Threat to Luciana so dangerous

ONE of the only good things about the recent catastrophic general election was that Momentum had no time to deselect moderate Labour MPs.

Now that prospect threatens Liverpool’s Wavertree MP Luciana Berger, whose local Labour Party has been taken over by the Corbynite group Momentum.

I feel sorry for the former Labour Friends of Israel director who has been the target of antisemitic abuse and now has to apologise to Supreme Leader Corbyn if she wants to retain her seat which she won with an increased majority in 2017.

The dire Luciana situation epitomises just how much British democracy is currently under threat. In Wavertree, nine Momentum members are trying to overturn the wishes of nearly 35,000 voters who re-elected her in June.

Yet having an effective Opposition in Parliament is good for democracy, taking the edge off harsh Conservative cuts which have penalised those in need.

Both our two main political parties are currently divided. But the splits within the Labour Party are much more dangerous for democracy than those in the Conservative Party. Labour did well in the recent election because its campaign to make life easier for those damaged by Conservative austerity struck a nerve with voters.

When Corbyn gets up in the Commons, he does have some sensible things to say. These are currently impacting on Conservative policy. That is healthy for consensus politics.

But what is certainly not healthy is when the supreme leader’s backers attempt to subvert local democracy and dangerously erode the great British value of free speech.

Should Luciana succumb to electoral blackmail, then Britain is in serious danger of becoming a Soviet-style dictatorship.

Corbyn is a man of two parts. On the one hand, he is supremely capable of coming up with caring policies attractive to hard-hit voters. But on the other hand, he keeps extremely sinister company, ranging from Hamas and the IRA to antisemites and Momentum anti-democratic bullies.

He should remember that he increased his vote this summer, not thanks to Momentum but to the general electorate.

If he wishes to keep — and even increase — his share of the popular vote, he should stay close to his voting public and all those moderate Labour MPs who regained and even increased their share of the vote.

For once and for all, Corbyn should marginalise all the undemocratic sections within his party and totally dissociate himself from all terrorist and antisemitic elements currently impacting upon the Labour Party.

If he does not stand up and be counted for British fair play and freedom of speech, then our democratic system is in immediate danger.

Rebbetzens’ value recognised at last

THE lead letter in the Jewish Telegraph a couple of weeks ago was headed Why spend cash on trip abroad for rebbetzens?

Last week, Rebbetzen Nachi Lewis explained why.

As a former rebbetzen, I am absolutely delighted that these often powers-behind-the-rabbinic-thrones are finally being recognised.

As a teenager, I was inspired to try to spread appreciation of Judaism at a time of rampant assimilation. Religious leadership opportunities for women were lamentably few in those days.

Being a cheder teacher at a time when few Jewish kids attended Jewish schools was probably top of the pile.

Jews’ College had just established an Institute for the Training of Teachers which was open to female, as well as male, students. I thoroughly enjoyed my three years there, talking Torah over lunch to boys who went on to take up leading positions within British Jewry.

My best bet was to continue to teach in cheder — as I had already been doing for the last four years — or to become a rebbetzen. I did both.

In those days, that unpaid and largely unappreciated position entailed having to play a largely decorative and supportive role on the synagogue ladies’ guild.

The work I did behind the scenes in helping my late “ex” prepare sermons and plan his ministry had to be kept under wraps. In the end, I became so frustrated at being a mere ghostwriter that it spurred me on to my later profession as columnist and journalist, gaining a far wider audience than most rabbis from their pulpits.

In those long-ago days, my “ex” was not allowed to have a telephone answering machine at home, which meant that when he was out, whether or not I was bathing a baby, I had to answer the phone and take messages — an unpaid role which severely impacted on my family privacy. I was really dedicated to his ministry but resented the conditions and lack of recognition I was working under.

At last today, the role of the rebbetzen is finally being recognised with some synagogues employing both members of the rabbinic couple for the position. Rebbetzen Mirvis is further enhancing the role of rebbetzen with her excellent programmes.

Money is well spent on them as a sign of appreciation for a communal role which has been under-valued for far too long.


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