Mose Apelblat

Sermons on Jewish holidays

In his article “The community of expulsion” (INYT, 7 Oct), Roger Cohen complains that he did not hear any sermon about Israel and the Palestinians when he visited his reform synagogue in London during the recent Jewish high holidays. Although he understands that these holidays “are days to look inward”, he thinks that the rabbis should have addressed the recent Gaza war in their sermons.

We should be happy that they did not. Most people follow the news from Israel. They are not interested in listening to political sermons in the synagogue – whether pro- or anti-Israeli government – and to be told what to think. During Rosh Hashana and Jom Kippur they want to come closer to their religious sources and listen to sermons on spiritual and moral topics.

Cohen’s quote from Stefan Zweig on how all Jews, irrespective of belief, origin and age, became a “community of expulsion” during the Nazi regime is touching. He could however have added that the Jews became a defenseless community of people condemned to death by the Nazis. Surely Cohen does not claim that the Palestinians, though many of them in exile, face the same situation.

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