The view from my veranda

Another Shabbat Shalom

16th December 2011

Dear Friends, I won’t keep you long but I feel a deep need to clarify my letter of yesterday.
I agree with everything I wrote, no regrets, but I do regret my omissions and want to apologise to Yitzchok. While angry, as I wrote, about the hijacking of certain aspects of Judaism and even more of Hillary Clintons decision to point out the actions of a tiny minority’s demands concerning women while ignoring the major oppression of women in our region and in Africa, I regret not adding the following rider.

Israel is a Jewish country – a Jewish country showing tolerance and respect to all religions but a Jewish country nonetheless. We are here in this wonderful Biblical spot because we came home after 2,000 years of dispersion, home to Jerusalem; our home, traditions and faith after exile and slavery. If we do not honour our Jewish traditions and faith then we do not have the right to be here!

In Israel
Shabbat should have religious content – even for those who prefer a trip to the beach than the synagogue.
Shabbat should be a day of rest – after all we gave the world the greatest social gift of all time so why dishonour it today?
Children should learn the age old prayers in school because their parents do not know how; however they should also be taught physics, chemistry, geography, history, English and literature too. The US and UK stopped teaching Bible in school but we won’t.
Rabbis should be our ethical mentors.
Marriage, for Jews, should be under the Rabbinical traditions, but we must make it easier.
Conversion should be under Rabbinical supervision but an acceptable set of rules must be created and adhered to and the course for those who choose to be Jewish made smoother.
Kosher food should be the norm for supermarkets, with opportunities for those who choose not to follow it; but there should be a general standard of kashrut not a snobbery of higher and higher demands of kashrut for different sects according to a Rabbis whims.
Not all religious people are either zealots or extremists – as long as they respect me I extend deep respect for them – just ask them to give back to this glorious country – to respect the demand to work, pay taxes, educate their children as they must in Britain, USA or Canada.
Zaka and Yad Sarah , wonderful institutions, came as a natural extension of religious Judaism – Gamach and Tahara.
Not all modern orthodox people are right wing extremists and most “settlers” are good honest hard-working folk who pay taxes, defend the country and are a very important part of Israeli society.
Not all secular people are lacking spirituality, they take their goodness from the same sources and ethics and should be equally respected for that.
Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, my friend and religious advisor put it beautifully in his letter
Let’s stop judging, we have enough enemies without in-fighting. “Torah im Derech Eretz” Torah with respect.
After all, as Benjamin Ze’ev Herzl said “If you will it, it is no dream”

Shabbat Shalom and as I learned to say in the sixties “Peace and Love”