Helping Jews
   We now know that some of the money raised by the UJC (Federation) to aid Israel in the wake of the recent war with Hizbullah has actually gone to help Arabs. Although the estimates as to percentage vary widely, there seems to be no doubt that huge amounts of money were given to non-Jews.
   Wake up, people – your money may be supporting those who actively work for your destruction. Demand complete disclosure and accountability of all money spent. Demand that 100 percent of your money be used to help Jews in Israel. Let your thoughts be known.
   In general, Jews need to be much more aware of how their money is spent with regard to Israel. What activities are being funded? What percentage is actually reaching Jews in need? Can the money be spent more efficiently? Individually, are you indirectly supporting the enemy by purchasing a drink, gift, or even a taxi ride in Israel from an Arab?
   There are so many needy Jews in Israel. So many Jewish children are poor and hungry. Thousands of Jews from Gush Katif were forcibly expelled from their homes and are in need of support. Use your money for those who truly deserve our help. Most credible charities should be happy to provide you with information on how the money is spent. Just ask them.

Ken Abrams

Margate, NJ


UN Reflects The World
   While I generally agree with your Oct. 13 editorial “The UN at a Crossroads,” you missed one important point. The primary problem with the UN is not that it is an out-of-control organization that has been hijacked by anti-Israel Third World nations (though of course it is very much that). The real problem is that the world itself is anti-Israel, save for the U.S. when presidents like George W. Bush make the country’s foreign policy.
   The UN merely reflects the sentiments of the international community, and therefore will never really change as long as much of the world remains infected with anti-Semitism. In other words, not in the lifetime of anyone reading this, unfortunately.

Robert Kleinman

(Via E-Mail)


Don’t Expect Change
   Re “The UN at a Crossroads”:
   Regrettably, it is entirely unrealistic to harbor an optimistic expectation – “albeit a slim one” – that a new secretary general can effectuate a United Nations “that will be refashioned into the kind of organization it was designed to be” rather than “the virulently anti-West, anti-Israel vehicle it has become.”
   In just one example, the “new” Human Rights Council deviated not one iota from its previous incarnation, the Human Rights Commission, when its first meeting reverted to the same predilection to pass spurious condemnatory anti-Israel resolutions and pronouncements and compounded the shameful injustice by putting Israel’s alleged “misdeeds” on all future agenda.
   The unpalatable possibility that Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela could be elected to a two-year seat on the United Nations Security Council is symptomatic of the world body’s pervasive inner rot preventing the emergence of an effective, moral, and peace-promoting UN, even with a new and well-meaning secretary general.

Fay Dicker

Lakewood, NJ


‘Work In Progress’
   Rabbi Natan Slifkin’s op-ed article in last week’s Jewish Press (“A Giant of Faith and Intellect”) shows him to be a serious person who, despite all the controversy he’s generated, really does try to get it right. And his reliance on his understanding of what great authorities have had to say is truly laudable.
   But what came through to me most of all is that young Rabbi Slifkin is a work in progress, and as such should hardly be looked to as an authority on weighty matters like creation and evolution. The problem is that in his books on those subjects he writes as though he expects his readers to accept what he has to say as authoritative, based on his selective quoting of certain rabbis in order to bolster his arguments.
   In addition, his application of the dicta of great rabbis as to what is and is not acceptable strikes me as just a little too facile. I was particularly troubled by his use, in his op-ed last week, of a respected source for the proposition that “even if one’s own rebbe states something that does not seem to make sense, it is forbidden to accept it.”
   In years to come Rabbi Slifkin perhaps will come to appreciate that whether something makes sense in the light of Torah is not a simple matter – nor can its acceptance or rejection be determined after a limited period of rumination.

Rabbi Yechezkel Martin

(Via E-mail)


Engage, Don’t Reject
   I enjoyed Rabbi Slifkin’s tribute to Rabbi Aryeh Carmell, zt”l. The author’s tone of deference should go a long way toward disarming some of the criticism that has come his way in response to his books on Torah and evolution.
      I have read all of Rabbi Slifkin’s books and find them engaging and even eye-opening. Yet I concede that I lack the background to evaluate whether his conclusions are all or even partially valid. So I certainly can understand why the rabbinic establishment would have problems with him.
   Nevertheless, I believe the attacks against him are misplaced. In my opinion, it would be far better to engage his conclusions if they are found wanting or erroneous than simply to disparage them out of hand.
   Perhaps it would have been better had Rabbi Slifkin been more assiduous in seeking rabbinic approval for his work. But the questions he raises merit reasoned response, not dogmatic rejection.
   Having said that, I’m still struck by the troubling degree of superficiality that shows up here and there in Rabbi Slifkin’s work. His recitation of such trite truisms as the importance of “striving for truth” and “accepting truth from wherever it comes” begs the obvious questions of how and by whom “truth” is determined.

Jerome Doll

(Via E-Mail)


False Gods

   As someone who has researched anti-Zionism, I read with interest the two recent front-page essays by Paul Bogdanor (“Jews Who Hate The Jewish State,” Sept. 1; “Leftists For A Second Holocaust,” Oct. 13) and would like to add to the topic.

   A disproportionate number of secular Jews are pro-Palestinian activists. And many anti-Zionists come from mixed marriages where only one parent is a Jew. These Jews are confused about their identity.
   In Britain, one finds not only the highest proportion of secular anti-Zionist Jews in the Diaspora, but also the most successful anti-Zionist group anywhere. The 1,300-member Jews For Justice For Palestinians attracts many of the most celebrated Jews. On July 6, 300 of them signed a full-page ad in the Times of London, costing $18,400, denouncing Israeli “war crimes.”
   Two London papers, the Independent and the Guardian – and their letters pages, which include many anti-Zionist Jewish contributors – compete with each other in demonizing Israel. The editor of the former is Simon Kelner, a Jew. Recently the London Review of Books, whose editor is Mary-Kay Wilmers, a Jew, published a condensed version of the now infamous piece by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt which postulates that the “Jewish lobby” dictates American foreign policy.
   G.K. Chesterton said, “He who does not believe in God will believe in anything.” A study published in the July 2004 issue of BBC History magazine found that an astonishing one in every 100 British Jews between 1948-1954 was a member of the Communist party. Today, a similar phenomenon repeats itself when agnostic and atheistic Jews in Britain idolize another false god – Palestinian nationalism.

Jacob Mendlovic

Toronto, Canada



More Meat Scandal Fallout


Supervisors Reading Newspapers
      I was astonished by the Kosher Today dispatch, headlined “Rabbis Debate Role of Mashgiach Temidi,” in your October 13 issue. The account of the “debate” over what reforms need to be implemented in the kosher supervision process demonstrates the unbelievably low level of monitoring now in place.
   The head of one large supervision agency is quoted as saying that it is not enough that a mashgiach temidi in a restaurant checks shipments of meat and other ingredients upon their arrival. “I believe,” he said, “that the mashgiach temidi must have a full record of what comes in and goes out.”
      Imagine that. And why exactly isn’t that the minimal standard currently demanded by all the supervising agencies allegedly looking out for the interests of the kosher consumer?
      The article also contained this gem: “Some rabbis complained that many supervisorsspend most of their day reading a newspaper or studying Talmud.” And a spokesman from a major agency was quoted as saying that his agency “dispatches senior supervisors to check on their mashgichim” – a practice that apparently is the exception rather than the rule.
      I’m not the first person to offer the observation that we as individual Jews should spend at least as much time worrying about the fundamental issue of kashrut as we do about bugs in water and Indian hair in wigs. The latter are certainly legitimate issues, but the tumult that accompanied them when they first garnered public attention was more intense and longer lasting than what has ensued in the wake of the Monsey kashrut scandal.

Henry Purl

New York, NY


Modern Approaches Needed
      Reader Dov Grossman was right on point in his criticism of those in the rabbinic world who insist that mere laypeople have no right to comment on the Monsey meat scandal (Letters, Oct. 13). Those rabbis seem to think that, since fraud in the kosher marketplace violates halacha, any possible solutions to this ongoing problem must come from them and not from those directly affected by such violations – namely, the poor consumers.
      But deciding on a specific process of safeguarding kashrut is not fundamentally a matter of halacha. When laypeople suggest battling possible fraud in the kosher meat industry with universally accepted methods and systems that have never been thought to violate halachic standards (for example, regular and comprehensive auditing and supervision), they are speaking with as much insight and expertise – and are as deserving of respect and consideration – as those who interpret the halachot governing kashrut.
      I find it difficult to understand why it’s considered disrespectful to rabbinic authority if we laypeople call for modern approaches and technologies to prevent violations of halachic standards (which I agree are the exclusive province of the rabbis).

Shmuel Blumenthal

New York, NY