Shawn Green backed

Seth Swirsky’s Oct. 1 hit piece on Shawn Green is a shanda. Why can’t he simply stand behind the best Jewish baseball player in decades?

The comparison to Sandy Koufax isn’t equivalent. Sandy was a pitcher who played every five days. By not playing on Yom Kippur, he could simply play the next day and still support his team.

Shawn plays every day. Due to the season’s schedule and the timing of the holiday, Yom Kippur covered two games — Friday night and Saturday day. Therefore, Shawn would miss two games during the pennant drive, when his team needed him most. 

Shawn, the only professional baseball player to have a day off for Yom Kippur written into his contract, had a tough decision to make, and he chose to play on Friday night and not play on Saturday. His decision was based on consideration for teammates, his organization, fans and the Jewish community. It wasn’t made because he was born during the “me-generation,” as Swirsky writes.

As a Jew, I stand behind Shawn’s decision on Yom Kippur, not only when it coincides with my personal beliefs. It seems Swirsky wants others to live up to higher standards than his low-balling piece.

Paul Coleman | Burlingame


Thank you for Jessica Ravitz’s Oct. 1 column on why so many Jewish communal workers have left their jobs despite their commitment to community and the future of Judaism.

Let me add this to her thoughts. While my tenure as a communal worker was longer than Gary Tobin’s findings (17 years), too often the Jewish public would ask me: “Are you paid for what you do, or are you a professional volunteer?”

I still shudder at the indignity of being asked that question… even more than a decade after I gave up my “glamour” job to stay at home with my children.

Some of us even joked that getting a promotion in the Jewish world meant a new title, longer hours and less pay than before.

Peggy Isaak Gluck | Foster City

‘Dismiss the charges’

I am shocked that the Israeli government has continued to put Rabbi Arik Ascherman on trial (Oct. 1 j.) for trying nonviolently to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes — homes whose families are not suspected of having any connection with terrorism.

My own religious beliefs follow the biblical commandment: “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” But the demolition of such homes because they lack building permits is a travesty of “justice” since permits are rarely issued to Palestinian families.

I urge Israel to renew its commitment to embody Jewish values. And I urge American leaders of all communities who are committed to human rights to insist that the Israeli government stop these demolitions and, in the interests of justice, dismiss the charges against Ascherman.

Enough already!

Joel Schipper | San Francisco

‘Time for change’

I am a recent immigrant who still reads online newspapers in three different languages. I believe the United States can only be safe if most of the world is safe and well off. As an example: we only will be safe if both Iraq and Israel will be safe.

There is no doubt in my mind that George W. Bush does not have the conceptual framework to understand how to do this. In contrast, Sen. John Kerry showed in the first debate the ability to think on his feet and readjust course by tacking as needed to achieve an objective, just as you have to do when you sail (or wind surf) against a headwind.

Bush has run the ship into a headwind, we are dead in the water in Iraq, and he is making fun of Kerry’s prowess as a sailor? It is time for a change, or as I heard Kerry say, for a larger horse.

Rainer Pitthan | Palo Alto

A reminder

Sen. John Kerry has denounced the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the war in Iraq. A reminder to Jews: Did you forget Iraq launched Scud missiles against Israel in 1991 at the direction of Saddam?

Did you forget over 95 percent of the Iraqi Jewish population had to flee when he came into power? Did you forget Saddam paid money to families whose children were suicide bombers and who killed innocent Israeli women and children? 

How any Jew can vote for someone of Kerry’s ilk defies reality. We Jews were blind when we elected FDR, another Democrat, to a third term. We forgot he refused a boatload of Jews haven in the United States and returned them to

extermination. We forgot Winston Churchill requested FDR use the American Air Force to bomb railroads and tracks to halt the mass extermination of Jews in the concentration camps, and that FDR denied his request.

It’s about time Jews acknowledge the efforts of Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush on behalf of Israeli Jews and America.

Israel wasn’t mentioned in Kerry's acceptance address; Israel is constantly supported, not only by the words but actions of Bush. I urge Jews to vote for Bush.

Shel Haas | Fort Lee, N.J.

‘A propitious time’

Thank you for j.’s very positive recent review of “My Knees Were Jumping: Remembering the Kindertransports,” which was just issued on DVD.

The release came at a very propitious time since the Kindertransport Association is having its national conference in the Bay Area Oct. 22-24.

Several well-known speakers — including Walter Kohn, 1998 Nobel laureate in physics who came on a Kindertransport from Vienna to England in 1939, and Berkeley writer and historian Fred Rosenbaum of Lehrhaus Judaica — are scheduled to speak.

Bertha Leverton, founder of the original reunion of the kinder, is coming from London to attend.

In addition, “My Knees Were Jumping,” by Melissa Hacker, will be shown.

Further details can be found at www.kindertransport.org.  

Ralph Samuel | Oakland


The Aug. 27 j. featured a story (“Go to shul, find a coach”) on Rebecca Zucker and her partnership with JVS.

Although Jewish Vocational Service looks forward to the prospect of working with Rebecca and her business, Next Step Partners, we also want j. readers to know this is only one of our growing number of programs already being offered through the Jewish Employment Network.  

This program, launched in January, offers networking and career-counseling workshops at synagogues and JCCs around the Bay Area. In the past seven months, over 100 members of the Jewish community have participated in over a dozen programs.

We look forward to the continued success of these programs, and to supporting men and women in the Jewish community to get back to work.

Abby Snay | San Francisco
executive director, JVS

Credit to staffer

In your recent “33 Kohn interns get hands-on experience at Jewish agencies,” there was an omission I’d like to correct.

In describing the disabilities workshop, your account suggests that intern Shira Leeder organized and led it by herself. What actually happened is that Abby Kovalsky, disabilities program coordinator in the Adult Services Department of Jewish Family and Children’s Services, was contacted by Rebecca Bassin, the Kohn intern supervisor at JVS, and requested to facilitate a workshop on disability awareness.

The workshop took place July 2. Abby gave her presentation on disability awareness, and Shira, who had suggested that workshop, shared her own personal experiences as a Jewish person with a disability.

I understand the overall focus of the article was on the Kohn interns so it was only natural for you to stress Shira’s role, but giving credit where credit is due would have been more accurate.

Yael Moses | San Francisco
director of adult services, Jewish Family and Children’s Services

The ‘other’ refugees

The conference on anti-Semitism (j. Aug. 27) allowed attendees to take an honest look at the elephant in the room — anti-Semitism painfully dividing and isolating leftist Jews and non-Jews alike.

It was clear that while conventional wisdom normally focuses only on the plight of Palestinian refugees, most attendees were not aware 900,000 Jews were forced from their native Middle Eastern and North African homes after Israel’s independence. Mizrahi Jewish refugees found a home in Israel and today make up over 55 percent of Israel’s population.

Over 300 Jews and non-Jews who attended the conference have now learned that the Middle East conflict has created two refugee populations: the Palestinians, and Jews from the Arab countries. Both refugee issues need to be fairly and equally addressed.

This forum gave a chance to progressives not only to face the painful reality of anti-Semitism in their midst but to gain a deeper knowledge of the Middle East conflict by learning about the plight of their own brothers and sisters.

It is admirable that it took a courageous non-Jew to confront anti-Semitism in the leftist progressive movement. Bravo to conference organizer Judy Andreas for bridging a widening gap in our community.

Gina Waldman | Tiburon
president, Jimena

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