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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
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Letters To The Editor

Muslims And Double Standards

 

   When an obscure Danish newspaper published a caricature mocking Muhammed, the Muslim world erupted in violent protest and effigies of anything Danish were burned.
 
   When Pope Benedict cited a critique of jihadism from the 14th century, Muslim fundamentalists called for his head and churches across the Middle East were torched.
 
   Last week during Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day celebrations, Iran’s president, a proud Holocaust denier, renewed his call to wipe Israel off the map and extended the threat to European nations that recognize the Jewish state. The reaction from the Muslim world: deafening silence.
 
   Where are the so-called moderate, peace-loving Muslims? Does it not border on hypocrisy when caricatures and outdated quotes warrant mass demonstrations, while calls for the mass slaughter of the modern-day descendents of Abraham, Moses and Jesus – commonly referred to as “People of the Book” in the Koran – are wholeheartedly ignored?
 

Peter Subissati

Montreal, Canada
 

 

Monitoring Erlanger
 
   For too many years, anti-Israel media voices were able to get away with their duplicity, much like unlicensed drivers running red lights until the cops move in. So cheers and bouquets to Jewish Press Senior Editor Jason Maoz, who in his Media Monitor column keeps a sharp eye on the misinformation spread by the liberal media, headed of course by the haughty New York Times. Mr. Maoz’s latest effort, his Oct. 20 column on the disinformation spread by Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Steven Erlanger – who never seems to notice the deceit of Muslims in general and Palestinians in particular – is essential to understanding how the super-liberal media operate.
 

Jerry Boris

Philadelphia, PA
 

 

On Her Own?

 

   Cheryl Kupfer is certainly entitled to her opinion (On Our Own column, Oct. 6). But I wonder if I missed something. Has The Jewish Press allied itself with the Reform movement? The mere suggestion of altering one of the brachos in the Shmoneh Esrei should have stopped the presses.
 
   The tefilah that was formulated by the Men of the Great Assembly, the holy Anshei Knesses Hagdolah, is as timeless as our holy Torah. In fact, there is an injunction in the Shulchan Aruch against amending any of the brachos of the Silent Prayer.
 
   As for Ms. Kupfer’s misgivings, she should be comforted by the reality that the only one being blessed is Hashem. The words are straightforward and crystal clear: Blessed are you Hashem, the God of our forefathers.Blessed are you Hashem, the Protector of Avraham.
 
   With all due respect to a generally grounded columnist, Ms. Kupfer should not have been allowed On Her Own with this one.
 

Rachel Altman

(Via E-Mail)

 
 

Personal Prayers

 

   I, too, have misgivings about certain tefilos, particularly the one mentioned by Ms. Kupfer in her column. What I do is whisper the words of the siddur while in my mind I use a formulation I feel is more relevant to my own present-day reality.
 
   Frankly, I see nothing wrong with this. Isn’t prayer supposed to be intimate, personal communion with God? By relying exclusively on the words of the siddur and being fearful of deviating one iota from something written centuries ago, don’t we risk making that intimate, private communion nothing more than meaningless recitation by rote?
 
   And yes, I’m a frum woman who would never even enter a Conservative or Reform house of worship.
 

Helene Brill

New York, NY

 
 

Looking The Part

 

   Re Dr. Yitzchok Levine’s Oct. 20 front-page essay, “Frum or Ehrlich?”:
 
   It is so true that we as a society confuse frumkeit with ehrlich behavior. Frumkeit these days seems to be based on a dress code rather than on middot. The parking-lot incident Dr. Levine wrote about certainly is a scandal, but he should stand on lines in supermarkets in heimish neighborhoods right before Shabbosim and Yom Tovim – talk about a sociological study of non-ehrlich behavior in frum clothing!
 
   Too many of us look the part – but whether we truly act the part is a question worth pondering. Thanks for publishing Dr. Levine’s insightful article.
 

Gisele Strauch

Brooklyn, NY
 

 

Slow Daveners
 
   In his excellent front-page essay last week, Dr. Levine drew attention to the importance attached to consideration of others by Rav Yisroel Salanter, zt”l, the founder of the Mussar school now predominant in the yeshiva world.
 
   This made me think about something that is quite common among some of the yeshiva world’s products – davening an excessively long Shmoneh Esrei. Before I elaborate, I should first state that I am not advocating a quick davening on autopilot and have no objection in principle to anyone davening at great length.
 
   The problem arises because one may not sit within the davener‘s daled amos (about 6 feet) or walk in front of him. When such a person is near other mispallelim who may not be able to stand so long, this creates a serious issue. Of course this situation could be avoided if the lengthy davener would choose to stand in a corner away from the rest of the tzibbur, but that is not always practical.
 
   The problem is compounded when a lengthy davener comes late and davens in front of the door. While anyone who has to go through could push past him, most people are too polite to wish to disturb him. He is thus, truly, a bur birshus harabbim.
 
   Even worse is the case of a rav who davens at great length but expects the tzibbur to wait for him not just before chazoras hashatz but at every stage in the davening. On weekdays, when ba’alei battim have to go to work, this can be a major problem. Yet such rabbonim seem oblivious to this and think their shul should operate like a yeshiva.
 
   What would Rav Yisroel Salanter have said about these graduates of his system?
 

Martin D. Stern

Salford, England

  

 

 

A Former Refusenik’s Disillusionment
 
      I arrived in Israel exactly 19 years ago – on the same date, in fact, that I write these words – from the USSR, where Zionist life was thriving. I had come to the land of my dreams not as a refugee seeking a small place under the sun in whatever country was available, but as someone who knew why and for what purpose I had paved – for over 17 years and often at risk to my life – the road to Israel for myself and for many other Jews who shared my feelings and aspirations.
 
      Israel’s mass media, Jewish Agency publications, and Voice of Israel radio all declared that every Jewish citizen of Israel lived on his or her land with dignity. All too soon, however, I discovered that most of the proclaimed advantages of the Jewish state belonged to its glorious past.
 
      The word Zionism has acquired a negative connotation in Israel. The mass media, i.e., the country’s intellectual elite, inspire hatred between Jewish immigrants from different countries and obstruct the revival of a homogenous Jewish people after 2,000 years of dispersion.
 

      The disdain of the weak and poor is actively and cynically cultivated by the mass media. Schools actively practice selection of children according to their families’ material means.

      The national bureaucracy hinders the integration of young people into Israel’s economic life and thus pushes them to leave the country.
 
      After 2001, when mention of national identity was removed from Israeli IDs, the word “Jewish” virtually disappeared not only from official documents but also from the pages of newspapers. Even the anti-Semitic Soviet regime was never able to deliver such a blow to the national dignity of Jews.
 
      In the last decades of the 20th century, the interests of Jewish national revival and those of Israel’s national bureaucracy came into real conflict – one that endangers the idea of the Jewish national home. We have witnessed how a persecuted and humiliated people’s glorious dream of a resurrected Israel has been reduced, by the national bureaucracy, to a venal vision of nurturing as many millionaires as possible.
 
      The same individuals sit in the Knesset for decades. The intellectuals are concerned only with their personal success, while the mass media have turned into a mass brainwashing machine targeting poor, semi-literate and politically na?ve citizens. New millionaires are appearing at a striking rate, while the reverse process of mass impoverishment is also accelerating. The middle class is gradually vanishing from the country’s economic life.
 
      A few days ago the world learned of this year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize – a Bangladeshi millionaire banker who, at his own initiative and in spite of bureaucratic obstacles, began fighting poverty and illiteracy in his country. His hard and devoted work has won him well-deserved worldwide acclaim.
 
      This great citizen of a poor country has saved from poverty six million of his compatriots and has given them a chance for a dignified life. It looks like a fairy tale – a kind and resourceful wizard arriving to make the poor people happy.
 
      It turns out that even a lone millionaire, providing he is a genuine patriot, can solve a national-level problem. Instead of making money on poor people’s misfortune and gaining 400% annual profit – as often is the case in Israel – he disdainfully puts the bureaucracy aside and addresses the problem himself.
 
      The myth of unemployment being impossible to eliminate has been debunked by a one-man initiative. Can such a thing happen here in Israel, among our people who declare their mission to be one of bringing light and justice to humankind?
 
      In light of the Bangladesh phenomenon, the economic and moral morass in Israel appears more than ever to be attributable to Israel’s national bureaucracy and political leadership.
 

Ida Nudel

Karme Yosef, Israel
 

   (Editor’s Note: Ms. Nudel is a former Soviet Prisoner of Zion and a winner of the Jabotinsky Prize.)

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