and suppressed peoples of the world would prove of greater human value is not their meat.

How mendacious it is to suggest that the separation barrier was not an act of self-defence but a desire to hem in Palestinians.

Lofty phrases such as “political discourse occurs in silos, attitudes tend to harden,” are nothing but empty words.

The mainstream Jewish community is open to constructive dialogue. It is left-wing attempts to undermine Israel that are not welcome.

Sam Mitnick

Cote St. Luc, Que.