This latest terrorist attack in Spain has really thrown me for a loop.

We live in a very dangerous world where a nuclear bomb could set off mass destruction at anytime. People blow themselves up without any rational thought to what they are doing.

A young girl calls her mother from a commuter train, terror in her voice, then bombs and screams are heard, the phone goes dead.

My father said once, “The worst thing to happen to a parent is to outlive their child.” Having a son, I am becoming unnerved by all this senseless violence — in Spain, in Israel, in the United States, all over the world.

We are the highest life form on this planet and yet we continue to kill.

My heart breaks for all the people losing children all over this world. I worry endlessly for the safety of my son, and all whom I love.

Together, let us pray in our own unique ways for peace.

Robin Lembersky Kaiser | Daly City

Closing the gap

On behalf of the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center board, we are dismayed that Anita Friedman commented we just do “spiritual stuff,” inasmuch as Jewish Family and Children’s Services has utilized our range of services throughout the years. The healing center was created at a time when no such comprehensive services existed.

In our research we discovered a gap of service to the already established hospices. In response we have created two volunteer opportunities. One is a collaboration with the Zen Hospice Project of San Francisco to provide extensively trained Jewish hospice and end of life care volunteers. The second is the formation of a “healing bank” in which members of the community could be available on a pro bono basis to assist those at the end of life.

The greatest difference may be that while JFCS is a secular organization, the Jewish healing center is not. To fully serve the Jewish community our board has decided to forgo tax dollars to remain free from government regulation.

We are known for our cooperative programs. Our staff of compassionate rabbis/chaplains, outreach coordinator and administrator respond constantly to those in need. Our services are available regardless of affiliation or ability to pay.

Rabbi Michael Barenbaum | Tiburon
board member, Jewish healing center

Gay marriage challenge

Gay marriage does pose a challenge to the traditional institution — a challenge to match the commitment and longevity of many same-sex relationships.

To the newlyweds, mazel tov (and success in court). To j., thanks for publishing the good news.

Cyndi Spindell Berck and Peter Berck | Berkeley

‘The anguish of terror’

Yet again, Israel will be under attack Saturday, March 20, in San Francisco. This time it will be under the rubric of an anti-war rally. Organized by International ANSWER, the rally to commemorate the first anniversary of the war in Iraq will also blast Israel for defending itself against an unrelenting spate of suicide bombers.

However, ANSWER’s anti-Israel stance is no surprise given their alliance with Al-Awda, an organization that seeks a Palestinian state covering the entire space between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea — in other words, without Israel.

You can make a difference. Join our counter-rally as we voice our support of Israel and condemn terror. We’re also proud to be joined by members of the Bay Area’s Turkish, Indian and Spanish communities — people whose home countries have also experienced the anguish of terror.

Join us at 11 a.m. Saturday at the corner of Market and Van Ness in San Francisco.

Aleksandra Fleigler | Daly City


On March 20, organizations that dip their fingers into the trough of terror will conduct a rally in San Francisco linking Iraq and Israel with the comparison of imperialistic conquest.

It is bizarre that Palestinian organizations are leading a peace movement when their leaders call for the total destruction of Israel. But, hey, this is San Francisco and logic is never a big factor in arguments here.

Along with Arabs, there will be the $90,000-a-year dock workers. And of course there will be those leftists who have been bashing Israel with the same slogans since 1935.

I, for one, an American Jew, will be marching proudly in a counter-rally that our fellow Russian Jews are leading. Sadly, American Jews are not in the forefront of this rally, but will follow the young Russian Jews.

Alan Stein | Mendocino

Columnist’s reply

Howard Leavitt’s March 12 letter said most of the people in my Celebrity Jews column are not Jewish and/or have a nonexistent connection to Judaism and/or are “relics.”

I have since corresponded with Leavitt. I answered his points and gave him some examples in an area he was very interested in. He complimented me.

Here is part of what I told him:

• The column is meant to cover persons famous in the secular world. Not persons of fame in the “Jewish world” — I leave that to j.’s news pages.

• I carefully screen to feature items on celebs who are “fully Jewish” or, if they are “half Jewish,” they identify as Jewish or “nothing” (the names that appear in bold print). Only rarely do I mention “half-Jewish” persons who identify as something other than Jewish — and I note this fact.

• In 750 words, it is hard to be all things to all people — but I’ve covered actors, authors, scientists, military figures, musicians, business people, politicians, fine artists and others. I try, space allowing, to note their Jewish connections — a bar mitzvah, etc.

As for relics — virtually every week one or more items features someone under 40.

Nate Bloom | Oakland

Hate site at top

Thanks for the March 12 heads up about the google.com search. When I pulled it up just now, that hate site came to the top … and No. 2 was a Messianic site (ouch!).

Let’s start a campaign to move some of the other Jewish sites to the top.

Molly Miller-Davidson | Los Angeles

Solidifying Sharon’s goals

I’m glad to see j. address the wall/barrier. While your March 12 cover story accurately expresses the Israeli need for protection from bombing attacks, it fails to examine the most basic problem with the barrier — its path.

Anyone who wants to make an informed decision must look at a map of the path of the fence and wall. A map can be found at www.gader.org or on many other Web sites by performing a simple search.

Over the strenuous objections of senior Israeli military advisers, President Bush, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, the barrier snakes through Palestinian territory, adding billions of dollars in cost and making the wall’s maintenance and defense much more difficult.

Not to mention the destruction and appropriation of agricultural land, homes, water wells and schools. 

Thus, the path of the wall is an economic, political and military disaster, and there’s a simpler alternative which will offer even greater security — building it on the Green Line, as initially proposed by the previous Labor government. 

So why is the Israeli government doing it this way? It accomplishes two Ariel Sharon’s goals — to solidify illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and to make a viable Palestinian state impossible.

Amir Terkel | Albany

Genital exam

Jay Schwartz’s Feb. 20 lament regarding circumcision of his forthcoming baby inspired me to look up and send you a summary of medical and sexual reasons supporting circumcision.

I served several years in the medical corps of the U.S. Army, and one of my duties was to examine men for venereal disease. The procedure consisted of a surprise wake-up calling the men to stand at attention in a lineup. One by one, the men stepped before me, exposed their genitals and then passed on.

I have examined many thousands of penises and can testify that young men mostly pay attention to their penises when they urinate or engage in sex. Retracting the foreskin and cleaning the accumulated smegma is not a routine procedure. The cleanest and healthiest penises were those that had been circumcised.

The procedure performed by a classical mohel is done in two seconds. Schwartz should have his child, if a boy, circumcised.

Dr. David A. Stadtner | Stockton

Moral standards violated?

Poor San Francisco State officials. The school’s moral standards were badly violated by Tatiana Menaker when she loudly urged “pro-Palestinians to commit unnatural acts with a camel” (March 5 j.).

Somehow SFSU was not bothered when the pro-Palestinian protesters, in May of 2002, shouted during the SFSU demonstration, “Hitler should have finished his job.” Apparently, gassing people looks much more natural to the SFSU defendants of human dignity.

As for her encounter with Deborah Gerson from A Jewish Voice for Peace, Menaker’s assertion that “if you believe when they start killing Jews, you will be spared, you will be killed two hours later,” it is unfortunately supported by centuries of murdering acts against Jews.

No explicit, implicit or otherwise expressed affection toward the host countries and the host world has brought us either peace or justice.

To me, this is the prime concern.

When this concern is met and after Gerson and the like find somebody in the Muslim world worrying about Israel’s and Jews’ well-being, I will be happy to battle for the universal love and peace.

Vladimir Kaplan | San Mateo

letters policy

j. the Jewish news weekly welcomes letters to the editor, preferably typewritten. Letters must not exceed 200 words and must be dated and signed with current address and daytime telephone number. j. also reserves the right to edit letters. The deadline is noon Monday for any given week’s publication. Letters should be sent by e-mail to [email protected] or by mail to j., 225 Bush St., Suite 1480, San Francisco, CA 94104.