Jewish agencies blur church-state line, too

Your Nov. 5 editorial, “Time to unite our country,” discusses the post-presidential election political outlook, especially for the Jews. You express concern about President Bush being closely allied with evangelical Christians, one reason being the evangelicals’ efforts to blur the line between church and state.

But some Reform congregations have accepted federal funds to secure synagogues. The East Bay Jewish Family and Children’s Services has been receiving public money since 1995; the S.F.-based JFCS receives a small part of its budget from federal and state sources; the S.F.-based Jewish Vocational Service gets several million dollars from federal, state, and local governments; nationally, 29 JVS agencies in North America receive hundred of millions of dollars of government funds every year; and the largest sums of federal money go to Jewish hospitals and senior living facilities. The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco and the Peninsula Jewish Community Center in Foster City receive state funds, as does the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.

In view of all this, it would appear to be unseemly for Jews to be concerned about the blurring of the line between church and state by evangelical Christians.

Edward Tamler, M.D. | San Mateo

‘Odious legislation’

I am a concerned Jew who believes that God wants different religious communities to understand God in their own ways, without governmental pressure, just as the First Amendment intended.

Today some communities believe that God wants same-sex as well as other-sex couples to have the right to choose marriage, with its joys and its responsibilities.

Allowing that choice does not burden anyone. It allows everyone to choose their own religious perspective.

So I oppose the anti-marriage amendment that some members of Congress and the president are proposing.

I hope others, especially religious individuals who do not believe in gay marriage personally, will understand the importance of preventing the government from imposing its interpretation of religious doctrine on the rest of us and join me in opposing this odious legislation.

Charles Zimmerman | Agoura Hills

Falling on its face

Mitchell Plitnick’s apparently dispassionate analysis of Yasser Arafat and the failure of the Camp David summit may seem reasonable on first reading (Nov. 19 opinion). On closer examination, however, the attempt to write off the intifada as a “spontaneous eruption … directed as much against the Palestinian Authority as against the Israeli occupation” falls flat on its face.

No Palestinian Authority institutions or officials were blown up by suicide bombers; rather, its media was used to promote violence against Israelis, and its police stations used to store illegal weapons.

Arafat himself was directly implicated in the attempt to smuggle in tons of illegal weapons for terrorists on the Karine A ship.

Yet Plitnick states that it is “disingenuous” to blame Arafat for Israel’s failure toreach a peaceful settlement.

None of this is surprising coming from Plitnick, since Jewish Voice for Peace consistently lines up with enemies of Israel. They endorse the Presbyterian Church efforts to divest from Israel, and they financially support the International Solidarity Movement, which helps protect Palestinian terrorist activities. And they can frequently be found standing with the enemies of Israel at public demonstrations in the Bay Area.

Perhps Plitnick has another agenda behind his comments?

Michael Harris | San Rafael

Early lighting

After reading “Donor dads and other tales” (Nov. 19 j.), a sweet feature about kids of LGBT parents, and realizing that hundreds of Jewish kids are growing up in similar families around the Bay Area, I feel inspired to let your readers know that there’s a local, nonprofit organization dedicated to families like ours, Our Family Coalition.

The coalition’s mission is to promote the civil rights and well being of families with LGBT members through education, advocacy, networking and grassroots community organizing.

With over 500 family memberships, Our Family Coalition produces social and educational events, publications, and resources for current and prospective parents.

On Saturday afternoon, Dec. 11, the coalition is presenting its annual, multifaith, winter holiday extravaganza, where we’ll be lighting the menorah (a little early) to celebrate Chanukah. This will happen at Saint Gregory's Church (Potrero Hill in San Francisco). If your family wants to learn more, please e-mail [email protected] or check out www.ourfamily.org.

Linda Jacobson | Half Moon Bay

Master hostage-taker

Yasser Arafat was a master in hostage-taking.

He masterminded air traveler hostage-taking.

He masterminded sea traveler hostage-taking.

He masterminded the taking hostage of millions of Palestinians.

He masterminded the taking hostage of the Palestinians’ money.

What an irony that the master hostage-taker himself was kept hostage by the French until ransom money was paid to Paris resident Suha Arafat.

Shlomo Rosenfeld | Berkeley

Outraged at salary

As a former employee and current donor of the S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services, I was outraged to read the Nov. 12 San Francisco Business Times report cited in the Nov. 17 San Francisco Chronicle detailing that the JFCS executive director has the highest salary, over $319,000, of executive directors at all San Francisco charities. 

When I received solicitations from JFCS describing its wonderful services and requesting additional contributions, I have gladly given. But nowhere have the solicitations indicated that my money would go toward compensating the executive director at such an exorbitant level. 

I don’t doubt that Anita Friedman does an excellent job of guiding this important community agency, but compensating her at this level has to have an adverse impact on the agency’s ability to offer some important services as well as to compensate direct service and support staff employees.

I am considering redirecting my financial support to another agency that spends my money more appropriately.

Ruth Jaeger | Corte Madera

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