Letter: Jews without hats

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The Independent Online
YOU MISREPRESENT Judaism in Israel - and elsewhere for that matter - when you present a picture of ultra-orthodoxy and secularism as being the two single sections of the community ("He cut off his ringlets and knew he could never return", 28 November). The vast majority of religious Jews follow their faith to varying degrees, attend synagogues, celebrate home rituals and cleave to the fundamentals. They are not secular in that they have not deserted Judaism, although a good many Israelis - possibly in greater numbers than diaspora Jews - have done so. That is because religious control in Israel is in the hands of the Haredim with their brainwashing and garb of 18th-century Poland - nothing to do with Judaism, but more to do with rabbinical power politics. As a result, increasing numbers of Israeli Jews are joining progressive Jewish congregations springing up all over Israel and demonstrating that tradition and modernity can be reconciled.

The battle for the rights of progressive Judaism is a tough one but the World Union for Progressive Judaism, based in Jerusalem, has 1.5 million members worldwide in 1,500 synagogues. With an inclusive approach to women and encouragement for the less well religiously educated, Reform Judaism in this country is part of this picture. We have few hats or ringlets - although we own to a number of goodish beards - but secular we ain't.

BARRY HYMAN

Reform Synagogues of Great Britain, London N3

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