Letter to the Editor (March 28, 2011)
Sa'ar should have kept quiet
Two weeks before the elections to the teachers' union Histadrut Hamorim, which has more than 100,000 members, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar found it necessary to praise and laud Yossi Wasserman, the union's secretary general, at a conference of the Conservative movement.
Even if all these words of praise were true, and I am doubtful about that, he should have kept quiet so that this would not be seen as inappropriate intervention in the union's elections.
There are excellent teachers of the highest quality who are loyal and entirely devoted to their work. More than 60 percent of the teachers are university graduates and the remaining 40 percent are senior teachers who are qualified and experienced. Unfortunately, they do not have leaders with vision and imagination who are models they can follow. That is one of the central problems of education in the state of Israel.
The education system is full of bitterness because of the education programs and reforms that have merely caused it to go downhill. Instead of so many new study plans and constant reforms, what is needed is a single comprehensive reform led by the educational management that will serve, together with the Education Ministry, a lively and creative educational system that is able to make real headway.
Honoring women with marriage
In response to "The marriage mystique," March 20
In her piece, Amalia Rosenblum is severely critical of, and almost negates, one of the pillars of Judaism - the marriage ceremony. She sees it only as something ugly. However the Jewish marriage ceremony is held first and foremost in honor of the woman and to ensure her future. The chuppah and the prayers are a kind of title deed for the couple's life, particularly that of the woman.
The religious wedding creates a festive atmosphere and is among the most exciting moments in the lives of the couple. The religious ceremony is in fact the laying of the cornerstone for a new life. The seven blessings which the rabbi recites for the couple all give them entry into the circle of creation, as part of nature.
So why is it so surprising that most of the Jewish public is conservative? After all, when compared with the religious ceremony, civil marriage in front of a municipal clerk is so banal. The couple fills in a form, the clerk asks them if they agree to be a married couple and then he says to them: You are husband and wife.
Indeed, one could criticize the rabbinical establishment for clinging to laws that were written 2,000 years ago. Everyone knows that halakha was written by men and not handed down like the Torah from above.
For example, it is possible to change the custom of circling the groom seven times. Instead of the woman having to go round the man, let the man go round the woman seven times, as a last act of wooing. After all, the woman is the mother of all living things while the man is born of a woman.
But none of this runs contrary to the religious ceremony. I believe that every woman wants to be special and blessed in the eyes of her husband and that the desire of every woman who has a daughter is to see her as a bride. When she was dying, my late wife said to me: "There is one thing I'm sorry about more than anything else - that I won't be able to see my daughter as a bride."